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The best wired earbuds you can buy

Wires are so in. We tested and researched the best wired earbuds you can buy when you get sick of charging your wireless earbuds.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor
Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4 | Best wired earbuds overall
Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4
Best wired earbuds overall
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Apple EarPods | Best wired earbuds for mic quality
Apple EarPods against white backdrop
Apple EarPods
Best wired earbuds for mic quality
View now View at Amazon
Skullcandy Jib In-Ear | Best budget wired earbud
Skullcandy earbuds against white backdrop
Skullcandy Jib In-Ear
Best budget wired earbud
View now View at Amazon
Moondrop Quarks | Best basic wired earbuds
Wired earbuds against white backdrop
Moondrop Quarks
Best basic wired earbuds
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Etymotic ER4SR Studio Reference Earphone | Best splurge wired earbud
Wired earbuds against white backdrop
Etymotic ER4SR Studio Reference Earphone
Best splurge wired earbud
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Wireless earbuds and headphones are nice and all, but sometimes, you just want a good pair of wired earbuds instead. Unlike their Bluetooth counterparts, wired earbuds are harder to lose, more convenient, and never have to be charged. While there have been major developments in the wireless earbuds space, like spatial audio, noise cancellation, multipoint Bluetooth, and more, brands have packed some impressive tech into wired earbuds, too.

Plus, wired earbuds have become quite a zeitgeisty fashion statement in recent years. Spend any time on Instagram, and you'll see supermodels and celebrities alike going on walks with wired earbuds instead of wireless buds. It's become so ubiquitous that there's even an Instagram account with over 15,000 followers dedicated to celebrities bringing the wired headphones back. Call it what you want: nostalgia or contrarianism to modern tech. Wired earbuds are en vogue. 

Also: The best earbuds you can buy 

What are the best wired earbuds right now? 

Based on our testing and research, we've compiled some of the internet's and ZDNET staffers' favorite wired earbuds picks. Our pick for the best wired earbuds overall goes to Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4 earbuds for their comfortable build, clear sound, and not-too-shabby price point.  

The best wired earbuds of 2024 

Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable
  • Reviews praise "great sound"
  • Some users report issues with the cable
More Details

While we haven't tried the Lin Soul TIN HiFI T4 earbuds ourselves, many users and other credible review sites call them the best of the best. One Amazon customer called the sound quality "superb" and praised the wide soundstage you get as you listen with these in. 

The earbuds come with seven ear tips, sound-isolating features, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a durable cable. The ultra-pure silver-plated copper cable is reportedly strong enough to endure the twisting and folding that comes with frequent use, though some users have reported issues with it. At $100, the Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4 earbuds are in between a budget wired earbud and a splurge wired earbud. It's a Goldilocks price for great sound: not too cheap, not too expensive, compared to other earbuds on the market. 

Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4 tech specs: Battery life: N/A | Noise cancellation: No, but has sound isolation | Voice assistant: No | Build: Silver-plated cable

Pros & Cons
  • Great microphone
  • Comfortable to wear over time
  • Less audio immersion than other wired earbuds
  • No cushion
More Details

Just last year Apple transitioned away from its Lightning ports and went all-in on USB-C cords for everything from its iPhones and iPads to its infamous EarPods. That was a welcome change, according to ZDNET's Kerry Wan. 

Priced like inflation doesn't exist, the $19 EarPods, now with USB-C, are ideal for the latest iPhones, just about any Android phone, laptops, tablets, and more, Wan said. The EarPods don't come with cushioning -- a notable advantage and disadvantage to the earbuds. "While they won't dig into your ear and induce pressure buildup over time, there's a noticeable lack of audio immersion (or passive noise cancellation)," Wan said. 

But you're not really buying these for the best sound performance. Instead, buy them for the ease of use, the technically long battery life, and the built-in microphone. They're so spectacular that Wan says he uses it to record his voiceovers for nearly every video he makes for our social platforms. 

Apple EarPods tech specs: Battery life: N/A | Noise cancellation: No | Voice assistant: No | Build: Plastic

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable price
  • Great sound
  • Great microphone quality
  • May not be as durable as other picks
More Details

If you don't care about an expensive, stellar-sounding wired earbud, and just need a pair of earbuds that do the trick, the Skullcandy Jib In-Ear buds are for you. "I'm not really picky when it comes to earbuds so as long as they work and get the job done, I didn't care if they were $10 or $50," ZDNET's Kayla Solino told me.  

Solino said she loves the affordability, microphone, clear sound, and adjustable ear tips of these Skullcandy wired earbuds. After four years of regular use, the earbuds still hold up through college classes and work. "These are the ones I use for every meeting on Zoom when I need earbuds," Solino said. 

Amazon reviewers praise the value you get for the $10 price, substantial sound, and microphone quality. 

Skullcandy Jib In-Eatech specs: Battery life: N/A | Noise cancellation: No, but has sound isolation | Voice assistant: No | Build: Plastic

Pros & Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Great sound
  • Sturdy cable
  • For higher frequencies, the clarity isn't the best
More Details

These earbuds have over 1,000 reviews on Amazon, and are praised for their incredible sound, affordable price of $13, and sturdy, portable build. You are getting your money's worth -- and more -- with these earbuds. One reviewer said, "For most music, they will be outstandingly alive and brilliant sounding." 

Moondrop Quarks tech specs: Battery life: N/A | Noise cancellation: No -- but has sound damping | Voice assistant: No | Build: PC

Pros & Cons
  • Top-notch sound quality
  • Neutral soundstage
  • Great for beginning audiophiles
  • Some users may not like how the ear plug drills into ears
More Details

These earbuds are $100 more expensive than our top pick, but reviewers and Reddit users say they are 100% worth the money. One Amazon reviewer wrote that the Etymotic ER4SR earphones were "better than even thousand dollar [in-ear monitors] like Shure SE846 in terms of sound quality." The earbuds deliver precise, crystal-clear sound and a comfortable fit, though some listeners may have issues with the less bass-y sound. 

The earbuds come with ear tips that drill into your ears, according to some user reviews. This is good and bad: good because you get intense sound isolation; bad because you may not like how deep these earbuds go into your ears. 

Etymotic ER4SR Studio Reference Earphone tech specs: Battery life: N/A | Noise cancellation: No—but has sound isolation | Voice assistant: No | Build: Anodized, laser-etched aluminum

What are the best wired earbuds?

Best wired earbudsPrice
Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4$100
Apple EarPods$19
Skullcandy Jib In-Ear$9
Moondrop Quarks$13
Etymotic ER4SR Studio Reference Earphone$218

Which wired earbuds are right for you?

To help you find the right pair of wired earbuds for your needs, consider the following:

Choose these wired earbuds...If you want...
Lin Soul TIN HiFi T4The best wired earbuds overall. These will please audiophiles and casual listeners alike, with a sturdy cable, great sound, and a nice build.
Apple EarPodsThe best wired earbuds for microphone quality. Even though they're by Apple the EarPods have a USB-C connection now, so whether you use iOS or Android, these will work for you.
Skullcandy Jib In-EarThe best wired earbuds for people who want a budget pair that will just do the trick. These have lasted our editor four years with a good microphone and decent sound.
Moondrop QuarksThe best no-fuss earbuds for value. Decent sound and wear match the $13 price.
Etymotic ER4SR Studio Reference EarphoneThe best splurge wired earbuds. At $200, they offer crystal clear sound and a great fit.

Factors to consider when choosing wired earbuds

If you're looking to buy a new pair of wired earbuds, consider the following factors:

  • Sound quality: Your wired earbuds need to sound good. We've researched these earbuds or tested them out ourselves to learn about the sound quality and how they reproduce a song or podcast's soundstage. The sound should be clear and balanced, never tinny or flat. 
  • Comfort: The earbuds should be comfortable to wear for long periods without irritating your ears or causing discomfort. 
  • Durability: The best wired earbuds have a strong enough build that they can withstand travel and tangles. A strong cord is necessary for ultimate portability and a long lifetime.  
  • Special features: Do the earbuds have a decent microphone? Are there features that will please casual listeners as well as audiophiles? We consider all these features while picking the top products to include on a list like this. 

How we test wired earbuds

As with all the products we spotlight on ZDNET, we diligently research and test the products we recommend to readers. We consider comfort, sound quality, battery life, mic quality, use cases, price, and other features when judging the best wired earbuds. 

For more information on our testing process, check out our extensive headphones testing methodology

Which are better? Wired earbuds or wireless?

It depends on what you want out of a pair of earbuds. Are you fine with regularly charging your wireless earbuds? Would you rather have hands-free controls of your earbuds and not be tethered to your phone, or do you like a wired connection? 

Wired earbuds are easier to find in a bag or purse, you don't need to charge them, and they deliver competitive sound. On the other hand, they don't come with some of the more advanced features that Bluetooth wireless earbuds come with, like noise cancellation, spatial audio, or voice assistant features. 

Are there wired earbuds alternatives to consider?

There are many other types of wired earbuds and headphones available on the market, if the ones above don't suit your fancy. 

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