What Are Your Favorite Earbud Headphones?

I like earbud headphones, but I have a hard time getting a good fit (one ear always falls out). One thing I don’t quite understand is the difference between canalphones and earbuds (look at this Cnetarticle). What are your experiences? I don’t mind spending a couple of bucks (maybe $100), but it would really bum me out to buy a pair and find I couldn’t get them to fit.

Proper canalphones (neat term) sit deeper, more-or-less act as decent earplugs as the rubber expands to fill the ear canal, and develop a bass response through a resonance effect with your own head. Earbuds are little tiny speakers that don’t sit in your ear canal and are very uncomfortable. I’m happy with Sony’s, the model up from the one in your link, but if you want to spend a little more, go for those Klipsches or see what Denon has to offer.

Whoops! I see the article doesn’t define earbud and in-ear headphone the way I have. All those in that article look to be in-ear headphones and not earbuds. Earbuds, to me, are the cheap complimentary phones that come with most devices. I see they’ve done away with the nice foam pads to make them more uncomfortable still, getting you to spend more on something that doesn’t hurt. I’ve worn my in-ear Sony’s for 12-15 hours solid, no problem.

I’m a fan of the Ipod generic ear buds, though they do have a tendency to fall out, but I have been satisfied with their sound quality and all.

If you don’t mind spending a bit, I’d recommend the Bose Mobile In-Ear Headset. For what it’s worth, Bose seems to have a different interpretation of “in-ear” as well, and I find them a much more comfortable fit. I could never get a good fit with Apple’s In-Ear Headphones; one or the other or both would fall out no matter what size tip or what method of “insertion” I tried. The Bose model takes a slightly different approach, and molds the tips so that the earpiece sits in the bowl of your ear, while “funneling” the sound to your ear canal. You do not need to forcibly plug your ear canals with them, and the sound is outstanding. Also, for a few dollars less, you can get the In-Ear Headphones without the in-line microphone and button.

Here is the line of Shure earbuds. I own the SE530s which are truly spectacular headphones but are well above 100 dollars but they have some more reasonably priced versions which I have also tested. Even the 210s are head and shoulders above just about every other earbud I’ve ever tested.

Also, earbuds never fit me correctly but these are nice and snug. You will hear things with these that you’ve never heard before…it’s like you’re in a concert hall.

If you’re looking on the cheaper side, Skullcandy makes some pretty good in-ear buds for about $20. I recently got them and am liking them, although the feeling I get when they’re snugged tight, as if I need to pop my ears, can be a little disconcerting. They’ll sit a little less snugly to remove that problem, but then there’s the risk of falling out.

I have a set if V-moda in-canal headphones that include the mic for my iPhone. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them. They block a lot of noise, have a button to let me answer the phone and/or change songs. They were $100, replaced at 8 months under warrantee, and the replacements are going strong at about 6 months.

These are great for the price, but you at minimum have to open each one up and put some tape over the vent holes for maximum performance.

More tweaks here.

It’s the Hot Rod Ethic: It’s more fun to take a pretty good product and DIY than spend several times as much to have it done right in the first place.

I have a pair of the Skullcandy INK’D buds that I really like.

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I have the 210s and the older version, and I prefer the older version. I’ll explain why, but first a plug for Shure’s products: they are very well made speakers, and come with enough types of foam and rubber that anyone should be able to get a snug, comfortable fit for their ears. The sound is great, including the bass response. My preference is for the type that go over your ear, thus eliminating the weight of the cable as a source of pull.


The older models were just what you would expect: a cable that split 1/3 of the way from the earbud end, with earbuds on both tails of the Y.

The newer models, for some inexplicable reason, all come as 2 cables: The earbud part, with a minijack, and an “extension” cable with both male and female jacks. This means that there is now an extra connection between source and speaker, potentially compromising sound quality and offering another place for cables to become unplugged, soldering points to come undone, etc.

Thus, I prefer my older pair, with only one connection to worry about. (They also seem to fit in my ear in a more sleek manner than the new ones, but that’s a minor quibble.)

[hi-fi geek from ten years ago]The problem is that the increased distance from one vs the other completely screws up the stereo experience you seek.[hi-fi turd]

Skullcandy Titans! No question, in my mind, especially for $35-40.

I just bought a pair, and they’re fantastic. They sound as good as MUCH pricier phones that I’ve heard, and they feel sturdy and look great.

The guys on Head Room (a headphone shop that vigorously researches their stuff) says they’re one of the best buys in the world of headphones, and perform at the quality of buds three times their price. Most Skullcandies are just decent, but the Titans are truly fantastic.

They also have a volume dial on the cord, which can be a blessing since many of the newest media players (such as the iPod Touch or Zune HD) don’t have hardware volume controls anymore.

Well, crap. Now I wish I’d done a little more research. One of the reasons I specifically bought a pair of in-ear buds was to use on my motorcycle, but I’ve been apprehensive because wearing gloves doesn’t make it easy to adjust the volume or stop playback, assuming I could even use the iPod safely on the bike. Those look like exactly what I need.

While the first iPod Touch didn’t have a hard volume control, the 2nd gen fixed that by adding buttons on the side to control the volume even when the screen is off.

I’m quite happy with my V-Moda Vibes. They can be obtained rather inexpensively now ($30-40 on Ebay), though I’m not quite sure why. In terms of audio quality my experiences have been something like this:

Apple earbuds << Creative EP630 earbuds << V-Moda Vibes

Another vote for Skullcandy here. The pair I bought came with three or four different sizes of the plastic ear pieces so you could get a perfect fit, and they’ve really stood up to a lot of abuse. Plus, the sound is much better than any other pairs I’ve bought in the same price range.

In-ear speakers would not be the smartest thing to wear while riding a motorcycle or bicycle. They nearly completely shut out any outside noise. I know your motorcycle helmet cuts out a lot of noise, but I’m talking about sensory-deprivation-tank levels versus through-a-closed-door levels. I tried riding my bicycle with my earbuds in once, and found it a fairly disturbing experience. I stopped and removed them after just a half mile or so.

I have seen veteran riders recommend getting earplugs, even the mold-your-own kind that provide a best fit for your own ears. Granted, earbuds take it a step further by piping in sound as well as blocking it out. I’ve yet to test it, honestly, so it might turn out to be a foolish thing.