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 over 705 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones and earbuds under $50 that you can buy. Also, make sure to check out our picks for the best earbuds under $50, the best wireless earbuds under $50, and the best gaming headsets under $50.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are the best headphones under $50 that we've tested. They're the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, which are among the best wireless Bluetooth headphones under $100 we've tested. Although their price point fluctuates just above the $50 mark, these headphones still offer high value as they're equipped with an active noise cancelling system to help block out background noise. Although they have trouble cutting down the rumble of bus engines, they can reduce sounds like ambient chatter very well, which is handy if you work in a noisy office. They also last over 32 hours continuously with the ANC on, and you can use them wired when you run out of battery life.
Their v-shaped sound profile pack extra thump, rumble, and boom, while vocals and lead instruments are detailed and bright, making them particularly well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop as well as pop and rock. Even though they don't have a companion app, they have a bass-effect feature built into their controls so that you can adjust their thump and boom. They have a decent build quality and are comfortable enough for long listening sessions, but they feel a bit plasticky and lack a sturdy carrying case to help protect them when you're on the go.
If you're looking for budget-friendly over-ear headphones and want a neutral sound, then the Superlux HD 681 are the best audiophile headphones under $50 that we've tested. They lack a mic and don't have ANC, so they're a little less versatile than the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, but they have a much more flat, neutral sound profile. Their bass and mid-range responses are very neutral, so your music isn't overwhelmed by extra thump and boom, and vocals and lead instruments sound preset, detailed, and clear. They also have a semi-open design, which helps them create an open and natural-seeming passive soundstage.
They're comfortable and lightweight, making them suitable for long listening sessions. They aren't the best choice for your commute or the office since they don't block out very much ambient noise. Their build quality also feels plasticky and a bit cheap. However, if you're looking for better-built audiophile headphones, then it's worth considering the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x instead. These over-ears feel sturdier, and their closed-back design means they leak less audio at high volumes. However, they're less comfortable and have a more recessed treble, which veils vocals and instruments as well as dulls sibilants like cymbals.
If you want headphones for under $50, there are more earbuds than over-ear headphones to choose from. If you're looking for a light, portable earbud design, the best wireless headphones under $50 we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless. These have a lighter, more portable design than the previous picks. They last around seven hours of continuous use but stand out from other earbuds for their extremely long total battery life. Their case holds about 12.5 additional charges, so once the case is charged, you can top them up for several days to get you through a long trip or the work week.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds rumble, body, and punch to your audio, which is well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. Elements like voices and instruments are clear and present in the mix, but the earbuds don't work with an app or come with any sound customization features. They also lack ANC but do a good job of passively blocking ambient sound like background chit-chat at work or a humming computer fan. They barely leak audio, so your music won't bother people nearby, even with the volume cranked up.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $50 we've tested are the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless. Their ANC system does a better job of blocking out background noise than the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. When you're on the go or on your daily commute, they can cut down bass-range noise like the low rumble of bus engines. They can also reduce ambient chatter at the office. With their ANC on, they have over eight hours of continuous playback time. While their carrying case doesn't supply remotely the same amount of extra charges as that of the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, two additional charges are plenty enough to get you through your day.
These buds have a good build quality certified IPX6 for resistance against direct water contact. They also have a stable and decently comfortable fit. Out of the box, they have an excited sound profile with a bit of extra thump and rumble, while sibilants like cymbals are bright. They lack sound customization features, so you can't adjust them to your liking.
If you're looking for headphones you can take to the gym, the best Bluetooth headphones under $50 we've tested are the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless. These earbuds come with a selection of differently-sized ear tips and stability fins, which helps them stay in place even during intense workouts. They have a sturdy design and an IPX7 rating for water resistance, so you don't need to worry about a bit of light rain during a run. The buds' controls are physical buttons that let you skip a song or adjust the volume during a workout.
They have a bass-rich sound profile that adds rumble, punch, and body to your audio, which is nice if you like to listen to genres like EDM and hip-hop during workouts. Vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately, so it's a suitable sound for content like podcasts. However, they lack sound customization features. Their 3.6-hour continuous battery life is also short. If you want earbuds with longer-lasting battery life, the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless are generally more expensive but can sometimes be found on sale for under $50. They last about seven hours off of a single charge and work with an app that has sound customization features.
Mar 20, 2023: Replaced the Jabra Elite 3 Truly Wireless with the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless because the Jabra are usually priced above $50.
Jan 19, 2023: Checked that the products are available and made minor updates to the text.
Nov 03, 2022: We've restructured this article to better match user expectations. We've removed the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless, KZ ZSN, and Samsung AKG Type-C. We've also added the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless and cleared the Notable Mentions of any picks that are out of date.
May 11, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Mar 30, 2022: Replaced the Samsung AKG Type-C with the KZ ZSN as the KZ have a more traditional 1/8" TRS/TRRS connector, which you can use with more devices than a USB-C connector. Moved the Samsung to 'USB Alternative'. Reordered the picks for better clarity and consistency.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones and earbuds 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.