If you want good sound, you’d better be prepared to shell out a ton of cash, right? Well, not necessarily. Sure, there are amazing high-end headphones out there, but that doesn’t mean all good headphones are expensive. Nowadays there are a ton of options to choose from in all different price segments.
Sound Guys is back with us once again bringing us a list of the best headphones under $50. Whether this is your first toe-dip into “real” headphones, a gift or just a supplement to your favorite audiophile cans, buying inexpensive headphones is a great. Plus, you don’t have to worry about spending too much when replacing them should they break or get lost.
Editor’s note: For an even deeper dive into the picks for best cheap headphones, you’ll want to head on over to SoundGuys.
Best all-around: Monoprice 8323
Though the build quality isn’t the greatest and they’re lacking a comprehensive feature-set, that can be forgiven when sound and comfort are taken into account.
Reasons to consider the Monoprice 8323:
- They use massive 50mm drivers that produce a full range of sound (20Hz to 20kHz)
- Even though they are priced at $24.99, they rival headphones in the $100 range
- Headphones are collapsible and light, making them easy to transport
- Ear cups flip up 90 degrees and are quite comfortable when hanging from the neck
- The ear pads pop right off and you can buy replacements in red, white or gray for only $5.
Best design: Koss PortaPro
The charming bare bones build of the Koss PortaPro is comprised of a layered strip of metal connecting hinged ear cups. They also clip at the bottom to maintain a condensed form factor, saving you precious real-estate. Bottom-line, they look good while producing solid sound for the money.
Reasons to consider the Koss PortaPro:
- The design uses a layered strip of metal connecting hinged ear cups , which clip at the bottom for a condensed form factor
- Plastic, swiveling ear cups make for a comfortable fit
- Sound quality is good, especially in the reproduction of the mids and highs
Best for comfort: House of Marley Positive Vibration II
The House of Marley Positive Vibration II has an attractive design that's extremely comfortable for extended use. The sound is also very good when you consider the low price tag.
- Uses Forest Stewardship Council certified wood accents sporting the earthy House of Marley logo
- Also uses anodized aluminum ear cups (black, copper, silver or denim) with 50mm drivers
- Folds up for each storage
- House of Marley will plant a tree in the real world when you buy the Positive Vibration II
Best active noise cancellation: Photive BTH3
You aren't going to find a better pair of active noise cancelling headphones under $50 than the Photive BTH3. Even better, they are extremely comfortable.
Reasons to consider the Photive BTH3:
- Lots of controls to adjust volume and skip/play/pause tracks on both ear cups
- Uses 40mm drivers that reproduce a rich, balanced sound
- Uses Bluetooth 4.0 wireless with up to 12 hours of battery life
- Still has a 3.5 mm jack for wired use
- Comes with its own hard traveling case
Best Build Quality: Polk Audio Hinge
- Uses pivoting ear cups, an adjustable headband, and dense ear pads
- Its stitched leather headband is a nice contrast to the brushed metal hinges and extenders
- It uses Polk Optimized Electro-acoustic Tuning helps to create a more natural sound
Why you should trust Sound Guys
The list above was created by Lily over at Sound Guys, based on her deep-dive look at the best headphones under $50, which you can find over at SoundGuys. So why trust Lily? In short, she knows audio.
Want a bit more than that? For three years in college, Lily worked for her college radio station and racked up countless hours with studio-level microphones, headphones, speakers and recording software. All the while, deepening her understanding of the technical side of audio. Prior to that, her audio journey began in 2015 with skeletal YouTube reviews. Bottom-line, she’s spent a lot of time diving in with audio during her time with Sound Guys, and in the time before.