Now Hear This: 4 Top Earbuds
Still using the earbuds that came with your smartphone? If so, it may be time for an upgrade. We tested four high-performance models designed for a variety of mobile devices. Here are the results.
For iPhone & iPad
1. Etymotic hf3
Our top pick for noise isolation, Etymotic's earbuds fit snugly, sealing off outside sound. They come with a carrying case, four pairs of tips in different shapes, an earwax filter, and a three-button remote on the cable that lets you play and pause music, skip forward or backward, and adjust volume. During our test, calls came across loud and clear, and music was surprisingly rich, with just the right amount of bass.
2. Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones
These comfortable earbuds, which sealed off outside noise almost as well as the Etymotics, stay in place via adjustable loops that perch on the inner ridge of your ears. They come with three sets of tips in different sizes. Voices sounded clear during calls, and music sounded vibrant and natural, with adequate bass. A remote on the cable lets you play, pause, and skip songs, adjust volume, and take calls.
3. Klipsch Image S4A
Music sounded rich on these earbuds. Calls came across loud and clear, but people on the other end heard some background noise. Like the other models here, the S4As have a microphone on the cable. They come with three sets of tips in different sizes and a cable remote that you can customize with an included app.
4. Plantronics BackBeat Go
Plantronics's wireless earbuds can connect to a variety of Bluetooth devices up to 33 feet away. They come with tips in three sizes and rubber loops to hold the buds in place. Sound quality surpassed that of many Bluetooth headsets, though music sounded richer on the wired models we tested. The rechargeable battery lasts for 4.5 hours of talk or music time and has controls for taking calls, skipping tracks, and adjusting volume.