As a part of pretty much everyone’s everyday carry, earbuds can be very important. While you could spend a lot of money on them in order to get a good sound, is it worth having to worry about losing them all the time?
Sure, a higher price can mean better performance, durability and overall quality. But unlike going for the premium models by well-known companies, buying a cheap pair of earbuds gets tricky.
That’s exactly why we’ve decided to test a bunch of models ourselves, and give you a good overview of the best budget earbuds you can get!
In order to make a fair comparison, we’ve divided our pick into 3 different price categories.
|Best Earbuds Under $50|
|Anker SoundBuds Slim||Wireless||Bass- focused|
|Shure SE112-GR||Wired||Balanced, almost flat|
|Sennheiser CX 300-II||Wired||Bass- focused|
|Best Earbuds Under $30|
|Symphonized NRG||Wired||Warm, balanced|
|Brainwavz Delta IEM||Wired||Balanced, almost flat|
|JLAB Audio J4 Heavy Bass||Wired||Balanced|
|Zipbuds JUICED 2.0||Wired||Bass- focused|
|Best Earbuds Under $20|
|Panasonic RP-HJE120||Wired||Punchy bass|
|MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6P||Wired||Balanced|
|Monoprice Enhanced Bass||Wired||Balanced|
Reviews of The Best Cheap Earbuds Under $50
Though Anker may be known for other tech products, their attempt at cheap wireless earbuds with the SoundBuds Tag shows that a couple of great ideas can go a long way.
The SoundBuds fit nicely, even though, at first glance, they might seem too bulky.
The silicone tips feel good under the fingers, soft yet hard enough to provide good grip. The only possible downside is that Anker decided to include only 2 sizes of tips, so if you have larger ears this may be a problem.
While the “necklace” approach may not be for everyone, the overall design and the lightweight cable makes these low-cost earphones very comfortable.
The buds fit comfortably, so you won’t feel them inside your ears once you’ve gotten used to them.
Sure, there are better materials than plastic, but it doesn’t mean that the SoundBuds aren’t solid!
Overall build quality meets the expected levels. The cable while a bit flimsy, seems flexible enough not to snap easily.
The inline controls feature standard volume and playback buttons, as well as a microphone and answer call/ hang up button.
When it comes to sound quality, the Anker SoundBud gave us a very pleasant surprise.
The lows are definitely boosted, but although I personally prefer a more flat experience, I didn’t find the audio signature as too tacky.
The SoundBuds are a great solution for anyone looking for a pair of durable, good sounding, and practical cheap earbuds.
Skullcandy is one of those headphone companies known to pay more attention to the looks than the performance. However, it wouldn’t be fair to judge their Ink’d Bluetooth wireless earbuds without actually trying them out and giving them a chance.
In order to provide the user with a great sounding low end, and a very snug fit, Skullcandy designed the Ink’d earbuds in a very convenient way.
The tips feel solid, and once you’ve chosen the right size, stay in your ears no matter how much you move your head around, and block the outside noise quite nicely.
The rubberized neckband is solid, unlike other models you can find out there.
As everything besides the drivers is stored in the neckband, you won’t feel the buds are even there.
Rubberize everything! The neckband is so flexible that the chances of you breaking it are minuscule.
The fact that you can fold it up to 1/3 of its size not only makes it convenient for storing but shows you how durable the whole thing is.
All of the controls, including media, volume, and phone, are neatly placed on one end of the neckband for an easy reach.
It seems that Skullcandy decided to reach the rest of the market, with the Ink’d having a pretty balanced audio signature.
Don’t get me wrong, the bass is still present, and sounds very clear, but the mids and highs don’t fall behind at all. Honestly, I don’t think that people who expect loads of bass to be delivered from their headphones will be disappointed either, as the overall experience is awesome.
Stylish, durable, and with a surprisingly balanced frequency response, the Skullcandy Ink’d offer a great value for the money.
3. Shure SE112- GR Sound Isolating Earphones – Best Earbuds Under $50
Going for Shure earbuds so far has proven to be a good idea. While this may be the case with more expensive models, how do their SE112- GRs perform as their take at cheap durable headphones?
It seems that the tips are good enough for keeping them in place, as they fit quite snug inside most ears.
Noise isolation is on point, a great solution for anyone looking for cheap in-ear monitors.
An important thing to mention when it comes to comfort is that these buds are made to be worn in the over the ear fashion.
Some people just don’t find it comfortable after hours of wearing them.
The first thing you can notice once you take these bad boys out of the box is the surprisingly rugged cable.
The buds themselves look and feel very solid, and will probably last you for a long time.
The under $50 version of this model doesn’t feature any in-line controls, but there is an option of having those as well, for a couple of extra bucks.
Crisp highs compliment the very clear mids. The low end is absolutely amazing. Very accurate yet deep and trembling, making this model a very good piece of equipment for not just average consumers, but for sound engineers as well.
If you are looking for the best earbuds under $50, with balanced sound and very durable build, the Shure SE112s are definitely the way to go.
The Sennheiser CX 300- IIs offer the well- known German quality at a very affordable price. As I’ve personally used the CX 150s and 200s for a very long time, I was very curious about this model.
If you’ve had the problem of earbuds falling out of your ears, fear no more. The CX 300s lock in place easily.
The noise isolation is average, but still pretty good.
It has gotten pretty clear that comfort can really depend on the weight of the buds. Sennheiser made sure to make the CX 300s as lightweight as possible.
While metal or other similar materials could provide better durability, the plastic used for these earbuds seems and feels hard and premium.
But of course, if you want to get the most out of these, take good care of them.
Sadly, there are no inline controls featured with this model.
This is where I was surprised, as I was expecting a relatively flat response.
The CX 300s however, are pretty bass heavy. Not as much as, for example, most Beats products, but they offer a noticeably harder punch in the low-end department.
So, are these worth buying? Well, they are comfortable, fit very nicely, and are long lasting. Just have in mind that the audio signature may surprise you. Bassheads, these are the best Sennheiser earbuds under $50 you can get.
Finally, a pair of cheap good earbuds that feature an all metal construction!
The E10s offer a budget-friendly solution for anyone looking for good headphones under $50. And there is even a nice looking carrying case included!
The question of getting the right fit is only up to you using the right tip size. The E10s hardly move once you’ve jammed them in the right way, and the level of isolation is quite above average.
You might be thinking that the fact that they are made of metal would make them very heavy. That is not the case at all, as they feel lightweight as most other models we’ve tested.
The metal used for these earbuds not only looks good but provides great levels of protection for the drivers.
The cable feels a bit thicker as well, so you don’t have to worry about damaging them anytime soon.
Yet again, there are just no in-line controls present with this model.
Okay, they are comfortable, fit nicely, feature good build quality, so they must sound awful, right?
But that wasn’t the case. The sound was crisp, clear and very much balanced. Some of the better- known companies could definitely use some lessons from SoundMagic!
With the lack of controls being probably the only con, the SoundMagic E10s are definitely an investment worth checking out!
Reviews of The Best Cheap Earbuds Under $30
Plastic, metal… What about wood?
The NRG Premium earbuds by Symphonized decided to take design and durability to a different level.
But do these wooden earbuds perform good, or do they just look nice?
With 6 differently sized pairs of tips, you can hardly say that these won’t fit.
Once you’ve chosen the right ones, you will see that the noise isolation is quite good. Not necessarily concert- grade, but it does the job on most occasions.
Wood is not only very attractive but lightweight as well. Not to get repetitive, but you can hardly make comfortable earbuds that are heavy as well.
With the right tips, you can wear these all day, and not feel them at all.
It looks good, feels good, but how durable is wood?
There honestly isn’t a huge difference between wood and high- quality plastic in terms of durability and longevity.
Standard volume and playback controls feel nice and clicky, and the mic provides a very clear audio to the people you’re talking to.
So, can you get a decent sound from a pair of good headphones for under $30? Apparently, you can.
Unlike other models out there, these Symphonized headphones offer a slightly boosted midrange, which gives the music you’re listening to a nice and warm feel.
The low end gets a nice kick, but not just from the drivers, but from the fact that the wood does resonate and adds to the overall sound.
Even if you don’t find the Symphonized NRGs as good as we did, the fact that they cost less than $30 makes them a good investment.
Brainwavz has already proven themselves as the go-to company when it comes to budget-friendly earbuds. The Delta model offers full metal construction for added durability and a very sleek and premium look and feel.
What makes these Brainwavz headphones stand out are the high-quality ear tips provided. Various sizes aside, the silicone used for the tips feels very soft to the touch.
With that in mind, great fit and isolation are guaranteed, even in louder circumstances. This means that they can easily be used as monitors.
While these do fall slightly on the heavier side, we don’t feel that it affects the level of comfort.
The high- quality tips certainly help, as once you’ve positioned them correctly, they hardly move and definitely provide a comfortable experience.
The all metal build not only looks great but provides added protection to the buds.
The material choice alongside the design gives them a nice feel, and they honestly look like they cost much more.
As expected, volume, media, and phone controls are present. There is even a toggle to choose between iOS and Android modes.
It seems that you can really get a very balanced and natural audio signature from inexpensive earphones nowadays.
While the mids and highs did get slightly boosted, the overall experience was very pleasant. The bass was thick, yet not too powerful.
Just go for it. At this price point, getting almost all of the boxes checked is a rare thing.
3. Sennheiser CX200 – Best Earbuds Under $30
With a price point of just over $20, the CX200s are definitely one of, if not the best in ear headphones under $30.
The Twist- to- fit technology allows you to achieve an amazing fit, both in terms of the buds staying in place and noise isolation by simply twisting the buds inside your ear.
Lightweight and small, the CX200s feel amazing. As I’ve used probably 4 of these in the last couple of years, I can tell you that even falling asleep with these inside your ears isn’t going to be uncomfortable.
Once again, besides the pair we’ve tested for this review, I’ve had the satisfaction of using them for around 4 years now as my daily earbuds. Apart from those I’ve sadly managed to lose, the others lasted me for around 2 years or more.
Definitely well built and long-lasting.
Well, once again, no controls whatsoever.
I wouldn’t say these are flat, probably more like very nicely balanced.
Once you’ve positioned them nicely, the bass really stands out, if the song you’re listening to is rich with it.
All in all, very natural and rich sound.
Even though I tried other models in between buying the next CX200s, I always found myself returning to them.
The Amazon page for these earbuds says that they are guaranteed for life, yet they managed to misspell “purple”. So, are they worth it?
While the buds are on the heavy side, you will get used to them. With the correct tips, both fit and isolation are average, if not slightly better.
Unless you have really small ears, you shouldn’t have any problems with the J4s. It’s kind of like wearing slightly bulkier earrings, the first day is really weird and a bit uncomfortable, but the next it’s totally fine.
Aluminum and Kevlar? Is this a piece of military equipment or good cheap earbuds? Unless you plan on using these buds as bullets, they should last you ages.
The model we’ve chosen doesn’t feature any controls. A slightly more expensive one has a mic, but again, no controls.
Let’s put it this way: the sound is balanced, with the lows and highs getting a slight boost. So, you are getting a relatively flat response, but with a nice touch at both ends of the spectrum.
Versatility is definitely the keyword here.
With durability and build quality being the strongest aspect of this model, it’s great for anyone that’s a fan of outdoor activities!
At first glance, the zipper design looked as just a modern gimmick. However, the Zipbuds Juiced 2.0s do have a couple of tricks up their sleeves.
The fact that these utilize the ComfortFit2 technology gives them the ability to fit very nicely inside your ears. This keeps them in place even if you’re running or working out, and also isolates the outside noise.
While the buds are fairly lightweight, the cable, or should I say zipper, is kind of heavy. Nothing too bad once you’ve gotten used to it.
As the zipper design prevents them from tangling up, they will probably last you longer. The fact that the cable is much more solid than in average earbuds is obvious as well.
It just wasn’t possible to implement controls into the zipper cable.
Well, the sound is average, we’ll leave it at that. Not really balanced, but does the job at the end of the day. You will, however, hear microphonics, the sound of the cable bumping around from time to time.
Fashionable, practical, and average sounding pretty much describe the Juiced 2.0s.
Reviews of The Best Cheap Earbuds Under $20
With a price point not just less than $20, but less than $10, it’s no wonder that they’re #1 of the top 10 earbuds on Amazon.
With the right tip size, they stay in your ears easily. Isolation is nothing special, but then again, you can’t really expect anything special for less than $10.
These are probably the most lightweight Panasonic earbuds we’ve tried so far. You could probably pop them in your ears and wear them all the time and not know that they are there.
It’s kind of obvious that they are cheap. Plastic is the material of choice, and they sound hollow and plasticky when bumped together. Even if you break them, it’s not like you’ve spent a bunch of money on them.
Nope, no inline controls here. Maybe it’s a good thing because they could make the whole thing more fragile and prone to breaking.
While the mids are surprisingly clear and balanced, the rest of the frequency range is… average.
Sure, the bass is pretty punchy and thick, but the highs are crackly and too sharp. Not to a point that they are unusable, but definitely not great.
If you are looking for a pair of very cheap earbuds that will just do the job for you, the Panasonic RP-HJE120s are a great choice.
Though coming from a relatively unknown company, the M6Ps definitely surprised us with the overall build and performance!
The average tips hold on nicely, but the memory- wire cables do an excellent job. As these are designed to be worn over the ear, you can bend the cable to fit your earlobe quite easily.
Noise isolation is average, if not above- average.
The right tip size alongside a couple of minutes of bending the cable correctly results in a very comfortable experience. Definitely, something we didn’t expect from a pair of under $20 earbuds.
Sweat-proof, and water-resistant? Yup, the M6Ps are pretty durable. The bendy cable not only makes wearing these comfortable but gives them the ability of not breaking for a long time.
While there are no media buttons, these do feature volume and call controls.
Warm, smooth, and rich in detail. Well, at least in this price range. While they may not sound as good as Sennheisers, they definitely show that there are great earbuds for less than $20.
If you don’t mind the over- the- ear cable design, definitely go for these.
Being slightly more expensive than the Panasonic model we’ve mentioned, the Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi- Fi noise isolating earbuds deliver a very satisfying audio experience.
As the design is different from the other models we’ve mentioned, it definitely takes some getting used to. They do stay in the ears, and isolation is average.
Simply put, they are either very comfortable or very uncomfortable, depending on what you are used to. You can always purchase separate tips if you find the latter to be your case.
Again, average. Nothing special, no fancy materials or braided cables here. Take care of them and they will last you a good amount of time.
You can’t really expect any in-line controls at this price point.
Balanced, clear and overall, amazing. These earbuds could easily compete with much more expensive models out there.
The low end is clear yet thick, and both the mids and highs pop out nicely.
If sound quality and low price are your things, definitely consider this model.
4. Philips SHE3595 –Best Earbuds Under $20
Minimalistic, thin, and sleek, the SHE3595 by Philips are definitely the best headphones under $20!
The provided tips offer an average performance both in terms of fit and isolation. At least you don’t have to get 3rd party tips to have a nice fit.
When compared to the other models in this price range, the SHE3595s excel in comfort. As they are amazingly lightweight, you can barely feel them inside your ears.
While it could be better, you can always go and purchase another pair. Standard plastic buds and cables will do the job at the end of the day.
No controls whatsoever, as expected in this price range.
The audio experience is where this model truly shines. Both the bass and highs are present, yet controlled and clear. The overall range is very nicely presented and makes these buds versatile when it comes to different genres.
You can’t get a pair of better sounding earbuds in this price range than the Philips SHE3595. Period.
5. Kz ATE
And finally, the ATE by Kz, as our last pick of the best cheap earbuds under $20. If you are a fan of a raw and almost DIY design, definitely take a closer look.
Once again, we see the choice of the over-ear cable design. This decision makes the earbuds stay in place very nicely, and the provided tips make a tight seal as well. Isolation was better than expected, very close to in-ear monitor grade.
Well, we’ve said it before, you either love or hate the “hook” design. While the cable itself doesn’t make the buds uncomfortable, it’s up to you at the end of the day.
While the see-through plastic covers on the buds may make them seem as fragile, these earbuds are pretty durable. The cables seem strong, and the added metal accents not only make for a good look but for longevity as well.
Finally, both a microphone and in-line controls are featured in the ATEs.
Though the bass is slightly boosted, the overall experience is quite satisfying. We would go as far as compare these to more expensive models out there. Definitely a pair of budget buds you should consider, whether it’s for listening to music, or as a pair of in- ear monitors.
Go for it. If you value sound quality over modern and stylish design, this is your go- to!
What to Look For?
While personal preference plays an important role in the world of audio equipment, there are definitely a couple of things to consider when getting a pair of cheap earphones.
Audio Quality, Frequency, and Signature
No matter how good the earbuds may look, or how premium they may feel, they are pretty much useless if they don’t sound good. Whenever you’re considering a budget option of a product you need, quality, or better yet, performance, can suffer greatly.
While it’s hard to get a clear picture of the overall performance of cheap earbuds, the best thing you can do is look at the Frequency Response and Audio Signature of each model.
Frequency response of a pair of headphones tells you the range in which they operate. Most models offer a range of around 20 to 20 000 Hz, as that is the range the human ear can detect.
Audio signature, however, tells you which parts of that range are the most present.
Think of it this way, a flat frequency response makes the lows, mids, and highs stand out pretty much the same. On the other hand, bass heavy headphones are very common, and while they are great for listening to music that’s bass- oriented, they may not offer that great of an experience when it comes to other genres.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you, and what you prefer!
Look Out For Microphonics!
This is something most people forget to mention. Microphonics is when you can actually hear the cable of the headphones bouncing around even at higher music volumes.
It’s an important factor that shouldn’t be forgotten.
Wireless vs Wired
You can’t really find wireless budget earbuds that easily. We’ve managed to include 2 options in our $50 pick, and it clearly shows that going totally mobile is costly.
When it comes to pros and cons of these two connection types, it’s pretty simple.
While a higher level of comfort is achieved by having no or fewer cables to untangle, you still have to charge your buds regularly.
If you need a pair of great workout headphones, wireless should be your choice, but in other circumstances, there is nothing wrong with going with the classic, wired design.
Fit, Comfort and Build Quality
Whether you’re planning on using earbuds all day, or just a couple of hours a day, you need to make sure that they are comfortable.
Most companies include differently sized ear tips not only to give you a comfortable experience but to keep the buds themselves from falling out.
Though plastic seems as the go-to material for most models, there are great examples of utilizing other materials in order to get a long-lasting pair of earbuds.
Sure, you can’t expect anything special when looking for the best affordable earbuds, but you shouldn’t make any compromises as well.
Wrapping Things Up
So, we’ve seen that there are plenty of different models to choose from. However, some of them stand out in different categories.
The best earbuds under $50 – Shure SE112-GR, very well built, impressive noise cancelling earbuds for the price range, and sound amazing.
The best earbuds under $30 – Sennheiser CX200, comfortable and have a great audio signature.
The best earbuds under $20 – Philips SHE3959, the best in this price range, sound quality and design- wise.
So, that wraps up our review of the best cheap earbuds you can get. We hope you found this article helpful, and as always, thank you for reading!