Updated

Best Headphones under $50 - Winter 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
5.4Mixed 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.
7.0Critical 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:
4.1Commute/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.
4.9Sports/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.
4.9Office
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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.
6.4Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The ATH-M20x are decent, low-budget Over-Ear headphones with an above-average sound quality. They're not as well built, as the more expensive models in the series, like the ATH-M40x or ATH-M50x. However, their sound is well-balanced considering their price range, and they're durable enough to use as cheap studio headphones for mixing or recording.

See our review

Alternative

The Bludeio T3 Plus are sturdy wireless headphones that feel like a definite upgrade over the previous T2S Turbine model. They're incredibly affordable for their build quality and active features. Additionally, the Plus model of the T3 lets you play music directly from a micro SD card. Unfortunately, their unique design is not for everyone. They're uncomfortably tight and heavy, and they have a sub-par, bass-enhanced sound that could be a deal breaker for some.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $50

Usage Ratings
5.4Mixed 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.
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:
3.6Commute/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.
5.6Sports/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.
4.6Office
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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.
5.6Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Koss Porta Pro are good budget critical listening headphones. They have a well-balanced sound quality, on par, with much more expensive on-ear models. They're lightweight and compact enough to be easy to carry around. However, they're not built to be the most durable headphones. They also have a unique design, that although comfortable, might not work for everyone. 

See our review

Best In-Ear/Earbuds Headphones under $50

Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed 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.
6.6Critical Listening
Show Help
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:
6.7Commute/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.
7.2Sports/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.
7.3Office
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.
6.8Studio Recording
Show Help
What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Samsung Level U Pro deliver a good and versatile listening experience. They're more comfortable than typical in-ear models. They're wireless, and the around-the-neck design makes them stable enough for sports. Unfortunately, their noise isolation is a little weak for loud environments, and their build quality feels a bit fragile especially the frail and thin audio cables.

See our review

Alternative

The Anker SoundBuds Sport offer a stable wireless fit that's great for sports at a fair price. They won't easily fall out of your ears, and the tight seal they create in your ear canal blocks a surprising amount of ambient noise. However, the in-ear fit can get a bit uncomfortable, and their sound quality is below average and uneven.

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 $25 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
  • Bluedio T2S Turbine. Decent-sounding and cheap wireless headphones. Awkward design and weak build quality.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 under  $50. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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