Finding a good pair of cheap earbuds has almost become a lost art form. Not everyone has the money or the incentive to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on something that they are only going to use for casual listening or a commute to work.
When it comes to convenience nothing beats being able to throw your headphones in your pocket until you need them again. Even the best over-the-ear headphones lack that level of portability. With earbuds, you used to have to sacrifice a great deal of quality if you wanted a sub-$50 pair of earbuds, but that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. So let’s get into it, here are some of our top picks for the best ‘buds fifty bucks can buy.
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Symphonized NRG Wood in-ears
The NRG natural wood in-ears by Symphonized are next on this list. Besides only costing $25.00, they have a unique build quality to go along with the sound. The wire is 1.2m long and wrapped in braided nylon all the way up to the wooden earbuds. The NRG in-ears also have playback controls that work with both Android and iOS. It won’t give you much in terms of functionality, only a simple pause and play option is available, but it does also have a microphone built-in. Sound-wise these are very bass heavy. Not to say that it’s a bad thing, just something to be aware of. For the most part it has solid lows, but for some songs the bass is literally eye-rattling. Also something to note is that the cord is made of nylon it does sometimes make an annoying sound when it rubs against clothes for some reason, but that’s a small price to pay for only $25. Overall if you want playback controls and bumping bass, these are the way to go. They are available in multiple colors, but I decided to go with blue so in the box came 3 black tips as well as 3 blue tips. Some of the other colors it is available in are black, pink, red, white, orange, turquoise, and even zebra (white with black tripes). It also came with a eco-friendly carrying case which looks like it’s made out of a hemp material that complements the wood nicely. Assuming you get a good fit, the NRG’s also do a fairly good job at noise isolation. Then again anything that you stuff in your ear will probably do a good job at blocking outside noise, but I digress. They come with the standard three sizes of silicone ear tips (small, medium, large) so take the time to try them out and see which one is the best fit for your ears.
These come either with in-line mic and playback controls or without, but the choice is yours. They look like they were built to last and for the most part feel like it too. The 45 degree 3.5 mm jack has a hard plastic casing that looks like it would be difficult to do any damage to. In fact, one person on a forum had been using them for months when doing yard work and they still worked perfectly, so it’s fair to say that they’re pretty durable. Though it’s sure to be different for everyone, the earbuds fit perfectly in my ear without me having to switch them out for the other two included tips. If the three included sizes still don’t feel right for you, they also come with a fourth “premium” earphone tip made of memory foam. Hopefully those will do the trick. As far as quality goes the bass definitely makes itself heard but, for the most part, not at the expense of the mids or highs. The reinforced cable also means you wont have to worry about these breaking. They have 8mm drivers in the each earbud and a sensitivity of about 100 dB. Digging even further into the specs shows a frequency range that covers all of what humans can hear: 20Hz – 20kHz. Should you decide to get the version that has the playback controls built into the wires it’s worth mentioning that they are designed to work specifically with your devices OS, so make sure to get either the iOS or Android version. Like all the other earbuds on this list, the best part about these are the price. They will only cost you roughly $20 depending on whether or not you want an in-line mic. Not only were these good enough for us but apparently plenty of people who already purchased them like them as well.
ADV.Sound M4Full Review
As it turns out, smaller audio companies know a thing or two about good audio. Case in point: ADV.Sound. The company started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a pair of earbuds that were meant to deliver audiophile in-ear monitors for cheap. Now you should take that with a grain of salt since there are plenty of professional (and much more expensive) in-ear monitors that would blow these out of the water, but that doesn’t mean that these aren’t great for the price. The drivers are housing in aluminum making them fairly durable. Pair that with a braided plastic cable that doesn’t tangle and these are actually really easy to carry around with you on your daily activities. Especially since they come with a handy hardshell carrying case. That said, the cable is a double edged sword because even though it’s durable and doesn’t tangle easily it still feels kind of cheap which reminds you that these are a sub-$50 pair of in-ears. But that changes once you start listening to them. Don’t get me wrong these aren’t the best headphones I’ve ever used by any means, but considering how inexpensive they are I was really impressed. They can easily hold their own against in-ears that were significantly more expensive and sound even better than some of the more known name brands. Aside from some elements of the highs which come across a little harsh, these have a very accurate sound that’s still enjoyable to listen to. Like the other earbuds on this list, these connect via a standard 3.5mm jack. They have a one-button remote built into the cable that’ll let you pause/play songs and skip tracks, but that’s it. If you need anything extra like volume controls, you’ll have to look elsewhere. On the bright side, long pressing the button does let you access personal assistants like Google Now and Siri so if you need to send texts or make a few phone calls you can still do that.
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Shure SE112-GRFull Review
Next on the list shouldn’t come as a big surprise if you’ve been following Sound Guys for a while. These come with an in-line mic option but those cost around $60.00 which put them outside of the sub-$50 price range, but they do exist. Without the mic option, the price is just under fifty bucks at $49.00. That price makes it one of the more expensive earbuds on this list, but oh so worth it. The SE112s add to Shures line-up of great audio products. Fresh out of the box, the first thing you notice is the quality of the cable. It’s a heavy duty wire that ends in a 90 degree 3.5 mm jack and looks like I couldn’t snap if I tried. It also came with two other tip options (small and large), and a premium looking velvet carrying case. They max out at 105 dB which is right at the threshold of pain for most people (which is about 120 dB), but I thought this was a good thing. It means you don’t have to max out your device to get a comfortable sound, and at the same time you can blow your ears out if you really want to. Always good choices to have. 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. A lot of earbuds take this approach but it’s something we feel is worth mentioning just in case you don’t find that method too comfortable. Wearing it this way also helps with the sound isolation so you’ll hear less of the loud noises going on around you.
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 only about $10.00, which is way less than fifty bucks if you’re keeping score at home. They also come with two extra silicon ear tips and don’t have any in-line microphone or playback controls, but I wasn’t really expecting it for under $10.00. As far as build quality goes these do look cheap but then again, they are. They do tangle easily and do not come with a carrying case so be wary of crumbling 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. One of the cooler things about the Ergo Fits is that they come in so many color options. They were designed to match the colors of the iPod nano 5th generation, so you can get 7 of the 8 available color options from Amazon and still not be over the $50.00 limit. They use 9mm drivers to achieve their sound and the earbuds have an ergonomic (get it?) fit that means they’ll stay in your ear fairly easily. They’re not exactly ear huggers so don’t expect them to stay in if you’re doing anything that requires a lot of movement, but for regular day-to-day usage 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.
Sound quality and comfort differs from person to person, but 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 also let us know if you have any personal favorites that were not on this list. Who doesn’t like a good deal?
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