If you’re anything like me, you’re sick and tired of having to replace your earbuds. For the longest time I would have to replace my earbuds on a yearly basis. Listening to music is an integral part of my day, and having earbuds that broke down was a huge source of frustration. In order to address this issue, I’ve gathered some of the best durable earbuds on the market.
This post has been updated for January 2019. Lots of new earbuds have made the list and a few have been removed. Enjoy!
While it can be a challenge for a company to make an earbud that is durable under the $100 mark, these companies have offered a number of options to help you avoid replacing your earbuds every year.
The earbud market is huge. It can be intimidating finding the best durable earbud when everyone seems focused on sound quality and comfort. While we did take these factors into consideration, we tried to select the best earbuds that would last.
There are a number of considerations you need to make to find the most durable earbuds. We’ll quickly discuss these considerations and then get straight to the reviews!
Top Considerations When Selecting Durable Earbuds
There are a number of considerations you need to take into account to ensure your headphones last. While the sound quality and comfort are also incredibly important, we will focus on durability first and consider the other features after. While there is a large price range, it’s still possible to find durable headphones around the $100 mark.
Anything around the $50 mark will not be built with strong material or with the level of quality assurance required to ensure the earbud is durable. Just something to keep in mind. Alright, let’s talk durability:
- CasingThe casing ideally will be made of medal. Look for headphones constructed of either stainless steel or aluminium, as these will have the natural strength and corrosion resistance required for a durable headphone. Most headphones below the $100 will be made of plastic, as this is a huge cost saver. Unfortunately, while plastic is still a good material, you are not going to get the same level of durability as you will with metal.
- CableBest case scenario, the cable will be replaceable. This will allow you to replace the cable without having to replace the entire set of headphones (potentially saving you hundreds of dollars). A durable cable will be thick. A really durable cable will be reinforced.If you have a thick, reinforced cable that is replaceable, you’re winning. Keep an eye out for cables that are reinforced with stainless steel or Kevlar, as these will hold up best against any bending or stretching. A thick cable will also prevent any cable feedback. For those unfamiliar with cable feedback, it describes the tendency of the cable to pick up and amplify any disturbance due to rubbing your cable (say, on your shirt). Thick, reinforced cables tend to minimize any cable feedback. Another bonus: look out for oxygen free copper cables, as this prevents any additional corrosion.
- PlugIf possible, find a set of headphones that have a reinforced plug. The cable tends to bend frequency where in contact with the plug, causing shorts in the cable. A short in the cable instantly renders the cable useless (and sometimes the entire headphone). Some reinforcing around the plug will help prevent these shorts.
- Sweat ResistantIf you are going to be using the headphones for working out, having some level of sweat resistance is essential. Some companies will offer sweat and weather resistant earbuds, essentially having a casing that is sealed to any moisture. This should not be confused with a waterproof headphone, which can be totally submerged underwater.
In short, find a set of headphones that have replaceable cables and durable casings. Ensure you get a sweat proof headphone if you’re going to be working out. Side note: if you have smaller than average ears and have a hard time finding headphones that fit, check out our review of earbuds for small ears.
If you follow these features, you will be well on your way to finding the best durable earbuds. Now, without further ado, our top picks for durable earbuds.
Our Top Picks For The Most Indestructable Earbuds
- Sweat and weather resistant
- Durable plastic housing
- Floating design
- Poor sound isolation
- Thin cable
The SoundSport from Bose is a great headphone if you are looking for something to use when working out. The design itself is sweat and weather resistant, which improves durability and splash resistant. The have a straight plug rather than an L-shaped plug, making them more sturdy and resistant to wear. While the earbud is not made with metal, the plastic material is quite durable. The cable is actually a bit shorter than average, perfect for doing any physical activity where you don’t want a lot of cable floating around.
They are also a perfect fit for anyone not wanted to show an earbud into their ears. Bose uses what is called a ‘floating’ earbud. The earbud floats close to your ear canal and is secured using what Bose calls StayHear tips. A soft silicon wing that rests nicely against your ear. This can be a problem for people looking to wear these in noisy environments. Because the earbud isn’t actually plugged into your ear, the noise attenuation is quite low. Something to keep in mind.
While the sound quality isn’t amazing, it will be well suited for anyone who considers themselves an average listener. The sound is well balanced with good bass performance. The treble response isn’t extraordinary, but will be good enough for the average listener.
The only complaint we have besides the lack of sound isolation is the thin cable. Larger cables are more durable and less susceptible to tangling.
Bottom Line: A great headphone for those looking to use something while working out and don’t want to have an earbud shoved into their ear.
Sennheiser Momentum In Ear
- Durable design
- Great sound quality
- Two year warranty
- Good sound isolation
Another great headphone from Sennheiser. As usual, it’s difficult to put together a list of the best headphones without including something from Sennheiser. The Momentum In Ear headphones are a member of the Momentum headphone line from Sennheiser. While no one feature makes these headphones exceptionally durable, the overall quality provided from Sennheiser makes these some of the most durable headphones in the market under the $100 range.
While the outside housing is plastic, the internal cylinder is made of stainless steel. The cable is relatively thick for earbud cables, helping to prevent any tangling or snapping. There has been no complaints of mic feedback, or cable problems.
Where the Momentum In Ear does excel is in the sound quality vs price. You’ll get a well balanced in-ear headphone will decent amounts of noise cancellation. The high quality transducers prevent any distortion if you are listening at high levels. The bass response is very surprising for an in-ear headphone. Although powerful, the bass is very well controlled. We wouldn’t consider them the typical ‘bassy’ headphone.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for a durable headphone under the $100 price point, these are worth your consideration.
- Replaceable cable
- High quality Kevlar enforced cable
- Great sound quality
- 37 dB noise attenuation
- Extremely rugged design
Our top choice. Designed for both onstage monitoring and personal use, the Shure SE215-K is the most bombproof earbud on the market today. Not only is it extremely durable, it also provides exceptional sound quality for the price. If you’re tired of replacing your earbuds, these are your headphones.
Let’s begin with cable quality. The cable quality of the SE215-Ks is top notch. Poor quality cables will kink and provide unwanted microphone feedback. By using Kevlar enforced cables, the feedback is nonexistent and the cable becomes very formable. Best of all, the cable is detachable. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to replace an entire set of headphones because they wire has shorted out from bending. The detachable cable allows you to replace any worn out cables without having the replace the set of headphones. Although we suspect you shouldn’t need to replace the cable with the heavy duty right angle jack.
The earbud body itself is very durable. The tight seal of the plastic housing allows the earbud to be sweat resistant. Perfect for onstage use or working out.
All the durability would be for nought if the sound quality wasn’t there. Luckily for us, it is. There have been many comments about the well balanced sound across all frequencies. With in-ear monitors, there is usually a tendency to over emphasize the bass frequency. Fortunately, the bass response is very full, without going over the top and becoming too boomy. The mids and bass are balanced well, with everything coming in crisp and clean.
They also score high marks for fit. They come with six sets of earbuds with three sizes of both memory foam and rubber. We’ve found many comments from people saying how easily and comfortably they rest in your ears. Take note that because they are designed to be monitoring earphones, the cable runs behind the ears. This may feel unnatural at first as it takes some getting used to.
Finally, the sound isolation. This earbuds provide a whopping 37 dBs of noise attenuation. These make them perfect for using in loud environments.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for the most durable earbuds, you’ve found them. These earbuds are designed to last and have replaceable cables. The sound quality is also top notch, resulting in them being our top choice!
- Stainless steel driver housing
- Reinforced cable
- 3 year warranty
- Great sound quality
The MA750i from RHA is built like a tank. It uses 303 stainless steel for the earbud housing and stainless steel reinforcement throughout the cable. The cable is also oxygen free, similar to those found in XLR cables. This prevents any corrosion within the cable itself, extending lifetime. The cables tend to be a bit thicker then regular in-ear headphones, which adds to their ability to resist and damage or tangling.
Additionally, the plug is reinforced with a spring. This prevents any shorting of the cable due to repeated bending. In short, these score very well when considering durability.
The sound quality also happens to be top notch. The bass response is great, with everything else being well balanced. The treble isn’t overstated, and the highs still come through. Keep in mind, there have been some comments of these headphones requiring a break in period to reach their full sound potential.
Bottom Line: Incredibly durable headphone. If you want something that is built like a tank, you’ve found them.
Sennheiser IE80 Headphone
- Extremely durable casing
- Replaceable cables
- Great sound isolation
- 2 year warranty
Another tank of a headphone. The Sennheiser IE80 Headphone provides you with everything you want in a durable headphone. First off, the cables are replaceable. This is required, as you don’t want to replace the entire headphone set when one of you cables short out. The casing is also constructed of lightweight aluminum.
This headphone is the most premium headphone on our list. As such, it has the highest quality sound characteristics. The bass level has been adjusted from previous models (a common complaint) and is now well balanced with the other frequencies. You do have the ability to change the EQ on the headphones yourself, adding or removing bass to your taste.
These also provide 20dB in sound attenuation. This makes them great for using in loud environments, or for in-ear monitoring. Keep in mind these do require a burn in period of around 100 hours.
Bottom Line: The durable headphone for audiophiles. If you will appreciate the subtle nuances of your music and want a durable headphone, get these.