You don’t always need to spend a small fortune on headphones to find a great product that is suitable for your needs. If you prefer the portable design of in-ears and earbuds, there are lots of options that provide great value for the price.
We’ve reviewed 118 pairs of earbuds and in-ears so far and below you’ll find our top picks for the best budget earbuds depending on your needs. Check also our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds under $50, the best budget wireless headphones, the best earbuds for iPhone, and the best cheap wireless earbuds.
The best cheap wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They have a flexible ear-hook design that ensures a stable yet comfortable fit. Their earbud tips don’t protrude too deeply into the ear canal, either, making them less fatiguing to wear over time than other in-ears we’ve tested. They have a polished matte finish that gives them a nice sporty look and even come with a small hard carrying case, which is a welcome surprise at this price point.
These headphones have a bass-rich sound signature that delivers the deep thump and punch of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop while remaining balanced enough to be suitable for other kinds of music too. They have a 13-hour battery life that outperforms even more expensive headphones and are easy-to-use.
Although they are comfortable, they do a mediocre job at isolating noise. The AUKEY Latitude have significantly better isolation performance, which makes them a better choice for those with particularly noisy commutes, but they’re much less comfortable and can sound a bit muddy compared to the Anker. All-in-all, the Anker SoundBuds Curve provide excellent value for their price and are very easy to recommend.
If you’re looking for cheap wireless in-ears with outstanding isolation, then get the AUKEY Latitude. They sound a bit less balanced than the Anker SoundBuds Curve, but they isolate significantly more noise. They’re the best budget travel headphones we’ve tested so far since they do a good job at blocking out noise in the bass frequencies, like the low rumbles of bus or plane engines.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable in-ears we’ve tested so far. Their noise isolation is great, but their earbuds enter the ear canal quite deeply, which can be uncomfortable over time. That said, if you don’t mind the way they fit or are only using them for short periods of time, like while you take the bus to work, they’re a good choice.
If you’re looking for wireless earbuds with decent performance at the lowest price possible, then consider the Skullcandy Jib Wireless. They don’t feel as well-built as the Anker SoundBuds Curve, but they’re even less expensive and still perform reasonably well for their price. They sound alright and have a bass-heavy sound profile that’s best for fans of EDM like dubstep or techno. Their 6-hour battery life isn’t as long as that of other budget wireless headphones we’ve tested and they don’t isolate very much noise, but they still provide decent value for their price overall.
The best cheap wired earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the KZ ZST. They’re very lightweight and have a fairly comfortable in-ear design that fits nicely without putting too much pressure on the ear. In addition, they come with a detachable cable that you can replace if it ever breaks, which is great at this price point.
These wired in-ears sound decent and have a fairly accurate audio reproduction. They can sound a bit bright or even sharp to some, but not everyone will experience this equally. The unit we tested didn’t come with a microphone, but there is a variant with an in-line mic that’s available for purchase.
Although they feel well-built overall, especially for their very low price point, they don’t feel as premium as the other KZ in-ears we’ve tested, like the slightly more expensive KZ ZSN. The ZSN have less stable treble performance, though, so the ZST are a better option for the price difference.
If you’re looking for really inexpensive earbuds that perform surprisingly well, get the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120; they're the best cheap yet decently performing earbuds we’ve tested so far. They’re more comfortable than most in-ears since they don’t enter the ear canal very deeply, and they sound alright too. Their in-ear design also isolates a fair amount of ambient noise and barely leaks, which is important while commuting or working in an office.
As you may expect at this price point, they feel cheaply made. Their plastic build doesn’t feel durable, and they have thin cables that don’t come with an in-line remote. Also, their bass is overemphasized which results in their treble sounding a bit veiled. That said, they still sound decent for the price and are a small investment that provides great value for your money overall.
If you prefer wired in-ears made with solid metal earbuds, then get the TIN Audio T2. They’re impressively well-built in-ear headphones that feel very durable and come with a braided detachable cable that can be replaced if it’s ever damaged. They have a decently balanced audio profile, but are a little bass-light, especially with the silicone tips. You can modify them so they produce a bit more bass by blocking the small port on the earbud casing, or you can consider the TIN Audio T3. They’re a little more expensive, but they have better bass and a slightly different fit that some may prefer.
The best cheap wireless earbuds for sports that we’ve tested so far are the JBL Endurance Sprint. They have a sleek, matte design which looks more premium than their price would suggest, and they’re rated IPX7 for superior water resistance. They’re very good sports headphones and are versatile enough to be a decent choice for casual use too.
They have a versatile and well-balanced sound, which makes them great for not only all kinds of music genres, but even podcasts or audiobooks. Though it can be a bit tricky to get the twist-to-lock ear-hook fit just right, they provide impressive isolation performance once you get a good seal. Their battery lasts for 9 hours, which is enough for a full work day, and they charge in under 2 hours.
Unfortunately, they have very high latency, so they won’t be ideal if you like to watch videos on your phone at the gym. Their touch-sensitive control scheme can also be a bit finicky at times. That said, if you’re looking for solid wireless headphones to wear while working out and you’re a fan of twist-to-lock ear-hook fit, then these are a good choice.
The best cheap customizable wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Freedom. They’re compatible with Jaybird’s great mobile app which provides access to a number of customization options. They’re currently the best earbuds for small ears that we’ve reviewed thanks to their unique, slim earbud design that easily accommodates ears of various shapes and sizes.
When you connect these earbuds to the Jaybird MySound app, you get access to a great parametric EQ so you can fine-tune the way they sound to suit your tastes. In addition, you can browse and contribute to a library of community presets, which is great if you want to share presets with some friends. The app is also available on both iOS and Android.
Unfortunately, they have a pretty weak battery, lasting only about 4 hours on a charge. You can attach the charging clip to their in-line remote to double their battery life, but it makes the earbuds feel unbalanced with the bulky dongle hanging from one side. If you can afford the price difference, the Jaybird Tarah provide better battery performance, but they’re quite a bit more expensive. All-in-all, the Jaybird Freedom are a good option if you’re looking for customizable earbuds that won’t break the bank.
If you prefer earphones with a neckband design and use a Samsung device, then consider the Samsung U Flex. Their customization options aren’t available on iOS like those of the Jaybird Freedom, but they provide a well-rounded experience with a Samsung smartphone or tablet. They feel fairly well-built and have a good control scheme that’s very easy to use. The Samsung Level app provides lots of neat features like a graphic EQ, room effects, and volume monitors. Unfortunately, it only shows basic notification management for regular Android devices. That said, if Samsung is your manufacturer of choice and you’re looking for highly customizable neckband headphones at a reasonable price, the Samsung U Flex are a solid choice.
The best cheap truly wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the SoundPeats TrueFree. They’re well-built earbuds with a simple, low-profile design. They’re stable enough to wear while running, have very good isolation performance for your daily commute, and have an outstanding wireless range for home or office use.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that lends itself particularly well to EDM like dubstep or techno, as well as rap and hip-hop. They’re balanced enough to be passable for other genres like pop or rock music, but they lack detail and clarity in the treble range, so they’re not the best for classical or jazz.
Like many truly wireless in-ears, their battery is quite weak and only lasts for 3.3 hours before needing to be charged. Thankfully, they have a standby mode that helps save the battery a bit and their charging case provides from 4 to 5 extra charges, so if you take breaks to charge them every now and then, they should last you all day. All-in-all, they offer impressive value for truly wireless in-ear headphones at this price point.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget earbuds to buy for most people in each price range. 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 in-ear headphones and earbuds. 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.