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The 5 Best Headphones Under $25 - Spring 2019
Reviews

Best Headphones Under $25
345 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
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 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.

Below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $25 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 Over-Ear Headphones Under $25: Koss UR20

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    5.6
    Mixed Usage
    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.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    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:
    4.7
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    4.7
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    5.5
    Office
    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.
    Score components:
    5.7
    TV
    Score components:
    5.5
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $25 that we’ve tested so far are the Koss UR-20. They’re comfortable, decent-sounding headphones that could be an okay choice for critical listeners on a tight budget.

    The Koss UR-20 have large, spacious earcups that are quite comfortable, and their headband doesn’t apply too much pressure on the head, which is great for longer listening sessions. They have great bass and are best suited for more bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop.

    Unfortunately, they’re quite plasticky and feel rather cheap. This is to be expected at this price point, but the Tascam TH-02 feel a little better-made. That said, they’re the best-sounding over-ears that we’ve tested under $25.

    See our review

  2. 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 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.

    See our review

  3. Best On-Ear Headphones Under $25: Koss KSC75

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    5.4
    Mixed Usage
    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.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Critical Listening
    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:
    4.4
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    6.3
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    4.7
    Office
    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.
    Score components:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    5.4
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for headphones with a smaller footprint and you’re a fan of an on-ear fit, get the Koss KSC75. They lack the deep, thumping bass of the Koss UR-20, but they’re more portable and are easier to carry around.

    They have a stable ear-hook design that doesn’t wobble around, and they can fold up to fit in your pockets quite easily. They’re well-suited to more vocal-centric music and would be a decent choice for listening to podcasts or audiobooks in a quiet room.

    Unfortunately, their open-back design lets in a lot of sound, so they won’t be a good choice for use in noisier environments. They can also be a bit uncomfortable, especially for those who wear glasses. That said, they’re the most decent-sounding and portable on-ear headphones under $25.

    See our review

  4. Best In-Ear Headphones Under $25: 1More Piston Classic

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.3
    Mixed Usage
    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.
    Score components:
    6.2
    Critical Listening
    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:
    6.5
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    6.2
    Office
    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.
    Score components:
    5.7
    TV
    Score components:
    6.5
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  5. Wireless Alternative: Skullcandy Jib Wireless

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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 mark, 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 our review

Notable Mentions

  • MEE audio M9B Wireless:  A good alternative to the Skullcandy Jib but a slightly worse performance overall.  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
  • Sound Intone CX-05: A sturdy and well-built on-ear for the price. Deal-breaking sound quality.  See our review
  • Mpow Jaws 4.1 Wireless: An affordable around-the-neck design with decent battery life and above-average wireless range but a subpar sound quality.  See our review

All Reviews

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. 

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