Holiday buying guide: Best earbuds under $50

The best cheap earbuds are the RHA MA390.

Cheap earbuds litter city streets and occupy gas station walls, making them more ubiquitous than AirPods. Although we’re riding out a wave of wireless and true wireless earbuds, wired alternatives still have their place in our ears and in our bags. The problem with having so many options is that there is a lot of junk out there, making it a bit harder to find the gems. That’s why we’ve curated a list of the best of what’s around as you gear up for some last-minute holiday shopping.

If you have a moment, we implore you to read the in-depth list at SoundGuys, which provides greater insight to those interested.

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Best all-around: RHA MA390

Cheap earbuds: RHA MA390 earbuds on wooden table with one earbud in background dangling over iPod Classic (silver).

The in-line microphone isn’t the best quality, but it works.

Reasons to consider the RHA MA390:

  • Despite the ~$30 price, the RHA MA390 sports aluminum housings, emulating a premium feel.
  • You’re allowed virtual assistant access via the integrated one-button microphone and remote.
  • The low-end frequencies are emphasized and reinforced by the solid seal created by dual-density silicone ear tips.
  • Listeners are afforded a three-year warranty.
Buy at Amazon

Best wireless: Creative Outlier One

cheap earbuds: Creative Outlier One on a wood surface.

Athletes who want to save some money on a good set of wireless earbuds will like the Outlier One.

Reasons to consider the Creative Outlier One:

  • The Outlier One is IPX4-certified, denoting sweat-resistance for athletes.
  • SoundGuys‘ objective testing yielded 9.4 hours of constant playback, which nearly matches Creative’s posited 9.5 hours of standalone battery life.
  • Creative’s proprietary wing tips keep the fit secure for workouts of all kinds.
Buy at Amazon

Best design: ADV.Sound M4

Cheap earbuds: ADV.Sound M4 dangling on white background.

The memory foam ear tips promote better sound quality.

Reasons to consider the ADV.Sound M4:

  • Like the RHA MA390, these boast a more sophisticated design than the price suggests.
  • Bass and midrange frequencies are well reproduced, making for an engaging auditory experience.
  • The tangle-free cable works and feels durable.
Buy at Amazon

Best durability: Shure SE112-GR

Cheap earbuds: Shure SE112 earbuds on white background.

These earbuds feature a boosted low-end.

Reasons to consider the Shure SE112-GR:

  • Shure, a legacy audio company, has been around for decades, and its SE112 earbuds feature the company’s bass-heavy house sound.
  • Stress relievers at the Y-splitter and descending from the earbuds are well-reinforced.
  • Despite the lack of a stiff ear hook component, these earbuds are meant to be worn around the ear. This mitigates microphonics, the phenomenon of cable vibrations traveling up to the earbuds.
Buy at Amazon

Best bang for your buck: Panasonic Ergo Fit

Cheap earbuds: Red Panasonic Ergo Fit on white table.

These are great for listeners who just want cheap earbuds that work.

Reasons to consider the Panasonic Ergo Fit:

  • These earbuds usually retail for less than $10 and are available in 15 colorways.
  • The angled nozzles promote a more comfortable fit.
  • Sound quality for the price is surprisingly good.
Buy at Amazon
If you’re still looking, check out the full article for excellent alternatives and detailed information concerning how we chose and tested the awardees.

What you should before buying cheap earbuds

cheap earbuds - Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100: The earbuds in the case, which lays open, and flanked by two faux greenery pieces.

The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 retails for $149.99, and includes more features than the products listed.

  • A cogent seal is an easy way to improve sound quality. If you can’t get a good seal from the included earbuds, investing in third-party ear tips is an easy, long-term solution.
  • Premium materials are usually the first to go. That said, the Outlier One still includes IPX4 water-resistance for running and exercising.
  • A bass-heavy frequency response is common, and often preferred, when it comes to cheap earbuds. If you’d like to EQ the sound, most phones allow users to do so.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

cheap earbuds - Woman wearing Aukey 7.1-Channel RGB gaming headphones.

Writers at SoundGuys respect that audio is both subjective and objective. In turn, they apply this philosophy to their reviews.

Editor’s Pick

SoundGuys is Android Authority’s sister site, and the writers often cross-over to cover topics on this site. No one on the SoundGuys team benefits from partnerships or referral purchases. Individually, each writer at SoundGuys has multiple years of experience keeping tabs on the consumer audio domain, informing their review and reporting styles. To get a more in-depth understanding of the inner workings, feel free to visit the SoundGuys ethics policy page.

See also: best cheap gifts under $25

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