There are quite a few advantages to in-ear headphones. Compared to over-ear headphones, they’re more portable, less bulky, and can even sometimes provide better noise isolation. There are a lot of choices out there, though, and sometimes it feels like there is no end to the selection of earbuds and in-ears you can get.
We’ve tested over 100 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds under $50 to buy in 2020. If you’re looking for our top picks in general or are curious about different features, check out our recommendations for the best earbuds overall, the best cheap earbuds, the best headphones under $50, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
The best earbuds under $50 we've reviewed so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. Although these earbuds are versatile enough to be used in almost any setting, they truly excel when it comes to sports, mainly due to their ear-hook design. They won't fall out during heavy movement and Anker even provides a large number of ear tips so that you can get a proper fit, which is essential for a good bass response as well as helping with isolation.
Sadly, the noise isolation performance of these earbuds is somewhat mediocre. They're able to block out speech decently, but fall short when it comes to the bass range, where the rumbles of engines sit. As for sound, they're very bass-heavy and can often overpower the slightly recessed mid-range. On the upside, they're remarkably consistent and should perform similarly every time. With almost 13 hours of battery life per charge, these headphones should last through at least a few workouts and even a full day of heavy use before needing a recharge.
Unfortunately, at this price range, it's expected that you won't find high-end features such as active noise cancelling or customization options through a mobile app. That said, you're still getting your money's worth. If you're looking for a pair of budget headphones that you can simply throw into your gym bag, these are worth it.
If you need a pair of headphones with better noise isolation than the Anker SoundBuds Curve, check out the Aukey Latitude Wireless. They're not as comfortable due to their in-ear design, which requires a deeper insertion into the ear canal, but this design does give them superb noise isolation, as they're able to block out noise across the entire frequency range. They don't sound as bass-heavy, but there's some clutter in the upper bass and lower mids, and the treble spike can make some tracks sound overly bright. Battery life is on the shorter side, with only 7.3 hours of continuous playback time. There's one feature that deserves to be mentioned, however, and that's support for multi-device pairing, which lets you pair up to two devices at once to make switching easier. That's a rare feature to find on such a cheap pair of headphones.
For a better-rounded pair that won't break the bank, go with the Anker. But if noise isolation is a must, the Aukey will give you much better performance.
If you want earbuds that deliver accurate sound even during a workout, then consider the JBL Endurance Sprint. These wireless in-ears have a cool, sporty look with a matte rubberized finish and are rated IPX7 for superior water resistance. They're the best sounding budget wireless earbuds we've tested and have remarkably high audio fidelity for in-ear headphones. They have a very even, well-balanced sound with deep and punchy bass that doesn't sound too boomy. Their treble produces just the right amount of detail and brightness, making them well-suited for a variety of genres, from hip-hop to classical. These headphones have an alright 9-hour battery and also feature an auto-off timer to help save battery life. Compared to the Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless, their thick ear-hook fit isn’t as stable, they can be a little uncomfortable, and they also have poor wireless latency, which means they won’t be ideal for watching videos on your smartphone on the treadmill.
Get the Anker if working out isn't your priority, but if you're looking for a good pair of headphones for using at the gym, go with the JBL.
If you want to go truly wireless without breaking the bank, then get the SoundPeats TrueFree. They're the best truly wireless headphones under $50 and are very well-made with a great stable fit providing impressive value for their price. They’re fairly comfortable for in-ears and are great headphones for athletes on a budget.
These headphones have deep, thumping bass that fans of rap, hip-hop, and EDM are sure to love. Their isolation performance is pretty good too, and if you can get a good seal, they isolate a fair amount of ambient noise. They get just over 3 hours of playback on a single charge, which isn’t great, but their charging case holds up to five additional wireless charges and they charge in just over an hour.
Unfortunately, they don’t have volume controls, so you’ll need to pull out your smartphone to adjust the volume of what you’re listening to, but their mix of adequate sound, good build quality, and very good sound isolation gives them a fantastic price-to-performance ratio.
If being able to control your music without needing to take out your smartphone is important, then go with the JLab Audio JBuds Air. They don't offer a detachable charging cable like the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless, meaning you'd have to replace the headphones entirely if something were to happen to the cable, but they do provide a more premium overall feel. Their sound performance is very similar to the SoundPeats and they offer the same battery life, but unfortunately take about 30 minutes longer to charge.
Go with the SoundPeats if you don't care about having volume controls on your headphones, but if you want to be able to adjust volume easily while on-the-go, get the JBuds Air.
If you have a device that still has an audio jack, don't care about wireless capabilities, and want the best wired earbuds under $50, go with the Beats urBeats3. They offer satisfactory sound with thumpy bass that fans of bass-heavy music will love, but tend to push vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix in favor of bass and treble. It's worth noting that if you have an iPhone without an audio jack, they're also available in a lightning cable variant.
They have a surprisingly decent microphone and are great for those who take a lot of calls on their headphones, though unfortunately their in-line remote doesn't offer full functionality on Android. They're nice and small, easy to shove into a bag or pocket, and even come with a soft rubber case to help protect them when not in use.
Unfortunately, like all in-ears, they enter the ear canal quite deeply which some may not find comfortable. Luckily, they're quite narrow, which makes them the best wired earbuds for small ears that we've tested so far. However, because of their in-ear design, they do an impressive job isolating background noise and are great for those with noisy daily commutes, making them one of the best earbuds under $50.
If you want wired in-ears but want something with a more durable, premium feel, go with the TIN Audio T2. They don't offer a microphone like the Beats urBeats3 Earphones, so you won't be able to answer phone calls on them, but they still offer adequate sound quality that should satisfy most people. They offer great build quality with a braided, detachable cable and metal buds and are among the best budget in-ears for music we've tested. Unfortunately, they aren't the most comfortable in-ear headphones, especially for smaller ears, but they offer good isolation with very little sound leaking, so those around you won't be bothered by your music.
Get the Beats if you want a decent pair of in-ears with a decent microphone, but if you care more about durability, get the T2.
If you like being able to fine-tune the way your headphones sound but don’t want to spend a fortune on customizable earbuds, then get the Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016, the best earbuds under $50 for customization. These sports-oriented wireless earbuds give you access to a great mobile app that lets you customize their sound profile when connected to your smartphone. They have slim earbuds that make them fairly comfortable to use and are the best earbuds for small ears that we’ve tested so far.
These headphones are compatible with the Jaybird MySound app, which is available for iOS as well as Android and provides an impressive parametric EQ for you to tweak their sound exactly to your liking. They also have great passive isolation thanks to their in-ear fit and hardly leak any sound at all, which is great if you like to blast your music at the gym.
Unfortunately, these wireless earbuds have a mediocre battery and only provide 4 hours of continuous playback on a charge. You can attach their charging clip to their in-line remote to double their battery life when in need, but it’s rather bulky and can feel awkward when working out. That said, there are very few earbuds under $50 that are as customizable as the Jaybird, which makes them worth considering overall.
If you own a Samsung device and are looking for customizable earbuds that integrate with your smartphone or tablet, then get the Samsung U Flex. Unlike the Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016, they’re not customizable with all devices, but those with a Samsung phone or tablet will appreciate their added features in the Samsung Level app. You can get access to a graphic EQ, room effects, volume monitors, and more when paired with a Samsung device which makes these wireless earbuds a feature-packed choice for Samsung users. They have a flexible lightweight neckband and fairly comfortable in-ear fit, but their design won’t be for everyone. That said, they’re easy-to-use, can pair to multiple Bluetooth devices, and have a good 11.5-hour battery life.
If being able to customize your sound profile is important to you but you aren't a Samsung user, go with the Jaybird F5; however, if you own a Samsung device, get the Samsung U Flex.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds under $50 for most people to buy. 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. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones and everyone perceives the comfort and sound of their headphones differently.
12/09/2019: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
10/15/2019: Replaced 'Best Sounding Earbuds' with 'Best Wired Earbuds', added JBL Endurance Sprint to 'Best Earbuds Under $50', added JLab Audio JBuds Air to 'Best Truly Wireless Earbuds', added Beats urBeats3.