1. Klipsch Image S4i
The Klipsch Image S4i ($55-$100) are one of the most recommended iPhone earphones out there because they offer the best value when it comes to sound quality for the price. The S4i’s are even a bigger value when you can find them for as low as $55, which is the low end of their fluctuating price range on Amazon (again, see CamelCamelCamel.com for price ranges). CNET gives them 4.5 out of 5 stars and says the “Klipsch Image S4i earphones offer up sound quality on par with and better than sets that cost many times as much.” PCMag rates them 4 out of 5 stars and compliments the S4i’s bass response for playing modern music. I’ve also reviewed the S4i for Art of the iPhone, giving them a 9.0 out of 10, highly recommended rating.
The S4i are stylish, good-looking headphones, available in Apple-friendly glossy white or glossy black, both with chrome accents. The main downside for the S4i is the same as that of almost all in-ear earphones: lack of durability. Don’t expect to shove these in your pocket on a daily basis and expect them to last forever. The S4i are currently $90 on Amazon as of the writing of this article.
2. Velodyne vPulse
Coming in a close second are the Velodyne vPulseB earphones ($70-$99). When it comes to bass, the vPulse are the best performing earphones on this list. CNET’s David Conroy says the vPulse “delivers impressive bass, so you’re in for a treat if that’s your pleasure.” Brent Butterworth of Sound and Vision Magazine says, “No doubt about it, the vPulse is the IEM for bass freaks.” The reason I give the Klipsch S4i the edge is that S4i deliverer clear mids and highs and perform better at higher volumes.
The vPulse also don’t cut corners on design. They have a flat, linguine-like cord that helps prevent tangles, an L-shaped plug that prevents wear and tear, and come with 4-different sized silicone eartips to help get the right fit. The vPulse are rarely on sale, but have dipped as low as $70 on Amazon.com.
3. DiddyBeats In-Ear Earphones with ControlTalk
Is P-Diddy the next Steve Jobs? Uh, no. But his DiddyBeats In-Ears with ControlTalk ($60-$150), part of the Dr. Dre line of headphones, are one of the better earphones for listening to modern music, mostly because the bass thumps in the ear like a drum without sounding distorted or overbearing. We don’t recommend paying the full $150 for the Diddybeats, but they can be a good value when on sale, which they often are. They have been as cheap as $60 on Amazon (they are currently selling for $85 as of this writing).
CNET gives the Diddybeats 4 out of 5 stars, saying “The Diddybeats earphones offer a great balance of style, durability, features, and sound quality.” PCMag is a little less friendly, rating them a 3.5 out of 5 stars, noting that the love the bass response but deduct points for being “too expensive” (that’s why you get them on sale) and point out they might not fit everyone.
4. Klipsch Image S5i Rugged
The Klipsch Image S5i Rugged earphones ($50-$120) are designed to be durable enough for athletes to use but still sound good enough to please music lovers. The earphones are water-resistant, and the cables are tangle free and extra durable. If any earphone can survive being repeatedly stuffed in your pocket, it’s these.
Sound reproduction for the S5i is excellent but not quite as good as their older brother (and our no. 1 pick), the Klipsch S4i. CNET rates them 4 out of 5 stars, saying the earphones “provide thumping bass and solid overall audio.” Engadget gave them similar praise, saying the earphones had “rich reproduction of lows and mids with a noticeable emphasis on bass.” Amazon currently has the S5i at around $90 (regular price $120), but the price has fallen as low as $55.
5. V-Moda Remix Remote Headphones for iPhone
The VModa Remix Remote ($40-$80) are stylish earphones with a bass-heavy sound that really impressed at least one review site, iLounge, which went as far as to say that the Remix Remote are better sounding than even our #1 pick, the Klipsch S4i. They rated the VModa Remix a B+, recommended. CNET is a little less enthusiastic, rating them 3.5 stars out of 5, noting the earphones deliver excellent bass but also saying that overall sound reproduction was “not particularly clean or balanced.” But the Remix’s best attribute is perhaps is that they can be found at the lowest prices out of all the earphones on this list. For example, as of this writing, they’re currently available for only $40 on Amazon.com.
5 (tie). Maximo IP-595
The Maximo IP-595 ($60-$80) are stylish earphones with polished-metal earbuds and a cloth-wrapped cord. And like all of our headphones listed here, they accentuate the lower bass end of the sound spectrum, perfect for lovers of modern music. MacWorld rates the earphones 4 out of 5 stars, noting the deep bassy sound and saying that the IP-595 are “a nice looking, impressive sounding headset at an excellent price that will please a broad range of users. ” Included with the IP-595′s are 3 sets of eartips (small, medium, large), shirt clip, and small carrying case. As of the writing of this article, the Maximo IP-595′s are around $60 on Amazon.com.
Also check out our overall Top 20 iPhone Earphones list, which we keep updated.