The best cheap earbuds are the RHA MA390.
Cheap earbuds litter city streets and occupy gas station walls, making them more ubiquitous than AirPods. Although we’re riding out a wave of wireless and true wireless earbuds, wired alternatives still have their place in our ears and in our bags. The problem with having so many options is that there is a lot of junk out there, making it a bit harder to find the gems. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best of what’s around as you gear up for some last-minute holiday shopping.
If you have a moment, we implore you to read the in-depth list at SoundGuys, which provides greater insight to those interested.
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Best all-around: RHA MA390
Reasons to consider the RHA MA390:
- Despite the ~$30 price, the RHA MA390 sports aluminum housings, emulating a premium feel.
- You’re allowed virtual assistant access via the integrated one-button microphone and remote.
- The low-end frequencies are emphasized and reinforced by the solid seal created by dual-density silicone ear tips.
- Listeners are afforded a three-year warranty.
Best wireless: Creative Outlier One
Reasons to consider the Creative Outlier One:
- The Outlier One is IPX4-certified, denoting sweat-resistance for athletes.
- SoundGuys‘ objective testing yielded 9.4 hours of constant playback, which nearly matches Creative’s posited 9.5 hours of standalone battery life.
- Creative’s proprietary wing tips keep the fit secure for workouts of all kinds.
Best design: ADV.Sound M4
Reasons to consider the ADV.Sound M4:
- Like the RHA MA390, these boast a more sophisticated design than the price suggests.
- Bass and midrange frequencies are well reproduced, making for an engaging auditory experience.
- The tangle-free cable works and feels durable.
Best durability: Shure SE112-GR
Reasons to consider the 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.
- Stress relievers at the Y-splitter and descending from the earbuds are well-reinforced.
- Despite the lack of a stiff ear hook component, these earbuds are meant to be worn around the ear. This mitigates microphonics, the phenomenon of cable vibrations traveling up to the earbuds.
Best bang for your buck: Panasonic Ergo Fit
Reasons to consider the Panasonic Ergo Fit:
- These earbuds usually retail for less than $10 and are available in 15 colorways.
- The angled nozzles promote a more comfortable fit.
- Sound quality for the price is surprisingly good.
What you should consider before buying cheap earbuds
- A cogent seal is an easy way to improve sound quality. If you can’t get a good seal from the included earbuds, investing in third-party ear tips is an easy, long-term solution.
- Premium materials are usually the first to go. That said, the Outlier One still includes IPX4 water-resistance for running and exercising.
- A bass-heavy frequency response is common, and often preferred, when it comes to cheap earbuds. If you’d like to EQ the sound, most phones allow users to do so.