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8 Best Headphones under $20

Last updated: 7 months ago
7 min read

What headphones can 20 dollars get you today? Better than you might think…

Rating Price Connection Type Mic & Controls More info
Koss UR-20 Best overall
Koss UR-20
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
Behringer HPS3000 Runner-up
Behringer HPS3000
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
KZ ZST Best in-ear
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
In-ear, closed-back
Sony WI-C310 Best wireless
Sony WI-C310
Under $20
Bluetooth 5.0
Koss KSC75 Best on-ear
Koss KSC75
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
On-ear, open-back
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
In-ear, closed-back

Note: Sometimes the prices might jump above $20 due to market fluctuations. Wait a little time to see if the price drops again. If headphones increase in price permanently, we’ll replace them.

If it makes you happy when you get a decent, functional product for a dirt-cheap price, then read on.

Here are the best headphones for less than $20 among the over-ear, in-ear, and on-ear designs. No decent wireless option exists right now.

While these models aren’t really “the best” at anything in any category except price, they are solid choices for a user on a budget. And if the budget is $20, solid is impressive.

In case you’re looking for headphones for slightly more money you can check more budget guides below.

Table of Contents

    Check other related guides:

    Best headphones under $30

    Best earbuds under $30

    Best wireless under $30

    The Best Headphones under $20

    1. Koss UR-20

    1st-place Best overall
    Koss UR-20

    Koss UR-20 are the best headphones under $20, because of their high comfort and decent build quality.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 30-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable length: 8 feet (2.4m) | Features: /
    • Balanced sound with slightly a boosted bass
    • Lightweight and comfortable
    • Dirt-cheap
    • Bulky, plastic construction

    The sound they produce is pretty good. The frequency response is somewhat balanced, with bass being slightly enhanced. Although, listening at high volume can make it a little muddy.

    They are most suitable for listening to calmer music. But you can also enjoy your favorite rock and pop.

    Their main advantage is comfort. They have large and soft earpads that fit around most ears. Also, the headband design is quite flexible which makes them super comfy for many hours.

    Their durability is decent, considering the price range. Although they’re made entirely out of plastic, they hold up well to everyday use.

    2. Behringer HPS3000

    2nd-place Runner-up
    Behringer HPS3000

    The Behringer closed-back headphones are another high-quality budget over-ears with high durability and pleasing sound.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 64 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 6.5 feet (2m) | Features: /
    • Dirt-cheap
    • Excellent sound for the price
    • Good durability
    • Lightweight and comfortable
    • They can start rattling when listening to bassy music
    • Not very portable

    They offer a slightly V-shaped sound signature, with highly defined bass response and transparent highs. Perfect for anyone that likes to get extra motivated with energetic music. The sound is also suitable for working in a studio because of the ample amount of details (considering the price range).

    Despite their bulky design, they are lightweight and offer a comfortable fit for most people. The oval-shaped ear cups are big enough to fit all ears. Wearing them for a long time is no problem at all.

    The cable is tangle-free. Also, because of their secure fit and materials, noise isolation is better than with most sub-$20 headphones. These can serve you for a long time at home or on the go listening.

    3. KZ ZST

    earbud Best in-ear
    KZ ZST in-ear monitor

    KZ ZST are the best earbuds that are far better than what you’d expect for $20.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes (Optional) | Weight: 0.85 oz (24g) | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Cable length: 47.2 inch (1.2m) | Features: Detachable cable, 1 Dynamic + 1 BA
    • Amazing value
    • Great sound
    • Removable cable
    • Comfortable fit
    • All-plastic construction

    Their V-shaped sound signature makes any music genre pleasing and is especially great for listening to modern music. Bass is punchy and detailed and gives enough power to all of your favorite tunes.

    Their sound can be compared to more expensive earbuds and you can improve it with memory-foam ear tips.

    These can easily compare to the best earbuds under $50.

    Although they are entirely plastic, they are built well for everyday use. Also, they have a detachable cable, which always comes in handy.

    That is why they are quite durable. With the right ear tips, you get long comfort and great noise isolation. You can even use them as sports earphones if you want to.

    Even though the earbuds aren’t sweatproof, you can use them as sports headphones. Because of the memory wire, you can put around your ears. They have a convenient in-line mic and remote control, which is a bonus at this price point.

    KZ ZST review

    4. Sony WI-C310

    wireless Best wireless
    Sony WI-C310 in the blue background

    Best earbuds for commuting with the wireless connection.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 9mm neodymium driver
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Wireless in-ear | Battery life: 15h | Wireless range: 30ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 3h – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: Neckband design
    • Good sound quality
    • USB-C charging port
    • Long battery life
    • Cheap-feeling control module

    9mm neodymium drivers output a bassy sound signature that ensures a perfect listening experience for genres like hip hop.

    Overall, the sound quality is quite decent for long listening sessions with your favorite tunes.

    Sony makes so good audio products, and WI-C310 are one of the best sport earphones for outdoor activities and commuting. At least in this price bracket.

    Neckband is flexible and it houses control module with basic playback controls.

    Sony WI-C310 wireless earbuds come with 15-hour battery life, and a USB type C charging port.

    More budget headphones:

    Best cheap earbuds (between $10 & $50)

    Best cheap headphones (between $10 & $50)

    Best headphones under $30

    Best headphones under $50

    5. Koss KSC75

    trophy Best on-ear
    Koss KSC75

    Koss KSC75 are the best headphones under $20 with on-ear design. Although they don’t look like much, they will surprise you.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 15-25.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 60 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: Ear hooks
    • Comfortable, lightweight design
    • Great stability thanks to ear hooks
    • Excellent, balanced sound that exceeds the price
    • No inline controls
    • Not the most durable

    The frequency response they provide is somewhat balanced with a strong bass response and forward midrange. Their sound can easily be compared to more expensive headphones. They’re popular among audiophiles for years.

    These are appropriate for almost every music genre. Although their bass is loud and clear, don’t expect too much of a bounce if you’re a basshead.

    KSC75 are lightweight and don’t bother the earlobes, even if you’re wearing them for a long time. Because of their ear hook design, you can also use them for cardio workouts. Due to the ear hooks, they provide a secure fit.

    In spite of them not being waterproof, they can survive most of your sweaty workouts.

    Koss KSC75 review

    See the best workout headphones.

    6. Panasonic RP-HT161-K

    Panasonic RP-HT161

    Panasonic RP-HT161-K are classic-style over-ear pair of headphones under $20. With their lightweight design and decent sound quality, they won’t let you down.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 30mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-27.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: n/a | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 6.5 feet (2m) | Features: /
    • Lightweight
    • Decent sound with deep bass
    • Users with bigger ears might find them uncomfortable

    Their sound is balanced. The bass is deep, but it fits nicely with all other ranges. These are generally OK to listen to all music genres. They cost less than 20 bucks after all.

    But they’re not as strong as the best bass headphones.

    The best thing about them is their extra-long cord. It comes especially handy while playing games or dancing to your favorite songs.

    Because of their lightweight design, they are comfy to wear. Soft ear cushions surround the entire ear and isolate most of the ambient noise. Also, their lifespan can be quite long with some care.

    Their main advantage is their long cable. Otherwise, the Panasonic RP-HT161-K are made for casual home use with a loud sound, comfy design, and an unbeatable price.

    7. Vogek On-Ear Headphones

    Vogek on-ear headphones

    These pair of headphones come in many colors and are an excellent companion for enjoying music or taking calls on the go.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-22.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: 5.1 oz (145g) | Cable lenght: 47 inch (1.2m) | Features: Foldable
    • Useful extra features
    • Clear sound with a balanced frequency response
    • Not for users with bigger heads

    They produce a clear frequency response. It’s somewhat balanced, perfect for softer genres, like classical music or country ballads but can also provide substantial bass oomph when needed.

    What makes them stand out is the portable design. You can fold them and store them safely in your room or take them with you. They offer quite a comfortable fit with a great sound seal. This minimizes outside noise so you can hear the music better.

    The best noise cancelling earbuds remove most of the noise.

    They also have an in-line remote control for managing tracks and a microphone for phone calls.

    Vogek stereo headphones are suitable for anyone, who is looking for cheap, comfy on-ear headphones with remote and microphone. They’re also ideal for children and teenagers, because of fun colorful design and a sound quality with strong bass.

    8. KZ ATE

    KZ ATE wired buds on fence

    Quite an impressive sound quality for a dirt-cheap pair of earbuds.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8.2mm (Balanced armature)
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 15-29.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Mic only | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Weight: 0.04lbs (19g) | Cable lenght: 49 inch (125cm) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Capable bass (perfect for bassheads)
    • Cheap
    • Lightweight
    • Some cable noise
    • Unusual fit

    The audio quality surpasses their price tag. The focus is on the bass, but there’s enough detail in the mids and treble to compensate for the low-end rumble. That makes them one of the best bass earbuds.

    Sibilance is present, but not overly so.

    You have to make sure you wear these with the wire going behind your ear. Otherwise, you don’t get the necessary comfort and fit.

    Already included foam ear tips provide comfortable fit and passive isolation. They also increase the bass and make it warmer.

    You can choose between 2 models: either with or without the in-line remote control. You gain support for music controls, as well as answering phone calls.

    KZ ATE review

    What Can You Expect from $20 Headphones?

    20 dollars is very little money, and it’s surprising you can actually get headphones for such a low price.

    Now, because the price is on the low-end, you have to expect cheaper build quality.

    Better materials cost more money. So due to low price, audio devices are mostly made of plastics which can crack or deform. Take good care of them if you want them to last at least a couple of years.

    Also, cheap headphones often come with basic functionality. An in-line mic and remote control are more of a bonus than a standard feature. Usually is just a wire with a headphone jack.

    Rare wireless headphones at this price point have good battery capacity or the latest Bluetooth version (like Bluetooth 5.0). It means you’ll get less music per single charge and you might experience more signal disruptions.

    You get the very basic wireless functionality, and almost every audio device uses Micro-USB. That is why you don’t see many Bluetooth headphones or wireless earbuds in “best under $20” guides.

    The last but not least, most cheap headphones have mediocre quality audio. It doesn’t mean it’s terrible, but you can’t expect a Hi-Fi sound experience. Headphones with great sound usually cost more than $20, but it doesn’t necessarily mean expensive headphones sound better.

    Some of you have been asking if there are noise-cancelling headphones under $20. The answer is no. Noise cancellation costs more to manufacture and doesn’t fit in this price range. You have to pay more money for decent ANC cans (check our guide for best budget noise cancelling headphones).

    But maybe you’re just confusing cancellation with noise isolation?

    Why do Headphones Die?

    Build quality varies from model to model, but this problem isn’t only focused on cheap headphones. Every electronic device dies eventually, either by itself or because something broke inside of them.

    While you can’t prevent the first thing from happening, you can however try to handle your headphones with care. Knowing what are the most common causes for headphones to die will make you more aware of not repeating the same mistakes.

    Damaging the cord

    More and more manufacturers are going wireless, but if you’re buying headphones under $20, they’re most certainly wired.

    Of course, wires are the most vanurable part of any headphone, especially if they’re fixed. Many accidents can happen to them, like:

    • Pulling the cable instead of the plug. Especially with cheap wires, the connection between the wire and the plug isn’t always rock-solid. Therefore it’s safer that you unplug your headphones by grabbing on the plug instead of pulling the wire.
    • Running them over with your chair. They might not die the first time you do that, but better don’t try out your luck.
    • Pulling the cable too hard. It’s a common situation when you forget you’re wearing headphones on your head and you quickly stand up. Consequently, the cable pulls a headphone off your head and slams it on the floor.
    • Bending or tightening a cable. A bit of bending isn’t an issue, however, trying to make a knot so they can fit in a small carrying case can break the wire. Inside the cable, there are small, fragile wires. If you bend them too much it will break quite easily.

    Liquid damage

    While most wireless earbuds and headphones have some level of water protection, the majority of wired ones lack the resistance.

    You can’t always predict the situation. You can walk outside and heavy rain starts pouring. You would need at least IPX4 rating for your headphones to survive that.

    Not only that, you might accidentally leave your headphones in your sweaty clothes after an intense workout. Or you might’ve been storing them in a moist environment without you knowing.

    As we all know, liquids and electronics don’t mix that well together. So don’t be surprised if you headphones all the suddenly stopped working.

    Of course, there are exceptions. Once we accidentally wash our earbuds in a washing machine. All that we needed to do to bring them back alive is to blast them on high volume for a short amount of time.

    Check the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones for more options.

    Extreme loudness

    Which brings us to another cause of why your headphones stopped working.

    Every speaker is rated for maximum power output. Playing your headphones loud isn’t that big of an issue if you stay below the recommended power input.

    Normally, a smartphone isn’t going to kill off your headphones. However, if you have a dedicated amp, that power is easily reachable.

    What happens is that a tiny copper coil, that in conjuction with the magnet creates electromagnetic field, overheats and melts. If that happens, it can’t create magnetic field anymore.