Are you tired of being told that your microphone is fuzzy, unclear or that the other side can’t hear you properly whenever you do video calls? Perhaps it’s time to update your microphone!

Here at Grey-Box, we work primarily remote and as a team have extensive experience running virtual events and producing video content. If you haven’t checked out our Community Talks show yet, now’s a great opportunity! Having faced audio issues we wanted to find a simple and cheap solution to the audio quality problem so we bought and tested a bunch of headphones to see if we could find the best headphones that will make sure you sound great for under $50 CAD!

Whether it’s for a virtual meeting, speaking at an online conference, or recording a live stream show, the sound quality of the audio call is incredibly important. Unfortunately, it’s not always technically possible or cost-effective to send and set up a dedicated microphone for each of your guest speakers. The variety of devices, locations, and user technical comfort level can be a nightmare for making sure that your sound quality is great. So the simplest, most reliable, and cost-effective solution to this problem is to send your guests a pair of wired headphones with a great microphone.

With a budget of $52 CAD, we set out to find and test 10 different microphone earbuds you can easily and reliably purchase on PRIME from Amazon and send directly to your guest speakers. For our test, we purchased the following headphones.

Meet and hear the Candidates:

  1. Apple EarPods with 3.5mm Headphone Plug ($25.00)
  2. SteelSeries Tusq in-Ear Mobile Gaming Headset – Dual Microphone ($50.99)
  3. Sennheiser CX 80S in-Ear Headphones ($39.99)
  4. Sony MDR-XB55AP Extra BASS in-Ear Headphones ($39.99)
  5. Skullcandy Ink’d+ Earbuds with Microphone ($19.99)
  6. 1MORE Dynamic Driver in-Ear Earphones ($22.99)
  7. Sony MDREX15AP in-Ear Earbud Headphones ($19.99)
  8. ULIX Rider Wired Earbuds In-Ear Headphones ($16.57)
  9. Sony MDREX110AP/B In-Ear Headphones ($23.98)
  10. JBL Endurance Run Wired Sweatproof In-Ear Sport Headphones ($29.98)

Testing Procedure:

  • A male voice in a quiet environment with the microphone hanging naturally as you would use the headphones.
  • A male voice in a noisy subway environment with the microphone hanging naturally as you would use the headphones.
  • A male voice in a quiet environment but with the microphone about a meter away from the speaker.
  • A female voice recording played through speakers in a quiet environment with the microphone hanging naturally as you would use the headphones.
  • A female voice recording played through speakers in a quiet environment but with the microphone about a meter away from the speaker.

Afterward, we reviewed the recordings and compared them against each other giving each recording scenario a rating out of 5. For those of you interested to look at our full rating table we invite you to check out the full table here on Google Sheets.

Afterward, we reviewed the recordings and compared them against each other giving each recording scenario a rating out of 5. For those of you interested to look at our full rating table we invite you to check out the full table here on Google Sheets.

Overall, the top 3 pairs of headphone microphones came down to Apple EarPods, SteelSeries Tusk, and Sennheiser CX 80S. Depending on the use case scenario, the Boom microphone option on the SteelSeries provided the cleanest and best sound if used properly and adjusted to be the right distance from the speaker’s mouth. But in terms of ease of use, clear speech, and cost the Apple EarPods were hard to beat. Without the complication of dual microphones and adjustments, they were the clear winner. They were the only pair of headphones that picked up the higher end without the distortion that plagued some of the other headphones. Apple EarPods also worked better in a noisy environment.

With tight scores on performance, the next deciding factor is the cost-value of the headset which gives us the clear winner Apple EarPods.

At a mere $25 (no sale) Apple EarPods are the definitive winner, trailing closely by Sennheiser at $39.99 and SteelSeries at $50.99. For the full rating table don’t hesitate to check out our ratings here.

Want to hear the audio recordings of each microphone yourself? Check out the video and let us know in the comments if you agree with our ratings.

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