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8 Best Headphones under $20

Last updated: 2 months ago
8 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
4.3
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
crosscross
Behringer HPS3000 Runner-up
Behringer HPS3000
4.2
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
crosscross
KZ ZST Best in-ear
KZ ZST
4.4
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
In-ear, closed-back
crosscross
Sony WI-C310 Best wireless
Sony WI-C310
4.3
Under $20
Bluetooth 5.0
In-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
Koss KSC75 Best on-ear
Koss KSC75
4.3
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
On-ear, open-back
crosscross
4.3
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
crosscross
4.5
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
Over-ear, closed-back
checkmarkcheckmark
4.4
Under $20
Wired – 3.5mm
On-ear, closed-back
crosscross

In this guide, we collect decent, functional products for a dirt-cheap price.

Here are the best headphones for less than $20 among the over-ear, in-ear, and on-ear designs.

While these models aren’t going to blow you out of your socks, they still offer a great value for their price. They’re a solid choice 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.

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.

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 these over-ear headphones produce is pretty good. The frequency response is somewhat balanced, with 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.

    2. Behringer HPS3000

    2nd-place Runner-up
    Behringer HPS3000

    The Behringer over-ear 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 a 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 over-ear headphones 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 an especially great choice for listening to modern music. Bass is punchy and detailed and gives enough power to all of your favorite tunes.

    Their audio quality 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 isolation from background noise. You can even have them for sports use.

    Even though the in-ears aren’t sweatproof, you can use them as sports headphones. Because of the memory wire, you can put them around your ears. That also helps with cable noise.

    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 Bluetooth connectivity.

    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 bass-heavy 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 cheap wireless earbuds are one of the best sport earphones for outdoor activities and commuting. At least in this price bracket.

    The neckband is flexible and houses a built-in microphone and a control module with basic playback and music controls.

    Sony WI-C310 wireless headphones come with a 15-hour battery life on a full charge, 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 an 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 well-balanced with a strong bass response and forward mid-range. Their sound quality 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 sound 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 quality 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, even if you wear glasses. 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

    This great 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 a remote and microphone.

    They’re also ideal for children and teenagers, because of their fun colorful design and sound quality with strong bass.

    8. Tascam TH-02

    Tascam TH-02

    Bass-heavy on-ears and our top pick for 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.

    Honorable Mentions

    KZ ATE – Quite an impressive sound quality for a dirt-cheap pair of earbuds. Already included foam ear tips provide a comfortable fit and passive isolation. They’re also one of the best bass earbuds. (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. 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 true wireless 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 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 most certainly have a wired design.

    Of course, wires are the most vulnerable 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 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 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

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