Earbuds have always outscored their over-ear counterparts in terms of portability, and with recent advances they're beginning to catch up in the sound department too. While you might not be ready to trade in your noise-canceling studio phones for an in-ear solution just yet, a good pair of earbuds will serve you well where a larger product falls short. Here are six of the best pairs currently available.
Harman Kardon AE The most notable aspects of the AEs are the sleek design and machined aluminum casing, but the real show starts when you put them in your ears. That aluminum helps to bring out rich bass tones, the premium drivers deliver sharp acoustics and the silicon sleeves isolate noise for a pleasurable listening experience. $150, harmonkardon.com
Klipsch Image X10i If you're willing to spend a little more on a set of ultra portable headphones, Klipsch can deliver with the Image X10i. The small, sleek earpieces offer a clean, well balanced sound with excellent bass and vocal capabilities, and the in-line remote/microphone is a nice bonus. $350, klipsch.com
Sennheiser CX985 Bright sound and a discrete, metal design characterize these Sennheiser buds. The silicon adapters fit snugly into the ear for optimal sound isolation, and the rotatable jack angles to 90 degrees to provide less strain on your music player. $160, sennheiserusa.com
Shure SE425 They might look like hearing aids, but that's a good thing when it comes to fit and sound delivery. The contoured design takes a little getting used to, but once you've positioned them correctly they sit perfectly in the ear. At the same time, they boast excellent audio quality (you get what you pay for) and the detachable cable allows for repairs or replacements to individual components for a longer-lasting product. $300, shure.com
Logitech UE 900 Logitech and Ultimate Ears joined forces to produce these pro-grade in-ear monitors. With 26 decibels of noise isolation, excellent depth of sound and a user customizable design, these are the choice for serious music listeners who demand perfect audio and portability in one clean package. $400, logitech.com
Yurbuds Focus Limited Edition Athletes need a little more stability when it comes to earbuds, and the wrap-around form is the design of choice for many. Yurbuds offers this limited edition pair, designed to be water and sweat resistant, and featuring a tangle-proof cloth cord that's well suited for running. They don't skimp on sound either, packing dual dynamic drivers that'll keep your tunes coming strong during your workout. $100, klipsch.com