Nowadays, you can get a decent pair of headphones on a very tight budget. Cheap headphones are ideal for a last-minute purchase or if you need a temporary pair of headphones. However, the choice is limited and the build quality tends to be poor (check our article 'best headphones under $50' for more choices).
Below are our recommendations for the best budget headphones we have reviewed so far.
If you're looking for cheap over ears, then the Koss UR 20 are the best headphones under 25$ that we've tested so far. They have large, spacious and comfortable ear cups and a decently well-balanced sound. This makes them above-average budget headphones for critical listening.
However, they do not have any fancy active features, and they're quite bulky, so they won't be practical to use in all situations. Thir build quality also feels plasticky and cheap and won't be very durable.
On the upside, they are the best over-ears that we've tested so far at this price range.
If you want a slightly more durable design than the Koss UR-20 without compromising on sound quality, then get the Tascam TH-02. They won't be as comfortable as the Koss since they have smaller and shallower ear cups that do not sit as well around the ear. They also have a cheap and plasticky build quality that's more durable than the Koss but not by much. On the upside, they have a more compact design that's a bit easier to carry around since they fold and they provide a sound quality on par with the UR-20 but a slightly worse treble range. Overall, they're slightly better built and less bulky, and they sound decently balanced for their below $20 price tag.
If you want an even more portable alternative to the Koss UR-20 and Tascam TH-02, then get the on-ear Koss KSC75. They won't be as comfortable as the Koss, and their sound quality won't pack as much bass as the Tascam.
On the upside, they have a portable and compact on-ear design that can fit into your pockets, and they have an above-average sound that reproduces instruments and vocals surprisingly well. They also have a stable ear-hook design for sports although the lack of in-line controls does make them a bit difficult to use on the go with mobile phones.
Overall, if you're looking for a decent sounding and very portable headphone under $25 that's not an in-ear, then the Koss KSC75 are your best bet. You could also spend a bit more and get the much better Koss PortaPros, but they won't be under $25 even when on sale.
If you want a cheap wireless headset, then the best in-ears/earbuds we have tested at this price are the Skullcandy Jib. They will not be as open sounding as the Koss KSC75 and they won't be as comfortable as the Koss UR20.
However, they're a lot more portable thanks to their compact in-ear design that will easily fit into your pockets. They're also easy to use although they do not have volume controls which is a little disappointing. On the upside, they have a decently balanced sound that packs a lot of bass, and they last fairly long on a single charge at 5.8 hours of continuous playback.
Overall, the Skullcandy are not the best budget in-ears we've tested since you can get the Anker SoundBuds Curve for just below $30, but for their price, they deliver a respectable performance and a decent sound that should be good enough for most.
If you want a more typical in-ear to carry on you at all times, then get the 1More Piston Classic. They do not have the convenience of a wireless design like the Skullcandy Jib but you also don't have to worry about battery life wireless range or reliability. They sound decently balanced although not as good as the more expensive headphones from 1More like the Triple and Quad Drivers. But on the upside, they are fairly well built for cheap headphones and they're surprisingly comfortable for an in-ear design.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap headphones 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).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones under $25. 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.