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Top headphones for 2017

Top three in-ear headphones for 2017

By Daniel Nissenbaum

Article 1 of 3

We round up the best in-ear headphones of 2017 to help you pick the perfect pair for comfort, sound quality and more.

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In-ear models are the smallest and most portable type of headphones you can buy. They're ideal for taking with you when you're out and about, whether it's on your commute or your morning jog.

Below we've listed the three best in-ear headphones on the market this year, so you can get great sound and stay comfortable when you're on the go. See all the best headphones by checking out our Best Buy headphone reviews

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access by taking a £1 trial to Which?.

Best in-ear headphones

Lowest price (in stock) £74.95
Which? score 85%
Reviewed Nov 2014
Overall sound quality :
5 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
5 out of 5
Comfort:
4 out of 5
Wireless:
Member exclusive
Noise cancelling:
Member exclusive

These headphones look great, sound great and feel great in the ear, once you have them seated properly. They don't come cheap but they're an excellent choice for iPhone and Android users alike.

Lowest price (in stock) £70.90
Which? score 79%
Reviewed Mar 2014
Overall sound quality :
5 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
4 out of 5
Comfort:
4 out of 5
Wireless:
Member exclusive
Noise cancelling:
Member exclusive

Audio quality is considerably better than with any other set of headphones we've tested from this brand. They sound good across all genres of music we test - classical, jazz and pop. We were also impressed with how they handle spoken word tracks.

Lowest price (in stock) £198.00
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Nov 2013
Overall sound quality :
5 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
5 out of 5
Comfort:
3 out of 5
Wireless:
Member exclusive
Noise cancelling:
Member exclusive

This pair of headphones is an unusual one: a noise-cancelling in-ear pair. Designed for use on the go, they also have an ‘aware’ mode, which actually pumps outside noise into your ears. Usually in-ear headphones plug your ears, but with these you’ll be able to hear things around you if you want, such as announcements in an airport or traffic in the street.

Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct at June 2017.

Not found the product for you? Browse all of our headphone reviews.

And here are three in-ear headphones to avoid

A bad pair of in-ear headphones isn't really worth having at all. They'll be so uncomfortable in your ears that you won't want to listen for long, and your music will sound terrible, with a lack of detail and boomy bass. To help you avoid making an expensive mistake on your next purchase, we've rounded up three of the worst models we've seen in shops this year. 

In-ear headphones to avoid

Lowest price (in stock) £44.95
Which? score 24%
Reviewed Dec 2015
Overall sound quality :
1 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
5 out of 5
Comfort:
2 out of 5
Durability:
4 out of 5
Travel Case:
Member exclusive
Weight (g):
Member exclusive
Cable Length (cm):
Member exclusive
Music Controls on Cable:
Member exclusive

A choice of three different ear tips means that you can adjust the sound from these in-ear headphones to your liking. Unfortunately, though, the choice is between bad, worse and all over the place. Like the vast majority of headphones they have in-line remote controls built in to the cable, but these controls are more basic than most - you can't even adjust the volume without getting your phone out of your pocket.

Lowest price (in stock) £35.95
Which? score 28%
Reviewed Nov 2016
Overall sound quality :
1 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
5 out of 5
Comfort:
2 out of 5
Durability:
5 out of 5
Travel Case:
Member exclusive
Weight (g):
Member exclusive
Cable Length (cm):
Member exclusive
Music Controls on Cable:
Member exclusive

On paper these headphones look pretty decent. They’re wireless, and they have small hooks designed to keep them secure in your ears when you’re out for a jog. However, the bass is overpowering and the worst crime of all is that they’re uncomfortable, so you won’t be able to get the most out of your workout.

Lowest price (in stock) £119.99
Which? score 29%
Reviewed Nov 2014
Overall sound quality :
1 out of 5
Acoustic leakage:
5 out of 5
Comfort:
2 out of 5
Durability:
2 out of 5
Travel Case:
Member exclusive
Weight (g):
Member exclusive
Cable Length (cm):
Member exclusive
Music Controls on Cable:
Member exclusive

This expensive pair of in-ear headphones from a highly respected audio brand should be a surefire hit, right? Wrong. Surprisingly, sound quality ranks among the worst we've seen - the powerful bass just overwhelms everything. We found them really difficult to fit properly - they pinch your ears and apply pressure where you don't want it. To top it all off, they're a bit flimsy - not well suited to everyday use while you're out and about.

Wireless in-ear headphones

Wireless technology was previously mostly limited to on-ear and over-ear headphones, as in-ear models weren't big enough to include batteries that would last long enough. However, improvements in battery technology mean that wireless in-ear models are getting more common every year. 

They still don't have the same battery life as the larger types - around 5 or 6 hours compared to 15 or 20 - but they're now good enough that they'll last you a day of use. 

Running headphones

Some in-ear headphones are designed for sport, with features to keep them more secure in your ears compared with normal in-ear models. This is often in the form of a rubber ‘wing’ that sits in your ear to provide extra grip. Some sports models are also water resistant, meaning you can take them for a run in the rain and not worry about damage. 

Manufacturers have also started selling headphones that have fitness-tracking features. We’ve tested the Bose SoundSport Pulse, which measures your heart rate and transmits it to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Some models go even further. The Samsung Gear IconX, for example, has on-board memory so you can use its advanced fitness-tracking features without a smartphone. For more info on the best sports headphones, read our guide to the best headphones for running

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