COVID-19: the government of Quebec is shutting down non-essential businesses till April 13. Therefore, our lab is temporarily closed and we can't test new products. In the meantime, we will continue to update articles from home.
Updated

The 5 Best Earbuds And Headphones Under $20 - Spring 2020
Reviews

Best Earbuds And Headphones Under $20
436 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
  • Supported directly by you via insider access and when you purchase through our affiliate links
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

Nowadays, you can get a decent pair of headphones on a very tight budget. Cheap headphones are ideal for last-minute purchases or if you need a temporary pair of headphones. However, the choice is limited and build quality tends to be poor.

Below are our recommendations for the best earbuds and headphones under $20 we have reviewed so far. See also our recommendations for the best cheap earbuds, the best budget wireless headphones, and the best wireless earbuds under $50.


  1. Best Earbuds Under $20: Skullcandy Jib Wireless

    Test Methodology v1.4
    6.7
    Mixed Usage
    6.7
    Neutral Sound
    7.0
    Commute/Travel
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    6.4
    Office
    5.0
    Wireless Gaming
    5.0
    Wired Gaming
    6.6
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best earbuds under $20 that we’ve tested so far are the Skullcandy Jib. They’re among the best cheap wireless earbuds we’ve reviewed, giving you good bang for your buck.

    Like most of the Skullcandy lineup, they have a slightly overextended bass, making them great for genres like EDM or hip-hop. Easily portable, comfortable, and stable, these earbuds are suited for light to moderate exercise at the gym. They're also very small and are among the best earbuds for small ears. Style-savvy listeners will like the range of color variants and although they range in price, most are around the $20 mark or a couple of bucks over, making them an affordable choice if you don't want to compromise on looks.

    Unfortunately, their plasticky build reflects their price. The cable is thin and doesn't feel very durable. However, this design also makes them lightweight. Their battery life is also disappointing: it takes over 2 hours to recharge their 6-hour battery life. However, at such an affordable price, if they break or get damaged, these headphones are easily replaceable, making them the best earbuds under $20.

    See our review

  2. Wired Alternative: KZ ZST

    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Hybrid

    If you prefer a more reliable and stable wired connection over a Bluetooth one, then check out the KZ ZST. They might not offer the freedom of wireless headphones like the Skullcandy Jib Wireless do, but with a cable, you won't have to worry about latency being an issue when watching video content, or even battery life. They're also well-built for their price point and their cable can be replaced easily if it gets damaged. This is a nice feature to have, especially at this price point, since it makes them quite more durable. Sound-wise, they aren't as bass-heavy as the Skullcandy, but their mid-range is still a bit recessed, meaning they won't be that much of a better option for vocal-centric music.

    Get the Skullcandy if you want the extra freedom of wireless headphones, but if you want something more durable and don't mind having a wire, go with the KZ, which are some of the best earbuds under $20.

    See our review

  3. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $20: Koss UR20

    Test Methodology v1.3.1
    5.3
    Mixed Usage
    7.0
    Neutral Sound
    4.9
    Commute/Travel
    4.4
    Sports/Fitness
    5.6
    Office
    4.2
    Wireless Gaming
    6.1
    Wired Gaming
    1.6
    Phone Call
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $20 that we’ve tested so far are the Koss UR20. If you like the close feel of over-ears, these comfortable, soft padded headphones are an okay choice for those on a tight budget.

    Fairly well-balanced but producing deep, punchy bass, these headphones are best-suited for genres like EDM or hip-hop. If you like to listen to albums back-to-back, you'll also be decently comfortable. Their sling headband doesn't apply too much pressure around your head and their large, spacious ear cups easily cover most ears.

    Unfortunately, the design of these headphones is rather plasticky, making them feel quite cheap. They don't feel very durable and the hinges seem poorly made. They also don't have a microphone, so you won't be able to make any calls. Still, if you're on limited funds, these headphones are an affordable over-ear option.

    See our review

  4. More Portable Alternative: Tascam TH-02

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you want a pair of headphones under $20 that are more portable and feel slightly better built, go with the Tascam TH-02. They aren't as comfortable as the Koss UR20 and their sound profile isn't as well-balanced, but they fold and are less bulky, making them much more portable. Their sound reproduction is adequate, though they lack detail and brightness on vocals and lead instruments. As expected at this price range, their all-plastic design doesn't feel the most durable, though they still feel slightly better than the Koss.

    Get the Koss if you want a more comfortable pair of headphones with a more-balanced sound profile, but if need something slightly more portable and durable-feeling, go with the Tascam, some of the best headphones under $20.

    See our review

  5. Best On-Ear Headphones Under $20: Koss KSC75

    Test Methodology v1.3.1
    5.3
    Mixed Usage
    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    4.4
    Commute/Travel
    6.3
    Sports/Fitness
    4.8
    Office
    4.2
    Wireless Gaming
    6.0
    Wired Gaming
    1.5
    Phone Call
    Type On-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best on-ear headphones under $20 we've reviewed so far are the Koss KSC75. Their unique clip-on style makes them lightweight and easily portable.

    Decently well-balanced, particularly in the mid-range, these headphones are better suited for those who like to listen to more vocal-oriented media like podcasts and audiobooks. Outdoor runners will appreciate the open-back design; it lets in background noise like that produced by cars and trains and keeps you alert while you move. Their clip-on ear hook also makes these headphones a stable and suitable option when you're doing light to moderate workouts at the gym. When you're on the go, their small size makes it easy to store them into most pockets.

    Unfortunately, these headphones lack bass and produce disappointing thump and rumble. At higher volumes, distortion in the bass range will also make the bass sound slightly impure. The build, like others on this list, isn't great either. Their silver plastic design feels cheap and won't be appreciated by some users. Their lack of a microphone could also be a deal-breaker. However, if you're looking for on-ears at a reasonable price, these unique clip-on headphones are worth considering.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • JBL E25BT Wireless: A bit more expensive than the Skullcandy Jib, the JBL E25BT are worth it if you find them on sale. See our review
  • MEE audio M9B Wireless:  The MEE audio M9B are a good alternative to the Skullcandy Jib, but a slightly worse performance overall. See our review
  • Mpow Jaws 4.1 Wireless: The Mpow Jaws 4.1 are an affordable around-the-neck design with decent battery life and above-average wireless range, but sub-par sound quality. See our review
  • Betron YSM1000: Fairly well-built wired in-ears with good controls, the Betron YSM1000 sound mediocre-at-best. See our review
  • 1More Piston Classic: Well-designed wired earbuds, the 1More Piston Classic have a boomy, muddy sound. See our review
  • Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: The Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 are decent wired earbuds at a very low price, but less well-built than the KZ ZST. See our review
  • Symphonized NRG 3.0: Unique wired earbuds with a cool wooden design, the Symphonized NRG 3.0 have a dark sound quality. See our review
  • Sound Intone CX-05: The Sound Intone CX-05 are sturdy and well-built on-ears for the price. Deal-breaking sound quality. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds and headphones under $20 for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews of earbuds and headphones under $20. 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.

Recent Updates

03/03/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy. No changes in product picks.

Recommended Articles

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider

Unlimited access to full product reviews, test measurements and scores

test table UI

Product prices across the site on reviews, tables and tools

product prices UI

Additional votes for our
next reviews

Additional votes UI

Early Access
to our reviews and test measurements

Early Access UI

Create Discussion