Updated on September 17, 2018, to add the 1More Piston Fit

There are plenty of reasons why you might not want to spend too much on a pair of earbuds. Regardless of what brought you here, we’re going to ease your decision-making process and present to you the best earbuds under $20.

The best earbuds under $20 are the 1More Piston Fit

Each earbud houses a dynamic titanium driver and the nozzles extend at a 45° angle for a comfortable fit. The four colorways are iPhone-matched to fit with your iOS device, but they look just as chic with Android devices too. Partway down the right earbud rests an in-line mic and remote which allows for basic playback control and taking calls.

1More Piston Fit

The aluminum housings aid in mitigating internal vibration and sound distortion. Aside from that, the Piston Fit are outfitted with a tensile-resistant cable that’s wrapped around Kevlar fiber. If you’re familiar with the 1More Triple-Driver In-Ear, then you know that this Kevlar fiber design is durable. For around $15, you’re going to have a hard time finding a better all-around pair of earbuds.

If you’re all about that bass, get the Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi

The Monoprice Ehnaced Bass Hi-Fi earbuds are a recurring conversation piece when it comes to affordable IEMs. These ‘buds are bulky and are outfitted with an ear-hook design. The low-end signature is emphasized but won’t repeatedly punch you in the eardrums. Rather, it’s just easier to perceive than vocals and the treble.

Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi

Extras are hit or miss with earbuds under $20, and the Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi omit an in-line mic and remote. If you’re constantly making calls, you may find that the 1More Piston Fit better suit your purposes. Additionally, if you’re one for tossing earbuds into a bag with reckless abandon, these aren’t your friend. They tangle easily, but for being the price of a Taco Bell dinner date, these IEMs are pretty special.

What you should know about earbuds under $20

If you’re in the market for earbuds under $20, there are bound to be some significantly cut corners. Unfortunately, sound quality isn’t going to blow anyone’s socks off. Now, relative to what you’re paying, all of these options are impressive but none of them can hold a candle to something like the RHA MA650, which will run you more than double our $20 limit.

Best earbuds under $20: Located on the back of the in-line remote, the RHA MA650 microphone effectively picks up the speaker's voice during calls. Pictured: The RHA MA650 microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack on top fo an open music box.

The RHA MA650 cost $55 and come with plenty of extras that won’t be included with earbuds under $20.

However, one of the most important factors when it comes to earbuds is seal and fit. A cogent seal will vastly improve sound quality, because it isolates you from ambient noise. Investing in third-party ear tips will vastly improve sound quality.

Standout with the Betron YSM1000

The gold accents on the Betron YSM1000 are eye-catching enough to give Flavor Flav’s grills a run for their money. A cross-hatched texture encases the earbuds’ metal housing, while the form factor retains a generally traditional aesthetic. The coated 1.2-meter cable helps to resist tangling when the ‘buds are mindlessly thrown into a coat pocket or bottomless bag.

Betron YSM1000

A bass-heavy sound signature defines the YSM1000 which is helpful when on public transit and you need to hear the beat above the morning grumble surrounding commuters. As far as fit goes, YSM1000 include the typical small, medium, and large ear tips. There aren’t many features here, but Betron does provide a PU leather carrying pouch to protect the headphones, pretty nice for earbuds under $20.

Make gains with the MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6P

Whether you sweat profusely on the daily is neither here nor there, but the MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6P are a great option for exercise enthusiasts on a budget. These are IPX5-certified, meaning that they can withstand all the sweat your glands can spill onto them.

MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6P

These are yet another ear-hook style earbud, but it’s truly functional with the Sport-Fi M6P. It provides a more secure fit while isolating noise, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out while you complete your circuit training. Need more? These include an in-line mic and remote, come with six pairs of ear tips, and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. Overall, these are a steal for workout earbuds under $20.

 Water-resistantWaterproofCan withstand
IPX0Not water-resistant
IPX1Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
IPX2Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
IPX3Sprays
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
IPX4Splashes, omnidirectional
IPX5Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
IPX6Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
IPX7Complete submersion
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
IPX8Complete submersion
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min

Get the best bang for your buck with the Panasonic ErgoFit

The Panasonic Ergo Fit are legendary. They’ve accrued ~54,000 Amazon reviews, proving that we consumers love these $9 earbuds. As you may expect, they don’t afford a lot. However, included are three pairs of ear tips: small, medium, and large. Lacking all else, the Ergo Fit are still an outstanding deal.

Panasonic ErgoFit

Audio quality is fabulous for this price point; the operative phrase being “for this price point.” The ErgoFit come in a wide array of colorways, which also happen to dictate the price. Fun fact: they were designed to pair with the iPod Nano 5th generation colors, hence the whimsy.

As far as fit is concerned, well, they’re ergonomic. Now, what does that actually mean? They’ll stay in your ears without causing unbearable hot spots. They stay in fairly well but vigorous movement may be enough to cause them to fall out. For earbuds under $20, these are hands-down the best bang for your buck.

Notable mentions

Best earbuds under $20: The KZ ATE HiFi 'buds on a black background. The earbuds are a copper/brown color.

The KZ ATE HiFi in-ears are meant to be worn ear-hook style. This lessens unwanted vibrations from traveling into the ear.

  • KZ ATE HiFi: These were formerly the best cheap earbuds, and the earhook design mitigates microphonics. This results in greater clarity and less external noise masking your music.
  • Sony MDR EX15AP: These earbuds include an in-line, one-button mic and remote. You can download the Sony Smart Key app to customize control over your Android phone all for less than $15.
  • Urophylla Earphones: These bass-boosted earbuds feature angled nozzles for an ergonomic fit and include an in-line mic and remote.
  • MEE Audio RX18: This is the same company that manufactures the Sport-Fi M6P. If you’re constantly struggling to find cheap earbuds that fit well, your search ends here.

How we chose the best earbuds under $20

Being that we’ve been covering the audio industry for some time, we’re acutely aware of what the top of the market is. It’s not exactly a huge mystery which companies are great at this sort of thing, and which ones… aren’t as much. However, we give everyone their fair shot because we’re not all-knowing gods of consumer audio or anything, and there are always some surprises out there. That said, we’ve culled through countless earbuds under $20 to find the best possible options for you.

Just because you’re paying bottom dollar doesn’t mean that you’re buying bottom shelf.

Why you should trust us

Not only is this site our nine-to-five, but Adam, Chris, and Lily each have multiple years of reviewing consumer audio products. We’ve kept tabs on the ever-changing world of audio, giving us the ability to parse apart the gimmicks from the gems.

Best earbuds under $20: Holding the control module.

Not all earbuds under $20 will include a control module.

We want you to be happy with your purchasenone of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here is allowed to benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work, regardless of whether or not people clicked that “buy” icon. They will never even know if anyone did, though the site going under might be a good hint.


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