In this list of the top 10 best headphones under $50, we want to show you that its easier than ever to get great sounding headphones on a budget. While its true that there are a lot of cheap headphones out there you want to avoid there are also some excellent options that offer tremendous value and can compete with far more expensive models without the damaging effect on your wallet. In this buyers guide I want to list only products that I myself would consider if I was looking to spend under $50 in 2019.
What to look for when buying headphones under $50
As I mentioned above there are a lot of options for headphones in the sub $50 category. This seems to be the price that most people are comfortable with paying but that doesn't mean they should settle for whatever is cheap. Price at this market point is not reflective of sound quality or build quality.
Some headphone manufacturers are able to sell their headphones cheap because of the economies of scale. For example Sony and JVC move a lot of headphones in this price range so production costs are less because than the competition due to large batch orders at the factories. On the other hand small companies who grow through word of mouth and have no marketing budget that raises the price can also be competitive.
Finally, its very hard to ignore the rise of the Chinese HiFi market. We talk about this a lot here at Audiophile On but in the past decade generic brand Chinese companies have moved from producing low quality tat to some outstanding value audio products such as headphones, earphones and DAP’s (Digital Audio Players). With production and design cost being so low in China they have became a real threat to the big brand audio companies and are able to offer cheap headphones that compete with those many times their price.
Avoid buying cheap headphones purely for fashion
The biggest mistake I see when someone is buying cheap headphones is they buy the one that looks the best. I agree this is important as the style of the headphones can match your individual style. There is, after all, a reason why the Beats headphones come in so many different colors.
However, if these are something you are going to use daily there really are three other areas to consider when purchasing new headphones. Comfort, Build Quality and Sound Quality. At under $50 you are going to have to make sacrifices in each area but it tends to work out best in the long run if you give some consideration to what you want from your headphones in terms of performance and how you are most likely to use them.
You don't always need to shop for known brands
As mentioned above, one of the most amazing things in audio advancement over the past few years is what's known as the ChiFi revolution (Chinese Hifi). Before, if you wanted quality you would be looking for brands such as Sony, Bose, JVC etc. Things have change and now a whole host of companies that have come out of China and offer an unbeatable bang for the buck. Budget headphones are better than ever.
These Chinese companies are putting out incredible sounding headphones at prices we could only dream of just a few years ago. Therefore, people in the know, who are immersed in the audiophile headphone world have hunted high and low to find out the best options for you under $50.
In some cases, a sub $50 headphone from a relatively unknown headphone company can sound better than a set of $200+ headphones from established brand names.
Over-ear headphones vs On-ear headphones
In this category, we are going to cover both on-ear headphones and over ear headphones under $50. The reason to choose one over the other really comes down to user preference. For example, if you want to use your headphones exclusively at home or in the office then maybe you will be better with the added comfort of over-ear full-size headphones. However, if you are someone who travels a lot or is limited for space when doing so, you may prefer the more compact design of an on-ear headphone.
We have found during our testing over the past few years that both styles of headphones can sound very good . As a result, we would generally advise you to once again look at how you intend to use your headphones and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Advantage: Over-ear Headphones
Usually more comfortable with less pressure on the outer ear
Larger size means the ability to house larger drivers
Tend to isolate better from environmental noise
Advantages of On-Ear Headphones
Usually more compact
Lighter due to less material used in construction
Less susceptible to build up of heat around the ears.
Closed-Back headphones vs Open Back Headphones
Again you will see both types of headphones listed below and yet again it is important to consider how you use your headphones before deciding what is best. A closed back headphone is great for commuting or traveling as it allows you to block out a lot more external noise than with an open back design. An open back has some really unique acoustic properties and can sound very airy and spacious when done right.
The top 10 Best Headphones under $50 2018
Superlux HD-681 Evo
Audio Technica M20x
House of Marley Rebel
Superlux HD-681 Evo
Very Comfortable with velour pads
We discovered the budget brilliance that is the Superlux HD681 Evo a few years ago and since then they have been one of most highly recommended headphones for people who are looking for a taste of audiophile sound without the horrendous expense.
The Evo is incredible value for money and in my opinion the best sounding headphone on this list. Detailed and balanced with an insane amount of space and soundstage for a sub $50 headphone
They are insanely comfy, come with 2 pad options (Pleather and Velour) and have a decent build quality.
The cables are replaceable with aftermarket options and if you look around on online audio forums you will find extensive options for modifying Superlux headphones to your own needs..
Koss Porta Pro
One of the best sounding headphones under $50
The Koss Porta pro is a legendary headphone. They have been around now for over 25 years and yet they still manage to be one of the best selling headphones on the planet.
Compact form factor and next to indestructible design are one thing but the sound is the star of the show. you get a lovely balanced sound with lots of detail and a crisp clarity you just don't get from earphones under $50.
If you are feeling adventurous there are a lot of mods for the Koss which can elevate them to an even higher level for zero extra cost.
The retro style is also a top reason that these headphones sell well. Instantly recognizable for those in the know and and they look unlike anything else that is currently on the market.
Audio Technica M20x
Excellent build quality
Good for Isolation
The M20x is the little brother of the massively popular ATH-M50x. So much of the DNA of the more expensive model spills into this budget headphone that they really are quite hard to beat as a set of all-rounders.
Build quality is exceptional for this price and the sound is clear and tight with good solid punch to the low end. They are designed to be used primarily as a set of budget studio monitors and as such, they are made to last.
Style wise these are on point and whilst they are quite big the low profile does mean that they are suitable for portable use at a push.
Simple clean design
Compact and Durable
If you are looking for a solid set of headphones for travel or if you are simply just a fan of the smaller footprint of an on-ear headphone then the Shure SRH145 is a great option.
A nice sturdy headband that folds up to make the headphones positively tiny is paired with a set of deceptively plush earpads. A great option for people on the go who don't want to deal with carrying around some of the bulkier options on this list.
Note that these are on-ear headphones so they sit directly on top of your outer ear. I would suggest you are either familiar with the style or try them out before purchasing as some people struggle with comfort over long listening sessions with this style of headphone.
Bluedio Turbine T2s
Comfortable yet bulky
Wireless headphones with excellent battery life
I was skeptical when I was first handed this set of ultra-cheap wireless headphones but after just a couple of hours that they had to be put on the list of the best headphones under $50.
I simply can believe that a company is able to pack in so many top features at such a low price and not have them come out sounding like a hot bag of trash. These are simply unbeatable value wise.
Warm sound isn't the most dynamic on this list but the fact that they are wireless gains them major brownie points (Bluetooth 4.1). Build quality is great for the price and they are also quite a good looking set of headphones.
Oh, and the Turbine T2s are also available in 4 different colors, something that no other headphone on this list offers.
Another set of ultra-cheap wireless headphones that took us completely by surprise.
Ausdom is probably not a brand you have head from before but the M07are another set of all-rounders that won't break the bank. Bluetooth connectivity combined with on headset controls means that you will be reaching for your phone less and less as you can change volume and track directly from the headphone.
We found the sound to be above average for the category and whilst there was little in the way of top note extension the low end surprised us by remaining composed and bleeding only a touch into the midrange.
Battery life was 13 hours as tested which is quite acceptable and the use of metal in the headband inspired confidence as tor the long-term durability of the headphone.
Simple cheap headphones with good analytical sound for the price.
While the 840 are not going to win any prizes for the best-looking set of headphones on our list the sound so good they are worthy of attention.
These would make a great set of headphones for the office due to the closed back design offering above-average isolation from external noise. They are very well made and the comfort also won us over thanks to the generous padding.
The sound is smooth and refreshingly crisp, the H840 offer more than most headphones in pushing forward the clarity of the midrange and extending into the top notes. this makes them a very clear and accurate sounding headphone for the price. One that is devoid of too much additional coloration of the sound.
Monoprice HiFi Headphones
Highly regarded budget headphone in studio monitor style with balanced tuning.
Monoprice is another budget focussed company that has gained a solid reputation for making very good sounding headphones for people on a budget.
Traditionally styled like a studio monitor we can see them competing and even defeating many headphones that cost in excess of $100.
They have a very balanced sound that is perfect for studio monitoring duties of relaxed sessions with bass lighter refined music.
Build quality again gets top marks and we can see them last for years if you are willing to keep swapping out the earpads.
House of Marley Rebel
Fashion forward on ear headphones with strong bluetooth reception. Also very well built.
Usually, I wouldn't go for a set of fashion headphones. I always prioritize sound first and then styling so what about finding something that sounds good, looks good and doesn't cost the world.
The House of Marley wireless fit the bill for me with heir inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity, simple clean lines, and warm yet fun sound signature.
You get 10 hours of playback from a single charge and despite being all plastic the feel remarkably well put together.
The only thing we didn't like during the testing process was the inability to fold the headphones due to the single piece construction of the headband.
The Samson SR850 is one of the first headphones I ever reviewed and today they still stand the test of time for budget audiophiles.
Beautiful clear and detailed sound they are competitors to the Superlux headphones that adorned the top of this list.
They are open back so the sound is also spacious and you also have the option to do a few simple mods to tune them to your own taste.
Studio monitor styling is great and they are also super comfortable to wear over the course of a long listening session.
These JVC headphones are big full-size cans that you will be wanting to use at home and your desk only. The big size comes with one huge advantage in the huge 50mm driver lurking inside.
The 700 works well for a variety of musical genres but really comes into its own on EDM and other electronic styles with big bass.
Its an unashamed budget bass monster of a headphone but there exists enough sparkle in the top notes to keep pace and blend the sound together. Great buy if you like some low down rumbly low end.
Defintely not a portable headphone thanks to the size but if you are looking for a good set of cheap and durable ehadphones for home or office use then this model from JVC will last you a long time.
Sony almost has more headphones than you can count of 20 sets of hands and toes and it's really a tough job separating the good stuff from the bad.
One sub $50 headphone that caught my eye was the ZX110NC because of the included noise-canceling technology. Let's be clear if you expect this to be close to the Bose QC35 or WH-1000XM2 it won't be. However, if you stay realistic with your expectations you will be happy to know that external noise is greatly reduced and the sound is actually ok.
Not a masterful headphone but one that gets a job done if you just want to listen to something other than a bus, plane or train engine and don't care too much about fidelity.
This headphone made a big splash when it was released and it has withstood the test of time and for the price, I think its one of the best sounding on the market.
Excellent detail reproduction and a balanced tunning have made this one a favorite of audiophiles on a budget.
The best thing about it is that as Noontec has released more headphones since the original Zoro the price has pushed down to mind-boggling low levels.
Pick one of these up as your main or backup headphone and you are sure to be a happy listener.