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The 8 Best Non-In-Ear Earbuds (Classic Earbuds)

Last updated: 3 months ago
6 min read

Here are the best classic earbuds (non in-ear) you can get right now. Sometimes in-ears just don’t feel right and these are the best alternative.

Rating Price Connection Mic & Controls Water protection More info
4.2
Under $80
Bluetooth 5.0
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IPX8
Apple AirPods 2 Runner-up
Apple AirPods
4.8
Under $200
Bluetooth 5.0
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None
Edifier H180 Best wired
Edifier H180 s
4.2
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
P180 model
None
4.4
Under $40
Bluetooth 5.0
checkmarkcheckmark
IPX8
4.2
Under $30
Wired – 3.5mm
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None
4.0
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 ear tip 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.

    8 Best Classic Earphones/Earbuds

    1. TaoTronics Soundliberty 80

    1st-place Best wireless
    TaoTronics Soundliberty 80 earbuds

    TaoTronics Soundliberty 80 take the best things out of Soundliberty 88 and 92 and merges them together, making the best classic earbuds.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 12mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 4h + 16h in case | Wireless range: 50ft (15m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX | Water resistance: IPX8 | Features: Mono mode, touch controls
    • Good overall sound
    • IPX8 water-resistant rating
    • Excellent microphone quality
    • Support for both AAC and aptX
    • No audio lag with videos and games
    • No passive isolation whatsoever
    • Subpar battery life
    • Poor stability

    The Soundliberty 80 audio quality is surprisingly full, despite the open-air design. You get a decent punch without bass distortion or driver rattling, whereas the mid-range and treble stay clean, articulate, and sibilance-free.

    Earbuds are rocking AirPods design with long, pointy stems. They sit in your ears quite comfortably but don’t expect excellent stability.

    On the inner earbud side they have built-in proximity sensors. They’re extremely sensitive, and you can’t disable them.

    These are the best classic earbuds for call quality. Microphones do an admirable job picking up your voice, even in the loudest situations.

    Buds are overall very sturdy and have a water-tight IPX8 rating.

    TaoTronics Soundliberty 80 review

    2. Apple AirPods 2

    2nd-place Runner-up
    Apple AirPods 2 true wireless earbuds

    Apple is making sure that its well-known classic earphone design is still relevant today. Airpods are one of the best classic earbuds 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

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

    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.

    Another improvement compared to the previous generation is that they are able to connect even faster.

    These are very comfortable to wear. Although you do have to make sure that they can fit your ears.

    Apple AirPods 2 review

    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 length: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Great sound for the price
    • Good soundstage
    • Decent build quality
    • Users with smaller ears might find them uncomfortable

    The sound quality of the Edifier H180’s neodymium drivers is rather impressive, even at higher volume levels. 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.

    Most users will find Edifier H180 earphones more comfortable than other brands. The provided foam covers add an extra layer of padding and comfort level, with no pressure points.

    The H180 earbuds tend to fit better and stay more secure than a lot of stock earbuds supplied by phone and electronics manufacturers.

    The lack of an ear tip insertion means poor noise isolation. However, that can be a good thing for safety measures if you want to be aware of the ambient noise.

    4. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92

    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

    The sound quality is 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.

    TaoTronics 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 water resistance rating, giving you the option to submerge or wash them fully.

    You can command them via intuitive 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.

    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 92 review

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

    5. Sennheiser MX 365

    Sennheiser MX 365

    Don’t let the low price range 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 length: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Smooth, balanced sound
    • Spacious soundstage (for in-ears)
    • Comfort depends on ear sizes

    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.

    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.

    6. TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88

    Taotronics Soundliberty 88 earbuds inside the case

    Another great substitute for AirPods, with good sound quality and the best microphones in even higher price ranges.

    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

    10mm neodymium drivers output a balanced frequency response with a slight emphasis on the midrange. If you’re a vocal-centric music lover, you’ll like their audio performance.

    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.

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

    5 hours of playback should be enough for a regular user, and you can always fast charge them if you need a quick refill.

    TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 review

    7. 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 length: n/a | Features: Inline remote
    • Decent, smooth sound
    • Inline remote and mic
    • No foam covers, which worsens overall stability

    The overall sound performance is warm and extremely smooth. This ensures listening pleasure for hours without any fatigue. Of course, don’t expect audiophile-grade high-end audio quality.

    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. Note that the strain relief isn’t the most durable.

    The headphone wire is equipped with remote control. You get a microphone and a multi-function button to control basic functions like skipping songs and answering calls.

    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.

    8. Venture Electronics Monks Plus

    VE Monks Plus classic earphones

    Monks Plus are well-known earbuds in the audiophile community, holding a deserving spot in our best classic earbuds guide. 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 length: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: /
    • Enjoyable, Hi-Fi sound
    • Warm/smooth presentation
    • Good soundstage
    • Memory wire
    • Poor quality foam covers

    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, with good sized soundstage, which makes their listening experience enjoyable.

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

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

    Honorable Mentions

    Philips ActionFit SHQ1300LF – Sporty classic earbuds for more intense workout sessions that come in different color style options. They have ear gels with wings, a kind of an eartip replacement to keep them secure inside your ears. Philips ActionFit earbuds are also very lightweight and sweat-resistant. (Check ActionFit SHQ1300LF price)

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    Have your own opinion about classic earphones? Leave a comment below, we want to hear it!