Skip to main content

10 Best Headphones under $20

Last updated: 6 months ago
8 min read

After testing 193 headphones, these are the best headphones for 20 dollars.

They’re better than you think…

P.S. Many of the listed headphones have recently increased in price due to market conditions. They may cost slightly above $20.

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.

Read more Price Connection Type Mic & Controls
Koss UR-20 Best overall
Koss UR-20
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
crosscross
Behringer HPS3000 Runner-up
Behringer HPS3000
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
crosscross
CCA LYRA Best in-ear
CCA LYRA
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
In-ear, closed-back
Optional
Jlab Go Air Pop Best true wireless
Jlab Go Air Pop True Wireless Earbuds
Under $20
Bluetooth 5.1
True wireless
checkmarkcheckmark
Sony MDR-ZX110 Best on-ear
Sony MDR-ZX110 wired headphones
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
On-ear, closed-back
checkmarkcheckmark
Tascam TH-02 Best for bass
Tascam TH-02
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
On-ear, closed-back
crosscross

All earbuds on our list are evaluated based on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score).  The main criteria we looked at to pick the top models is their overall performance with a focus on sound quality, build quality, and comfort. See our testing and ranking methodology.

In this guide, we collected the best headphones for a dirt-cheap price.

Here are the best headphones for less than $20 for ultimate cheapskates.

While these models aren’t going to blow you out of your socks, they still offer great value for their price. They’re a solid choice for most users on a budget. And if your budget is $20, solid is impressive.

For more options, see the best headphones under $30, earbuds under $30, and wireless earphones under $30.

Note: Sometimes, prices 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.

CONTENTS (show more)

    Best Headphones under $20

    1. Koss UR-20

    1st-place Best Headphones under $20
    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 these over-ear headphones produce is pretty good. The frequency response is somewhat balanced, with the low-end being slightly enhanced. Although, listening at high volumes can make it a little muddy.

    They are most suitable for listening to calmer music. But they’re also a good choice to enjoy your favorite rock and pop.

    Their main advantage is comfort. Over-ear headphones 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.

    Runner-Up

    2. Behringer HPS3000

    2nd-place Runner-Ups
    Behringer HPS3000

    The Behringer HPS3000 over-ear headphones are a high-quality budget model with high durability and pleasing sound for the price.

    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 a highly defined bass response and transparent highs. Perfect for anyone who likes 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 an extremely 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 over-ear headphones can serve you for a long time at home or on the go listening.

    Best Wired In-Ear Headphones under $20

    3. CCA LYRA

    wired Best In-Ear Monitors under $20
    CCA LYRA earbuds

    CCA LYRA are the best in-ear monitors under $20 we’ve tested. These are far better than what you’d expect for $20 – CCA LYRA review.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Optional | Impedance: 28 Ohm | Weight: 0.2 oz (5.5 g) per earbud | Cable lenght: 47.2 inch (120cm) | Surround sound: No | Features: Detachable cable
    • Superb sound quality (for the price)
    • Excellent stability due to over-the-ear cable
    • Detachable cable
    • Minimal microphonics
    • Good comfort …
    • … but not for all ears due to strange design
    • Slightly cheap-feeling cable

    Hear the CCA LYRA A/B Sound Test:

    CCA LYRA Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    CCA LYRA’s sound is why they’ve earned their spot in this guide. The sound quality is outstanding for the price, with good detail, clarity, and well-balanced tuning.

    Due to the over-the-ear cable, earbuds ensure excellent stability even if you shake your head a lot. They can be comfy, too, although some might disagree due to the strange design.

    Staying with the cable, it’s of decent quality and can be replaced with a third-party option using 2pin connectors.

    To add a cool factor, LYRA’s housing is fully transparent, so you can clearly see the single dynamic driver inside.

    Best True Wireless Headphones under $20

    4. Jlab Go Air Pop True Wireless Earbuds

    true-wireless Best True Wireless under $20
    JLab Go Air Pop on a rock

    Jlab Go Air Pop are the best true wireless headphones we’ve tested. Thanks to reliable Bluetooth connectivity and solid sound quality – Jlab Go Air Pop 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: 8h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: USB-A (integrated cable) | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: 3 EQ profiles, touch controls
    • Good sound quality
    • 3 EQ presets
    • Stable fit
    • 2 year warranty
    • Call quality
    • Audio delay when watching videos

    The Go Air Pop Bluetooth headphones focus on the general public, offering punchy lows and sparkly highs. Thankfully, the midrange stays balanced and with naturally presented musical instruments.

    The great thing is that you can further boost the bass by toggling to Bass boost EQ profile or tone the lows down by picking the Balanced preset.

    Earbuds have a small form factor and fit comfortably in your ear canal. They don’t poke into your earlobes so that you can wear them for long listening sessions. Furthermore, music controls are touch-sensitive.

    Bluetooth technology also means the buds run on batteries. The runtime is quite impressive, clocking at eight hours on a single charge, with an additional 24 hours stored in the charging case. The USB cable is fixed to the case.

    Jlab earbuds are suitable for exercising as well, providing an IPX4 rating.

    Jlab Go Air Pop review

    More budget headphones:

    Best On-Ear Headphones under $20

    5. Sony MDR-ZX110

    dollar Best On-Ear Headphones under $20
    Sony MDR-ZX110 on a tree

    For a great pair of on-ear headphones, Sony MDR-ZX110 are the best we’ve tested. At a dirt-cheap price, they’re an excellent companion for music on the go – Sony MDR-ZX110 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 30mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 12-22.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: 24 Ohm | Weight: 4.2 oz (120g) | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: Foldable
    • Great sound for the price
    • Inexpensive
    • Foldable, travel-friendly design
    • No inline controls
    • Cheap build quality

    Hear the Sony MDR-ZX110 A/B Sound Test:

    Sony MDR-ZX110 Sound Quality Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Sony MDR-ZX110 are affordable headphones that usually sell for $10, making their sound so much more impressive.

    It’s no audiophile nirvana, but for the price, you get a good bass rendition, natural mids, and a relatively balanced treble. Unfortunately, soundstage and imaging are nothing to write home about.

    Headphones are very lightweight (and plasticky), so you barely feel them on your head. And that’s despite their on-ear design.

    Stability is good, even if you’re running with them, although earpads will heat your ears pretty quickly.

    The MDR-ZX110 even fold inwards to save some space in your backpack. However, the folding mechanism doesn’t look very durable.

    For $20, you can get the version with a built-in microphone for making phone calls in inline controls.

    Best Headphones under $20 for Bass

    6. Tascam TH-02

    dollar Best Bassy Headphones under $20
    Tascam TH-02

    Tascam TH-02 are perfect bass-heavy over-ear headphones for bass lovers. They have above-average passive noise isolation.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 18-22.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 9.8 feet (3m) | Features: /
    • Big, bassy sound
    • Great passive noise isolation
    • Cheap build
    • Not the most comfortable

    The thing that stands out the most is their weighty bass response. In general, these are pretty W-shaped, with everything slightly boosted to appear more present and upfront.

    However, the TH-02 can also introduce some sibilance in the higher frequencies, especially on poorly mastered tracks. At least the soundstage is fairly big for a closed-back headphone.

    These headphones are made with portability in mind. They can fold inward to make extra room in your backpack.

    Earpads sit on your ears and are relatively shallow, which isn’t the best for long-term comfort. Still, headphones can create a good seal, ensuring great passive isolation.

    Other Models Worth Considering

    7. KZ ATE

    KZ ATE in-ear monitors

    Quite an impressive sound quality for a dirt-cheap pair of earbuds. Already included foam ear tips provide good passive isolation and feel comfortable. They’re also one of the best bass earbuds.

    KZ ATE review

    8. KZ ZST

    KZ ZST in-ear monitor

    Their audio quality can be compared to more expensive earbuds, and you can improve it with differently sized memory-foam ear tips. These can easily compare to the best earbuds under $50.

    KZ ZST review

    9. Koss KSC75

    Koss KSC75

    KSC75 are on-ear headphones with a well-balanced but strong bass response. Their sound quality can be compared to more expensive headphones and are appropriate for all music genres. Because of their ear hook design, you can use them for workouts.

    Check Koss KSC75 price

    10. Panasonic RP-HT161-K

    Panasonic RP-HT161

    Panasonic RP-HT161-K are classic over-ear headphones under $20. With a lightweight design and decent sound quality, they don’t disappoint. These are generally good for listening to all music genres. The best thing is their extra-long cord. Because of their lightweight design, they are comfy, even if you wear glasses. They’re perfect for casual home use at an unbeatable price.

    Check Panasonic RP-HT161-K price

    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. Here’s everything you can expect from headphones at this affordable price range.

    1. Cheaper build quality

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

    1. 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. No touch controls either.

    1. Average battery capacity or the last-gen 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 TWS earbuds in “best under $20” guides.

    1. Cheaper headphones have mediocre audio quality

    It doesn’t mean that the overall quality is 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.

    1. No fancy features like active noise cancellation

    Don’t expect feature-packed headphones under $20. Noise cancelling tech 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 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 most certainly have a wired design.

    Of course, wires are the most vulnerable part of any headphones, 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, they will break quite easily.

    Liquid damage

    While most wireless earbuds and headphones have some level of water protection, the majority of wired ones aren’t water-resistant.

    • Rain or you heavily sweat during a workout. You would need at least an IPX4 rating for your headphones to survive that.
    • Keeping your headphones in a moist environment. You can accidentally leave your headphones in your sweaty clothes after an intense workout. And as we all know, liquids and electronics don’t mix that well together.
    JBL Reflect Mini NC waterproof
    Not a lot of headphones are fully submersible.

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

    Check the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones for more options.

    Extreme loudness

    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, in conjunction with the magnet, creates an electromagnetic field, overheats, and melts. If that happens, it can’t create a magnetic field anymore.

    Why Trust HeadphonesAddict?

    At HeadphonesAddict, we provide honest headphone tests through a rigorous methodology and a transparent process. See how we test here. We put a lot of effort into personally testing and measuring each pair so we can make educated recommendations.

    When choosing the best headphones under $20, we looked at their overall performance with focus on sound quality, build quality, and comfort.

    More reasons to trust us:

    • We test headphones ourselves on 9 key points (less for wired models).
    • We measure frequency responses, ANC, passive isolation, compare EQ presets, and battery life.
    • We don’t take money for tests and reviews.
    • We don’t delete or edit “bad reviews.” Even when brands ask us to. If the headphones sound bad or have other faults, we tell you without embellishment.

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *