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6 of the Best | In-ear Headphones

6 of the Best | In-ear Headphones

Do all that music on your smartphone a favour. Introduce it to a decent set of in-ear headphones.

These days, we think nothing of laying down a couple of hundred pounds on the latest tablet or smartphone. Then we fill them with music (free) or sign up to a streaming service (cheap as chips).

Yet we seldom spend more than £30 on headphones, baulking at the cost, seeing them as an extravagance or (worse) sticking with the set that came with our new purchase instead.

Truly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. This summer, we suggest you use a little of that money you’ve saved on not buying CDs and invest in some earbuds. At their best, in-ear headphones can offer unbeatable audio clarity — perhaps ironically many are based on technology developed for hearing aids.

“If a premium sound experience matters to you, then these are the ones to go for,” says Dean Millward, headphones buyer for HMV. Go on: show your music a little love.

From left to right

Klipsch X10i

Distinguished by shape as much as sound, high-end US audio brand Klipsch have developed these oval ear tips to follow the shape of the ear canal. Among the smallest on the market, solid and with a remote/mic system, they’re a great introduction to the premium end of sound-isolating in-ear headphones. They’re also comfortable, too. (£156, Klipsch)

Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE

For the money, these offer clear, top-quality sound with impressive treble and crisp bass that never seems too boomy, putting plenty of other sets in this price bracket to shame. Lightweight and sturdy, there’s the option of red, pink, silver or black casing, plus three earbud sizes supplied.(£59, Beyerdynamic)

SoundMAGIC E10

No household name yet, but if SoundMagic can produce gear of this quality at this price, that will surely change. The treble is crisp, vocals sparkle and the punchiness of the bass is particularly evident when listening to dance music. They also come with a case big enough to house both the earphones and your MP3 player.(£35, SoundMAGIC)

Sennheiser IE80

These buds are sold on their robustness and versatility as much as their sound. A pair of earhooks offer support from the backs of the ears, while tiny adjustable screws on each earpiece allow you to increase or decrease the bass response: a nice touch. The isolating design also helps cut sound leakage. Good for commuters. (£269, Sennheiser)


The big sell here is JVC’s Micro-HD driver, a design that puts the driver unit into the ear canal, as opposed to externally. It means music is delivered right into the ear, improving clarity and isolation from outside noise. The sound is warm, the bass is strong, and the gold-plated jack has been designed for a snug iPhone fit. (£59, JVC)

Grado GR10

With the GR10s, Grado have brought audiophile-level listening to music on the move. They’re purposely small to ensure a solid air seal, something that really brings the bass to the fore, with an amazing level of detail at both the low and high-end. Probably the best in-ear headphones on the market, and priced accordingly. (£400, Grado)

Photographs by Studio 33