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.
Buying the right cheap earbuds for your needs
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.
You might notice that build quality is also below what you’ll find with more premium earphones. If you want your earbuds to last as long as possible, be sure to buy a pair with removable cables. Cables are typically the first component to become compromised after months or years of regular use, so being able to replace one saves you the hassle of buying a whole new set of earphones.
Best cheap earbuds under $50:
- The MEE audio M6 Pro is our favorite pair of earphones for most people because of the detachable cable and included memory foam ear tips.
- The JLab Go Air earbuds feature an IP44 rating that makes them a great exercise companion.
- The Linsoul Tin Audio T2 is a favorite among budget audiophiles and also features a detachable cable, which extends the product’s life.
- The Shure SE112-GR earphones reproduce accurate sound quality and fit comfortably to accommodate most ears.
- The Panasonic Ergo Fit is a bargain pick for listeners who just want something cheap and effective.
MEE audio M6 Pro: The best for most people
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.
JLab Go Air: The best cheap true wireless option
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.
Check out our full review to learn more about the JLab Go Air.
Linsoul Tin Audio T2: The best durability
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.
Shure SE112-GR: The best sound quality
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.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys‘ full review to learn more about the Shure SE112-GR.
Panasonic Ergo Fit: The best value
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.
Cheap earbuds: Honorable mentions
- 1More Piston Fit: These earbuds are great for listeners who want something with a premium design that doesn’t break the bank.
- HiFiMan RE-400: HiFiMan provides plenty of ear tips with these earphones, so you can get the best fit and best sound quality possible.
- OnePlus Buds Z: If you want high-value true wireless earphones look no further. The Buds Z have an IP55 rating, highly efficient fast charging, automatic ear detection, and more.
- Samsung Active In-Ear: Athletes who prefer wired earbuds should spring for these cheap, yet durable, earbuds.
- Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass: Rattle your skull with Sony’s XB (extra bass) wired earbuds.
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