20 of the Best Earbuds Under $50 in 2018 (June)
After 20+ hours and 41 different earbuds, I can confidently say that these are the best earbuds under $50 in 2018:
Buying earbuds is never easy, especially given the wide range of options available to you. Since these are budget earbuds, my evaluation criteria was value for money, not performance. While you can pick any of the models listed above without disappointment, there are several things you must consider when buying them.
In the sections to follow, I’ll share an expanded list of the best earbuds under $50 in the market right now. I’ll also share my review methodology, scoring process, and a quick evaluation of the 20 best earbuds from my list.
Note: I use “earbuds” and “earphones” interchangeably throughout the article for the sake of simplicity.
My Picks for the Best Earbuds Under $50 at a Glance
If you’re in a hurry and want to see the top results by category, check out the section below:
Best Budget Earbuds: Betron DC950 Earphones
It’s absurd what UK-based Betron was able to squeeze into this ridiculously underpriced package. Budget earbuds are usually ugly and bland, but the Betron DC950 has a striking metal and plastic finish, a flat tangle free cable, and most importantly, great sound quality for its price.
If you want comfortable, affordable, and stylish earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the DC950.
Best Mid-Range Earbuds: Marsno M1 Wired Earphones
The Marsno M1 earphones don't do anything exceptionally well. The design won't make heads turn, nor will the sound quality blow you away.
But what these earphones do offer is robust, all-around performance. Everything simply works. You get good sound quality, balanced performance, decent build quality, and all the features you'd want in any earphones in this range. If you want a no-fuss pair, you can't go wrong with these.
Best High-End Earbuds: MEE audio M6 PRO
MEE audio calls the M6 PRO “in-ear monitors” instead of “earphones”.
Audiophiles among you would know that monitors typically have a flat frequency response and thus, more accurate sound rendition.
For casual listeners, MEE audio M6 might sound a bit “flat”, but if you’re a musician or an audiophile, you’ll love its superior fidelity. Instead of a thumping bass that drowns out everything else, you’ll hear instruments you didn’t even know existed in the track.
For its sound quality alone, I choose M6 PRO as my top choice for earbuds under $50.
Best Wireless Earbuds: SoundPEATS Bluetooth Earphones
There has been a mini-revolution of sorts in wireless earphone technology, thanks to Apple's push. Prices have come down drastically and performance has gone up.
The best example of this change is SoundPEATS Bluetooth earphones. 8 hours of battery life, robust sound quality, comfortable design, sweat resistance all rolled up into a package that's less than the price of a lunch for two is a deal you can't beat.
There are better wireless earbuds on the market, but if you're a budget buyer, you can't go wrong with these.
The obvious question now is: how did I score these earphones? What was my review process?
I’ll answer these questions below.
About Your Reviewer
My name is Ryan and I’m a professional producer, recording engineer and part-time DJ. I’ve been producing music since the early days of Cubase 5.0 (2000). I’ve dabbled in everything from electro rock to future bass and hip-hop, though my focus is mostly on drum and bass at the moment.
I’ve used and owned dozens of earphones, including many of the earphones mentioned on this list. You can learn more about me and my musical adventures on the about page or get in touch via email.
How I Scored the Best Earbuds Under $50
“How do I sort these out?”
This was my first reaction when I started researching earphones on Amazon.
There was a time when you could reliably pick a few earphone brands - Sennheiser, Sony, Shure - and be happy with your purchase.
But the competition right now is insane.
There are literally over 40,000 results in Amazon when you search for “earbuds”. 20,000 results in the ‘Electronics’ category alone.
Most of these are from brands I’ve never heard of - Marsno, MEE audio, Senso, TaoTronics, TAIR, Keku, to name a few.
As Shark Tank’s Kevin O’ Leary would say: “Stop the madness!”
To help sort this immense variety into some sort of comprehensible list, I followed this process:
- I made a list of all earbuds I’ve used or owned
- I asked my musician friends about earbuds they’ve used or owned to my list
- I added the best critically-reviewed earbuds online to this list
From this list, I eliminated all earbuds that were a) over $50, b) out of production, and c) extremely poorly reviewed.
At the end, I had a list of 41 earbuds:
I was surprised by some of the brands on the list. There were a few audiophile stalwarts - AKG, Sennheiser, Shure, Klipsch - but also a massive number of new brands pushing the envelope for what earphones can actually do.
Next, I started my evaluation process.
To start with, I asked myself: “what do people look for in a pair of affordable earbuds?”
The answer will of course vary from person to person. One person might prefer audio quality while another might prefer good design. Features might be important to one customer but completely immaterial to another.
I ran a rough survey of friends and family to figure out what’s important to them. Based on their feedback, I evaluated my list on the following metrics:
Sound quality is obviously the single most important factor when buying earphones. All features, design and build quality issues aside, you buy earbuds to listen to music. If it doesn’t sound good, it’s not a good pair of earbuds.
Sound quality is also extremely hard to evaluate. You can measure frequency response and loudness all you want, but there is a subjective quality to sound that’s hard to measure - at least for this reviewer.
To ensure consistency, I used the same tracks to evaluate all the 41 earbuds. These were specifically chosen to test the range and frequency response of the gear:
- Radiohead - National Anthem (for testing overall balance)
- Bob Marley - Turn Your Lights Down Low (for testing “space” and reverb)
- CAN - Spoon (for testing rhythm and timing)
- Nina Simone - I put a spell on you (for testing the midrange)
- Max Roach & Abbey Lincoln - Lonesome Lover (for testing treble)
- SBTRKT - Wildfire (for testing bass)
For testing equipment, I used the following:
- Lenovo Windows 10 desktop with Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface. All audio files were in FLAC format. The room was also acoustically treated for good measure.
- OnePlus 5 Android phone running Spotify at default sound quality.
This gave me a “range” of performance on a more professional setup (desktop) vs what most people would actually use (smartphone).
For added accuracy, I asked 3 of my friends to give their impressions of the sound quality as well. I added their scores to mine to arrive at a weighted average.
Since sound quality is the most important factor in my review, I gave it the highest weight in the final score calculation (0.5).
After sound quality, I prioritized a number of additional characteristics such as:
- Build quality: Are the earphones solidly constructed? Are they comfortable to wear? Do they feel flimsy or robust? Will they last regular wear and tear? I considered these questions when evaluating the earphones.
- Features: Features are not critical but nice to have. A built-in microphone, sweat resistance, etc. are some of the features I considered.
- Design: Good design isn’t a make or break feature but it can push an average pair of earphones into the “above average” zone. Obviously, some of you will prioritize design, so I’ve listed my favorite earphones by design below.
- Price: Although at $50, we’re already in the budget category, I still considered price in my evaluation. There is a big difference between $10 and $50. A value for money pair of earbuds got a higher score in my evaluation.
- Personal impressions: What I feel about the product based on my experience with it. This had a small impact on the final score.
I then used a weighted average to calculate the final score. I prioritized sound quality, pricing, and build quality in the formula, as shown below:
0.5 * Sound Quality + 0.2 * Price + 0.15 * Build Quality + 0.075 * Design + 0.075 * Features
You can see the full scores for each of the 37 earphones in the next section.
21 of the Best Earbuds in 2018 (June)
Here's a list of 21 of the best earphones I covered in this review:
I’ll cover the 20 best reviewed earphones in the section below.
Best Low-End Earbuds (Under $50)
These are the cheapest earbuds on the market, but despite their price, they pack a punch in performance.
Here’s a look at the best of the lot:
1. Betron DC950
Review score: 4.15/5
Features: In-line remote and mic, passive noise canceling
These have no reason to be as good as they are.
This was the first thought in my head when I tried the Betron DC950. For something that sits right at the lowest end of the earphone range, these sound surprisingly good. The bass is solid with a satisfying thump. The mids can sound a bit muddy but you won't even notice it if you listen to mainstream music.
They’re also comfortable, moreso than they should be at this price range. The plug-like design does a good job of blocking outside noise.
Additional features, such as an in-line remote and microphone are highly welcome. I particularly like the tangle-free flat cable.
If you keep losing earphones and don’t want to invest $100 in an expensive pair, these should be your first pick. The sound quality is outrageously good and the little features - tangle-free cable, in-line remote, etc. - make it a rock solid buy.
Given the price, I would recommend everyone to buy a pair as your secondary listening device.
Review score: 4.005/5
Features: Passive noise cancelling, in-line remote
KEKU is by no means a big brand in the earbud world. Heck, even I hadn’t heard of them as an enthusiast and reviewer.
This made me skeptical of recommending these earphones, but the overall package was so good that I couldn’t help but list it here.
These are affordable, perform well, have ear clips for use while working out, and are surprisingly comfortable. The sound quality is strong if not spectacular and at this price point, I can’t really complain.
What I like
Comfort: These earphones have a memory foam cover that fits snugly inside the ear. You can wear them for hours without discomfort.
Ear clips work well and ensure the earphones stay in place even during intense activity.
Sound quality is robust. The bass is strong though the highs tend to be slightly overcrowded.
Extension cord is an added bonus, though I can’t see too many applications for it.
If I have any complaints, its that the cable isn’t tangle-free. It is flat but not broad enough to avoid tangling.
That, plus KEKU’s unknown after sales service are the two red flags. Otherwise, this is a competent product in a value for money package.
Review score: 3.9825/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Noise isolating design, in-line remote and mic
The makers of these earphones aren’t kidding when they say it has enhanced bass. In fact, I’d say that this is probably the best bass you’ll find in earbuds in this price range.
That said, the overall sound quality is above average, not spectacular. The bass-heavy design means that the mids and highs drown out. Great for hip-hop and pop, but not so great for genres with more nuance (Jazz and Classical music lovers, look elsewhere).
Durability is a problem with several reviewers noting cord breakage. Though in my own review, I found the build quality to be competent.
What I like
Sound quality is good and loud. Despite their size, they don't sound tinny or muffled.
Noise isolation works well.
The earbuds are comfortable for long hours, though they tend to run slightly smaller in size.
Remote control and mic work well.
Chief complaints: durability, inconspicuous design (take that as a negative or a positive), and lack of tangle-free cord.
Buy these if you want a better known brand name and are looking for something inconspicuous. The sound quality is good and the bass is among the best in class. Durability remains a concern, however.
Review score: 3.925/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Microphone (optional - costs extra)
I have to admit: I was drawn to these earbuds because they reminded me of the first pair of earbuds I’d ever owned.
In terms of design, this is as basic as they come. No fancy noise isolation, no sports clips, no tangle-free cords. You get earbuds and just that.
In terms of audio quality, these are competent. In fact, these are the only major brand on this list so far. The frequency profile is solid throughout; you won't think that the bass or trebles are over-emphasized.
The design might pose a challenge for some people. Personally, I prefer in-ear earbuds, but I can see why some people might be drawn to these.
It does lack a lot of features, but that, I feel, is by intention and not accident. These are a throwback to the early days of earbuds when you only used them for listening and not a gazillion other things.
What I like
Sound quality is good, though some sibiliants (the harsh 'S' sound) tend to stand out.
Classic, evergreen design that doesn't stand out.
One year warranty - a rare thing in this category. Edifier is also known to issue replacements quickly and without any fuss.
The design gives you a better sense of your surroundings - might be a plus for some people.
As far as cons go, I can point to the clear lack of common features. There isn't even a built-in mic in the standard model. But if you're looking for these features, I'd recommend the earbuds listed above.
Not everyone will appreciate the Edifier HS-180 earbuds. The design is a "classic" (for some: outdated) and in a world of in-ear earbuds, these stand out. There are no extra features and the sound quality isn't mind-blowing.
But you do get a highly competent pair of earbuds in a design that won't go out of style and from a brand that is known for quality and service. If these are important to you, I'd recommend the Edifier HS-180 highly.
Review score: 3.885/5
Type: WiredFeatures: In-line remote and mic
As one of the best-selling earbuds in this category, you can't really go wrong with the Panasonic ErgoFit. It ticks all the boxes: good sound quality, good design, and good features. As one of my friends said, this is the "IBM of earbuds" - no one will ever truly regret buying them.
What I like
The sound quality is good if not extraordinary. The bass is good, though you have to get the right fit to really feel it.
The design doesn't stand out while still looking good. These are designed to be neutral. You can also choose from a range of colors.
Solid build quality and durability. I've known people who've used these for 5+ years without any complaints.
The microphone and in-line remote work well.
As far as complaints go, I do think these could have better audio quality. Cheaper alternatives from inferior brands do a better job of rendering bass. I can't see why Panasonic couldn't do better on this front.
A tangle-free cord is also highly missed.
Pick these if you like a drama-free pair of earbuds. You get a very well-reviewed product from a respectable brand that has topped the best seller charts for years. For non adventurous buyers, these should be the top pick.
6. Koss ‘The Plug’
Review score: 3.86/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Memory foam ear cushions, noise isolation, lifetime warranty
“These are SO adorable!”
That’s what my girlfriend said when she first saw these earphones. Even though I’m not one for cute things, I have to agree: the Koss ‘Plugs’ do stand out. Unlike the cookie-cutter designs you’re used to, these have a cone-like shape.
The result is a set of earphones that sound much better than they should at this price point, offering solid noise isolation, good comfort, and a well-rounded frequency response range.
But there is a catch.
The unique shape of these earphones means that they don’t fit every ear equally well. They worked wonderfully well for me since I have small ear holes. My brother doesn’t. They would keep falling out, making them difficult to use.
Sure, Koss offers extra ear cushions for such users, but that defeats the purpose of the plug-like design.
On the whole, I like them but make sure that you actually try wearing them once. There is a big difference in comfort and sound quality based on how well they fit you.
Review score: 3.85/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Built-in microphone, additional ear cushions provided
Like a lot of you, I was pretty skeptical when Rohan Marley (Bob's son) first launched the 'House of Marley' brand. A part of me saw it as "selling out" of the Bob Marley brand.
Fortunately, the HoM products generally have solid quality. I also appreciate their use of more sustainable materials.
Which brings me to this pair of earphones.
The Little Bird is the cheapest offering in HoM's product catalog. It has some faux wood but it doesn't feel nearly as premium as the company's other products.
Despite the lack of premium feel, these earphones do feel solid. The black pattern looks good without standing out too much.
The sound quality is a mixed bag. The clarity is good without being outstanding. The bass is surprisingly good, but the highs can sound muddy, especially on bass-heavy tracks.
Overall, these are a well-rounded pair of earphones. Choose them if you want something that's slightly different from the mainstream but still offers respectable quality from a known, reputable brand.
Best Mid-Range Earphones (Under $50)
The mid-range (denoted by ‘$$’) is often the sweet-spot when you’re buying earphones. Products in this price range usually have a nice balance of price and features. They won’t burn a hole in your pocket, nor will they hurt your ears.
Let’s take a look at some of the best mid-range earbuds on the market right now.
Review score: 4.057/5
Type: WirelessFeatures: Bluetooth, 8 hours battery life, sweat resistant, in-line mic and volume control
You have to give Apple credit. Until they basically forced the industry to accept Bluetooth earphones, if you wanted wireless earbuds, you had to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of expensive Bose.
Today, you can find astonishingly good wireless earbuds for the price of a couple of lattes and sandwiches at Starbucks.
These wireless earphones from SoundPEATS are the perfect example. They perform astonishingly well for the price and boast a laundry list of features. They're also lightweight, easy to use, and feature a gym-friendly design.
In terms of sound quality, they perform well enough. You'll never get as good sound from wireless speakers as you would from wired ones. But thanks to the solid noise isolation, you might actually feel that these SoundPEATS earphones perform better than they do.
Bluetooth earphones live and die by the battery life. Unfortunately, I'm yet to find anything that offers more than 12 hours on a charge. At 8 hours, these perform below par. Be prepared to charge them regularly. And carry spare wired earphones if you're going to be away for long hours.
Sweat resistance is a much-needed feature. I didn't think much of it until I had another pair of earphones die on me in the gym. If you sweat a lot or plan to use them while working out, this feature is a Godsend.
Which brings me to the design. With the ear clips and the plug-like design, these are perfect for working out. In fact, you might even find them uncomfortable for daily wear. In the gym, however, they stay put and isolate outside noise pretty well so you stay in your 'zone'.
On the whole, if you're looking for a pair of affordable wireless Bluetooth earbuds, and want something you can carry to the gym, you can't go wrong with these SoundPEATS earphones.
Review score: 4.022/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Lifetime warranty, in-line controls
There are only a few things I'm 100% confident about. That the earth is round (sorry, Flat Earthers), that Pet Sounds is better than Sgt. Pepper's, and that the Marsno M1 is the single best pair of wired earphones you can buy in this price range.
The Marsno M1 is a delight to own. It has surprisingly good build quality. There is a joyous amount of heft when you hold it in your palm. The brushed aluminium housing isn't just for show - it actually feels substantial in your hands.
Then there is the sound quality. The bass might not be as punchy and thick as you'd want, but the highs are crystal clear. These are also among the few cheap earbuds I've used that don't sacrifice the mids.
Then there are the other features - a thick, durable cord that won't break after a few months, 1-button in-line controls, and a 100% lifetime money back guarantee.
That Marsno has managed to package all of this at a price that is barely past our "cheapest" category is nothing short of remarkable.
If that wasn't all, these earphones also have something that's missing from so many competitors: clear Right and Left earbud labels. White font on black body means you don't have to squint hard to figure out which earbud goes where.
If you're in the market for a pair of affordable wired earbuds, you simply can't go wrong with this choice.
Review score: 3.97/5
Type: WirelessFeatures: Bluetooth, IPX-7 waterproof rating, 240 hours battery stand-by, free carrying case
Remember when I said how Apple opened the floodgates for innovation in Bluetooth earphones?
This offering from Senso is the perfect example of that.
You get high-quality sound that would put most wired earphones to shame, comfortable, gym-ready design, IPX-7 waterproofing, and tons of bonus items, all for the price of a good t-shirt.
What's there not to like?
Let's dig a big deeper.
Unlike the SoundPEATS earphones, these are bigger and bulkier. This design is at least half a generation older, if not more. The battery is included within the earbuds, rather than the control unit. This older design is the only reason why I haven't ranked it higher.
The sound quality is good, or at least as good as wireless earphones in this range can be. The ear plugs isolate noise nicely so the sound will actually feel better than it actually is.
The battery life is similar to the SoundPEATS at 8 hours (you actually get about 6-7 hours). The battery standby is much longer at nearly 240 hours, however.
The controls are placed on the earbuds. This is an awkward spot and can be hard to reach. A control stalk located on the cable would have been much better.
These earphones are IPX-7 waterproof. This means that they'll work even if you drop your device into up to 3 feet of water. In contrast, the SoundPEATS are IPX-6, i.e. they can withstand a blast of water, but can't be submerged in water.
Finally, you get a bunch of goodies with these earphones. There is a bonus carrying case which looks quite nice. You also get a magnetic car vent mount. I can't attest to the quality of this mount since I didn't get to test it. But it's free so I can't really complain.
On the whole, if you're looking for a pair of Bluetooth earphones and are okay with a slightly bulkier design, these are a fantastic buy.
Review score: 3.96/5
Type: WiredFeatures: 1-button universal remote with mic, cable manager
Admittedly, these earphones lack a lot of the bells and whistles you'll find on the other earbuds on this list. They don't even have a particularly unique design (though the pink one did elicit a "that's cute" from my girlfriend).
What these do better than a lot of competitors, however, is sound quality.
Don't let the plain looks and ordinary white/pink colors fool you. These earbuds have seriously good bass response. The kick drums on SBTRKT's "Wildfire" have a satisfying thump and the bass on Calvin Harris' "Slide" sounds particularly juicy.
Unlike a lot of competitors, this pair from Moshi doesn't sacrifice clarity for the bass. You can hear the mids and highs clearly, even on challenging tracks like CAN's "Spoon".
Given the cost, this is a price-to-performance ratio that you can't really beat.
Of course, it lacks a number of features. You don't get sweat resistance, ear clips, or carrying cases. The design is simple and inoffensive. Don't get these if you want people to turn around.
Overall, one of the best sounding earphones in this price range. Get them if you care about audio quality over features.
Review score: 3.95/5
Type: WirelessFeatures: IPX-6 waterproof, magnetic design, integrated remote control
If it wasn't for the slightly poorer audio quality, these Bluetooth earphones from TaoTronics would be my first recommendation for affordable wireless headphones. They're effortlessly light with surprisingly good battery life (9 hours - rated - vs SoundPEATS' 8 hours). The design is simple, inconspicuous, and most importantly, functional. The ear clips fit well and you can easily wear them while working out; they won't pop out.
These earphones are also IPX-6 rated. As you'll recall, this means that they can withstand a jet of water. You still can't submerge them, unlike the Senso earphones. But if you're just working out, they'll resist your sweat well enough.
One thing I like about them is the magnetic design. The back of the earbuds are magnetic. When you're not using them, you can join the ends and wear them around your neck.
All of this brings me to the biggest disappointment: the sound quality. Granted, most wireless earphones in this price range don't have anything to write home about when it comes to sound. But the poor noise isolation in TaoTronics earphones' makes the below-average bass and thin, tinny treble stand out. If you're buying these purely for listening to music, find a better alternative (or just get wired earphones).
On the whole, these are versatile, affordable, and feature-rich entry-level wireless earphones. If you don't care too much about sound quality and want something you can take to the gym, the TaoTronics sport earphones would make a great buy.
Review score: 3.91/5
Type: WiredFeatures: In-line remote control with mic, noise isolation
The first thing you'll notice about the Symphonized NRG 3.0 earphones is the wood. In fact, that's the primary marketing point - that the earbud housing is made from natural wood.
Wood, of course, has some acoustic properties. And Symphonized claims that it improves the sound quality of these earphones.
Within a tiny earphone housing, however, the impact is entirely lost. As things stand, this is mostly used as a marketing gimmick. Though that doesn't mean that the wood doesn't actually look nice.
Which brings me to the design: these are a great looking pair of earphones. The wood stands out and will draw attention. Don't be surprised if at least a few people ask you about them.
The sound quality, overall, is good if not great. The price-to-performance ratio is strong and you won't walk away disappointed from these earphones. If I have any complaint, it's that the mids tend to be muted and muddy.
There are the standard features you should expect from earphones in this range. You get passive noise isolation and an in-line remote control with microphone. The cord, unfortunately, isn't tangle-free.
On the whole, buy these if you want a well-designed pair of earphones that offer no-frills, no-nonsense performance.
That rounds up our list of the mid-range earphones. In the next section, I’ll cover my top rated high-end earphones under $50.
Best High-End Earphones (Under $50)
We now come to the top-end of the roundup. Buying earphones in this range is always a bit tricky. The prices start going up enough that they can pinch you. It’s no longer lunch money; $50 is something you actually have to think about.
The problem is that if you’re willing to spend $50, you’re also likely to spend a few dollars more. There is always the temptation to splurge when you hit this price range. I had to check myself because I would regularly start comparing these earphones to $100+ premium products.
With that said, here is my list of the best high-end earphones under $50:
Review score: 4.04/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Detachable cable, Comply memory foam eartips, sweat resistance
I always pity any brand that labels its product for “musicians”. Musicians are an unforgiving bunch. If you call yourself musician-grade, you better walk the talk.
So when MEE released the second iteration of its M6 monitors and advertised it as “for musicians”, I was skeptical. I had heard good things about the first version, but I never had a chance to try them out.
But when I finally did, I was blown away.
MEE calls these “monitors”. If you’ve been around musicians, you would know that that’s not a term we use lightly. “Monitors” are expected to be professional-grade equipment that we use when making music. If something is labeled as “monitors”, it must adhere to a certain standard in accuracy and fidelity.
I’m pleased to say that the MEE M6 meets those standards, and then some more.
The first thing you’ll notice about these earphones (sorry - ‘monitors’) is the clear design. In a world of wood and brushed aluminium, the clear plastic stands out. You can see all of the innards. It’s an intentional choice - MEE wants musicians to see what they actually have inside.
The next thing you’ll notice is the detachable cord. Musicians are heavy users. One of the first points of damage in any musical gear is the cord. A detachable cord means that you don’t have to replace the entire earphones if the cord gets dinged up.
Things brings me to the most important part of these in-ear monitors: the sound quality.
The sound quality for these things is insanely good for the price. The frequency response is flat - as any good monitors should have. The bass, mids, and trebles are all clear with no particular emphasis on any bit. The mids - something most earphones mess up - are bright and accurate.
Can they replace my ATH M50x in a studio setting? Not really. But the audio quality is good enough that I don’t have to lug the M50X around everywhere. If I’m just working on a track casually, I can pop these in and I can get some work done.
There are a bunch of features - in-line mic, volume control, sweatproof design, etc. But you don’t really care about them, do you? You buy in-ear monitors because you want great sound. The features are just extra.
On the whole, I love these. I love the sound quality, I love the accuracy, and I love the little (big) touch of adding detachable cords. These are some of the best sounding earphones a beginner can buy at this price range.
Review score: 4/5
Type: WirelessFeatures: IPX-5 waterproofing, sports ear clips, in-line volume control with mic
You might have heard of Ankler before. In fact, there is a good chance you're carrying one of their accessories right now.
Although a late entrant to the phone accessories market, Ankler has made a name for itself thanks to the build quality of its products.
These wireless earphones from the company are no different. They aren't the best sounding earphones out there, nor do they have the best battery life. In fact, you can find better Bluetooth earphones than these at a lower price point (SoundPEATS and Senso come to mind).
But where the Ankler shine is in their build quality. These just feel more robust and solid than most cheaper variants. There is no gimmicky metal or wood use here; it's just good, hefty plastic. They feel good to hold and even better to touch. And they come with an 18-month warranty.
I'm also a fan of the fit. Most other wireless earphones tend to have ear clips which can start hurting after a while. These fit around your ear. It takes a while to get used to but you can wear them much longer comfortably.
In terms of sound quality, the performance is adequate. The noise isolation is solid so the sound tends to envelop you. The bass is surprisingly good but the mids and highs aren't as bright and thick.
On the whole, these are well-built, well-performing wireless earphones. They will last a long time and deliver satisfactory performance every time.
Review score: 3.97/5
Features: 2-years manufacturer’s warranty, in-line remote control with mic
Beyerdynamic is a pro-gear heavyweight. They also make one of my favorite studio headphones, the DT770 Pro.
So suffice to say that I was a little impartial when it was time to review the beyerdynamic Byron.
And you know what? These earbuds delivered all that was promised.
The highlight of the beyerdynamic Byron is the audio quality. These are simply the best sounding earphones you can get in this category, barring the MEE M6 monitors. But since these are commercial-grade earphones (and not monitors), they have a sound that casual listeners will appreciate more.
The bass is loud and clear without the low rumble that characterizes so many bass-heavy earphones. The mids are clear and the highs are well-balanced. The sound feels controlled. At no point do you get sharp highs or unbearably low bass notes.
Besides the sound quality, you also get an in-line microphone and remote control. You also get 2-years manufacturer’s warranty.
The design is inoffensive but slick. There is no loud beyerdynamic branding anywhere, which is always appreciated.
On the whole, these are some of the best sounding earphones on the market right now. They also have the basic features that you’d want in a set of earbuds. If you’re looking for wired earphones and the MEE M6 monitors aren’t for you, you won’t regret buying the beyerdynamic Byron.
Review score: 3.97/5
Features: Free carrying pouch, sleeve fit kit, nozzle cleaning tool
Shure is a respected name in pro audio gear so I understandably had high expectations from these earphones. And they didn’t disappointed.
Despite the barebones feature set, the Shure SE112-GR still boast some of the best audio quality in this category. They use a single dynamic microdriver which, Shure claims, improves bass performance.
I certainly found that to be the case. Despite the tiny size, these offer remarkably robust bass - thick and round without getting too rumbly. The mids are slightly muddy but the highs are clear enough. You’ll love these if you’re into bass-heavy music.
These earphones also have sound of the best noise isolation in this category. This really enhances the listening experience, especially on atmospheric tracks.
Speaking of design, the Shure SE112s come in black and gray. The design is as plain and inoffensive as you can get. Perfect if you want a pair of earphones and not a fashion statement.
Of course, the big negative is the lack of features. They don’t even have a built-in microphone. If that’s important to you, I suggest you look elsewhere.
On the whole, the Shure SE112-GRs offer great audio quality with solid bass performance in a neutral design. They lack a number of features but the audio quality makes up for it.
Review score: 3.96/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Active noise cancellation, monitoring mode, noise cancelling microphone
Before I give you an overview of these earphones, you should understand the difference between passive and active noise cancellation.
- Passive noise cancellation - what most other earphones on this list offer - essentially blocks out outside noise. Which is to say, it isolates the sound.
- Active noise cancellation actively listens to outside noise. It then reproduces an audio signal that is the opposite of that noise, thereby “cancelling” it.
Active noise cancellation creates a much stronger sense of “quietness”.
Active noise cancellation is tricky, which is why most headphones that offer it are priced in excess of $100. That TaoTronics is even able to offer it at this price range is remarkable.
Simply put, these are among the cheapest active noise cancelling earphones you’ll find on the market.
How is the sound quality? Good and well-balanced. The bass is loud without being overwhelmingly so. The mids are clear. And the highs don’t have that shrillness that ruins so many earphones.
They also come with a MEMS noise cancelling microphone that performs extremely well even in busy environments.
The highlight, of course, is the active noise cancellation. When activated, you won’t hear any outside noise. If you’re working, in a flight, or just want to zone out, you can’t get anything better than this - at least in this price range.
There is also a handy “monitoring” mode. Press a button and the noise cancellation stops so you can hear what’s going on outside.
If I have any complaints, it’s the battery life. TaoTronics claims you can get 15 hours from 1 hour charge, but I found it closer to 10-12 hours. Not bad, but can be a problem on long flights.
Overall, I can’t recommend these enough if you’re looking for active noise cancelling earphones. The price-to-performance ratio is insane and the sound quality is good enough for most purposes.
Review score: 3.9/5
Features: Comes with a carrying case and clip
I have mixed feelings about the SoundMagic E10. On the one hand, they have excellent sound quality and consistently good performance. On the other hand, there are better alternatives at this price range (Shure and beyerdynamic above).
So while I do recommend them, I don't see any reason that you would want to choose them over the MEE M6 or the beyerdynamic.
By itself, this set of earphones performs admirably. The sound quality is rock solid and well-balanced, though a bit heavier on the bass side. I like the design as well, especially the all-metal enclosure.
The build quality is great and will easily last you several years of regular use. A stronger or detachable cord would have made it even better.
There is no built-in microphone or remote control, however. These are pure earphones, not a headset. If you want a microphone, look elsewhere.
On the whole, good earphones with a nice design. You won't be disappointed by them. But at the same time, there are earphones in this price range that have slightly better performance.
Review score: 3.9/5
Type: WiredFeatures: Tangle-free cable, Comply memory foam eartips, single dynamic driver, mic with remote control
One of my biggest pet peeves is tangled cables. I’ve tested my fair share of tangle-free cables, but I’ve found that none of them actually live up to the claims.
This is why I heartily recommend the ADVANCED M4 earphones. The braided cable design is extremely tangle resistant. I honestly believe this should be a standard feature for all earphones.
Coupled with the slender, brushed metal design, these are among the better looking earphones on the market.
How about the sound quality? Good, if not exceptional. Like the Shure earphones above, they use a single dynamic driver which delivers better bass and more consistent performance. The sound is warm and the highs are clear.
They also come with Comply memory foam eartips. These fit much better than regular foam. My only complaint is that you only get one set of Comply eartips. The rest are regular foam.
On the whole, a very solid performer with an exceptionally well-designed cable. If you hate dealing with tangled wires as much as I do, make this your first choice.
So that wraps up this long roundup of the best earbuds under $50 on the market right now. It can be difficult figuring out which earbuds are right for you, especially since there is seldom little to choose between competitors.
Hopefully, this roundup will make it easier for you to decide.
Here’s a summary of the top three earphones in each category:
Based on your budget, you can pick any pair of earphones from this list. Your money will be well-spent.
Comments, doubts, questions? Let me know below!