Oftentimes when purchasing expensive gadgets you can just assume they’re quality stuff. You won’t always be correct in your assumption, but more likely than not that high price tag will be warranted.
And the opposite is generally true for cheap or budget options. There’s a lot of junk residing in the sub-$50 price range when it comes to earbuds, but there are some diamonds in the rough.
And as there are now more options than ever if you’re looking for quality earbuds under $50 – from good old wired models to wireless and even true wireless ones – there are also a lot of hidden gems hiding there.
Distinguishing them is the tricky part, which is why we’ll showcase some of the best models you can find in this price range.
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- Excellent Value
- Powerful Bass
- Short Battery Life
- Bad Microphone Quality
- No Fast-Charging
Skullcandy is no stranger to true wireless earbuds, having already released the Skullcandy Indy and Skullcandy Push at $80 and $130 respectively. And somehow, the Skullcandy Sesh manages to offer audio quality that is at least on par, if not better, than that of the more premium models we’ve mentioned.
They’re quite bass-heavy, with a loud and powerful bass that doesn’t distort. The treble is fine, although it does have some roll-off, but the mids feel pushed back. Out of the box, they have an unusual sound signature, but one that fans of bass-heavy music will definitely appreciate.
In terms of features, it’s packing Bluetooth 5.0 and an IP55 rating. This means the earbuds can’t be submerged in water, but they can withstand splashes of water and sweat, making them perfect for use while exercising.
Unfortunately, they aren’t as good outside the gym due to their limited battery life. Each bud can only hold about 3 hours of juice in it, which is rather low, even by budget true wireless standards. The charging case holds an extra 7 hours of battery life, for a humble total of 10 hours.
What’s more, there’s no fast charging feature, so if you require earbuds that you can listen to all day then you should consider the other options in this guide. That said, one of the reasons why the Skullcandy Sesh has such a limited battery life is its size. To date, these are some of the most diminutive true wireless earbuds we’ve seen, which greatly contributes to comfort and stability.
FIIL T1X True Wireless
Overall the best earbuds under $50
Connection: True Wireless
Battery Life: 6 Hours (Earbuds) + 18 Hours (Charging Case)
- Versatile Sound
- Low-Latency Tech
- Long Battery Life
- Handy App
- Wonky Touch Controls
- No Transparency Mode
The FIIL T1X is a pair of true wireless earbuds that released at an MSRP of $80 but can now reliably be found for $50 which is why it made the list. What’s more impressive about them is the sheer amount of features that they have, given the low price range.
They not only operate using Bluetooth 5.0 for great range and good stability, but also feature aptX, AAC, and SBC for latency reduction. They’re IP65 rated, meaning they can shrug off dust, sweat, and small splashes of water without any issues.
They’re also super comfortable to wear thanks to their lightweight nature, compact design, and plenty of ear tip and ear wing options to help ensure you can form a tight and comfortable seal. This comfortable design and hefty battery life make them great for long listening sessions.
The buds themselves hold up to 6 hours of battery life. Add to that the case, and you’ve got 24 hours of battery life to work with. For a pair of earbuds this affordable that’s phenomenal. What’s more, they even support fast charging, where you can get 2 hours of playback for only 10 minutes of charging.
But the aspect that deserves the most praise has got to be the audio quality. The FIIL T1X is one of the more rounded pairs of true wireless earbuds; it works great with all genres of music. Its bass may lack some rumble, but it’s tight and punchy. The treble is also clean, and the mids aren’t pulled back as much as with the Skullcandy Sesh. And there’s even a phone app that’ll let you do cool things like mess with the EQ, check the battery status, and so on.
The only downsides are the touch controls, which are responsive but weirdly counterintuitive, and the lack of transparency mode, as the passive noise isolation on these earbuds is rather impressive.
ENACFIRE E60 Truly Wireless
Connection: True Wireless
Battery Life: 8 Hours (Earbuds) + 32 Hours (Charging Case)
- Highly Affordable
- Amazing Battery Life
- Wireless Charging
- Sound Leaks
- Distortion at Higher Volumes
ENACFIRE E60 is the most affordable pair of true wireless earbuds on this list, going for just $40. And while it does lack some of the features that the slightly more expensive models have, it also sets itself apart by excelling in terms of battery life.
The E60 buds can hold a charge for 8 hours, which sounds too good to be true for this price. Not only that, the case can charge the buds from zero to full a total of four times. That means you can get 40 hours of listening done before needing to recharge the case. And as an added bonus, the E60s also support wireless charging.
Aside from this, the buds are packing Bluetooth 5.0, aptX, and hold an IPX8 rating, so you can even run them under water to clean them. Due to the slightly smaller ear tips (you get plenty of ear tips with the buds but they’re a bit different) and lack of ear hooks, they aren’t as stable while exercising as the other models. You can still get by using them, but if you particularly need earbuds for the gym then the Sesh or the T1X would be better options.
As for the sound, ENACFIRE is setting new standards for true wireless earbuds this cheap. The overall sound is rather crisp, with clear highs and mids, and lows that have some presence to them. The sound distorts at max volume, so it’s best to keep them below 80%. There is also some noticeable sound leakage, so you might also want to keep the volume low if you don’t want to disturb the people around you.
Volume control is just one of the options at your fingertips through the touch controls, next to the pause/play functionality, track skipping, voice assistant summoning, and answering calls.
- Powerful Bass
- Stylish Design
- 3.5mm and Lightning Variants
- No IPS Rating
Lastly, we have the Beats urBeats 3, a wired option for anyone who doesn’t want to mess with batteries. The urBeats3 released at an MSRP of $100, but nowadays they typically run for $50 or less. They come in 3.5mm and Lightning options, so you’re covered no matter what port your preferred device uses.
Available in a variety of colors, these are some of the most stylish earbuds out there, so you can be sure they’ll complement your style. They feature a flat cable which is supposed to prevent tangling, although it doesn’t succeed all that well. The cable also houses the in-line control unit that’s comprised of three buttons and a microphone.
It’s got magnetic earpieces, so you can stick them together and wear them around your neck when you aren’t using them. It doesn’t take much force to separate them, so we wouldn’t advise jogging with them around your neck, but otherwise, it’s a handy feature.
In fact, we wouldn’t advise using the urBeats 3 while exercising anyway as they lack any kind of IPX rating. Still, they’re rather comfortable and, thanks to the four pairs of ear tips and two pairs of ear wings, offer good stability and sound isolation.
As for the sound, you get the kind of bass you’d expect from Beats – full sounding, powerful, and rumbling! And while the other frequencies do take a back seat to the bass, they aren’t entirely neglected this time around. The urBeats 3 can be used for a variety of music genres, but they pair best with bass-heavy music.
How To Choose The Best Earbuds Under $50 For You
Unfortunately, there is no infallible way to tell whether a pair of sub-$50 earbuds will be good or not. Most of it comes down to trial and error. Thankfully, you have reviewers to go through this trial and error for you, so the best advice we can give you if you’ve got your eyes set on a particular pair of earbuds is to see what the reviews are like.
However, there are some tips that can help guide you in the right direction.
Firstly, look at the brand. Reputable brands will not look to tarnish their good reputation by releasing poorly made affordable earbuds. They either don’t even attempt such an undertaking, or they try to deliver something great. It’s not guaranteed that they will always succeed, but that’s what the reviews are for. In any case, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by looking at who’s making the earbuds instead of just how much they go for.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to look at older models. As you’ve seen, two of the four models featured in this guide released at an MSRP much higher than $50. But their prices have dwindled as their manufacturers released newer models at the same price range. Audio gear doesn’t age badly like, say, computer hardware, so there’s no need to avoid all older models.
The FIIL T1X was worth every penny back when it cost $80, so it’s a real steal now. The urBeats 3 may have been a bit overpriced at $100, but they too offer great value at the moment. And some of their competition is comprised of earbuds that released for $40 or $50, weren’t even that good when they released, and still cost just as much.
And finally, once you’ve separated the good from the bad, you have to look at what features are most important to you. $50 earbuds can excel at some things, but each model only excels are a few specific things. So selecting the desired features is paramount if you’re looking to score the best value.
For example, if you want true wireless earbuds but you also plan to use them for streaming movies or similar content, then you should look for earbuds that come equipped with aptX, AAC, or other latency reducing technologies. If not, you might as well chose the earbuds with the best audio quality, but they’ll be infuriating for movie streaming as the sound you’re hearing won’t be in sync with the image you’re seeing. In this case, low latency features trump sheer audio quality in their importance to you.
Or, if you’re looking to get a pair of earbuds for when you’re hitting the gym, you don’t need to worry about battery life as much, but stability, IPX ratings, and noise isolation become highly important. Conversely, if you need earbuds to use while jogging, then models with transparency features that allow you to stay aware of your surroundings shoot to the top of the list.
If you want earbuds that are loud, don’t look for earbuds that can get loud. This can prove detrimental to your health in the long run. Instead, look for earbuds with great noise isolation, as we often turn up the volume to drown out ambient noise.
You get the idea.
No longer are budget earbuds relegated solely to wired or regular wireless solutions. If you know how to look for them, you’ll discover a plethora of great-sounding earbuds that offer cool features.
If we had to pick one of these as our overall favorite, we’d have to go with the FIIL T1X. It features a highly versatile sound profile that is fit for many genres of music. And thanks to aptX and other low latency codecs, it’s just as good for streaming movies and other video content as it is for music. Add to that a decent sweat-proof rating that makes it suitable for use in the gym and a sizeable battery life, and you’ve got a pair of true wireless earbuds that can satisfy the needs of most users.
But the other models are no push-overs either. The Skullcandy Sesh may not fare as well when it comes to movie streaming, but in terms of audio quality, there is no better choice for fans of bass-heavy music, of which there are many. The ENACFIRE E60 is the choice for long commuters or other users that can make great use of its superb battery life. And if you need a wired solution, you can always fall back on the urBeats 3.
Of course, these are only our picks. As we’ve said, there are many excellent earbuds to be found in the sub-$50 price range. So if none of these strike your fancy just stick to our tips for choosing the best earbuds for you and you’ll be fine.