Customer reviews on most platforms are kinda crap—and a lot of those Insta posts are just glorified ads. Most of us end up relying on the same set of friends for advice any time we have to buy something new. So we decided to start a community-sourced version of the ‘I Recommend’ section—to pool our collective wisdom to help each other out.
Here’s how it works: You tell us what products/services you need help with. We will then gather together the best suggestions from our subscribers, personal networks and social media followers. Each month will have a different theme—examples: workout equipment, jewellery, men’s clothing, luggage etc. This edition of I Rec features all kinds of earphones—wired or wireless. FYI: also check out our previous editions on the perfect red lipstick, all kinds of athletic shoes, sunscreens, watches and snacks.
Each edition is based on your requests. So be sure to let us know what help you need by filling out this single-question form—and we will make it the theme for next month.
Wanted: The perfect earphones
It shouldn’t be that hard to get a reliable, good quality pair of earphones. But the sheer variety of brands can be confusing—and what looks like a good buy often turns out to be disappointing. Here’s a generous assist from splainer subscribers—who share which earphones (wireless and wired) they swear by.
The Apple effect
Let’s get the two most obvious ones out of the way. By far, the most popular picks were EarPods (Rs 2,000) and wireless AirPods (Rs 14,900 - Rs 26,900). Garvit Kharbanda sums up what is best about the wired kind:
“They are hands down the best and my go-to earphones. You don’t need to charge it and the mic quality is top notch. Even the audio quality and ear fit is amazing. I swear by this and cannot use any other earphones.”
As for the AirPods, there are three versions—at varying price points, offering different audio features. All three are top picks with subscribers, but Prachi Gupta says “the base model works just fine and provides the most value for money.”
Now, on to the other very good options.
boAt BassHeads: This range by boAt is another subscriber favourite. Lavisha recommends two of them: the 242 (Rs 599) and the 100 (Rs 399). She says they’re “cheap yet durable, also tangle free. Good sound, AND pretty colours! I use them as my ‘I can lose these without guilt’ travel/commute earphones because I prefer headphones for everyday use.” Mainak Roy uses them for his office calls because “they are simple, super affordable and do the job—just what I need for these kinds of calls.” (Rs 399 - Rs 699)
Sennheiser CX 80S: This is a popular recommendation thanks to its quality and comfort. Nikita—who struggles with pesky earphones that fall off—likes it best: “Great sound, affordable, fits perfectly, is still working fine after using it for over a year.” Yogesh Lohani also recommends them as the “best for the price.” (Rs 1,990)
Fiio FF3: This one is perfect if you don’t like earphones that need to be jammed down your ears. This is Suneel R’s top pick because it is “one of the few premium old school type earphones… Very stylish to look at, great sound.” (Rs 8,399)
OnePlus Buds: The OnePlus range is a fave for many, with the top choices being OnePlus Buds Z (Rs 3,190) and OnePlus Buds Z2 (Rs 4,999). About Z2, Manaswini says:
“I didn’t want to shell out a lot of money for earbuds and at the same time wanted something for good calling and music. Did tons of research and couldn't find anything. Finally took a leap of faith after a recommendation from a friend who used the previous version. It’s the best if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, don’t want to be anxious about losing one piece (in case of AirPods) and decent for calls and music.”
According to Nikita Talreja, the Buds Z is just as good—and has “great sound quality and easy touch commands…is also cost effective.” (Rs 3,190 - Rs 9,990)
Sony Wireless: Folks recommend the Sony Wireless range for all sorts of uses. Hersh A suggests using it for gaming, movies and flights: “The Sony pair is larger [than AirPods], but has way more battery life and the noise cancellation is frankly incredible.” Utkarsha Mishra picks the WF-L900 (Rs 19,990) from the range because “the sound is crisp, maybe with a little less bass…but they are extremely comfortable in ears, you can lay in bed with them without any issue.” He also appreciates the fact that they don’t block everything out: “They allow you to remain connected with the world around you, which is best for office, workouts, and cycling etc where you need to be aware of things around you.” (Rs 8,990 - Rs 19,990)
Marshall Major III: This is great if you want wireless headphones instead of the airpod-style options. Sanjeeta says: “It has incredible audio quality, comes with a wire attachment, works with Bluetooth with all your devices and is easy to fold and carry.” Also: they have lasted over two years. Her pro tip: “They come in handy during the winters by doubling up as ear muffs!”. This particular model is currently unavailable but you can check out a new version in the same range here. (Rs 12,999)
PS: Need more options?
Here’s more in the wired range:
- JBL C100SI: Sameera says they are “affordable and durable wired earphones for office hours with a decent mic for meetings.” (Rs 649)
- BLON BLO3: Although made by a US-based company (which ships to India), John Paul Alex recommends it highly for its rich yet tight bass, clarity, stock cable and comfort. ($21.98 or Rs 1,819)
- 1More Piston Fit: The “good audio quality” makes it a top pick for Durgesh Garg. (Rs 3,355)
- Sony MDR range: Kaustubh Khade is a fan: “They come in red. They're non gimmicky. Don’t have noise cancellation but have great bass.” (Rs 1,290)
- JBL Endurance: Its “reliable mic”, which is “good for office” makes it Ahraz’s top pick. (Rs 999)
- Audio-Technica Ath-M20X: If you just want a wired headphone that ticks the basic boxes, go with Santhosh Guru’s rec: ”Cheap, sturdy and gets the job done very well.” (Rs 4,499)
Here’s more in the wireless range:
- Jabra Elite: The Elite 85T (Rs 14,980) is Jithin’s fave because the “fit is good. Sound quality is excellent. And it's much cheaper than the Airpods.” Sourabh goes for the 65T (Rs 15,499) because of its “great sound for music / shows / podcasts.” He believes “Jabra is a much better all-rounder as it has the best mic setup.”
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: “Great sound quality with perfect noise cancellation” makes this Dibyasundar Nayak’s pick. (Rs 8,490)
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Its “fit and noise cancellation” are a hit with Karun—who says his search for perfectly-fitting earphones ended with these: “Been using it for 7 months now and it hasn't disappointed one bit.” (Rs 26,990)
- CR8-2 Sport Wireless Earbuds: These earbuds are waterproof and hence remain at the top of Bharat Gupta’s list. (Rs 8,192)
- Lypertek Pureplay Z3: Features including “high bandwidth bluetooth”, “crazy battery (up to 70 hours)” and “dust and water protection” make these Suneel R’s pick. (Rs 7,999)
- Zebronics Zeb-Envy: You can opt for this one if you prefer headphones like Vaneesha—because they “protect your ears better than earphones.” She hearts their cool look and reasonable price. A big plus point: it can pair with two devices at a time. (Rs 3,299)
Note: We do NOT receive any revenue from the brands recommended.