150 models considered. The top 40 tested. And, the best earphones under $30, are…

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“After sifting through literally hundreds of options, seriously considering nearly 150 models, testing the top 40, and calling in audio experts to blindly evaluate the top 20, we’re pleased to report that if you want to buy an inexpensive pair of in-ears, you should get the Panasonic RP-TCM125 Ergo Fit,” Lauren Dragan reports for The Wirecutter.

“They sound good, have a one-button remote and mic, fit well, come in a variety of colors and cost less than $15,” Dragan reports. “There is a reason there are no direct comparison reviews on headphones in this price range: there are just so many of them. Researching and evaluating everything currently in the marketplace was a daunting and unbelievably time-consuming task. Fortunately, we at the Wirecutter aren’t afraid of hard work. So we set out into uncharted waters to answer the questions that anyone who has stood at a kiosk in the airport or browsed Amazon and Best Buy have wondered: “What the heck should I get? Are any of these really any better than the Apple EarPods?” How we got the answers is a long process.”

Much more in the full review here.

Related articles:
EarSkinz made me love my Apple EarPods again – August 26, 2013
Wired reviews all-new Apple EarPods: Sleek and comfortable with striking improvements to sound quality – September 14, 2012


  1. Cable is too thin. My headphones keep getting caught on sticky-outy things around my house, get pulled and thus stretched and in turn broken as a result.

    I’ve been testing multiple headphone with thick cables and though they are not cheap the nocs are the best set i’ve come across so far by a long shot.

    The headphones themselves are constructed with a single piece of plastic (which means that when I fall asleep with them in my ears, they’re less likely to break). The point at which the cable meets the headphone is constructed in a way that they are unlikely to pull out easily…. and as I mended, the cables themselves are not like spaghetti noodles but more like linguini noodles (thick) and don’t stretch and break easily if they happen to get tangled on something.

  2. … “ear-buds”. Or “ear-pods”. Or whatever else you stick in your ear.
    It’s a personal preference. I may be alone in this dislike.
    The headphones with a “strap” around the back of the head, those are my preference. They stay on wile I’m active and don’t collect ear-wax in the process. Light. Comfortable.

  3. The Apple Ear pods (ear buds that come with iPhone 5 and newer) fit a lot better when I used these: http://earskinz.com/.

    (The have models for the original Apple Ear buds also)

    These are silicon covers which fit tightly over the pods and give them a lot more traction. They also have a little extension which funnels the sound into the ear.

    I generally prefer in the ear pods but most of the ones I’ve tried transmit noise through the wire making them very noisy when walking. The Apple Pods are 100% silent.

    1. I tried the earskinz. They did give the earpods more traction, but at the cost of hurting my ears after a while. Others’ mileage may vary depending on the size of their ear holes…..

  4. Over the years, I’ve used crap for ear buds. I remember discovering a decent pair of Sony ear buds about 7 years ago and going ecstatic. They had actual bass audio! Now I prefer my Apple Ear Pods. That they are being kicked aside by even better ear buds is extraordinary. Push on progress!

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