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 don't want to worry about running out of charge at an inopportune moment, consider the KZ ZST. These wired in-ears aren't quite as portable as the Skullcandy Jib Wireless and do a significantly worse job of filtering out background noise, but their wired connection results in an indefinite runtime and an absence of noticeable audio latency. They feel quite well-built, with a removable audio cable that can be replaced if it gets damaged. They can even be purchased with a cable that has an in-line mic or with a Bluetooth adapter that effectively turns them into wireless headphones, though we haven't tested their performance in any other configuration. Their sound profile is quite bass-heavy, which makes them a good fit for genres like EDM or hip-hop, though some listeners may find they sound overly boomy, with muddy and cluttered vocals and lead instruments.
Get the Skullcandy if you prefer the unrestricted freedom of movement that comes with a pair of truly wireless in-ears, but consider the KZ if you don't want to worry about battery life or audio latency.
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 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, like 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 earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the FIIL T1X. These truly wireless in-ears have a comfortable fit and should stay in place without issue while you're on the move. They're made of mostly high-grade plastic and feel quite sturdy, while their near-seven-hour continuous battery life, combined with their standby mode feature and charging case with roughly three additional charges, should easily get you through a couple of days' use.
These in-ears have a fairly well-balanced default sound profile, though with a slightly overemphasized bass response that adds extra thump and rumble to genres like EDM or hip-hop. If you aren't a fan of the way they sound out-of-the-box, their companion app allows you to select any one of 15 different EQ presets. They're also quite effective when it comes to filtering out background chatter or high-pitched ambient noise, like the hum of an AC unit, though they struggle somewhat with the low-end noise, like bus or plane engines.
Unfortunately, their integrated mic makes your voice sound thin, unnatural, and distorted. They also exhibit high audio latency, especially on Bluetooth-enabled PCs, which can be disruptive while streaming videos. Otherwise, their comfortable fit, long overall battery life, and fairly broad feature set make them a versatile, value-conscious option.
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.
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.