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, but you can find quality offerings at a reasonable price.
We've tested over 745 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones and earbuds under $50 that you can buy. Also, 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; you can use them wired when you run out of battery life. Their V-shaped sound profile packs extra thump, rumble, and boom, while vocals and lead instruments are detailed and bright, particularly well-suited for genres like EDM, hip-hop, 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.
On-ear headphones can be a good option if you don't like the feeling of your ears being closed off from the world when wearing over-ear headphones. The best Bluetooth headphones under $50 with an on-ear design that we've tested are the Sony WH-CH520 Wireless. These comfortable cans have a plush and padded design, making them ideal for longer listening sessions. Their price fluctuates a bit, so they can sometimes be priced a bit above $50, but they still represent a good option for around that price.
The Sony headphones boast some cool features, like multi-device pairing and a battery life of well over 52 hours. Their build quality isn't the most impressive, given the price, but they're still suitable enough for most uses. Out-of-the-box, these headphones have a slightly warm sound profile. The bass and mid-ranges are flat and balanced, producing a clear and full-bodied sound. Dips in the low-bass and treble slightly dull higher-pitched sounds like cymbals, though.
If you want a different sound, you can always use the graphic EQ and presets in their companion app to switch it up. The app is also where you find Sony's 360 Reality Audio feature, which analyzes your ear shape to integrate a virtual soundstage through compatible services like Tidal. If you love on-ears, these feature-packed headphones are a solid pick that won't break the bank.
Looking for a cheaper option? The Logitech G435 LIGHTSPEED Wireless are the best headphones we've tested in this price range. While these headphones are designed for teens and tweens and have a volume limiter, don't let this dissuade you from considering them, as they'll still fit most adult heads and may even save your ears if you're a recovering tune-cranker.
They support Bluetooth and have a wireless USB dongle for lower latency connectivity while gaming or watching a video on your PC. Their sound profile is slightly warm, with extra high-bass to compliment genres like folk or rock. Vocals and instruments are clear and present but a bit bright. Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app or customization features.
Their build quality reflects their price, with a flimsy plastic construction and padding fabric that could easily get damaged over repeated use. The mic is also just fair. Your voice sounds clear but thin, unnatural, and easily lost amid moderate and loud background noise. Fortunately, their battery lasts nearly 20 hours, so you can use them all day without worrying about losing power.
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 less versatile than the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless but 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 and dull sibilants like cymbals.
The best earbuds under $50 we've tested are the JBL Vibe Beam True Wireless. These small and lightweight buds are a great option if you're looking to bring your music with you on the go. They also have extra features compared to similarly-priced models, including a parametric EQ and presets in their companion app. They also have two unique modes to help you hear what's happening around you. While out running, use the Ambient Aware feature to stay alert. If you want to chat with a friend, the ambient TalkThru mode lets you hold a conversation without removing the buds.
These headphones are also certified IP56 for dust and water resistance, which is a nice touch for listening on the go since it protects against exposure to the elements. If you want earbuds with an ANC feature, consider the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless. However, they lack the sound customization features found with the JBL.
If you're looking for more budget in-ear picks, check out our recommendations for the best earbuds under $50.
Aug 01, 2023: Replaced the Skullcandy Riff Wireless 2 with the Sony WH-CH520 Wireless as 'Best On-Ears' and replaced the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless with the JBL Vibe Beam True Wireless as 'Best Earbuds'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wireless 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.