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 400 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $50 you can buy in 2020. 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 that we’ve tested so far are the Mpow H5. They don't just look premium for their price; they come with tons of features that we normally find on higher-end headphones. They're reasonably comfortable, with a well-padded headband and earpads, and even have active noise cancelling. While the ANC is somewhat sub-par, they still do a passable job of isolating you from external noises.
If you haven't guessed it, they're Bluetooth headphones. With Bluetooth and ANC enabled, you can expect an average of 12 hours of continuous playback, and they take about 2.3 hours for a full charge. If you do run low, they can be used wired and Mpow has included a 3.5mm cable in the box. What's more, they also provide a hard carrying case. The overall build quality is satisfactory; however, one area of concern is the hinges and yokes, which are a little thin, but otherwise, they feel fairly sturdy.
These headphones aren't just about having lots of features, though; they have an above-average sound too. The V-shaped sound profile lends well to genres such as hip-hop and EDM, with a consistent, punchy bass, an even but recessed mid-range, and a fairly balanced treble. If you're looking for a decent pair of headphones on a budget, definitely consider the Mpow H5.
Bluetooth headphones like the Mpow H5 Wireless are great when you're on-the-go, but they often have too much latency to be useable for gaming; in this case, check out the Corsair HS60. They're not as portable as the Mpow, but they can be used casually, as the mic is detachable. Unfortunately, even though they're closed-back, they don't isolate sound very well, making them hard to recommend for commuting. When using the headset with the included USB adapter, the sound can be customized through Corsair's iCue software, which has plenty of preset options to choose from as well as a graphic EQ. If you're purely using the headset for gaming, you should know that the microphone is very good. Speech comes out clear and the microphone does remarkably well at separating speech from background noise.
If you need a pair of portable headphones, the Mpow are a better choice, but for gaming without latency, go with the Corsair.
If you prefer the compact format of on-ears, then the best Bluetooth headphones under $50 you can get are the Skullcandy Grind. Only certain color variants are available under $50, so you may have to spend a bit more for your favorite color scheme, but overall they're easily among the best on-ear headphones we’ve tested so far. They have a sturdy metal design that looks great and they’re surprisingly comfortable for on-ear headphones.
These are Bluetooth headphones, but they also come with two audio cables to use when the battery is empty or just to eliminate wireless latency. They’ll work with nearly all devices, including providing audio and chat support on the PS4 and Xbox One since one of their cables has an in-line mic. They sound decent overall, albeit a bit sharp at times, but should satisfy most casual listeners. They have a decent 15-hour battery life and charge in under 2 hours.
Unfortunately, they aren’t as portable as some of the other on-ears we've tested since they don’t fold into a more compact format. They’re also only available for less than $50 in some of the slightly less popular color schemes. That said, if you don’t mind, they're one of the best wireless headphones under $50 and they provide great value overall.
The best in-ear headphones under $50 that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They’re very well-designed, with a comfortable fit that’s less fatiguing to wear over time than other in-ear headphones we’ve reviewed. They feel fairly well-built, are very portable, and even come with a good hard carrying case that’ll help protect them on the go.
These headphones have an excited bass-rich sound that delivers deep, thumping bass without completely drowning out instruments and vocals. Their battery lasts for nearly 13 hours of continuous playback, which is quite good, and they charge in about 1.5 hours. They even support aptX, so you might not even notice very much audio lag if you watch videos or play mobile games on a compatible Bluetooth device.
Although fans of EDM or hip-hop are sure to love their punchy bass, it might be slightly overpowering for fans of classical or folk music. Also, Anker doesn’t yet have a mobile app, so these earbuds are less customizable than the Jaybird Freedom, which can be fine-tuned in great detail with their companion EQ. That said, they still provide excellent value overall and are the best cheap earbuds that we’ve tested so far.
If you own a Samsung device and are looking for something more customizable, get the Samsung U Flex. Their neckband design makes them less portable than the Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless, but they’re compatible with the Samsung Level app which provides several features like graphic EQ with presets, room effects, volume monitors, and playback timers when paired with Samsung devices. Unfortunately, connecting these earphones to the app on non-Samsung Android devices only provides a graphic indicator of battery level and notification management control.
Get the Anker if you're looking for more straightforward wireless earbuds, but if you have a Samsung device and want something you can customize, then go for the U Flex.
If you prefer a wired connection, then get the TIN Audio T2. They're not as comfortable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless and their fit might not be for everyone, but if you can get a good seal, they deliver decent sound. Their foam tips provide great isolation and they leak very little sound, so you won’t bug others around you with your music. Unfortunately, their fit can be troublesome for those with smaller ears. They also don't have a line-in remote, so you can't take calls on them with your phone, but they're well-built with a detachable cable that you can replace if ever it breaks.
Get the Anker if you prefer the versatility of wireless earbuds and want something more comfortable, but if you need a low-latency connection, then you'll want the TIN Audio headphones.
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.
12/03/2019: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.