The Best Headphones Under $50 in 2021

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.

audio-technica ath-m20x
  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connection: Wired
  • Microphone: No
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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.

Pros:
  • Neutral Sound Will Satisfy Purists
  • Comfortable
  • Well Built
Cons:
  • Aren’t Made For Outside Use
  • Sound Won’t Impress Casual Listeners

Sony Wireless Headphones WH-CH510

Extremely Affordable Wireless Headphones With Solid Sound

sony wireless headphones wh-ch510
  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 35 Hours
  • Microphone: Yes
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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.

Pros:
  • Excellent Sound Quality For The Price
  • Ultra-Long Battery Life
  • USB-C Charging Port
  • Bluetooth 5 Means No Sound Lag
Cons:
  • Flimsy Build Quality
  • Not Comfortable For Long Listening Sessions
  • Poor Sound Isolation
  • No 3.5mm Jack

JBL TUNE 500BT

The Best Wireless Headphones Under $50

jbl tune 500bt
  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 16 Hours
  • Microphone: Yes
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The JBL Tune 500BT is a pair of great-sounding budget headphones. The sound is bass-heavy, fun, and great for dance and pop music. But low frequencies aren’t too boomy; they are there but won’t drown the music with bass. Mids and highs are there and sound pretty good. They aren’t distorted or muffled. Overall, excellent sound quality for the price.

Build quality is also pretty good. Headphones can be folded and they have plenty of padding on earcups and headband. This makes them pretty comfortable despite their on-ear design, which can cause fatigue since earcups stand directly over ears. Bluetooth 4.1 standard used with these headphones is stable and remote controls are simple to use. Another cool feature is the ability to pair these headphones with two devices at the same time.

The built-in microphone is usable but not great. The headphones come with 16 hours of battery life. Not amazing but pretty good for budget headphones. You also get fast charging but no 3.5mm jack. Overall, these are great budge headphones that come with great sound and nice battery life. In fact, these are the best bass headphones under $50. They’re also comfortable but feature poor noise isolation and don’t come with a 3.5mm jack.

Pros:
  • Great Sound With Rich Bass
  • Comfortable
  • Pretty Good Battery Life
  • Quick Charging
  • Can Be Paired With Two Devices At Same Time
Cons:
  • Poor Sound Isolation
  • No 3.5mm Jack

Skullcandy Riff

Comfortable Wireless Headphones With Plenty Of Bass

skullcandy riff
  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 12 Hours
  • Microphone: Yes
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Skullcandy Riff is a pair of affordable wireless headphones that come with a punchy sound and a high level of comfort. First of all, the sound. It heavily leans into lower frequencies; it’s dominated by them. Still, there’s enough highs and lows to keep things from going muddy.

Bass is clear at high loudness. Bass lovers will love these. These headphones are clearly aiming bassheads. But if you want excellent, bassy sound, get the JBL Tune 500BT. Those offer punchy bass but also come with much better ids and highs.

Build quality is decent. Headphones don’t look like they’ll break if any minute but they also aren’t very sturdy. Earcups are padded with faux leather and pretty comfortable. The headband has next to no padding and it can be tiring to wear these for longer periods of time. Playback controls are easy to use and the microphone is pretty good and clear during phone conversations.

When it comes to battery life, the Skullcandy Riff offers up to 12 hours of playback time. Not great but not terrible, although lower than both the Sony WH-CH510 and JBL Tune 500BT. Another potential downside is the lack of 3.5mm jack.

Overall, the Skullcandy Riff is a pair of comfortable headphones with a thunderous sound. If you like tons of bass in your music these might be an excellent choice in the sub-$50 market.

Pros:
  • Thunderous But Clear Sound
  • Comfortable Earcups
Cons:
  • Only 12 Hours Of Battery Life
  • Headband Is Uncomfortable
  • Poor Noise Isolation

TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79

The Best True Wireless Headphones Under $50

taotronics soundliberty 79
  • Form Factor: In-Ear
  • Connection: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 6 Hours, 30 Hours With Charging Case
  • Microphone: Yes
CHECK PRICES

If you’re in the market for true wireless earphones under $50, the SoundLiberty 79 from TaoTronics is an excellent choice. The sound is great for the price. Bass is amplified but it doesn’t dominate the music.

It’s there and can be punchy is bass-heavy songs but it doesn’t drown songs in it. Mids are also pretty good. It can be clearly noticed and are present in every song. Highs can be a bit too sharp, but only in certain songs.

The build quality is pretty decent. Earphones are sturdy but not too heavy or large. They come with three earpiece sizes and most users will find a perfect fit. There are also fins, which can be attached to earphones, for increased stability.

Bluetooth 5.0 connection means stable signal and no-hassle pairing process. Controls use touch sensors and are finicky since there’s no feedback whether you’ve pressed the right control or not. As for the mic, it’s clear and features noise isolating tech that should make you understandable to the person you’re talking to in crowded spaces.

The battery lasts about six hours, which is okay for a pair of true wireless earbuds. The charging case comes with 22 extra hours of juice, which is an excellent result for a budget model. You get sweat resistance but no ANC, which isn’t expected at this price point. Passive sound isolation is great and will be enough for most users.

Overall, this is a pair of great and affordable TWS earphones. They sound pretty good, offer solid battery life, come with a nice charging case, are sweat-resistant, and don’t cost a ton. On the other hand, controls are pretty bad and battery life is solid but below what reads on the box.

Pros:
  • Excellent Sound For The Price
  • Solid Battery Life
  • Charging Case Comes With 22 Hours Of Extra Battery Life
  • Sweat Resistant
Cons:
  • Controls Are Finicky

Sennheiser CX 300S

The Best In-Ear Headphones Under $50

sennheiser cx 300s

  • Form Factor: In-Ear
  • Connection: Wired
  • Microphone: Yes
CHECK PRICES

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.

Pros:
  • Excellent Sound
  • Sturdy Build
  • Great Passive Noise Isolation
Cons:
  • 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.

Form Factor

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.

Noise Isolation

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.

About The Author

XbitLabs Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying tech.

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