While headphones market tends to shift toward to wireless Bluetooth earbuds, wired earbuds still remains substantial proportions in $13 B revenue, a figure estimated by global shipments of earphones and headphones in 2016. Though unsealed flat earbuds like Apple earpods or Amazon Premium takes a less fraction, people who can’t stand the eartip insertion still love it. The reason? First and foremost, they are very comfortable to wear since the buds don’t go deeply into the ear canal. And they let wearers be aware of the surrouding, such a great experience in the early morning if you run with music from earbuds and still hear the sound of nature. Nevertheless, they present issues about sound quality and durability like bloat bass, lacking in detail and ease of breakage. There are always high build quality earbuds, I would say a few you could find with great sounding set out there, if you are curious how do they actually do the job for simulating the sound reproduction in the ear chamber, here are the best unsealed flat earbuds in 2017.
Related posts: Sealed vs Unsealed.
Sennheiser MX985: Best of The Best
The Sennheiser MX985 may be the last unsealed earbuds made by Sennheiser. Their recent budget set, Momentum in ear with earbuds, are well recognized among the best for under $100, and it looks particulary more stylish than average Sennheiser products. This proved Sennheiser started to make affordable earbuds with outstanding sound, following the trend that most modern earbuds look and sound.
Now we look at MX985 – Premium and expensive earbuds. First, the box are packed nicely with a bunch of accessories, including a leather carrying case, shirt-clip, foam pads and flight adaptor. I don’t like the foams, the material that catches dust and particles easily, and you may have to replace after several months under heavy use. The earbud housing are plastic hold by metalic strain relief giving it premium look and feel.
How does it sound for the earbuds that its price is equal to mid-range phones’. It has an impressive low-end. The bass of MX985 is very crisp, roar with enough deepth, warm tone, importantly it keeps things pleasent to hear. Mid-range is extremly smooth, goes into great details and no paritcle. These 2 ranges didn’t make the MX985, the treble is truly a strength of MX985, it is not agrressive, but sparking, bright and lift up. This is how you will be immersive in the music with this set.
Sennheiser MX985 is a perfect for both sound quality and look. King of Unsealed Earbuds
AUGLAMOUR RX-1: The Runner-Up
The build quality of RX1 is great for the price with untangled, durable cable and metal housings. The entire construction is rugged and looks classic. I don’t think it’s a sport headset, no sweat-resistant as specs refers to.
In terms of sound quality, listening some tracks I feel like I am wearing a $100 headphone. The mid-range of Auglamour RX-1 is wide and smooth, and it is fowarded so I feel the vocal surfs above the musical background. It tuned a fairly good bass, I am not saying it’s plenty but it has the impact and punches solidy. Lastly, the high is not only plesant to hear, but able to sparkle without noticably crunchy sound, this happens when I increase the volume above 60%. All in all, these earbuds are really worth listening.
Yuin PK1: The Great
Year: 2007 | Price: $152 | Style: Unsealed earbuds | Frequency response: 20Hz – 24000Hz | Nominal Impedance: 150 Ohm
If you judge just for the Yuin PK1’s look, you might miss the wonderful sound.
Launched since 2006, Yuin, a Chinese audio maker, encountered a lot of challenges. They were struggling to build a reliable Chinese brand since their products look cheap and people don’t know how their headphones sound. How did they build trust from customers?
Likewise other sets in this list do, Yuin first earbuds, Yuin PK1 sound like full size headphones with warm sounding and wide sound stage. The PK1 are unconventional earbuds that can catch deep, strong bass. I feel the bass present in the full body, but still no distortion and yes plesant to hear. In addition to the bass, the mid-rang is balanced and typicaly nice. The treble is another aspect that define the PK1, lush and bright without any hiss sounds.
As far as I’ve known the headphones with impedance over 50 Ohm may not sound loud enough if used with portable devices and they require amp for the best sound and volume. And the PK1 didn’t change the story, but I am sure it sounds loud enough for phone users.
Bang & Olufsen A8 Earphones: The Good
Year: 2009 | Price: $165 | Style: Unsealed earbuds | Frequency response: 20Hz – 20000Hz | Nominal Impedance: 19 Ohm
With the ubiquitousness of earbuds today and their variety in design, the clip of A8 seems to be obsolate, but it is adjustable and does the job for keeping earbuds stay in. The Bang & Olufsen A8 sounds at its best in the highs, but the bass is only present.
HEADROOM MS16: The Decent
The MS16 is open-back earbuds. This pair shows a fault claim about unsealed earbuds that they don’t have any bass at all. The bass of MS16 is very punchy and accurate. The treble is exceptionally clear and it tends to be bright.
Retired from this page (every month we check if there is a new model to try out, if they sound better they should have been included in above list)
Year: 2015 | Price: $20.99 | Style: Unsealed earbuds | Frequency response: 20Hz – 20000Hz | Nominal Impedance 18 Ohm
The STH30 earbuds don’t isolate sound well and appears to be identical to earpods, but believe me this set reaches the new level of sound performance perspectives. The Mid-range of STH30 is neutral and smooth, and little forwarded on high-mid. Listening Adele’s songs you will find how sweet and nice her voice is. Further on highs, it is fine this range the sound sweep in control, not break or crunchy, I hear enough detail in my favorite tracks.
The STB30 sounds with detail, spacious and airy, I wouldn’t say it is great, but it did a decent job considering those cateria. The bass of STH is present enough, but isn’t on par with other basshead sets like Sony MDR-XB90EX. That said you can only hear the true bass of STH30 if they fit properly in your ears, and the bass is even more crisp and powerful than other sets with eartips like CX300ii and E10.
While Apple still keeps their design philosophy that its hasn’t changed much since the debut with the original iPod, on October 23, 2001. Frankly Apple earbuds don’t sound good, forks love it because it works with their Apple devices and the decent sound. If you not one of them and are looking for earpods alternative, the STH30 is definitely one, which is affordable and water-resistant and it is designed for sports, a rare pair that you can use for gym. The water resistatnt is rated by IP5-7, they survive after submersing in water at depth 1m in 30 seconds, so for those who sweat a lot, NO problem.
Only a few unsealed earbuds that sound great. Some people emailed me suggesting some Bluetooth sets, I’m glad to include them here, please check back for update. This post is about stuff we think you will be interested in, not the stuff we tested. But we experienced a few of them
– Published on 08/21/2017