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The Best Earbuds Under $50

No, the 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t dead. There's plenty of "affordable" (not "cheap") wired earbuds that sound way better than their price tag.

budget earbuds
Hunter D. Kelley

The traditional headphone jack is far from dead. Even with the growing number of wireless earbuds and headphone, as well as smartphones that have omitted the traditional headphone jack, there’s are still plenty of reasons to buy cheap affordable wired earbuds. There will always be a simplistic beauty in a plug-in-play pair of headphones. No need to worry about charging it. No need making sure it’s the right Bluetooth device connected to your iPhone. It just works.

There's also a negative stigma around cheap wired earbuds that they also sound cheap. And the reality is that the vast majority of them do — but not all. If you care about audio quality, you should do more than just grab the first pair you see in the airport’s electronics store or continue to use the ones given to you by a flight attendant. Grab one of the below options beforehand (and get a portable DAC if you're really commited) and you'll have a much better experience.
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HiFiMan RE-400
Now 31% off

We like the mellow yet accurate sound of the HiFiMan RE-400. The bass isn’t spectacular, but they make up for it with a larger soundstage than a pair of headphones this cheap should have. We wouldn’t commute with these headphones. For more critical listening at your desk though, we came away loving the sound from the HiFiMan’s the most, especially with a small headphone amplifier in use. They sound great right out of a MacBook Pro’s headphone jack, too.

Sony MDRXB55AP Extra Bass

These are easily the best-designed earbuds on this list. The Sony XB55APs also have a versatile fit and have a well-rounded sound. The bass is strong, but not as much as you’d expect on in a pair of earbuds named "Extra Bass," and the vocals and mids sound distinct and accurate, too. You can’t really go wrong with these, although, for almost $50, there are other earbuds that sound better.

Symphonized NRG

These earbuds are great for listeners who like pop, R&B and rap. The upper ranges lack a bit of separation, however, and there’s some reverb (echo) in the headphones that might annoy some. Also, the design is more artisan than we prefer in our gadgets, however, the wood and chrome design will appeal to some buyers. We wouldn’t make these our first purchase, but if you like your music loud and bass heavy then you’ll like the Symphonized NRG.

Apple EarPods (3.5mm)

Apple’s EarPods are all-around solid earphones, with above average sound quality, volume and features (like a volume control remote). The mids and highs are strong, especially when played at loud volumes. The bass also is decent, too. If they fit in your ears, there’s not much more you ask from a pair of $29 earbuds.

Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFit

The audio quality on these is decent but far from great, which you could probably expect from a pair of earbuds that cost as much as a New York City hoagie. If you’re after lightweight, secure fit and decent audio, at the lowest possible price, these are a good option.

Shure SE112GR

If you asked us which pair we’d buy to keep at our desks or home then we’d select the Shure SE112-GRs. The design and cables may turn off the streamlined commuter unless you like to look like you work in the music industry.

Sennheiser CX 300S

The Sennheiser CX 300S is a solid set of in-ear headphones that deliver solid bass, bright highs and fairly impressive smooth midrange. The cable comes integrated with a mic and remote. And you can snag a pair in either white or black.

The Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100
nothing earbuds one

Don't want the wires? No problem. Wireless earbuds have been around for a number of years and exploded in popularity. Now you don't even have to spend more than $100 to get a solid pair.


The Best Headphone Amplifiers Under $200

Get the most out of your wired headphones with a solid desktop amp. It connects to your desktop computer or laptop (or a portable DAC) and effectively helps your audio sound more like hi-fi. Treat your ears.


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