Sound geeks usually choose headphones when on the go, relegating earbuds to the junk drawer. But those who are serious about their music know that some in-ear monitors can deliver a musical experience on par with almost any conventional on- or over-the-ear setup. Here’s a look at five top models.
Premium microphone and headphone manufacturer AKG presents the reference-class N5005 as its top earbud system. It employs a five-driver configuration in each black ceramic housing and four filters that let users adjust bass, mid, mid-high or high frequencies to taste. The earbuds come with a high-performance Bluetooth detachable cable for hands-free listening, a three-button universal remote and an eight-hour battery life.
That these striking in-ear devices resemble miniature versions of Audeze’s flagship LCD-4 headphones is no coincidence, as they utilize open-back planar-magnetic drivers to deliver a wide soundstage and ultimate transparency. Meanwhile, bass descends to an unbelievable 10 Hz. Braided silver-plated, oxygen-free copper cable maintains sonic purity, while magnesium top housings ensure that the drivers are durable and lightweight. These handcrafted earphones are among the very finest available, regardless of size.
Cardas A8 30th Anniversary Edition
Respected audiophile cable designer George Cardas set about making in-ear headphones that employ his Golden Ratio cables combined with a miniature transducer. These smooth performers deliver full, linear output, from subsonic to top-octave frequencies and particularly deep bass. Oh, and the black chrome housings look like jewelry.
Empire Ears Bravado
These impressive in-ear monitors feature dual-driver technology, one for mid and high frequencies and a 9 mm rare-earth magnet subwoofer for bass with real gravitas. Working in concert, the driver design and anti-resonance technology ensure optimal levels of transparency and clarity. Designed and built-in Norcross, Ga., each of these state-of-the-art ’phones are made by hand.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds
Germany’s headphone-industry leader breaks new ground with technology that offers perfectly synchronized wireless audio for video applications and stunning sound for music. Sennheiser Smart Control, the brand’s latest app for iOS and Android, allows listeners to control, update and configure their ’buds. With Bluetooth 5.0, the lightweight and splash-resistant earbuds have touch-pad technology that enables users to access voice assistants.