Best headphones under $50 offer a fantastic compromise between quality and affordability. Their price is high enough to allow manufacturers to show their engineering capacity yet low enough to be gentle on your wallet. But just like in every other price category, there are some remarkable models that stand out and plenty of underperforming lemons that are to be avoided at all costs.
Even more importantly, there are several significant decisions to be made about the construction of the headphones you wish to buy. Not all types of headphones are suitable for all conditions, and choosing the right type is often just as important as selecting a model that has received a lot of points from tech and audio reviewers.
What Are the Best Headphones Under 50 Dollars?
Have you been looking for a great pair of headphones under $50 only to find yourself confused by the wealth of seemingly similar models? We understand your pain. Which is why we have selected the best headphones under $50 from our vast catalog of reviews. Just because you’re not spending hundreds of dollars doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve amazing quality and a product that closely meets your requirements. These are the best headphones under $50.
TREBLAB XR 800
If you’ve seen a few pairs of sporty Bluetooth earbuds, you won’t find the design of the TREBLAB XR800 earbuds all that innovative. They are designed to hook around your ears, with the cable going behind your neck. A microphone and a large battery are integrated into the housing itself, which means that the earbuds are bulkier than earbuds with a dedicated remote control box.
The TREBLAB XR800 are IPX7 waterproof, meaning they can survive full immersion in water for less than 30 minutes and at a depth of less than 1 meter. In other words, they won’t break no matter how much you sweat or how heavy the rain is.
We were blown away by how long the TREBLAB XR800 last on a charge. When listening to music at a lower volume level, we were able to achieve nearly 9 hours of continuous listening, which is simply amazing for earbuds of this size.
Most manufacturers of sports-oriented earbuds go for a V-shaped sound signature to make music sound more dynamic, and the TREBLAB XR800 are no exception in this regard. They are bassy without lacking detail, and they are warm and musical yet surprisingly compatible with most music genres. The TREBLAB XR800 also provide a great amount of…
Shure SRH-145 Portable/Collapsible
Clearly inspired by Beats, the SRH145 sport a slick, foldable construction with a very minimalistic look. Well, it looks slicks on the promotional pictures. In reality, the 5.28 ounces heavy frame truly makes you feel like you are holding a pair of budget headphones—which you are, after all.
Beats was criticized for artificially increasing the weight of their headphones by placing metal inserts in the earcups. The practice might seem somewhat dishonest, but it’s nonetheless effective. Heavier headphones really make you feel like you are getting more value for your money and give you a certain confidence in their ability to withstand daily use.
The upside of the SRH145’s lightweight construction is how comfortable they are. Their padded headband ensures an ergonomic and secure fit, while the plush, pleather earpads feel like…
When Sony released the Sony MDR-ZX100 headphones and priced them at just a little under $20 thousands of customers found their new favorite pair of budget headphones. The MDR-ZX100 delivered astonishing value, but as time went on, they started to look a bit dated and even cheap.
In recognition of this, Sony released the MDR-ZX300, a premium version of the MDR-ZX100 with a stylish design and the same remarkable sound quality that can easily stand against headphones that are several times as expensive.
The MDR-ZX300 are supposedly available in four different colors (blue, white, black, and red), but the red version and the black version seem to be what most retailers focus on and what most customers want. In terms of design, the main difference between the…
Philips O’Neill SHO9561/28
Most customers don’t place Philips in the same category as companies such as Shure, Sennheiser, or Audio-Technica, when it comes to audio equipment. They mostly associate the Dutch technology company headquartered in Amsterdam with domestic appliances and personal care products. But the company’s Consumer Electronics division deservers a lot of attention, and the Philips O’Neill SHO9561/28 Over-Ear Headphones are a great example of why that’s the case.
The main selling-point of the Philips O’Neill SHO9561/28 Over-Ear Headphones is their wetsuit-inspired super-stretch headband that was designed specifically for…
The Denon AH-C50MASR Studio Quality In-Ear Headphones are Denon’s take on the portable mobile listening market. Their main characteristic feature is a 1-button remote that allows for control of selected Android devices and other smartphones. Is a single button enough to make a good pair of smartphone-friendly headphones? Definitely not. That’s why we want to take a closer look at the AH-C50MASR and find out whether they also deliver the audio performance Denon has become known for over the years.
It could be argued that manufacturers of in-ear headphones, especially budget in-ear headphones, have it much easier compared to manufacturers of full-sized headphones. Why? Because the amount of material used to create the housing is so…
Fashionable, affordable, and wireless!!! If this combination has peaked your interest, we encourage to continue reading our review of the AUSDOM M07 On-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone.
The AUSDOM M07 On-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are available in three different colors: black, green, and blue. The black version is much subtler, as the bright blue and green is guaranteed to attract a lot of attention. The headphones themselves are stylish, made entirely from plastic materials, and feature a foldable construction. The hinge is reinforced with metal parts, so its durability…
Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional
The frame of the HD 202 II is made entirely from plastic, and padding is provided by fake leather. Initially, the leather feels very stiff, but it gets much more comfortable after you spend a few hours wearing the headphones. Give the headphones a few days, and they’ll surprise you with how comfortable they can be even after several hours of continuous listening.
Since the Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones are designed for home and office use, they come with a very long cable that would make them a very bad choice for portable music listening. Given how affordable the headphones are, we can imagine that someone would be willing to take the headphones…
RHA MA-350 Aluminium
RHA stands for Reid and Heath Acoustics, which is a division of the Reid and Health Group, a specialist British headphone company that strives for the best possible audio quality with a unique and durable design to match. The RHA MA350 are no different, with their unusual funnel shape and sound that even headphones that are three times as expensive wouldn’t have to be ashamed of.
Most earbuds are shaped like those handheld voice amplifiers, but the MA350 are different. Their reverse horn shape is inspired by the design of a trumpet’s bell, giving them very favorable acoustic properties.
RHA certainly didn’t cut any corners when it comes to the construction. The entire body is made from solid aircraft grade machined aluminum, which is then sandblasted and partially anodized in matte black. The combination of the exposed silver part of the housing with the black anodizing makes the headphones look premium and very attractive. The only other design elements are the whitish logo on the back and a small, almost invisible black marking, which tells you which headphone belongs to which ear. You have to look under the…
Bluedio H Turbine
There’s not much we can criticize about the design of the Bluedio H Turbine headphones – not that we want to. Customers can select between 3 great-looking colors – black, blue, and red – each looking absolutely fantastic.
All problems start and end with the construction. We know from our previous experience that Bluedio is perfectly capable of designing well-built headphones that can take a lot of abuse. This leads us to believe that the manufacturer had to cut some corners to keep the price low. Unfortunately, the weakest part of these headphones is the adjustable mechanism, which is also one of the most stressed parts of any earphones. We were lucky enough not to break the headphones, but countless online customers…
The sound quality is actually not bad, for a pair of sub-$20 headphones. After the fiasco with the small headband, we were expecting them to sound like one of those old gramophones, but this turned out not to be the case. The headphones are easy to listen to and have a warm sound signature.
Bass frequencies are slightly muddy, but mids make up for it big time. Vocals are full of lush detail and earthy overtones. Highs won’t impress anyone who has some experience with high-quality headphones. At least, there’s no sibilance to speak of.
We really like that built-in microSD card slot, which allows you play your music without a smartphone. It comes really handy for active, outdoor use, when you don’t want to…
Jarv Joggerz BT-501 PRO
The Jarv Joggerz Pro have a built-in rechargeable battery that charges fully in 2 hours and offers 20 hours of continuous play time or 300 plus hours of standby. The included LED battery indicator lets you know how much juice you have left.
The latest Bluetooth 4.1 wireless technology offers high-quality audio streaming over long distances. You can be up to 33ft away from your smartphone and still get a good signal quality. We have tested these headphones with multiple interpreters in several different genres, including hip-hop, pop, country, jazz, classical music, and rock.
We have found the frequency range to be excellent and were impressed by the low end. Mids and highs were not lagging too far behind, but they certainly don’t achieve the same level…
Bluedio Turbine T2s
The T2s will likely grab your attention with their cool looks and sporty nature. Bluedio set to make a pair of Bluetooth headphones for active people, and they did an excellent job. The combination of perforated headband padding with metallic accents and sharp, angled design looks stunning, and people you these headphones to will hardly believe how little they cost.
A good comfort is provided by a headband and earpads padded with memory foam and covered with soft leather that feels good when it gets in contact with your skin. The padding could have been a bit thicker, but that’s just a small detail that doesn’t take away anything from how comfortable the T2s are.
Both earcups can rotate up to 195 degrees for easy carry and convenient storage. The left earcup features a 1/8 inch input that allows you to connect the…
SENSO ActivBuds S-250
How do you recognize poorly designed wireless Bluetooth headphones for sports from a pair that’s up to the task? Online reviews can help you with that. The SENSO ActivBuds S-250 have earned 5 stars from over 6,000 reviews on Amazon, and we can see why. For a very affordable price, they offer quite a lot regarding build quality, sound, accessories, and looks. Could these be the headphones you’ve been looking for all this time? Let’s find out.
The IPX7 waterproof standard ensures that any devices with this prestigious rating are protected against water immersion for 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. The ActivBuds S-250 pass this rating with flying colors, being one of only a few wireless sports headphones on the market that you can take with you under water. The sound quality may suffer a bit, but that’s nothing compared to the fact that you can swim with them. The headphones are powered by a new, improved…
In the sea of known and less-known headphone manufacturers sometimes it’s not so easy to find a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds and the best part about it is that you do get to have quite an interesting approach towards something like this. The more you search, the harder it will be for you to find the right model. However, it’s not going to be impossible.
KINTTO manages to bring in front a really good attention to detail, and the value can be quite amazing in the end. What you do need to keep in mind is that the KINTTO is all about offering you a great quality and unique sound experience. But do they offer something like that or not? Sometimes it can be quite the challenge, and the overall results can be more than interesting.
The build quality offered by these earphones is second to none. They just give you all the value you want without a lot of effort. Basically, the experience is among the very best that you can find at the market these days, and that’s certainly something to…
What Type of Headphones Under 50 Dollars Should I Go for?
Even complete audio newbies know that headphones come in different shapes and sizes. After all, we see musicians wearing small, discreet earpieces during live performances, we see music producers in their awe-inspiring studios with big cans on their heads, and we see how our favorite sports players train with lightweight, wireless headphones. All of these different types of headphones have their own names. Each type has a distinct set of characteristics, which greatly influence how it looks, feels, and, above all, sounds.
Maybe the most popular type today, in-ear headphones shine when it comes to portability, versatility, and price. You can recognize in-ear headphones by the fact that they, well, insert into your ears. That being said, not all in-ear headphones insert in the same way.
The type of in-ear headphones you are likely the most familiar with is called earbuds. The name refers to the shape of the eartips, which, with a bit of imagination, resemble small rose buds. They insert somewhat deep into the ear canal, doing a good job when it comes to muting the sound of your neighbor’s lawn mower. They also offer a remarkable durability, as they are often made from strong metal alloys with no parts that could become loose or fall off.
The other popular type of in-ear headphones is known as earphones. Remember when you bought your first mobile phone years ago? Did it come with a pair of in-ear headphones shaped like small pancakes? Well, those were earphones. Most people have them unfairly associated with tin can sound and cheapo build quality. While that’s true about most earphones that come included for free with various electronic gadgets, there’s also an entire world of high-end earphones that rival some of the best earbuds on the market. But like most premium audio products, they are often not built to withstand harsh treatment.
Last but not least, there are also special-purpose in-ear headphones aimed at professional musicians and people who seek the highest level of passive noise isolation. Probably the best-known member of this family are headphones from Etymotic, an engineering-driven research, development and manufacturing company founded in 1983 to design products that accurately assess hearing, improve the lives of those with hearing loss, protect hearing, and enhance the listening experience of musicians and music lovers everywhere. Their headphones insert very deep into the ear, blocking most sounds coming from outside.
Those who have seen the 1998 movie ”A Night at the Roxbury” probably remember the famous walking scene where the two main characters walk swaggeringly with on-ear headphones on their ears. Indeed, on-ear headphones have reached the peak of their popularity during the 80s, but the advancements in the Bluetooth technology are now fueling their comeback.
What is it that on-ear headphones have to offer? An appealing combination of portability and comfort with sound that closely matches their much larger cousins, over-ear headphones. Many people find in-ear headphones uncomfortable after prolonged periods of use, and for some, in-ear headphones can even lead to nasty ear infections that take a long time to heal.
On-ear headphones elegantly avoid all of these issues without being overly bulky or causing your ears to get excessively hot.
What’s more, the market is booming with different subcategories of on-ear headphones. There are on-ear headphones with comfy pleather cushions, slim models suitable for sports and outdoor activities, and even headphones designed specifically to help you fall asleep while listening to music.
Generally speaking, on-ear headphones are priced lower than their full-sized counterparts. Not that they would be inferior in any way, but they usually come with smaller drivers and don’t require nearly as much material to be produced.
Even though some on-ear headphones use the close-back construction, their level of passive noise isolation rarely rivals even average in-ear or closed over-ear headphones. The clamping force would have to be very high to completely seal off all the little nooks and crannies caused by the shape of the human ear. This could be seen as an advantage for those who enjoy a healthy morning jog or for people who work in an office environment and want to have a good idea of what’s going on around them without taking the headphones off.
Roaring bass, fantastic noise isolation, sufficient comfort for very long listening sessions – those are just a few of many advantages of over-ear headphones. It’s no surprise then that over-ear headphones are the go-to option for professional gamers, audiophiles, and sound engineers.
But it’s not just their sheer size that makes a difference, it’s also their construction. Open-back headphones are often chosen by people who have the luxury of being able to sit back and listen for hours without disturbing others and without being disturbed by others. High-end over-ear headphones with the open-back construction are a fantastic addition to every executive office, allowing the lucky person who occupies it to unwind in the middle of a busy day at work.
But college students and office workers who work right next to their colleagues are in a very different situation. A situation that demands good noise isolation and minimum noise leakage. Such requirements are what closed-back headphones are meant for. The general consensus is that closed-back headphones have smaller soundstage and produce more confined sound, but, in practice, many excellent closed-back headphones sound virtually indistinguishable from open-back headphones. Pair them with a good microphone and you are looking at a fantastic gaming setup.
That leaves us only with semi-open headphones. A category of headphones that sits right between open- and closed-back headphones. As such, they don’t leak nearly as much sound as open-back headphones, but they also don’t isolate nearly as well as closed-back headphones. Their soundstage is generally wider than that of closed-back headphones, but, again, it’s usually not as wide as the soundstage of open-back headphones. This makes the semi-open headphones a great choice for people on a budget who would rather purchase just one pair of headphones and use it for all their listening needs.
What About Sound and Build Quality?
Now that we have a good understanding of all the different types of headphones available, it’s time to take a look at what exactly makes some headphones better than others. When purchasing any headphones, you should be concerned with two things: how good the headphones sound and how well they are constructed.
Spending hundreds of dollars on headphones that sound great but are prone to breaking makes no sense. Similarly, going through all the trouble it takes to select a comfortable pair of headphones only to discover that listening to them isn’t enjoyable is a waste of money.
Frequency response: Marketers love to use the frequency response specification as a measure of the quality of their products. Truth be told, frequency response has little to do with how well the headphones sound when put to an actual human test. It simply describes the range of frequencies or musical tones a driver can reproduce. We, humans, can typically hear frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. It’s no coincidence that most headphones are able to reproduce this exact range. Some go as low as 5Hz and as high as 35,000Hz, but this provides only a negligible benefit, apart from looking good as a marketing statement on the company’s website.
Still, there’s at least one thing that makes it worthy to know a thing or two about frequency response: frequency graphs. Using calibrated microphones placed in front of the driver, manufacturers and independent reviewers are able to plot the frequency and its amplitude on a graph. This gives customers a convenient way how to judge the sound signature of the headphones without trying them in person. A peak in the 100Hz region indicates bass-heavy sound, and if it’s also accompanied by a similar peak in the 16-20kHz region, it means that the headphones will have a dynamic, energetic sound.
Bass: Customers often think about bass only in terms of its quantity. They disregard the fact that there’s a lot more to it than its loudness. For an enjoyable listening experience, it’s important for the bass to know when to step in a when to go away. Bass that bleeds over to other parts of the frequency spectrum make the headphones sound muddy and void of details.
Perhaps even more important is the extent of the bass. Many low-end headphones have thunderous bass that would make you believe they are superior to high-end audiophile headphones, but that’s nothing but a clever illusion created by boosting the mid-bass. The truth is that such headphones often are unable to reproduce sub-bass frequencies, effectively depriving you of a good part of your music.
Mids: In broad terms, mids equal vocals. When we say in our reviews that headphones have prominent mids, it means that vocals stand out and can be clearly distinguished from lows and highs. This is important for anyone who listens to hip-hop, a genre where you find extravagantly loud bass right next to male vocals. Headphones with subdued mids would make the rapping unintelligible.
Highs: When you read reviews of high-end audiophile-grade headphones, you spend a good portion of your time reading about how well the headphones can reproduce high frequencies. That’s likely because audiophiles have a less mainstream taste in music, often leaning towards classical and instrumental music. But it’s probably also because the ability to accurately reproduce highs tells a lot about the overall sound quality of the headphones. Crisp, clear highs make female vocals pop out and string instruments come to life.
Soundstage: Hard to describe until you hear the difference between headphones with wide soundstage and headphones with a narrow soundstage, this term refers to how some headphones make you feel like you are sitting in a large concert hall while others deliver a much more intimate experience. Gamers usually go for headphones with very wide soundstages, as they allow them to better guess the location of the enemy. The problem is that gaming headphones tend to feature the closed-back construction, which can limit the size of the soundstage.
Microphonics: Is the phenomenon where certain components in electronic devices transform mechanical vibrations into an undesired electrical noise. You can encounter microphonics when you tap on the cable of your headphones with the earbuds inserted in your ears. If you hear nothing at all, you can consider yourself lucky. If, on the other hand, you hear the taps amplified as if they were produced by the earbuds themselves, you have bought a pair prone to microphonics. The effect of microphonics can become especially annoying if you intend to use the headphones for sports.
Adjustability: Have you ever seen a person and thought “wow, he has an oddly large head?” You did, admit it. Now, imagine how different the same pair of headphones you use every day would look and feel when worn by the guy endowed with an unusually large CPU. But one doesn’t necessarily have to have a head of a giant to experience issues with comfort due to poor headphone adjustability. Almost all on-ear and over-ear headphones have adjustable headbands that allow you to change their size to best fit your own head. Ideally, you also want the earcups to rotate in all directions and not just side to side. The ability to fold the headphones is handy for storage and travel purposes, but it doesn’t add anything as far as the comfort is concerned.
Materials: Premium headphones demand the use of premium materials. While cheaper headphones are usually built from plastic materials, members of the high-end category can easily be recognized by the ample usage of real leather, aircraft-grade aluminum alloys, memory foam padding, braided cables, and other niceties. It goes without saying that such fine additions can enhance the listening experience and reassure you that your money was well invested.
Design: A lot of headphones from companies whose main domain isn’t the design and manufacturing of audio equipment place design at the very top of their list of priorities, disregarding that sound quality is what matters the most. Still, we won’t pretend that there isn’t a thing or two to be said about a pair of beautifully crafted headphones. Just make sure that they also sound good and are built to last.
Should I Choose Wireless or Wired Headphones Under $50?
Wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, are redefining how we use common electronic devices and interact with the world around us. A single printer can now be wirelessly shared between several people, and living rooms are no longer afflicted with the curse of unsightly audio cables. Similarly, we no longer have to worry about hiding a headphone cable underneath our clothes, as Bluetooth wireless headphones give us a great degree of freedom of movement.
But are there still any situations where the old technology is superior? After all, most audiophile-grade headphones are wired, or are they? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both wireless and wired headphones. Having them laid down in front of you should allow you to easily decide which type is better for you.
Pros and Cons of Wireless Headphones Under $50
- Freedom of movement: without a wire bouncing you to your audio player, you get to experience a complete freedom of movement limited only by the range of the Bluetooth connection. This is the chief reason behind the recent surge in popularity of Bluetooth sports headphones and earbuds. Running without a wire constantly bouncing off your chest is something that’s very easy to get used to.
- Support for multiple devices: there are Bluetooth headphones that can simultaneously connect to two or more devices. You and your gym buddy can connect to each other’s smartphones and take turns selecting music for your workout.
- Fewer parts that could break: the cable is very often the first part that breaks on headphones. With no cable to break, wireless headphones can potentially last you a lot longer than wired headphones.
- Integrated volume controls: the Bluetooth technology allows headphones manufacturers to not only wirelessly receive music but also send commands to the devices the headphones are paired with. In other words, no more taking out your smartphone from the pocket just to skip a track or to change the volume.
- Integrated microphone: most wireless headphones come with a speakerphone functionality for hands-free calling. Phone calls can usually be accepted using a dedicated button located directly on the headphones.
- More expensive than wired headphones: all the technology inside wireless headphones increases their cost. The good news is that Bluetooth headphones are becoming more affordable with each passing month, and you can now buy a fantastic pair of wireless headphones for under $50.
- You have to worry about batteries: wireless headphones require electricity to function. In recent years, most manufacturers have moved away from the use of replaceable alkaline batteries to lithium-ion batteries, which have much greater capacities, allowing wireless headphones to function for up to 10 hours on a single charge. Still, if you run out of juice, you are screwed. Well, unless you own wireless headphones that also allow you to connect to your smartphone or portable audio player via a standard 3.5mm audio cable.
- Older Bluetooth technology sucks: it’s true. The ancient wireless technology used by some early adopters of wireless listening is infamous for its poor sound quality, bad signal strength, high power consumption, and atrocious latency.
Pros and Cons of Wired Headphones Under $50
- More affordable: the lack of sophisticated electronic components makes wired headphones noticeably more affordable than wireless headphones. These days, it’s entirely possibly to get absolutely fantastic sound from wired headphones that cost less than $50.
- Highest possible sound quality: even though modern Bluetooth standards and audio compression technologies achieve absolutely adequate levels of sound quality for most listeners, audiophiles won’t likely be satisfied with anything less than the wired listening experience.
- No batteries to worry about: unless we are talking about headphones with integrated active noise canceling functionality, wired headphones don’t require any additional source of power. You can listen for as long as the battery in your smartphone or portable audio player allows you.
- Universal compatibility: with wired headphones, you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth compatibility or which version of the Android or iOS operating system is installed on your device. Even if your audio player doesn’t come with a standard 3.5mm audio connector, you can still purchase an appropriate adapter for next to nothing.
- Cables tend to break: a broken cable is one of the most common complains that headphone manufacturers get from their customers. Most headphone cables are subjected to daily use, careless storage, and all kinds of tugging and pulling. Only cables of the highest quality paired with sufficient stress relieves can withstand such abuse. Wireless headphones don’t have this problem and are often even impervious when it comes to the occasional splash of water.
- Limited movement: running or working out with wired headphones can get old very quickly. Even if you hide the cable under your shirt, you can still feel it bouncing around with every move you make. If you also happen to own headphones with a slightly shorter cable, it can even pull your smartphone out of your pocket.
- Little to no extra features: wired headphones seldom come with extra features, such as the ability to use them as a headset, or integrated music controls. Some models have active noise cancelling, but that’s about it.
Does the Brand Name Matter?
With so many new headphones being released every single month, does it even matter anymore which brand you go with? It depends on several factors. Established brands are known for their consistency and signature sound. If you already like several headphones from Sennheiser or Shure, chances are that you will enjoy even their newest models. On the other hand, young brands often drive innovation forward by introducing new features and design elements that will take years to be embraced by mainstream manufacturers. Last but not least, there are also companies from Asia that deliver a tremendous value.
We have selected top 10 brands that span the three categories of manufacturers described above. By purchasing headphones from these manufacturers, you are guaranteed to end up happy with your purchase.
Sony is one of the most diverse manufacturers of electronic goods in existence. Their extensive portfolio includes the PlayStation gaming console, smartphone, TVs, music and financial services, video games, and audio equipment. Headphones from Sony span across multiple price tiers, always delivering excellent value and exceptional level of quality. Sony is equally competent when it comes to designing well-balanced headphones for analytical listening and bassy models aimed at listeners of electronic music. Because of how popular the brand is, you have a very good chance of finding the model you would like to buy in your local store. This means that you can try the headphones out to see if they match your taste and later order them online from Amazon.
Founded in 1924, Beyerdynamic is often mentioned in the same sentence with the likes of Sennheiser and Grado. After all, they are one of the oldest audio companies in existence and their range of high-end headphones, including the DT 880 PRO, DT 770 M, DT 770, DT 990 PRO, is widely known for its superior comfort and remarkable audio quality. But that doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t have more affordable models aimed at the average customer. The DTX501P are excellent on-ear headphones, and so are the Beyerdynamic DTX102, elegant in-ear headphones that cost less than $50. Since Beyerdynamic has been around for so long, you often find older models from the company on sale on various online auction sites. When that happens, our advice is to buy the headphones while they are still available. Beyerdynamic, durability and build quality is never something you should worry about, so even headphones older than 10 years will most likely work like they were brand new.
Born in Brooklyn, Grado is the ultimate headphone manufacturer to go with if you want to experience the very best from the world of high-end dynamic open-back headphones. The Grado SR60, while costing more than $50, are legendary for their effortless sound reproduction and wide soundstage. Considering that the SR60 are only Grado’s mid-range model, the engineering capability of the company really becomes apparent. The bad news is that they don’t offer anything under $50. Their most affordable headphones, the SR 60e, cost $79, but you can sometimes find them on sale for less than $50, if you are lucky. Fortunately, the second-hand market is filled with retired Grado headphones that their owners are offering for sale because they want to finance a purchase of a higher-end model.
The origin of AKG dates back to 1947 when it was founded by two Viennese citizens, physicist Dr. Rudolf Görike and engineer Ernst Pless, to manufacturer audio equipment for the motion picture industry, which was booming at the time. From that point, the company has always adjusted their direction to meet the always changing needs of the market. Their achievements have earned them the prestigious Technical Grammy award. Since 2012, the company also manufactures headphones under Tiësto‘s name. What most people don’t know is that AKG were the first company to manufacturer over-ear, open-back headphones, the K50. The original design has undergone countless iterations, inspiring such popular models as the AKG 240, monitoring headphones that are widely considered to be the best solution for accurate sound monitoring on a budget. Ever since they were featured in Eddie Murphy’s 1985 music video for “Party All the Time,” countless people have embraced them for regular music listening.
Sennheiser has recently grabbed the attention of the entire world with their new $55,000 Orpheus headphone system. The company has reportedly worked on the system for the past 20 years, and all those who have listened to it say that there’s nothing that comes close to its sound quality. This remarkable achievement was possible thanks to Sennheiser’s long history and a deep desire to innovate and push the home listening experience forward. What’s so great about the company is how they don’t limit themselves to the high-end segment. Many of their most popular models cost less than $50, making them a great way how to introduce someone into the world of portable audio. What’s also great is Sennheiser delivers a very consistent sound signature throughout their product range. That means that you can expect roughly the same sound from open-back headphones for home listening and from small, discreet earbuds intended for sports and travel.
Despite its youthful image, JBL is actually a relatively old company, founded in 1946 by James Bullough Lansing, a pioneering audio engineer and loudspeaker designer who also established Altec Lansing audio electronics company. JBL embraces technological innovation, which is apparent when you take a closer look at their extensive portfolio of wireless speakers and headphones. There’s the small, affordable, and surprisingly great-sounding JBL GO portable speaker, the stylish JBL Pulse, or the waterproof JBL Charge 3. The company also manufactures excellent in-ear headphones that are popular among gym goers and sports addicts. Take, for example, the JBL Reflect Mini Bluetooth headphones, lightweight, sweat-proof in-ear headphones with ergonomic eartips for a secure fit. Worth mentioning is also JBL’s range of loudspeakers, which are absolutely perfect for every home theater setup.
Alongside Sony, Hitachi, and other prominent Japanese electronics producers, Panasonic offers numerous compelling products spanning the entire gamut of portable listening devices. The one area where Panasonic differs from other headphone manufacturers is the design of their products. Panasonic rarely goes for the typical audiophile look that you see on so many high-end headphones. While their products may look slightly generic, the value they offer is rivaled only by a very small number of audio companies.
Headphones such as the RP-HT21 or the RP-HJE120-K dominate the under $50 price category with thousands of 5-star reviews praising their remarkable build quality and enjoyable sound. Headphones like this are perfect for demanding daily use and all other situations where a pair of headphones worth hundreds of dollars would be too precious to lose or destroy. That being said, Panasonic certainly has a lot to offer even in the high-end segment. The company manufacturers excellent noise-cancelling headphones, alongside closed-back headphones with in-line microphone and volume controls, and stylish in-ear headphones that connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Known mainly for their computer sound cards and speakers, Creative is a prominent manufacturer of a wide range of audio products. The company was founded in 1981 and is currently headquartered in Jurong East, Singapore. Not many people know that Sim Wong Hoo, the founder, CEO and Chairman of the company, began his journey as a small manufacturer of an add-on memory board for the Apple II computer. It took him and his company a few years to develop a standalone sound card, and the rest is history.
These days, you would have to look hard not to find a PC user who doesn’t own, at least, one product from the company. The value their products provide is unmatched by most other audio manufacturers. As far as headphones are concerned, Creative prefers sleek, minimalistic design that is both futuristic and timeless at the same time. A great example of this approach are the Creative EP-630, small in-ear headphones with 9mm Neodymium magnet transducer and soft ergonomic silicone eartips. Highly recommended are also the Creative Aurvana Live!, over-the-ear headphones that block plenty of outside noise, allowing the listener to get the maximum possible enjoyment from their remarkable sound quality.
MEE stands for Music Enjoyment for Everyone, and with this acronym, the company has managed to win over the audio community, since its foundation in 2005. As the name suggests, their products are all about fantastic value. The best example of this are the MEE Audio M6 Pro, in-ear headphones with studio-tuned sound and comfortable, secure fit. The headphones feature a built-in microphone, removable cable, deep bass, crystal clarity, and come with a large set of accessories that rivals even headphones that cost 5-10x as much. The same thing is true when it comes to most products from MEE. Take their MEE Atlas Diamond on-ear headphones.
Constructed from lightweight materials that provide ample air flow, the headphones connect to your device via detachable cable with headset functionality and can be neatly folded for storage purposes. All while costing less than $50. Based on these facts and our own experience with the company, we think that the guys over at MEE Audio have a very bright future ahead of them. Each new generation of their headphones brings something new to the table, clearly showing that one doesn’t need to have decades’ worth of experience under the belt to produce headphones with universal appeal.
Just like MEE Audio, JLab Audio was founded in 2005. The key difference between the two companies is the fact that products from JLab are marketed as lifestyle accessories that embody the So Cal lifestyle. The company was featured in countless prominent news outlets and tech magazines as a great choice for people who want a lot of value without having to spend too much money. A large portion of JLab’s portfolio is comprised of sports-oriented headphones with waterproof construction and the latest Bluetooth technology for wireless listening. The JLab Audio GO cost less than $50 and provide users with up to five hours of playback and very appealing sound quality. Reviewers praise their rugged construction and problem-free pairing with Android and iOS devices. If JLab find a way how to keep up their stellar track record, their already substantial customer base will surely increase even more.