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12 Best Cheap Earbuds in 2023 (That are Worth 2X the Price)

Last updated: 2 weeks ago
11 min read

Here are the latest best cheap earbuds that far outrank their price.

Find surprisingly good earphones under $50, under $30, and even under $20.

We’ve included cheap true wireless earbuds, wired earbuds, sports earbuds, and more (check below).

We test and review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Rating Price Connection type Mic & Controls More info
TOZO NC7 Best overall
TOZO NC7 small image
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.3 (9h + 36h in case)
SoundPEATS Sonic Runner-up
SoundPEATS Sonic
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.2 (14h + 20h in case)
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.0 (9h + 26h in case)
Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 Best for sports
Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 small image
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.3 (4.5h + 12h in case)
Beats Flex Best Beats
Beats Flex wireless earbuds
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.0 (12h)
Treblab WX8 Great value
Treblab WX8
Under $40
Bluetooth 5.1 (7h + 28h in case)
SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS Best classic earphones
SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS small image
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.2 (6h + 15h in case)
Under $50
Wired – 3.5mm (I-shaped)
SoundPEATS Clear Best wireless earbuds under $30
SoundPEATS Clear small image
Under $30
Blueto4h + 33h in case)
TOZO T10 Wireless alternative under $30
Under $30
Bluetooth 5.0 (6h + 24h in case)
Symphonized NRG 3.0 Best wired under $30
Symphonized NRG 3.0
Under $30
Wired – 3.5mm (Y-shaped)
CCA LYRA Best under $20
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm (L-shaped)
CONTENTS (show more)

    Do you like paying too much for things?

    It’s true; most cheap earbuds are a piece of junk. But not all, if you know the right models.

    You can get earbuds that:

    • Sound good
    • Have a more comfortable fit
    • Are built well
    • And come with the latest technology

    Sounds too good to be true?

    Well, it is, if you haven’t tested dozens of self-proclaimed “best cheap earbuds” on the market.

    But we have, and here is our selection you should check out.

    With the list here, we’re sure you won’t overpay. In fact, we are confident to claim these are the best budget earbuds money can buy right now.

    Best Budget Earbuds Under $50

    The best earbuds (in-ear headphones) at the affordable price range of $30 – $50.

    1. TOZO NC7

    TOZO NC7 buds and case

    TOZO NC7 completely wipes away the competition at $50, providing high-end performance for budget-conscious commuters and students.

    TOZO 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

    Hear the TOZO NC7 A/B Sound Test:

    TOZO NC7 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Earbuds can have a very natural sound if you’re willing to play with the custom EQ (find our settings in the full review). They have a good bass extension and detail for the price.

    However, what makes them truly worth considering is their active noise-cancelling performance. Since they easily eliminate engine noises, they’re a perfect pick for commuters willing to save some bucks.

    Furthermore, thanks to their 9 hours of battery life on a single charge (and another 36 hours inside the case), you shouldn’t need to charge them even on a very long trip.

    TOZO NC7 have an app that lets you customize equalizer and touch controls and play soothing music if you need to relax.

    Note that their stability isn’t suitable for sports. So, check the best workout headphones if you seek the ultimate stable fit.

    2. SoundPEATS Sonic

    SoundPEATS Sonic earbuds

    SoundPEATS Sonic are the best cheap earbuds in true wireless design under $50.

    SoundPEATS Sonic review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 15h, 20h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 1.5h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, aptX, aptX Adaptive | Water resistance: IPX5 | Features: Mono mode, Game mode
    • Great sound quality
    • Amazing battery life (14h/charge)
    • Comfortable fit
    • Reliable Bluetooth 5.2 connection
    • Support for aptX Adaptive
    • Overly boosted sub-bass
    • Cheap-feeling construction

    Hear the SoundPEATS Sonic A/B Sound Test:

    SoundPEATS Sonic Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Our pick for the best true wireless earbuds has a relatively well-balanced sound, with some sparkle up on top.

    However, there’s a bass boost in sub-regions. While you don’t hear it all the time, it can start rattling your head with some music genres.

    Otherwise, they hold up to 14 hours per single charge, with the case carrying another 20 hours of juice. Earbuds come with an IPX5 rating for complete sweat protection.

    With a lightweight design, they’re quite comfortable to wear, even for more extended listening sessions. Fit is equally as stable, and you can easily take them on your daily running routine.

    Despite their modest price tag, they also support the latest aptX Adaptive, the next generation of Bluetooth codecs, on compatible devices.

    And at this price range, they’re the best cheap wireless earbuds for making calls too. Their mic is clear and does a decent job in noisy places as well.

    3. Anker Soundcore Life A1

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 buds out of case

    One of the best budget earbuds for under $50 with incredible value. Fun sound, amazing comfort, durability, and reliable battery life make these our top recommendations.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 9h + 26h in case | Wireless range: 60ft (18.2m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charging – USB-C & Qi charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX7 | Features: EQ presets, ear fins
    • Good sound quality
    • Fantastic comfort & stability
    • Reliable Bluetooth connection
    • Great battery life (more than 8h per charge)
    • Usable physical controls with 3 EQ profiles
    • Okay passive noise isolation
    • Some audio delay when watching videos

    Hear the Anker Soundcore Life A1 A/B Sound Test:

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Sound quality is excellent for the price, with boosted lows and highs but relatively neutral midrange. There’s no customizable sound, but you can lower or raise the bass by switching between 3 EQ profiles (the default sound profile is the best).

    Earbuds are tiny and don’t look very flashy. However, they’re one of the most comfortable ones we’ve tested.

    Furthermore, you can easily work out with them thanks to the secure fit and ear fins that hold them in place.

    The battery life is excellent, too, with more than 8 hours on a single charge and another 4 extra charges in the charging case. The latter supports Qi wireless charging as well.

    Related guides:

    4. Edifier TWS1 Pro 2

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 sweat

    Surprisingly great cheap wireless earbuds for working out and cancelling out noise, as well as listening to music.

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 4.5h + 12h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, 3 modes | Charging: 1.5h – quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: IP54 | Features: App, EQ presets, Game mode, auto play/pause
    • Excellent sound (after disabling ANC and picking Classical EQ)
    • Comfortable & surprisingly stable fit, suitable for exercising
    • Decent call quality in quieter environments
    • Good ANC & ambient sound mode for the price
    • Battery life of 4.5h is below average for ANC earbuds
    • A visible latency during gaming, even with Game mode

    Hear the Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 A/B Sound Test:

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 have a U-shaped sound but with a natural yet warm midrange. Of course, you must disable ANC and pick the “Classical” EQ preset in the app.

    The app offers different EQ profiles, ANC modes, and a Game mode and lets you customize touch controls.

    Earbuds are comfy and very stable despite missing ear wings. Also, they have an IP54 rating, which makes them dust and sweat-resistant.

    Moreover, they have an active noise cancellation and ambient sound mode. They work fine when you desperately need them, but don’t expect miracles.

    Battery life at 4.5 hours per charge with ANC is also okay-ish for everyday listening. Thankfully, you get fast charging support to top them off quickly.

    Check similar:

    5. Beats Flex

    wireless BEST CHEAP BEATS
    Beats Flex earbuds hanging

    A great alternative for iOS users who like the perks of the W1 chip but don’t like spending too much money on Apple AirPods headphones.

    Beats Flex review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8.2mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Wireless in-ear | Battery life: 12h | Wireless range: 65ft (20m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: None | Features: Apple W1 chip, companion app for Android, magnetic buds
    • Balanced sound
    • Affordable Beats with a W1 chip
    • Beats app adds iOS functionalities to Android users
    • USB-C port
    • Great passive noise isolation
    • Comfortable design
    • Neckband design hurts the overall stability
    • No carrying pouch included
    • Lack of sweat resistance

    Hear the Beats Flex A/B Sound Test:

    Beats Flex Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Having a surprisingly balanced sound, you can use Beats Flex for all kinds of music genres (from hip hop to rock). There’s still some bass boost, but it doesn’t overwhelm the experience. On the other hand, the Flex aren’t very detailed.

    As a whole, the earbuds are decently built but sadly lack an IPX rating. They have a neckband design that rests on your neck.

    You control them via 3 physical buttons; a multifunction one, for pairing, and a volume rocker.

    Thankfully, Flex have an Android companion app that enables you most of the features that are otherwise reserved for iOS.

    Unfortunately, earbuds aren’t very stable for sports.

    6. Treblab WX8

    Treblab WX8 wet

    Cheap wireless earbuds with punchy sound and excellent durability.

    Treblab WX8 review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.1
    Driver size icon Driver size: 6mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7h + 21h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12.1m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 1h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX8 | Features: Mono mode
    • Very natural midrange & shimmery treble
    • Durable build quality with an IPX8 waterproof rating
    • Comfortable, lightweight construction for long listening sessions
    • Good battery life of 7 hours per charge with wireless charging support
    • Unstable fit means they aren't suitable for sports
    • Mediocre passive noise isolation lets you hear a lot of outside noise

    For cheap earbuds, the Treblab WX8 play very well. While their bass is quite strong, it’s also controlled and suitable for faster music genres.

    The midrange is by far the most pleasant to listen to as it’s most natural and free of sibilance. Even treble is surprisingly smooth and textured, which is relatively uncommon in this price range.

    Furthermore, you can expect excellent comfort during more extended listening but only average fit, which makes earbuds unsuitable for sports activities.

    Nonetheless, they have an IPX8 fully water-resistant rating and support for Qi wireless charging.

    Earbuds hold around 7 hours of battery life per charge, with the case holding another 28 hours.

    7. SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS earbuds in case

    Great classic earphones that easily rival Apple AirPods 3 in terms of audio quality.

    in stock
    11 used from $25.00
    as of November 30, 2023 4:43 pm

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 14.2mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 15h in case | Wireless range: 35ft (10.6m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 1.5h – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Custom EQ, Adaptive EQ, Game Mode
    • Clear sound with natural midrange (after EQ tweaks)
    • Good battery life for classic earphones, with 6 hours per charge
    • Good call quality, especially in quieter environments
    • Light & comfortable to wear during long listening sessions
    • Wide selection of features & an app at a budget price
    • Poor passive noise isolation & sound leakage
    • Below average Bluetooth indoor range of 35 feet (at best)

    Interestingly, these earbuds provide a very natural sound for the price, especially after some EQ. It’s smooth yet nicely detailed, with a good sense of soundstage. The bass is less punchy than in normal Air3 Deluxe but still well-controlled.

    The housing of these earbuds is nicely rounded, with no sharp corners that could poke into your ears. That is why they’re comfortable enough during extended listening sessions. Also, their battery lasts 6 hours and 8 minutes per charge, more than advertised.

    Earbuds are made from hard, matte plastic, protected with an IPX4 water-resistant rating. The latter means you can use them in a gym without fear of damaging them.

    But you’ll have to listen to them at higher volume levels due to the shallower fit.

    8. Tin Audio T2

    Linsoul Tin Audio T2

    Tin Audio T2 are the best pair of double dynamic driver earbuds you can get for under $50.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm (woofer) + 6mm (tweeter)
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 12-40.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable length: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: Detachable cable, MMCX connection
    • Excellent sound for the price
    • Robust, metal build with detachable cables
    • Good passive isolation
    • A bit bulky for users with smaller ears

    Tin Audio T2 wired buds work with an MP3 player and output a somewhat balanced and dynamic sound.

    The double dynamic drivers produce a consistent frequency response throughout bass that goes well with slightly emphasized mids and treble. The bass isn’t overpowering, so this makes them great for critical listening.

    For thumping lows, see the best bass headphones.

    These are cheap earbuds with high comfort, good durability, and lovely audio performance. The first thing you notice is their interesting cable. It looks like fabric, has minimal cable noise, and it’s detachable.

    They are lightweight, comfortable, and will last a long time because they are well-built from metal. Also, you get a decent pair of memory foam ear tips that provide stability (enough even for running) and excellent noise isolation of the ambient sound.

    More related:

    Best Cheap Earbuds under $30

    The top earphones in the price range of $20 – $30.

    9. SoundPEATS Clear

    SoundPEATS Clear in the case

    SoundPEATS Clear are the best cheap earbuds for under $30 with impressive sound 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

    Hear the SoundPEATS Clear A/B Sound Test:

    SoundPEATS Clear Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Earbuds have a very balanced midrange and pleasant treble. The bass is a touch boosted but avoids sounding bloated. Tweaking them in the app makes their sound even more natural.

    Despite Clear’s name, they’re only transparent through the stem. The lid is also see-through, but it’s made of cheaper feeling plastic. Nevertheless, at least earbuds are pretty durable.

    They have an IPX4 sweatproof rating, so you can calmly take them to the gym without worries. Earbuds are also quite stable and comfortable, so they’re a great pick for casual and sports users.

    Lastly, they have an app support with a custom EQ and Game mode. Moreover, their battery life lasts almost 6 hours, while the case holds another 33 hours of extra juice.

    10. TOZO T10

    TOZO T10 string

    TOZO T10 (upgraded) are one of the best budget wireless earbuds under $30.

    TOZO T10 review

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 18-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 40ft (12,2m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 1.5h – quick charge – USB-C & Qi charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IP68 | Features: Mono mode
    • Fun sound quality with natural midrange
    • IP68 rating for both earbuds & charging case
    • Comfortable fit
    • Reliable touch controls
    • USB-C & Qi wireless charging
    • Extreme audio delay during videos
    • Mediocre microphone quality

    Hear the TOZO T10 Sound Test:

    TOZO T10 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    If you like bass, then you’ll enjoy the TOZO T10 audio performance. Apart from the boost in lower regions, the mids are relatively balanced, with some shimmer in the upper registers.

    The design is kept simple, with smooth edges to prevent poking into your ears. The ergonomic shape also contributes to the comfortable fit.

    As for stability, they’re suitable for casual use and outdoors walking. In contrast, buds can lose their grip while running.

    At least the sweat isn’t a problem. Both the earbuds and the case have a fully waterproof and dustproof construction, which is simply amazing for the price.

    11. Symphonized NRG 3.0

    Symphonized NRG 3.0 wired wooden earbuds

    Symphonized NRG 3.0 are the best cheap earbuds under $30 with a headphone jack.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 18-22.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: Wooden housing
    • Premium materials
    • Enjoyable, warm sound
    • Noticeable cable noise

    Detail-rich and slightly warmer tones will make you fall in love with your music. These cheap earbuds excel at mid-range tones even at higher volume levels.

    The wooden structure adds to the quality of bass and produces a rich and slightly warmer sound profile. You can change songs and volume with an in-line remote control module.

    They are made out of real wood, which makes them stand out in their design. Durability is, in fact, quite sturdy and makes for durable earbuds that you can’t break just like that. Plus, you get a carrying case.

    You get 6 different pairs of ear tips which should be enough to pick one that suits your needs.

    These are very comfortable. Wood is a light material, and combined with quality silicone tips, you get very comfortable earbuds.

    Note: Learn about more earbuds under 30 dollars, as well as best earbuds for gaming.

    Best Cheap Earbuds under $20

    Going even cheaper… The best in-ear monitors you can get in the price range of $10-$20.

    12. CCA LYRA

    CCA LYRA earbuds

    Top pick under $20. The best sound quality in earbuds under $20.

    CCA LYRA are easily the best cheap earbuds under $20 because the audio is out of this world (surprisingly good sound quality for the price).

    CCA LYRA review

    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

    Hear the CCA LYRA Sound Test:

    CCA LYRA Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    CCA LYRA’s audio performance goes far beyond their price. They have a balanced sound signature, good detail, and clarity in the highs. Any music genre will sound great on these.

    Thanks to the over-the-ear cable design, earbuds don’t fall out of your ears, even if you shake your head or run. Of course, they lack an official IP rating, so exercising with them isn’t advisable.

    Thankfully, if you damage the cable, you can easily replace it with another 2pin cable.

    Comfort will largely depend on the shape of your ears. CCA calls the design ergonomic, but due to having many curves, it might create some pressure points, resulting in pain.

    Note: Check inexpensive headphones at best earbuds under $20 guide.

    Find other most durable earbuds and best bass earbuds.

    Honorable Mentions

    KZ ZST

    KZ ZST in-ear monitor

    KZ ZST are very accurate and detailed, so you have to use them with high-quality music recordings. Otherwise, you’ll hear the lack of quality.

    KZ ZST review

    Aukey EP-T32

    Aukey EP-T32 true wireless earbuds

    Best cheap wireless earbuds for working out under $50 with ear hooks and fantastic stability and comfort, even if you wear glasses.

    Sports earbuds have seven hours of battery and Qi wireless charging support. There’s even an aptX Bluetooth codec for Android and AAC for iOS devices.

    Aukey EP-T32 review

    Moondrop Chu

    Moondrop Chu wired earbuds

    Moreover, earbuds have a stunning sound, design, and build quality. The housing is made of zinc alloy, which is harder than aluminum, and the cable feels great, too. It makes you wonder if Moondrop even profits from the Chu.

    Moondrop Chu review

    Aukey EP-T21

    Aukey T21 true wireless earbuds black

    Aukey truly wireless earbuds have a similar design to Apple AirPods Pro but cost a dirt-cheap price under $30. On top of that, their sound is balanced, which works for most music.

    Aukey EP-T21 review

    Strauss & Wagner EM205

    Strauss & Wagner EM205 earbuds

    Decent-sounding in-ear monitors that are tiny enough to fit under a helmet. They’re overall well made except for a rather thin, fragile cable.

    Strauss & Wagner EM205 review

    Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120K

    Panasonic RPHJE120

    The ideal balance of audio quality, build quality, and durability for little money.

    Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 review

    Turtle Beach Battle Buds

    Turtle Beach Battle Buds

    Looking for the best microphone earbuds? Then look no further.

    Check Battle Buds price

    Sony MDR-XB50AP

    Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass earbuds

    If you like bass and want one of the best cheap earphones with an inline remote, you need to get a Sony MDR-XB50AP.

    Sony MDR-XB50AP review

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air reviewed

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air were as of recently one of the best wireless earbuds under $50. An interesting cool feature is an integrated USB cable.

    Jlab Audio Jbuds Air review

    For more wireless options, check the best Bluetooth headphones under $100.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Cheap Earbuds

    How to Find the Best Cheap Earbuds?

    You shouldn’t look just at prices. There are too many choices. And many of those are bad ones.

    Look for things that you might prefer, like:

    • Better sound quality
    • Strong, powerful bass
    • A long battery life
    • High comfort
    • Water protection (IPX4 or more)
    • Design
    • Convenience

    It’s wise to spend $10 or $20 more and get a superb pair of earbuds that will last you longer and have high-quality audio comparable with more expensive models.

    Audio Quality

    Most of the cheap earbuds don’t produce the kind of bass and audio performance that you are looking for, but some are close.

    You can get an ideal pair of earbuds with quality audio for very little money if you pick them right. But you need to know what kind of audio signature you want.

    The most common signatures in cheap earbuds:

    • Bass emphasized
    • Balanced, neutral
    • V-shaped (boosted bass and treble)

    Battery life

    Cheap true wireless earbuds should last at least 5 hours per charge. If you’re looking at a model with a shorter battery, you can always get better.

    Regular cheap wireless earbuds, with a wired between buds, should last at least 10 hours. Though they’re out of fashion by 2022.


    Even cheap earbuds can be comfortable. You need to get the right eartips.

    Memory-foam eartips are the best by far. They change the shape to fit your ear canal when they warm up and fit most ear sizes.

    Quality eartips are cheap but make a big difference in comfort, tight seal, and background noise isolation. Get them if you’re half serious about earbuds.

    Durability Water Protection

    You can get durable earbuds for little money. Many come with an IPX6+ waterproof design and are also dust resistant. See the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones for more options.

    Generally, cheap wireless earbuds are not necessarily fragile but don’t expect them to be as durable as an expensive pair of headphones.

    And, if you are looking for specific audio products, like headphones for running, you’ll usually have to shelve out more money. Companies have figured people are willing to pay more premium, specialized headphones.

    Active Noise Cancellation

    Expect to pay more for active noise reduction technology or ambient mode. It’s getting cheaper thanks to modern chips which support it naturally.

    But it still adds to the price. Decent noise cancelling earbuds cost more than 50 bucks.

    The same is true for the best noise-cancelling headphones which cost from $100 to over $300.

    There are some cheaper options, see the best budget noise cancelling headphones.

    Value for Money

    value-for-money sticker

    Many brands compete for your attention in the price range of $10 to $50. With research, you can find a great pair of in-ear headphones that will serve you a very long time.

    Usually, lesser-known brands provide the biggest value. Because smaller companies want to get their brand out, they offer their products for less money to gain market share.

    For slightly more money see the best headphones under $100.

    If you want Bluetooth earbuds at a specific price:

    Are cheap wireless earbuds any good?

    Today, you can get decent true wireless earbuds under $50. You don’t get the latest and best technology, but close enough.

    Chip manufacturers started making affordable chips with many useful features. This makes it easier to put modern technology into cheap wireless earbuds.

    How much should you spend on earbuds?

    After testing dozens of budget earbuds, we can say you should spend at least $30.

    Better yet, step up and give around $50 for a good pair with the latest Bluetooth, tap controls, decent call quality, and sound.

    Looking for dirt-cheap buds? See best earbuds under $10.

    Are cheap earbuds safe?

    Yes. Cheap earbuds are perfectly safe to use for the intended purpose. Bluetooth chips and batteries inside are manufactured to the same safety standards as with more expensive buds.

    1. Great review, there are some really good earphones under $20, and so many of them are in this review. I have only tried Xiaomi Piston earphones, they’re perfect, I’m having no issues whatsoever.


    2. They’re all good products… best list online.


    3. Just want to say that the one’s you have voted number 1 are actually $169.83 according to Amazon…


    4. Hi Aims,

      are you browsing from US or UK, because it seems it has redirected you to the UK Amazon and if you search for SoundMAGIC E10 they shouldn’t cost more than £30


    5. Lots of good stuff here. You should definitely take a look at the earphones Knowledge Zenith (KZ) offers; ED9 ED10, HDS1, ED3, etc. Their lineup is hard to beat when you consider price/build/cost. Easily some of the best value in the business. Check out the Venture Electronics (VE) Monk as well. Looks are deceiving. They’re the real deal.


    6. Sony MDR-EX220LP is my favorite budget earphones. Japanese import that’s worth the shipping time wait. I’ve either owned or just heard most of these on the list and it’s a shame the 220LP isn’t on the list!


    7. Author doesn’t know the difference between earbuds and in-ear. All of those are in ear rather than earbuds.


      1. You are right, the technical term would be in-ear monitors, but since most people know them as earbuds we go with this term. It’s for pragmatic reasons.


    8. Very informative, helpful reviews. Thanks you! I’d like to offer a comment on the topic of durability. Of the many sets of low-to-mid priced IEMs I’ve gone through (gotta be more than a two dozen), none have ever failed due to the casing breaking, be it plastic or metal. Every single time without exception it was the cord/wire failed. And on every one of those failures it’s been an internal break in the wire (open circuit) at or near the strain relief on the plug end, or sometimes where the the cord enters the monitor’s housing. Because IEM cord wires are generally made of tinsel braided or stranded fiber-copper materials, they don’t lend themselves well to soldering or repair. For example, some years ago Skull Candy offered a model of earbud for $14.99 with surprisingly decent sound quality. But the cords would fail at the plug — never lasted more than a few months at best. The cheaper Sennheisers have the same problem, although not quite as fragile. In your reviews, you might consider emphasizing the design and quality of the strain relief and cord components in more depth and detail. You indeed make mention the cord durability in many/most reviews, but too often just merely.


      1. Thanks, duly noted.


      2. I have the same problem always.


    9. what about rha s500i
      i am using sennheizar cx180 this is awesome,recently i bought cx275s $soundmagic e30 both are poor compared to cx180
      rhas500i good for bass?


      1. RHA S500 are a good choice if you want more bass as they have a pretty good bass presence. But again it depends on what you are looking for, if it’s just bass you have other better models for the same price, check the bass earbuds article.


    10. I’m having a hard time choosing between the SoundMagic E10 and the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore… Can anyone recommend which is better?


      1. They are both so cheap why not go with both and find out? You can never have too many IEMs.

        We love both models so you can’t go wrong with either, honestly.


    11. Loved the article, but I still have a question or two.
      What would you recommend in the $30 and under range that is also sweat resistant? I tend to go through about 3 pairs per year and it is normally due to sweat gradually degrading the sound quality (or at least that is what I suspect is happening).
      I don’t want to spend a lot of money several times, when maybe I could just spend a little more once and call it good!
      Thank you


      1. Sport-Fi M6 comes to mind, they are usually under $20, sweat-resistant and well built. As long as you don’t mind the memory wire design and bassy sound signature these should last for a while.


    12. Hi, this article really saved me days of research. A few questions.
      1. Some reviews say SM E10S have boosted bass. I am looking for a neutral sound. Will you recommend E10S (I like them for the tougher design).
      2. I am really liking SM E10 and Vsonic VSD1S. I am leaning a bit towards VSD1S. As I said above, I like neutral sounds more, with a clean bass. I also can’t stand sibilance, but as long as it is not harsh, I can sometimes handle it as I usually don’t go too loud. Can you give me your opinion on this, as you have placed SM E10 above Vsonic VSD1S? Also, the newer version of VSD1S has different cables, which seems sturdier. Are those twisted cables or just design on regular cable?
      3. Initially I liked Brainwavz S0 also, until I noticed it has a remote which doesn’t work well with Android and I mainly use my Android mobile when I am traveling. This will annoy the hell out of me every time I use them together (a quirk in my preferences). So I decided not to look at them.


      1. SoundMagic E10S has a balanced sound signature, the bass is present but isn’t overpowering other ranges. Compared to Vsonic VSD1S, E10s might have a bit more bass, but they’re not too bassy. Of course if you like clarity and accuracy above bass go for Vsonic, but we prefer the SoundMagic E10s because they’re built better and we also like how they sound (more bass than Vsonic but still balanced).

        Both are great value for money with neither having overpowering bass so you should enjoy both.

        The wires on VSD1S are regular wires with different rubber coating on it.


    13. Just ordered a pair of Brainwavz Deltas from Amazon on a lightning deal for $14.99. At this price who cares if they are the top pick? I may go back and order some more before the deal ends!


    14. You didn’t include sennheiser cx 180 street ii in under 10$ list can you give some reasons for not including it

      sennheiser cx 180 is available for 850 INR and Panasonic Rphje125k costs around 600 INR.

      which should I go with? also Panasonic has similar models priced around 600 INR Rphje 125,120,118 k-e

      can you plz help me choose I got tired waiting for piston 3 to come into stock 🙁


      1. We like the sound quality of Panasonic RPHJE120k more than the Sennheiser CX 180. If you can get 120k, get them. Amazing value for money.


    15. Which one should i choose?
      My main concern is durability. I want my earphone to last a long time. I know it basically comes down to how roughly i use it. Still which earphone (below 20$) would be durable comparatively?
      Panasonic RPHJE120K
      Philips SHE3590
      MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6
      Redlink Bluetooth 4.1 Stereo Headphones
      Which one would be more durable out of these 4?


      1. MEEletronics Sport-Fi M6

        Panasonic RPHJE120k

        Philips SHE3590

        Best at top.
        Not sure about Redlink


    16. Would you suggest the Sport-Fi M6P or the Sport-Fi M7P?


      1. I’d go with Sport-Fi M6P because they are a better overall product.


    17. Most reviewers fail to include the annoying sound that travels along wires into the ear canal while cords brush up or tap against clothing or wind while running. Please include this affect in how well certain headphones block out such noises.
      Great site.


    18. Great article, thanks!


    19. Help!. I have the SoundMagic E10S, but want to change to wireless. Some recommendation in the same price range? (Talking 40$). Don’t mind how they look, just sound and fit.


    20. What about sony xb50ap


    21. Just what I needed to read, and good job across the board (at least for under $30). Ordered some NRG and I’m looking forward to the wood enhancement (I listen to classical as well as heavy rock, and grew up with parents with REALLY NICE speakers that were wood cradled. Thanks for the reviews.


    22. I absolutely hate the fact that almost all earbuds these days are in ear. They really bother my ears. Why can’t you review any that hang from the earlobe like the old ipod earbuds??


      1. Reply

    23. You’ve missed out the best value earbuds ever: VE Monk


      1. Hi Sam,
        VE Monk look solid too, though they are classic earbud design as far as I know. We try to compare in-ear headphones only in this article.


    24. Got Rowkin recently.. Absolutely loving it.


    25. Hi, ive followed this list over the last 2 years almost in a religious way, the only pair of earbuds im missing to buy are the soundmagic e10, right now im between buying the Soundmagic e10c and the Soundmagic e10bt, would you recommend any of those? Im certainly interested in the bluetooth model since i am a fitness enthusiast but I also care about wireless audio quality on a budget.
      In advance, you´ve done an amazing job with all of these review (mostly for being objective)


      1. The Soundmagic E10 are our top recommendation for a while now. 🙂 The wired version. But if you want Bluetoth workout headphones you should check these.


    26. “best earbuds under $30”
      >lists $80 earbuds


      1. Thanks for letting us know. You mean the Symphonized NRG 3.0 right?

        They cost around $25 but right now Amazon lists them as more expensive probably due to limited supply. Wait for the price to drop and if it doesn’t we’ll remove them from the list.

        Price increases happen sometimes but that’s not the price you should buy at.


    27. Please make a blog on headphones under 50 dollars


      1. Reply

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