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Flagship headphones are pricey, but you can still find some truly excellent models on a budget.The Mpow 059 are the best cheap headphones overall thanks to their solid sound and wireless support.The JLabs Jbuds Air are a stellar set of true wireless earbuds in the $50 price range.Read more about why you can trust our tech team to provide the best product recommendations .
Table of Contents: Masthead StickyAudiophiles will happily spend a ton of money on high-end headphones, but most people don’t want to drop several hundred dollars on a pair.
Even audio enthusiasts will admit that inexpensive headphones have come a long way in recent years.
In the budget-friendly range, you shouldn’t get into the weeds with technical specifications like frequency response or premium features like noise-cancelling or wireless charging – these are more of a concern with high-end gear.At lower price points, your primary considerations should be durability and sound quality: Your headphones should be well-built enough to withstand regular use and should offer good sound for casual listening.
With these criteria in mind, we’ve selected the best affordable headphones you can get right now.
Our top picks include a variety of styles, like over-ear, on-ear, wireless earbuds, and gaming headphones.Though our recommendations already carry budget-friendly prices, please keep in mind that we expect many of our picks to go on sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday .
Here are the best cheap headphones you can buy: Best cheap headphones overall: Mpow 059 Best cheap true wireless earbuds: JLab Audio JBuds Air Best cheap wired headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Best cheap on-ear headphones: Koss PortaPro Best cheap gaming headphones: HyperX Cloud Stinger Best cheap wireless earbuds: iFrogz Impulse Duo Wireless Earbuds Best cheap wired earbuds: Panasonic ErgoFit Best cheap headphones overall Mpow
Bluetooth headphones can be hit or miss, but the wireless Mpow 059 offer a surprising level of comfort and sound quality at an incredible price point.
Type : Closed-back over-ear Drivers : 40mm Connectivity : Bluetooth, detachable cable with 3.5mm connector Battery life : Around 13 hours of playback Pros: Folding design, sound is surprisingly good for a pair wireless headphones, cable for wired use, strong value
Cons: Wireless sound signal won’t be as deep or detailed as a wired connection, the mic is only usable in Bluetooth mode
One of the most popular applications for Bluetooth connectivity is headphones.In the past, wireless headphones have been rather hit or miss, but today’s Bluetooth headphones, like the top-rated Mpow 059 , are head and shoulders above those of yesteryear.
In terms of design, the Mpow 059 don’t re-invent the wheel.They feature two 40mm neodymium magnet drivers and a full-size over-ear design with rotating padded ear cups and an adjustable cushioned headband.
The 059 also include a convenient built-in mic for hands-free calling when synced to your phone, and the earpieces fold inwards for added portability.
What sets the Mpow 059 apart from other inexpensive headphones is that what they do, they do quite well, delivering good wireless sound along with a sleek design and solid build.One really nice touch is that you can actually use the Mpow 059 as wired headphones with the included cable.When used wirelessly, the Mpow 059 draw power from an integrated 420mAh battery for around 13 hours of juice.
For this price range, the Mpow 059 headphones represent an excellent value given their sound quality, great design, and wireless convenience.You can typically find them on sale for less than their suggested retail price, and we expect even better deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday .
Best cheap true wireless earbuds Amazon
The JLab Audio JBuds Air are the best-kept secret for incredible value in wireless earbuds, with better sound quality than their price lets on.
Type : Earbud Drivers : 8mm Connectivity : Bluetooth 5.0 Battery life : Six hours in each earbud, 18 hours in charging case, 24 hours total Features : Microphone (right earbud only), IP55 water resistance Pros: Well designed, great sound, very inexpensive
Cons: Buttons can be tricky, some connectivity issues
True wireless earbuds are all the rage at the moment, and for good reason — they’re compact, portable, and if you get the right pair, they can sound amazingly good.
You usually have to pay a little more for quality wireless earbuds that match the performance of bulkier full-size headphones, but the Jlabs Jbuds Air defy this norm.
Indeed, the Jbuds Air sound terrific.We’d expect this kind of audio from wireless earbuds that cost closer to $100 or more.They come with three built-in equalizer (EQ) presets, with Jlab’s signature EQ as the default that gives a powerful, exciting sound, and also gives some bass boost and clarity to softer music.
You won’t find noise-cancelling, but that’s fine — it’s not expected at this price range.You still get a little noise isolation with the earplug style that fits in your ear canal.The Jbuds Air come with three sizes of ear tips so you can find the best fit.
As expected, you can make phone calls with the built-in microphone, and there are touch sensors on each bud for controls, like volume, track change, picking up phone calls, and even summoning Siri or Google Assistant.
Battery life is pretty standard among most wireless earbuds, but we love the built-in USB-A charging cable.
It’s a little short, but it saves on clutter.
Best cheap wired headphones Audio Technica
If you’re looking for a well-made pair of entry-level headphones that sound great, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are more than up to the task.
Type : Closed-back dynamic over-ear Drivers : 40mm Connectivity : 3.5mm, quarter-inch adapter included Pros: Well-made, comfortable, great sound for the price, sturdy 3.5mm cable comes with a 6.3mm adapter
Cons: Bass response is lacking compared to more expensive models
Audio-Technica is one of the biggest names in the world of studio-quality headphones.The company offers a big lineup of professional-grade cans that will set you back hundreds of dollars, but it also makes a variety of affordable alternatives, including the ATH-M20x over-ear headphones .
The ATH-M20x are designed to be an entry-level pair of studio headphones and they feature a full-sized over-ear design with 40mm drivers.
They work great with phones, but when hooked up to a PC or TV, the ATH-M20x really shine.They deliver excellent sound quality in the high and mid ranges, with sufficient impedance to eliminate annoying interference (like faint buzzing) when hooked up to your electronics.The sound is clear, crisp, and accurate, but don’t expect super-deep bass.
The cushioned headband and leatherette-covered padded ear cups are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and the cups also provide good noise isolation that filters out the majority of ambient sounds and won’t bother others around you unless you’re really cranking up the volume.
The ATH-M20x could be considered the little sibling of Audio-Technica’s ATH series, as these are essentially a budget-friendly alternative to the M40x and M50x — two highly rated headphones that cost more.
But, for about half the price of the M40x, the ATH-M20x are an incredible value.
Best cheap on-ear headphones Koss
If you’re looking to ditch your earbuds for something beefier but still portable, then look no further than the Koss PortaPro .
Type : Semi open-back on-ear Drivers : Dynamic, size not specified Connectivity : 3.5mm Read our Koss PortaPro headphones review (Bluetooth version) Pros: Impressive sound quality for size, lightweight and comfortable, folding design is super-portable
Cons: The on-ear design doesn’t isolate noise
When it comes to portable on-ear headphones, one pair stands above the rest: The famous Koss PortaPro .The PortaPro have been around for decades and have earned something of a legendary status among the head-fi crowd.This fame is owed to their impressive output relative to their small size and low cost.
They’re not going to put out the same deep sound as a pair of over-ear studio headphones, but the PortaPro nonetheless punch well above their weight in the audio department.
The on-ear pads are connected to a slim, flexible metal headband.This headband features a simple slide adjustment, and the plastic ear pieces fold inwards for portability.The lightweight construction might take some getting used, but the PortaPros are surprisingly durable.
The PortaPro also shine when it comes to sound quality.The lows, mids, and highs are all punchy and responsive.
Just bear in mind that the on-ear design won’t isolate noise as well as over-ear headphones.If you like to crank the volume, others are going to hear it.
The Koss PortaPro might just be the perfect pair of travel headphones and they’re a solid value.If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can even buy a version with Bluetooth support for wireless listening.
Best cheap gaming headphones HyperX
Kingston’s excellent HyperX Cloud Stinger offers everything you need for intense gaming sessions without cutting corners.
Type : Closed-back over-ear Drivers : 50mm Connectivity : Dual 3.5mm connectors for input and output (mic) Features : Volume control slider on right ear cup Read our best gaming headset guide Pros: Outperforms similar headsets in its price range, comfortable design, good audio and microphone quality, compatible with all modern gaming platforms
Cons: The microphone folds up but cannot be removed
Gaming headsets have something of a bad rap among the audiophile community.
Yet, these headsets have improved considerably in recent years, with brands like Kingston releasing impressive models, like the excellent HyperX Cloud series .
Our pick, the Cloud Stinger, is Kingston’s budget-focused HyperX model.
One of the reasons gaming headsets get the side-eye from audio enthusiasts is because the built-in mic means that makers have to pack more electronics into the housing, potentially causing sound quality to suffer.The Cloud Stinger doesn’t skimp on hardware, however, with beefy 50mm directional drivers that deliver big sound.
The drivers are contained in large rotating memory foam ear cups that are comfortable enough for hours of gaming.The padded headband is adjustable via a steel slider, and while the rest of the headphone housing is polymer, it feels durable without being too heavy.
Although the drivers are large, they’re fairly basic, and the sound quality is very good but not mind-blowing.You’re simply going to have to spend a lot more money if you want super-detailed studio-quality sound.
The directional drivers make it easy to pick up in-game environmental details and they also isolate noise very well.
The microphone feels very sturdy but you can’t remove it when you’re just using the Stinger as normal headphones.It simply folds up out of the way.For the price, however, it’s hard to find fault with the HyperX Cloud Stinger .
Best cheap wireless earbuds ZAGG
The iFrogz Impulse Duo headphones deliver good sound quality for the price.
Type : Earbud Drivers : 6mm dual drivers Connectivity : Bluetooth Battery life : 10 hours Read our iFrogz Impulse Duo earbuds review Pros: Excellent design, affordable, Bluetooth connection
Cons: The sound quality isn’t as good as other options on this list
Besides sounding pretty good for the price, the reason iFrogz Impulse Duo earbuds made the cut over all the other budget earbuds we’ve tried is their design.
The dual driver construction is what gives these earbuds an audio-edge over the competition.But mostly, these earbuds succeed where most Bluetooth models fail: Instead of having all of their technology built into an unwieldy dongle that hangs off the cable connecting both buds, iFrogz built it all into a magnetic clip.
Clip the dongle onto your clothes, pop in the earbuds, and you’re ready to listen to music.
In terms of audio quality, you shouldn’t expect an audiophile experience at this price point, but don’t expect a bad one, either.
These are actually the upgraded version of the earbuds iFrogz previously released, and while the design is the same, time was spent in improving the sound quality.
I’ll put it to you this way.These headphones are so easy to use that they’re my go-to pair between reviews.It’s just so convenient to coil them up and pop them in my pocket after a commute.
— Brandt Ranj
Best cheap wired earbuds Walmart
The Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds are about as basic as a pair of wired earbuds headphones can be, but they feature surprisingly good sound quality.
Type : In-ear Drivers : 9mm Connectivity : 3.5mm Pros: Impressive value, comfortable fit, integrated microphone and call remote
Cons: Some build quality issues, audio performance is good for the price but not on par with more expensive earbuds
If you don’t mind a fully wired design, it’s hard to ignore the value that Panasonic’s ErgoFit earbuds provide.Sure, you don’t get Bluetooth playback and you do have to deal with wires running down your ears, but when it comes to in-ear headphones in this price range, few can compete with the overall quality of the ErgoFit .
Each earbuds uses a 9mm neodymium magnet driver, and the resulting sound is very solid for the price.To be clear, you won’t get anything near audiophile-quality, but reviews from Tom’s Guide and Reviewed both note the ErgoFit’s deep bass performance.Though overall clarity is only decent, the earbuds offer a lot for very little.
The ErgoFit earbuds don’t provide much in the way of extra features, but the headphones do include an integrated microphone and call remote for easy use with smartphones.You still won’t get the convenience of a Bluetooth wireless connection, but the mic is a nice inclusion.
Overall build quality is nothing to get excited about, but that’s to be expected for such a budget-friendly headphone model.If you want to save even more, Panasonic also has a version of the ErgoFit without the microphone and remote for an even lower price.
What else we considered Soundpeats
We’d feel remiss if we didn’t mention the SoundPeats T2 wireless earbuds as an upgrade option over the JLab Audio JBuds Air if you’re willing to spend $60.
The T2 have surprisingly good sound quality and feature active noise cancellation (ANC) as the justification for their higher price tag.
At $60, the T2 are an easy recommendation if you’re looking for cheap-enough wireless earbuds with ANC.
You’re not getting the best noise cancellation, but it’s still better than no noise cancellation.
How to shop for headphones Sony
Headphones are available in a variety of styles and sizes specifically designed to suit different needs.
A large pair of over-ear headphones, for instance, can offer impressive sound quality for listening at home, but they’re not ideal for portability.
Below, we’ve detailed some common headphone types, explaining the basic advantages and disadvantages of each style.Wired and wireless options are available for all of the headphone types we’ve listed.Though headphones of all types go on sale throughout the year, the best time to buy headphones is typically on Black Friday and Cyber Monday .
Over-ear headphones : This style of headphone features large ear cups that are designed to rest over your ears to create a seal around them.Over-ear headphones are typically capable of offering better sound performance and noise isolation than other headphone types.
On the downside, they tend to be larger and less portable.
On-ear headphones : Like over-ear headphones, on-ear models also feature ear cups, but instead of completely covering your ear with a seal, they simply rest on top of your ears.Though they can still provide good audio, this design makes them less suitable for isolating outside noise.However, on-ear models can be more compact than over-ear models.
Earbuds : Unlike on-ear and over-ear models, earbuds are compact headphones with separate left and right buds that can be designed to either rest just outside your ear canal or be inserted inside.
In-ear buds can feature different size tips to better fit different ear shapes, allowing them to create a tight in-ear seal for better sound and noise isolation.Some earbuds feature a wire to connect the left and right buds together, while true wireless models are completely free of cables.This design makes earbuds great for portability and use with smartphones.
Gaming headset : Designed for use with video game consoles and computers, gaming headsets include an integrated microphone for online multiplayer chat, allowing you to communicate with other players.
Headsets can be on-ear or over-ear, and certain models feature support for advanced surround sound processing and 3D audio formats.Some gaming headsets are built for specific platforms while others feature universal compatibility with multiple systems.
The best deals on budget-friendly headphones from this guide While it’s tempting to pick up a pair of headphones for dirt cheap, it’s also easy to spend your money on a pair that doesn’t sound very good, or isn’t very comfortable.
We tested several pairs of headphones to find the ones that are an especially good value.
Better still, headphones see discounts all the time, like more than 50% off these MPow budget headphones at Walmart, at the time of writing.You can also look forward to deeper discounts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday .We’ve rounded up the best deals on budget-friendly headphones below.
We’ve rounded up the best deals on budget-friendly headphones below.
JBuds Air (medium, Preferred: Amazon) Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us .
Check out our other headphone buying guides Amazon
The best over-ear headphones The best noise-cancelling headphones The best true wireless earbuds The best gaming headsets Read the original article on Business Insider .