Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

The Audiophiliac picks the very best in-ear headphones of 2014

This turned out to be a great year for headphones, sound quality for entry-level to high-end models has never been better.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg

Sennheiser IE 800 Sennheiser

Before we get started, in-ear headphones fall into two design types: universal models that come with user-replaceable tips that accommodate a range of different size ear canals, and custom-molded models that are made to order, and fit only the owner's ears.

Universal picks start with the stellar $79 Hifiman RE-400 and go all the way up to the outrageously fantastic $799 Sennheiser IE 800.

This is it: The Audiophiliac's top in-ear headphones of 2014 (pictures)

See all photos

Before buying a custom design you must first visit an audiologist who makes "impressions" of your ear canals. The procedure is easy enough, and takes around 10 minutes. Audiologist fees range between $50 and $100, but customs produce superior noise isolation than universal fit in-ear headphones. If you commute or spend a lot of time in noisy environments, customs are well worth the extra expense. Custom prices start around $400.

Check out the Audiophiliac's best in-ear headphones of 2014.