In this article we are going to keep a fully up to date list of the best earbuds, earphones and in ear headphones of 2019. Included are the best wireless, noise cancelling and wired models you can buy right now.
The earphone and earbud market has changed a lot in the past few years and here at Audiophileon we have been uniquely positioned to be able to test a number of models you just don’t find on traditional tech sites. The types on in ear headphones you can buy nowadays is quite stunning but as this site is all about portable audio reviews we focus on covering earbuds that you might never have heard of.
This list of the best earbuds of 2019 is going to cover both established big name brands like Sony and Sennheiser but we also hope to open your eyes to the world of audiophiles and audio enthusiasts to show you some amazing earbuds from lesser known companies. In most cases these companies offer significant increases in performance over traditional brands and big savings on price.
To make this list as comprehensive as possible we will be covering 2 types of earphones, Wireless Earbuds and Wired earbuds, and we will be giving you a number of options in each category.
Wireless Earbuds vs Wired Earbuds
Wireless earbuds, strangely enough, can now be categorised into 2 different type. One that is completely wireless. These are often referred to as true wireless earbuds of which we have a full dedicated list of the best models. The other is the type with the cable that runs between the 2 earbuds but there is no physical connection to your phone or DAP (Digital Audio Player). Both of these have there advantages but generally speaking earbuds with the cable between each other still has the advantages in batter life and sound quality but a few true wireless earbuds are starting to show that this technology will be very good in the coming years.
Wired in ear headphones are the traditional type of earphone that most people are familiar with. The have a cable that you plug directly into you phone (although this is nowadays you will need to use an USB-C to 3.5mm adapter to connect to most new phones).
There really is no answer to what the best type of earbuds is for you and it should come down to a range of factors to help make your decision. If you want full freedom of movement buy true wireless earbuds. If you want to not be shackled to your phone buy wireless earphones. If you don’t want to worry about charging your earbuds all the time go wired.
Really its best to think about how you intend to use your earbuds and then buy something that will fit your needs.
How much do good earbuds cost?
Price is definitely going to be a factor for most people when buying a set of earbuds and the good news is that you can get an awesome set for far less than you would have just a few years ago. The rise of a phenomenon known to hobbyists as the “Chinese HiFi revolution” has seen hundreds of new headphone companies spring up and they are offering tech such as multi driver earphones and hybrid earphones for a budget that would cost a fortune from brands like Shure or Westone.
That newly emerging market has also forced more traditional earbud companies to become more competitive at certain price points. It is now easier than ever to get amazing cheap earbuds.
What are the best sounding earbuds, IEM’s or earphones?
A lot of people want to know what the best sounding IEM’s are (In-Ear Monitors). In fact that is a major reason why people visit this site. We give advice on that is mainly centred around sound quality and try to identify the best sounding earbuds at each particular price point for our readers.
Bellow we will give some recommendations for earphones that we think sound incredible and can really enhance your listening experience. Just be warned if you are going to start dipping your toe into the world of high end earphones and earbuds you can end up spending a lot of money. I will list some sub $100 earbuds and others all the way north of $1000 so I’m sure there will be something to fit you but if not just feel free to send me a message of facebook with the type of music you listen to and your budget.
The best earbuds and earphones of 2019
We will now split this section into 3 separate categories, wireless earbuds, true wireless earbuds and wired earphones as well as having a section at the bottom for audiophile earbuds.
Best Earbuds & Earphones 2019
My long term daily driver earphones for the past few years has been the Shure SE846 and still in 2019 they are one of the best sounding earbuds on the market.
Big soundstage and enormous ability to deliver thumping bass has made them one of the standout headphones from big name brands it the past few years.
They are built for professional musicians as a stage monitor and as such are extremely hard wearing as well as including detachable cables for extra peace of mind.
Shure put a tonne of research into the SE846 and with their considerable experience in the music production business they were able to produce something that really engages you in your music.
It was only recently that I got a chance to post our review of the BGVP DM7 but they are already in the running for earphone of the year. Seriously if you are wanting audiophile grade sound on a relative budget then these things are for you because the push way above their weight.
BGVP are a new brand from Thailand and are producing multi driver earphones. The DM7 are said to be tuned in trying to achieve the Harman curve (a frequency response that is meant to deliver the optimum sound). They really do sound incredibly and to be honest the reason I haven’t listed and IEM’s here around the $500 mark is because you may as well just save your money and buy the DM7.
The build is excellent in the style of a universal “custom” with the acrylic shell housing and detachable cables. They are extremely comfortable and easy to pair with a wide range of sources.
KZ are of course going to be on this list but choosing which one was always going to be difficult.
If you are after something super cheap then we can happily recommend the KZ ZST or AS10 but we decided to opt for the KZ AS16 because it is the best the company has to offer.
Another Multi-Balanced armature earphone this is the companies most premium offering to date. It has excellent build quality and the sound is balanced and very reviewing of detain.
It is excellent as a monitoring headphone and adds little in the way of coloration to the sound. Transparent earphones don’t come cheap and this is certainly an excellent earphone that stays true to the original recordings.
1more Triple Driver
The 1 more triple driver are another Hybrid earphone and they are the one in the 1More lineup that offers the most bang for the buck. Right from the moment you open the packaging you feel like you are handling a far more expensive product.
More have an attention to detail that matches the most premium brands and this earphone which is meant to be worn with the cable down performed very well in our tests of earphones under the $100 mark (RRP).
The sound again shows a lot of detail but unlike the KZ AS16 we mentioned above they have a lot more low end impact which means they work better for bass music. The mids and the highs are detailed and whilst they don’t have the biggest soundstage they are very versatile in that they work well with almost any type of music.
Final Audio E3000
The Final Audio E3000 was given our vote for the best budget earbuds 2 years in a row.
They come in super simple packaging and don’t have much in the way of accessories. You also don’t find much in the way of an inspired design. Its just a simple little barrel style earphone with non detachable cables. So why does this earbuds get onto the list?
Simply the sound is magnificent for its price. The bass response is excellent and the soundstage is unmatched at the price. Mids are lush warm and rich which makes male and female vocals a delight and the smooth treble means that you will never suffer from fatigue or sibilance.
If you listen to a lot of electronic music then these are excellent earbuds again ones that perform just as good as more expensive models.
Tin Hifi T2
The Tin HiFi T2 are now our top pick budget earphone. The ones that replaced the E3000 above and just outstanding performance, build and sound.
They have a fully steel body with mesh wax guards and they also have gold plated detachable MMCX cables which is something you usually see on high end earbuds only. The cable is something that is worth the full price of the earphones with a braided copper design that is terminated in some seriously high quality jack points . The T3 can be worn with the cable down or over the ear and the build quality and packaging are excellent.
Sound quality is balanced and neutral and they are technically very good. The remain true to the source material and are astransparect as you will find in a budget earphone. If you prefer a balanced sound then go for these but if you prefer something with more bass then the E3000 will still be the best option.
Campfire Audio Solaris
The Campfire Audio Solaris are the best sounding earphones I have ever tested. I have been using them for a while now and every single time I just get blown away by how realistic these things sound.
The are a Hybrid earphone that utilises 4 balanced armature drivers and a single dynamic driver and are tuned to near perfection. Ken Ball and Campfire have also player with the Solaris’s internals to produce the biggest sound stage I have ever heard on an in ear.
Couple that with the stunning good looks and amazing build quality these are an expensive but true top of the line earphone that even priced at $1500 will somehow still feel like good value to audiophiles especially when you consider that more pricey earphones don’t offer considerable benefits.
Official Solaris Webpage.
Best Wireless & True Wireless Earbuds 2019
We have been testing so many true wireless earbuds in the past few months that its starting to make our head spin. There is one thing we have noticed throughout our reviews and that is that most of the models that we get sent, even those from big name brands, are quite terrible.
The Jabra 65t on the other hand are very, very good. Jabra has been a maker of wireless headsets for many years and as such they had a lot more experience when it came to making a set of true wireless earbuds.
The 65t are the earbuds in this category that stood head and shoulders above the rest in our tests. They look good, are very comfortable to wear over long periods of time, are sweat resistant and sound great with full bodied tuning and big bass.
The only thing to consider is battery life on the carry case is a little bit lower than on other wireless earbuds standing at 5 hours playback and 15 hours from the case.
1More Stylish True Wireless Earbuds
Good cheap true wireless earbuds aren’t really a thing but 1More hit the sweet spot in a number of places with their true wireless earbuds. Yes they are missing a few features like support for Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. Yes they still use the old Micro Usb connector instead of the new standard USB-C. However they perform so well in a number of areas that they definitely deserve their sport on this list of the best earbuds.
The sound is strong with big bass and a full Deep midrange. Highs are rolled off and smooth. Battery life is just under 10 hours in our testing making them one of the best we have ever used and the signal connection strength is something other companies should really try to emulate.
They have and RRP of under $100 although prices may vary elsewhere on line and for that reason even though the miss some features they are one of the best performers in their category.
Apple Airpods I don’t think need any introduction the are the OG the earbuds that kicked off this whole craze and whilst the might not be the best technically they just work well.
I especially like the touch controls which are customisable through the app and the compact design and carry case make them very unobtrusive.
Huawei Freebuds Pro 2
Huawei are ripping off Apple again but they have pretty much taken the Airpods design and just made them better. You can have them in white or black and most people will only be able to distinguish them from Apples Airpods due to the red ring on the pole of the earphone.
The carry case is great and the sound is just that much better than Apple that it warrants mention. Bass is deeper and the midrange more full.
Downsides vs the AirPods is that they don’t have the ability to custom map your touch controls and in some markets they are a little pricier.
RHA MA750 Wireless Earbuds
The first of the wireless neckband earbuds on this list is the RHA MA750. The 750 were one of the biggest success stories of the past 5 years with thousands of people buying them for their excellent durability, comfortable design and excellent bass sound.
RHA took that earphone and made it into a premium wireless model. These earbuds have a thicker section that goes around the back of the neck and helps to keep them firmly in place.
This also has the advantages of allowing for bigger components like the battery which is huge and it also positions the bluetooth module closer to your pocket resulting in a stronger bluetooth signal.
The wireless MA750 are extremely well made and like with all other RHA products they come with the manufacturers excellent 3 year guarantee.
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless
The Sennheiser HD1 are the most expensive wireless earphones we have used but they perform to a high standard, have great build quality and classy aesthetics that you would want in a premium product.
The HD1 are, just tlike the MA750 listed above, made with the extra section that sits behind the neck. this one is a lot more high end and is finished with black leather with red stitching. They look rally good in person.
Sound quality is excellent for a bluetooth in ear headphone with push tight lows and warm midrange the go well with any type of music.
The thing I liked most about them was how comfortable they were due to the neckband section taking away any pulling from the cable.They are designed to be worn with the cable down but the don’t ever feel like the will come loose and obviously Microphonics (cable noise transfer to earbud housing) is no existent.
Best Audiophile Earbuds 2019
Shure KSE 1500
You are in big boy territory now and I welcome you to the world of ultra expensive premium audiophile earbuds. The Shure KSE1500 are a bonkers set of earphones and one that has not been successfully implemented by anyone else.
They are an electrostatic earphone. What that means is that they have a very unique driver one that uses a floating diaphragm between 2 static charged plates that allows the driver to move incredible fast.
If it’s the pinnacle of earphone design and it sounds incredible but the price point is eye watering. Yes these are the most expensive earphones I have ever tested. Are they worth it? Probably not. Are they the best sounding earbuds you can buy in 2019? I think so.
Astell & Kern Layla
Another earphone aimed at audiophiles is the Astell & Kern Layla. Again its not cheap but it comes from one of the best known companies in the world of high end portable audio and they even went further by teaming up with the earbud wizards over at Jerry Harvey Audio.
This is a 12 balanced armature earphone with 4 crossovers and a carbon fibre housing. That’s 12 balanced armature in each earphone that are paired up to create some of the most immersive and realistic sound possible.
Incredible detail and imaging it also has one of the biggest soundstage of any earphone apart from the Campfire Audio Solaris we mentioned above.
Not to be outdone by their sworn enemy Shure Westone have really upped their game in the past few years and with the release of their latest W range of earbuds they are trying to offer something for everyone.
For most of the earphones in their line up I think there is something better for the price but the W80 is a unique beast and one that is suitable of their flagship status.
On the inside you get 8 drivers (All balanced armatures) with a three way crossover. I think for anything north of $1200 they are too much but if you can find them for around that price or anywhere below they are a seriously interesting option.