Preferred headphones store
Updated

The 9 Best Cheap Earbuds - April 2019
Reviews

Best Cheap Earbuds
344 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.

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 53 earbuds and in-ears under $100 so far and below you’ll find our top picks for the best budget earbuds, going from the cheapest headphones with decent performance all the way up to $100 headphones, all divided by price range. Check also our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds under $50, the best budget wireless headphones, and the best earbuds under $50.

  1. Best Cheap, Decently Performing Earbuds: Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.0
    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:
    6.4
    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:
    5.8
    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:
    6.6
    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:
    5.9
    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
    TV
    Score components:
    5.4
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for really inexpensive earbuds that perform surprisingly well, get the Panasonic RP-HJE120; they're the best budget 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.

    The Panasonic RP-HJE120 have slightly overemphasized bass and their treble range sounds a bit veiled, but for the price, they sound surprisingly decent. Their in-ear design also isolates a decent amount of sound and barely leaks, which is important while commuting or working in an office.

    However, they feel cheaply made. The plastic build doesn’t feel durable, and they have thin cables that don’t have an in-line remote with a microphone. On the upside, these headphones are a small investment and provide great value for your money.

    See our review

  2. Best Cheap Earbuds Under $25: Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 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:
    6.9
    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:
    7.0
    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:
    7.9
    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:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    5.3
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re willing to pay a bit more for extra features and better performance, the best cheap earbuds under $25 we’ve tested are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. Not only do these in-ear headphones have a surprisingly premium look and feel, but they are also wireless, which is a welcome surprise at this price point.

    They’re pretty comfortable in-ears, with a stable ear-hook design that makes these headphones good for light sports or fitness activities. They have a bass-heavy sound that is well-suited to genres with deep bass like EDM or hip-hop. Their battery also lasts almost 13 hours on a charge, which is pretty good for wireless budget headphones.

    The SoundBuds Curve don’t isolate noise as well as some other in-ears since their earbuds don’t go very deep in the ear canal. On the upside, this makes them more comfortable for longer listening sessions. These headphones offer great value for the price and are decent for most use cases.

    See our review

  3. Wired Alternative: 1More Piston Classic

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like watching videos on your smartphone or tablet a lot, then get the wired 1More Piston Classic. They’re not as comfortable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve, but they provide a latency-free listening experience so that what you see matches what you hear. They have a decent in-line microphone and come with a small hard case which is a nice addition.

    Unfortunately, the sound quality of the 1More Piston Classic is rather disappointing. Our unit had mismatched drivers and they sounded muddy. On the upside, they isolate well and you can plug them into PS4 or Xbox One console controllers for audio and microphone support if you don’t like to use bulky over-ear gaming headsets.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap Earbuds Under $50: JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.9
    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:
    7.1
    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:
    7.4
    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:
    7.7
    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:
    7.2
    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:
    5.1
    TV
    Score components:
    4.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for durable sports-oriented wireless headphones under $50, then get the JBL Endurance Sprint. They have a slick, matte design which looks more premium than their price would suggest and are a decent choice for most use cases.

    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, the JBL Endurance Sprint have higher-than-average latency for Bluetooth headphones, so they’re not ideal for watching movies or gaming. The touch-sensitive control scheme can also be a bit finicky at times. That said, if you’re looking for a slick wireless headset to wear while working out and you’re a fan of twist-to-lock ear-hook fit, then the JBL Endurance are a good choice.

    See our review

  5. Truly Wireless Alternative: SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless

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

    If you want to get rid of wires completely, get the SoundPeats TrueFree. Although they don’t sound as good as the JBL Endurance Sprint and have a much shorter continuous playtime, they’re the best truly wireless option we’ve reviewed for less than $50. They’re well-designed, comfortable in-ear headphones that are incredibly lightweight. The SoundPeats TrueFree are 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.

    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 under $50.

    See our review

  6. Wired Alternative: TIN Audio T2

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

    If you don’t want to have to worry about a battery at all, get the Tin Audio T2. They don’t sound as well-balanced as the JBL Endurance Sprint, but they never need to be recharged since they’re wired headphones. They’re very well-built in-ears that feel durable and come with a braided detachable cable that can be easily replaced if it’s ever damaged.

    The TIN Audio T2 have a decently balanced audio reproduction, 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 than some may prefer.

    See our review

  7. Best Cheap Earbuds Under $100: Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.1
    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:
    7.3
    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:
    7.5
    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:
    8.1
    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:
    7.4
    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:
    5.6
    TV
    Score components:
    4.6
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you are looking for the best cheap earbuds you can get for less than $100, then get the truly wireless Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. Their design is reminiscent of the Apple AirPods, but they have a more stable fit that offers much better sound and isolation performance. The in-ear fit of the Liberty Air might not be for everyone, but if you find them comfortable, they’re very good headphones for your day-to-day needs.

    What the SoundCore Liberty Air lack in flair, they make up for in sound. They have very faithful audio reproduction for wireless in-ear headphones and sound well-balanced. They’re great for all sorts of music genres, from hip-hop to classical. The Liberty Air also create a good seal that results in impressive passive isolation, making these headphones well-suited for blocking out the sounds of your everyday commute.

    Their glossy plastic exterior may seem a bit cheap, especially compared to the cheaper JBL Endurance Sprint, but they make up for it with their superior leakage performance and exceptional wireless range. If you want a more neutral sound profile than the SoundPeats TrueFree and are willing to spend a bit more, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air are the way to go.

    See our review

  8. Alternative For Sports: Jaybird Tarah Wireless

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

    If you’re looking for great headphones for sports under $100, get the Jaybird Tarah. They don’t sound quite as good as the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air right out of the box, but they’re compatible with the Jaybird MySound app that features a great parametric EQ along with community presets for you to tweak their sound to your liking. The Jaybird Tarah are well-built in-ears, rated IPX7 for superior water and sweat resistance, and have a fairly comfortable earbud-like fit.

    Unfortunately, the Jaybird Tarah have a rather disappointing battery life of only 6 hours. They have an auto-off timer that helps save power a bit, but 6 hours is still a bit weak at this price point, especially considering the Anker SoundBuds Curve last for nearly 13 hours and are a fraction of the price. The JBL Reflect Mini 2 have a longer battery life, but they don’t have an auto-off timer so you’ll have to remember to turn them off when you’re not using them.

    See our review

  9. Wired Alternative: 1More Triple Driver

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

    If you prefer having no latency issues and want wired in-ears that sound decent, get the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. You won’t be able to walk away from your audio source like you can with the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air, but you won’t have to worry about battery life. They’re well-designed with angled earbuds that enter your ear canal deeply, making them more comfortable than the TIN Audio T2. They also come with a lot of tip options, including foam tips, so you can find the ones that fit you the best. They have great audio reproduction and sound reasonably well-balanced.

    Unfortunately, their cable feels a bit thin and may be prone to breakage. The cable isn’t detachable, so if it does get damaged you would have to repurchase the headphones entirely. If you want better-built wired headphones for the same usage, the KZ AS-10 sound decent and they have detachable cables.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless: Good wireless in-ears for sports with decent sound, but the Anker SoundBuds Curve offer slightly better value. See our review
  • JBL Reflect Mini 2 Wireless: Great wireless sports headphones with stabilizing fins. Well-designed, but our recommendations offer better value for the price. See our review
  • Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass: Budget earbuds with above-average build-quality. Not as comfortable nor as stable as our top picks and have mediocre sound. See our review
  • Samsung U Flex Wireless: Well-made wireless headphones with great leakage performance but poor noise isolation. Customization limited to Android and a bit pricey compared to our top picks. See our review
  • Skullcandy Jib Wireless: Wireless budget headphones with powerful bass and decent isolation. Good choice for the price point if you don’t like the fit of the Anker SoundBuds Curve. See our review
  • KZ AS10: Well-built wired in-ears with good audio reproduction and detachable cables. See our review
  • MEE audio X7 Wireless: A cheap wireless headset with a decent design for sports. Mediocre sound and build quality compared to some of the other headsets on that list. See our review
  • MEE audio M6 PRO: A good alternative to the KZ ZS-10. Good build quality and a decent sound for the price. A bit too sharp on some tracks. See our review
  • Samsung Level U Pro Wireless: A customizable wireless in-ear with a decent sound. Not as well-built as the U Flex, but a good alternative. See our review
  • Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016: A lightweight and well-built sports headphone with a customizable sound. The charging clip may be a deal breaker for some. See our review
  • JBL E25BT Wireless: A very budget wireless in-ear with a decent sound and overall performance; a good alternative to the Skullcandy Jib but more expensive. See our review
  • TIN Audio T3: Well-built wired in-ears with a premium, durable feel, detachable braided cables, and decent audio reproduction. See our review

All Reviews

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.

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:

Create Discussion