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).
The best over-ear headphones under $25 that we have tested so far are the Koss UR 20. 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. Their build quality also feels plasticky and cheap and won't be very durable.
On the upside, they are the best-sounding over-ears that we've tested so far at this price range.
If you want a slightly more portable and durable alternative to 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. Also like most headphones at this price range, they do not have the best build quality but should be a bit more durable than the UR-20. On the upside, they're easier to carry around since they fold. They also provide a somewhat decent audio reproduction, on par with the UR-20s but with slightly worse treble. Overall, they're a slightly better built and more compact alternative to the Koss, 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 on-ear design that will easily fit into your pockets. They also have an above-average sound that reproduces instruments and vocals surprisingly well for their price range. They're stable enough for most activities, even running, thanks to their ear-hook design, although they will not be the best sports headphones since they have no in-line remote.
Overall, if you're looking for a decent sounding and very portable headphone under $25 that's not an in-ear, then get the Koss KSC75. However, you could also spend a bit more and get the much better Koss PortaPros which are a bit better overall but not less than $25 even when on sale.
The best earphones under $25 we’ve reviewed so far are the 1More Piston Classic. They won’t be as comfortable as the over-ear Koss UR-20 but they're a lot more portable and will easily fit in your pocket so you can have them on you at all times. They're also a bit more comfortable than more tradition in-ears thanks to the small semi-open earbuds and lightweight build quality.
Unfortunately, they do not sound quite as balanced as the more expensive 1More headphones, like the Triple Driver In-Ear or Quad Driver In-Ear. They also do not isolate as well due to their semi-open design, but for their price, they are easily worth the investment and they are better-built than most other in-ears in this price range.
If you like the freedom of wireless headphones and are looking for the best in-ears at this low price point, the Skullcandy Jib are a great pick. They are just over the $25 but on the upside, they're a good value for their price to performance ratio, and they're wireless which will be a bit more convenient for some especially if your phone does not have a headphone jack. You also get a slightly better sound quality overall that packs more bass.
Unfortunately, they feel cheaply made and the in-line remote doesn’t offer a volume rocker, which is disappointing. The Anker SoundBuds Curve offer a better value overall, but they are closer to 30$ than 25$. They're also good, straightforward wireless in-ears with ear-hooks that are great for sports (see the best wireless earbuds under $50 for more recommendations).
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $25 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.