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 nearly 120 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. See our recommendations for the best cheap wireless earbuds, the best Bluetooth earbuds, the best earbuds under $20, and the best earbuds under $50.
The best cheap 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 are the best budget earbuds and provide excellent value for their price.
If you’re looking for cheap wireless in-ears with outstanding isolation, then get the AUKEY Latitude Wireless. They sound a bit more muddy 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. You’ll want to get the Anker SoundBuds Curve if comfort is a top priority for you, but if you’re more concerned about noise isolation, then you’ll want to go for the AUKEY Latitude.
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. 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 their bass-heavy sound profile is good for fans of EDM, dubstep, or techno.
Get the Curve if you don’t mind putting a couple of extra bucks towards something that performs considerably better overall, but if you’re looking to spend as little as possible, then go for the Jib.
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 cheap wired earbuds that have a mic for making calls, then get the Beats urBeats 3. They're more expensive than the KZ ZST, but they come with an in-line microphone that performs surprisingly well. They have the great deep, thumping bass that Beats is known for but still sound very well-balanced overall, which makes them good for not only hip-hop or EDM but also rock or pop music. Unfortunately, their controls don't work properly on Android.
Get the ZST if you don't need a mic and would rather have cheaper earbuds, but if you have an iPhone and want something with a decent mic, then the urBeats3 are a solid choice.
If you’re looking for something that feels a bit more premium, then get the TIN Audio T2. They’re more expensive than the KZ ZST, but they look and feel like higher-end headphones. They’re impressively well-built with solid metal earbuds and 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.
Get the KZ ZST if you want deeper bass and don’t care whether your earbuds are made of plastic or metal, but if you’re after more premium-feeling earbuds and don’t mind the lack of bass, you’ll want to go for the T2.
The best budget earbuds for sports we've tested so far are the JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless. They seem fairly durable and have a matte rubberized finish which makes them look and feel surprisingly premium for the price. They're rated IPX7 for waterproofing and have a decently compact design that you can easily throw into your gym bag or even stuff into your pockets when you're on-the-go.
These earbuds reproduce audio impressively well and have a very well-balanced sound. They're among the best-sounding wireless earbuds we've tested and are suitable for all kinds of music as well as podcasts and audiobooks. Their 9-hour battery life is decent and they have an auto-off timer that triggers when the ear-hooks are closed to help save power.
While their ear-hook design is meant to help keep them firmly in place while running or working out, it can be a bit tricky to get them to stay put, especially if you have smaller ears. They're also not the most comfortable, even once they're properly fitted, and their touch-sensitive controls can be rather finicky. All things considered, though, they're still the best cheap earphones for sports.
The best cheap customizable 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 the best cheap earbuds if you’re looking for customizable earphones 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.
While the Samsung Level app provides lots of neat features like a graphic EQ, room effects, and volume monitors, it only shows basic notification management for regular Android devices. If your smartphone isn’t from Samsung and you still want to be able to customize your earbuds, you’ll want to go for the Jaybird Freedom, but if you have a Samsung device and like a neckband design, then get the Samsung U Flex.
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 cheap 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.