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11 Best Cheap Headphones (Over-ear, wireless & wired) 2024

Last updated: 3 weeks ago
8 min read

We tested 193 headphones on 9 key points.

Here are the best cheap headphones from $50 to $20 with surprising sound quality and features.

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

More info Price Design Connection Mic & Controls
TOZO HT2 Best wireless
TOZO HT2 small image
Under $50
Over-ear, closed-back
Bluetooth (29.5h (with ANC))
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Under $50
Over-ear, closed-back
Wired – 3.5mm
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TOZO NC7 Best true wireless
TOZO NC7 small image
Under $50
True wireless, closed-back
Bluetooth (9h + 36h in case)
checkmarkcheckmark
Samson SR850 Best audiophile
Samson SR850 headphones
Under $50
Over-ear, semi-open
Wired 3.5mm & 6.3mm
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SoundPEATS Clear Best $30 TWS
SoundPEATS Clear small image
Under $30
True wireless, closed-back
Bluetooth (4h + 33h in case)
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Moondrop Chu Best $20 in-ears
Moondrop Chu
Under $20
In-ear, closed-back
Wired – 3.5mm
Optional

Headphones on our list are evaluated based on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score).  The main criteria we looked at to pick the best budget headphones are sound quality, build quality, and user experience. Explore our testing and ranking methodology.

Are you looking for simple cheap headphones that are good-enough for a non-demanding user?

Then this list is for you.

Budget headphones don’t have to be low quality. While they can’t compare to high-end headphones, the models on the list offer good audio quality and an enjoyable user experience.

If $50 is too much for you, check headphones for less: top headphones under $30 and headphones under $20.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Fine tune your search:

    Best Cheap Wireless Headphones

    1. TOZO HT2

    wireless Best Cheap Wireless Headphones
    TOZO HT2 on head

    If you need cheap over-ear headphones with deep bass and good noise cancellation, TOZO HT2 are our top pick – TOZO HT2 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 16-41.100Hz (in wired mode)
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 29.5 hours | Wireless range: 65+ feet (19.8 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 2h – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: None | Features: Custom EQ, soothing sounds
    • Excellent sound quality for a budget price
    • Decent build quality with soft pleather earpads
    • Comfy & stable thanks to high clamping force
    • Good active & passive noise isolation performance
    • Good battery life of 29.5 hours per charge
    • No carrying pouch included in the box
    • Might not fix smaller heads & feel uncomfortable on bigger ones
    • Underwhelming call quality with muffled speech

    Check TOZO HT2 A/B sound test:

    TOZO HT2 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    If you like a bassier sound signature, these should suit your taste. On the other hand, playing with an audio equalizer makes HT2’s sound more natural, especially in the midrange. Overall detail retrieval is good for the price.

    HT2 offer good active noise cancellation performance across all audible frequencies, making them a great companion on airplanes and public transport. Even ambient sound mode works great, capturing surrounding noise quite naturally albeit not as loud as if you’d take the headphones off your head.

    Portability-wise, the ear cups have foldable hinges to make more space in your bag. However, there’s no carry bag or case to protect the HT2 from drops or scratches.

    In our test, the battery life (with ANC) measured 29.5 hours, which should be enough for an entire week of carefree usage. Fortunately, headphones offer fast charging to quickly top them off when needed.

    For more ANC, check the best budget noise cancelling headphones.

    Best Wired Cheap Headphones

    2. Audio-Technica ATH-M20x

    wired Best Wired Cheap Headphones
    Audio-Technica ATH-M20x

    Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are the best cheap wired headphones under $50 from a well-known brand. Perfect for home studio.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired- 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 15-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 47 Ohm | Weight: 6.7 oz (190g) | Cable length: 118 inch (3m) | Features: Included 6.3mm adapter
    • Great, balanced sound for
    • Affordable studio monitors
    • Good build quality and comfort
    • Not very portable

    The ATH-M20x have a well-balanced sound signature. The overall detailed audio quality is much better than you’d expect for 50 dollars.

    You also get a controlled bass response while keeping the details. They’re good enough for every music genre, and a worthy top pick on this list.

    The wired over-ear headphones are well built, considering the price range. They can survive most of the unfortunate drops.

    Another great thing about them is their simple yet sleek design that never comes out of style (they look similar to other higher-end models from Audio-Technica).

    Large and well-padded over-ear ear cups provide comfort for many hours so you can enjoy your favorite music without itching.

    More at $50:

    Best Cheap True Wireless Headphones

    3. TOZO NC7

    true-wireless Best Cheap True Wireless Headphones
    TOZO NC7 buds and case

    TOZO NC7 are the best cheap true wireless headphones we’ve tested. For less than $50 you get highly effective active noise cancellationTOZO NC7 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 7mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 17-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 9h + 36h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (or 12.2 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h – quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX6 | Features: App, EQ, ANC, auto play/pause, relaxing sounds
    • Great & fairly natural sound quality (after EQ)
    • Feature-packed app with lots of customizations
    • Quite effective active noise cancellation for the price
    • Battery life of 9 hours per charge (with ANC)
    • No Game mode means visible audio lag in mobile games
    • Transparency mode produces audible background hiss

    Starting with audio quality, TOZO NC7 have a bad default sound (very V-shaped) that gets immensely better after applying custom EQ. It gets more natural and detailed, among the best performances in cheap Bluetooth headphones.

    Check TOZO NC7 A/B sound test:

    TOZO NC7 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    ANC and ambient sound mode are also excellent for the price. If you’re on a tight budget and frequently commute, you should definitely check these out.

    On top of that, their 9-hour battery life (with ANC) and another 36 hours in the charging case should last you throughout a very lengthy trip.

    Thanks to 6 pairs of ear tips, you can easily find the most optimal fit for your ears. Just note that while they’re very comfortable, they aren’t the most stable for sports.

    Trivia

    Did you know cheap headphones make you happier if you’re a bargain shopper?

    According to this study, people buy themselves happiness if their purchases match their personalities. If you’re a bargain shopper, you get more happiness from buying a quality budget item than paying top dollar for a “premium” item.

    Best Budget Audiophile Headphones

    4. Samson SR850

    trophy Best Budget Audiophile Headphones
    Samson SR850 studio headphones

    SR850 are the best cheap audiophile headphones we’ve tested. These have open-back design and fantastic audio quality for the price suitable for studio work – Samson SR850 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-30.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Semi-open | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 9.7 oz (276g) | Cable length: 98.4 inch (2.5m) | Features: /
    • Fantastic sound for the price
    • Lightweight construction
    • Decent durability
    • 6.3mm adapter included in the box
    • Price
    • All-plastic construction feels cheap
    • Below average comfort and fit
    • Bad noise isolation

    For the price tag, the audio quality of these cheap headphones is mind-blowing. The overall solid bass doesn’t dig very low (as in most semi or fully open-back headphones), but the midrange is engagingly natural.

    Detail retrieval and imaging are great, with good instrumental separation and airiness in the treble.

    To save on material, the over-ear headphones are entirely plastic. With good care, you can have them for many years as we did. Also, the cable is thick so that it won’t break anytime soon.

    You can choose between pleather or velour earpads. The latter ones are more breathable and gentler to the skin, giving you better comfort over long stretches of listening.

    Due to sound leakage, they’re only usable for home listening. There’s a 6.3mm adapter in the box if you have a dedicated headphone amp or you want to plug them into a speaker amplifier.

    Best True Wireless Headphones for $30

    5. SoundPEATS Clear

    dollar Best True Wireless Headphones for $30
    SoundPEATS Clear in the case

    SoundPEATS Clear are the best cheap $30 wireless earbuds we’ve tested. They are similar to Apple Airpods Pro but much cheaper and have surprising audio quality – SoundPEATS Clear review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 12mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h 45min + 33h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12.2 meters) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Custom EQ, Adaptive EQ, Game mode
    • Good, balanced sound (for the price) even without EQ tweaks
    • App with customizable EQ & Game mode for under $30
    • Extremely comfortable & stable fit that's suitable for sports
    • Great call quality, but only in quieter places
    • Earbuds' shape produces audible wind noise during outdoor use
    • Charging case's transparent lid looks fragile & easily scratchable

    While costing only $30, the Clear have a decent sound with a nice balance and boost in the sub-bass, which adds a pleasant rumble and warmth. You can change that by using in-app’s EQ.

    The latter is also the most surprising addition to these earbuds. They support a companion app with a custom EQ, sound presets, and a Game mode.

    Check SoundPEATS Clear A/B sound test:

    SoundPEATS Clear Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Furthermore, earbuds sport a partly transparent design, giving them a unique look. They’re also rated for IPX4, which means complete sweat resistance but not waterproofness.

    Still, thanks to a pretty stable fit, you can easily wear them for physical activities like fitness or other forms of light workouts. Battery life will also not disappoint you with 6 hours of playtime per charge.

    Related: Best wireless earbuds under $50

    Best Cheap $20 In-Ear Headphones

    6. Moondrop Chu

    dollar Best Cheap $20 In-Ear Headphones
    Moondrop Chu wired earbuds

    Moondrop Chu are the best $20 in-ear headphones we’ve tested. With amazing high-quality audio for a twenty-dollar bill.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Optional | Impedance: 28 Ohm | Weight: 0.95 oz (27 g with cable) | Cable lenght: 3.9 ft (1.2m) | Features: Attachable ear hooks
    • Great, natural sound quality
    • High build quality for the price
    • Comfortable fit
    • Included spring ear tips & ear hooks
    • Good passive noise isolation
    • Excellent value
    • Slightly thin sounding vocals
    • Splashy treble
    • Fixed cable

    The Moondrop Chu offer a well-balanced bass and midrange, with natural and tight sound that performs well for fast-paced music with decent soundstage and excellent imaging.

    To squeeze a bit more out of them, pairing them with an amp makes the bass tighter and more controlled. These earbuds stand out for their audio quality at a low price. We go in more details in the review.

    Check Moondrop Chu sound test:

    Moondrop Chu Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Their zinc alloy housing offers a comfortable and secure fit, despite their noticeable heft compared to plastic models. Their over-the-ear wearing style with detachable ear hooks ensures weight distribution across the earlobe for optimal comfort. This design makes them suitable for everyday use and light physical activities.

    Moondrop Chu are the by far the best $20 in-ear headphones we’ve tested. We highly recommend them, you won’t be disappointed.

    Related:

    Runner-Ups: Other Headphones to Consider

    7. Best Cheap Headphones for $25: Monoprice 116150

    These are dirt-cheap over-ear headphones for $25. They come with big earcups that comfortably fit big ears. But you might want to replace the thin earpads. Their sound is shockingly good. The 50mm drivers produce deep bass and crisp highs.

    Check Monoprice 116150 price

    8. Best Cheap Headphones for $20: Koss UR-20

    Koss UR-20

    Koss UR-20 have a balanced audio performancesuitable for all music genre. Softly padded earcups and lightweight design make them comfortable. Their large cups fit securely in adult ears. All in all, for good-sounding $20 over-ear headphones, check these.

    Check Koss UR-20 price

    9. Jlab Audio Go Air

    JLab Go Air Pop on a rock

    These true wireless headphones have a bassy v-shaped sound that’s suitable for modern music with a beat. The lightweight and ergonomic design ensures comfort and stability. The 9-hour battery life is impressive and better than in many more expensive earbuds. Find more details in our review.

    Jlab Go Air Pop review

    10. Jlab Audio Jbuds Air

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air reviewed

    These are the older but still solid cheap wireless earbuds to consider. With a stable fit, IP55 waterproof rating, and decent 5.5 hours of battery life (18 hours in the charging case), you can use them for sports too. If you find them for a low price, they’re still worth the buy.

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air review

    11. Linsoul Tin Audio T2

    Linsoul Tin Audio T2 wired earbuds

    The best cheap wired in-ear headphones for $50. These have amazing sound for the price. Plus, you get memory foam eartips for high comfort, removable MMCX cables, and the metal housing hides their low price. The only problem is that the price is slightly higher, but they do get frequently discounted under 50 bucks.

    Check Linsoul Tin Audio T2 price

    More budget guides:

    How We Tested and Picked?

    After talking with many people, we established the price of cheap headphones is around $50. After all, $50 is less than a full tank of gas (for most cars) or the cost of a nice restaurant date for two.

    The $50-100 price range falls in the affordable range but 100 bucks isn’t cheap for all people.

    Then we started searching through all the 193 headphones we tested for the best performing ones. We focused on 3 categories:

    • Sound quality: The sound has to be pleasant to listen to no matter the price.
    • Build quality: Many cheap headphones are poorly built. We made sure to only recommend well-built ones.
    • User experience: Comfort, ease of use, battery life (for wireless models), features, design, etc.

    What to Expect from the Top Cheap Headphones?

    • A low price around $50 and less.
    • Nearly Hi-Fi audio quality that punches well above their price tag.
    • Cheaper materials, mostly plastic. With some bright exceptions that use quality materials (metal).
    • Lower-quality earpads with thinner padding and limite lifespan (thankfully you can replace them on many models)
    • Limited features: If wireless expect the barebones. A microphone for hands-free calls, basic controls, rarely decent ANC (active noise cancellation). If wired it’s a nice bonus if you get an in-line microphone and control module.

    So, are cheap headphones worth it?

    • If you’re a non-demanding user who needs a pair for occasional listening, cheap headphones make the most sense.
    • In case you need a 2nd pair for home listening or home-studio work, then a budget pair is perfect for the job.
    • If you’re buying basic headphones for a kid that doesn’t have high demands, why splurge if you don’t have to?

    As long as you know that the low price brings some shortcomings, they’re worth it.

    What are good cheap headphones brands?

    We researched the best cheap headphones brands. The top ones are: Soundcore, EarFun, Sony, Jlab, and we’d also mention Monoprice and TOZO as honorable mentions.

    Shortcomings of Cheap Bluetooth Headphones

    Specifically for wireless Bluetooth headphones:

    • The battery won’t last forever. Since you’re paying less money, you’re not getting the latest battery technology. Expect a battery to last for about 2 to 3 years.
    • Cheap headphones don’t have the latest features like inductive charging (Qi wireless charging).
    • Good audio quality but not the best wireless models offer today. It’s not comparable to Hi-Fi audiophile headphones.
    • No support for premium Bluetooth codecs like aptX and LDAC.
    • Less effective features: ANC does’t remove as much ambient noise, microphones aren’t as clear, apps have less options, etc.

    How to Get the Best Audio Quality from Cheap Headphones?

    1. The easiest way to get the best audio quality from budget headphones is to use audio equalization (EQ). There are different ways to EQ your music:

    • Some smartphones come with built-in EQ settings or app (check yours)
    • You can download free Android equalization apps from Google Play.
    • You can use EQ on your music streaming service, like Spotify.

    Here we go into more details on how to equalize.

    Basic EQ equalizer
    Basic equalization interface

    2. Use an amplifier. This is a more advanced way, only suitable for wired headphones that’s less convenient and costs a bit of money (you’ll have to buy an amp). But with good amplification you can considerably improve the audio.

    Read this first: Do I need an amp?

    Why Trust HeadphonesAddict?

    At HeadphonesAddict, we provide honest headphone tests through a rigorous methodology and a transparent process. See how we test here.

    More reasons to trust us:

    • We test headphones ourselves on 9 key points (wired models require fewer tests).
    • We don’t take money for tests and reviews.
    • We don’t delete or edit “bad reviews.” Even when brands ask us to. If the headphones sound bad or have other faults, we tell you without embellishment.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    What are cheap headphones?

    Cheap headphones cost around $50 and less. For this price you can still get decent quality headphones from popular brands like: Audio-Technica, Soundcore, TOZO, etc.

    What to expect from cheap headphones?

    Cheap headphones can be good but generally have a plastic design with a weaker build quality, fewer features and older technology, no support for the best Bluetooth codecs and a shorter battery life.

    Conclusion

    We hope our list helped you make a decision. All the models are top-notch for the price and here is the #1 recommendation.

    And if you end up getting a pair recommended in our list, we’d love to know which you picked (we read comments).

    Last update: Updated structure and added new models.

    2 Comments
    1. This was a great article they have some good choices. Now I have a better idea on what to buy.

      Reply

      1. Thanks, we appreciate the feedback.

        Reply

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