If you take your headphones with you everywhere, you may find over-ears too large and bulky. In-ears and earbuds are great alternatives that are often very portable, and you can easily toss them 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 275 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best options for under $50. Make sure to check out our picks for the best earbuds, the best cheap earbuds, the best headphones under $50, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $50.
The Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds under $50 we've tested. These earbuds stand out from other options in their price range because of their charging case, which holds around 12.5 extra charges. Each charge provides about seven hours of continuous use, so the buds have a total battery life of nearly 100 hours. Even though they don't have an active noise cancelling (ANC) system, they do a good job of passively blocking out noise. They effectively reduce sounds like background chit-chat at the office or a noisy computer fan.
They're comfortable, sturdily built, and have stability fins to help keep them stable in your ears. Their bass-heavy sound profile adds a bit of punch, thump, and boom to your mixes. They also have very little leakage, so you crank your music up without worrying about others around you hearing it. Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app or EQs to help adjust their sound to your liking.
If you're looking for a cheaper option, check out the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless. These less expensive earbuds don't have the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless' long total battery life and don't passively isolate against as much noise. They also don't have a companion app but offer a bass-rich sound profile that adds rumble, punch, and boom to your audio. Instruments and vocals are still present and clear, so it's versatile enough for various genres. They lack more robust sound customization features like an EQ, but unlike most cheap earbuds, they have a few EQ presets you can cycle through with the onboard controls.
They have a decent passive noise isolation performance, so they can help reduce noise like background conversations. They also offer a decently comfortable fit, a solid build quality, and a fairly long continuous battery life of roughly nine hours. Their case holds about three extra charges and has a built-in charging cable, which means you won't forget the cable at home, but you'll have to replace the earbuds if it breaks.
The KZ ZSN are the most durable earbuds under $50 that we've tested. These earbuds are wired, which you might find less convenient than wireless earbuds. However, they stand out from other earbuds listed here because they have great build quality. The buds are made of plastic and metal and feel sturdy enough to survive a few accidental drops and bumps. The audio cable is detachable, so you can replace it if damaged. They have a very warm sound profile that adds extra boom to audio, making them well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. Voices and instruments are also preset and clear, meaning you can use them for content like podcasts.
Their passive noise isolation isn't nearly as good as the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless', but they will reduce mid-range noise like background conversations. Unfortunately, unlike most of the picks here, they don't have a mic, so they aren't suitable if you want headphones to take calls on the go. The buds are on the bigger side and may be less comfortable for people with small ears. However, they come with a selection of ear tips to help you find the best fit.
If you're looking for budget-friendly earbuds for the gym, the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless are the best earbuds for workouts under $50 that we've tested. These earbuds don't have stability fins like the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, but they have an equally stable fit, so they'll easily stay in your ears during workouts. These are sometimes priced over $50 and don't feel quite as sturdy as the previous pick. However, they are well-built and have an IP55 rating for dust as well as water resistance, so you can store them in your pocket or run outside in light rain without worrying much.
Out of the box, they have a well-balanced, bass-rich sound profile suitable for a variety of genres. They don't have an ANC system, so they aren't ideal for blocking the sound of workout equipment at the gym. However, they have a 'HearThrough' mode meant to let you hear your surroundings, which is helpful if you like to run outdoors.
If you like to customize your headphones' sound with features like an EQ and presets, you might want the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless. Unlike the previous picks, they have a companion app, which is pretty unusual at this price point. It includes a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization, so you can tweak their bass-heavy sound profile to suit you. The app includes a few other customization features, like the option to remap the onboard controls.
However, their 6.4-hour continuous battery life is shorter than other cheap options, like the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless. Their case is smaller and more likely to fit in your pocket, but it only holds three extra charges, which is far fewer than the Dot 2's. They're well-built and have a decently comfortable fit. They're also stable enough for most workouts and are rated IPX5 for water resistance.
Many of the picks here have a bass-rich sound profile, but you might prefer a more neutral sound for vocal-centric content or if you listen to a wide variety of genres. The Sony WI-C310 Wireless are the best-sounding earbuds under $50 that we've tested. Although they lack sound customization features, they have a less bass-heavy sound profile than the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless, meaning you might prefer them if you listen to podcasts or genres like classical. Their sound has a bit of extra boom in the bass range, but instruments and voices are clear, present, and detailed. However, they don't include sound customization features like an EQ.
Unlike truly wireless earbuds, they have a neck cable connecting the buds. This design might not be for everyone, but the cable is light and flexible and lets you wear the headphones around your neck when not in use. They have a decently comfortable fit and simple in-line controls with functions for music, volume, and calls. Like the other earbuds recommended here, they don't have an ANC system. They also don't passively isolate you from as much noise as some picks, including the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless.
If you don't like the fit of over-ear headphones or want a more portable option, you might prefer earbuds for gaming. The Logitech G333 are the best gaming earbuds under $50 we've tested. These wired buds have a good build quality and a comfortable fit for long gaming sessions. Their integrated mic has a better mic recording quality than options like the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, and your voice will be understandable if you use them for multiplayer games.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile with extra body and boom that can help bring out sound effects in action-packed games. However, elements like voices can sound cluttered or muddy, and they lack sound customization features like an EQ. They come with a USB-C adapter but have high latency when connected this way. Fortunately, they work with PCs and most consoles via analog connection, eliminating that issue. These wired earbuds don't feel as well-built as the KZ ZSN, though.
Jan 20, 2023: Updated the text and checked that the products are in stock.
Nov 03, 2022: Replaced the TIN Audio T2 with the KZ ZSN as the 'Most Durable' pick because they have a more balanced sound. Replaced the Beats Flex Wireless with the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless because the Beats' price has increased. Moved the Samsung AKG to Notable Mentions and added the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless as the 'Most Customizable Earbuds Under $50' and the Sony WI-C310 Wireless as the 'Best-Sounding Earbuds Under $50'.
May 10, 2022: Added the Logitech G333 as the 'Best Earbuds Under $50 For Gaming'. Also replaced the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless with the Skullcandy Dime 2 True Wireless in Notable Mentions.
Mar 11, 2022: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Jan 10, 2022: Moved the TIN Audio T2 to a new category, 'Most Durable Earbuds Under $50'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wired and wireless 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.