Earbuds don’t have to be expensive to sound good. Finding a pair that don’t sound terrible, but that you also don’t need to baby is like walking a tightrope. Luckily, there are plenty of solid earbuds under $50 that will get the job done nowadays.
If you’re looking for the 5 best earbuds under $50 in 2020, then you’ll know that it’s possible to find excellent earphones for a low price these days.
Earbuds are a convenient choice for music fans. Whether they’re wireless or wired, they’re lightweight, discreet, and perfect to wear while you’re on-the-go, exercising, or even for gaming.
So, let’s take a look at the best earbuds under $50 and find the perfect pair for you…
What makes a set of earbuds under $50 the best?
When it comes to earbuds under $50, we know that there are sacrifices that companies have made to each product. From build quality to sound clarity, there are cut corners for the sake of affordability. We made sure that the sacrifices each company made for its respective earbuds were reasonable.
After all, we want you to like the earbuds under $50 that you choose, and even though this generally isn’t the most durable category, there are some options that are workout-friendly. Ultimately, we wanted these picks to be versatile: good enough for daily listening but with a few features thrown in.
5 Best Earbuds Under $50 2021:
The Aukey T21 is truly a testament to their commitment to providing solid electronic accessories at a variety of price points. These no-nonsense true wireless earbuds provide a quality Airpods analog at a fraction of the price. These matte black earbuds have a very similar form factor to their ivory Apple counterparts, with a small boom mic that extends from a small, discrete earbud.
Boasting a 5-hour battery life, the carrying case provides enough juice for 24 hours of additional playtime, allowing you to go up to several days without charging. The ability to manage playback and calls via touch controls is made all the more impressive by the apparent lack of buttons, giving these earbuds a very slick aesthetic.
Just like other products from Aukey, these earbuds come with a 45-day money-back guarantee, as well as a 24-month product replacement warranty if you’re dissatisfied with your purchase or manage to misplace an earbud by accident.
- S/M/L Earpads
- Superb Sound Quality with Extra Bass
- Only 30 feet of Bluetooth connection
Having reviewed more than a thousand pairs of headphones (and over 200 for this guide alone), we are not easily surprised—but the 1More Piston Fit BT earbuds wowed us.
In our tests, these neckband-style wireless earbuds (meaning the earbuds are connected by a flexible band) offered a balanced, clear sound that all our testers thought was far better than one might expect from $30 earbuds. The thin, lightweight neckband rests comfortably around the neck and coils up for easy storage in a pocket. Four sizes of ear tips are included, so everyone on our panel was able to get a secure fit.
The aluminum earbuds feel sturdy, and magnets hold them together so you can wear them around your neck when you’re not using them. The controls are easy to manipulate by feel, and the eight-hour battery life will get you through a full workday. The IPX4 water-resistance rating means you don’t need to worry about a little rain on your commute, and the one-year warranty protects you from any other hiccups.
- Great price-to-performance ratio
- Strong bass
- Useful features such as in-line mic with remote
- Brushed silver accents look cheap
- Mids can be a muddy
You’re not going to get much in the way of noise isolation at this price range (forget about active noise cancellation), but these earphones from Monoprice come pretty close.
The makers of these earphones aren’t kidding when they say it has enhanced bass. In fact, I’d say that this is probably the best bass you’ll find in earbuds in this price range.
That said, the overall sound quality is above average, not spectacular. The bass-heavy design means that the mids and highs drown out. Great for hip-hop and pop, but not so great for genres with more nuance (Jazz and Classical music lovers, look elsewhere).
Durability is a problem with several reviewers noting cord breakage. Though in my own review, I found the build quality to be competent.
Chief complaints: durability, inconspicuous design (take that as a negative or a positive), and lack of tangle-free cord.
Buy these if you want a better known brand name and are looking for something inconspicuous. The sound quality is good and the bass is among the best in class. Durability remains a concern, however.
- Loud and punchy bass
- Comfortable ear clips; easy to wear for long hours
- Good noise isolation
- Some durability issues
- Unbalanced, bass-heavy sound
4. Mpow X3
The Mpow X3 sound shockingly good for the price, with good clarity and powerful bass (they play loud), and they even have active noise canceling that’s fairly effective. They list for $60 on Amazon, but frequently dip to $50 or close to it.
They did fit me comfortably and securely, and I got a tight seal from one of the XL ear tips. They’re fully waterproof (IPX7) and get up to seven hours of battery life at moderate volume levels with USB-C charging. (The charging case looks like a fatter version of the standard Apple AirPod case.) Call quality is good — they have a sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice in the buds — but I’ve used other models with better noise reduction during calls. I noticed a touch of audio lag when I streamed a YouTube video, but I had no issues when streaming iTunes movies.
The touch controls take some getting used to (they’re a little wonky), and it didn’t help that the instructions in the box seemed to be for the old X3 (I found the current instructions online, which helped me figure things out). Aside from a few minor downsides, the X3 is a great value, and that’s probably why Mpow is having a hard time keeping them in stock.
- 6 Earpads
- Extra Strong Bass and Great Range
- Noise-Canceling Microphone
- Cabling not so strong
The best wired earbuds under $50 that we’ve tested are the Beats urBeats3. These wired earbuds are decently well-built, with flat rubberized audio cables that feel like they’ll take quite a bit of abuse. They offer a unique perk in the form of an available Lightning port connector, so they’re a good pick if you own a newer iPhone but miss zero-latency audio connections. Optional stability fins and their lightweight design mean that they should stay in your ears, even during high-intensity workouts.
They deliver a slightly overemphasized bass response that’ll ensure a bit of added kick and thump in your favorite EDM or hip-hop tracks without completely crowding out more delicate instrumentation, so they’re suitable for everything from hip-hop to folk music. They do a decent job of passively blocking out ambient noise and provide very good audio leakage performance, meaning that they’re also a solid choice for listening on your daily commute.
Unfortunately, volume and voice assistant controls don’t seem to work on Android devices. Their deep in-ear fit also might not be comfortable for everyone. Still, the Beats are a good fit if you’re looking for a well-balanced, zero-latency listening experience in a portable package.
- Lightweight Design Makes Them Easy to Wear
- Compatible with Almost Any Device
- Great Sound Quality
- Can’t think of any at this price
What you should know about earbuds under $50
When buying cheap earbuds, one of the first things to hit the chopping block is build quality and general R&D. Isolation improvements can be made, however, by using third-party ear tips.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a real threat to our eardrums when listening with cheap earbuds. We may be inclined to pump up the volume, compensating for poor frequency response. Doing so repeatedly could irrevocably damage your hearing.
You might need an amp or a better DAC if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of headphones, but that isn’t the case here. You don’t need any of that stuff for anything on this list.
Earbuds vs. Earphones (In-Ear)
Let’s quickly define the terms “earbuds” and “earphones.” Earbuds—despite the marketing jargon of many a manufacturer—are not earphones, and the terms aren’t interchangeable. Earbuds don’t enter the ear canal; they are flat and sit just outside the canal, and can often sit fairly loosely in the ear, creating problems when it comes to accurate stereo images and bass response.
Earphones, on the other hand, do enter the ear canal, just slightly. Their silicone eartips safely seal off the canal, which accomplishes two things: a secure fit and an accurate stereo image (in which both ears get the same amount of audio). Sealing off the ear canal is also the easiest way to provide an enhanced sense of bass response.
How We Test The Earbuds under $50
So, one way to avoid subpar audio in the sub-$50 realm is to make sure you avoid earbuds and stick with earphones that seal off the canal. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the audio will sound magnificent, but it’s a step in the right direction—many of the earphones we’ve reviewed are sweat-proof, exercise-friendly pairs, and nearly all of them include useful inline mics and remote controls.
Noise Cancellation on a Budget
Effective noise cancellation circuitry is expensive, and while you can certainly find brands trying to sell you active noise cancellation headphones for under $100 or even under $50, the circuitry won’t work very well. They will likely mask the ambient sound they cannot eliminate by actually adding in hiss. That doesn’t mean audio performance can’t be decent, but there is a reason the QuietComfort series from Bose isn’t cheap—nothing about that noise cancellation technology is easy to reproduce in a budget model. In other words, don’t look for any noise-cancelling headphones in this price range.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best earbuds under $50; you can learn more about our review process above. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.