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Finding a decent pair of earbuds that don’t break the bank can be very challenging and time consuming; you can easily be overwhelmed with the hundreds of cheap, low quality products on the market. Finding the best pair of earbuds under $30 is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are some good quality headphones and earbuds available for purchase on a budget, but it is essential that you know what to look for so you don’t end up wasting your money on a mediocre product, or having to replace your new broken pair of earphones just a couple of weeks after purchase.
Finding The Best Earbuds Under $30 Doesn’t Have To Be So Hard
If you’re looking for a quick source of information, which also outlines the best cheap earbuds, you have come to the right place. Regarding what to look for in your earbuds, we went ahead and outlined the basics for you below.
You will thank us later.
What To Look For In A Good Pair of Cheap Earbuds?
Most people shopping for earbuds, do not know which specs they should really be examining, and so instead base their decision on the name of the brand, the price, and the style or design of the product. I do have to agree that these 3 factors should all be taken into consideration when determining which product is the best fit for you. But what I believe is even more important, is not to overlook the technical specifications that are marked in small font on the package of your earbuds.
Most employees at your local electronics store will probably not even be able to decipher what it all means, and how it effects the quality of music that certain products can provide. Knowledge is the key to buying the best pair of earbuds you can buy for under $30. So, what do all those specs mean?
Frequency: This will be printed on every package of earbuds, and is one of the more well known of the specs, while the meaning is still often understood. Numbers like 10hz-15khz or 12hz-25khz can be seen on the package. What does this actually mean? Sound is measured in hertz. The higher the hertz the earbuds can reach, the more treble will be produced. The lower the hertz available, the deeper the bass that can be delivered. Also, be on the lookout for labels that use hertz (hz) and kilohertz (khz) interchangeably, as they mean different things – khz is less important because the specs tend to be shown out of proportion and there is no point in really even comparing this aspect. Although the frequency is an important factor, humans are unable to hear anything over 20khz-22khz, which the majority of headphones on the market easily surpass – leading us to our next spec quality…
Impedance: Impedance eliminates the hiss sound of electricity. Impedance is measured in ohms. Generally speaking, the higher the ohms, the better quality earbuds. The lower the ohms, the lower quality in sound they will be. So what does this all really mean? Well, earbuds are powered with electricity. Whether they are corded headphones, or Bluetooth headphones, the power source is the same – electricity. “Ok, but what does this have to do with our need for high impedance?” As electricity passes through, powering the earbuds, it emits its own frequency of vibrations, which sounds like a hiss to the human ear. The higher the ohms the earbuds have, the less hiss of electricity that will be mixed in with your music. Impedance is an important factor; the differences in music quality when comparing low ohm headphones to high ohm headphones can easily be recognized, especially at higher volumes, even with an untrained ear.
Sensitivity: When buying the best pair of earbuds, you’ll want to make sure they can go loud, but nothing too loud. If someone has to scream at you in order for you to hear them while your headphones are in, chances are your music is way too loud. Exposure to such high volume over time will definitely lead to hearing loss as you age. Chances are, you will not notice that you are losing your hearing until there is already considerable damage done. So what does this have to do with sensitivity? Well, sensitivity pretty much measures the range of volume that your earbuds can produce. The sensitivity of your earbuds or headphones will be measured in dbSPL (decibels & sound pressure levels). The lowest sound audible to the undamaged human ear is 0db’s, which happens to be as close as you can get to complete silence as possible. Anything over 85db’s can possibly begin damaging your eardrums, and chronic exposure will result in permanent hearing loss. The good thing is, I’d estimate that 90% of headphones and earbuds I have ever tested are easily able to exceed 85db’s, so worrying about whether your headphones can get loud enough should not be the biggest priority.
Maximum Power: This information tells us how much power that the earbuds can take before they begin to wear out. What does this mean exactly? Well, if you more often than not tend to play your music at high volumes, you will want a set of earbuds with a larger nominal power handling capacity. If you have ever heard a set of earbuds, headphones, or speakers that crackled at low volumes or popped at higher volumes, you witnessed what happens to the sound quality once the earbuds have reached their capacity. If you want to make your earbuds last as long as possible, make sure to play music at the lowest level of volume you can while still providing you with an enjoyable experience.
Quantity and Quality of Drivers: The number of drivers, and the power that each driver has, are very important qualities when determining which pair of headphones or earbuds sound the best. The more power to the driver, the better overall sound produced. Any earbuds that advertise “heavy bass” on their packaging usually have more drivers or a higher powered driver than other products at a comparable price. The drivers are responsible for boosting the bass, and also deliver an overall better sounding musical experience. Very cheap earbuds have only 1 or 2 low-quality drivers, and so it is always advised not to go that cheap. Generally, the higher the power added to the drivers, the higher the price that your earphones will be.
One of the biggest reasons why over-ear headphones usually sound much better than earbuds and earphones in the same price range, is because of the quantity and quality of the drivers that they are built with. When you take a product and compress it to 1/8 the size, you end up sacrificing some sound quality, or spending more money. Over-the-ear headphones are large enough for manufacturers to easily use the best possible combination of drivers to deliver the best sound within a certain price range. Because of the fact that earbuds are much smaller, it is harder to find the appropriate drivers. It is more expensive for manufacturers to find a driver that is only a fraction of the size, but is equivalent in quality of sound. Thus, if you are looking for the best sound that your money can buy, regardless of size, it is always the best bet to look for some headphones. If you like the portability, and convenience of a small pair of earbuds like I do, then make sure you get your moneys worth – if you have 30 bucks for a decent pair of earbuds, look no further because this list is the best your money can buy.
1. Panasonic RP-HJE120 Review
If you’re looking for the best earbuds you can buy for under $30, the Panasonic RP-HJE120 earbuds should definitely be your pick. With the best audio quality we could find in this price range, there should be no reason why
you would look any further. You can find this product in multiple colors, which is a plus for many. The RP-HJE120’s come with a driver unit of 9mm, which is above average (not the largest we have tested) when it comes to earbuds in this price range; they also have 16 ohms impedance, which ensures high quality sound frequencies, ranging from 20hz to 20khz. These earbuds deliver a good combination of bass, as well as mids and highs, and deliver good quality sound with all genres.
These earbuds come with three pairs of inserts that are soft to the touch, and allow for some degree of customization when it comes to fit, and ensures they will stay in place even during periods of activity. If you are specifically looking for some earphones that are durable, sweat resistant, and can take a beating when it comes to physical activity, you might want to check out our list of the best workout headphones. Otherwise, there is no need to look any further because this product happens to be great for such a low price.
2. Zipbuds Juiced 2.0 Review
One of the nicest features of the Zipbuds is the patented cable, which doubles as a zipper; this ensures that you will never have to worry about untangling your earbuds again. Another cool perk is the glow in the dark materials that these are made of. You will never have to worry about misplacing your earbuds in a dark room again, because these literally glow in the dark for you – a unique feature and very neat looking. Three sets of ear tip inserts come with the packaging, and are quite comfortable once the right size has been found. The Zipbuds Juiced 2.0 earbuds have a 10mm driver, impedance of 16 ohms, and frequency between 20hz-20khz. Also, although not as important as the other qualities, they have a sensitivity of 100db’s, well over the safe range of 85db’s. If you enjoy some very loud music these will surely deliver. In my opinion though, the Panasonic RP-HJE120’s above also get very loud, and sound better at high volume. Unless you just need the zipper cable and glow in the dark functionality, the Panasonic earbuds are still your best bet.
3. Sennheiser CX200 Review
These Sennheiser earbuds are actually slightly more expensive when compared to both the Zipbuds and the Panasonics. Coming with a size 9mm driver, a sensitivity of 110 decibels, 16 ohms of impedance, and a frequency range of 20hz-20khz, the Sennheiser CX200’s do deliver some high quality sound. My only concern with these is I found the Panasonics to be better rounded when it comes to high quality music of all genres. With the Sennheiser earbuds, I found them to sound great when we tested them out with hip hop, rock, and dubstep, but they dropped a bit in our rankings with the classical and jazz tunes we listed to.
If you know what music you like and what music you don’t like, the Sennheiser CX200’s are not a bad option at all, and might actually deliver a slightly better musical experience when it comes to certain music genres (rock, hip-hop, dubstep) compared to the other products above. Our ratings are based on overall performance, for the widest possible audience, and so we had to take this aspect into consideration. Passive noise isolation is a nice perk with these earphones, and is ideal for use in noisy environments.
To conclude, you really can’t go wrong with any of our top picks; we went ahead and ranked for you based on specs and performance, now it is up to you to pick the best earbuds for you based on your personal preferences on style and design. Be sure to also check out our lists for best earbuds under $50, best earbuds under $100.