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 695 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 that 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 some 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.
At this price point, you're more likely to find in-ears than over-ears. If you prefer a lighter, more portable design, you'll want to consider the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, the best truly wireless headphones under $50 that we've tested. What makes them stand out from the crowd is their under 100 hours of total battery life, thanks to the 12.5 additional charges in their carrying case. They also have roughly 7.3 hours of continuous playback time, and they're even equipped with a standby mode to help conserve battery life when not in use.
These headphones have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump, body, and boom to your mixes, which fans of EDM and hip-hop can enjoy. Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app and lack an EQ to help you adjust their sound. While they don't have noise cancelling like the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless, they can still passively isolate you from a good amount of ambient noise like office chatter. They have a decently comfortable fit, are well-built, and have an IPX5 rating for water resistance, making them a solid choice for use at the gym.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $50 that 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, consider the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless, which are the best sports-oriented earbuds under $50 that we've tested. Even though their price fluctuates above the $50 mark, they have a significantly better performance when it comes to comfort, customization, and battery life compared to their under $50 counterparts. If you can afford to spend a few more bucks, they have a stable fit that won't move around during tough workouts. They're also more comfortable than the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless and are certified IP55 for protection against dust and direct water contact. However, they can create a plunger-like feeling in your ear due to their deep fit, and some people may find this a little unpleasant.
These buds have a bass-rich sound profile with a touch of extra thump, punch, and boom to help keep you pumped up at the gym. However, if you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets, so you can fine-tune their sound to suit your tastes. While they don't have ANC, they can still block out mid-range sounds like office chatter well and last over seven hours continuously. Their carrying case offers three extra charges if you need it.
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.
Jan 21, 2022: Added the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless as 'Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $50' as they offer a solid noise isolation performance.
Nov 19, 2021: Replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless as the Plantronics are now mostly out of this price point. Also replaced the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless with the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless as the JLab offer better overall performance. Added the Superlux HD 681.
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.