Everybody knows how convenient earphones can be when you want to listen to your music, podcasts, or audiobooks on the go.
Unfortunately, anyone who’s ever worked their way through several pairs of cheap earbuds will tell you that the sound quality of most earphones doesn’t match the practicality of their design.
Most earphone models are constructed using dynamic drivers. We won’t get too deep into the science here, but the driver in a pair of earphones is what interprets the electrical signal from the sound source and converts that signal into soundwaves.
In dynamic drivers, this process is facilitated by a voice coil, which is fixed to the diaphragm. As the current passes through the driver, vibrations are triggered in the voice coil.
This causes further vibrations in the diaphragm, and sound is created. However, because dynamic drivers ultimately rely on air to create their sound, sound distortion is a common problem.
Conversely, with balanced armature drivers, vibrations in the diaphragm are caused by a magnetic field created between 2 magnets, which are connected by a coil with an armature in the center.
Because there’s no airflow involved in this process, sound clarity is improved.
If you’re ready to leave your days of substandard sound quality behind you, then you’re in luck! Today, I’m going to be introducing you to my top 5 best balanced armature driver earphones.
No time to shop around? Check out my top pick:
- 4-driver construction
- Expertly tuned
- 1 carbon dynamic driver
- In-line microphone controls
- 9 ear tip sizes
- Leather case included
- Includes matching shirt clip
- 2 adaptors provided
Top 5 Best Balanced Armature Driver Earphones
MY TOP PICK
MY TOP PICK
These balanced armature earphones from 1MORE push the boundaries of earphone construction by combining 3 balanced armature drivers with a carbon dynamic driver.
Although the E1010 Quad Driver Earphones do incorporate standard dynamic technology, they can still be considered BA earphones due to their primary reliance on magnetism for sound transmission.
The combination of a dynamic driver with 3 BA drivers is a smart move from 1MORE because it’s an excellent solution to the common problem of insufficient bass with balanced armature earphones.
The balancing of these different drivers across the low, mid, and high frequencies creates a frequency range of 20-40,000 Hz with impressive power and accuracy at all levels.
This is hardly surprising given that the E1010 earphones have been tuned by none other than Grammy award-winning sound engineer, Luca Bignardi.
The aluminum sound chamber not only contributes to the high quality of the sound through optimal acoustics but also ensures lightweight, comfortable contact with the ear.
A microphone is built into the earphones, which features in-line controls for effortlessly changing songs, adjusting the volume, and even making calls.
There do seem to be quality control issues surrounding the microphone’s controls, however, since there have been isolated incidents of them malfunctioning.
1MORE has solved the common issue of sizing that many customers encounter with earphones by including 9 different sizes of ear tips with the E1010s. With such a range of sizes to try out, you’ll be sure to find your ideal fit.
The E1010 earphones also come with a protective leather case, 2 adaptors, and even a matching shirt clip!
All of this arrives packaged in a high-quality gift box, so these earphones also make a thoughtful gift for friends and family.
- 4 drivers
- Includes 1 carbon dynamic driver
- Built-in microphone controls
- 9 ear tip sizes
- Includes leather case
- 2 adaptors and shirt clip included
- Tuned by expert sound engineer
- Some quality control issues with the microphone
The KZ AS10 5 Balanced Armature Driver Earphones from KINBOOFI are a very popular product on the BA earphone market. This popularity stems from various features, which we’ll get into now.
These balanced armature earphones consist of no fewer than 5 drivers. 2 of these drivers are dedicated to high-frequency soundwaves, while the other 3 are distributed across mid, low, and mid-to-high frequencies.
The frequency range achieved by the KZ AS10 BAs (20 - 40,000 Hz) is impressive, especially considering the fact that BA driver earphones often struggle in the bass area.
These earphones match the standard bass frequency for most earphones (20 Hz) while also offering far more range in the higher frequencies (by about 20,000 Hz).
The resulting sound is crisp, clear, powerful, and tonally accurate - everything you could want from a pair of earphones!
In terms of comfort, the silicone earbuds fit securely and softly in the ear without causing any discomfort. Finding the right size can take some time and trial-by-error, though.
Something I particularly like about the KZ AS10 earphones is the fact that their cable is fully detachable.
Thanks to the cable’s 2-pin design, it can be removed from the earbud as needed. This leaves you free to upgrade the cable as you see fit. You can also choose to purchase these earphones with a built-in microphone.
A common complaint about balanced armature driver earphones is that they’re much more expensive than standard dynamic driver earphones.
However, the KZ AS10s are comparatively very affordable in contrast with most of the other high-performing BA models.
The reasonable price tag makes these earphones an excellent choice for anyone seeking superior sound quality on a budget.
- 5 BA drivers
- Full audible sound spectrum coverage
- Includes detachable 2-pin cable
- Silicone buds can be difficult to size
If you’re looking for super high quality in the construction of your earphones as well as in the sound department, the Shure SE535 Sound Isolating Triple Driver Earphones could be right for you!
The Sure Sound Isolating earphones use, as their name suggests, 3 drivers to cover the audible sound frequency spectrum.
2 of these drivers are focused on bass frequencies, and the other is a high-frequency driver. I was really impressed by Shure’s commitment to low frequencies which, as I’ve mentioned, is often lacking in balanced armature driver earphones.
Beyond the accurate and detailed frequency response, these earphones also offer incredible comfort levels.
The SE535 earphones are designed with an over-ear configuration, which, in conjunction with the 360° rotating MMCX connector, helps to ensure a secure, comfortable fit.
Another bonus to mention is that these earphones are sound-isolating. When inserted, they effectively block out approximately 37 dB of external noise.
This isn’t the most powerful noise cancellation from earphones available on the market, but it’s enough to help you to block out irritating low-level background noise for better immersion.
One thing to note about using the Shure earphones, however, is that they are extremely sensitive internally and do need to be treated with the utmost care.
Always make sure that the insides of your ears are dry and sweat-free before inserting these earphones.
Unfortunately, these earphones are very expensive, even for a BA model. Despite the high quality and performance in most areas, the price alone is a major barrier to accessibility with this product, which is one of the main reasons why it doesn’t feature at the top of my list.
- 3 BA drivers
- Good bass sound
- Ergonomic over-ear design
- Very sensitive
The SE535 earphones aren’t Shure’s only contribution to the armature driver market.
The SE846 earphone model from Shure is equally accurate and powerful when it comes to sound quality. However, there are some key differences between the models, so let’s get into it.
Shure’s SE846 earphones use 3 drivers to deliver clear and detailed sound across low, medium, and high frequencies.
A low-pass filter has also been built-in for a deep, powerful bass sound akin to that produced by high-quality subwoofers.
Possibly my favorite thing about these earphones is that the frequency is actually adjustable by changing out the detachable nozzles included with the purchase.
There are different nozzles available for bright, warm, and balanced tones, so you can adapt your earphones to your audio preferences.
The SE846 earphone model is sound-insulating to a degree of 37 dB, and because of the same over-ear configuration we saw on the SE535s, they’ll stay securely and comfortably in place for hours on end.
The cable that comes with these earphones is detachable for ultimate convenience, and these earphones are also available as a wireless model for an extra cost.
However, as you might expect, given the high price point of the SE535 earphones and the additional, advanced features of the SE846s, the cost of these earphones is already very high.
We would highly recommend them to anyone who has the cash to spare, though.
- 3 drivers
- Low-pass filter for bass
- Adjustable frequency response
- Comfortable over-ear configuration
- Wireless model available
- Very expensive
The CCA C16 Balanced Armature Driver Earphones might not quite have achieved the level of rave reviews that some of the other models on my list, but I think they absolutely deserve a place in the top 5 balanced armature driver earphones. Let me tell you why:
These earphones achieve ultimate sound clarity and accuracy through their use of 8 carefully positioned drivers, which balance out over a frequency range of 20-40,000 Hz.
With 2 heavy bass armatures, 4 high-frequency drivers, and 2 mid-frequency units, the CCA C16s promise a full, uncompromised range of sound.
The internal construction of these earphones includes an independent pipe system, which ensures proper sound separation for clearer detail.
Where external construction is concerned, these earphones also shine because of their shape, which is based scientifically on that of the human auricle.
Moreover, the zinc alloy and resin materials used for the face and cavity of the earbuds are highly durable to ensure damage resistance.
The drawback to this durable construction, however, is that the earphones do feel a bit heavy to wear and sometimes fall out as a consequence.
These earphones are also sound-isolating up to 26 dB, so you can enjoy your music or audio media without being distracted by what’s going on around you.
Thanks to the detachable 2-pin cable, you can easily upgrade the cable or replace it at the end of its lifespan to extend the longevity of your earphones. The cable is available both with and without a microphone.
- 8 drivers
- Durable zinc alloy material
- Independent sound separation
- Sound isolating
- Detachable 2-pin cable
- Available with and without a microphone
- May fall out due to weight
Best Balanced Armature Driver Earphones Buying Guide
Choosing a pair of balanced armature driver earphones is no small task. You’ll be committing much more of your hard-earned money than you would with a pair of standard earbuds, after all.
Luckily, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide to help you focus on the most important features of a successful purchase:
Because you’re looking specifically for balanced armature driver earphones, it stands to reason that most of your initial focus in the selection process will be on the drivers.
The first piece of information to look for is how many drivers a pair of earphones uses. It’s not necessarily the case that earphones with more drivers are automatically better, but generally speaking, more drivers indicate more even sound distribution, which, if the internal construction of the earphones is optimal, should lead to better detail and clarity.
For best sound distribution, I recommend earphones with at least 3 drivers because this allows for low, mid, and high frequencies to be covered equally. This is why 3 is the lowest number of drivers to feature on my list of products.
However, you can find earphones on the list with as many as 8 drivers in total.
Some balanced armature driver earphones also incorporate standard dynamic drivers (usually just 1) to compensate for the lack of bass that often comes with this kind of earphone construction. If you’re a fan of deep, powerful bass, this kind of driver combination is ideal.
The number of drivers alone can give you an indication of sound quality, but in order to fully understand how well a pair of earphones perform, you need to take a more detailed look at the frequency range as well as driver distribution over this range.
Most standard earphones cover the audible frequency range, which is 20-20,000 Hz. Most balanced armature driver earphones do better than this on the high end of the frequency spectrum, going up as far as 40,000 Hz.
To ensure that the lower end of the bass spectrum is covered, many earphone manufacturers choose to dedicate more than 1 driver to the lower end of the sound spectrum.
Some balanced armature driver earphones don’t dedicate a driver specifically to mid-range frequencies, focusing only on the bass and high frequencies.
If you want a full spectrum of accurate and detailed sound, we recommend choosing earphones with at least 1 driver specifically dedicated mid-range frequencies.
Earphones are supposed to make the experience of listening to audible media throughout the day easier, not more stressful. Sadly, many customers have found themselves struggling to enjoy their new earphones due to their external structure.
From low-quality bud material to awkward shapes, there are plenty of features that can impact the comfort levels of a given pair of earphones.
This is why, when I was making my selection, I did my best to prioritize earphones that not only provided excellent sound quality but ranked highly in the comfort department as well.
The first factor to pay attention to is size. Most earphones on the market today will be available with earbuds of different sizes. There will often be a small, medium, and large option.
Before you get drawn into the excitement of all the advanced earphone models that are currently available, we’d recommend having some idea of what size the auricle of your ear is. Don’t worry - you don’t need to do any measuring.
You could base this estimate on previous pairs of earphones that you’ve owned or earplugs that you use: anything that will help you to determine whether your auricle is more on the small or large size.
Going into the process with this information will definitely improve your chances of selecting earphones with buds of the right size, which will do wonders for your comfort.
If you can, try to select an earphone model that comes with multiple ear tip sizes included. This way, you don’t have to do too much guesswork beforehand - you can simply try out the different tip sizes when your earphones arrive to work out which one works best for you.
The next factor to consider is the shape of the earbuds. One of the best ways of telling whether or not a pair of earphones will be comfortable to wear is by looking at the shape of the design. Ideally, earbuds should be shaped to match the form of the human auricle.
Some of the most comfortable earphones on the market are actually those that include an over-ear configuration because they help to keep the earbud in place, minimizing readjustment and reinsertion, which can cause discomfort and irritation.
Finally, consider the material. While most earbud tips are made from either foam or silicone, there’s more variation in terms of the earphone itself.
Aluminum is a good lightweight option, as are most plastics, although aluminum has the advantage of providing better acoustics when used in the chamber and being more durable.
For extra durability, zinc alloy materials definitely stand out, but they can also be heavier and require more repositioning.
A mistake commonly made by earphone buyers is focusing so much on sound quality that other important features, like the cable, for example, fly under the radar.
While sound quality should, of course, be your top priority, it’s also important to take a moment to consider the features you’ll be physically interacting with on a daily basis.
Often, when earphones start working, it’s the cable that’s broken rather than the earphones themselves.
A detachable cable (for example, via a 2-pin plug) circumvents this problem by allowing the cable to be replaced and upgraded.
If you’re someone who prefers wireless earphones, the good news is that some of the earphones I’ve reviewed in this article are also available as wireless models for an additional cost.