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 recommendations). Below are our recommendations for the best budget headphones we have reviewed so far.
Best Cheap Over-Ear Headphones: Koss UR-20
If you're looking for over ears, the Koss UR 20 are the best cheap headphones we've tested. 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 like the Bluedio T2S and they're quite bulky and cumbersome, so they won't be practical to use in all situations.
Best Cheap On-Ear Headphones: AmazonBasics Lightweight On Ear
If you prefer on-ear headphones and only have $25 to spend, we recommend the AmazonBasics On-Ear. They’re still somewhat flimsy headphones that are not versatile enough to use in loud, noisy environments. On the upside, they sound surprisingly well balanced for their price range, they’re decently portable, and they don't leak much, so you will rarely distract those around you in quieter settings.
If you want a sturdier on-ear headphone, consider the Sound Intone CX-05, they're much better built than the AmazonBasics but do not sound as good as the AmazonBasics.
Cheaper Alternative: Koss KSC75
If you want an even more budget headphone, but do not like the fit of in-ears, then get the Koss KSC75. They have an above average sound that reproduces instruments and vocals surprisingly well.
They're a little uncomfortable for some and don't have enough bass for most listeners due to their open design. On the upside, these cheap headphones are compact and portable, unlike the AmazonBasics On-Ear, and have a stable ear-hook design that makes them somewhat decent for sports.
Best Cheap In-Ear Headphones: SoundPeats Q9A
If you want a cheap wireless headset, then the best earbuds we have tested at this price are the SoundPeats Q9A. They have a stable design that’s great for sports.
They’re more comfortable than typical in-ears and barely leak, so they’re great to use in quieter environments when you do not want to disturb those around you.
Wired Alternative: 1More Piston Classic
If you want a more typical in-ear to carry on you at all times, then consider the 1More Piston Classic. They do not have the convenience of a wireless design but you also don't have to worry about battery life.
They sound decently balanced although not as good as the more expensive headphones from 1More like the Triple and Quad Drivers. On the upside, they are fairly well built for cheap headphones and surprisingly comfortable for an in-ear design.
- Bluedio T2S Turbine. Cheap headphones with an excellent wireless range. Poor comfort and overly bass-heavy sound quality. See our review
- Rovking V1. Cheap sports headphones. Low leakage but poor sound quality and isolation. See our review
- Venstone X1. Low leakage and a stable ear-hook design, but they perform slightly worse than our recommendations. See our review
- MEE audio M6. Budget headphones with a simple, wired in-ear with an average-at-best sound a mediocre build quality. See our review
- Sound Intone CX-05. A sturdy and well-built on-ear for the price. Deal breaking sound quality. See our review
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.