The 3 best tangle-free earbuds

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by Anne Loreto Cruz
Two pieces of black tangle-free earbuds

Almost nothing ruins your day as quickly as reaching for your headphones and realizing the cables are an impossibly tangled mass. The best tangle-free earbuds have cords with shorter, wider designs or braids and other reinforcements that can help prevent knotting.

The stiffer the cord on your earbuds, the less likely it is to bend and knot itself in your pocket or bag — so braided cords are a great way to go. Similarly, a shorter cord is also less likely to fold against itself and produce pesky tangles — all of the earbuds on this list have cords that are shorter than four feet, which also results in better sound. How you store your headphones will also have an impact on whether or not they tangle easily, so it's always a good idea to use a storage case when your earbuds aren’t in use.

Even if keeping your cords free from tangles is your primary concern, you'll still want to consider other features like volume controls and internal microphones. On-cable controls are not a necessity, but they can make pausing your music more convenient when your device is tucked away in a pocket or bag. Meanwhile, a microphone is a necessary feature if you plan to make calls, dictate messages, or use a smart assistant like Siri. Many headphones will also market the size of their earbuds’ drivers as a selling point: a larger driver will produce louder sound, but won’t directly affect the quality of the sound.

With all that in mind, here are the top four picks for tangle-free earbuds.

1. The best overall

  • Driver size: not specified
  • Cord type: 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Cord length: 4.25 ft
  • Built-in microphone: yes

These in-ear headphones feature a reinforced audio jack and have a wide, flat-cable design that can help prevent tangles. The cord is also reinforced to help it last through daily wear and tear, and the headphones come with a convenient carrying case that offers additional protection against tangles. The integrated microphone gives you the option to make calls or use dictation, and the in-line volume controls make for more convenient operation. These earbuds come with silicone ear tips in six different sizes, so you can find the perfect fit.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this as my last earphones kept tangling and I needed something not very expensive and untangle as it's quite a task to undo the tangle. These earphones have flat wires that do not allow them to tangle as much and they look sleek and trendy as well. I like the way they fit so comfortably in my ears although I didn’t quite like the default ear fit there were other extras that fit me better.”

2. The runner-up

  • Driver size: 10 mm
  • Cord type: 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Cord length: 3.8 ft
  • Built-in microphone: no

These tangle-free earbuds have a braided cord that will help them stay neat and knot-free. These headphones have an overall 4.4-star rating on Amazon with thousands of five-star ratings, and reviewers noted that they produce solid quality mids and lows while listening to music. Despite their small size, the 10 mm. drivers can produce powerful bass notes, and the soft ear tips come in both foam and silicone options in a variety of sizes to provide comfort and a bit of passive noise cancellation. The shorter cord length on these headphones will also help prevent tangles, and when it’s time to pack your earbuds up for transport, you can use the included carrying case to keep them secured. The only downside is that they don’t feature a volume control.

One reviewer wrote: “I am so, so impressed! The sounds quality is fabulous, and bass comes through beautifully. For the price, these are the best headphones I've ever bought. They come with plenty of sizes for the ear buds and a small flat carry bag which keeps them from tangling. Highly recommend these!”

3. The budget pick

  • Driver size: 9 mm
  • Cord type: 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Cord length: 3.9 ft
  • Built-in microphone: no

If you’re looking for a simple and cost-effective option that resists tangling, these earbuds with a flat-laying cord cost less than $10. They have an overall 4.4-star rating on Amazon along with more than 20,000 ratings in total, and reviewers attested that they really don't get tangled or knotted. These headphones are available in nine colors and come with a carrying case as well as ear tips in three sizes so you can find a comfortable fit. The thin, 3.5 mm. input connection makes these especially easy to use with bulkier phone cases. But, like with the previous option, the don’t feature a built-in volume control.

One reviewer wrote: “I work at a computer all day and like to listen up music and podcasts without bothering my co-workers. These earbuds are great. I've been able to leave them in all day without noticing they were there [...] Sound quality is great for the price. The flat cord is harder to tangle as well. Hard to beat for this price range.”

Also great: a pair of wireless earbuds

The most sure-fire way to ensure you’ll never tangle your headphones is to turn away from long cables altogether with a pair of wireless earbuds. The Beats Flex earphones have a small connecting cable, which is great for those who aren’t ready to jump into fully wireless earbud territory. They connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth 5.0 and feature an internal microphone and inline controls for answering calls and adjusting volume. When you’re ready to remove these earphones and put them away, the earbuds snap together via magnets to further reduce tangles, and they automatically play or pause your music when placed or removed from your ears. They also have a 12-hour battery life, so you can use them for a while before needing to recharge.

One reviewer wrote: “I love these. Sound quality is really great for the price. They charge fast. So easy to connect to iOS. I’m really happy with them. I’m someone who likes the whole wired but still wireless thing, so these were an awesome fit for me. One push of the little round button on the left lets you pause/play, two pushes to skip forward, and three pushes to skip backwards. Love that you can also pause when you magnetically attach the two earbuds together. A little bummed they didn’t come with a carrying case, but definitely a decent purchase.”

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