- Comparison Table
- What are the Best Cheap Earbuds?
- Buying Guide
Selecting the best headphones or earbuds to buy can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for; even if you do, it can often be very time-consuming and a lot of headache. Unfortunately, most products on the market are just average, especially when it comes to earbuds under $50. Unless you are willing to invest in some expensive earbuds, it can be very easy to be fooled into buying something that is just mediocre.
If you are serious about purchasing some earbuds that deliver great music, then there is no need to spend any more time than it takes to read this article. We have made it our mission to find the best earbuds for under 50 dollars. If you’re looking for something with better performance, check out our guide for the best earbuds under $100. We personally test and review nearly every available product on the market within this category, and narrow it down to our top 10 cheap earbud choices.
What are the Best Cheap Earbuds?
1. Sony MDRXB50AP Review
The Sony XB Series comes out this 2017 with its flagship Extra Bass earphones, the Sony MDR-XB50AP EXTRA BASS In-Ear Headphones. XB means extra bass, and the Sony delivers just that – a hefty amount of bass for any lover of lower frequencies. This model comes in the middle of the XB line, with a more affordable price for its performance and size.
Style and Design
Right out of its box, the MDR-XB50AP is lined with a tangle-free, non-detachable, Y-type cord, covered in rubber for durability. Attached to the flat litz chord is an inline microphone, which has a multipurpose button that works seamlessly with every smartphone we tested it on. The MDR-XB50AP also comes with a soft fabric carrying pouch for storage.
The Sony MDR-XB50AP, having been made for a more massive, and stylish customer base, comes in 5 different color options: black, white, blue, yellow and red; matched by the rubber coating of its flat, tangle-free wires. The earpiece is designed with a brushed steel finish that sticks out of the ears when worn, all in all giving it a stylish and heavy-duty, heavy-bass look that the MDR-XB50AP does not fail in delivering.
Unwrapping the MDR-XB50AP, three pairs of silicon earbuds are available for different sizes of earholes. Everything is packed in a clean and small packaging, with the Extra Bass flagship written in big, bold script.
The Sony MDR-XB50AP does not fail in delivering that EXTRA BASS. With audio coming in through a gold-plated plug, what comes out of the eight-gram earphones is a clear and precise bass without failing all the other, higher frequencies. Bass frequencies come out better and more enjoyable without the extra weight because the MDR-XB50AP uses lightweight neodymium magnets.
Although light, the Sony MDR-XB50AP does not easily fall off users’ ears, provided the correct earbud tips are chosen among the ones that come with the package. The earbuds also provide remarkable sound isolation. The sound that leaks out of the MDR-XB50AP is very low, almost non-existent. It’s a great companion at libraries and for listening to loud tracks while still maintaining some privacy.
The MDR-XB50AP responds amazingly well with more advanced amplifying and equalizing skills. When pushed for that EXTRA BASS, this lightweight IEM (in-ear monitor) can deliver almost to the bass and sub-bass level comparable to that of the Sony MDR-EX7550/800st, from Sony’s line of professional studio IEMs.
Sony has decided to rate the maximum power handling of the Sony MDR-XB50AP to 100mW, meaning it can handle monstrous quantities of power. At the same time, it’s not very difficult to use with a normal phone or PC.
Normally, V-shaped sound signatures mean vocal lines sit in the background of the treble and bass sounds. However, the Sony MDR-XB50AP delivers V-shaped sound signatures—that may have non-piercing peaks or sibilance—while all instruments in a track are still distinctly audible, together with the subtle sounds that enhance personal listening experience.
Who would most benefit from what the Sony MDRXB50AP has to offer? Someone who: (1) Is looking for quality sound that easily competes with more expensive earbuds, whilst maintaining its price of under $50.00; (2) Emphasizes equal importance of deep, rich bass and crystal-clarity in mids and highs; (3) Expects to listen to a variety of different styles of music; (4) Chooses comfort over any exceptionally remarkable style; (5) Is looking for some built in, easily accessible volume and microphone controls.
Sony has consistently provided consumers with high quality products, and the Sony MDRXB50AP earbuds are no exception. These compact earbuds are quite powerful, and deliver decent bass, along with the high-quality detailed mids and highs that certain genres require.
2. MEE audio M6 PRO Review
The M6 Pro from ME Electronics is a warm sounding earphone. It has good impact and superior bass depth. The clarity throughout the frequency range is solid. While the treble may not be sibilant, the M6 Pro can be a bit tiring when playing some sparkly tunes. This will gradually disappear in time after some burn-in time, and it is something you will get accustomed to in time.
The sound does not scale up a lot, even with amplification. The earphone, in fact, can fare just as well on my mobile phone as on a 4-amp unit. This is not at all bad since most people prefer to use them on their mobiles. In most cases, they will not be disappointed.
The earpiece responds satisfactorily to equalizers, and with EQ, you can expect a good amount of bass depth. When tested, there wasn’t too much impact when the distortions started.
Comfort and Fit
In terms of isolation, the M6 Pro can be considered as an average performer for a universal in-ear monitor. It is decent enough with not too many extra ports that can allow noise to flow in and out. It comes with Comply isolation tips that keep a lot of external noise out.
Comfort level is excellent. You can wear the earphone for many hours. You can even sleep while wearing the device, and there will usually be no problems. If you are used to wearing in-ears in the 3-figure price point, you may think that the M6 Pro belongs to the category.
Placing the audios into your ears may require a little getting used to. Since they are intended to be fitted upside-down, the cable’s top part, which is made stiffer than other parts because of the extra tubing, bends around and over your ears. This provides a more secure fit compared to traditional buds that easily pop in and out.
While it may be a bit inconvenient to put on, you may find interruptions that will require you to take them off more irritating. Nevertheless, when worn, the audio phones are comfortable and can easily withstand occasional tugs on the wire.
Style and Build
Being transparent, the well-crafted housing may invite scrutiny to the soldering and circuitry work. You can even clearly see the circuit board for the in-line mic/remote through the casing. While there is nothing to hide, there is likewise nothing to scoff at.
Overall, the build quality is exemplary. Each part is made to last. Two cables are provide – with and without a mic/remote. Also included are standard accessories usually only found in more expensive models. These include a 6.3 mm adapter, wallet-sized casing, and 7 pairs of tips (1 Comply, and 6 silicone).
It is worth mentioning that the 6.3 mm adapter is intended to complement 4-pin cables. Unlike many similar models, it works well with headset cables. While it is currently not sold separately, there are indications that it will be – eventually.
To sum everything up, the MEE M6 Pro is worth your money. It’s one of the best-sounding IEM’s in its price range. It offers a more balanced tonal character than more expensive in-ears. They are comfortable, have interchangeable cables and are unique with their clear casing – very stylish.
3. Monster Beats By Dr. Dre Review
Listening to music has never been so satisfying until you try the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre earbuds — these are some of the best audiophile earbuds out there for under $50! Very little comes close to the audio quality plus design aesthetic of these earbuds.
The listening experience of these earphones is sure to draw you in — the sound quality is amazing and good for all kinds of music genres. The bass is so pure and deep that it is immensely satisfying. The mids and highs are balanced and don’t go against each other. The frequency response is pretty smooth. The sound is full, crisp, and crystal clear; not muddled and distorted. Noise isolation isn’t a problem for these earbuds either, as it comes with an in-ear design that can help keep your music private and meant for your ears only.
Style and Comfort
The look of these earbuds is sleek and unique; it’s worthy of being called eye candy. Plus, it’s offered in several striking colors. The in-ear design of the Monster Beats earphones makes for a comfortable and secure fit, and at the same time doing a very good job of reducing unwanted ambient noise. You can have them on your ears for hours and still not feel any sort of discomfort. It’s very compact and portable, and the build quality is exceptional, so you don’t have to worry about it falling apart after some wear and tear. Finally, the design is adjustable if you’d prefer a more customized fit.
In addition to the earbuds, there is a variety of accessories that comes in sleek and sturdy red packaging. It has two thick audio cables, one red and one black, two adapters, and one protective case to carry everything in.
Overall, not only do the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre earbuds sound and feel great, they’re comfortable and stylish, too — the listening experience alone is definitely worth the small price.
4. Symphonized NRG Premium Genuine Wood Review
Who would most benefit from what the Symphonized NRG Premium Genuine Wood Headphones has to offer? Someone who: Enjoys the standard Apple earbuds, but is looking for a step or two up in sound quality. Prefers less bass in music and enjoys crystal-clear mids and highs. Chooses style over any exceptionally remarkable comfort.
Although we have stated Symphonize NRG earbuds are not the most comfortable, it does not mean that we found them to be uncomfortable. Remember, each product is compared with each of the previous earbuds we have tested, and we found these to be slightly less comfortable than the Razer Hammerhead Headset or the Sony MDRXB50AP earbuds. Most consumers probably will not notice much of a difference, and if you enjoy the wooden body style that these earbuds provide, you should not refrain; these earbuds utilize soft silicon inserts and are of high quality.
5. JLab Core Hi-Fi Review
The JLab Core Hi-Fi earbuds are comfortable, inexpensive, and have some decent noise-isolating capabilities, which accompany their above average sound-quality. While these earphones should probably be included in a different price range category, we felt the need to put them in our list for the best earbuds under $50.
Included in the packaging are four different sized gel tips, utilizing the Cush Fin technology, for maximum comfort and fit.Overall, we found these earbuds to be very comfortable, even for long periods of use. They are not the most nicely built when it comes to materials (they feel a bit cheap, but that’s expected for only $20), but looks aside, they nailed the comfort factor pretty nicely.
Sound quality is pretty good as well. The JLab Core Hi-Fi noise isolating earbuds utilize their patented C3 technology (Crystal Clear Clarity) in combination with some powerful 11mm drivers to produce some high-quality mids and highs and some decent bass with a kick. These earbuds sound pretty good in most genres of music. While they do have a decent bass response, for those interested in some more bass oriented headphones, including those who gravitate towards hip-hop, dubstep, reggae, and other similar genres, may want to choose one of our other top picks such as our #2 – Sony MDRXB50AP’s, which happen to produce some of the nicest bass of all the earbuds we have tested under $50. If you’re planning on listening to hi-res music, you should probably pick one of our better rated picks above.
6. Zipbuds Pro Review
The Zipper Design
The first thing you will notice with the Zipbuds Pro earbuds is their unique zipper design, which is designed with durability in mind. The zipper functions just as a zipper should, but the added benefit is that the cord is actually attached to the zipper – this allows you to adjust the height at which the cables hang simply by going up or down with the zipper. The rest of the cable is covered in some sort of braided nylon, which is perfect for avoiding knots and tangles. Also built onto the cable is a “Pro Mic”, which is a fancy name for a built-in remote button paired with a noise-cancelling microphone.
There are three different sized silicon ear tips, to allow a more “custom-fit”. We experienced no problems over extended periods of use; in fact they were rather comfortable.
Sound quality is decent. Remember, the Zipbuds pride themselves on their zipper design, not their sound quality. Overall, they sound better than the stock white Apple earbuds that came with your iPhone, but slack a little bit when compared to the other earbuds we have already reviewed above. The music does not become distorted at high volumes, and the bass, mids, and highs are balanced. If you want some bass heavy earbuds, these are not for you. If you find yourself constantly getting tangled and want some earbuds that will never knot up, the Zipbuds Pro earphones may be a good choice. If you are an audiophile and want the best of the best when it comes to sound quality with earbuds under $50, then you might want to look elsewhere.
7. Sennheiser CX 300 II Review
Great quality usually comes with an equally large price: Good quality items are usually priced higher. As a result, people were led to believe that they have to pay more in order to get more out of items. Otherwise, they have to content themselves with products of substandard quality. However, what most people don’t know is that the greatest products are those which give you high quality performance but has a low price. And the Sennheiser CX 300 II Noise Cancelling Earbuds is a perfect sample of that.
The Sennheiser CX 300 II is an in-ear device which offers bass-driven stereo sound with its high quality speaker system. It has great sound and voice clarity with improved dynamics, in contrast to standard earbuds available in the market. The ear adapters have a customized fit and function like earplugs to block out noise. It also comes with various sizes to choose from, ensuring that anyone will find the one that perfectly fits his or her ears.
Cable and Design
Another great feature of the Sennheiser CX 300 II Noise Cancelling Earbuds is its asymmetrical cable. The longer end is wound behind the neck and into the opposite ear to reduce the amount of cable in front of the user. This safety feature and ergonomic design allow users more flexibility and freedom of movement during physical activities. This cable design also reduces tangle and clutter. This earpiece comes with a convenient carrying pouch which is intended to prevent cable tangles while in transit. Although the cables look thin, this lightweight and attractive earpiece is actually built to be tough and durable with a 2-year warranty. You can even use it to listen to music with the latest generation of tablets.
But the best part of it is that you can get all these amazing features of the Sennheiser CX 300 II Noise Cancelling Earbuds for less than $50. This clearly shows that prices do not define the quality of the product. Despite its low retail price, the Sennheiser CX 300 II Noise Cancelling Earbuds delivers its promise of great sound reproduction, making it stand out among the available earpieces in the market.
8. Symphonized MTL Review
Have you almost given up looking for earphones with high quality bass, but also comes at an affordable price? Worry no more because the next bass master is now available in the market.
Fortunately, your demands for a high quality pair of earbuds will be met with the Symphonized MTL Dual Driver Heavy Bass earbuds. The reasonable sound it produces, despite being under $50, is definitely its foremost quality to take pride in. You can hear the vocals clearly with no distortions at all. This way, you will hear a clear “s” just the way it is supposed to be in the first place. Enhanced by its noise-isolation feature, the earbuds lets you enjoy your music without unnecessary outside crowd noise or coming from the background. Of course, the highlight is focused on the individual frequency spectrum for the left and right ears. With its non-dominating 100Hz-range bass in the foreground, this enables a balanced sound to maintain good, non-hollow beats and an acoustical mix.
Also, one of the ultimate reasons why these earbuds are heavy-duty beyond the bass quality is its comfort guarantee. Its big housing enables a perfect fit in the ears to prevent easy pull-offs. The earbuds’ soft silicone texture is another feature that will allow you listening relief for longer hours without any discomfort.
While most earbuds ranging in this price are being lambasted for losing its durability, this one is the opposite. Because of its convenient flat wiring cable, the usual tangle problem is finally resolved. Now, you do not have to consistently solve the maze of your wiring but, instead, savor the audio experience to the fullest.
Portability-wise, the Symphonized MTL Dual Driver Heavy Bass earbuds are also compatible with various gadgets aside from regular MP3 players and smartphones. You can also plug it into Androids, iPods, iPads, iPhones, and even CD players. It is that quick, easy, and convenient.
Finally, style should never be sacrificed for the price. Its audio jack comes in gold plating for that more legit look to match the flat cable wiring. It also has a built-in microphone to maximize efficiency. Furthermore, there are three sets of earbuds available, designed to fit different ear sizes — all inclusive in the package. Definitely, the Symphonized MTL Dual Driver Heavy Bass earbuds are worth your money.
9. Sennheiser CX 200 Review
Next up on our list of best earbuds under $50 is the Sennheiser CX 200’s. Sennheiser is a popular brand, and is well liked among the headphones community largely due to their consistency in delivering high-quality headphones and earbuds. The CX 200’s deliver some high-quality sound, and they cost half as much as some of the other products we have reviewed above.
One of the most impressive characteristics of these earphones is the comfortable design. We went for over 4 hours of nonstop use when testing these in a variety of settings, and were never once irritated or sore. It is more common than not to find yourself with some uncomfortable earbuds, especially within this price range.
The frequency response is less than ideal, ranging from 20 Hz to 20kHz (this covers what the human ear is able to hear). Other earbuds will actually go outside of this range; although we may not actually “hear” certain ultrasonic or subsonic frequencies, they do give the music an additional sense of depth and dimension.
If you’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to music quality, you may want to go with one of our other top picks, such as the Razer Hammerhead’s, the Sony’s MDRXB50AP’s, or the Symphonized NRG’s, all of which have larger drivers. Generally, the larger and more powerful the driver, the better the sound quality.
10. Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 Review
A decent sounding in-ear monitor is hard to come by for under $30, let alone under $10 like the RP-HJE120’s. Panasonic cannot be beat when it comes to earphones within this price range. The Panasonics had to compete with other earbuds costing up to $50 and still managed to make the top 5. These earphones are comfortable, they sound pretty good, and you won’t have to worry about them falling apart on you, because they cost about as much as a value meal at McDonalds and can be easily replaced.
Sound quality is comparable to many products we have tested within the twenty to thirty dollar price range. There is a decent amount of bass, and the mids and highs are detailed. When listening to bass heavy tracks at high volumes, the music may begin to distort or feel muddled. I personally found them to sound best when listening to rock, jazz, or classical music.
The Pansonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120’s aren’t the most stylish headphones you will find, in fact they actually look pretty cheap. They look a lot like the white Apple earbuds that may have come with your phone, but instead of being a complete hard-bud earphone, soft silicon ear tips are utilized. This allows more noise-isolation capabilities, and ensures a more comfortable fit.
Additionally, they come in a variety of colors. Because they are so cheap I have heard of people buying a few different sets of colors just to match the outfit they happen to wear that day – for $6 why not right? The cable is pretty thin, and does not do much to stop itself from being tangled in knots.
Overall, if you only have a few bucks and are looking for the best pair of earbuds, both in comfort and sound, the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120’s are your best bet.
Things To Consider Before You Buy
It is understandable that you wouldn’t really pay attention to the details and specs written on the back of a product’s packaging. After all, they are mostly numbers with labels that don’t really make sense to you. However, they are important to determine the quality of the earphones you are getting and letting you match your PMP (Perfect Music Purifier) — if you have one — with the right IEMs. And once you become familiar with them, you will have a better understanding of common audio engineer lingo.
By default, you should make sure that the earphones you are getting have a nominal impedance of around 16 to 32 ohms. Having a spec like this will make sure that you will get a decent volume or drive without getting an amplifier.
In layman’s terms, having higher nominal impedance will make it easier for your sound source or amplifier to make your speaker produce sound. Imagine a garden hose with water flowing from it. Restricting the flow of water on the end of the hose using your thumb will make the water pressure go up. Nominal impedance works like your thumb in the garden hose. Impedance reduces the “amount of sound” that flows to the speaker to “raise its pressure.” And the right amount or proper “nominal” impedance makes sure that the volume gets through well without sacrificing too much sound quality.
A high impedance speaker driver will make sound clear. This is crucial if you do not want to put so much pressure on your PMP. However, expect that the max volume of your setup will have a limit. Choosing a low impedance speaker driver, on the other hand, will let the speaker capable of having loud volume. Balanced armature drivers often have low impedance, and can stress amplifiers. Dynamic drivers, alternatively, usually have high impedance, which might force you to use a headphone amplifier to boost the low volume.
Other details that you need to consider are magnet types, frequency response, and sensitivity. Sound going through drivers with high sensitivity are easier to amplify. When it comes to magnets, remember that neodymium magnets are good for bass and ferrite magnets are cost-effective materials that are good for mid and highs. When it comes to frequency response, you do not need to delve too much into it. In this aspect, most speakers are usually equal in quality. There are outliers, however, with extreme unsatisfying frequency response, so be sure to still check them out.
Types of Drivers
When it comes to earbuds or in-ear-monitor (IEM) drivers, the truth is that you do not have a lot of choices. You either get balanced armature (BA) or dynamic drivers. Of course, you have another option, which is a hybrid configuration. To know more about those driver types, read on.
And even if IEMs with dynamic drivers are relatively cheaper, they have great bass response. Unfortunately, they are mediocre when it comes to treble or higher frequencies.
The biggest difference between a dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver is the voice coil. Instead of a moving voice coil, BA drivers have a stationary voice coil. Because of this, treble is great; however, the bass end of the sound produced is below average.
Instead of just using a magnet, dynamic drivers use an armature. The armature is suspended between the voice coil and two magnets, which oppose each other. With a few modifications, the balanced armature can be built into full range drivers.
To compensate for the lack of dynamic and balanced armature drivers, midrange and regular tweeters are used together. This configuration is typical and is usually referred to as a hybrid setup. Due to the cost-effectiveness of dynamic drivers and the relative cheapness of balanced armature, the hybrid setup is an economical way to create high-quality earbuds that can be as a good as a pair of earphones passing the standards of Hi-Res audio.
Aside from the quality, hybrid configurations are electrically efficient, which renders it capable of making more crisp and detailed sounds. However, due to the introduction of other types of speakers and the lack of power that it can push, bass quality only passes as average. Other multiple balanced armature driver combinations do make the cut for good speakers. With the employment of splitting bass, mid, and treble range, this is accomplished. Nonetheless, the best hybrid setup always includes both dynamic and balanced armature drivers.
Some Useful Tips
Once you’ve purchased the IEMs of your choice, don’t forget to experiment with different types of ear tips to fine-tune the sound signature to your liking. Doing so can also help you figure out if you need to get a separate headphone amplifier or not.One of the simplest things you can do to improve the sound of your earbuds is to change ear tips. This might sound a bit silly, but the small cushions that you place between your speaker and auditory canal can really affect your speaker’s sound signature. Because sound travels from the speaker to your ear via air, the more tight-fitting your ear tips are, the less leakage of air or sound happens. And that leads to more solid sound — this is crucial if you want to make sure that the bass tones in your audio get through well.
On the other hand, you should also consider your comfort and ergonomics when choosing ear tips. You do not need to make your ears suffer just to get the perfect audio. In terms of materials, it is recommended to use silicone tips. It is a much better material than rubber because it is more comfortable, hygienic, and durable.Of course, getting cheap IEMs will definitely land you a rubber ear tip. It is not bad to get cheap earbuds, but do make sure to get something with silicone ear tips — it is a cheap investment that goes a long way. If you have some cash to spare, you can opt for foam ear tips.
Many audiophiles swear on using foam ear tips — even if they are less durable and more expensive than silicone tips — because of their effective noise isolation feature. Also, they are very comfortable to wear. They fit snugly in your ear canal and do not produce a lot of friction. The downside with foam ear tips, however, is their tendency to cause imbalance in the lows and highs of your audio. The workaround here is to get an earphone that sounds bright since combining a darker-sounding IEM with foam will only produce boomy sounds, which does not really work well with every type of audio or music.
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