What is the Difference between Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones?

How to Choose the Right Pair of Headphones for You
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Most people don’t give it a thought, but the difference between in-ear and earbuds is essential for someone like me. They almost look the same. If you ask your dad to get an earphone for you, there is no telling which one he’ll get. The salesman also won’t mind these differences while promoting it to you. But to the people who tried both, the difference is huge. If you are unaware, let’s discuss these without further delay

What is the Difference between Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones?

What is the Difference between Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones

Earbuds

They look like in-ear headphones. They are characterized by the plastic end that doesn’t get inside of the ears properly. The benefits are more or less similar to in-ear headphones. They are easy to carry, lightweight, and don’t make the ear sweat. They won’t also reach ear debris or wax as much as in-ear headphones, but it depends on how unclean your ears are. Surprising but true that earbuds have more significant drivers than in-ear. And a larger driver means better sound quality. But people avoid them because,

  • Audio leaks, so you need to turn the volume higher than usual to listen. Which is harmful to the eardrums
  • Plastic ends are very uncomfortable to a lot of people as they hurt.
  • The poor grip on ears, so they easily fall off.
  • Noise leaks. So, if you are on a public train and listening to metal songs, then chances are high that your surroundings will be bothered by the leaked noise.
  • Doesn’t come in many sizes. Everyone has a different-sized ear canal. But earbud manufacturers use one size for all.

What is the Difference between Earbuds and In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphone

In-ear headphones are designed to get inside your ear canal. Rubbery endings make them one of the most comfortable headphones. They’ll stick to your ears better and are ideal for working out. In-ear headphones of almost every brand will come with rubber buds of different sizes. So you won’t need to worry about your size. These will block out external noises more than earbud headphones. So you wouldn’t have to turn the volume up to listen clearly. Some people may avoid them because,

  • Rubber ends often fall off
  • Uncomfortable airtight feeling for those who have been using earbuds.
  • Ear debris and wax will get into rubbers
  • Higher chance of damage to the eardrums.
  • It can cause ear infections as buds covered with ear wax attracts germs. An airless environment inside the ears helps harmful bacteria to grow.

What’s the difference?

You won’t find any remarkable differences among them at first glance. To a lot of people, it doesn’t matter. But the people who hate either of them can compare them. The major difference among them is their design. Earbuds have hard plastic ends, and have no sizes while in-ear headphone has soft rubber ends and comes with replaceable rubber ends that you can use whichever you like. Earbuds are not made to get inside your ear canal, so they stick to your ears. They can fall off if you are not careful. In-ears are built to get inside of your ear and give a firm grip. Earbuds won’t create a vacuum space inside your ears like in-ear headphones. Earbuds also have higher music quality than in-ear headphones. Ear-buds don’t have any part that can fall off, but the rubbery part of the in-ear can get lost. In-ear headphones don’t leak any sound and block external noise, so you don’t need to turn the volume up to listen better. Yet in-ear headphones can be harmful as they directly supply the audio to the eardrums. So even though you maintain a normal sound level, it’ll increase by 9 decibels because it’s closer to the ears. You won’t have this risk with earbuds.

Factors that can affect your choice

Price: Not everyone can afford anything they need. Budget can restrict your personal favorites. Sometimes we cannot afford goods that are perfect for us, yet we lack money. However, people with a higher budget are flexible at choosing any brand they want.

Availability: My friend read a catchy review about a headphone which was affordable for him. Yet he never bought it because it wasn’t available at the store. So do check the shops before making up your mind about getting headphones. Because sometimes they run out of the market and the next shipment may delay arriving. And not all products will be available in every country.

Brand: Brand is important to many people, especially those who have negative experiences with the quality and service of a non-branded product. It’s better to purchase from an authentic brand with outlets within your reach. Branded products offer warranty and guarantees. But someone who doesn’t like branded products might miss out on amazing products. It’s also true that some non-branded products are nothing less when it comes to quality.

Visual satisfaction: Style can play a great role when choosing a product. You’ll find yourself reaching for a product that looks visually appealing. Also, you’ll have a soft spot for that particular product even if it’s not a fit for you. Some may avoid buying the best headphone if they don’t like how it looks on them.

Purpose: If you are aiming for a better sound experience, then go for earbuds, but if you are using them to listen to music as you walk, work out and do your home chores, then in-ear wireless will be your best mate.


Have you made up your mind about which one you like better now? There is no single best thing for everyone. Which one you should choose depends on you and your priorities. It’s better to have an idea about all kinds even when you’re buying a particular type. If you already own one, it’s a great idea to know what you are up for. Ear damage won’t be a problem if you listen for a short time, so it’s also hard to suggest a common type. It’s better to try around to see what works the best for you.

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