Choosing a pair of in-ear headphones is tough. We all have different tastes, budgets, and needs. So we rounded up a group of people used to making tough choices — our Mobile Nations editors. They've shared the in-ear headphones they're using and, more importantly, why!
Daniel Rubino - Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones
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I use them for exercising as I do not have to recharge them (problem with wireless). They look good, are super comfortable, and have excellent sound quality. I have the Microsoft 'green' ones as they stand out and I can easily find them in my gym bag.
Richard Devine - RHA T10
The slightly less expensive companion to the T10i, the main difference to the T10 is the lack of an in-line remote. Otherwise they're the exact same earbuds with great sound and the ability to swap out the filters in the middle to add more bass or more treble as you so desire. The sheer multitude of different sized tips included in the pack as well means you're sure of getting a good fit, even with odd ears like mine.
The T10s are so comfortable it's ridiculous. I wore these almost completely straight through a 13 hour flight with no discomfort whatsoever. There is an element of passive noise cancellation, so noisy plane engines aren't totally going to drive you mad, but active cancelling is about all I wish these phenomenally good earbuds had.
They're not cheap, but they're absolutely worth the money. A blend of sheer comfort and great sound quality means they'd be tough to replace for me.
Daniel Bader - RHA T10i
RHA is a relatively unknown company, but it makes high-quality in-ear headphones with extremely good sound quality and enviable designs.
The T10i was, until early 2016, the company's flagship in-ear monitors, featuring flat (but customizable) sound characteristics (via replaceable filters, emphasizing treble, bass, etc.), and easy-to-mould over-ear hooks for comfortable wear.
Though expensive, the T10i's come with multiple ear tips in both silicone and memory foam, and have a long warranty in case anything happens to them.
Phil Nickinson - Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you spend any amount of time on airplanes, you need noise-canceling headphones. And the QC20 from Bose will change your life. It's active noise-cancellation, which means there's a small, thin box toward the bottom of the cable that houses the battery and electronics. It's a little clunky, but that's the price of admission.
It also has to be charged periodically — I've only ever done it before a big trip, and maybe before heading home, if it's going to be a particularly long flight. But it charges over microUSB, so that's easy enough.
The result is night and day. Music no longer has to be turned up dangerously loud. Voices are easy to understand. Engine noise all but disappears. It's actually almost disorienting at first. But you'll soon find you can't live without it. And I haven' even mentioned the sound quality. (It's Bose. It's good.) These aren't cheap headphones. But they're excellent. I don't fly anywhere without them.
Mike Tanasychuk - Apple Earpods
For in-ear headphones that just come with a device (iPod or iPhone), they have to be some of the best-sounding headphones I've ever used.
The bass tones are very rich and warm and the mid and highs are balanced really well. All levels sing out nicely and it's really easy to hear harmonies and to separate tracks. Whenever I'm trying to learn a drum or guitar part, these headphones more than do the trick. They may not be much for noise cancelling, but I've never had any decline in audio quality because I've cranked 'em.
They also seem to last the longest out of any in-ear headphones I've used. The plastic doesn't feel cheap; the rubber cord is formidable and won't tear (at least, it hasn't for me); I can usually get a couple years out of a pair.
DJ Reyes - BlackBerry Premium Headset WS-410
I prefer in-ear headphones rather than over-the-ear ones for travelling because they're easier to carry around and slip into a pocket. I've tried many over the years but there's one that beats all others - the BlackBerry Premium Headset.
They're the ones that come in the BlackBerry 10 device boxes. I use them not so much for the sound quality, which is good enough for me still. Not for the noise cancelling function because it doesn't have that feature but because they fit and don't fall out of my ear. They fit securely in my ear, in-part thanks to wing-hoop on the ear piece that helps to secure it in place. On top of that, these headphones are not the kind that have to go into my ear canal. Even with those wing tips that come with other in-ear headphones, they never fit in my ear, no matter what size piece I use. Perhaps I'm wearing them wrong but I've never really got on well with the ones that have to go into the ear canal, those always pop out.
The in-line microphone and one-touch button comes in handy when I need to take a phone call and the flat wire design means I don't have to spend time untangling them when I want to use them. I may upgrade to the slightly better model which includes volume keys but for now this WS-410 model suits me just fine.
Michael Fisher - HTC Active Earbuds
A design that's dust- and water-resistant (and therefore pocket- and sweat-resistant). Textured metal housings and eye-catching yellow trim. A three-button control collective for music and phone calls. And the buds magically come together when brought back to back thanks to the power of magnets.
It's tough to make earbuds stand out in 2016, but HTC does it with the Active Headset. Toss in respectable sound quality, a comfy in-ear feel and a reasonable price point, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better set of buds for your rainy-day hiking trips.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine