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The 5 Best Cheap Earbuds - Winter 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Cheap Earbuds

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 bought and tested over 280 pairs of earbuds and in-ears, and below are our top picks for the best cheap and affordable earbuds. Also, check out our recommendations for the best cheap wireless earbuds, the best Bluetooth earbuds, and the best earbuds under $50.


  1. Best Cheap Earbuds

    The JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless are the best cheap earbuds we've tested. These wallet-friendly buds have a continuous battery life of about 9 hours to last you through a 9-5 workday, and their case holds about three additional charges. Their fit is comfortable, breathable, and stable, so they're a solid choice for workouts. They also have a good build quality and an IPX4 rating for resistance against being splashed with water. Like most headphones without ANC, they struggle to block out bass-range noise like rumbling engines but can reduce sounds like background chatter or a humming A/C unit.

    Unlike other picks on this list, they have three EQ presets built-in, which let you adjust their sound to better suit your tastes. With the 'JLab Signature' EQ preset, their most neutral setting, they have a bass-rich sound profile that delivers extra thump, rumble, and punch to your audio. It's not too overwhelming, so they're still suitable for a variety of genres and types of content. Still, if you want a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, you might prefer the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless. Their roughly 3.5-hour continuous battery life is much shorter, and they don't have sound customization features.

    See our review

  2. Most Durable Cheap Earbuds

    The KZ ZSN are the best cheap earphones with a durable design that we've tested. While the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless are well-made, these wired buds offer a sturdier build quality, thanks to their solid buds and braided audio cable. The cable is also detachable, making it easy to replace if it gets damaged. You can purchase these buds with or without an in-line mic and even pick up a Bluetooth adapter separately if you want to use them wirelessly, although this can add to your expenses. However, you may still prefer a wired design if you're looking for a latency-free audio experience when you're streaming video or if you value high audio quality.

    They have an excited, v-shaped sound profile that delivers a touch of extra punch and warmth to audio while vocals and lead instruments are bright. If you like to listen to audio at high volumes, others around you won't hear it. Unfortunately, they have a sub-par noise isolation performance and have a hard time blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Their fit is a bit bulky too, and you may find them uncomfortable if you have small ears.

    See our review

  3. Best-Sounding Cheap Earbuds

    The best-sounding cheap earbuds we've tested are the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. Although they have a little extra punch and warmth in their sound, these neck cable headphones are still neutral, making them a versatile choice for most kinds of audio. Unlike the KZ ZSN, their mid-range is very flat and even, so vocals and lead instruments sound accurate and clear. Their treble range is smooth, ensuring adequate brightness in your mixes. They have a decently comfortable fit, and you can even wear them around your neck when you're not using them. The long cables feel a little thin and can get snagged on something if you're not careful.

    Although they're not designed to block out commuter noise, like the rumble of bus and plane engines, they can help cut down ambient chatter and the high-pitched hum of an AC unit, which is nice if you work in a noisy office. They also last roughly 17 hours continuously but lack any power-saving features to help conserve battery life when you're not using them.

    See our review

  4. Most Customizable Cheap Earbuds

    If you want to customize your earbuds' sound profile, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless are the best cheap option we've tested. These earbuds have a less neutral default sound profile than the Sony WI-C310 Wireless, but if you're someone who likes to customize your headphones' sound, you might prefer them. They work with a companion app that includes a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization. It's also possible to remap the onboard controls in the app. The earbuds have a good build quality and a decently comfortable fit.

    Like most of the earbuds listed here, they don't have an ANC system, so they don't do a good job reducing bass-range noise like rumbling engines. However, they passively block out a good amount of ambient sound, like conversations at the office or the hum of an A/C unit. They have a continuous battery life of around 6.5 hours, which is shorter than other options in this price range, like the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless. However, you can always top up the battery in the case, which holds about three extra charges.

    See our review

  5. Best Earbuds Under $50

    The Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds under $50 we've tested. These earbuds stand out for their long total battery life, making them a good option for longer trips. They last for more than seven hours off of a single charge but come with a case that holds about 12.5 additional charges, so you can top them up for nearly 100 hours of use before recharging the case. Unlike the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless, they don't have an app, which you might find disappointing if you like to customize your headphones' sound profile. Their sound profile adds some extra rumble, punch, and boom to your audio, but it's well-balanced enough for a variety of content and genres.

    They do a good job of passively isolating you from ambient sound, but like most earbuds without ANC, they struggle to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines. If you need earbuds for your commute, you might prefer the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless, which are around the same price and equipped with an ANC system. They do a great job of blocking out bass-range noise like engines but lack the Anker's long total battery life since their case only holds a couple of extra charges.

    If you're still looking for the right earbuds, try our list of the best earbuds under $50.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • KZ ZST: The KZ ZST are wired in-ears with a similar sound profile and design to the KZ ZSN. They're cheaper too, but have a thin plastic bud design that doesn't feel as solid as the ZSN's metallic finish. See our review
  • Skullcandy Jib True Wireless: If you're a fan of bass-heavy music, the Skullcandy Jib True Wireless deliver intense thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. However, they have significantly shorter continuous battery life when compared to the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. See our review
  • Skullcandy Jib Wireless: The Skullcandy Jib Wireless are a good alternative to the Sony WI-C310 Wireless if you prefer a more bass-heavy sound profile. However, they aren't as well-built, and their continuous battery life doesn't last as long. See our review
  • TIN Audio T2: The TIN Audio T2 are wired in-ears with great build quality. However, they're not as comfortable as the KZ ZSN, and their sound profile lacks a thumpy low-bass. See our review
  • Samsung AKG Type-C: The Samsung AKG Type-C are a good alternative to the KZ ZSN if you want wired earbuds, but your phone only has a USΒ-C port. They have a well-balanced, bass-rich sound profile and are more comfortable for most people but aren't as well-built. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 23, 2023: Added the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless as a noise cancelling alternative to the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless.

  2. Nov 02, 2022: Added the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless as a 'Most Customizable Cheap Earbuds' pick. Moved the Samsung AKG Type-C to the Notable Mentions.

  3. Jun 15, 2022: We've rehauled our article to provide better recommendations. Removed the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless, KZ ZSN, and JBL E25BT Wireless. Added the KZ ZST, and Sony WI-C310 Wireless to our picks.

  4. Apr 19, 2022: Replaced the Samsung AKG Type-C with the KZ ZSN as the KZ have a traditional 1/8" connector that's more commonly used. Made the Samsung the 'USB-C Alternative'.

  5. Feb 23, 2022: Removed the Sony WI-C310 Wireless as the Sony are not currently available at this price point. Made the Samsung AKG Type-C the 'Best Cheap Wired Earbuds'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap earphones 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.

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