You wouldn’t be alone for thinking that all earbuds are created equally. These low profile alternative to traditional headphones may look similar in theory, but there’s a lot of variance between a good pair of earbuds and a great one. And while their relatively simple design means that you can find some great earbuds under $50, there are also a lot of shoddy options on the market.
That’s why we’ve put together this list. We’ve scoured the world to find the best earbuds under 50 dollars so you can make an educated purchase, and we’ve helpfully identified what makes each pair special so you can find the one that’s right for you. The guide that follows our earbud reviews provides further advice for your shopping experience.
TL;DR - Best Earbuds under $50:
- Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones
- Beats urBeats3 Earphones
- Samsung Headphones Designed by AKG
- Skullcandy Jib Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
- Sony WI-C300 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
- TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
- Sennheiser CX 300S Earbuds
- AKG N200 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
- Apple EarPods
- PANASONIC Ergofit Bluetooth Earbud
- Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbuds
- Shure SE112-GR Sound Isolating Earphones
1. Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones
Bose is known for the practically unmatched sound quality of their products, and the SoundSport in-ear headphones combine that trusted Bose performance with a reasonable price tag. These headphones are both highly comfortable and sweat-resistant, making them a top option if you're in search of running earbuds. Created for compatibility with Apple devices, the SoundSports achieve their level of comfort largely through the inclusion of a floating style. That allows them to sit comfortably beside your ears instead of having to be jammed in, while the StayHear tips keeps them tightly secured in place.
The sound quality is well balanced. While it's not overly heavy on the bass like many other models, the low range is very solid. The result is a pair of headphones that should deliver quality sound regardless of your preferred musical genres. These wired earbuds are great for use at the gym or in the house.
2. Beats urBeats3 Earphones
Beats may be best known for their iconic studio cans, but Dr. Dre's esteemed brand offers more than just over-the-ear headphones. urBeats3 are affordable earbuds with enough versatility to work everywhere from the gym to the daily commute. The sound quality steals the show here, highlighting Beats' trademark deep bass but losing a bit of robustness in the mid-range as a result. The axial-aligned driver does a lot of the heavy lifting here, offering dual-chamber sound that adapts well to practically any genre or style of music.
Multiple options for tips allow you to find the size and shape that fits your unique ear, while a built-in mic in these affordable earbuds allow you to navigate your music and take calls. The fact that Beats is now owned by Apple comes with a distinct advantage as well: simple and native compatibility with Siri for hands-free controls.
3. Samsung Headphones Designed by AKG
AKG's earbuds may have been built with Samsung Galaxy devices in mind, but the presence of a quality 3.5mm jack means that they'll work on most modern devices. That's a good thing too, given the exceptional craftsmanship of AKG headphones. Despite their largely plastic build, these are some of the most durable earbuds under 50 dollars that you'll find. The angle of the in-ear tip may be a bit unusual, but they fit snugly and feel comfortable even when worn for extended periods of time.
While there isn't much in the way of noise isolation, you don't need to worry about noise leakage. The fact that they contain sound so well means that they'll work well in the office, and in terms of sound quality, it's the polar opposite of the urBeats3. These good cheap earbuds offer great mids and highs but take a slight hit to the bass.
4. Skullcandy Jib Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
The preceding in-ear headphones have flirted with our price ceiling, but the Skullcandy Jibs come in at a fraction of the cost, and that makes them some of the best value earbuds available today. In fact, the sound quality you'll get for the price here is pretty remarkable. As with the Beats entry, bass takes priority here, but there's a generally great balance across the acoustic spectrum. The design isn't likely to wow most users, but they do everything they need to do, and aesthetics are a natural sacrifice for the sake of pricing and sound quality.
Most surprising is the fact that these are true wireless earbuds. High-quality Bluetooth earbuds under 50 dollars are rare enough, much less in this dirt cheap price range. And while the functionality here is fairly basic, the one button control interface makes things easy to navigate.
5. Sony WI-C300 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Another pair of wireless earbuds under 50 dollars, Sony WI-C300 come in at a similar price tag and sport a similar design that prioritizes sound quality over unique design or unnecessary features. These budget earbuds come in strong with the bass and offer nice balance for the mid-range and treble as well. These are traditionally comfortable earbuds, but that's only telling half the story. A great sense of stability and superb breathability mean that they're well-suited to running and other strenuous exercises as well.
The neodymium drivers are more solid than what you might expect in this price range, offering a comparatively rich sound, and leakage is practically a non-issue. That comfort largely comes down to their slim design. The small size of the buds themselves ensures that they touch a smaller portion of your inner ear than more traditional earbud designs.
6. TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
TaoTronics' earbuds may be priced at nearly $50, but they pack in an exceptional amount of features for their price. The active noise cancellation might be the most appealing of those here, since it's a quality that's somewhat rare in cheap earbuds, but there's also a lot of customization available for them. The max cancellation is a respectable 25dB, but you can adjust that with an accessible slider. And you can easily monitoring mode allows you to quickly turn noise cancellation on and off so you can have better situational awareness in a pinch.
That noise cancellation is extended to subjects on the end of your call as well. The MEMS mic will choke out any unwanted noise from your surroundings to offer clearer and crisper reception to the person on the other line. The frame is made of an aluminum alloy that looks good and is respectably sturdy.
7. Sennheiser CX 300S Earbuds
You might be reasonably mistaken for overlooking the CX 300S' until you see they're crafted by Sennheiser. Because underneath the pedestrian and feature-light design of these headphones is some of the best acoustic engineering you'll find anywhere. There's a depth of range to the soundstage that's practically unparalleled in the general earbud market much less in good earbuds under 50 bucks.
The highs are slightly smoothed out for mellow sound, the mids precise and just modestly forward leaning, and the bass strong and detailed without being overpowering. And the lack of impedance ensures a generally balance of quality even when connected to lower performing devices.
These headphones are durable, but they're otherwise bereft of features. Fortunately, they get by just fine without any bells of whistles. Sennheiser's earbuds are clearly positioned for music aficionados, and they perform better than you could conceivably expect given the natural limitations of in-ear headphones.
8. AKG N200 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
AKG's second entry onto our list also puts a square focus on sound production. Their balanced and neutral sound would be fitting for a pair of studio headphones, if the limited soundstage that comes from in-ear design didn't preclude that option. But the buds themselves offer deep entry into your ears, providing a secure fit that doesn't hinder your comfort and offers significant prevention of sound leakage. While the sound isolation isn't the best around, it's a perfectly sensible choice for everywhere except crowded environments.
Combine that with the stability and breathability in these earbuds, and you're left with a model that suits exercise admirably. Their slim and durable design is worthy of note, while the inclusion of Apt-x technology is a great perk that can improve on that already solid sound quality even more. They may not look fancy, but they hit all the important marks.
9. Apple EarPods
If there's one thing that Apple is known for, it's their distinctive design, and that's something that the EarPods offer in spades. The slim white lining extending to perfect orbs stand apart from all the other earbuds on the market, but these earbuds fortunately offer more than just a stylish aesthetic. There's a depth and resonance to the sound quality that isn't available in many of the alternatives, and despite the seemingly imposing design of the buds themselves, they should fit comfortably in anyone's ears.
The presence of a 3.5mm jack means they're compatible with practically any device, but they also come with a Lightning cable for better sound quality with Apple devices. In addition to offering potentially the best in-class sound quality, they also sport a great inline remote that allows you to navigate your music deftly and with no learning curve.
10. PANASONIC Ergofit Bluetooth Earbud
Even by the standards set by our guide, Panasonic's Ergofit earbuds are cheap. With a price tag of around $20, these Bluetooth earbuds may trigger skepticism in some buyers, but they wouldn't be on our list if they didn't offer great value for that buy-in. A snug fit makes these a comfortable choice for wearing during your regular workout, but they're also pretty respectable in terms of sound reproduction. These are bass-heavy earbuds through and through, but the heavy low-range doesn't force them to compromise on the mids and highs.
If you're worried about the fit, you don't need to be. The Ergofit comes with attachments for small, medium, and large ears, and the headphone cord is long enough to give you some flexibility without becoming an impediment. The inclusion of a solid microphone and call controller ensures that making or answering calls is always a painless process.
11. Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbuds
Quite a few of the earbuds on our list feature bass-heavy sound reproduction, but none of them make it a feature as prominently centered as the Sony MDRXB50AP. These bass earbuds under 50 dollars really excel when playing hip-hop or EDM, but they flag a little behind when you need an option with a little more versatility. But if bass is what you're looking for Sony's buds have your back. The design is stylish and the fit strong if not exceptional.
But breathability here is a great selling point. They're one of the top options on our list for good sports earbuds, and their build quality is very durable. The rubberized cables are unlikely to fray for a long time, while the thick plastic of the buds themselves can survive quite a few drops without any noticeable damage.They also clock in well below our $50 price ceiling.
12. Shure SE112-GR Sound Isolating Earphones
Shure's SE112 takes a familiar approach to budget earbuds: depreciating the importance of features in favor of delivering exceptional sound quality. On that front, they succeed with flying colors. Shure has a reputation for their professional audio equipment, but they've managed to take their quality engineering and shrink it down to suit the needs of more casual consumers. The soundstage is better than what most expect from in-ear headphones, and there's a nice balance to the sound that puts an emphasis on the mids.
Multiple tips and an adjustable cable allow you to get the fit that's right for you. The cord is also 50" in length, so you have plenty of room to move if you opt for these instead of a wireless pair for your time in the gym. They even come with a drawstring bag and cleaning kit for keeping them in immaculate condition.
Best Earbuds Under $50 Buyer’s Guide
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need to Worry About Compatibility?
For the most part, no. Almost all modern smartphones come with a 3.5mm input, and Bluetooth is the standard wireless pairing technology across all modern devices. That means that any phone or music source that you’ll find today should connect easily with any of the listed devices. All you have to do is plug (or sync) and play.
The TaoTronics is a bit of an outlier in this regard, but it’s still not something you need to sweat. While it uses the micro USB standard for Android phones (or practically any device that’s not made by Apple), it also comes with both a travel adapter and a 3.5mm adapter, so it should work just as expected with all of your devices.
What’s the Difference Between Noise Isolation and Noise Cancellation?
You may have noticed that noise cancellation is one of the major specs we cover in our earbud reviews, but there’s only one option on our list that offers the feature: the TaoTronics model. Despite that, we speak about the noise isolation functions on many of these earbuds. While the two terms may sound similar, there’s a big distinction between the two.
Noise isolation refers to how well the earbuds drown out the sound around you through the quality of the buds’ physical design alone. Generally this is a factor of how tightly they fit in your ear canal and where the drivers in the buds are positioned. Drivers that can direct the sound directly down your canal are going to obviously produce better isolation.
Unfortunately, since earbuds are much smaller and fit directly inside your canal rather than fully covering your ears in the way that traditional can headphones do, they generally offer inferior sound isolation to their larger and more conventional counterparts. That’s just the price you pay for the convenient and compact design of earbuds. But most of the earbuds on our list provide strong isolation and should work well in all but the noisiest of circumstances.
If you want something that will work especially well in a crowded subway or office, you may want to look at our listed Sennheiser model. Noise cancellation appears so rarely on our list because it tends to be a more expensive feature, but it does an incredible job of blocking out sound.
Rather than rely simply on the physical design of the earbuds to do the job of blocking out noise, noise cancellation listens to the sound of your surroundings and constructs an opposing signal that essentially counterbalances that ambient noise. That makes noise canceling headphones an exceptional choice if you’re looking for travel earbuds, but you need to keep in mind that they do require a battery to function, so you’ll want to make sure you have a way to charge them.
Do I Need Bluetooth Earbuds?
Bluetooth capability on your headphones can be a great convenience, but they can also increase the cost significantly, and that’s an especially important consideration when you’re trying to keep your budget underneath $50. Fortunately, Bluetooth is becoming cheaper to produce, so you don’t have to worry too much about making sacrifices for the sake of wireless performance.
The advantage of Bluetooth is obvious: the ability to ditch a cord and not worry about connecting your headset directly to your phone. If you’re just wearing your headsets at your desk or on the train, it probably won’t be that big a deal. The real advantage of Bluetooth is apparent for people who want to use their earbuds as their workout headphones. Bluetooth allows you to safely zip up your phone and reduce the risk of tearing away a cable when actively engaged. Whether it’s worth the increase in price is something you’ll have to consider carefully.
What Other Specs Should I Consider?
Each of our earbuds reviews comes with a brief spec listing that covers most of the basics, but if you really want to dig deep and evaluate the strengths of each, there are a few other specs you should look for.
Sweat and Water Resistance
If you plan on wearing your headsets for your everyday exercise routine, chances are that you’ll want to invest in earbuds that offer a level of sweat resistance. This will ensure that they’ll keep working ad intended even in extenuating circumstances. Sweat and water resistance is measured according to an IPX rating that tells you how repellent they are. Fortunately, you don’t need anything too strong here. An IPX4 rating should be all you need unless you’re trying to wear your in-ear headphones into the pool.
The range frequency of a pair of headphones refers to what range of the auditory spectrum they can register. A lower minimum is ideal for music with strong bass, while a higher maximum frequency is what you need when dealing with higher pitched vocals or sounds like rides or hi hats. Ideally, you want the widest range possible when you’re looking for a pair of earbuds so you’ll get optimal sound quality and not miss out on any part of your music.
That said, manufacturers often build their headphones with a frequency range that goes well beyond the needs of most listeners. Unless you’re looking for studio headphones (and if that’s the case, you’ll certainly not want to be investing in earbuds for that), a fairly modest frequency range should work just fine for you. A low of 20 Hz and a high of 20,000 Hz (or 20 KHz) should be perfectly fine for most listeners. A wider range won’t hurt, but it probably won’t make or break your listening experience. Once you move out of this standard range, a lot of the sound the earbuds can capture will actually be outside what the human ear can reasonably perceive.
The nitty-gritty of what impedance means can be highly complicated, but in general terms, it refers to the amount of power that a source needs to feed to the headphones so they can operate at maximum capacity. This is a case where a higher number isn’t always the best solution. Instead, you want earbuds or headphones with an impedance that matches the power output of your source device as closely as possible.
In your day to day affairs, chances are good that you’ll primarily be using your earbuds paired with a smartphone or a dedicated portable device like an iPod. And that means that a lower impedance is ideal. While many higher end headphones can have an impedance in the hundreds, smartphones pair best with headphones when they’re somewhere in the range of 10 to 70 ohms.
Unless you plan on hooking your earbuds up to a dedicated amplifier or preamp, this is the range you should shoot for. Higher is better, because higher numbers can deliver better frequency responses, but consider 70 ohms your plateau. If you’re really dedicated to getting the most out of the earbuds, you can research the exact impedance of your phone and look for earbuds with the closest match possible. But the distinction here will be relatively minor, and you’re probably better off prioritizing other factors.
Drivers are the speakers that project music directly into your ears, and while they can be made from a number of different materials, the most important thing to consider is the size. The bigger the driver, the better sound it can offer. Larger and more sophisticated drivers can even offer a significant boost to particular ranges like lows, mids, and highs. But comfort should also be key here. The larger the drivers, the larger the buds. There’s a natural trade-off there, and that means you’ll have to find a balance that works for you.
Many audiophiles see earbuds as simply disposable alternatives to “real” headphones. It’s a reputation that’s not helped by the cheap pricing of buds. But as the technology that goes into in-ear headphones become more sophisticated and reliable to produce, they’re becoming a functionally viable alternative to traditional over-ear headphones.
The earbuds on our list represent the best of the best. Whether you’re looking for something to wear during business trips, your daily commute, or your daily jog, there are multiple options on our list that can suit your needs admirably. And the fact that they all come in under $50 means that they can be bought in addition to a more traditional pair of headphones without buyers remorse. If you’re looking to build up a collection, be sure to check out our guide to the best headphones.If you liked our article on earbuds under $50, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.