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The 7 Best Non-In-Ear Earbuds (Classic Style)

Last updated: 4 months ago
8 min read

What are the best-rated classic earbuds (non in-ear) right now?

Rating Price Connection Mic & Controls Water protection More info
Apple AirPods 2 Best wireless
Apple AirPods
4.8
Under $200
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
None
4.4
Under $40
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
IPX8
Edifier H180 Best wired
Edifier H180 s
4.2
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
P180 model
None
4.2
Under $30
Wired – 3.5mm
crosscross
None
4.1
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
IPX8
Apple Earpods Wired Best for iPhone
Apple Earpods Wired classic earphones
4.6
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
checkmarkcheckmark
None
4.4
Under $10
Wired – 3.5mm
Optional
None
Table of Contents

    Looking for classic style earphones?

    Here you’ll find the top model on the market right now.

    What’s the Difference Between Classic Earphones and In-ear Headphones/In-ear Monitors?

    The difference between classic earbuds and in-ear earbuds (also known as in-ear monitors (IEMs) or in-ear headphones) is their design.

    The classic earphones lay on the outside of your ear while in-ear earphones enter further in the inner canal. The in-ear headphones also come with rubber or foam ear tips that you can replace to adjust the fit.

    Shure SE215 in-ear headphone example

    Above is an example of a very popular in-ear earbud design, also called in-ear monitors (IEMs). Shure SE215 are one of the most popular in-ear earbuds by musicians and non-professional users alike.

    Apple Calssic Earbuds

    And the above picture is probably already familiar to you. The classic Apple earbud design is one of the most popular ones to date. These earbuds don’t go in the ear canal but stay on the outside of the ear.

    Also, there is no ear canal irritation, which can occur in in-ear headphones.

    What Does That Mean for User Experience?

    Generally, you will get a much better seal and thus better sound quality from in-ear monitors.

    Classic earbuds don’t have good passive noise isolation which means more sound gets distorted by noises around you before it reaches your inner ear.

    On the other hand, in-ear design proves uncomfortable for a lot of people, especially those with smaller ear canals. Not to mention you have to replace the eartips when they get worn out with use. Some people just don’t like the hassle.

    The classic earbud design is simpler and doesn’t require any eartip replacement. Because of this a lot of people find them comfortable for long periods of time.

    If you want a simple solution for listening to audio books and don’t like the in-ear design, classic earbuds might just be what you’re looking for.

    The Confusion About the Name

    Since the in-ear design (in-ear monitors (IEMs), in-ear headphones) has become the standard in popular consumer electronics, most people call them just earbuds even though that is technically incorrect. Among the audiophile community, people understand the difference between earbuds and in-ear monitors and name them accordingly.

    Since most people aren’t audiophiles we use the name “earbuds” for in-ear monitors/in-ear headphones because this is what people expect.

    If you go to a store, most people will understand what you mean if you say classic earbuds or in-ear earbuds.

    Check more detailed reviews of each classic earbud model below.

    7 Best Classic Earphones/Earbuds

    1. Apple AirPods 2

    1st-place Best wireless
    Apple AirPods 2 true wireless earbuds

    Apple is making sure that their well known classic earphone design is still relevant today. Airpods are one of the most popular products of the past few years, combining the desirable looks with an impressive Apple ecosystem integration.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h + quick charge – Lightning | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: Touch controls, auto play/pause
    • Super comfortable for hours
    • Easy setup
    • Nice features on an iPhone
    • Wireless charging case
    • Mediocre sound
    • No the most stable (especially when sweating)
    • Somewhat pricey

    Why Should You Buy These?

    These wireless earphones work great with an Apple device. The H1 chip inside is making sure that pairing with an iPhone or MacBook is both super fast and stable. There are also intelligent touch sensors on the outside of the earphone, that work really well.

    The new 2. generation AirPods are equipped with a new case that can be wirelessly charged. It’s a sleek and very pocketable box that comes only in white color.

    Another improvement compared to the previous generation is that they are able to connect even faster. There is a sweet new update coming soon that will let you switch between devices while you’re listening.

    These are very comfortable to wear. Although you do have to make sure that they can fit your ears. There are no silicone fins or other accessories included in the box, which would make them more stable.

    The Bad

    The battery life it’s not that great. You get 3 hours of talk time from a single charge. Fortunately, you get an additional 20 hours from the case.

    The Sound

    Sound quality is the same as the 1. generation. You get an enjoyable, airy sound, that is very suitable for vocals. By design, the low-end is lacking sub-bass extension.

    Overall the Apple AirPods 2. generation are a good buy if you have an iPhone or other Apple products. It offers fast pairing, reliable connection, and excellent microphone quality for calls. But, if wireless charging is not that important to you, the AirPods 1. generation are still a great buy.

    Apple AirPods 2 review


    2. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92

    2nd-place Runner-up
    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 on a stack of vinyls

    An excellent budget and better sounding alternative if you find Apple AirPods too expensive.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 13mm PU
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h + 20h in case | Wireless range: 50ft (15m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h + quick charging – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX8 | Features: Touch controls
    • Comfortable and lightweight
    • The fairly neutral sound signature
    • Responsive touch controls
    • 5-hour battery life on a single charge
    • Good build quality
    • IPX8 water-resistance
    • Loose fit
    • Poor noise isolation

    Why Buy These?

    While TaoTronics aren’t packed with tons of features, they bring most of the things that matter. Their classic earphone design makes them very comfortable. There is a small dip at the beginning of the stem, which grabs your ear lobe better, providing a slightly more stable fit.

    SoundLiberty 92 offer a crazy IPX8 rating of water-resistance, giving you the option to submerge or wash them fully. They have a plastic body with a shiny finish that doesn’t attract too many fingerprints.

    You can command them via intuitive touch controls, with up to 5 hours of continuous playback, with another 20 hours inside the charging case. A 5-minute quick charge gives you an hour’s worth of juice.

    The Bad

    Microphone quality could be better.

    The Sound

    Surprisingly close to neutral, with a full-bodied midrange. That makes them musically superior to the AirPods and more enjoyable for all sorts of music genres. Just don’t expect too many details.

    For under $40, you can’t go wrong with these, especially if you mostly need something to listen to music with.

    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 review

    Here are similar alternatives. The best earbuds under $50.

    3. Edifier H180

    wired Best wired
    Edifier H180 earphones

    The Edifier H180 earphones deliver great sound in a traditional earbud design that fits well all for a low price. If you’re looking for a quality replacement for your smartphone earbuds or need a backup pair, definitely check these out.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 16mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Earphones | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Great sound for the price
    • Good soundstage
    • Decent build quality
    • Users with smaller ears might find them uncomfortable

    Why Should You Buy These?

    Most users will find Edifier H180 earphones more comfortable than other brands. The provided foam covers add an extra layer of padding and comfort. The H180 earbuds tend to fit better and stay more secure than a lot of stock earbuds supplied by phone and electronics manufacturers.

    The overall build quality of the Edifier H180 earbuds is good, and the components hold up well for everyday use. The cable features a 3.5mm straight connector and is very flexible and pliable for portable use. Strain relief for the cables on the earbud side is ok, but it can fail if the cables are pulled too hard.

    There isn’t a lot of noise isolation since the earbuds don’t create a tight seal, but that is a good thing if you want to be aware of your surroundings.

    The Bad

    Users with smaller ears will notice some discomfort and pressure points during long listening sessions, but that is often the case with this style of earphones.

    Sound

    The sound quality of the Edifier H180 is rather impressive. Bass frequencies are presented with a solid presence, but aren’t overwhelming or over-pronounced like in best bass earbuds. Highs are crisp and clear with good sibilance control. The soundstage is reasonably wide and provides good depth.

    If you want a quality set of earbuds that sound good and won’t break the bank, the Edifier H180 earbuds are an excellent choice and top pick in this category.


    4. Sennheiser MX 365

    Sennheiser MX 365

    Don’t let the low price fool you on these Sennheiser MX 365 earphones. The sound quality is much better than you might suspect coming from a sub-$20 product.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Earphones | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Smooth, balanced sound
    • Spacious soundstage (for in-ears)
    • Comfort depends on the ear's size

    Why Should You Buy These?

    The plastic earbud enclosures feel very lightweight, which is ok for comfort and stability. The included foam earpads add a nice cushion if you want to soften the feel of the plastic earbud shell. That’s not to say that the Sennheiser MX 365 won’t last you for a long time, because they are fairly durable if they aren’t subjected to too much moisture and abuse.

    A 3.5mm angled connector is provided at the end of the 4-foot (1.3mm) symmetrical black cable that has a flat profile. The MX 365 is available in six different colors: white, red, blue, orange, bronze, and brown.

    The Bad

    The overall comfort level for the Sennheiser MX 365 earphones can really vary, depending on the size of your ears. These are a little bit larger than some of the other brands available, which means those with smaller ears may experience some discomfort and a poor fit.

    Some users have reported minor bass distortion or driver rattling during initial testing, but this noise, if present, tends to go away after a sufficient burn-in period.

    Sound

    The soundstage is much better than in most earbuds and the overall sound signature is quite smooth and balanced. Bass is present and forward enough without sounding exaggerated and over-produced. Mids are balanced, warm, and deliver good vocal clarity that isn’t too sharp. Highs are strong but can sound just slightly turned down, which can work well to combat ear fatigue if you’re listening for a long time.

    If you are looking for a mix of colorful style options and good sound, the Sennheiser MX 365 earphones are a great option for your listening pleasure.


    5. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88

    Taotronics Soundliberty 88 earbuds inside the case

    Another great substitute for AirPods, with good sound quality and the best microphones in their price range.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h + 20h in case | Wireless range: 50ft (15m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX8 | Features: Touch controls, auto play/pause
    • Comfortable and lightweight
    • Exceptional midrange clarity
    • Responsive touch controls
    • IPX8 water-resistance
    • 5-hour battery per single charge
    • Poor fit
    • Lack of noise isolation

    Why Buy These?

    As with all classic earphones, SoundLiberty 88 only hang in front of the ear canal. However, they do offer a comfortable fit for long listening sessions. Build quality is also quite impressive, with an IPX8 rating and durable housing from hard plastic.

    These are fantastic for making phone calls, with some of the best microphone noise cancellation in the price range. It can effectively eliminate surrounding noises so the person on the other end hears your clearly.

    Check the best noise cancelling earbuds if you want to block background noise.

    5 hours of battery life should be enough for a regular user, and you can always fast charge them if you need a quick refill. There are another 20 hours stored in the charging case.

    The Bad

    They may not fit everyone’s ear sizes.

    The Sound

    The frequency response is somewhat balanced but a slight emphasis on the midrange. If vocal-centric music is your thing, you’ll like their audio performance. Earbuds are quite enjoyable and clean, albeit very bass shy.

    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 provide a pleasant listening experience at different volume levels, durable build, and much better microphones than the competition.

    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 review


    6. Apple Earpods Wired

    trophy Best for iPhone
    Apple Earpods Wired classic earphones

    The iconic earphone from the year 2012, that still comes included with the new iPhones. You can see many people using them on the streets. Soundwise they are basically like much more expensive AirPods, therefore a solid option for Apple users on the budget.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Earphones | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: n/a | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: n/a | Features: Inline remote
    • Decent, smooth sound
    • Inline remote and mic
    • No foam covers, which worsens overall stability

    Should You Buy These?

    According to Apple, they are designed by the geometry of the ear, which makes them more comfortable to wear. They are very lightweight and portable. The cable is equipped with a microphone and a button to control basic functions like skipping songs and answering calls.

    These of course don’t isolate that good, but this can also be a plus. You don’t have to rely on features to amplify ambient sounds, or that you need to take your Earpods out every time when you talk to someone.

    Ever since the iPhone 7 ditched the headphone jack, the Apple Earpods come with the Lightning connector. Users are reporting that the new version offers slightly better sound. It is a little bit flatter with clearer mids.

    The Bad

    There are no foam covers or fins, so stability varies quite a lot from user to user.

    The Sound

    Speaking of the sound performance, you shouldn’t expect too much from an earphone, that comes included in the box for free. Overall the sound is warm and extremely smooth. This is why you can listen to them for hours without any fatigue.

    Nonetheless, these are quite good for a casual listener. They are light and simple to use and have a high-quality microphone for calls. As a free addition to an iPhone, they are all in all not bad.


    7. Venture Electronics Monks Plus

    VE Monks Plus classic earphones

    Monks Plus are well-known earbuds in the audiophile community. Their price to performance ratio is off the charts. They are worthy of your consideration if you are looking for Hi-Fi quality sound on a tight budget.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 15.4mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 8-22.000Hz
    Type: Earphones | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Optional | Impedance: 64 Ohm | Weight: 0.5 oz (15g) | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Enjoyable, Hi-Fi sound
    • Warm/smooth presentation
    • Good soundstage
    • Memory wire
    • Poor quality foam covers

    Why Should You Buy These?

    They are made out of plastic, which is actually quite hard and appears durable. With the lightweight housing and foam covers, you don’t even know you are wearing them in your ears.

    These look really nice. You can buy them in different colors, but the coolest are the transparent ones. It is quite fascinating to look at the earbuds and see how it is actually made.

    VE Monks Plus are the kind of earbuds, that you should definitely have. Even if you already own a much more expensive gear. They are a great example of how good cheap earbuds can be.

    The Bad

    The biggest downside are the foam covers for the earbuds, which are not very durable and might disintegrate in less than a year of use. Aftermarket covers are essential.

    The material used for wires feel cheap.

    The Sound

    VE “borrowed” the design of the housing from the Sennheiser, which helps significantly with the high-quality sound reproduction. The biggest advantage of this design is the increased soundstage.

    Monks are a bit midrange forward, with a warm presentation and smooth, rolled-off highs. The bass response has a punch and a decent speed but doesn’t go very low. They are overall very dynamic and natural, which makes them enjoyable for long listening sessions.

    It is no surprise that many people bought them and are praising them for their price to performance ratio. If you need something to use at home and you don’t want to worry too much if it breaks, these are just perfect.


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