Earbuds have become extremely popular in the last few years. Their lightweight, compact size and design seal music in the ear without ambient noise. Let’s face it, a good pair of earbuds are a smartphone’s best friend.
For high quality earbuds most people look for the best in-ear headphones that cost less than $50. (Please note that prices were checked last time the article was updated in 2018, but it’s possible they’ve changed since then. The links below will take you to online sites to check real-time pricing.) $50 is a reasonable price point to get great, entry-level headphones.
It certainly isn’t hard to find the best pair for your money, like these affordable Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds, but which pair you should get depends largely on what you want to use them for. Specifically if your priority is sound quality, this depends on which type of sound you like and which type of music you listen to most. V-shaped, warm sounding, and heavy bass are examples of different sound signatures that fit different styles of music.
Some sound signatures are balanced, others simply hold back treble and deliver overwhelming bass. For your taste, you may be more pleased with strong bass, and don’t always need balanced sound. No matter your preference, there are definitely a few pairs of earbuds with sound profiles engineered to meet your needs.
Moreover, headphones today incorporate a lot of features and are varied in design. Whether you are looking for earbuds you can exercise with, travel with or wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones, the market is full of custom options.
You might be looking for an active noise cancelling feature to cut loud noises like jet engines or trains on your commute. If you sweat a lot during exercise you will need sports earbuds that are sweat-proof or even fully waterproof to survive that rough conditions. Headphone cables are never easy to manage and can be troublesome during exercise. Bluetooth can make your workouts easier with fully wireless earbuds. In-ear headphones can also work as a headset so you can make and receive calls easily with a microphone and controls on the in-line remote.
Which pairs stand out among the competition? Some deal-breakers among competing earbud makers are poor sound quality, a loose fit that allows ambient noise in and a loss of bass, cables that knot and break easily, or earbuds that are not durable. Here are our top picks for the best earbuds you can buy under $50.
- 8 Top Rated $50 Earbuds In Ear Headphones
- Panasonic Ergofit 125
- ZERO AUDIO Carbo Tenore ZH-DX200-CT
- Sony MDRXB50AP/L, Extra Bass In Ear Headphones
- Workout/Sports In-ear Headphones
- Bluetooth Earbuds In Ear Headphones
- Meizu’s EP-51
- Samsung Level U Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones
- Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
- YUIN PK3 Earbuds
- Sony STH30 Earbuds
- The Others (Retired From This Page)
- Brainwavz M5, Budget Audiophile Grade Headphones
- Etymotic Research MC5 Great Noise Isolation For Treble Lovers
- 1byone Bluetooth Earphones
- Venture Electronics VE MONK Plus
- Edifier Hi-Fi
- Nuforce NE-600X-BLK
- SoundMagic E10
- Monoprice 8320
8 Top Rated $50 Earbuds In Ear Headphones
|Sound Quality Note||Fitting|
|Panasonic Ergofit 125|
| Natural souding|
In-line Mic control
|Sony MDRXB50AP|| Big Bass|
|ZERO AUDIO Carbo Tenore ZH-DX200-CT|
|Balanced sounding for audiophiles|
|MEIZU Bluetooth4.0 Earbuds EP-51||New star for Bluetooth sound||sealed in-ear||Bluetooth|
Extra secure fit with wing tips
In-line Mic control
|Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23||Average audio performance|
|sealed in-ear||Noise Cancelling|
|YUIN PK3 Earbuds||Out-dated style but good sound||unsealed in-ear|
|Sony STH50 Earbuds||Apple EarPod alternative||unsealed in-ear|| Waterproof|
In-line mic and control
Panasonic Ergofit 125
Panasonic Ergofit 125 is a comfortable and balanced sounding in-ear headphone. Three included sets of silicon give a custom, comfortable and ergonomic fit that blocks ambient noise. The earpieces are designed to contour and sit comfortably in your ears. The Ergofit 125 is available in five color options: black, blue, orange, white and purple.
If you don’t need much richness of sound or fullness of body that can be only achievable in high-end earbuds, then these are perfect for you. They are great for listening to a wide variety of different types of music genres.
ZERO AUDIO Carbo Tenore ZH-DX200-CT
Style: Sealed In-Ear | Frequency Response: 8-24,000Hz | Driver Size: 5.78 mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 102dB/1mW | Impedance: 16 ohms
Normally in the under $50 price range, it can be hard to find high-quality earbuds. The Carbo Tenore ZH-DX200-CT are tiny, good looking and sound astonishingly sweet. With a wide soundstage, impressive clarity and detail, and perfect balance, they sound better than the Ergofit 125. While the highs are smooth, the low-end is solid and crisp, though not as bassy as the next pair.
Sony MDRXB50AP/L, Extra Bass In Ear Headphones
Balanced sounding headphones on a budget, such as ErgoFit 125, might not be a satisfactory option for those who like a lot of bass in music. With that said, the bass it punches isn’t the bass you love. An alternative, the MDR-XB50, offer deep, punchy and crisp bass that you will love.
MDRXB50AP/L sound great for R&B, hip-hop, techno and dance because of their enhanced bass
The Sony MDRXB50AP/L are slick and stylish in-ear headphones. They are also comfortable to wear and have flat cables to ensure they don’t get tangled and knotted in your pockets.
Although their sound profile was designed for bass heads, they do excel in the treble and mid-ranges. Critical listeners might wish for more texture and smoothness in the mids, which are slightly recessed and not mellow enough.
Sony MDRXB50AP/L don’t sound great overall, but they are the best in-ear headphones you can get for under $50 if bass is what you are looking for.
Workout/Sports In-ear Headphones
If you usually listen to music while you workout, you should choose a sporty pair of earbuds. The factors you should consider when choosing headphones are wireless connection, fitting, comfort and durability. Workout headphones are designed to provide a snug and comfortable fit, and stand up to rough conditions like sweat.
For style, you could find headphones that are worn behind the ears or hang around the neck. In-ear headphones also include extra parts, which are commonly wings or earhooks that keep the earpieces from falling out.
Bluetooth Earbuds In Ear Headphones
Do your headphones cause snagging, cable bouncing, microphonics or other problems? Bluetooth in-ear sets offer more freedom as you move, though they do require recharging. Music streaming sometimes skips and lags because of connectivity issues. Sound quality isn’t as good as wired sets, but Bluetooth headphones have been progressing greatly in the past few years. Overall, Bluetooth sets are simply the most convenient headphones to workout with, whether that’s on a run or working at the gym.
That said, Bluetooth sound is more suitable for sports rather than for audiophiles. So you will find most wireless in-ear headphones under $50 are for active people.
Combining audio performance and Bluetooth, the EP-51 is a great set of earbuds. Not only that, but they look stylish and sound great too. This is an excellent alternative for Apple lightning EarPods if you like a cordless experience and punchy bass. The battery is rated for 4 hours on a single charge, an hour less than the Apple AirPods’s battery.
They fit securely and comfortably with eartips and earhooks and can work as a decent headset for calls. You can activate call functions and adjust playback by simply pressing the buttons on the inline remote.
Samsung Level U Bluetooth Wireless In-ear Headphones
The Samsung Level U around-the-neck, in-ear headphones are a great headset for calls and they offer fairly solid sound for music. You can listen for up to 10 hours on a single charge.
They fit shallowly into the ear canal which is less intrusive than other sets on this list. Unfortunately, due to this design they don’t isolate noises well. They also aren’t sweat-resistant, but you can still use them for running as the winged stablizer eartips help keep the earbuds stable in the ear.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
The ATH-ANC23 is an excellent example of low priced in-ear headphones that successfully combine good noise cancellation and great audio performance.
Along with the active noise cancellation feature, a nice carrying case and removable AAA batteries are included. While the headphones themselves have eartips that provide passive noise cancellation and block outside noise, the active noise cancelling circuitry actively cancels out ambient noise. There are a few in-ear headphones to compete in this category, but ANC 23 work the most effectively. They aren’t as good as the high-end Bose QC 20, but they are much cheaper, and work properly.
In terms of sound quality, the earphones are decent at this price. Bass response is noticeable, though it doesn’t push much.
This list has covered a lot of headphones that fit into your ear canals. The other type of in-ear headphones are earbuds, and they are also worth buying. Many people prefer this kind of headphones, since earbuds are less intrusive and somewhat more comfortable than Canalphones.
The ATH-ANC23 sound pretty good for the price. The sound quality they deliver is far beyond their simple looks.
The PK3 earbuds don’t feature eartips like most other in-ear sets, instead they have paddings which fully wrap the earpieces. This non-sealed design brings more comfort to users than canalphones. However, since the earpieces rest on the outer concha ridge of your ear, just outside the ear canal, they don’t isolate noise well.
The PK3 sound good with detail but a little bit less balanced than ErgoFit. The PK3 do present a live and airy sound, and have managed to bring a solid bass response which most earbuds fail to deliver. In addition to solid bass, bright, sparkling treble and a smooth mid-range make these earbuds perform best when listening to country or vocal music.
Sony STH30 Earbuds
These look somewhat like Apple EarPods and are just as flashy and stylish. They offer a better sound quality with a spacious sound stage, clear treble, crips low-ends and reasonably pronounced sound overall. Because of the open-design the bass is a bit overwhelmed at higher levels which represents a drawback when playing heavy bass music like hiphop. These are waterproof too, and more appropriate for sports than YUIN PK3.
The Others (Retired From This Page)
When some pairs of earbuds sound nearly identical, you would judge the design and features to choose the right pair for you. Here are some other pairs we would recommend for their stellar sound quality for the money.
The Brainwavz M5 is the best value in the sub $50 category for their excellent sound quality and durable quality
The best value in-ear set with lightweight, small and compact size for audiophiles on a tight budget.
Some in-ear headphones don’t look as good as they sound. This is the case with the Brainwavz M5. However, these very durable earbuds also have a rugged cable. Overall, they don’t have even sound over all ranges, but what makes them the best value is clear: lush and bright treble, which seems to go into every single detail. The M5 generally bring about the best audio experience for this price range for all kinds of music.
Etymotic Research MC5 Great Noise Isolation For Treble Lovers
Offering a bunch of accessories and delivering well-extended treble, these earbuds are great for those who like a natural sound and precise highs. If you don’t want to use them as earbuds for music, they also work well as earplugs when you feel annoyed with noises in the office, cafe, shopping malls, etc.
The earbuds mentioned in this article overcome the obstacles other earbuds in the same price range cannot such as lacking build quality, poor sound quality, or missing, overwhelmed or distorted bass.
Previously, our favorite budget Bluetooth earphones were Soundpeats Qy7, but recently we have found and tested 1byone Bluetooth earphones, which are smaller in size, easier to fit and less sturdy.
1byone headphones sound great on the low end, pushing out well extended and fairly deep bass. The mid-ranges remain sweet and natural. At high volume levels the treble becomes a bit harsh and edgy but overall I feel it is crisp. 1byone is not as easy as Soundpeats Qy7 to set up. You must press and hold a multiple function button for them to switch into paring mode. Battery life is quite low, only offering 4 to 5 hours depending on the volume level. The eartips provide a decent level of noise isolation, and the earhook, an addition part designed as wings to lock buds in place, do a decent job of keeping the earpieces in place even in active situation. The cord is easy to manage and adjusting the length is simple.
See more best cheap Bluetooth earbuds
Venture Electronics VE MONK Plus
These look like old-school headphones you can order from China for $5, but don’t jusdge them by how they look and their low price. The sound quality is really pure and pleasant to hear.
Unsealed earbuds often lose bass, but they gain an open sound stage. This is exactly true for Edifier Hi-Fi. They also pump in a considerable amount of bass, and put out clear, transparent highs.
These metal earbuds offer great bass impact. They are an alternative option to the Sony MDRXB50AP and are great if you have small ears.
The durable build makes these feel solid in your hands and offer strong, solid bass.
These sound excellent for the price with clarity and detailed sound. You wear these earbuds by wrapping the cable around ears.
Note that some pairs lack an inline control which means when you want to adjust the volume or playback you need to pull your phone out of your pocket. As for the quality of those earbuds, if you use them everyday the eartips or cables are more likely to break.
If you are not sure if you want earbuds or more traditional (but bulkier) options, you may want to check out our list of best over the ear headphones which includes top choices like the Monoprice 108323, Sennheiser HD202 II and Panasonic RP-HTX7 in this same $50 price range.