Although the new Powerbeats and AirPods may suggest you have to pay a premium to get true wireless earbuds, we’re here to tell you that’s not the case. Good, cheap true wireless headphones are more prevalent than ever. Today we’re going to separate the high-value products from the rest.
See: Full cheap true wireless earbuds article at SoundGuys
Best cheap true wireless earbuds:
Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best cheap true wireless earbuds regularly as new devices launch.
1. Creative Outlier Gold
These earbuds stand out from the crowd with their dual-codec support of AAC and aptX. Android and iPhone users alike reap the benefits of high-quality Bluetooth codec streaming, which yields lessened lag and greater data transfer. Athletes will appreciate the IPX5 water-resistant build. Despite the lack of wing tips, the earbuds stay in place during vigorous movement. Plus, the bass-heavy sound isn’t overpowering and appeals to a broad audience. Microphone quality is good for quick calls. The 10.3-hour battery life is great especially for this variant of Bluetooth earbuds. When it does deplete, you can top the case up via USB-C cable.
One of the Outlier Gold’s selling points is Super X-Fi audio processing, which renders audio as “holgraphic.” This processing gives listeners a greater perceived sense of spatial awareness and instrumental separation. However, there’s one thing holding the processing back: it’s limited to native audio files that must be played back directly through the SXFI app. This isn’t Creative’s fault as many songs on streaming services are protected from third-party applications playing them back. It’s not so much a knock on the earbuds as it is just something to be aware of prior to purchasing.
2. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air is a true wireless fan favorite. It also happens to be an AirPods lookalike, which may be a pro or con depending on where you stand with AirPods. They quickly auto-connect to the last used device, too. Battery life is solid, clocking in just below five hours of constant playback time. The earbuds are IPX5-certified, making them great for workouts and unexpected downpours. A glossy finish coats the earbuds and is a fingerprint magnet. While it doesn’t impair functionality, it may both those who like to keep their gear looking pretty.
3. JLab JBuds Air Sport
These IP66 earbuds are the perfect workout companion for any gym rat. The ear hook design stabilizes them during any exercise. Whether cycling or rock climbing, I never questioned the fit. The JBuds Air Sport also have safety features such as Be Aware mode, which amplifies external noise through the earbuds while playing music. It’s not as effective as bone conduction headphones but is better than being completely isolated from your surroundings when running outside. You also benefit from Class 1 Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC support. These don’t have the best sound quality, but they’re pack in a lot for less than $70.
4. Monoprice True Wireless
You may be more familiar with Monoprice for its affordable, reliable audio cables. The company’s truly wireless earbuds stay true to the Monprice philosophy. For just $49, you get IPX4-certified earbuds with a compact charging case. Features are limited, but the earbuds reproduce vocals clearly. If you enjoy a bit more oomph to your music, a pair of memory foam ear tips may be a smart investment. Unfortunately, connection strength leaves a lot to be desired. This is, however, still a salient issue among true wireless earbuds.
5. Rowkin Ascent Micro
These feature-packed cylindrical earbuds are a steal for less than $100. The textured charging case and earbuds are easy to grip, which is supremely important when handling such small, untethered parts. The touch-capacitive earbud panels are a nice touch, rarely seen in affordable true wireless earbuds. Battery life is average: you get just over three hours of playback before requiring a recharge. Anyone who wants a versatile pair of earbuds should seriously consider the Rowkin Ascent Micro.
For greater detail, read the full article; it includes excellent alternatives and more information regarding how we chose and tested the awardees.
- Creative Outlier Air: Creative’s debut true wireless earbuds made a huge splash in the cheap true wireless market, and remain a great deal for those who don’t need 10+ hours of playtime and don’t mind a bass-heavy sound.
- JLab JBuds Air: These are even more affordable than the JBuds Air Executive and are IP55-rated.
- Skullcandy Push: While these cost slightly more than $100, the 6-hour and 21-minute battery life is impeccable and worth checking out if you need your ‘buds to last the bulk of the day.
What you should know about the cheap earbuds
- High-quality Bluetooth codecs afford better audio quality and reduced latency.
- Standalone battery life with truly wireless earbuds is generally sub par, and the cheaper options are no exception. Granted, picks like the Creative Outlier Air are vastly improving battery life.
- Water-resistance, while not as prevalent as with workout earbuds, is an occasional feature in cheap true wireless earbuds.
- Cheap true wireless earbuds won’t typically don’t outperform their more expensive counterparts when it comes to sound quality, but that can be mitigated by a good fit and with proper ear tips.