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 490 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 we've tested are the Mpow H10. These noise cancelling over-ears are quite versatile, with a simple, straightforward design well-suited for casual use. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature blocks out a lot of noise, they have a fairly well-balanced sound, and their battery life is great.
While they don't have a very neutral sound profile, they still sound quite balanced. They have a lot of extra bass, but also emphasize the treble range for an excited, yet versatile sound signature that doesn't drown out vocals or instruments. Their ANC is especially impressive, as they do a great job at reducing the intensity of disruptive ambient noise, even the low thump and rumble of bus or plane engines. They also have a 23-hour battery life, which is great for long days of travel.
Unfortunately, they feel pretty cheaply-made. The even less expensive Mpow H5 Wireless actually feel better-built, but their ANC isn't as good, and they sound less well-balanced. There's an upgraded version of the H10 available that might feel more durable, but we haven't tested it to confirm. That said, they still provide excellent value for the price thanks to their solid combination of features.
The best truly wireless headphones under $50 that we've tested are the FIIL T1X. These well-built wireless in-ears come with different sizes of ear tips and stability fins to help you get a comfortable, stable fit. Their continuous battery life is over six hours, and their portable charging case offers around three extra charges for when you're on the go.
Overall, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that packs a little extra thump and punch, but can still suit a lot of different music genres. If you prefer a different sound, you can customize the sound profile using the 15 different EQ presets in their companion app. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can turn up the volume on your favorite tunes without bothering the people around you.
Unfortunately, they don't have the most intuitive control scheme, so it may take a bit of time to figure out their touch-sensitive controls. Their integrated microphone isn't the best, either, as it tends to make your voice sound unnatural and distorted. That said, these in-ears have a decently versatile performance and a solid amount of sound customization options for their price point.
If you're shopping for truly wireless headphones on an even tighter budget, consider the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless instead. Their continuous battery life isn't as long and they aren't as comfortable as the FIIL T1X True Wireless, but they offer a fairly versatile performance at a lower price. Their sound profile is a bit more bass-heavy than the FIIL, so it's well-suited for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They have a good noise isolation performance, and they don't leak a lot of sound, either. Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app or any sound customization features, which may be disappointing for some listeners.
If you want more comfortable headphones with a better-balanced default sound profile and most customization options, check out the FIIL, but if you're on a tighter budget, consider the SoundPeats 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 in conjunction 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.
09/25/2020: Replaced the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless with the FIIL T1X True Wireless as 'Best Truly Wireless Headphone Under $50'.
07/28/2020: Minor changes to text for accuracy and clarity.
05/29/2020: Replaced the Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite with the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 as the "Best Truly Wireless Headphone Under $50".
03/30/2020: Replaced the Tin Audio T2 with the Beats urBeats3 and the Mpow H5 with the Mpow H10.
01/30/2020: 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. 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.