The Best Headphones Under $50 in 2023
The budget headphone market is teeming with hidden gems but it also has tons of duds. Picking the best headphones under $50 is next to impossible since new models that sound great are coming out all the time.
But it is possible to pick the best headphones under $50 at this moment. That’s what this list is all about. The best budget headphones you can get right now. We have wireless and wired models, over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear choices, pairs that are great for music listening but also models that can be used for movies and games, not just as music companions. Below you can find the best headphones under $50 you can buy right now.
- Form Factor: Over-Ear
- Connection: Wired
- Microphone: No
Audio Technica’s M line is a popular series of studio headphones and the ATH-M20x is its budget member. Despite their low price, these headphones sound pretty good. The sound signature is relatively flat, with a bit lower high end. This produces a neutral sound that some may found boring but that presents all elements in equal measure.
When it comes to the build quality, the ATH-M20x are pretty well built for the money. They are made of plastic but are firm to touch and look durable. Ear cups are comfortable and there’s lots of padding on the headband allowing users to wear these headphones for hours without getting uncomfortable.
Overall, the ATH-M20x is a great pair of headphones that can be yours for under $50. They offer a neutral sound signature, are pretty comfortable, and have solid built quality. On the other hand, their sound signature won’t amaze casual listeners and the passive noise isolation isn’t the greatest. We can’t recommend using these outside.
- Neutral Sound Will Satisfy Purists
- Well Built
- Aren’t Made For Outside Use
- Sound Won’t Impress Casual Listeners
Sony Wireless Headphones WH-CH510
Extremely Affordable Wireless Headphones With Solid Sound
- Form Factor: On-Ear
- Connection: Wireless
- Battery Life: 35 Hours
- Microphone: Yes
The WH-CH510 from Sony are wireless on-ear headphones with incredibly low price. For the price, you get an excellent, fun sound signature that has booming bass but also pretty solid highs. Mid frequencies aren’t great and can be suppressed. But overall, the sound is great for the price.
On the other hand, build quality is below par. These headphones are flimsy and not very portable. They cannot be folded, don’t have a carrying case, and look cheap. On-ear design means very poor noise isolation and less than satisfying comfort. These will cause fatigue after a few hours of usage. Bluetooth 5 connection works great. It’s stable and without noticeable sound lag.
Headphones come with a usable microphone and a set of playback controls that are easy to use when wearing them. Finally, these headphones have 35 hours of playtime, which is incredible for a pair of headphones this cheap. While the charging port is USB-C (another major plus) these headphones don’t offer a 3.5mm audio jack to use them when the battery dies.
- Excellent Sound Quality For The Price
- Ultra-Long Battery Life
- USB-C Charging Port
- Bluetooth 5 Means No Sound Lag
- Flimsy Build Quality
- Not Comfortable For Long Listening Sessions
- Poor Sound Isolation
- No 3.5mm Jack
JBL Tune 510BT
Great Over-Ear Headphones for Cheap
- Bluetooth 5
- 40 hours battery life
- USB-C port
JBL is a well-known brand when it comes to headphones and speakers that make different devices in a very wide price category. If you are looking for a budget pair of over-ear headphones that can work well wirelessly then the JBL Tune 510BT is perfect for you.
These headphones have Bluetooth 5 therefore have a reliable connection and can even be paired to 2 devices and switch between them on the go. The battery will last you for about 40 hours and since the charging port is a USB-C any cable from around your house will do the job of charging this device.
The JBL Tune 510BT also has controls on the ear cup to make it easier to adjust volume, switch tracks, and use your voice assistant. In terms of sound, the headphones are quite bassy and fun to listen to if you are not a very analytical listener. The fit is decent and the build quality is solid for the price you are paying. A solid purchase!
- Decent sound quality
- Bluetooth 5 offers you a stable connection
- Good price to value ratio
- Over-ear headphones might not necessarily be the most comfortable choice for certain people as they apply pressure on the ears themselves
Tiny Wireless IEMs
- Bluetooth 5
- 12 hours battery life
- Auto-connect feature
A lot of the time we listen to music on the go and the pair of headphones we end up choosing is based on how small and easy they are to carry, and how well they can isolate the sound around us so we can comfortably enjoy our music.
The Skullcandy Dime is small and easy to carry as their name implies while also being good at isolating sound through their silicon tips. Like a lot of the new wireless buds, the Dime has an auto-connect feature and you can use either bud to listen to music for when you want one ear to be free.
The Dime has 12 hours of total battery life while using Bluetooth 5 for a stable connection. These are also pretty good workout buds too since they have an IPX4 rating and can repel water and sweat.
- Small and very portable
- Comes with a carrying/charging case to keep your buds going all the time
- Decent features for a very good price
- Not the best battery life by comparison
- The reliability of the auto-connect feature greatly depends on the device you are using
Anker Life A1
Premium Buds for Budget Price
- Bluetooth 5
- 35 hours battery life
- Wireless charging/Fast charging
Premium wireless buds can cost quite a bit but that is not the case with the Anker Life A1 since you can get them for under 50$. These buds use Bluetooth 5 and have a 9-hour playtime on one charge. The case of the Life A1 holds 35 hours of playtime so you can use the buds for a whole week of normal listening without charging it.
Charging will not be an issue as the case of the Life A1 has fast charging and allows you to charge the buds in 10 minutes for a 1.5h listening time. The Anker buds are also IPX7 waterproof rated therefore can be used for sports as well.
The case uses a USB-C cable and can even be charged wirelessly therefore there are few premium features that are lacking from this device.
- Comfortable fit
- 9h playtime and 35h charge in the carrying case
- IPX7 rating makes the buds more durable
- The carrying case is quite big
Sennheiser CX 300S
The Best In-Ear Headphones Under $50
- Form Factor: In-Ear
- Connection: Wired
- Microphone: Yes
The CX 300S is a pair of affordable in-ear headphones from Sennheiser. The sound signature features slightly emphasized bass, clear mids, and notable highs that never get too sharp. Overall, not really for fun listens but clear and with plenty of details, not often found on budget headphones.
Built quality is excellent, like is the case with most Sennheiser headphones, no matter the price. You get eartips in four sizes and a nice-looking carrying case. The cable is 4ft (1.2m) long and looks sturdy.
Headphones look solid and like they can take a daily beating while being carried in a packed backpack. As for playback controls, these only come with one button for pausing songs and answering and ending phone calls. The built-in microphone is adequate for regular calls. It might not be enough when in crowded spaces though.
The passive noise isolation is great. It can cover most of the outside noise, especially once the music starts. Overall, the Sennheiser CX 300S are excellent budget in-ear headphones that offer excellent sound and pretty good passive noise isolation. They are also comfortable to wear and come with a microphone for taking calls while listening to music.
- Excellent Sound
- Sturdy Build
- Great Passive Noise Isolation
- Sound Is Not For Bass Lovers
- No Playback Controls
How To Choose Headphones Under $50
When you’re in the market for a pair of quality budget headphones you may be overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices. There are hundreds of budget headphones out there. Many of those budget models don’t offer a set of features compelling enough to pick them over budget favorites.
Luckily, there are enough quality budget headphones to allow everyone to find exactly what they’re needing, except if you want great active noise cancellation (ANC). You have to pay premium for that. Everything else can be found on the budget headphone market. Great sound. Excellent build quality. Long battery. Solid microphone for phone calls. Wireless design. You name it, aside from solid ANC.
Let’s talk about the most important points everyone should focus on when they’re looking for the next pair of budget headphones.
Sound Signature and Soundstage
There are plenty of different sound signatures. Studio headphones tend to flatten the sound, making for a neutral sound signature. Many find the sound boring, but neutral sound signature is great for critical listening, like when mastering new music in a studio.
Bassy sound (V-shaped) signature is the most popular sound signature in headphones. It features increased bass frequencies and these headphones are usually fun to listen to. But too much bass can be detrimental, it can choke the sound and erase small details in the music. This can happen when using gaming speakers. They are great for games and movies but tend to drown music in low frequencies.
In the end, it all comes down to your preferences. This is why it’s best if you can test headphones in person before buying them. But, in general, sound signature with clear mids and highs along with slightly increased and clear bass is great for most users. And yes, even budget headphones can deliver pretty solid sound.
Soundstage represents a headphones’ ability to reproduce spatial details. For instance, headphones with a wide soundstage can emulate the spatial presence of different instruments. You can feel that, for instance, guitar sounds are coming from left and right and that drums are in the middle. Over-ear and especially open-back headphones have the widest soundstage.
On-ear and in-ear models don’t have wide soundstage since they cannot bounce the sound around your ears, or outside your ears like open-back headphones. But still, even a narrow soundstage is okay if the sound quality is great.
What To Look For In Wireless Headphones
Wireless headphones are slowly starting to dominate the mainstream headphones market. Audiophile and studio headphones are still resisting, but every other niche gives way for wireless headphones. If you’re into budget wireless headphones, these are the thing to watch for:
Battery Life – probably the most important part of wireless headphones. You want battery life long enough for headphones to last you during your regular day of usage. If you’re a heavy commuter and want to use headphones while working, you probably need a pair with at least 12 hours of battery life.
If you need headphones to use in the office, look for over-ear models or a pair of true wireless headphones that come with a charging case. Over-ear headphones offer the best battery life while the true wireless headphones can be usually charged enough for multiple hours of playback during a coffee or lunch break.
Included Cable – If your pair of wireless headphones come with a detachable cable battery life becomes less important. You can carry the cable with you and then simply attach it and continue using the headphones even after their battery dies. This works with on-ear and over-ear headphones. If you need a pair of in-ear headphones it’s best to find a pair of true wireless ones that come with a charging case.
Sound lag – Some wireless headphones have a noticeable audio lag when watching videos. If you use headphones only for music, podcasts, audio-only content in general, don’t worry about it. But if you plan on playing games, watching movies or YouTube, read professional and user reviews and look whether they’re mentioning sound lag.
What To Look For In Wired Headphones
Wired headphones are still quite popular despite the surge in popularity of their wireless cousins. They are great for home, office, or anywhere where you don’t care about the cable getting in your way. These are the things to look for in wired headphones:
Cable Length – If you’re after a pair of wired headphones, look for the length of the cable. Too short and you might tear them off each time you make a sudden move. The cable should be on the longer side, at least a couple of meters.
Open Back vs Closed-Back – Open-back headphones have zero noise isolation since their drivers aren’t enclosed. This isn’t great for when you’re outside but if you plan on using the headphones in your home, open-back headphones can be a good choice. They have zero isolation but wider soundstage and allow you to know what’s going on around you.
Closed-back headphones have their drivers enclosed inside the headphone. They offer passive noise isolation and are great for commuting and listening to music outside. But they have a narrow soundstage and can be uncomfortable to wear during summertime.
Don’t Ignore Build Quality
Budget, sub $50 headphones don’t need to have flimsy build quality. If you’re in the market for a budget pair of headphones don’t settle for the average build. There are headphones out there with a pretty good build quality that also sound great.
Do You Need Headphones For Music Or For Mixed Usage?
If you only plan to use headphones for listening to, you don’t need to worry about extra features such as the presence of a microphone. Just find a pair with the sound signature shaped to your liking and be done with it. But if you do plan on using the headphones for games and movies, or with your smartphone while outside, some options can be really helpful.
A solid microphone is great in case you want to play games or use headphones with your phone. Next, headphones with booming bass that still sound great when listening to music are an excellent choice for multipurpose headphones. Their bassy sound is great for movies and games but the sound is not overwhelmed by low frequencies while listening to music. This is why many budget Hi-Fi headphones are great as budget gaming headsets, minus the microphone.
Playback controls can also be important. If you’re using headphones with your smartphone, or maybe with an MP3 player, you probably want a set of playback controls that are easy to use, so you don’t have to reach for the phone non-stop. When changing the song or adjusting volume.
You have three main headphone form factors – over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear. Over-ear headphones have the widest soundstage (especially open-back models), wireless models have the biggest batteries, and they offer the best passive sound isolation. They can also be very comfortable to wear.
On-ear headphones are smaller and fit directly onto the ear. They can be pretty uncomfortable for some people. They also tend to be uncomfortable for many users when worn for hours on end. But they can have the exact same sound quality as over-ear models, although with a narrow soundstage.
In-ear headphones have the narrowest soundstage but their design allows them to have amazing passive noise isolation. They also can have great sound quality, even in the budget category. Finally, true wireless earbuds don’t need any cables or such and are the most portable headphones on the market.
You have passive and active noise isolation. Passive isolation can be pretty good with over-ear and especially in-ear headphones. But it isn’t as good as active noise canceling. Now, you won’t find many headphones under $50 that offer active noise canceling, but there are a few models that offer it.
It isn’t pretty good in budget headphones since ANC is powered by algorithms, built-in microphones, and engineering prowess. This is why quality ANC cannot be found in budget headphones. If you want great ANC, look for premium noise-canceling headphones.
Other Features To Look For
Do you need a headphone AMP – Some Hi-Fi headphone models need to be used with a headphone AMP since they sound too quiet when hooked directly to a 3.5mm port on a smartphone or a PC. This happens because the output signal is too weak for headphones to emit loud enough sound.
If you’re looking for a budget headphone, you probably won’t need a headphone amplifier. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Carrying Pouch – a small but near feature if you’re often on the go. A carrying pouch is always welcome.
Collapsible Earcups – another small but handy feature that increases portability. It’s great if you can simply collapse the headphones and put them anywhere.
Water Resistance – An important feature if you’re using in-ear wireless headphones while working out or doing any physical activity. Even some budget models come with splash resistance, basically sweat resistance. If you need sweat resistance, look for headphones with an IPX4 rating.
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