Let’s face it, earbuds kind of suck. They aren’t the most resilient things in the world and if they aren’t breaking or fraying, they’re getting tangled. Still, we deal with these issues because there really is nothing that matches the convenience of a good pair of ‘buds. In many cases if you get a solid pair that don’t sacrifice sound quality they even sound better than their larger over-ear brethren. With that issue solved, we can focus on what this article is all about: durability. If you live an active lifestyle, don’t take the greatest care of your products, or you’re just tired of replacing earbuds and want something that will stand the test of time then this list is for you.
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We looked back at a lot of the ‘buds we reviewed as well as some that have been highly rated by customers and talked about extensively in the audio community, hopefully you find one that catches your eye. It’s worth mentioning that these are all durable, but not indestructible. Too much sweat from running or exercising can still do damage (check out our best workout earbuds for those), but in everyday use cases these should definitely last.
Westone 78400 Adventure Series Alpha
If we made a checklist for what the perfect pair of durable earbuds would be, the Westone 78400 Adventure Series Alpha would check all of those boxes. The brand isn’t necessarily the first one that comes to mind when you think of consumer audio, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing. Westone has been working with custom earpieces since 1959 and started manufacturing for musicians in the 1980s. They’ve taken everything they learned over that time and taken it into the world of the consumer.
The Adventure Series Alpha live up to the name and have an IPX3 certification, meaning they’re weather resistant so if you get caught in the rain you won’t have to frantically stuff these into a dry spot in your pocket or backpack. Of course the same can not be said of your source device, but at least this is one less electronic you have to worry about should you find yourself in that situation. They’re rocking 6.5mm micro drivers that help push air for your favorite tunes and the housings for them are made of a lightweight magnesium design with aluminum added in for extra strength.
Halfway down the cable is a three button remote that lets you pause and play music as well as adjust the volume of whatever you’re listening to. Skipping and returning to previous tracks are also available via double or triple clicking the multifunction button in the middle. One of the most notable features of these headphones is that the cable is replaceable. This means that if they do end up getting damaged some time down the line you can easily swap them out. As long as the actual ‘buds are functional, these should last quite some time. The cable isn’t your average run-of-the-mill cable either. It has an AWACS reflective coating which enables them to reflect light and be seen in low light conditions.
These earbuds come with a sturdy carrying case made of a hard rubber that is also weather resistant. The top screws on and is connected to the bottom of the case so you won’t accidentally lose it while you’re out and about. Besides that it also comes with a cleaning tool for maintenance and a number of different ear tips to help get a good fit. You’ll get five silicone ear tips and five comfort foam ear tips, all of them color coded with its partner so say goodbye to trying to match them up by putting two next to each other and looking at the size. Chances are one of these will be the perfect fit for your ear so it’s good that they come with different options to experiment with.
If you’re looking to optimize sound quality as well as durability, check out the Shure SE215-K. These also have a detachable wire so like the Westones you can easily replace them if necessary. The cable uses what’s called Wireform Fit, which is a fancy way of saying that they’re comfortable and it is also reinforced with a durable Kevlar. It’d be difficult to break these even if you tried. You wear them behind the ear and they can be molded into a more comfortable shape to better fit your ears. Shure is big on making earbuds that are fit for on-stage performances as well as casual listening. For the best results, you need a good fit and an even better seal.
That’s why Shure includes three different sized ear tips (S, M, L) that are sure to give you both comfort and solid noise isolation. If that’s not enough you can even take it a step further and order custom sleeves to help with the fit and isolation. Speaking of which, Shure claims that the noise isolation in the SE215s are good enough take away up to 37dB of outside noise. This could definitely be a useful feature if you’re performing on a stage with things going on all around you, but it’s also useful for someone who really wants to disappear into whatever they’re listening to.
Inside the earbuds are single micro drivers that deliver a full range of audible frequencies from 22Hz – 17.5kHz. They also have an impedance of 20 ohms and ends in the standard 3.5mm jack. Though these are a fairly solidly built pair of in-ears, they only weigh about 5 ounces. The housing on the ‘buds is also built with water and sweat-resistance so even though these probably aren’t the best headphones for the gym, at least you know that a little moisture won’t be the end of them.
RHA S500iFull Review
One other pair of earbuds we can’t leave out are the RHA S500i. If the heavy weight of the Audiohms above were a concern, than the lightweight design of the these earbuds are for you. RHA is more known for their flagship T10 and T20 in-ears with swappable filters and even though the S500i don’t have filters, they still benefit from the knowledge RHA has when it comes to build quality.
The earbuds are housed in a durable aluminum alloy that you’re going to have a hard time breaking. Even though the cable isn’t reinforced like some of the other earbuds on this list that doesn’t mean it’s frail. The bottom of the cable is covered with a flexible braided fabric that improves durability. So even though it may not be able to hold up some weights, they’ll definitely live through some regular everyday wear and tear. One other thing to keep in mind is that these aren’t sweatproof. Durable doesn’t mean waterproof so we wouldn’t recommend wearing them to the gym.These are more for the person that needs a solid pair of everyday headphones without worrying if they’re going to snap in half. These also come with a number of different sizes and styles of ear tips so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a comfortable fit to keep them from falling out of your ears.
As far as sound these aren’t going to give you the same quality and accuracy as the higher end RHA models, but for under $50 that shouldn’t be expected. Instead you’ll get a fairly “fun-sounding” pair of earbuds that are fine for casual listening throughout the day or during a commute. If you’re interested in getting a pair for yourself, make sure to check out the full review for a more in-depth description of the sound.
Something to keep in mind is that these were made with iOS devices in mind so if you have an Android phone you’ll only be able to pause/play music and answer/end phone calls. RHA offers a 3-ear warranty on their products and the S500i in-ears are no exception, so if these break on you for whatever reason you can always swap them out for a new pair.
GOgroove Audiohm RNFFull Review
Some people like using earbuds for when they lift weights, but in most cases they don’t mean that literally. The Audiohms have an ultra-reinforced cable that is said to be able to hold up to 10 lbs in weights. Besides one seriously durable pair of ‘buds, GOgroove promises a lifetime warranty on it so if you find yourself constantly breaking headphones these are worth taking a look at. Why you would want to carry 10 lbs of weights with a pair of earbuds is beyond me, but at least it’s good to know that if you want to you can. To accomplish that GOgroove had to make them with heavy-duty cabling, so don’t expect them to be lightweight.
That said, they are earbuds so they’ll obviously be lighter than a pair of over-ears but don’t expect to forget that you’re wearing these. The Audiohms are reinforced with hard plastic at all of the crucial points of the earbuds, including the 3.5mm connector, the Y-connector, and even the earbuds themselves which are encased in a metal housing. Usually when a company focuses on one aspect of headphones other details tend to get looked over, but that’s not the case with these. Not only are the Audiohms borderline impossible to break (and if you do don’t forget about that lifetime guarantee), but they also sound really good.
These aren’t going to blow you away by any means and there are definitely better sounding earbuds out there, but in the full review we were surprised at how good they sounded for such a low price. These come with some extra tips as well for a good fit and have pretty good noise isolating capabilities. Each ‘bud has a 9mm driver in it and the cable has a built-in mic and control button that is compatible with both Siri and Google Now.
If you’re looking for the best sound quality ever these probably won’t do it for you, but if you want unbreakable in-ears with good sound then you should definitely check out the Audiohm RNFs.
As long as audio companies keep making earbuds, they’ll keep breaking. We’ll be sure to update this article in the future to shed light on some of the companies that make quality earbuds. Be sure to let us know if we missed a good pair of ‘buds so we can add it to this list.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:
- Best headphones under $50
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- Best on ear headphones
- Best earbuds (in ear headphones)
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