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Best wired earbuds under $20

These earbuds each cost less than a to-go KFC Bucket Meal.
By
June 7, 2022
Best overall
1MORE Piston Fit
By 1MORE
The 1MORE PIston Fit wired earbuds in black against a white background.
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Positives
High-value
Comfortable fit
Kevlar fiber cable
Negatives
Straight plug subject to wear and tear
Paint tends to chip quickly
The Bottom Line.
1More is known for its high-quality audio products and the Piston Fit make the 1More name an affordable pick for all listeners.
Best bass
Philips Pro Wired Earbuds
By Philips
A product image of the Philips Pro Wired Earbuds in grey against a white background.
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Positives
Comfortable
Integrated microphone
Relatively clear audio
Negatives
Poor mic quality
Gets tangled easily
The Bottom Line.
The Philips Pro Wired Earbuds are great for listeners who want more bass and a comfortable fit.
Best sound
Sony MDREX155AP
By Sony
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Positives
Decent sound quality
Comfortable
Cable management tool
Negatives
Build quality
The Bottom Line.
These earbuds have an integrated mic/control module and sound good for the price.
Best Sweat Resistance
JBL Endurance RUN
By JBL
A product render of the JBL Endurance RUN wired exercise earbuds.
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Positives
IPX5
Versatile design
Integrated mic/remote
Magnetic housings
Negatives
Not for smaller ears
Cable noise
The Bottom Line.
If you're looking for a pair of earbuds to toss in your gym bag, look no further.
Bang for your Buck
Panasonic Ergo Fit
By Panasonic
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Positives
Price
Sound quality
Negatives
Build quality
The Bottom Line.
These are regarded as some of the best bang for your buck earbuds ever made, so whether you get one or ten you shouldn't be disappointed.

A lot of us are guilty of losing earbuds, so having a $20 budget feels reasonable. Whether you’re looking for replacement earbuds or backup buds, we’re here to ease your decision-making process. Here are the best wired earbuds under $20 USD.

Editor’s note: this list was updated on June 7, 2022, to add the Sony MDREX155AP, update the formatting, and include the JLab GO Air POP in the Notable mentions section. We also included in-line FAQs and addressed a user-submitted FAQ.

Why is the 1MORE Piston Fit the best set of wired earbuds under $20 USD?

Each earbud houses a dynamic titanium driver and the nozzles extend at a 45-degree angle for a comfortable fit. The four colorways are iPhone-matched to fit with your iOS device, but it looks just as chic with Android devices too. Partway down the right earbud rests an in-line mic and remote, which facilitates playback and call controls.

1MORE Piston Fit
1MORE Piston Fit
1More Piston Fit best earbuds under $20 amazon product image of a woman wearing the earbuds in teal and reaching for the in-line remote.
1MORE Piston Fit
1MORE Piston Fit
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The aluminum housings aid in mitigating internal vibration and sound distortion. Aside from that, the Piston Fit is 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.

Get clear, amplified bass with the Philips Pro Wired Earbuds

Philips’ Pro earphones are the most expensive buds listed, and these drivers have the most extensive frequency response listed (7Hz-40kHz). The 3.5mm cable also features an integrated microphone, so you can take work calls remotely.

Philips Pro Wired Earbuds
Philips Pro Wired Earbuds
A product image of the Philips Pro Wired Earbuds in grey against a white background.
Philips Pro Wired Earbuds
Philips Pro Wired Earbuds
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Philips includes a carrying pouch and three pairs of ear tips so you can find the best fit for you. It takes just a few minutes to do so and will vastly improve both comfort and sound quality, which is important to hear an accurate bass response. The housings are decorated with a metallic finish which makes these best wired earbuds under $20 USD a stylish, functional choice.

Get the best sound with the Sony MDREX155AP

Sony has a lot of experience in manufacturing audio products for budget-conscious listeners—whether it be Bluetooth speakers or wired earbuds. That experience comes through with the Sony MDREX155AP: a pair of wired earbuds that offer a little more than you’d expect, given its sub-$20 USD price tag.

Sony MDREX155AP
Sony MDREX155AP
The Sony MDREX155AP wired earbuds and silicone ear tips.
Sony MDREX155AP
Sony MDREX155AP
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Like most budget earbuds, there aren’t really any features to speak on. However, you do get an integrated mic and control module. With this, you can take calls and control playback without reaching for your phone. Sony even throws in a cable management tool that should elongate the life of the buds. You get three pairs of silicone ear tips and the frequency response ranges from 5Hz-24kHz. Any mobile phone can drive these 16Ω earbuds.

A warning, this set of buds occassionally jumps to $29 USD, in which case we recommend the MDREX15AP. The MDREX15AP variant fluctuates between $9-19 USD.

Make gains with the JBL Endurance RUN workout earbuds

The JBL Endurance RUN is a great option for exercise enthusiasts on a budget. These earbuds are IPX5-certified, meaning that they can withstand all the sweat your glands can spill onto them.

JBL Endurance RUN
JBL Endurance RUN
A complete product render of the JBL Endurance RUN wired exercise earbuds.A product render of the JBL Endurance RUN wired exercise earbuds.
JBL Endurance RUN
JBL Endurance RUN
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You can wear the earbuds the standard way, with the cables descending directly down from the ear, or hook the buds over and around the ear. The latter may be preferred if you’re usually aggravated by cable noise; doing so mitigates it. An around-the-ear fit provides more stability, so you don’t have to worry about the buds falling out while you complete your circuit training. Need more? JBL includes an in-line mic and remote, and extra ear tips. Overall, the JBL Endurance RUNa steal for workout earbuds under $20 USD.

Get the best bang for your buck with the Panasonic ErgoFit

The Panasonic Ergo Fit is legendary. It’s accrued ~54,000 Amazon reviews, proving that we consumers love this $9 USD set of earbuds. As you may expect, it doesn’t afford a lot. However, included are three pairs of ear tips: small, medium, and large. Lacking all else, the Ergo Fit is still an outstanding deal.

Panasonic Ergo Fit
Panasonic Ergo Fit
The Panasonic Ergo Fit earbuds in red and white on a white tabletop.
Panasonic Ergo Fit
Panasonic Ergo Fit
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Audio quality is fabulous for this price point; the operative phrase being “for this price point.” The ErgoFit comes in a wide array of colorways, which also happen to dictate the price. Fun fact: it was designed to pair with the iPod Nano 5th generation colors, hence the whimsy.

As far as fit is concerned, well, it’s ergonomic. Now, what does that actually mean? It’ll stay in your ears without causing unbearable hot spots. It stays in fairly well but vigorous movement may be enough to cause them to fall out. For the best wired earbuds under $20 USD, it’s a great value.

Is it worth spending a bit more for the KZ ZSN Pro X?

Close up of the KZ ZSN PRO X highlighting the 2-pin connection cable.
The 2-pin connector is an older style, but does the job.

The KZ ZSN Pro X costs $26 USD, kicking it out of the running as a top contender for this list, but if you’re willing to part with $6 USD more, you’ll find plenty to love about these budget in-ear monitors (IEMs). Meriting our Editors’ Choice Award, the ZSN Pro X very closely follows our consumer target curve and should make just about any genre of music sound good. Few listeners will find the need to equalize the sound because it really is just that good out of the box, especially for the price.

Isolation is also quite good since the earbuds can affect some low frequencies and reduces high frequencies by 20-40dB. This performance is dependent on your ability to get a good fit with the earbuds, however, which you may not be able to do since the housings fairly big. Those with smaller-than-average ears could benefit from something more petite.

For just $26 USD, nothing can quite hold a candle to these earphones.

You get a microphone integrated into the 2-pin detachable cable, and it sounds all right. Some background noise comes through the headset but it’s still generally better than embedded mic systems in cheap true wireless earbuds.

KZ ZSN Pro X microphone demo (Ideal):

KZ ZSN Pro X microphone demo (Street):

KZ ZSN Pro X microphone demo (Wind):

How does the microphone sound to you?

647 votes

Wired earbuds under $20: Notable mentions

A man holds the RHA S500i earbuds.
The RHA earbud housings are small and lightweight.
  • Betron YSM1000 Earbuds: These 24K gold-plated pair of earbuds offer a rather balanced sound signature at an incredibly low price tag.
  • KZ ATE HiFi: These were formerly the best cheap earbuds, and the ear hook design mitigates microphonics. This results in greater clarity and less external noise masking your music.
  • MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6: This pair of earbuds feature a memory wire that wraps over your ear, ensuring a comfortable fit that won’t fall off during your workouts.
  • 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.
  • Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi: The Monoprice Enhanced 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, so they’ll stay in place as you walk to work.
  • RHA S500: If you’re willing to splurge an additional few dollars, RHA’s affordable earbuds are a great pair of budget drivers. Aluminum housings make the earbuds look grander than the ~$20 price tag implies, and the one-button remote works with both iOS and Android devices.
  • 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.

What if you want wireless earbuds?

The JLab GO Air POP inside the case on a white table.
The JLab GO Air POP is a great true wireless choice for those on a budget.
  • JLab GO Air POP: If you would rather get a pair of true wireless earbuds, the JLab GO Air POP is a great affordable pick. These earphones come in a light and small charging case, have IPX4 water resistance, and sound good too. Just as with most other JLab products, the case has an integrated USB cable for you to charge from anywhere.
  • Sony WI-C310: This set of neckband-style earbuds is a solid deal. You get Bluetooth 5.0 and support for the SBC and AAC codecs.

What you should know about the best wired earbuds under $20 USD

Whether you’re looking to buy $200 USD earbuds or $20 USD earbuds, you want to know that your money is going to a good product. When shopping around, you may come across features or technical jargon that you’re unfamiliar with. We recommend that complete newbies read our headphone buying guide, but those who may be a bit more experienced can skate by with the highlights below.

If you’re in the market for wired earbuds under $20, there are bound to be some significantly cut corners. Unfortunately, the 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.

One of the first things to go when hunting even for the best wired earbuds under $20 is build quality. Materials are predominantly plastic. You certainly won’t find any sort of Kevlar-reinforced braided cable like you will with pricier 1MORE products. Additionally, few research and development resources are allocated to cheaper products. This means that ergonomics and sound quality fall to the wayside. Things are passable and could be good for the price. However, they won’t outperform professional IEMs.


How should budget earbuds fit?

A picture of Sony WF-1000XM3 extra ear tips on a black table, demonstrating that listeners who buy the best earbuds under $20 likely won't receive this same vast array of options.
Sony provides plenty of ear tips with its WF-1000XM3 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds, something you won’t find even with the best wired earbuds under $20.

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.  Bass reproduction is the first to go when a seal isn’t formed to the ear. By allowing external noise in, you’re degrading the overall sound quality of your earbuds, because of auditory masking. Investing in third-party ear tips will vastly improve sound quality.

Can you use wired earbuds if your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack?

A picture of two smartphones, one with and one without a headphone jack, to show that not all of the best headphones under $20 will immediately work with readers' phones.
If your phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone input, you may have to invest in a USB-C dongle adapter.

If your phone manufacturer nixed the headphone jack, you can always pick up a USB-C adapter. It’s a bit cumbersome but does the trick. Otherwise, you can always look into cheap true wireless earbuds or USB-C headphones. Regarding the latter, though, the technology has yet to impress us. In fact, it seems a dead market at this point.

How we choose the best wired earbuds under $20

A picture of the AKG Samsung Galaxy S10e earbuds, which are some of the best earbuds under $20, on a lens filter against a black background.
The AKG earbuds included with Samsung Galaxy S10 phones feature angled nozzles for a comfortable fit.

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 there are always some surprises out there. That said, we’ve culled through countless wired earbuds under $20 to find the best possible options for you.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

We’re stationed at this site day-to-day and understand that consumer and professional needs are constantly evolving. Seeing as we’re inundated with audio products, we’re able to easily sift through the noise to pick out the good from the disappointing. Each of us has multiple years of experience when it comes to keeping tabs on the audio industry and rely on that to guide our review process.

A close-up image of a man holding the control module of a former best earbuds under $20 pick against an out-focus black and white background.
Not all of the best wired earbuds under $20 USD will include a control module.

We also take objective measures when applicable and just want our readers to enjoy their purchases. None of our writers may profit or benefit from steering readers to or from a certain audio device. While the site uses referral links, none of our writers will know whether or not a link was clicked. If you so choose, our ethics policy is publicly available.

Frequently asked questions about the best wired earbuds under $20

Out of all the options on this list, the JBL Endurance Run is the best suited for the gym, thanks to its IPX5 water-resistance rating. However, if you’re looking for reliable pair of workout earbuds, we’d recommend investing in a pair that has a good quality build, which means you don’t have to keep buying the same pair of cheap earbuds every time they break.


Other than the Sony WI-C310 and the JLab GO Air POP, there aren’t many options out there. At such a low price point, there are bound to be compromises. Sure, there are other wireless earbuds available for less than $20, but they tend to sacrifice audio quality for the sake of wireless connectivity. You’re better off spending your cash on a pair of good-sounding wired earbuds.