Finding a good pair of cheap earbuds is a lost art form, which is why we want to help you find the best earbuds under $50. Not everyone has the money or the incentive to spend hundreds of dollars—or even $100—on something just for casual listening or a commute to work.
When it comes to convenience, nothing beats throwing a pair of ‘buds into your pocket. Even the best over-ear headphones lack that level of portability. With earbuds, you used to have to sacrifice a great deal of quality for sub-$50 earbuds; fortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. So let’s get into it. Here are some of our top picks for the best ‘buds $50 can buy.
The best earbuds under $50 are the RHA MA390
We didn’t just pick these because they’re easy to spell; no, the MA390 are the best earbuds $30 can buy. And, yes, this is a list of the best earbuds under $50, which leaves you with an extra few bucks to deck these out in a pair of Comply ear tips; they cost a pretty penny but dramatically improve sound quality and passive noise isolation.
RHA MA390Full Review
Each housing is molded from a single piece of 6063-grade aluminum; this one-piece design removes unnecessary internal obstructions to provide you with a clear sound. The bass is surprisingly emphasized, and it’s reproduction only slightly masks vocals. Of course, these aren’t going to hold a candle to the ‘buds found on our best earbuds list, but they’re still solid.
The dual-material construction rarely gets tangled, and if it does, it takes a mere few seconds to straighten out. Additionally, the dual-density silicon ear tips are comfortable and durable. Aside from that, RHA includes a shirt clip and drawstring, mesh carrying pouch.
No headphone jack? No problem
The Anker SoundBuds NB10 are Bluetooth-enabled and oriented towards workout enthusiasts. Though these don’t quite cut it for our best workout earbuds list, they surpass what most consumer may expect for sub-$40 earbuds. The flexible hook-design is great for working out, providing added stability; plus, the ear tips are ergonomically angled to stay in comfortably, whether your walking down the grocery isle or running on the treadmill. Battery life isn’t going to blow you away at 6 hours, but it’ll easily get you through a week’s-worth of workouts. Not to mention, they’re IPX-certified.
Anker Soundbuds NB10Full Review
Housed in aluminum, the drivers are fairly durable. Pair that with a braided, tangle-resistant cable, and these are easy to regularly carry around. That said, the cable is a double-edged sword, because it still feels cheap. Then again, who’s surprised? After all, these are the best earbuds under $50. In all fairness, things get more luxurious once you start listening to them. Aside from overemphasized, harsh highs, these make for an enjoyable listen. Connecting is easy via a standard 3.5mm jack. A single long-press of the multi-function button lets you access personal assistants like Google Now and Siri.
The Shure SE112-GR provide the best sound for earbuds under $50
The Shure SE112-GR shouldn’t come as a big surprise; the brand has a well-earned reputation for quality audio products. These come with an in-line mic option, but those cost around $60, which puts them outside of the earbuds under $50 price range. Opting out of the mic puts these earbuds under $50. That price makes it one of the more expensive earbuds on this list, but oh, so worth it.
Shure SE112-GRFull Review
Fresh out of the box, the first thing you notice is the quality of the cable. The heavy duty wire ends in a 90-degree, 3.5mm jack and looks impossible to break. They max out at 105dB, which is right at the threshold of pain for most people (120dB), but I thought this was a good thing. It means you don’t have to max out your device to get a comfortable sound. If you’re looking to wear these in typical earbud style you’ll be a little surprised, since these have to be worn in an over-the-ear style. Though it may be odd, a lot of earbuds take this approach. Plus, it mitigates microphonics, which is when vibrations from the cable impede sound quality.
Need good sound on the cheap? Check out the Panasonic Ergo Fit
Eventually all good things come to an end, so were closing out the list with the Panasonic Ergo Fit earbuds. These are super comfortable and are pretty much the best headphones you can get for $10—way less than $50, for those keeping score at home. As far as build quality goes, these look cheap… because they are. They tangle easily, so be wary of crumpling them up and stuffing them in your pockets. That said, the audio quality is better than anything you’ll find for this price, hands down.
Panasonic Ergo Fit
One of the cooler things about the Ergo Fit is that they come in eight colorways. Originally, they were designed to match the colors of the 5th generation iPod nano. Unsurprisingly, the earbuds have an ergonomic fit, meaning that they’ll stay in fairly easily. They’re not exactly ear-huggers, so don’t expect them to stay in while doing anything strenuous. For day-to-day usage, though, you won’t have a problem. If you decide on another pair of cheap headphones on this list, these are worth picking up as a secondary pair to compliment them.
Who are these for?
Anyone who has found themselves between a rock and a hard place, financially speaking. No matter what pair you commit to from this list of the best earbuds under $50, you’ll be making the least amount of compromises possible, given the constraints.
Aside from those restricted by a budget, these are great for anyone looking for a supplementary, on-the-go pair of earbuds that won’t break the bank but will make their ears happy. From the tough to the beautiful, we’ve gathered it all to help you feel confident in your next pair of ‘buds.
Though sound quality and comfort differs from person to person, these have been pretty much unanimously agreed upon by many as some of the best bang-for-your-buck earbuds. Be sure to let us know what your favorites were and if you have any personal favorites that weren’t listed.
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What makes a set of earbuds “the best?
When it comes to earbuds under $50, we know that there are sacrifices that companies have made to each product. From build quality to sound clarity, there are cut corners for the sake of affordability. Plus, we took extra time to take into account how most people actually use headphones. After all, what’s the good in having a best list that doesn’t help most people buy headphones they like? Because our ad-free business model relies on you enjoying your headphones without returning them, this list represents what we earnestly feel is the most deserving of your money.
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. As frequent visitors of SoundGuys already know, Chris wears his hatred for all things Bluetooth like a lovesick teenager wears his heart on his sleeve. The Bluetooth products listed? They’re damned special. Adam, a SoundGuy for nearly three years, has heard everything from pristine highs to vacant lows. Then there’s Lily with countless hours clocked in at a radio station working in a professional studio environment and reviewing audio products on her own time prior to joining SoundGuys.
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