I tested popular wired headphones to find out which one had the best mic


Key Takeaways

  • Apple’s EarPods have the best microphone quality, clear, undistorted, and handles background noise well.
  • Skullcandy Jib’s microphone pleasantly surprises, clear sound despite heavy bass issues and distortion at times.
  • Sony MDR-EX15AP has good sound quality, satisfactory microphone, but sound might be compressed and quiet.

Wired earbuds and headphones are a great choice for everyday listening, since they usually don’t break the bank, don’t require any charging or setup, and also have come back into fashion. But something that can be really hit or miss for a lot of earbuds, and not just wired ones, is microphones. If you want to take a phone call or record a voice memo, having a microphone that sounds good is a great asset, so other people can hear you clearly on the other end, or so you can hear yourself.


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So, I tested four of Amazon’s top best-selling wired earbuds and headphones to see how their microphones hold up. I also wrote a general review of all of these headphones, plus another pair that doesn’t have a microphone, so you can check that out to see my thoughts on them in more detail.

1 Apple’s EarPods

Clear microphone, clear winner

Apple USB-C EarPods

These earbuds were iconic for a reason: they look good, and they don’t sound too bad either. The unsealed fit isn’t the greatest, but the drivers still make music loud enough to enjoy if it’s not too loud in your environment. The microphone is great for calls, at home or on the go.


  • Good build quality
  • Great microphone
  • Good onboard buttons

  • Unsealed fit provides no isolation

I’ve always stood by the fact that Apple’s EarPods have a really good mic, and putting it to the test against others vindicated my opinion. The microphone audio on EarPods is very clear, and doesn’t distort my voice at all when I speak into it under normal conditions. It handles sibilant S sounds well, never sounding too overly hissy or tinny, and it handles plosives like P and B well too.


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It handles sibilant S sounds well, never sounding too overly hissy or tinny, and it handles plosives like P and B well too.

When I’m outside, it picks up a little bit of background noise, but it does a fairly good job not picking up sounds like traffic, rain, or airplanes overhead. You can still tell I’m outside somewhat, but the noise the mic picks up is pretty standard, not distracting, and doesn’t overpower the sound of my voice.

2 Skullcandy Jib

Surprisingly good

Skullcandy Jib Wired Earbuds

These earbuds are super affordable, but that comes at the cost of cheap build quality. They also have that infamous overwhelmingly heavy bass sound that Skullcandy is known for, for better or for worse. But the microphone is surprisingly good despite all of this, making it a bit more worth it for the price.


  • Very affordable
  • Solid microphone

  • Unintuitive onboard buttons
  • Creaky, cheap build
  • Bass is too loud

For a $10 pair of earbuds, I wasn’t expecting the Skullcandy Jib headphones to pack the best microphone, or even a good one. But I was pleasantly surprised by how good the microphone sounds. When I speak into the microphone, my voice is very clear and audible, though I do find that sibilants can sound a bit too loud at times, and get a little distorted at certain volumes. Other than the distortion, there are no glaring issues with the microphone, which does make these earbuds a lot more worth it — if you can look past the way they sound when you actually listen to music.

The microphone also performs really well outdoors, picking up little to no background noise when I was beside a busy street, and when an airplane was flying over. It still made sibilants a bit too loud and distorted, but despite that, this is a great microphone for phone calls or voice memos, especially at this price point.


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3 Sony MDR-EX15AP

Mic is good, but not great

Sony MDR-EX15AP Wired In-ear Headphones with Microphone

The Sony MDR-EX15AP are more than just the temporary earbuds you buy when your old ones break, they’re some of the best affordable earbuds you can buy. The microphone is good for calls, but not the best I’ve heard at this price point.


  • Great sound quality
  • Good build quality
  • Good, but not great, in-line microphone

I love these earbuds for listening to music and podcasts, but I do have to admit that the microphone isn’t quite as good as the EarPods or the Skullcandy Jib. While everything is still perfectly audible and comprehensible, my voice sounds quieter and more compressed than the others made it sound. Sibilants sound even more compressed and hissy, which is really unfortunate.


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When using the microphone outside, it also didn’t do as good a job blocking out the background noise around me. I could hear some traffic noises in the recording, as well as some rain and wind, though never enough to mask my voice.

This microphone is still perfectly useable and the fact that the earbuds are so good otherwise makes up for it, but it’s worth noting that it’s not quite as good as the above two.

4 Panasonic RP-HT161M

Not a winner, but not a loser

Panasonic RP-HT161M

These headphones don’t sound very good, nor are they comfortable, since the earcups don’t swivel at all. These could work if they were your only option, but I wouldn’t recommend them to most people. The biggest redeeming factor is how well the microphone blocks out background noise.


  • Lightweight build
  • Microphone blocks out background noise effectively

  • Earcups don’t swivel
  • Bad isolation from lack of seal
  • Poor sound quality

My voice is perfectly audible and understandable through the microphone, but it does sound very compressed, tinny, and hissy, especially with sibilants.

In my initial review of the Panasonic RP-HT161M, they were my least favorite headphones, and I had a few bones to pick with them. The microphone is not too impressive, but it might be the least bad thing about it. My voice is perfectly audible and understandable through the microphone, but it does sound very compressed, tinny, and hissy, especially with sibilants.

These problems still persist outdoors, but I will say that it didn’t pick up much background noise. An airplane flew overhead in the middle of me recording the audio, and it wasn’t picked up at all in my recording. That was genuinely impressive. So, even though these headphones are uncomfortable and don’t sound good, at least you know the microphone sounds fine if you’re under a flight path.


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Based on my testing, both indoors and outdoors on multiple phone calls and playing back voice memos, I found the best wired headphones’ mics are as follows:

Rank Wired headphones Price
1 Apple Earpods $19
2 Skullcandy Jib $10
3 Sony MDR-EX15AP $15
4 Panasonic RP-HT161M $23

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