When searching for the best budget earbuds, it's important to find a balance between cost and quality. Factors such as their sound, low latency, and noise-cancellation capabilities should be considered, all of which we've made sure to take into account when putting together our top picks.
Our recommendations for the best earbuds on a budget include options for sports, gaming, and everyday use to cater to different needs and preferences. No one entry necessarily eclipses the others, so whether you prioritise sound quality, comfort, or style, we have an equally great pick for you.
We've also answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding earbuds to help you come to a decision on the right pair. For example, if you're concerned about battery life, or if you're not sure whether you should buy earbuds or headphones, our guide has you covered. Before that though, here's our list of the best cheap earbuds on the market today...
Best cheap earbuds
1. JLab Go Air Pop
Best all-round budget earbuds
The incredibly inexpensive JLab Go Air Pop earbuds kick off our list in style. Not only do they look great, but they also feature a frequency response of 20HZ to 20kHZ, 6mm drivers, and a pretty impressive battery life.
In fact, despite costing less than some of their competitors, these earbuds are some of the longest-lasting on the market, with a total battery life of 32+ hours including the case. They are also small (a 15% smaller fit than their predecessors), light, and comfortable to wear for extended periods.
You also get some handy onboard controls that allow you to adjust the EQ3 Sound between JLab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost modes. This helps the earbuds compete against rivals well over double their price in terms of audio quality.
On the whole, the JLab Go Air Pop earbuds offer excellent value for money, and are an ideal option for anyone looking for a reliable, high-quality pair of True Wireless earbuds without breaking the bank.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW
Best fast-charging budget earbuds
The Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW earbuds are an excellent choice for those with a little more money to spend but don't want to break into triple figures. They offer a comfortable fit in the ear with their soft earbud tips, a decent battery life, and various low latency modes.
More specifically, the earbuds include low-latency and hear-through options, which, combined with Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, provide an expansive soundstage.
With a frequency response of 20-20,000Hz and a 5.8mm dynamic driver, they can also deliver impressive sound quality for their price. Furthermore, they provide up to six and a half hours of battery life from the earbuds alone, which can be extended to a remarkable 20 hours with the included charging case.
What's even better is the fact you can gain a full hour of playback from just 15 minutes of charging thanks to their quick charging capabilities. So, if it's a set of fast-charging earbuds you're after, then make sure to check out this pair from Audio-Technica.
3. Sony WF-C500
Best budget earbuds for exercise
The Sony WF-C500 earbuds offer high-quality performance at a relatively inexpensive price point. With their full IPX4 waterproofing, we'd argue they're a particularly great option for sports, fitness, and outdoor activities.
Moreover, these earbuds feature Bluetooth 5.0 compatibility, a built-in mic and controls, and can be easily managed through the Headphones Connect app. They also come with built-in voice controls that work with Google Assistant and Siri, allowing you to adjust settings without needing to take out your phone.
With strong bass support and a battery life of ten hours, these earbuds are ideal for anyone looking for a budget-friendly option that can last most of the day. Additionally, the attached carry case provides another ten hours of battery life, bringing the total to twenty hours for all-day listening.
All in all, these Sony earbuds are a great choice for those who want high-quality earbuds to wear while they exercise, but don't want to push the boat out on a premium pair at this stage in time.
4. TOZO NC9
Best budget earbuds with noise cancellation
Typically retailing within double digits, these TOZO NC9 earbuds offer great value for money considering their price. Pairing is effortless, with the earbuds automatically connecting when taken out of the case with Bluetooth enabled. This makes them easy to use, although their true value lies in their audio.
The earbuds boast three layers of active noise cancellation, with the highest level blocking up to 90% of outside noise according to TOZO. Additionally, the built-in dual noise-cancelling microphone enhances audio clarity during calls, making them ideal to use on the go.
Battery life lasts for ten hours on a single charge, but the included charging case provides an additional 24 hours. Even with active noise cancellation enabled, you can still enjoy up to seven hours of playtime. As a result, the TOZO NC9 earbuds make for great picks for everyday wear and offer exceptional quality for their inexpensive price.
5. Turtle Beach Scout Air
Best budget earbuds for gaming
The Turtle Beach Scout Air earbuds are a little more expensive but still fall into the budget category. By spending a little extra though, you get a set of multi-purpose earbuds that work with Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android, PC, and Steam Deck, making them particularly great for gaming.
What's even better is the fact they feature a dedicated Game Mode. When switched on, the earbuds deliver 60ms, low latency performance, thus reducing sound delay to help you stay one step ahead of your competition.
You get six hours per earbud of battery life, and the charging case can recharge them in 15 minutes, providing 15 additional hours to help them last a full day of usage.
Moreover, the earbuds are IPX4 sweat and water-resistant, making them suitable to use outdoors and while exercising. Plus, they feature touch-sensitive controls, allowing you to control the music playback from the earbuds themselves. Overall, an excellent option to consider, particularly for your gaming needs.
Frequently asked questions about budget earbuds
When looking for the best budget earbuds, there are a number of questions work looking into before finding the right ones for you.
Do cheaper wireless earbuds have poor battery life?
Not necessarily. The price of wireless earbuds is not always a reliable indicator of their battery life. While some cheaper wireless earbuds may have shorter battery life compared to more expensive ones, it is not a universal rule.
In fact, we'd argue our list proves many budget wireless earbuds offer excellent battery life. Most can deliver between four to six hours on a single charge, which is plenty for most users. Additionally, some models come with a charging case that can extend the battery life to last all day.
However, it's important to keep in mind that battery life can vary depending on usage, volume levels, and other factors. So, it's always a good idea to read reviews and check the specifications before making a purchase.
Should I buy earbuds or headphones?
The choice between earbuds and headphones depends on your personal preferences and how you plan to use them. There are, however, several factors worth considering when making your decision.
Firstly, earbuds tend to be easier to carry around as they are small, lightweight, and fit easily in your pocket or bag. Headphones, on the other hand, are bulkier and may not be as convenient to take with you on the go.
Comfort is another factor to consider. Earbuds fit inside your ear canals, which can be uncomfortable over long periods of time. By contrast, headphones typically sit over your ears, so could be considered the more comfortable of the two.
Of course, sound quality is something to keep in mind as well. These days, both earbuds and headphones usually deliver good-quality audio. However, headphones often feature larger drivers which can help give them the edge on sound.
Ultimately, there's a lot to take into account, although earbuds are probably the better option if you're looking to prioritise portability and convenience, and don't mind sacrificing a little on sound quality.
How long do cheap earbuds last?
The lifespan of cheap earbuds can vary depending on several factors such as usage, build quality, and maintenance. That said, you can definitely find some rugged devices on a budget.
A water resistance rating of IPX4 or above is usually a fairly good indicator of how tough they are, and you'll be less likely to lose a pair through water damage as a result.
Of course, physical and internal damage is always a concern. However, cheap earbuds can last years if looked after. Just make sure you keep them secure while travelling to avoid losing them before you wear them to the ground.
How much money should I spend on earbuds?
How much you want to spend on earbuds ultimately comes down to your budget and what you're looking for from them.
If you're looking for everyday use with decent sound quality, you should be able to find a fantastic pair for under 50 pounds or dollars, as demonstrated by our list.
Noise-cancelling earbuds may require you to spend a little more, but should be worth the investment if, for example, you travel to work on public transport and want to avoid your music being drowned out by background noise.
So, when deciding how much to spend, consider your budget, how often you will use the earbuds and where you'll use them, and what features are important to you.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Deals page.