If you take your headphones 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. 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 290 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best options for under $50. 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 TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds under $50 we've tested. These budget-friendly buds have one of the best-performing active noise cancellation (ANC) features at this price point. They can easily isolate you from loud, rumbly bus or plane engines, ambient chatter at the office, or a whiny PC fan. Their fit is also very versatile as they have six different sizes of ear tips, so you're more than likely to find a comfortable fit and seal that helps cut out even more sound passively.
These earbuds have a slightly excited sound profile. There's extra low-bass and mid-treble to compliment modern pop and rock music, though this can make the mix feel boomy and sibilants piercing. Unfortunately, their lack of a companion app means you can't adjust their volume via graphic EQ or presets. They last just over eight hours continuously, and their carrying case has two extra charges, so you won't have to worry about running out of power during the day. Their mic is also only decent. Your voice sounds natural but thin, and they struggle to separate it from ambient noise, like a passing train or ambient chatter in a busy mall.
If you're looking for a cheaper option, check out the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless, which are among the best cheap earbuds we've tested. These less expensive earbuds have a longer battery life than the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless but can't passively isolate against as much noise as the TOZO's ANC system. 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 SoundPeats TrueFree 2 Wireless are a solid choice for tough workouts. Thanks to their stability fin design, these decently comfortable buds won't budge during reps or laps on the track. They're also well-built and are certified IPX7 for resistance against immersion in water. Their bass-heavy bass-heavy sound helps keep you pumped up at the gym, although they don't have any sound customization features if you want to tweak them to suit your tastes.
While they don't passively block out a significant amount of background noise, you can stay aware of your surroundings when outdoors. Unfortunately, their 3.6-hour continuous battery life is short, although their carrying case supplies four extra charges. If you want buds with better battery performance, consider the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless instead. Their price fluctuates greatly, but you can sometimes find them around the $50 mark. If you don't mind paying a little more, you'll gain a significantly longer continuous playback time, and customization features like an EQ and presets via their companion app. However, they lack stability fins and aren't as stable in-ear.
If you like customizing your headphones' sound with features like an EQ and presets, check out the Skullcandy Indy ANC True Wireless. Their companion app lets you turn the ANC and ambient modes on and off and select from a group of EQ presets to help you personalize their sound. You can't remap their controls, but at this price range, sound presets and adjustable noise control are impressive features. They're also decently comfortable, and their build features stability fins which help them stay in your ear during more intense exercise.
Out of the box, these earbuds have a bass-heavy sound. There's an extra thump and rumble to compliment genres like hip-hop and EDM, but their recessed treble range makes vocals, instruments, and sibilants, like cymbals, sound veiled and dull. Their battery lasts only around five hours continuously, meaning they won't last you through the workday without needing a recharge around lunchtime. Fortunately, they charge in less than an hour, and the case holds three extra charges. Their ANC system also does a decent job of cutting out the noise from loud rumbly bus and plane engines, though they do just as good of a job isolating you from ambient conversations and high-pitched noise passively as with ANC on.
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 earbuds under $50 for neutral sound that we've tested. Although they lack sound customization features, they have a less bass-heavy sound profile than the Skullcandy Indy ANC True Wireless. 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 most earbuds recommended here, they don't have an ANC system and don't do a great job of passively isolating you from ambient noise.
If you prefer a wired design, look at the KZ ZSN. Unlike other picks on this list, these buds are in-ear monitors (IEMs), so they have a simple design that prioritizes sound and lacks all other features, including mic support. You can easily replace their sturdy braided audio cable if it gets damaged or swap it out for a cable with an in-line mic. The earbuds also have a metallic-finish backplate, making them feel durable and dense.
Their warm sound profile delivers extra boom to mixes, which is good for genres like rock and jazz that can benefit from extra bass. However, they don't have an EQ or presets if you want to adjust their sound. They also don't passively block out as much sound as the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, so they may not be the best choice if you want to listen to audio in noisy environments like on a bus. While they come with four different pairs of ear tips, the overall bud shape is a bit bulky and may not fit well if you have small ears.
May 24, 2023: Due to stock issues, we've replaced our top pick with the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless and our pick for 'Most Customizable Earbuds' with the Skullcandy Indy ANC True Wireless.
Mar 21, 2023: We've replaced the Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless with the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 True Wireless as the Jabra are currently out of this price range. We've also renamed the KZ ZSN the 'Best Wired Earbuds Under $50' and added the Logitech G333 and Beats Flex Wireless to Notable Mentions.
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.
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.