Spending a lot of money on earbuds doesn't necessarily mean that you will get better performance. You don't have to break the bank to find the best product for your needs, as there are many products available at a very affordable price that can give you a good bang for your buck.
We’ve tested over 235 pairs of earbuds and in-ears, and below are our top picks for the best cheap earbuds. Also, check out 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 earphones that we've tested are the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. These in-ears have a flexible neckband design with an in-line remote that makes it easy to adjust their controls while on the go. They're decently stable, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears during your workouts, and they come with a few different sizes of earbud tips to help you get the best possible fit.
These headphones have a pretty neutral sound profile with a touch of extra boom in the bass that adds some punch to bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop. They last for around 17 hours off of a single charge, too, which should be more than enough to get you through your workday. They don't have an ANC feature, but they can still passively isolate against typical office background noise like the sounds of coworkers chatting nearby.
Unfortunately, these headphones struggle to block out bass-range ambient noise like the deep rumble of bus and plane engines, so they aren't really ideal to wear during your commute. Also, their build quality is fair overall, but the cables seem quite thin and the modules' thin plastic build feels a bit fragile. That said, if you're on a budget, they're a solid choice overall.
If you're looking for wired headphones, consider the Samsung AKG Type-C. While they aren't as stable in your ears as the Sony WI-C310 Wireless, the Samsung have a wired design, so you don't have to worry about battery life or latency. They have a comfortable, well-built design and use a USB-C connector, which is nice if your smartphone or other devices only have a USB-C port. They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that delivers a touch of extra boom. The rest of their sound profile is neutral, though, so vocals and lead instruments sound clear and accurate. They also have an in-line mic that can capture your voice clearly. However, it struggles to separate speech from background noise around you.
Try the Sony if you're looking for stable wireless earbuds that are more suitable for the gym. However, if you prefer using better-built wired headphones with a more comfortable fit, check out the Samsung.
The best cheap truly wireless earbuds that we've tested are the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless. These lightweight headphones are well-built and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although this isn't something we test. They also have a stable in-ear fit and should stay in place if you're using them while working out.
They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile with a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom. That said, vocals and lead instruments are still clear and accurate, making these headphones suitable for lots of audio content. While they don't have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature, they do a decent job of passively blocking out noise around you.
Unfortunately, they have a bulky design, and using their controls can push them deeper into your ear. They also have a short continuous battery life of under four hours, which may not be enough to get you through long days at the office. Luckily, their carrying case holds roughly 2.5 additional charges, and you can use one bud while the other one recharges.
If you're looking for a pair of cheap truly wireless earbuds that are more comfortable, consider the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 instead. While they don't block out background noises as well as the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless, and their price point can fluctuate, the SoundPeats' ear tips don't enter your ear canal too deeply, which can be more comfortable for some users. Overall, these well-built headphones have a more stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears during more intense workouts. Their bass-heavy sound profile can help keep you motivated while you're at the gym, too. While their 3.6-hour continuous battery life is a bit disappointing, their portable charging case offers around four additional charges, which is convenient.
If you're looking for in-ears with a more neutral sound profile and a better noise isolation performance, check out the Skullcandy. However, if you want headphones with a more comfortable and stable fit, consider the SoundPeats instead.
The Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless are the best budget earbuds that we've tested. These well-built truly wireless in-ears have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box that adds some thump and punch to your audio. Vocals and lead instruments are still reproduced clearly, so they're suitable for listening to a wide range of audio content.
These headphones have a stable in-ear fit thanks to their stability fins, so you can wear them during your workouts without having to worry about them falling out of your ears. They last for a little over seven hours off of a single charge, but their portable charging case offers around 12.5 extra charges, so you can power up during long days on the go. They also have good passive noise isolation, and you don't hear ambient noises like people chatting around you.
Unfortunately, these headphones struggle to passively block out bass-heavy background noise like plane and bus engines, so they aren't really ideal to wear during your commute. They also lack any sound customization features, which can be disappointing if you want to adjust their sound. However, they're still a versatile pair of earphones that can please many different listeners at a budget-friendly price.
Aug 25, 2021: Replaced the Skullcandy Jib Wireless with the Sony WI-C310 Wireless due to their better build quality and longer continuous battery life. Replaced the FIIL T1X Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless as 'Best Budget'.
May 27, 2021: Removed the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 as it's getting harder to find them in stock. Also replaced the KZ ZST with the Samsung AKG Type-C and replaced the Skullcandy Jib True Wireless with the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless as the Samsung and Skullcandy offer a better value for most users.
Feb 26, 2021: Replaced Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 with FIIL T1X Truly Wireless due to current availability. Added Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 to Notable Mentions.
Dec 03, 2020: Replaced the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless with the Skullcandy Jib True Wireless as 'Best Cheap Truly Wireless Earbuds'. Added the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless as 'Sports Alt'. Removed AUKEY Latitude Wireless from 'Notable Mentions' due to availability.
Sep 04, 2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in product recommendations.
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 earbuds and in-ears 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.