Update, October 3, 2020: This list was updated to include the OnePlus Type-C Bullets.
The best cheap earbuds are the RHA MA390.The best cheap earbuds are the RHA MA390.
Cheap earbuds litter city streets and occupy gas station walls. Although we’re riding out a wave of premium wireless and true wireless earbuds, cheap alternatives from the likes of Creative and Shure still have their place in our ears and in our bags.
Best cheap earbuds under $50:
1. RHA MA390
The RHA MA390 deliver a bass-heavy sound which is, in part, due to their excellent isolation properties. The company provides an array of ear tips, so you’re bound to find the pair that fits perfectly for your ears. Despite the ~$30 price tag, the earbuds look high-quality. Aluminum housings and a rubberized cable give the MA390 a premium feel. An in-line mic and remote break up the cable and allow for virtual assistant access. If you’re looking for a cheap pair of daily earbuds, this is the pair to get.
2. JLab Go Air
JLab struck gold with its cheap true wireless earbuds that cost just $30, and include premium features like IP44 dust- and water-resistance. This means athletes of all sorts may use the Go Air without worrying about durability, something I greatly appreciated when rock climbing. Battery life is about average for true wireless earbuds, clocking in at five hours on a single charge; the case integrates a USB cable so you can charge it or the ‘buds from anywhere. Plus, it affords an additional three charge cycles, which is great given its compact size.
The earphones use JLab’s new Dual Connect technology, which creates an independent connection to each earbud from your smartphone. This improves connection stability compared to the older JLab JBuds Air. To control playback and answer calls, simply use either touch panel accordingly. Athletes on a budget should throw these in their gym bags.
3. Linsoul Tin Audio T2
The Linsoul Tin Audio T2 earbuds have garnered quite the following among the budget audiophile crowd. The detachable housings use MMCX connectors, meaning you can easily replace the cable if it frays. Sound quality is good for the price and they can certainly get the job done from an office; plus, the memory foam ear tips do a good job of blocking out external noise during a commute.
4. Shure SE112-GR
Shure, a legacy audio company, has been around for decades, and its SE112 earbuds feature the company’s bass-heavy house sound. Not only is the bass response strong, but so too are the stress relievers at the Y-splitter. They’re comfortable too, as the nozzles are slightly angled. This allows them to comfortably rest with the curve of your ear canal.
Despite the lack of a stiff ear hook component, these earbuds are meant to be worn around the ear. Doing so mitigates microphonics, the phenomenon of cable vibrations traveling up to the earbuds. For great sound quality and durability, you can’t go wrong with Shure.
5. Panasonic Ergo Fit
For the cheapest set of good earbuds, the Panasonic Ergo Fit are your best friend. These retail for less than $10 and are available in 15 colorways. Just like the Shure SE112-GR, these have angled nozzles, giving the earbuds their “ergonomic” title. Although sound quality won’t blow you away, it’s reasonably good for the dirt-cheap price.
6. OnePlus Type-C Bullets
The OnePlus Type-C Bullets are the best bang-for-your-buck USB-C earbuds. The housings are small and unassuming, which works well with the all-black paint job. Users can adjust the volume, skip tracks, and answer calls all from the integrated control module. Sound quality isn’t amazing, but it’s good for the price. Upper-bass and low-midrange notes are amplified, adding presence to male vocals and bass notes. If don’t want to purchase a dongle, but your phone is without a headphone jack, the Type-C Bullets are a great value.
These are our picks for the best earbuds under $50. This is one of the most saturated audio product categories, so there are certainly great alternatives available, too. We’ll keep this post updated as new arrivals enter the marketplace.
If you’re still looking, check out the full article for excellent alternatives and detailed information concerning how we chose and tested the awardees.
What you should consider before buying cheap earbuds
None of the earphones listed here are going to outperform something like the Etymotic ER3XR, but you can make some minor adjustments to improve audio quality. One of the first things we always recommend is to find the best-fit ear tips. If all else fails, invest in third-party ear tips. A cogent seal is an easy way to improve sound quality, because it blocks out background noise and allows you to hear more detail from your music.