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15 Best Cheap Earbuds in 2024 (Inexpensive Budget Champs)

Last updated: 4 months ago
18 min read

We’ve tested 193 headphones and over 100 earbuds. Here we’ll cover:

  • The best cheap earbuds under $50, $30, and $20 that far outperform their price.
  • Our hands-on experience with each pair.
  • A/B sound comparison tests, so you know exactly how they sound.

Let’s dig in:

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.

Sonic9Score Price Connection type Mic & Controls More info
TOZO NC7 Best overall
TOZO NC7 small image
Under $50
Bluetooth 5.3 (9h + 36h in case)
EarFun Air 2 Runner-up
EarFun Air 2 small image
Under $40
Bluetooth 5.3 (7.5h + 31h 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)
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
SoundPEATS Clear Best TWS for $30
SoundPEATS Clear small image
Under $30
Blueto4h + 33h in case)
Moondrop Chu Best under $20
Moondrop Chu
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm (L-shaped)
CONTENTS (show more)

    All earbuds on our list are evaluated based on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score).  The main criteria we looked at to pick the top recommendations are sound quality and comfort & fit. See our testing and ranking methodology.

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

    We have tested over 100 earbuds to find the best budget buds on the market.

    Here is our selection that includes true wireless, wired, in-ear, and non-in-ear earphones.

    For more budget options, see the best earbuds under $50, best Bluetooth earbuds under $50, best wireless earbuds under $30.

    Best Cheap Earbuds

    1. TOZO NC7

    1st-place Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds
    • Sound quality: Natural sound with slightly boosted bass and treble you can EQ to your preference
    • Comfort & fit: Comfortable for hours thanks to ergonomics, but doesn’t stay stable during movement
    TOZO NC7 buds and case

    TOZO NC7 are the best cheap true wireless earbuds we’ve tested. They completely wipe away the competition at $50, providing high-end performance for commuters and studentsTOZO NC7 review.

    Best deals:

    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

    Sound: The TOZO NC7 initially presents a bloated and harsh sound, but with EQ adjustments, the audio significantly improves. Despite initial sound issues, with EQ adjustments, the NC7 offer a natural sound with an extra bass and sparkle, making them suitable for a variety of listeners.

    Hear the TOZO NC7 A/B sound test:

    TOZO NC7 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Their balanced sound signature is suitable for all music genres, and in-app equalization allows you to change the sound to your preference.

    Comfort & Fit: These earbuds are lightweight and comfortably fit most ears without requiring deep insertion. They provide a stable fit for regular use but are not suitable for intense workouts. During our head-shaking tests, the earbuds lost their fit after a while.

    So, the earbuds stay comfortable for hours for regular use, but if you need sports earbuds, you should get an alternative. Also, the NC7 comes with 6 pairs of silicone ear tips, offering options for different ear sizes.

    Durability: The TOZO NC7 have an IPX6 rating, indicating significant water resistance, though not complete waterproofness. You can wash them under a tap but can’t submerge them.

    The earbuds are well-built, but the charging case feels less substantial, with a thin and potentially fragile lid.

    Battery: One of the NC7’s standout features is its exceptional battery life. We tested it at 9 hours and 10 minutes of playtime per charge with ANC enabled.

    This is a best-in-class battery performance that surpasses many competitors in the ANC earbud category. The charging case provides an additional 36 hours of battery life, and the earbuds support Qi wireless charging. You’ll never run out of battery.

    TOZO NC7 battery comparison
    TOZO NC7 battery life comparison with similar alternatives.

    Features: The earbuds are feature-rich, with an app offering:

    • EQ customization
    • Different ANC modes
    • Controls customization
    • A selection of relaxing sounds

    Usually, you find this many options in premium earbuds that cost much more than 50 dollars.

    However, the call quality is mediocre, especially in noisy environments. The earbuds also lack a Game mode, resulting in a noticeable audio lag in mobile games.

    Noise Isolation & Cancelling: The NC7 provides good passive noise isolation and effective active noise cancellation, particularly in the upper bass and lower treble regions. You can pick between 3 ANC modes that do a great job for the price, removing more noise than many more expensive models.

    TOZO NC7 ANC modes comparison
    Noise reduction levels in different ANC modes.

    Also, the ambient sound mode boosts voices, so you can have a conversation without taking the earbuds out of ears.

    Bluetooth: The earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.3, ensuring a stable connection. The indoor Bluetooth range is average at about 40 feet.

    However, they lack Bluetooth multipoint support and have noticeable latency in mobile gaming due to the absence of a Game mode.

    Who Should Get TOZO NC7? They may not be the best choice for sports enthusiasts due to stability concerns during intense activities.

    But at the price point of $50, the TOZO NC7 are the best wireless earbuds on a budget in our opinion. Considering their audio quality (post-EQ), comfort, battery life, and ANC performance. They are particularly suited for commuters, students, and bass enthusiasts.

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

    Runner-Up Budget Earbuds

    2. EarFun Air 2

    2nd-place Runner-Up Budget Earbuds
    • Sound quality: V-shaped sound that can be shaped into a more balanced one with custom EQ settings
    • Comfort & fit: Long-term comfort for daily use, but not the best for sports
    EarFun Air 2 in ears

    EarFun Air 2 are the runner-up budget wireless earbuds. Of all we’ve tested, these have the most features and LDAC support that actually makes a difference – EarFun Air 2 review.

    Best deals:

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7.5h + 31h in case | Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 meters) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 1.5h – Quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: 4 ENC microphones | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LC3, LDAC | Water resistance: IPX7 | Features: App, EQ, multipoint, Game Mode
    • Balanced sound after EQ (bass & treble boosted by default)
    • Feature-rich app with Bluetooth multipoint & custom controls
    • Comfortable fit & durable design with an IPX7 rating
    • Battery life of 7.5 hours & Qi wireless charging support
    • Passive isolation could be better due to the lack of ANC
    • Enabling LDAC hurts connection stability

    Sound: The audio is characterized by a significant V-shaped sound signature. This tuning makes the earbuds very punchy and sparkly, thus suitable for bass-heavy music.

    The midrange is almost flat but still colored by the bright treble, which might cause some occasional sibilance. Fortunately, you can fix most issues by using the app’s EQ. You can hear the results in our full review.

    Hear the EarFun Air 2 A/B sound test:

    EarFun Air 2 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: The EarFun Air 2 earbuds offer great comfort and fit well in most ears. Their AirPods Pro-like are designed for long listening sessions with minimal pressure.

    The earbuds retain a secure fit during everyday activities. But, any rapid head movements during our tests slowly pushed them out of our ears.

    Noise Isolation: These earbuds’ weak point is passive noise isolation. It’s okay, but not efficient enough to use on loud public transport or in an office.

    EarFun Air 2 Passive isolation measurement

    Bluetooth: Equipped with Bluetooth 5.3, the EarFun Air 2 ensures a wide connection range and stable pairing. They support LDAC for improved music quality, but remember that enabling this codec also hurts connection stability.

    The earbuds also offer a mono mode and Bluetooth multipoint connectivity. This means you can connect them to 2 devices simultaneously.

    Battery: The battery life of these earbuds is pretty average. We tested them at 7 hours and 30 minutes of playback per charge. The charging case provides an additional 31 hours of battery life and supports fast and Qi wireless charging.

    Durability: The build quality feels pretty good for a budget product. The earbuds have an IPX7 water resistance rating, making them suitable for workouts, exposure to sweat, and heavy rain. You can even submerge them in water.

    Features: EarFun Air 2 pack many features, such as multipoint, customizable touch controls, Game Mode, and LDAC audio codec.

    Microphone Quality: The microphone performance is decent at best. It performs well in quieter environments but you quickly become hard to understand when exposed to loud external noises.

    Should You Buy EarFun Air 2? As long as you’re aware of limitations (which are expected at $40), these earbuds are a fine pick for anyone who enjoys balanced sound and a comfortable listening experience without emptying your wallet.

    They are a great option for casual listeners and those who prioritize comfort, features, and audio quality.

    Best Cheap Earbuds for Sports

    3. Edifier TWS1 Pro 2

    trophy Best Cheap Sports Earbuds
    • Sound quality: A U-shaped sound signature with emphasis on bass and treble.
    • Comfort & fit: Super comfortable earbuds that don’t move during sweaty workouts
    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 sweat

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 are the best cheap wireless earbuds for working out we’ve tested. These stay in the ears when exercising with great sound for the price – Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 review.

    Best deals:

    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

    Sound: The Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 delivers a bold sound experience. A U-shaped sound has boosted sub-bass and treble which is suitable for modern punchy music. With Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) turned off and the EQ set to “Classical,” the audio improves to the point of being balanced.

    Hear the Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 A/B sound test:

    Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Overall, the sound is full and natural with good clarity, making these earbuds a strong contender in their price range.

    Comfort & Fit: These earbuds boast a refined ergonomic shape, ensuring a comfortable and stable fit suitable for extended wear and even exercising. When we tested them with our head-shaking test, they didn’t budge at all.

    Also, the ear tips provided in the package offer a good seal and stability, contributing to the overall comfort and usability of the earbuds.

    Durability: The TWS1 Pro 2 earbuds and charging case are well-built and sturdy, with an IP54 rating indicating dust and sweat resistance. While not waterproof, they can withstand sweating and light rain, making them suitable for outdoor use and workouts.

    Battery: The battery life is a bit below average for ANC earbuds, lasting around 4.5 hours on a single charge with ANC enabled. However, the earbuds support fast charging, providing an hour of playtime with just a 10-minute charge.

    Features: The earbuds offer a range of features typically found in premium models, including:

    • Multiple ANC modes
    • Ambient sound mode
    • Controls customization
    • And a game mode

    However, they lack customizable EQ settings. The microphone quality is decent in quiet environments but may struggle in noisy settings. Find more details in our review.

    Noise Isolation & Cancelling: The passive noise isolation is average, primarily reducing higher frequencies. The ANC performance is decent for the price, effectively reducing bass notes and ambient noise, though not as effectively as more expensive models.

    Bluetooth: The TWS1 Pro 2 uses Bluetooth 5.3, providing a stable connection with an indoor range of about 40 feet. They support only the SBC codec and lack multipoint connectivity. Another thing we found is that the earbuds experience visible latency in gaming, even with the game mode activated.

    Should You Get Edifier TWS1 Pro 2? Their battery life and gaming latency may be limiting factors.

    However, the Edifier TWS1 Pro 2 earbuds are a great option for those looking for affordable ANC earbuds with good audio quality, comfort, and a range of features. They are particularly suitable for budget-conscious students, commuters, and gym-goers.

    Check similar:

    Best Budget Non-In-Ear Earbuds

    4. SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS

    earbud Best Cheap Non In-Ear Earbuds
    • Sound quality: Balanced quality sound with EQ options and LDAC Bluetooth codec
    • Comfort & fit: Comfortable stem design but unsuitable for anything more than walking
    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS earbuds in case

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS are the best budget wireless earbuds that don’t go in the ear we’ve tested. These rival Apple AirPods 3 in terms of audio quality – SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS review.

    Best deals:

    in stock
    3 new from $47.99
    11 used from $36.31
    as of July 12, 2024 7:30 am
    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)

    Sound: The SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS offers a clear and natural sound, especially after EQ tweaks. The bass is impressively controlled for classic earphones, the midrange is uneven but fixable with EQ, and the treble is clear with a decent texture.

    The earbuds provide a wider soundstage and accurate imaging, making them a top choice for sonic fidelity among non-inear earphones.

    Hear the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS sound test:

    SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: These earbuds are light and comfortable, suitable for long listening sessions. However, they lack stability for intense physical activities.

    Their stem design is similar to the non-HS version, with a small and oval shape that adapts well to the ear, making them comfortable for a wide range of users.

    Durability: The Air3 Deluxe HS earphones are made of hard, matte plastic and have an IPX4 sweat-resistant rating. We tested it by sprinkling water on them, and they kept working. This means you can use them in a gym without fear of damaging them.

    The charging case feels slightly better than the original version, with a matte texture that is more scratch-resistant. The earbuds are lightweight and durable enough for regular use.

    Battery: Their battery lasts 6 hours and 8 minutes per charge, more than advertised. The charging case provides an additional 15 hours of playtime. While there is no fast charging or Qi wireless support, the overall battery performance is commendable.

    Features: These earbuds offer a wide selection of features for their price, including a companion app with custom EQ, Adaptive EQ, Game mode, and in-ear detection.

    However, they lack control customization, so you have to use original controls.

    Microphone Quality: The call quality is good in quieter environments but struggles with loud background noise. The microphone picks up voices clearly in calm settings but becomes muffled in noisier surroundings.

    Noise Isolation: The passive noise isolation is poor due to the non-in-ear design. It makes the earbuds suitable for indoor use or quiet environments. They do not block much ambient noise and are not recommended for commuting or noisy settings.

    But this can be a good thing if you need ambient awareness.

    Bluetooth: The Bluetooth range is below average, with an indoor range of only about 35 feet. The earbuds support LDAC high-res audio codec and Game Mode for low-latency signal, but the range limitation is a notable drawback.

    Should You Get SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS? If you need great stability or multipoint support, you might want to consider other options.

    However, the SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS offer an excellent value at $50, especially compared to AirPods 3. They are ideal for those who prefer classic earphones that don’t go in ears and want high-quality sound.

    Best Cheap In-Ear Monitors

    5. TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red

    trophy Best Budget In-Ear Monitors
    • Sound quality: Natural tunning suitable for all music that punches above their price
    • Comfort & fit: Stable thanks to ear-hook cables, comfortable for casual listening
    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are the best cheap in-ear monitors we’ve tested with neutral sound and high-end housing – TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red review.

    Best deals:

    Connection icon Connection: Wired 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm & 7.8mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: In-ear monitors | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 17.5 ohms | Weight: 0.9 ounces (26 grams) with cable | Cable lenght: 4.1 feet (1.25 meters) | Features: Bass+ adapter
    • Smooth & neutral tuning that goes with all music genres
    • Comfortable & stable fit for long listening sessions
    • Detachable cable & replaceable nozzle mesh extends durability
    • Good overall passive noise isolation
    • No option for cable with mic/controls support

    Sound: The TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red in-ear monitors offer a smooth and neutral tuning that works well with all music genres.

    The bass is slightly elevated but never bloated, the midrange is almost spot-on, and the treble is excellent for the price, albeit with some limitations. These IEMs provide a natural sound with a hint of excitement, making them a fantastic value in terms of sonic fidelity under $60.

    Hear the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red sound test:

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: These IEMs are designed for comfort and stability, suitable for long listening sessions. Their standard IEM design with an over-the-ear cable hook and smooth interior ensures a universally compatible fit.

    They are comfortable for extended wear, though the earbuds lose the fit during movement.

    Durability: The TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are made from medical-grade resin with a uniform, 3D-printed housing, indicating good durability.

    They lack an IPX rating for water resistance, but the build quality suggests they can withstand daily use and accidental drops. The included unbalanced cable is thin and may be the weakest part of the package.

    Features: These IEMs come with standard features for an in-ear monitor, including a detachable cable and a Bass+ adapter. However, they do not have a cable with an inline microphone or controls, which might limit their functionality for some users.

    Noise Isolation: The TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red offer good overall passive noise isolation, making them suitable for use in various environments. They effectively block out ambient noise, especially in the upper midrange and treble frequencies.

    TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero Red passive isolation measurement

    Should You Get TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red? If you’re looking for bass-heavy IEMs or more portable options, you might want to consider other alternatives.

    But the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle Zero:Red are an excellent choice for budget audiophiles seeking a neutral sound signature. They are ideal for users who prefer a smooth and relaxing listening experience.

    Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds for $30

    6. SoundPEATS Clear

    dollar Best $30 True Wireless Earbuds
    • Sound quality: Natural audio with equalization in the app
    • Comfort & fit: High comfort and stability suitable for working out and running
    SoundPEATS Clear in the case

    For $30, SoundPEATS Clear are the best cheap wireless earbuds we’ve tested. They come with impressive sound and reliable performance – SoundPEATS Clear review.

    Best deals:

    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

    Sound: The SoundPEATS Clear TWS earbuds offer a neutral sound signature with natural tonality, especially after EQ adjustments.

    They feature a well-controlled bass, a well-tuned but slightly veiled midrange, and a smooth treble that could use more airiness and resolution. While they lack the clarity and transparency of more expensive options, they provide impressive audio quality for their price.

    Hear the SoundPEATS Clear A/B sound test:

    SoundPEATS Clear Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: These earbuds are extremely comfortable and stable, making them suitable for sports activities.

    Their slightly oval design contours well to the ear, ensuring comfort during long listening sessions. However, they should not be pushed too deep into the ear canal to avoid discomfort.

    Durability: The SoundPEATS Clear are sturdy with an IPX4 rating, indicating they can withstand sweat and light sprays of water.

    However, the charging case, made of clear plastic, looks fragile and easily scratchable, which could be a concern for durability.

    Battery: The battery life of the SoundPEATS Clear is below average. We tested it at less than 6 hours per charge. The charging case holds an additional 33 hours of battery life, and no fast charging capabilities.

    Features: These earbuds come with an impressive set of features for their price, including a companion app with customizable EQ and Game mode.

    They also offer good call quality in quieter environments but suffer from wind noise during outdoor use.

    Noise Isolation: The SoundPEATS Clear provide good passive noise isolation, effectively blocking a significant amount of outside noise. However, their shape produces audible wind noise, which can be distracting during outdoor activities.

    Bluetooth: The earbuds support Bluetooth 5.3 and have an average indoor range of 40 feet. They use standard SBC and AAC codecs and feature a Game mode with minimal latency during gaming. So, these are great for mobile gaming.

    Should You Get SoundPEATS Clear? They are not the best option for users seeking the highest audio quality or for outdoor activities due to wind noise.

    Nonetheless, the SoundPEATS Clear are an excellent choice for those on a tight budget who want a balanced sound, the ability to play mobile games with low latency, and wireless earbuds suitable for a gym.

    Note: Find more earbuds under 30 dollars.

    Best Cheap $20 Earbuds

    7. Moondrop Chu

    dollar Best Earbuds for $20
    • Sound quality: Surprisingly good, balanced audio for $20
    • Comfort & Fit: Over-the-ear fit ensures decent stability while remaining comfortable
    Moondrop Chu ear tips

    Of all the cheap wired earbuds we’ve tested, Moondrop Chu are the top pick for $20. Read why below – Moondrop Chu review.

    Best deals:

    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

    Moondrop Chu are easily the best cheap wired earbuds for $20 because the audio is out of this world (surprisingly good audio for the price).

    Sound: The Moondrop Chu earbuds offer a well-balanced audio profile, with a natural and tight bass, a balanced and natural midrange, and a treble that is not exceptional but adequate.

    They are well-tuned, especially considering their price, with only minor issues like slightly thin-sounding vocals and a splashy treble. The overall sonic fidelity is great for earbuds under $20.

    Hear the Moondrop Chu sound test:

    Moondrop Chu Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Comfort & Fit: Despite their zinc alloy housing, which adds some weight, the Moondrop Chu fit comfortably and securely. They are designed to be worn over the ear, distributing weight evenly and minimizing discomfort.

    The included spring ear tips and ear hooks enhance stability, making them suitable for casual use and light activities.

    Durability: The Moondrop Chu are impressively built for their price range, featuring a zinc alloy construction and a good quality non-detachable cable.

    They lack an IP rating for water resistance, which is typical for wired earbuds in this price range. The main concern is the non-detachable cable, which means the entire earbuds need to be replaced if the cable breaks.

    Features: These earbuds are quite basic in terms of features, with the main highlight being the detachable ear hooks that provide additional stability. They do not have an inline remote or microphone unless you opt for a variant that includes these.

    Noise Isolation: The Moondrop Chu provide good passive noise isolation, thanks to their in-ear design and the effective seal created by the silicone ear tips. This makes them suitable for environments where passive noise reduction is desired.

    Should You Get Moondrop Chu? These may not be as impressive for users who already own higher-end earbuds.

    But as $20 earbuds, the Moondrop Chu are an amazing choice for those looking for high-quality sound and durability. They are particularly suitable for audiophiles on a budget or beginners looking to explore high-quality audio without a significant investment.

    More options:

    Honorable Mentions Worth Checking

    8. Anker Soundcore Life A1

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 review

    Fun sound, amazing comfort, durability, and reliable battery life make these a top recommendation. Sound quality is excellent for the price, with boosted lows and highs but a neutral midrange. You can lower or raise the bass by switching between 3 EQ profiles. The tiny earbuds are one of the most comfortable we’ve tested. They’re great for working out, thanks to the ear fins that hold them in place.

    Anker Soundcore Life A1 review

    9. CCA Trio

    CCA Trio IEMs

    CCA Trio are pretty detailed and natural-sounding IEMs with a big soundstage, providing an immersive listening experience on a budget. The wired in-ear earphones come with detachable 2-pin wires and an L-shaped plug. Their unique feature is the tuning filters that boost bass or treble.

    CCA Trio review

    10. Beats Flex

    Beats Flex earbuds hanging

    Beats Flex are 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. The earbuds are decently built but lack an IPX rating. They are a bit older and have a neckband design that rests on your neck. You control them with 3 physical buttons. A solid choice for iPhone owners.

    Beats Flex review

    11. 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

    12. Treblab WX8

    Treblab WX8 wet

    The Treblab WX8 are the best cheap waterproof earbuds we’ve tested. They have an IPX8 fully waterproof protection for submersion in water. Their bass is strong and suitable for faster music. You can expect excellent comfort during extended listening but only average fit. Earbuds hold almost 7 hours of battery life per charge, and the case holds 28 hours and supports Qi wireless charging.

    Treblab WX8 review

    13. TOZO T10 (Upgraded 2024)

    TOZO T10 (Upgraded 2024) earbuds in case

    TOZO T10 have a bassy audio performance, but with a few EQ tweak, they can sound as good as earbuds above $50. The design is simple to prevent poking in your ears. The ergonomic shape contributes to the comfortable fit. As for stability, they’re suitable for casual use walking, but they lose grip when running. The earbuds (IPX8) have a waterproof construction, which is amazing for the price.

    TOZO T10 (Upgraded 2024) review

    14. CCA LYRA

    CCA LYRA earbuds

    CCA LYRA are another in-ear monitors worth buying. Their audio performance goes far beyond their price. They have a neutral sound signature, good detail, and clarity in the highs. Thanks to the over-the-ear detachable cable, earbuds don’t fall out of your ears, even if you shake your head. Find out more in the review.

    CCA LYRA review

    15. Symphonized NRG 3.0

    Symphonized NRG 3.0 wired wooden earbuds

    Symphonized NRG 3.0 are the top wired earbuds under $30. Detail-rich and warmer tones will make you fall in love with your music. The wooden housing adds to the bass quality and produces a rich and slightly warmer sound. Wood is a light material, and combined with quality silicone tips, you get very comfortable earbuds.

    Check Symphonized NRG 3.0 price

    What are The Best Earbuds under $10?

    If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest earbuds under $10, here are Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120.

    These wired earbuds are super comfortable thanks to their lightweight, ergonomic design and come with a clear, slightly bassy sound.

    Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 with used eartips
    These are my go-to wired earbuds I use as a secondary pair (you can clearly see the eartips are worn)

    How We Tested?

    Each pair of earbuds in our list is objectively tested by measuring their frequency response (see graphs in full reviews).

    Frequency response chart
    Frequency response gives an overall picture of how headphones sound.

    Altogether, we tested and scored them on 9 key points:

    1. Sound
    2. Comfort & Fit
    3. Durability
    4. Battery
    5. Features
    6. Noise Isolation
    7. Noise Cancelling
    8. Bluetooth
    9. Value

    We do this for all headphones we review. This helps us compare and pick the best models that we can confidently recommend. See our testing and scoring methodology.

    How did we choose the models?

    We primarily focused on 2 decision points: sound quality and comfort & fit: but also considered overall performance.

    Then we ranked them for different user needs, types of headphones, and prices: cheaper towards the bottom.

    What to Expect from Cheap Earbuds?

    You can typically expect:

    • Basic sound quality: While they may not offer the depth and clarity of more expensive models, many budget earbuds provide decent sound for casual listening.
    • Great comfort & fit (depending on the model): Smart ergonomic design doesn’t impact price. So cheaper earbuds can also have top-notch comfort.
    • Cheaper materials: They are often made with less expensive materials, like plastics. Which impacts their durability and lifespan.
    • Limited features: Advanced features like active noise cancellation, touch controls, and high-quality microphones are usually not present in cheaper models. And if there is ANC, it’s often less effective.
    • The latest wireless connectivity: Budget earbuds also have the latest Bluetooth capabilities. Bluetooth is so cheap it doesn’t impact prices.
    • Competitive battery Life (for wireless models): If they are wireless, the battery life is similar to expensive counterparts. There are models with above-average but also short battery life. It all depends on the model. See the battery tests in our review for details.
    • Lower water resistance: They typically offer lower water or sweat resistance (measured in IPX). But there are models with high protection, making them suitable for workouts or use in the rain.
    • The same warranty: Because warranty policies are set by government laws, depending on where you live, you get a minimum 1-year (USA) or a 2-year (EU) warranty with any earbuds you buy.

    How to Find the Best Inexpensive Earbuds forYou?

    You shouldn’t look just at prices. 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 solid pair of earbuds that will last longer with high-quality audio comparable to more expensive models.

    Audio quality

    You can get an ideal pair of earbuds with quality audio for 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 wireless 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. Some of the models on our list last much longer. And we know because we tested them in real-life scenarios.


    For comfort, look for memory-foam eartips. They change the shape to fit your ear canal when they warm up and fit all 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

    Water protection is measured with the IPX rating. The higher the rating, the better. Many durable earbuds come with an IPX6 or higher. You can safely use these for sports, in the rain, and even wash them under a tap. See the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones for more options.

    Generally, cheap earphones are not fragile, but you shouldn’t expect them to be as durable as an expensive pair. Cheaper plastic does break sooner.

    Active Noise Cancellation

    Active noise cancelling (ANC) is rare in budget earphones. And if present, it often doesn’t work that well. If you’re looking for effective active noise reduction, I’d advise you to increase your budget and get one of the best ANC earbuds instead.

    The best you can hope for, in my experience, is solid passive noise isolation. Check our reviews for noise isolation test charts to see which earbuds reduce the most noise.

    Related alternative: The best budget noise cancelling headphones

    Value for money: Are they worth it?

    value-for-money sticker

    For casual users who don’t need top-performing headphones, cheap wireless earbuds are absolutely worth it.

    But demanding users who expect top-of-the-line performance in any category should look at more expensive options instead.

    What about brands? 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.

    If you want Bluetooth earbuds at a specific price:

    Earbuds We Considered That Didn’t Make The List

    • Strauss & Wagner EM205: Decent-sounding in-ear monitors with Sonic9Score of 3.5. Overall, they’re solid, but others on the list are better.
    • Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120: Great dirt-cheap wired earbuds under $10. But wired options on the list are much better for a small price increase.
    • Aukey EP-T32: Cheap wireless earbuds for working out that are a bit outdated today.
    • Aukey EP-T21: True wireless earbuds with a similar design to Apple AirPods Pro for a dirt-cheap price. The alternatives on the list are better.
    • Sony MDR-XB50AP: Older bass-heavy wired earphones with an inline remote that are hard to get.
    • Tin Audio T2: These are fantastic double-driver cheap wired earbuds, but the wired models on the list are better.
    • Jlab Audio Jbuds Air: Solid true wireless earbuds at the time, now surpassed by models on the list.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Are cheap wireless earbuds any good?

    You can get decent true wireless earbuds for $50. You don’t get the latest and best technology, but close enough. You can expect around 70 – 80% of performance of the best headphones.

    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 the latest Bluetooth, tap controls, decent call quality, and sound.

    Are cheap earbuds safe?

    Yes, budget wireless earbuds are perfectly safe to use. Bluetooth chips and batteries inside are manufactured to the same safety standards as with more expensive buds.


    The best cheap wireless earbuds for most people are the TOZO NC7.

    • #1 Best Budget Earbuds

    If you pick any earbuds from our list, we’d love to know which ones you picked and why.

    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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