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 550 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $50 that you can buy. Also, make sure to check out 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 that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. These wireless over-ears have a comfortable fit and a decently versatile performance that can please many different listeners. Thanks to their over 24-hour continuous battery life, they're ideal for long days on-the-go.
Overall, they have a neutral, well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content. The BackBeat companion app even offers a few EQ presets to help you customize their sound to your liking. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without bothering people around you.
Unfortunately, while they come with an active noise cancellation (ANC) feature, they still struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, so they may not be ideal for your commute. Their ear cups are also small and shallow, so they may not be comfortable for all listeners. However, if you're on a budget, these over-ears are a solid choice.
The Creative Outlier Air V2 are the best headphones under $50 with a truly wireless design that we've tested. They're well-built and have a comfortable fit, and come with lots of different sizes of earbud tips to help you get the best possible fit. They last for over ten hours off of a single charge, which is great, and you can even recharge them using their portable case while you're on-the-go.
Out-of-the-box, they have an excited, v-shaped sound profile with an extra punch in the bass range that can please fans of bass-heavy music like EDM. However, if you prefer a different sound, there's a graphic EQ and presets available in their companion app. They even have a Super X-FI virtual surround feature, which the manufacturer says uses head mapping technology to adjust audio reproduction based on the shape of your ears, but we don't test for this.
Unfortunately, they don't have an ANC feature, and they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, so they may not be ideal to use during your commute. While their microphone has a decent recording quality, it can struggle to separate your voice from background noises if you're calling for a busy environment. However, they still offer a decently versatile overall performance for a more affordable price.
If you're looking for a cheaper pair of truly wireless headphones, consider the ENACFIRE E60 instead. While they don't have any sound customization features and their continuous battery life isn't as long as the Creative Outlier Air V2 True Wireless, their portable charging case offers around five extra charges to help you power up while on-the-go. They're comfortable and well-built, and they're stable enough to wear during low-intensity workouts. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds extra thump and punch to your audio, but it's still neutral enough to be suitable for lots of different music genres. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can turn up the volume on your favorite tunes without bothering those around you.
If you want truly wireless headphones with a longer continuous battery life and more sound customization options, check out the Creative. However, if you're looking to save some money and want cheaper headphones, consider the ENACFIRE instead.
The best headphones under $50 with an earbud design that we've tested are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. These wireless in-ears have an intuitive in-line remote and feel reasonably well-built, with dense plastic earbuds and an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don’t test for the latter. With an included selection of five differently-sized ear tips and three differently-sized stability fins, finding a comfortable, consistent, and secure fit shouldn’t be a challenge.
Their sound profile is quite bass-heavy, with enough thump and rumble to please all but the most demanding of bass fanatics. However, they seldom sound muddy or boomy thanks to their well-reproduced mids and treble. Meanwhile, their 18.4-hour battery life is among the longest we’ve tested for a pair of Bluetooth in-ears and should have no trouble getting you through a couple of long days at the office. They only take a little over one hour to charge, which is really handy if you’re in a rush.
Unfortunately, while the earbuds are made of dense plastic, their cable is quite thin and feels a little more fragile. They also lack any dedicated app support, although that might be expected at this price. Overall, they're an excellent value and are among the best headphones we've tested.
If you worry about audio latency and don’t want to deal with the hassle of charging times, take a look at the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. They aren’t as comfortable or as stable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, with earbuds that enter the ear canal pretty deeply, which might not suit everyone. However, their flat rubberized audio cables feel sturdy and provide the consistency of a zero-latency wired connection. If you own a newer-model iPhone without a headphone jack, they're available with a Lightning port connector instead of a standard 1/8" TRRS audio cable. Unfortunately, if you use these earbuds with an Android device, you lose a lot of functionality, including in-line volume control.
If you prefer the freedom and flexibility of a wireless design, go for the Anker, but if you want zero-latency audio, consider the Beats.
Jan 26, 2021: Replaced the FIIL T1X True Wireless with the Creative Outlier Air V2 as the Creative have more sound customization features. Added the FIIL T1X to Notable Mentions.
Nov 23, 2020: Replaced the Mpow H10 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as 'Best Headphones Under $50'. Replaced the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless with the ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless as 'Cheaper Alt'. Removed the Mpow H5 Wireless from Notable Mentions and added the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless.
Sep 25, 2020: Replaced the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless with the FIIL T1X True Wireless as 'Best Truly Wireless Headphone Under $50'.
May 29, 2020: Replaced the Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite with the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 as the "Best Truly Wireless Headphone Under $50".
Mar 30, 2020: Replaced the Tin Audio T2 with the Beats urBeats3 and the Mpow H5 with the Mpow H10.
Jan 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.