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 nearly 150 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 tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. This new version of an old favorite has the same comfortable ear-hook design and sound quality, but now provide even better value than ever.
While the first version of these earbuds was already a hit, the 2019 upgrade is even better. Their exciting sound profile remains untouched, which is great for fans of pop or rock music, but they now boast an impressive 18 hours of battery life, have an easier-to-use in-line remote, and even feature an IPX7 rating for water resistance.
Like most wireless earbuds at this price point, they don't have any customization options. If you'd like something that you can personalize to your tastes, the Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016 are compatible with a great app that lets you tweak the way they sound to your heart's content, but their battery performance is rather disappointing. All things considered, these are among some of the best wireless earbuds we've seen to date.
If you have a particularly noisy commute and need something with better noise isolation, check out the AUKEY Latitude. Their earbuds fit more deeply inside the ear canal which makes them quite a bit less comfortable than the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019, but they isolate a lot more noise. Their battery doesn't last as long, and some might find they sound a bit boomier, but they support multi-device pairing, which is quite rare for a cheap pair of earbuds.
For a better-rounded pair that's more comfortable for longer listening sessions, go with the Anker. However, if excellent noise isolation is a must, then you'll prefer the AUKEY.
The best truly wireless earbuds under $50 we've tested so far are the SoundPeats TrueFree. They're surprisingly 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 still makes them one of the best truly wireless headphones we've tested so far.
The best wired earbuds under $50 we've tested so far are the Beats urBeats3. 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. If you have you have an iPhone without an audio jack, they're also available in a lightning cable variant.
These earbuds have deep, thumpy bass for fans of EDM or hip-hop, but they still sound balanced enough to be suitable for a variety of music genres. 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.
Like most in-ears, their earbuds enter the ear canal quite deeply, which some may not find comfortable. This does help with noise isolation though and, on the upside, their earbud design is fairly slim, which also makes them the best wired earbuds for small ears that we've tested so far.
If you're looking for wired in-ears but want something with a more durable, premium feel, go with the TIN Audio T2. They don't come with a microphone like the Beats urBeats3 Earphones, so you can't use them to take calls on-the-go, but they feel much better built with a braided, detachable cable and solid metal buds. They aren't the most comfortable, though, especially if you have smaller ears.
Get the Beats if you have smaller ears or just want something with a decent microphone, but if you care more about durability, get the T2.
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.
02/04/2020: Anker SoundBuds Curve replaced with Upgrade 2019 version. Removed JBL Endurance Sprint, JLab Audio JBuds Air, and "Most Customizable" category.
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.