(Last Updated On: December 31, 2019)

Learn what to look for in a quality pair of earbuds with great microphones.

As earbuds are small and can fit snugly inside the ear, they are perfect for just about any situation. You can use them while working out, on your daily commute to work, or even on a lazy day at home. Plus, earbuds with microphones allow for easier, hands-free communication.

However, not all earbuds’ microphone (mic) is of great quality and some can be downright crappy. The mic feature is mostly an afterthought for most manufacturers – a good-to-have.

With this guide, we gather some of the best earbuds that are not just great for music but also deliver great call quality. You will also learn:

  • How does a mic work?
  • How to differentiate between different types of mic?
  • How do multiple mics work hand-in-hand to reduce noise?

Best Earphones With Mic

Earbud NameMic Noise ReductionMic PositionForm FactorPrice
Jabra Elite Active 65tJabra Noise Blackout™On EarbudsTrue WirelessCheck Price
Hifiman TWS600cVc 6.0On EarbudsTrue WirelessCheck Price
Anker Soundcore Life P2cVc 8.0On EarbudsTrue WirelessCheck Price
TaoTronics SOUNDELITE 72cVc 8.0InlineWirelessCheck Price
SOUNDPEATS QC35 HDcVc 6.0InlineWirelessCheck Price
Airpods Pro-On EarbudsTrue WirelessCheck Price
Powerbeats Pro-On EarbudsTrue WirelessCheck Price
1More Quad Driver-InlineWiredCheck Price
Mee Audio M6 Pro 2nd Gen-InlineWiredCheck Price
PANASONIC ErgoFit Earbud-InlineWiredCheck Price

10 Best Earbuds with Microphone

Best Earbuds with mic
Best Earbuds with Mic

1. Jabra Elite Active 65t

Jabra Elite Active 65t
Jabra Elite Active 65t

Key Features

  • Snug and secure fit
  • 4 MEMS mic
  • Wide frequency range in mic (100 Hz to 10 kHz)
  • Wind noise protection
  • Solid connectivity with integrated Bluetooth 5.0
  • Long battery life (up to 15 hours with charging case)
  • Voice command ability

The Jabra Elite Active 65t true wireless earbuds blazes the trail with its sleek design and array of features engineered for a truly wireless experience. With an IP56-rated design and a 2-year warranty against damage from sweat and dust, it is perfect for people with an active lifestyle.

Whether for listening to music or making calls, or even for getting your phone to execute your voice commands, Jabra Elite Active 65t makes for a solid pair of earbuds with mic.

Multiple mics for better ANC

The more the mics in the earbuds, the better the noise pickup and subsequent suppression. Jabra Elite Active 65t is equipped with 4 MEMS mics, allowing for better voice pickup and active noise canceling during calls or voice commands. It also features an acoustic open chamber design for wind noise protection.

Jabra Elite Active 65t’s Mic Test

EarGels™ for a snug fit

EarGels increase comfort and provide the secure fitting and dependable in-ear stability needed for when you’re on the move. With three sets of EarGels available in different sizes, you get to choose the size that best ensures great sound quality wherever you go.

Personalize your sound experience with the Jabra Sound+ app

Download the Jabra Sound+ app from your Google Play or Apple App Store and customize the way your earbuds transmit and receive sound to suit your surroundings. Want to enhance your music experience, use the app’s advanced equalizer to listen to your music the way you want to hear it. You can also modify your call settings from the app for a more superior calling experience.

Voice commands made easy

Connect instantly to Siri®, Google Assistant™ or Alexa and get things done on the go. Whether you need to search a new location on the map, get a traffic update, or even have messages in your inbox read back to you, enjoy a seamless connection from your Elite Active 65t earbuds to your smartphone with Bluetooth 5.0.

Man wearing his Jabra Elite Active 65t (From: Jabra)
Man wearing his Jabra Elite Active 65t (From: Jabra)

Drawbacks

The Elite Active 65t isn’t the most affordable earbuds with microphone on the market. But for the features that Jabra has packed into this true wireless earbuds, you can say it is worth the price tag.

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Pros:

  • »Excellent noise isolation
  • »Truly wireless with no annoying cables to tangle
  • »In-app sound customization
  • »Integrated motion sensor
  • »Two microphones in each earpiece for a great calling experience
  • »Decent battery life at 5 hours with 10 hours more in the charging case
  • »Dust and water protection
  • »Sleek design with three different color variations

Cons:

  • »Earbuds may lose secure fitting during sweaty workouts
  • »HearThrough can’t be disabled while tracking runs
  • »Short charging cable

2. Hifiman TWS600

Hifiman TWS600 True Wireless Earbuds with secure in-ear fit.
Hifiman TWS600 True Wireless Earbuds with secure in-ear fit.

Key Features

  • Topology Diaphragm Technology for more natural and detailed sound quality
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Voice command ability
  • Extra-long battery life
  • Long-range transmission distance for clear communication at 490 feet (150 meters)

HIFIMAN stakes its claim in the True Wireless market with the TWS600 HiFi Earbuds. Featuring its proprietary Topology Diaphragm driver which comes with a unique nano-coating to manipulate the sound signature and characteristics, to achieve specific sound outputs.

This diaphragm requires a burn-in period for the earbuds, so it’s best to let them run for a couple of hours before evaluating its sound performance.

HIFIMAN TWS600’s Mic Test

Up to 490 feet (150 m) communication distance

The mic quality of the TWS600 delivers crisp clarity even over long distances. HIFIMAN even made a video showcasing its long-range Bluetooth connectivity and clear communication.

Press for two seconds to wake up the voice assistant

The TWS600 supports most voice assistants, including Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google Voice Assistant. It also features a single-channel option so you can use only one earbud for calls, listening to music and other related functions.

2010 taekwondo world champion, Guo Ting pictured with Hifiman TWS600 earbuds (From: Amazon)
2010 taekwondo world champion, Guo Ting pictured with Hifiman TWS600 earbuds
(From: Amazon)

Drawbacks

The TWS600 loses points for the bulkiness of its charging case and an apparent dearth in of sub-bass presence in the sound output.

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Pros:

  • »IPX4-rated for Resistance to Sweat & Dirt
  • »Easy controls on either earbud
  • »Good mic quality
  • »Stable Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • »38.5 hours battery life (5.5 hours in earbuds and 33 hours in charging case)

Cons:

  • »Bulky charging case
  • »Less bass-heavy and bass-centric compared to other earphones within the same price range
  • »Doesn’t support wireless charging

3. Anker Soundcore Life P2

Illustration of the Anker Soundcore Life P2 True Wireless earbuds (From: Soundcore)
Illustration of the Anker Soundcore Life P2 True Wireless earbuds
(From: Soundcore)

Key Features

  • 4 MEMS Omnidirectional Mics for crystal clear calls
  • cVc 8.0 Noise Reduction
  • IPX7 rating (Fully waterproof)
  • Frequency: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Voice assistant enabled

Another pair of true wireless earbuds make their way onto this list. The Anker Soundcore Life P2 boasts a robust design with an impeccable finish. Internally, its sound output is powered by graphene drivers to provide you with an ultra-realistic listening experience.

It also features Soundcore’s BassUp technology which can enhance bass by up to 43%. With an IPX7 rating, Life P2 wireless earbuds are fully waterproof so you can keep your conversation going or enjoy your music on the go, even during intensive workouts.

Incredible Call Quality

The Soundcore Life P2 features 2 microphones per earbud and utilizes the latest cVc noise reduction technology for enhanced voice pick ups and background-noise suppression. This enables clearer calls, ensuring your voice is heard on the other end clearly and without interference.

Mono/Stereo Modes

Want to use one earbud while the other one is charging? Automatically enter mono mode by simply removing one of the earbuds from the charging case.

Long Battery life with fast charge

With a single charge, you get up to 7 hours of playtime. The charging case comes with 33 hours so you can enjoy up to 40 hours in total usage.

Man wearing Soundcore Life P2 wireless earbuds (From: Soundcore)
Man wearing Soundcore Life P2 wireless earbuds (From: Soundcore)

Drawbacks

For all its amazing features, the Soundcore Life P2 earbuds is that the physical buttons can be a bit stiff such that pressing them sometimes requires jamming the earbuds deeper into your ear. Plus, the earbuds do not have volume control so you can only increase or reduce the volume from your mobile device.

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Pros:

  • »Solid Bluetooth 5.0 connection with one-step pairing
  • »IPX7 Rating for water protection
  • »4 MEMS mics
  • »cVc noise suppression technology
  • »Long battery life

Cons:

  • »Somewhat stiff buttons on earbuds
  • »No volume control on the earbuds

4. TaoTronics SOUNDELITE 72

TaoTronics SOUNDELITE 72 Wireless Earbuds (From: TaoTronics)
TaoTronics SOUNDELITE 72 Wireless Earbuds (From: TaoTronics)

Key Features

  • Noise-canceling mic with cVc 8.0 technology
  • 3 EQ Settings (Normal, Bass & Treble)
  • Splash-proof earbuds with an IPX6 rating
  • Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • Secure fit with different sized hooks and tips

TaoTronics specializes in reasonably priced electronics but the SOUNDELITE 72 wireless earbuds could stand up to other higher priced products in the same category. It features a “better-than-CD” sound output thanks to its aptX HD codec technology, which is designed to deliver uncompromised sound performance and exceptional clarity.

Another endearing feature of the SOUNDELITE 72 is the 3 EQ settings — normal, bass, and treble — which let you customize your in-ear sound experience. It’s sleek magnetic build design also lets you attach the earbuds together and comfortably hang them around your neck when not in use.

cVc 8.0 Noise Canceling Mic

The SOUNDELITE 72 wireless earbuds come with a built-in microphone and advanced cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology so you can enjoy clear hands-free calls on the go. cVc technology is responsible for suppressing background noise and enhancing your voice clarity for the person on the other end of the line.

Microphone located closer to the mouth

The microphone of the SOUNDELITE 72 is located along the cable connecting both earbuds. This gives it an edge over some true wireless earbuds since it means the mic is closer to the mouth, which in turn, allows for clearer calls.

Woman using SOUNDELITE 72 wireless earbuds (From: TaoTronics)
Woman using SOUNDELITE 72 wireless earbuds (From: TaoTronics)

Drawbacks

There are consumers who complain about the comfort level of the SOUNDELITE 72 earbuds, especially with the ear hook section, which may feel like it’s digging into the ear after prolonged use. However, TaoTronics has provided 2 extra ear hooks of different sizes, so it’s a matter of changing them to the ones that feel most comfortable.

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Pros:

  • »Built-In microphone with noise cancellation
  • »Above-average sound quality with 3 EQ settings
  • »IPX6 water protection
  • »Up to 14hr Playtime

Cons:

  • »The design is not the most comfortable
  • »The mic sensitivity could be better

5. SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Wireless Earbuds

SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Bluetooth Earbuds (From: Amazon)
SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Bluetooth Earbuds (From: Amazon)

Key Features

  • Built-in mic with APTX HD Audio cVc Noise Cancellation
  • Stable and clear sound with 10mm driver
  • Latest Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity
  • Voice assistant enabled
  • Magnetic Charging Contactor

The SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Wireless Earbuds packs a punch with its powerful 10mm sound driver and high-end chipset QCC3034 designed for superior bass stereo sound with reinforced clarity. If you’re in the market for budget earbuds, then the Q35 HD should definitely feature on your list.

Boasting an IPX8 rating, you can immerse them in water for a long time. However, you should note that swimming with them may not be ideal since water interferes with Bluetooth signals. Nevertheless, they’re more than suitable for intense workouts and making calls or listening to music under heavy downpours.

In-line Mic that is closer to the mouth

The headset has an in-line mic allowing it to be closer to the mouth for better call clarity. SOUNDPEATS doesn’t specify what type of mic is used, but if the Q35 HD is anything like other models like the Q30+ (SOUNDPEATS Force) wireless earbuds, then it’s likely to be an ECM mic coupled with APTX HD Audio cVc noise cancellation technology.

Magnetic Charging

The Q35 HD wireless earbuds are equipped with a magnetic contactor that automatically connects together with the USB magnetic slot for seamless charging. There are also magnets at the back of each earbud that clasps together so you can safely hang them around your neck when not in use.

Man wearing SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Wireless Earbuds in the rain (From: SOUNDPEATS)
Man wearing SOUNDPEATS Q35 HD Wireless Earbuds in the rain (From: SOUNDPEATS)

Drawbacks

While the Q35 HD wireless earbuds generally represent a good back for your buck, they are limited by their relatively short coverage distance. Even though it comes with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology, the maximum working range only clocks in at around 33 feet(10m).

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Pros:

  • »Above-average sound quality for its price
  • »APTX HD Audio cVc noise cancellation technology
  • »IPX8 water protection rating
  • »Sleek design with magnetic charging
  • »Powerful battery life (up to 14 hours playtime)
  • »12 months hassle-free warranty

Cons:

  • »Limited working range
  • »Call clarity could be a bit better

6. Airpods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro True Wireless Earbuds (From: Amazon)
Apple AirPods Pro True Wireless Earbuds (From: Amazon)

Key Features

  • 2 microphones in each earbud
  • Active noise cancellation for immersive sound
  • Quick access to voice assistant (Siri)
  • Adaptive EQ
  • Sweat and water resistance
  • Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you

The previous AirPods were a smashing success with their true wireless form factor and seamless connectivity, but the AirPods Pro takes the entire experience up a notch. For one, the AirPods Pro comes with a new vent system designed to equalize pressure and minimize discomfort. They also feature a new in-ear design with silicone tips that allow for a more snug fit.

Add the IPX4 water and sweat resistance rating and the adaptive EQ feature designed to automatically tune music to the shape of your ear and deliver balanced sound output whether you’re listening to hip hop, R&B, classical, rock, pop, or podcasts.

Active noise cancellation technology

Each earbud has two microphones — the one outside detects incoming noise and cancels it out with the anti-noise feature, while the one inside also filters outside noise as well as analyses how your music is responding to your ear geometry and adjusts it accordingly.

Plus, the shorter, curvy stems of the earbuds aim the microphone a bit more squarely at the mouth for improved voice pick up and overall call quality.

Transparency Mode

AirPod Pros come with a built-in Transparency mode that you can turn on even with Active Noise Cancellation. Essentially, this lets you enjoy your music while still hearing the ambient environment around you.

Woman using Airpods Pro true wireless earbuds (From: Amazon)
Woman using Airpods Pro true wireless earbuds (From: Amazon)

Drawbacks

The Apple AirPods Pro earbuds have only been on the market for a couple of weeks and users have been quick to compare them against the Sony WH-1000XM3 since they’re both in a similar price range. The most common drawbacks noted for the AirPods Pro have been the somewhat bland sound quality for its price and medium battery life at around 4.5 hours.

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Pros:

  • »Good active noise suppression
  • »Supports wireless charging
  • »Refined design for a comfortable and secure fit
  • »Hands-free voice assistant
  • »IPX4 water resistance
  • »Adaptive EQ

Cons:

  • »Sound could be better for its price
  • »Battery life could be better
  • »Limited features when paired with Android devices or Windows PC

7. Powerbeats Pro True Wireless Earbuds

Powerbeats Pro True Wireless Earbuds (From: Amazon)
Powerbeats Pro True Wireless Earbuds (From: Amazon)

Key Features

  • Dual beam-forming microphones for enhanced phone call performance
  • Balanced sound with noise isolation
  • Auto play/pause whenever you remove or put on the earbuds
  • Fast charging (5-minute charge can deliver 1hr+ playtime)
  • Reinforced design for sweat & water resistance

The Powerbeats Pro earbuds represent the next logical step for Apple’s series of true wireless premium workout earbuds. Featuring Apple’s proprietary H1 Chip, these earbuds are designed to deliver a faster and more stable wireless connection from a distance.

In addition to providing protection against sweat and water, the Powerbeats Pro comes with adjustable, secure-fit ear hooks to stay on even during vigorous workouts.

Hands-Free Siri

Activate Siri on the go with a simple “Hey Siri” voice command. For non-Apple devices, you’ll need to tap the button on the earbud to activate your voice assistant. Still, the voice pickup is pretty good

Dual beam-forming microphones

The downward-facing microphone in either earbud of the Powerbeats Pro is surprisingly good for a set of true wireless earphones. This Reddit user even rated the mic quality over that of the Sony WF-1000XM3. Of course, that’s only an opinion, but it is a testament to Powerbeats Pro mic quality.

Woman working out with the Powerbeats Pro earbuds (From: Powerbeats)
Woman working out with the Powerbeats Pro earbuds (From: Powerbeats)

Drawbacks

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Powerbeats Pro is its chunky charging case, which weighs at around 4.58 ounces. You’d also expect workout earbuds from Apple to have higher protection against dust and water, but alas, they’re only IPX4 rated.

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Pros:

  • »Secure, comfy fit
  • »Enjoyable sound
  • »Good mic quality
  • »Long battery life (9 hours with 24 hours in charging case)
  • »Different colors available

Cons:

  • »Bulky charging case
  • »Noise isolation could be better
  • »Doesn’t support wireless charging

8. 1MORE Quad Driver Wired Earphones

1MORE Quad Driver Wired Earphones (From: Amazon)
1MORE Quad Driver Wired Earphones (From: Amazon)

Key Features

  • In-line MEMS Microphone
  • Four drivers in each earbud for unsurpassed dynamic power and definition
  • Comfortable ergonomic design with noise isolation
  • Expertly tuned by Luca Bignardi, a Grammy award-winning sound engineer
  • Frequency Range: 20-40,000 Hz

The 1More Quad Driver makes a compelling case to stick with wired earbuds in a world gradually being taken over by its wireless and true wireless counterparts. Featuring an elegant design and 45° oblique angled ear fittings, the Quad Driver is set to take on earbuds on the higher end of the market.

Like its name suggests, the Quad Driver features four drivers, equivalent to four speakers,(1 carbon dynamic driver + 3 balanced armatures) in each earbud, designed to deliver unmatched dynamic power and definition.

Apparently, the Quad Drive design is so sophisticated that together with its deluxe accessories, it would actually make for an amazing gift. Featuring a luxurious Gift Box, 9 ear tip sizes, matching shirt clip, airline adaptors, and leather traveling case, it sure deserves a spot on your Christmas gifting list.

In-line Microphone

The Quad Driver comes with a MEMS microphone and a built-in chip that automatically identifies your device’s operating system so you can easily make clear calls, adjust the volume and skip between tracks. The microphone is also conveniently located near the mouth for easier voice pick up and clarity.

1More Quad Driver’s Mic Test

Hi-Res Audio

1More claims the acoustic quality of the Quad Driver is so crisp and clear that you can hear musical elements you’ve never heard before, like a singer’s breath during a song or the delicate shimmer of a cymbal.

Man using 1More Quad Driver earphones (From: Amazon)
Man using 1More Quad Driver earphones (From: Amazon)

Drawbacks

Seeing as the Quad Driver was rolled out following the success of the 1More Triple Driver, most people expected the Quad Driver to be every bit an upgrade of its predecessor. However, at half the price, it would seem the Triple Drive provides more value as there isn’t much difference in sound quality.

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Pros:

  • »Good build quality
  • »Mic close to the mouth
  • »Amazing deluxe accessories
  • »Slightly lower sound leak compared to most average in-ear headphones
  • »Good soundstage
  • »Comfortable fit

Cons:

  • »Bass can be a tad overwhelming sometimes
  • »Foam tips are sometimes difficult to fit
  • »The Triple Value earphones are better value

9. Mee Audio M6 Pro 2nd Generation

Mee Audio M6 Pro 2nd Generation wired earphones (From: Mee Audio)
Mee Audio M6 Pro 2nd Generation wired earphones (From: Mee Audio)

Key Features:

  • M6 PRO customizer to design your own M6 Pro earphones
  • Improved sound with ultrathin 5µm driver diaphragm and aluminum voice coil
  • Built-in ECM microphone
  • Noise-isolating design
  • Sweat-resistant build with detachable, replaceable cables
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz

As the only set of headphones being exclusively promoted as in-ear monitors (IEMs) on this list, the Mee Audio M6 Pro 2nd Gen. deserves special consideration. Designed for improved sound with revised tuning, these wired headphones may yet hold their own in today’s saturated IEM market.

One of the most endearing features of the M6 Pro 2nd Gen. is that you have the ability to customize them. Choose from different earpiece colors, faceplate designs, custom eartips and accessories to design your perfect IEM earphones.

Detachable cable with ECM mic

This is actually an awesome idea. Basically, the headset cable is detachable from the earpieces, so you can easily replace them should any trouble arise. Also, it means you can easily switch to a single-ear monitoring mode, by simply detaching the stock stereo cable and attaching the earpieces with a stereo-to-mono cable.

M6 Pro 2nd Gen’s Mic Test

Lifetime Replacement

While the M6 Pro already has a sturdy body and cool design, Mee Audio takes the customer experience further by offering lifetime replacements. If your M6 Pro gets damaged or lost, you can simply contact Mee Audio and they’ll send you a new pair at half the price. Visit MEEaudio.com/LRP to learn more.

.

Man using M6 Pro 2nd Gen. Earphones (From: Mee Audio)
Man using M6 Pro 2nd Gen. Earphones (From: Mee Audio)

Drawbacks

While the M6 Pro 2nd Generation IEM did get some quality sound upgrades for smoother, more natural treble, it seems a tad too much. A sharp treble may require more bass to balance things out, and the M6 Pro could definitely do with some more bass. Still, at its budget price, the M6 Pro 2nd Generation delivers value.

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Pros:

  • »Good sound quality for its price
  • »Lifetime replacement
  • »Customizable
  • »Detachable cable with ECM mic close to mouth
  • »Sweat-resistant IPX5

Cons:

  • »Slightly sharp treble
  • »Basic design

10. PANASONIC ErgoFit Earbud

PANASONIC ErgoFit Earbud RP-TCM125-K (From: Amazon)
PANASONIC ErgoFit Earbud RP-TCM125-K (From: Amazon)

Key Features

  • Integrated microphone and call remote
  • Ultra-soft Ergofit in-ear earbuds
  • Frequency Response (10Hz-24kHz)
  • In-ear Stereo Audio
  • Extended cord

The Panasonic RP TCM125 ErgoFit Earbuds combine style with comfort and functionality. Featuring an in-line microphone along the cord and an ergonomic comfort-fit design, the RP TCM125 is more than a simple upgrade to stock earbuds on the market.

They come with large, 9mm neodymium drivers and a wide frequency response range all working together to deliver dynamic, crystal-clear sound while suppressing background noise. There are three included sets of earpads (L/M/S) so you can choose the one that fits perfectly and won’t slip out while you’re commuting or working out.

Integrated Mic and Remote

Call compatibility is no issue with the integrated microphone and call remote of the RP TCM125 ErgoFit Earbuds. These headphones are compatible with just about every audio and smartphone device, including Apple, Android, and Blackberry.

ErgoFit Design for Comfort and Noise Isolation

The ultra-soft, snug earbuds of the RP TCM125 ErgoFit conform to your ears instantly, so you can enjoy wearing them for prolonged periods. Plus their unique designs aids in blocking ambient noise, allowing for clearer voice calls and immersive sound experience.

Woman listening to music on her Panasonic RP TCM125 ErgoFit Earbuds (From: My Litter)
Woman listening to music on her Panasonic RP TCM125 ErgoFit Earbuds (From: My Litter)

Drawbacks

The long cord, which was perhaps intended as a main feature of the Panasonic RP TCM125 ErgoFit earbuds, can actually be its greatest drawback. At 3.6-feet, this cord may be a nuisance to people trying to work out or who have to go about their daily activities at a fast pace.

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Pros:

  • »Affordable
  • »Integrated Mic
  • »11 color options
  • »Lightweight
  • »Good overall audio quality for its price
  • »Secure, comfy fit

Cons:

  • »Extra long cord makes it unsuitable for people with active lifestyles
  • »No volume controls on inline remote

How to Pick the Best Earbuds with Microphone

Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Earbuds With Mic (From: Snap Goods)
Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Earbuds With Mic (From: Snap Goods)

Obviously, the quality of the mic is a determining factor in choosing the best earbuds with microphone. So if you’re looking to get a new pair of in-ear headphones with mic, here’s a brief breakdown of what to look for in a mic that makes your buying worth it.

Ask yourself these key questions to help you make an informed choice:

  • How does a mic work?
  • What makes a good mic?
  • Do the earbuds come with noise-canceling technology in the mic?
  • Where is the mic located and how far is it away from the mouth?
  • Are the earbuds a good snug fit in your ear?

How Does a Mic Work?

A microphone works by converting sound waves (acoustic energy) into audio signals. This conversion process may vary based on the type of microphone, but they all have one common feature — the diaphragm, a thin membrane that vibrates in reaction to external sound waves.

Illustration of how a microphone works (From: Tech In Tangent)
Illustration of how a microphone works
(From: Tech In Tangent)

Without it, the microphone cannot fulfill its function as a transducer — converting converts energy from one form to another. The vibration from the diaphragm causes the other microphone components to vibrate, which are then converted into electrical currents that become the audio signal.

The loudspeaker at the other end of the audio chain is also a transducer — converting the audio signal’s electrical currents back into acoustical energy, which is the sound coming from the earbuds.

A microphone’s diaphragm picks up sounds and converts them into electrical currents, similar to how we use our diagrams to sing

Types of Mics Used in Earbuds

There are two most popular technologies used for constructing the microphones used for earbuds —

  • Electret Condenser Microphones (ECM)
  • Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS).

Both operate by causing a shift in electrical properties through the deflection of the diaphragm, which acts as a capacitor plate. The converted energy is then amplified to deliver an audio signal which is picked up by the host system. In the case of MEMS microphones, however, the variation is converted and encoded.

Difference Between ECM and MEMS

Despite the operational similarities, ECM and MEMS technologies are actually quite different.

  1. MEMS microphones are newer to the market and come in smaller package sizes, making them ideal for smaller devices. This feature is also what enables true wireless earbuds to have internal mics.
  1. They also feature relatively lower output impedance, which makes them the ideal choice in electrically noisy environments.
  1. That said, ECMs remain a practical choice since their larger sizes make it easier to facilitate design upgrades and source solutions for dust and moisture protection.

MEMS microphones have more advantages, which is why they are used across several products today, such as smartphones, headphones, tablets, hearing aids, and cars among others.

What Makes a Good Mic?

There are a few things as frustrating as having to repeat yourself over and over because the other person on the phone can’t hear what you. That’s why it’s important to understand the factors that define a good mic. These include:

Voice Pickup

This refers to the microphone’s ability to pick up voice with appropriate volume and clarity. Some higher-end earbuds come with an integrated voice assistant option that lets you talk to your phone’s voice-controlled personal assistant (Siri, Cortana, or Alexa), without actually using the phone.

The voice assistant picks up your voice when you utter a set of voice commands and executes them without you having to touch or swipe anything on your phone. This makes it ideal for driving, working out, cooking, and just about any activity that requires you to work with your hands a lot.

The frequency range and sensitivity of the microphone are crucial in determining the quality of the voice pickup. If you frequently need to “talk” to your voice assistant during the course of your day, then you’ll want to go for a mic that is sensitive and had a wide frequency range.

Having a very sensitive mic can have downsides because it can pick up a lot of surrounding sound. This is where noise filtering comes in.

Noise Filtering

Having a noise-filtering mic is a definite must, especially if you need to use it in a noisy environment. In addition to filtering out the background noise, it should also isolate your voice, allowing the receiver to hear you clearly without you having to talk out loud.

Noise filtering at the chip level

At the chip level, the type of mic in the microphone can (ECM or MEMS) help out with noise filtering. As previously mentioned, the relatively lower output impedance of MEMS microphones allows for better noise filtering than ECM microphones.

Active Noise Cancellation Mic

Before we go any further into Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) works, you should know this feature is usually used misleading in the product specifications.

Sometimes manufacturers will advertise their headphones as active noise canceling headphones and state that it has cVc noise-cancellation technology. Is that true? No.

cVc is the mic’s ANC technology. It specifically deals with the noise coming through the mic and also the voice clarity.

Don’t confuse the ANC for mic and the ANC technology in headphones such as Bose QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3. Those are used to reduce noise so that they can enjoy their music in piece.
How Does ANC Work?

ANC technology works based on the concept of Digital Signal Processing (DSP), which involves analyzing and modifying real-world signals like voice, audio, and video to optimize their efficiency. For ANC to work, the earbuds need to have multiple mics receiving sounds at a different distance.

The mic closest to your mouth picks up your voice while others pick up on the surrounding noise and filter it out through DSP, leaving just your voice. This is done through special converters that take analog signals and digitizes them to produce a higher quality signal than the original. A good example is the Jabra Elite Active 65t wireless earbuds, which feature a 4-mic system for more efficient ANC.

You can read more about DSP here.

Some examples of ANC technology include:

  • Clear Voice Capture (cVc) by Qualcomm — cVc’s technology works on the transmission and receiving path of voice calls for optimum noise suppression and voice quality across wireless communications.
  • Jabra Noise Blackout™ — Jabra products use their own proprietary tech to ensure a crystal clear and noise-free quality of the uplink of the audio on their wireless headsets. It leverages DSP to optimize their digital transmission systems for greater noise reduction on digitized audio signals.

Position of the Mic

This varies with the design of the earbuds. The premise here is pretty straightforward — the closer the distance of the mic to the mouth, the clearer the voice pickup would be and the lesser the ambient noise from the environment. Some earbuds have mics that are positioned inline on the cable, which might be too far away from the mouth and resulting in poor voice transmission.

(From: Snap Goods)
(From: Snap Goods)

Comfort and Fit

If you are looking for in-ear headphones with mic, chances are you’ll be wearing them for long, so you’ll want to choose those that are comfortable and fit snugly for easy calling. Use the earbuds and test the mic for about 10 to 20 minutes before deciding about comfort.

Consider the design and weight as well. For instance, if you’re using wired earbuds with mic on your morning jog, then you’ll have to be wary about entangling the cable with your movements. In terms of the weight; ideally, the lighter the comfier.

Earbuds with a great fit usually provide a better seal, which allows the listener to hear and communicate clearly.

FAQ

Is there a microphone on earbuds?

There sure are! True wireless earbuds like the Jabra Elite Active 65t and the Apple AirPods Pro even come with multiple microphones in each earbud which are then used for calls and voice commands.

How do I use my earphones as a mic?

Microphones and earphones both operate on the principle of the vibrating diaphragms in reaction to external soundwaves, which then convert sound into electrical signals and back to sound again. This means you can use your earphones as a mic. That being said, the audio quality from your earphone-turned-mic will be nowhere near the quality if you used an actual microphone.

How does the microphone on earbuds work?

A microphone is basically a transducer — a device that converts energy into a different form. In this case, it converts acoustic energy from your voice into audio signals which are then transmitted to the person on the other end of the line.

Now the loudspeaker through which that person hears your voice is also a transducer, converting the transmitted audio signal back into acoustic energy. This conversion happens rapidly so it just seems like you’re hearing each other’s voices, which in fact a series of ultra-fast conversions are taking place in real-time.

How can I test my earphone mic?

There’s different ways to test the mic on your earphones. The simplest way is to connect it to your phone and make a call. If the other person on the end of the line can hear you clearly, then you’re all set. You can also test the mic on your computer or use this online mic test to confirm that your mic has been set up properly.

Conclusion

Choosing the best earbuds with microphone is no cakewalk as there’s just so many considerations between you and an informed choice. Nevertheless, we hope this guide has been informative and insightful enough to at least help you narrow your options and decide on the perfect earbuds with mic for you.

Need more information about a particular set of earbuds? Please do let us know in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to help out in any way we can.