Updated

Best Headphones under $50 - Spring 2017
Reviews

This price range is for listeners who want a budget headset to use casually, that still delivers a decent listening experience. This means the headphones in this list won't be the most comfortable, well-rounded or neutral sounding. However, they offer a fair sound quality and wireless Bluetooth at a great price point. Below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $50 we have tested so far.

Best Over-Ear Headphones under $50

Usage Ratings
5.5Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.2Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
4.6Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
5.0Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
5.2Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The best over-ear headphones under $50 are the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. Like the rest of the ATH-M series, they deliver an above-average audio reproduction at a budget price. If you’re looking for a decently durable and comfortable pair of over-ear headphones, then the M20x are a good option that also delivers in the sound department. They’re not the most versatile headphones, so they won’t be ideal for all use cases, but if you care about sound quality, they’re the best for critical listening at this price range.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $50

Usage Ratings
5.6Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.4Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
3.9Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
6.0Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
5.0Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

If you prefer the compact format of on-ear models and still want the above average sound quality that the ATH-M20x deliver, then get Koss Porta Pro. They’re lightweight headphones that are so comfortable and breathable that you barely feel them once they’re on your head. They’re also portable enough to fit into some pockets and most bags. However, their build quality is a little flimsy and they’re open headphones so they will be even less versatile than the M20x.

See our review

Best Earbuds/In Ear Headphones under $50

Usage Ratings
7.2Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.7Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.1Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.5Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
7.7Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The Samsung Level U Pro are the best option if you’re looking for a cheap, all-purpose pair of headphones to use every day. They’re decent for most use cases and slightly more comfortable than most in-ears thanks to the flexible in-ear tips. They have a reliable and fast wireless connection, a good battery life and a customizable sound profile if you have an Android device. However, their around-the-neck design is not for everyone, and the build quality is not particularly durable.

See our review

Runner-Up

If you want an, even more, budget wireless pair of headphones and are comfortable with the fit of most in-ears, then the Anker SoundBud Sport are a good alternative to the Level U Pro. Unfortunately, they don’t have the best battery life, and their mediocre-at-best sound quality may be a deal breaker for some. On the upside, they’re very portable headphones that will fit in almost any pocket, and they also have a stable design that’s good if you want to use them at the gym or for running.

See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $50 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

A few examples of headphones under $50 that didn't make the cut:

  • ATH-ANC23. Cheap budget in-ear headphones. Low leakage, decent sound quality but poor noise isolation. See our review
  • Sony MDR-ZX110NC. Simple on-ear headphones with a decent sound. Mediocre build quality and a slightly cumbersome design. See our review
  • Bludeio T3 Plus.  Cheap yet sturdy wireless headphone. Awkward design and weak wireless range. See our review

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones under $50. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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