If you take your headphones with you everywhere, you may find over-ears too large and bulky. In-ears and earbuds are a great alternative that are often very portable and can easily be tossed into a pocket or bag. While some of the most popular in-ears can be extremely expensive, you don't have to spend a ton to get a good pair for everyday use. Note that while typically the term 'in-ears' refers to headphones that go deeper in the ear canal, and 'earbuds' simply sit in your ear, these terms are often used interchangeably, so we'll include both in this article.
We’ve tested over 220 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds under $50 to buy. Make sure to check out our recommendations for the best earbuds, the best cheap earbuds, the best headphones under $50, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
The best earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the FIIL T1X. These well-built in-ears have a versatile overall performance, and their comfortable design makes them a solid choice for long listening sessions. They're also stable enough to stay in your ears even during your workouts, and they come with lots of different sizes of earbud tips and stability fins to help you find the best possible fit, which is nice.
Out-of-the-box, they have a fairly neutral, though slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds some extra thump and punch to your audio. If you prefer a different sound, you can customize them using the fifteen different EQ presets available in the FIIL+ companion app. They don't leak a lot of audio, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without really bothering those around you.
Unfortunately, they don't offer an ANC feature, and while they offer a decent passive isolation performance, they can struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. Also, they only last for a little over six hours off of a single charge, which is unremarkable. Fortunately, their portable charging case offers around three extra charges so you can power up while on-the-go.
If you're looking for a cheaper pair of earbuds, consider the ENACFIRE E60 instead. While their sound profile isn't as neutral as the FIIL T1X True Wireless, and they don't offer any sound customization features, they still offer a decently versatile performance at a more affordable price. They're comfortable and well-built, and they also come with a portable charging case that offers around five extra charges. They have a bass-heavy, slightly dark sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch to your music, though higher frequencies can be veiled and dull. Like the FIIL, they don't have an ANC feature, but they still offer very good noise isolation, especially against higher-frequency ambient noise like the sounds of people talking or the hum of AC units.
If you want earbuds with a more neutral sound and more sound customization features, check out the FIIL, but if you prefer to save some money, consider the ENACFIRE instead.
The best earbuds under $50 for noise isolation that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2. These well-built in-ears may not come with an ANC feature, but they still do an impressive job passively isolating against background noises. They can block out ambient sounds typically found in an office setting, like people chatting around you or the hum of nearby AC units.
They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds some extra thump and punch to your audio. They don't leak a lot of noise either, so you can turn up the volume on your music without really bothering those around you. Though they only last for a little over seven hours off of a single charge, their portable charging case offers around 12.5 extra charges, which should be more than enough to keep you powered up through long days on-the-go.
Unfortunately, they struggle to block out some bass-heavy background noises, like bus and plane engines, so they may not be ideal to wear during your commute. They also don't offer any sound customization features, which can be disappointing for listeners who prefer a different sound. However, if you're looking for budget-friendly earbuds that can block out background noises, they're still a solid pick.
The best wired earbuds under $50 that we've tested are the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. These wired earbuds are decently well-built, with flat rubberized audio cables that feel like they’ll take quite a bit of abuse. They offer a unique perk in the form of an available Lightning port connector, so they’re a good pick if you own a newer iPhone but miss zero-latency audio connections. Optional stability fins and their lightweight design mean that they should stay in your ears, even during high-intensity workouts.
They deliver a slightly overemphasized bass response that’ll ensure a bit of added kick and thump in your favorite EDM or hip-hop tracks without completely crowding out more delicate instrumentation, so they’re suitable for everything from hip-hop to folk music. They do a decent job of passively blocking out ambient noise and provide very good audio leakage performance, meaning that they’re also a solid choice for listening on your daily commute.
Unfortunately, volume and voice assistant controls don’t seem to work on Android devices. Their deep in-ear fit also might not be comfortable for everyone. Still, the Beats are a good fit if you’re looking for a well-balanced, zero-latency listening experience in a portable package.
If you want a wired pair of earbuds that feel much more durable, get the TIN Audio T2. Their sound profile isn't as well-balanced as the Beats urBeats3 Earphones, and they don't block out as much background noise, but they feel much better built. Their earbuds can detach from their cable, so you can easily replace it if it becomes damaged, and they're built from dense metal that feels very durable and premium. They leak practically no audio at all, so you can blast your music without bothering those around you.
If you listen to a very wide variety of genres and content and want headphones with a better-balanced sound profile, get the Beats, but if you're rough on your earbuds and want something very durable, go for the TIN.
Mar 24, 2021: Replaced the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 with the FIIL T1X Wireless as the Anker aren't widely available. Added the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless as 'Best for Noise Isolation'. Removed the Creative Outlier Air V2 Truly Wireless as they're now priced above our $50 price point.
Jan 27, 2021: Removed the AUKEY Latitude Wireless as 'Better-Isolating Alt' due to changing availability. Replaced the FIIL T1X True Wireless with the Creative Outlier Air V2 as 'Best Truly Wireless Under $50' as their graphic EQ adds more sound customization options. Added the FIIL T1X to Notable Mentions.
Nov 23, 2020: Replaced the SoundPeats TrueFree/True Wireless with the ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless. Added the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless and removed the Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless from Notable Mentions.
Sep 25, 2020: Replaced TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless with FIIL T1X True Wireless. Added TaoTronics Sound Liberty 79 Truly Wireless to 'Notable Mentions'. Removed Samsung U Flex Wireless from 'Notable Mentions' to reflect pricing changes.
Jul 28, 2020: Slight changes to the text for accuracy and clarity; no change in recommendations.
May 29, 2020: Replaced Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless with TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 Truly Wireless. Added Anker SoundCore Liberty Lite Truly Wireless to 'Notable Mentions'.
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's the list of all our reviews for in-ears and earbuds under $50. 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.