If you’re anything like me, listening to music can be close to a religious experience.
Or, at least, it can be, if you’re not being plagued by the sounds of the outside world: noisy traffic and chattering commuters is a real buzzkill if you don’t want to hear it.
With the introduction of so-called noise isolating earbuds, no longer do you require a giant pair of super expensive, bulky headphones to enjoy your favorite songs in peace, but distinguishing a quality pair from a crappy one can be difficult.
I’ve picked out five of my favorite pairs to share with you, each promising to be the best of the bunch, at a variety of prices and in a range of styles, with price points to suit any customer’s budget.
Surely there’s a set you’ll love!
Want to know more about the mechanics of noise isolation, as well as identify some of the key features worth considering when looking for top-notch earbuds?
My handy Buyer’s Guide has gathered all of the necessary info for you, right in one place.
I’ve even provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from fellow customers, in the form of a set of FAQs at the end of the article.
Your last minute query or concern could be answered here - good luck and happy shopping!
Sick Of Shoddy Sound? Here’s My Top Pick:
Top 5 Best Noise Isolating Earbuds
OUR TOP PICK
My number one choice this time are the SP3060 earbuds from Sephia, which fit beautifully inside the ear, block out noise from your surroundings and look incredibly sleek considering their budget-friendly cost.
10mm neodymium magnet drivers, this is a truly impressive set of buds for such an affordable price, easily reproducing high quality, bass-boosted sound you might associate with premium headphones that cost hundreds of dollars.
Designed to offer a perfect fit and long-lasting comfort, these earbuds are super soft and gentle on the ear, whilst the gold plated 3.5 millimeter audio jack ensures optimum signal transmission every time.
Almost four feet of cable in a standard Y shape ensures you’ll have plenty of room to connect to whatever device you like, with a braided design that prevents warping and other wear and tear that other more affordable earphones are susceptible to.
Also included are a range of different inner ear bud sizes and shapes (small, medium and large), allowing you to find the perfect fit for your ear shape. You even get a stylish carry case to protect them on the go and keep your wires tangle free!
- High quality components for incredible sound at a budget price
- Stylish silver, black and white design suit anyone, regardless of age or gender
- Long cable for easily connecting your devices
- Includes additional earbuds and a handy carry case
- No built-in microphone
Promising a pitch perfect sound quality and a solid audio experience every single time, the BS10s from Betron are another worthy contender for the top spot, with truly surprising bass reproduction capabilities at this price point.
You’ll find a range of small, medium and large earbuds in-box, tailoring the fit to suit your individual ear shape instead of taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach as is common from other manufacturers.
Crisp sound and noise isolation is easily achieved, as X-Bass technology produces more bass than the competition without any unwanted crackling, drowning out your surrounding environment and keeping the quality of your music intact.
Powered by 12mm neodymium drivers, frequencies are automatically controlled and adapted to put the bass and tone of each individual song on a pedestal. Even at the highest volume, there’s no distortion here!
Premium components have been used for every aspect of these buds, including metal housing, a gold plated audio connector and a reinforced, no tangle cable, for a durable set that won’t let you down, even after months or years of use.
- Stylish all black design suits any listener
- X-Bass technology for powerful deep and low sounds
- All individual components constructed from high quality materials
- Additional sizes of earbuds and carrying case included
- Strange cable texture
This wouldn’t be a solid list if I didn’t include at least one high-end option, and these QuietComfort earbuds from Bose are certainly that, with a price point far above my first two recommendations. Listen up, committed music fans with money to spend!
Worried about tuning out too hard? Not any more! Simply hit the Aware Mode button and you can hear your surroundings easily; this is a great function for those who use their earbuds on the move and might need to listen out for brief periods of time.
A slim control module puts everything you might want to adjust at your fingertips, whether that’s switching them on and off, skipping a track or changing up the volume - no need to scrabble in your pockets for your phone as you walk!
Thanks to both ActiveEQ and TriPort technology, patented Bose enhancements, you’ll experience truly lifeline, digital quality playback that you’d previously only dream of when it comes to in-ear listening.
With the option to choose a connector for Apple products and their new-fangled audio ports, as well as Samsung and Android devices, it doesn’t matter which phone or smart device you have, as you can order the set that fits yours.
- Works with any device, whether that’s Android or Apple
- Advanced StayHear+ tips for a soft, secure in-ear fit
- Manual controls and built in microphone
- Astonishing sound quality for earbuds
- Very pricy, but worth the commitment if you’re a music lover
Having been created using personal monitor technology, road tested by real professional musicians, the SE215 earbuds from Shure offer an impressively detailed sound at half the price of the Bose pair above.
An optimized nozzle angle designed to rest comfortably in the ear canal creates a low profile, lightweight earbud that stays where you want it, with comfortable noise isolating sleeves that block almost 40 decibels of noise from your surroundings.
Durable and reinforced for maximum longevity, the cable is made from a formable wire that can also be placed over your ear, to keep those pesky wires out of your way when exercising or otherwise on the go.
You’ll also receive a Fit Kit as part of your purchase, featuring three different sizes of both the flex and black foam in-ear sleeves, which lets you experiment and obtain the perfect seal needed for true sound isolation.
Choose from three cool colors, including clear, an electric teal blue and plain black - each one comes with a compact, soft-zip carrying case, offering a much-needed solution to throwing them in your pocket to inevitably get tangled up.
- Professional quality sound at a more budget-friendly price
- Successfully blocks out near enough 40 decibels of environmental noise
- Single dynamic micro driver for crystal clear playback
- Three colors to choose from - pick your favorite
- Still quite expensive in comparison to my other selections
Easily my favorite in terms of style points, these delightful NRG X earbuds from Symphonized offer unique style and premium quality sound, crafted from all-natural Bubinga wood to deliver optimum acoustics and reproduce warm tones with ease.
Designed with an oblique angle, they are naturally suited to rest in your ear canal without unnecessary pressure, staying super secure even if you’re at the gym or (like I spent most of my youth doing) running to catch the bus.
A smart inline microphone, volume adjustment, pause/play/skip capabilities and answer or end call functions provide total control over your listening experience, without even needing to reach for your phone or other smart device.
8mm dedicated drivers produce crisp, clear sound and allow for strong, deep bass, a combination that presents high quality, studio-tuned audio, easily competing with higher-end models in spite of the more affordable price point.
Accessories galore have been packed into this box, with 12 additional small, medium and large in-ear tips to achieve your perfect fit, a customized shell case that fastens directly onto your bag, even a shirt clip for keeping everything where it should be.
- Beautiful Bubinga wood design and three unique wire colors
- Ergonomic fit with additional tips to adjust and suit your ear
- Noise isolating without compromising on sound quality
- Volume, media and phone call control with the inline buttons
- Not compatible with the newer Apple iPhone and iPad products
Best Noise Isolating Earbuds Buying Guide
Wired Versus Wireless: The Age Old Debate
You may notice a distinct lack of wireless buds on this list. That is because, in my opinion, wired buds remain superior, despite the limitations of a tangling cord. You’re less likely to lose them, they’re much harder to break and usually more affordable.
It’s definitely possible to obtain noise isolating earbuds that are wireless, but that doesn’t mean you should, unless you’re a real gym bunny or can’t stand dealing with those tangled up wires for another day longer.
I will always vouch for wired over wireless earbuds personally, for one primary reason: they will never run out of battery, nor will using them run down your phone’s battery by forcing you to connect via Bluetooth.
Whatever your preference, it’s worth noting that most of the brands I’ve highlighted above also offer noise isolating buds that are wireless, so I’d recommend checking those out if you’re just not satisfied with a wired connection any more.
Other Features Worth Considering
Of course, the most important factor in picking your next pair of buds is the sound quality they are capable of delivering.
Investing more money can guarantee this, but finding a cheaper pair that retains HQ sound is possible, as I’ve demonstrated.
This is determined by the quality of drivers used, and how adept they are at recreating the low, mid and high frequencies of your music, measured in Hertz. Bass production may also be important, depending on your favorite genre.
When it comes to noise isolation, achieving a perfect fit for your ear is necessary to create that all-important seal, blocking out the outside world and ensuring the only thing you hear is your favorite music.
Design is important - look out for buds that have been ergonomically shaped in order to fit snugly in the ear canal, sealing it up without putting any pressure on the fragile parts of your delicate hearing organ.
Material choice is also worth thinking about: metals will be more durable than plastic, whilst wood not only looks good and lasts well, but actively works to improve the acoustics of your music playback. Win-win!
The majority of buds on the market will come with different sizes of bud tips made from a range of materials, so aiming for a set that offers this versatility means you’re more likely to achieve the isolation you seek.
Some manufacturers also include carrying cases for safely transporting your earbuds when not in use, preventing tangles and ensuring you can listen to your music as soon as the mood strikes you.
Far too many times in my life, I’ve been susceptible to cheap wiring that causes one side of the buds to stop functioning, reducing you to a single ear of music. I highly recommend you opt for a pair with reinforced or braided cable to prevent this.
In a similar vein, a gold plated audio jack ensures consistent signal delivery with no crackles or interruptions, which should again increase the longevity of your earbuds by retaining the same great standard of audio quality.
Last but not least, don’t forget about the aesthetic of your new buds. If you’re going to be wearing them around, potentially every day, you might as well look cool doing it, right? It doesn’t really matter to me, but for others, it’s a serious consideration!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between noise isolating and noise canceling earbuds?
Whilst noise isolating earbuds work to physically block unwanted sounds from getting into your ears, literally isolating the eardrum and sealing away your music. It’s the same as wearing earplugs to block out sound… only those earplugs play songs, too!
Where noise cancelling earbuds are different is that they employ this blocking technique, but they also emit sound waves that literally eliminate those from the world around you, by mimicking these signals out of sync to create interference and eradicate extraneous noise.
As a result, noise cancelling earbuds tend to be on the more expensive side, as they utilize both methods. However, this does mean they are more effective at providing an immersive listening experience, if that’s what you’re after.
Are noise isolating earbuds safe to use?
Simply put, just using the earbuds is of course safe and won’t cause any damage to your ears, but using any earbuds (noise isolating or not) on a constant basis at increasingly higher volumes certainly will.
So long as you keep the sound to a lower level as much as you can (general advice suggests 70 decibels or lower, whilst OSHA argues for below 85) and take regular breaks to give your poor overworked eardrums a little rest.
It could be worth switching between a pair of in-ear buds and headphones, if your budget allows it, just so the canals get a break from being blocked up. This advice is especially encouraged if you have a problem with wax buildup! (I know, gross, but it happens to us all!)
Can you use noise isolating earbuds when you sleep?
You definitely can use these earbuds to enjoy music and block out unwanted disturbances when you sleep, but there are risks (as with putting anything into the sensitive ear canal for long periods of time) that you should consider first.
Putting pressure on your eardrum for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to the health of your ears, so being sure to find a pair that fit unrestrictedly and won’t be pushed in too deep as you move in your sleep is advised.
Similarly, always maintain a healthy volume level to ensure you aren’t putting undue strain on the very fragile eardrum - as I’ve already said above, under 85 decibels is advised, but as quiet as you can put up with and still block out noise is what I’d suggest.
It’s also possible that you’d benefit here from a pair of wireless buds, as this will prevent the tangling of wires as you roll around in the wee hours of the night. Some of the tangles I’ve woken up in are a testament to this!
If you’re committed to the wired life, make sure you’re able to put your phone or smart device somewhere it won’t get damaged. The more I think about this, the more I would suggest you don’t try this at home!