Earphones (or earbuds, or in-ear headphones) offer a slightly different sound profile compared with conventional headphones. Generally, you'll get better sound from a full set of "cans" around your head than from buds in your ears, but in-ear sound quality has improved a great deal. More importantly, in-ear headphones are much more likely to be water resistant, and much better suited for use when working out. Get a good sweat going, and you'll turn your headphone earpads into a nasty mess. For our top picks, check out the best earphones and the best headphones for running.
Microsoft's Surface line has always been geared towards designers. And the sleek, gray look of the new Surface headphones is about as modern and minimal as you can get. These are noise-canceling headphones, made from soft-touch lightweight plastic and a memory-foam-style pad. They weigh in at just over half a pound so they're suitable for long listening sessions.
By default, they pack quite a bit of bass, but if you prefer a different sound profile you can EQ their sound with their mobile app, Sony | Headphones Connect. The app provides access to various EQ settings, room effects, ANC control and even high-quality audio codec options. They also have excellent noise-canceling, which is great if you like to enjoy your favorite tracks on the bus to work or while traveling.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.
I don't really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earbuds are (yes, that's their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of $100, they're the least expensive of any of the models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound is present in 1More's first true wireless earbuds; they don't sound as good as the Triple Drivers, but they sound very good for true wireless.
All the added benefits of customization do come at the cost of usability, and some may find the Sony WH-1000XM3 a bit difficult to get the hang of. Their touch-sensitive control scheme is generally responsive but unfortunately doesn’t work properly in freezing temperatures, which can be a deal-breaker for those living in colder climates. If this isn’t an issue for you, though, they are very good travel headphones for music lovers.
Noise-cancelling — Increasingly popular, especially among commuters and frequent travellers. These headphones actively scrub out noise, rather than passively blocking it out. Microphones are used to monitor ambient noise, an inverse wave of which is then piped-out by the headphone, negating the din. Great for blocking out plane engine sounds, or just the office air conditioning.
The Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus is the second generation of the company's MW07. It features greatly increased battery life (10 versus 3.5 hours), Bluetooth 5.0 and active noise-cancellation with two microphones on each bud. It may not fit everyone's ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as very good sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal. These in-ear headphones are known for more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass, and the MW07 Plus delivers that kind of sound.
We’re happy to report that the sound quality of these headphones holds up — even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. Another big draw was comfort: “These are easily the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned,” one of our testers said, “and I wear them for long periods of time every day.” One of our reviewers raved about the battery, using it daily for over a week without needing a charge, but had trouble finding an indicator for battery life.
If you're looking for a more lightweight alternative to headphones, check out our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for iPhones of 2019. Or, if you're looking for noise-canceling earphones to use during your morning commute, we've compiled a list of our favorites. Finally, we also have options for those looking for the best on-ear headphones of 2019.
However, the Bose 700 earphones have a much slimmer profile when folded up, and they have a few updated elements, including more integration with digital assistants, touch controls, and sensors for Bose’s “augmented reality” apps. Bose has kept some of the best-loved features from its older models as well, such as adjustable levels of noise cancellation, a monitoring mode to let in sound from your environment, and an advertised 20-hour battery life. According to Bose, call quality is improved as well, though CR doesn’t test call quality in headphones.