As we continue our quest to find the perfect pairs within the most popular price-points, today we research, review, compare and contrast the best headphones for under $50. Our headphones guide helped us out with some pairs that may have been too high for many. For some of us, a lot of the bells and whistles, advanced “sound quality” techy-talk and other fancy terminology these companies use to increase the price of their headphones aren’t appealing to many (we’re looking at you, Beats!). For those on a strict budget, most specifically under 50 bucks today, keeping your shopping endeavors constrained to this category will help you decide which is best, as long as you can figure out which type you’re in need of. We found a wide array of shapes, sizes, types and connections to give you options.
Selecting the best headphones under $50
There are a few factors take into consideration when you’re looking for the pair that best suits your needs. You can also check out our best headphones under $100 or under $200 headphones guides if you wanted to spend a few more bucks. Here’s our recommended shopping checklist to help your search:
- Headphone type – There are different kinds of headphones to take into consideration. We’ll spell out the differences below. Who knows, perhaps you want a few different types and feel like going beyond your budget? We give you some choices in our list below with different budgets and types.
- In-Ear: Also known as earbuds, these are the headphones that fit inside of your ear. Many like the convenience, versatility and overall easy-to-use design. They’re often used by those who exercise (running, swimming — make sure they’re waterproof, and lifting weights); however, it can fit the build for many others who find it appealing to what they’ll be doing.
- Closed-Back: Also known as over-ear or on-ear (although semi-open and open-back can also be considered this), these are more of the traditional “headphone look” many associate with the term. They have your headband and ear cups to fit over the top of your head and are popular for too-many-to-name uses out there.
- Semi-Open: A bit more advanced here. Semi-open allow for a little bit of sound to come out through the ear cups to portray a more accurate sound and prevent build-up of certain frequencies.
- Open-Back: Similar to semi-open headphones, these allow for even more sound to leak out through the cups (on purpose). They’re most popular within the mixing and mastering headphone users because closed-back sometimes cause frequencies to be “trapped” in the cups and distract the mixer from hearing a complete clear and accurate sound.
- Wired vs. wireless? We know many others who scoff at the word wire, while others who hate fiddling with Bluetooth or NFC. The choice is yours since we added a mixture of both options below in our list of best models under $50.
- Extra features – Some popular types include waterproof headphones, pairs with a microphone, different fitting ear-tips (with earbuds), noise-cancelling technology, carrying cases, folding design, long-lasting batteries (for wireless models), cushioned ear pads and more. What stands out to you?
The best headphones under $50
Up first we have the Shure SE112, which are sound isolating in-ear earphones considered to be one of the best headphones under $50. If you’re a fan of ours, you’ve probably been able to tell we’re big fans of the brand. The Shure’s Single Dynamic MicroDriver speakers deliver very solid sound with deep bass and good isolation. They feature Sound Isolating Sleeves in multiple sizes that block outside noise up to an impressive 37 dB of ambient noise, while also providing a comfortable, secure fit. The SE112 Sound isolation technology has been developed from personal monitor technology that’s been tested by pro musicians – delivering detailed sound for monitoring or personal listening. The lightweight, low-profile design with optimized nozzle angles are designated for a comfortable fit in the ear, and include an ergonomic, professional over-the-ear configuration to keep the cables out of the way. The Isolation Sleeves come in 3 sizes (S, M, L) – find the best seal for your ears to achieve optimal sound. If you are a musician and need some headphones for your shows, then make sure not to miss out on the Shures.
Next we look at the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x, which are part of the Professional Monitor M-series line by one of our favorite brands ever. This over-ear pair has an exquisite, modern design made with high-quality materials that deliver an enhanced audio and effective isolation experience – very suitable for DJing or long studio sessions! These headphones are equipped with 40mm drivers composed of rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils that deliver the widest range of frequencies (15 – 20,000 Hz). The circumaural design fits shapes around the ears for excellent isolation in the loudest environments – again great for DJing. This pair is also equipped with an impressive maximum input power of 700mW (at 1 kHz), and a convenient single-side cable exit. The M-series is a solid combo of audio and build-quality that get the job done – this particular model being one of the best choices for headphones under $50. If you’re looking for some new studio or show headphones, then try out the M20x at a very affordable price. You can also read our ATH-M20x review for some more info.
If you are more the brand-type, then the Sony ZX110NC noise-cancelling headphones might be a great choice for headphones under fifty bucks. The integrated noise-cancelling technology featured in this model reduce ambient noise by an impressive 95% – making these ideal for your library study sessions. These Sony’s are engineered with a 1.18-inch dynamic dome-driver and a neodymium magnet that spit out a 10 – 22,000 Hz frequency response for crisp bass, mids, and treble. It also features cloud-cushioned earpads, and a battery that has playtime of more than 80 hours at a time (!!) – built for long-lasting comfort. The Sony’s cord is approximately 4 feet in length, with a L-shaped gold-plated stereo mini plug that is compatible with Apple devices and almost any MP3 players. With Sony, you know you are getting patented technology, quality sound, and a durable design – don’t miss out on this pair of headies, which are a steal for under $50, and especially if you wanted some noise-cancellation on top of it all.
Sennheiser CX 300 II
Here we introduce at the Sennheiser CX 300 II Precision, which offer a stylish, custom fit and big bass that other headphones on the market cannot – making them one of the premiere choices in this “best headphones under $50” guide. The CX 300-II are ear-canal phones that are packed with high-quality dynamic speaker systems to help them deliver deep bass (frequency response range of 19 – 21,000 Hz) and durability. They come equipped with a 3-sized (S/M/L) customizable ear adapter kit to achieve perfect fit as well as noise blocking capability. The personalized airtight fit in the ear-canal function as an earplug and high-quality speaking – ideal for live musicians or DJs. Sennheiser also includes this pair with an asymmetrical cable that reduces tangles and cable clutter, providing freedom of movements – clapping along with the crowd, if you will. Also noted, the longer side of the asymmetrical cable goes BEHIND your neck and into the opposite ear, mimicking a single-sided cable which reduces the amount of cable in front of the wearer during activity. Grab these if you want some refined bass for your shows. They received a pretty good score in Engadget’s CX 300 II review.
The Photive BTH3 offer quality, over-the-ear wireless Bluetooth technology, which many competitors cannot offer in the market – making them one of the best headphones under $50. The Photive’s are designed with the latest Bluetooth technology, Advanced CSR Bluetooth 4.0 technology that allows you to stream music wirelessly up to 33ft. They also feature full, 40mm drivers for deep bass, clear mids, and precise treble – all together deliver premium sound. This Photive model comes equipped with a Lithium-ion rechargeable battery gives you 12 hours of constant playtime (charges completely in 3 hours), and on-board controls which let you control your music quick-and-easy. The lightweight, slim design of the BTH3 makes it a great travel companion, and the headphones even come with their own travel hard case. Some people struggle with Bluetooth (and that’s okay), but the “easy pairing” feature lets you pair easily, no code required, while also coming with a 3.5mm input for quick connection if your device doesn’t have Bluetooth. The Photive’s have some great value, and should be bought if you’re looking for some long-lasting comfort on your business trips.
If you’re looking for some headphones to push your workouts to the limit, then the SoundPEATS QY7 might be the best choice for you. They come with a lightweight, in-ear design and are also located on the lowest price of this guide. They are featured with the latest 4.1 Bluetooth technology that allows you to stay connected to your music, no matter where you are, at home or on-the-go. These noise-cancelling headphones are designed for security and comfort, with their 3-sized earbud kit (S/M/L) and 2 different types of ear hooks to make sure they’re not only comfortable, but won’t fall off during your workouts. They have a battery life of up to 6 hours of talk/music time, and take only 2 hours to fully recharge. There’s also no need to worry about sweat damaging your headphones, SoundPEATS have an IPX4 waterproof rating – built to withstand heavy sweat from your active lifestyle. They also come equipped with intuitive music controls and a built-in mic that allows you to control music or calls during your workouts. SoundPEATS are compatible with all iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, Windows devices, and more. Don’t miss out on perhaps the biggest steal of headphones under 50 bucks.
Sennheiser HD 202 II
Now we look at more Sennheiser headphones – this time, some closed, over-ear hi-fi stereo headphones that are ideal for your DJs. The Senny HD 202 II are one of the best pairs of headphones for an under $50 budget and provide good insulation against ambient noise and a clean, deep bass response (18 – 18,000 Hz). The sound of these headphones are backed by a lightweight diaphragm material with “turbines” and powerful neodymium magnets, which produce both deep bass and high sound levels needed for your modern electrical music. With features like removable earcups and cord take-up (adjusting the cable length when listening on the move), the Sennheiser’s are ideal for both mobile sources and DJ sessions at home. The headphones are not only comfortable for extended periods of listening, but feature a rugged outdoor design with a flexible headband and a 3m OFC copper cable – all components to take your sets to the next level. These fall into the middle price-point of this guide, providing great features for headphones at such a price.
Creative Sound Blaster Jam
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam’s are another wireless headset that offer an ultra-lightweight design for comfort and portable playback. These headphones feature the latest 4.1 Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology that allows you to pair and play without any trouble – playing up to 12 hours in a single charge. The Jam’s also come with a one-click solution, allowing you to answer a call, control your bass or change the track – all in one click. The speakers feature quality Neodymium drivers that deliver crisp, clean sound, and a bass enhancement button if you’re feeling froggy. Creative also encourages you to listen to your music while charging, and when connected via USB, you have access to the SPX Pro Studio suite technologies, which is designed to further your music, movie, or game experiences, on the computer. This pair also comes equipped with a high-quality omni-direction microphone, so you can be heard with clarity on your phone calls. If you’re looking for something wireless and comfortable for your long car or plane rides, then look no further than the Sound Blaster Jams, one of the best headphones under $50.
Almost to the end of our guide, we take a gander at the Sony MDRXB50 extra bass in-ear headphones – which offer some dynamic bass that others cannot deliver in this guide. These also made it into our earbuds under $100. The X-bass feature is for you people who want a club-like sound at the gym, home, or at work – a very lightweight design makes them suitable for the on-the-go lifestyles. They are smartphone-compatible with an-line remote/mic that lets you control music and volume, as well as answering (or ignoring!) phone calls. The speakers feature 0.47-inch neodymium magnets and 12mm dynamic, dome drivers for a powerful, balanced sound that reaches an impressive frequency range of 4 – 24,000 Hz – don’t let the size of these earbuds fool you, they pack-a-punch! The headphones come with a standard 3.9 ft. cord, and four-conductor gold-plated L-shaped stereo mini jack that provides power up to 100mW. Grab these inner-ear Sony’s with a lightweight, mobile design that provide some impressive sound – the latter reason making them one of the best headphones under $50 right now.
AKG M 80 MkII
Lastly, we have the AKG M80 MkII, which have a circumaural, semi-open studio design with an adjustable headband, leatherette earpads, and a single-sided cable – ideal for you DJs and sound engineers. These are designed around long-lasting comfort to ensure you make the best out of your studio sessions. The around-ear speakers feature a 1.57-inch driver that belts out a solid frequency range of 18Hz – 20kHz – covering your deep bass and dynamic transients for your trebles and mids. The AKG’s are great for tracking, and they deliver good quality sound at a very manageable price – grabbing multiple of these can do less harm on your wallet than grabbing a very expensive brand-pair of studio headphones. And if something does go wrong, and they break (happens), you won’t feel as guilty because you didn’t buy the expensive brand – this being why they are one of the safer investments and best headphones under $50. We wouldn’t expect a professional-level mixing and mastering pair here, but they can get the job done for this budget-range.