Great audio doesn’t always have to be expensive. Despite what all the purists might tell you, not everyone needs the highest-end headphones with premium drivers, a fancy design, and other bonus features. Besides, if you are willing to hunt around a bit, you might just find a good value for not a lot of money. Since a lot of people aren’t willing to wear their over the ear headphones outside, in-ear headphones are still the hottest popular audio product.
Still, a lot of people tend to break the fragile in-ear monitors, or you just end up losing them. It’s understandable as to why most people wouldn’t want to spend a lot of cash on them. So if you’re looking for the best cheap earbuds, we’ve got you covered. Not only that, but we’ll also cover some of the best inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds on the market.
With that said, let’s get to it. These are some of the best earbuds you can buy on a budget.
1More is beloved among its dedicated, albeit small, fanbase for making quality headphones and other audio gear at a cut-throat price. The Piston Fit is one of their best budget options, and it’s also the best sounding in-ear monitor on this list.
The outer casing of these earbuds is constructed entirely out of aluminum, which makes them robust and lightweight. They have a lot of color options available as well. You can get them in either Silver, Rose Gold, Blue, or in a stealthy Space Grey color. The tips are tilted at an angle so they slip into the ear canal more easily. The 1.25-meter cord is made out of rubber and is wrapped by a Kevlar lining.
As for sound quality, there is a bit of sound leakage, but that is due to the wider soundstage of these earphones. The overall signature is well balanced. The highs are bright, the mids are detailed and smooth, and the bass does have a bit of a punch to it. Some people might prefer a bit more depth to the low-end, but that’s a personal preference.
With a balanced sound signature, sturdy build quality, and just an overall great value, it’s easy to see why these are our favorite earbuds under $20. A lot of the time, you can find them for a much cheaper price as well, which makes them even more compelling.
The Easy KZ ZST is a sensational pair of in-ear monitors that punch way above their weight. The good news is that they actually deliver on their promises. The only reason they are the second spot is that they have a different sound signature compared to our top pick. Some people might actually prefer the ZST over the 1More Piston Fit.
First off, the design is quite eyecatching. I am not one for a loud or flashy look, but I somehow ended up loving the aesthetic here. The purple/pink coating at the top and the blue coating at the bottom is a great color combo. They are ever so slightly translucent, which means you can just barely see the internals.
The fit is really good with these earphones. They need to sit in the outer area of the ear while the ear tips go into the ear canal at an angle. If this is your first using headphones with this sort of fit, it takes a bit of getting used to it. After a while, it becomes second nature and you barely notice they are even there.
The wire is well put-together and seems to be of decent quality. It is detachable so if you do end up damaging it, replacing it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. While they don’t have any active noise cancellation, the fit is very secure and creates a good seal. This allows passive noise cancellation to be excellent.
The sound signature is V-shaped, which some may or may not like. The bass is punchy and booming, and the highs are bright and colorful. The midrange is clear enough, but at times, it can get muddled while playing some tracks. We doubt many people would notice this, however, and bass-heads will definitely love them.
Overall, these headphones are excellent. They deliver on all the basics, and with an eyecatching design at that. Don’t think twice about buying these.
The Phillips Pro wired earbuds are one of the very few budget earbuds listed as having “Hi-Res Audio”. Technically, every other brand in this price range does boast great audio, but none of them quite go to that level. This means Phillips has a reason to be confident with their Pro Wired earbuds, and it’s easy to see why.
There’s no doubt about it that these were made with pure performance in mind. They use 8.6 neodymium drivers, which are actually pretty impressive for a pair of earphones. The frequency range for these headphones is rated at 7Hz to 40KHz, which is extensive. The addition of excellent crystal clear sound outport without any sort of distortion at all is also a huge bonus. The highs and mids are great, but the highlight here is definitely the bass.
The bass is deep, punchy, and will leave you bobbing your head along with the track. It doesn’t disturb the other frequencies either, which is an appreciated quality for sure.
The design has a nice shiny and metallic look to it. It’s nothing special but they do have an understated look. You get a carrying case along with three sizes of ear tips. The mic is nothing special, in fact, it has a lot of distortion. I avoid these for voice chat while gaming. The cable is also a bit flimsy and gets tangled easily.
These days, it’s really hard to talk about earbuds and not mention all of these truly wireless earbuds in the market right now. It’s the hottest trend right now in the headphones department, and it’s all thanks to Airpods. Sure Airpods are really great for iOS users and Apple fans, but there’s no beating around the bush, they are very expensive.
Hence to hop on the bandwagon, a lot of third party manufacturers have been making alternatives for much cheaper. Most of these aren’t anything to write home about, but Bluedio’s ELF 2 TWS earbuds just might be an exception at this budget.
The charging case isn’t anything extraordinary. They are about the size of the Airpods charging case, but maybe just a tad bit smaller. Black is the only color option available here, but that’s not too much of an issue. The case is made out of hard plastic, and while it doesn’t exactly fill us with confidence, the build quality is decent enough.
The earbuds themselves are also pretty lightweight, which is a huge bonus. You won’t notice them in your ways, and you can just throw them in a bag and forget about them till you need them. The sound quality is honestly surprising. They have a wide frequency range of 11Hz-20KHz, and the bass is satisfying. The midrange is clear and warm, but the highs could be a bit brighter. Overall, great sound quality for a pair of wireless earbuds.
However, they are not without their flaws. You’d want earbuds like these to be super convenient. Sadly, voice control on this pair is very limiting, and it doesn’t do a great job of picking up your voice exactly. They also have occasional connection issues. At least the pairing process is easy as it is similar to any other wireless earbuds out there. Still for the price, not a bad buy.
We thought it would be important to include a pair of good and affordable sports-oriented earbuds on this list. There are a lot of headphones out there that are specifically made for fitness, but some of them are either too expensive, and the cheap ones aren’t of great quality.
The MEE Audio M6 just might change that. They provide a fine middle ground between sweat and water resistance and crystal clear audio. You get a carrying case and different sized foam and rubber ear tips in the box. The pre-installed ear tips actually feel quite good, and they do a good job of staying securely in the ear. They are also quite comfortable and lightweight.
Water and sweat resistance is rated at IPX5 to help with occasional splashes or sweat. Granted it’s not a particularly high rating but it should help out in extensive workouts. The crystal clear audio quality and the balanced details are easy to appreciate. However, there’s nothing that really stands out in this area. Everything sounds decent, but nothing is going to blow you away. I also wish they were a bit louder.
Still, considering how easily others “sports” headphones tend to break, and there are many others that sound much worse, this is actually a pretty good bargain. You can even go for the pro version which sounds a bit better, but they are a bit pricier.