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The 6 Best Headphones under $50 - Fall 2018
Reviews

Best Headphones under $50
272 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 won’t be the most comfortable or neutral sounding, but you can find quality offerings if you want a budget headset to use casually. The best earbuds and headphones under $50 offer a fair sound quality and wireless Bluetooth.

We've tested 43 headphones under $50 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy in 2018.  

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $50: Mpow Bluetooth Over-Ear

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.3
    Mixed Usage
    What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.8
    Critical Listening
    What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.1
    Commute/Travel
    What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.4
    Office
    What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.7
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    5.3
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $50 are the Mpow 059. They're a wireless headphone with a decent sound quality and a simple and easy-to-use over-ear design that will be comfortable enough for most listeners. 

    They don't have the best balanced audio reproduction and their build quality is a bit plasticky. However, for their price, they deliver a solid experience, a great control scheme, and a good battery life and wireless range. They also come with a regular audio cable so you can use them wired when the battery dies or passively while watching movies to reduce latency.

    Overall, they're a versatile option for most use cases and a great choice if you want a wireless over-ear headphone under $50.

    See our review

  2. Alternative For Gaming: HyperX Cloud Stinger

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you're primarily a gamer and use your headphones at home more often than you do outdoors, get the HyperX Cloud Stinger instead of the Mpow 059. They won't be as practical for every day casual use as the Mpows since they're not wireless and have a non-detachable mic. But on the upside, they're a good budget choice for gaming with a balanced enough sound to also make them a decent option for critical listening. Overall, they're a good budget gaming headphone that won't have the customization options of the Logitech G430 but have a better build quality and microphone for multiplayer games like Fortnite and PUBG.

    See our review

  3. Best On-Ear Headphones Under $50: Skullcandy Grind

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.5
    Mixed Usage
    What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.2
    Critical Listening
    What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.2
    Commute/Travel
    What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    6.8
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.6
    Office
    What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.8
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    5.5
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer the compact format of on-ear headphones, then the best option you can get under $50 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 the Grind are easily one of the best and more comfortable on-ears that we've tested at any price point.

    They have a sturdy metal design that's durable and looks great. They're also closed-back on-ears, unlike the Koss Porta Pro, which makes them a bit more suitable for commute and noisy environments. They're wireless but also come with a regular audio cable that will work with most of your devices. 

    They won't be as portable as some of the other on-ears we've tested since they do not fold into a more compact format but if you don't mind the slightly less popular color schemes, then the Grind are the best on-ear headphones at this price point.

    See our review

  4. More Portable Alternative: Koss Porta Pro

    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you're looking for a more portable alternative to the Skullcandy Grind, then get the Koss Porta Pro. They are not as well built or as durable as the Skullcandys. They're also a bit less practical for everyday casual use since they are wired with a mediocre in-line remote. But on the upside, they are so comfortable and breathable that you barely feel them once they’re on your head. They also have a decently well-balanced sound quality with an open design that creates a more immersive sound quality than the Skullcandy Grind.

    The build quality of the Koss is a little flimsy, especially when compared to the Sound Intone CX-05, which are a lot cheaper. But they sound better and can fold to fit into some pockets so you can have them on you at all times. There is also a wireless variant of the Porta Pros but it doesn't offer the best value for your money, especially considering the price difference when compared to the wired version.

    See our review

  5. Best In Ear Headphones Under $50: Samsung U Flex

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    Mixed Usage
    What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Commute/Travel
    What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Office
    What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.7
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    5.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best budget earbuds under $50 we've tested are the Samsung Level U Flex. They're an affordable, all-purpose pair of headphones to use every day and they're slightly more comfortable than most in-ears thanks to the flexible in-ear tips.

    They have a reliable wireless connection with various codec options, a good battery life and a customizable sound profile that you can EQ if you have an Android device. The Samsung U Flex are better built with more customization options than the Level U Pro, but they're limited to Samsung-only devices for those extra settings. 

    See our review

  6. More sports-focused alternative: Anker Soundcore Spirit X

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you do a lot of sports, get the Anker Soundcore Spirit X. They do not have as many customization options as the Samsung U Flex when paired to a Samsung device. However, they deliver a good and water-resistant build quality that looks a lot more premium than their price would suggest. They’re more comfortable than typical in-ear headphones and they have a stable ear-hook design that's great for running and working out. They deliver an exciting bass-rich sound, a long-lasting 12-hour battery life, and they’re compact enough to fit into your pockets. They also have a bit more sweat resistance than the cheaper Anker Soundbuds Curve, which are a good alternative to the Spirit X if you're on a tight budget. 

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Anker SoundBuds Curve. A good wireless option for sports with a stable ear hook design. Affordable and decently well built but no customization options. See our review
  • MEE audio M6 Pro. A well built and durable wired in-ear with ear hooks stable enough for sports. See our review
  • Logitech G430. A customizable and great sounding budget gaming headset. Unfortunately, you can't remove their mic and they're a bit too bulky and cumbersome for outdoor use, unlike the G433. See our review
  • SteelSeries Siberia 200. Excellent sound quality and a good microphone for gaming. Poor build quality is a deal breaker for most. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. Budget over-ear headphones with a good sound quality. They're a decent substitute to the Mpow 059. See our review
  • Bluedio T4. Cheap yet sturdy wireless headphone. Awkward design and very high latency. See our review
  • Polk Buckle. Typically expensive but often on sale in this price range. Great build quality and decent sound but a rigid design and poor isolation. See our review
  • Superlux HD 681. A good alternative to the Logitech G433 for critical listening but not as versatile for everything else. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $50 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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. 

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