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1. Photive PH-BTE50 Lightweight Wireless Bluetooth 4.0
Best for: Exercise Junkies
Lowdown: These sweat-resistant buds come with ear-gripping “tips” to help keep them from slipping out while you’re running, and a built-in mike lets you make and take calls that can’t wait until your cooldown. They also connect wirelessly to your phone and stay charged for up to seven hours. The sound quality is nice and clean too, an uncommon plus for wireless phones.
High notes: Bluetooth connection, phone mike
2. Shure SE112-GR Sound Isolating
Best for: Heavy users
Lowdown: The outer sleeve of these earbuds blocks out ambient noise while being comfortable enough to wear for hours. They’re also remarkably durable, thanks to heavy-gauge wiring built to withstand the tugs and pulls of everyday life. And the listening quality is excellent, delivering a full bass sound without distortion.
High notes: Cleaning nozzle included; optional in-line volume and call controls (additional $10)
3. Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass
Best for: Rock fans
Lowdown: If you’re looking for a little more thump on the cheap, these earphones will rock your world. Lows are deep without sounding muddy while the high and middle notes come through just as crisply.
High note: Android users can personalize the phone-control button via Sony’s Smart Key app.
4. MediaJVC HAFX32B Marshmallow
Best for: Sensitive ears
Lowdown: With a pillowy feel that’s as sweet as their name-sake, these buds score double points in the comfort and sound-isolation departments. (The memory-foam earpieces even come in small and medium sizes.) They’re available in a rainbow of colors and push out surprisingly full sound for a pair of sub-$10 headphones.
High notes: Comfort, exceptional value