Finding headphones on a budget can be tricky, but you don’t need to break the bank to get a decent listening experience. The headphones on this list generally aren’t as comfortable or neutral-sounding as some of the more premium options out there, but you can find quality offerings at a reasonable price.
We've tested nearly 450 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $50 you can buy. See also our recommendations for the best earbuds under $50, the best wireless earbuds under $50, and the best gaming headsets under $50.
The best headphones under $50 we've tested so far are the Mpow H10. These noise cancelling over-ears are quite versatile, with a simple, straightforward design well-suited for casual use. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature blocks out a lot of noise, they have a fairly well-balanced sound, and their battery life is great too.
While these headphones don't have a very neutral sound profile, they still sound quite balanced. They have a lot of extra bass, but they also emphasize the treble range for an excited, yet versatile sound signature that doesn't drown out vocals or instruments. Their ANC is especially impressive, as they do a great job at reducing the intensity of disruptive ambient noise, even the low thump and rumble of bus or plane engines. They also have a 23-hour battery life, which is great for long days of travel.
Unfortunately, they feel like pretty cheaply-made headphones. The even less expensive Mpow H5 Wireless actually feel better-built, but their ANC isn't as good and they sound less well-balanced. There's an upgraded version of the H10 available that might feel more durable, but we haven't tested it to confirm. That said, they still provide excellent value for the price thanks to their solid combination of features.
The best headphones under $50 with a truly wireless design we've tested so far are the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79. These super-compact earbuds are surprisingly well-rounded, especially for the price. They're fairly comfortable, well-built, and come with a decent charging case so you don't lose power on-the-go.
These truly wireless in-ears have an impressively well-balanced sound profile. They deliver an extra kick of thump and rumble that fans of more bass-heavy music crave, without overpowering vocals or instruments. Their battery performance isn't bad, either - they last nearly 6 hours on a charge, and you can recharge them up to 4 more times in their carrying case.
On the downside, their touch-sensitive controls are rather mediocre. While it's good that they let you adjust your music's volume without having to take out your phone, they're not the easiest to use. That said, their price-to-performance ratio is still quite impressive, and they're easy to recommend overall.
If you want a decent pair of truly wireless earbuds that cost even less, get the SoundPeats TrueFree. They don't sound quite as well-balanced as the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless, but they're even more affordable. They still perform alright overall, with lots of bass for fans of EDM or hip-hop. However, they only last about 3 hours on a charge, and their case doesn't have a lid. You still get a few extra charges out of the case, though, and, although we haven't tested it, there's a version with a lid you can get for just a couple dollars more.
If you listen to more vocal-centric genres and want a better-balanced sound profile, go with the TaoTronics, but if you want something even cheaper, get the SoundPeats.
The best headphones under $50 with an earbud design that we've tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. These wireless earbuds have a thin wire that connects both earbuds together and are available for considerably less than $50. They feel quite comfortable, and their ear-hook design is stable enough for even moderately strenuous workouts.
Their sound profile is fairly bass-heavy, though it shouldn't be too overpowering. While they'll give a bit of extra thump for genres like EDM or hip-hop, they'll still be well-balanced enough for most genres. They last almost 18.5 hours off a single charge, which is great and should easily get you through a couple of full days before needing a re-charge.
Unfortunately, their thin cable feels quite cheap, though this can be somewhat expected for their low price point. On the bright side, they're rated IPX7 for water resistance, though this isn't something we currently test for. Overall, they offer excellent value and are among the best headphones we've tested to date.
If you don't want to have to worry about keeping your headphones' battery charged, and would prefer a wired option, go with the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. They aren't as comfortable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, and they aren't as stable in the ear, but they have a better-balanced sound profile and a more consistent wired connection. Their sound profile is versatile enough for a very wide range of genres and content, and the headphones are available with a standard 1/8" TRRS connector, or a Lightning connector if you use an iPhone without a headphone jack.
If you prefer the freedom of wireless headphones, go with the Anker, but if you use your headphones for long trips or just don't want to have to worry about a wireless connection, get the Beats.
05/29/2020: Replaced the Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite with the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 as the "Best Truly Wireless Headphone Under $50".
03/30/2020: Replaced the Tin Audio T2 with the Beats urBeats3 and the Mpow H5 with the Mpow H10.
01/30/2020: Replaced "Best On-Ear Headphones Under $50" category with "Best Truly Wireless Headphones Under $50". Moved Samsung U Flex Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $50 to buy for most people. 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 for headphones under $50. 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.