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 a lot of products available at a very affordable price that can give you a good bang for your buck.
We’ve tested over 190 pairs of earbuds and in-ears, and below you’ll find 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 cheapest earbuds with a decent performance that we've tested are the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120. These wired earbuds are quite straightforward, but they still have a pretty versatile performance for their price. They're lightweight, portable, and decently comfortable so that you can wear them for longer listening sessions without a lot of fatigue.
Overall, these earbuds are adequate for neutral sound, so they're suitable for lots of different music genres. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds an extra thump and punch to the mix that fans of bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop can enjoy. They also don't leak a lot of noise, which is nice if you like to crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without bothering the people around you.
Unfortunately, these headphones feel a bit cheaply made, and they don't have a lot of features. They also don't have a very stable fit, so they may not be the best choice to use while you're at the gym. That said, if you're on a budget and looking for a decent pair of basic earbuds, they're a solid choice.
The best cheap earphones under $20 that we've tested are the Skullcandy Jib. These wireless in-ears aren't a bad choice for taking out on a run or to the gym, as they're highly portable and offer a decently comfortable and secure fit thanks to an included selection of differently-sized ear tips.
These in-ears have a very bass-heavy sound profile that should please fans of EDM and hip-hop who prefer an extra helping of thump and rumble in their listening experience. That said, their powerful bass doesn't overwhelm more delicate vocals and instrumentals. Also, they do an impressive job of preventing audio from leaking out, so you can listen to your music pretty loud without having to worry about disrupting people nearby.
Unfortunately, they don't feel especially well-built, which isn't too surprising given their low price. Their in-line microphone lacks volume controls, which could be a bit of an annoyance if you want to adjust while you're on the go. Their battery life is also disappointing, offering just under six hours of playback on a two-hour charge. Still, these are a solid choice if you're looking for a pair of no-frills wireless headphones.
If you aren't a fan of wireless headphones, consider the KZ ZST instead. While their wired design isn't as ideal for sports as the Skullcandy Jib Wireless, you don't have to worry about charging them before using them. Their wired design means that they don't have any latency issues that could cause a lag between the videos you watch and the sound you hear. These comfortable, well-built headphones also have a stable in-ear fit, and they come in lots of different colors. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds an extra thump and punch to your favorite music. Unfortunately, their powerful bass may be overwhelming for some listeners, but if you love listening to bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop, these are a solid choice.
If you prefer more versatile, wireless earbuds, consider the Skullcandy, but if you want better-built wired headphones, check out the KZ instead.
The Skullcandy Jib True are the best cheap earphones with a truly wireless design that we've tested. These well-built in-ears have a decently versatile performance that can please many different listeners. Their 6.1-hour continuous battery life may not last through your workday, but their portable charging case offers around 2.7 additional charges for when you're on-the-go.
Overall, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra boom and punch to your audio, which is suitable for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without bothering those around you. While they don't have an ANC feature, they do a very good job passively blocking out background noises, especially higher-frequency sounds typically found in an office like chatter from nearby coworkers.
Unfortunately, like many options in this price range, they don't come with any sound customization features or a companion app. Also, while they're stable enough to stay in your ear during casual listening sessions, they may fall out if you wear them during higher-intensity workouts. However, if you're looking for a straightforward pair of truly wireless earbuds, they're a solid and affordable choice.
If you're looking for a pair of cheap truly wireless earbuds to wear while on a run, consider the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless instead. While they don't block out background noises, as well as the Skullcandy Jib True Wireless, this design feature may actually be preferred by listeners who want to stay aware of their surroundings, such as outdoor runners. Overall, these well-built headphones have a more stable fit than the Skullcandy, 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 earbuds with a longer continuous battery life and a better noise isolation performance, check out the Skullcandy. However, if you want more stable earbuds to wear to the gym, consider the SoundPeats instead.
The best budget earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. These wireless earbuds offer fantastic value and are among the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds we've tested. They feel very stable in the ear thanks to their ear-hook design, and they're even rated IPX7 for sweat and water resistance, though this isn't something we test for.
Their sound profile is fairly bass-heavy but should still be well-balanced enough for most popular genres and content. Their in-line remote is easy to use, and their 18.4-hour battery is one of the longest we've ever tested on a pair of wireless earbuds. The microphone built into the remote is surprisingly decent, though, like most integrated mics, your voice tends to get drowned out in noisy environments.
Unfortunately, like with most budget options, they don't have a dedicated companion app, so you can't EQ the way they sound or make any changes to their settings. Their low price is also reflected somewhat in their build quality, and while their plastic feels dense and solid, the cord connecting the left and right earbuds feels quite thin. That said, overall, they provide an excellent price-to-performance ratio and are among the best headphones we've tested.
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.
May 01, 2020: Moved SoundPeats TrueFree from 'Truly Wireless Alternative' to 'Best Cheap Truly Wireless Earbuds'.
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.