Dear Lifehacker, Which in-ear headphones would you recommend for a budget up to $60 or $70? My main use will be for public transport so the more sound isolation the better. On that note, I'd also prefer ones that aren't too bass-heavy. Thanks, Budding Listening
Alas, your timing is tragically poor — just last week Logitech was selling its Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 Noise-Isolating Earphones for $330 off the RRP. We just checked back and they've unfortunately run out of stock. Bummer.
If your budget is set rigidly at $60-$70 you'll probably have to make do with noise-isolating headphones — these are different to noise-cancelling headphones which use digital signal processing (DSP) technology to actively cancel out the sound waves from ambient noise and are significantly more expensive.
Noise-isolating headphones, on the other hand, attempt to minimise the amount of extra sound that gets into your ear via physical means. This will usually involve a protective seal between your ear and the headphone. You can learn more about the differences between noise-isolating and noise-cancelling technology here.
With that caveat in mind, your first port of call should be to check out our Top 5 Earbuds Guide. While some of the models on our list are a little out of your price range, you can usually find much cheaper prices simply by searching online.
My personal earphones of choice are Sony's XBA-1 Balanced Armature Headphones — these come with a single balanced armature full-range driver per side which provide a deeper and richer audio over a broader sound range (so not too heavy on the bass).
The XBA-1s are specifically designed to cut down on external noise and improve music quality, which makes them a good choice for public commuting. When they launched last year, the XBA-1s cost $99.95 but we've since seen them online for as little as $40.
You might want to check out Sony's sports-aimed XBA-S65 version too, which are water-resistant and washable. These originally had an eye-watering RRP of $400 but can now be snapped up for around $80. If that sounds like more your bag, our guide to the best exercise headphones might also be worth a look.
If any audiophiles have some buying tips or model recommendations of their own, let BL know in the comments section below.
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