The best cheap headphones for 2024: top budget cans and earbuds

Best cheap headphones: Sony WF-C700N in lavender on green and blue TR background
(Image credit: Sony )
Editor's Note: January 2024

Sony's WF-C700N are our pick of the crop when it comes to affordable earbuds. And the Sony WH-C520 are our top pick if you're looking for cheap on-ear headphones – Sony's cleaning up in the entry-level category!

Then again, if you want the best stem-design earbuds to dampen sound at work or during your commute, the EarFun Air Pro 3 are a great ANC option for effective active noise cancellation that don't cost the Earth.


Matt Bolton, Managing Editor – Entertainment

The best cheap headphones? It's a question we get asked a lot. And cheap listening gear is ideal given the current climate, right? So anyone who wants a pair of budget headphones or earbuds that sound great and are well-built, read on! Gone are the days when you have to pay a lot to get a great-sounding pair of cans. These days, there are many affordable options out there that are worth checking out.

Of course, for headphones to be this cheap, compromises are common. Many high-end alternatives tend to be fantastic all-rounders with beautifully balanced sound and a stunning design. However, cheap headphones have their merits as well. Many are packed with extra features like Bluetooth and active noise cancellation, as well as deliver great audio in a robust, comfortable design. 

It's actually quite difficult to buy a bad pair of headphones now. As you'll see from this guide, even very inexpensive headphones can deliver surprisingly good sound, and technology that until recently came with a three-figure price tag has made its way into budget headphones that cost a fraction of the price. The only really hard bit is deciding what ones to go for, which is why we put this guide together for you.

If affordability isn’t your absolutely top priority or if you've got a little bit of wiggle room in your budget, we'd also suggest you check out our best headphones guide and best earbuds guide for our pick of the top audio tech around right now. Some of those headphones are included here, but there are plenty of other really great options out there too.

Right now, though, we're going to focus on the headphones that'll make your wallet or purse as happy as they make your ears. These are our favourite cheap headphones you can buy today. 

Best cheap headphones for 2024: our picks

Sony WF-C700N headphones on white background

(Image credit: Sony)
The best budget wireless earbuds overall

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 4.6g per earbud
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Drivers: 5mm
Battery life (on-board): 7.5 hours (buds) 15 hours total (with case) with ANC on

Reasons to buy

+
The most detailed, immersive audio for this money
+
Very comfortable, compact and secure
+
Great app support plus 360 Reality Audio 

Reasons to avoid

-
No on-ear volume control
-
No LDAC support

The Sony WF-C700N earbuds are hard to beat. If you're looking for budget buds that tick all of the boxes and even tick boxes you didn't know were there for the money, you've found them. 

They offer effective ANC alongside zealous and fun audio, plus Sony's proprietary 360 Reality Audio, so those with a Tidal account are in for a treat. Don't have Tidal? It's cool, Sony's standard DSEE audio 'upscaling' engine means even Spotify tracks are going to sound a lot better. Other usually-not-seen-at-this-level features include handy multi-point connectivity and adaptive sound control.

As if that wasn't enough, these are some of the most secure and comfortable, compact and bijou buds we've tested (particularly for smaller ears) with a rock-solid Sony build – they're 37% lighter and 38% smaller than Sony's top-tier WF-1000XM4 buds, too.

At this sub-$100/£100 price point it's churlish to find fault. We certainly can't. 

Read our full Sony WF-C700N review

The Sony WH-CH520 headphones on white background

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget on-ear headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 137g
Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
Drivers: 30mm
Battery life: 50 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Very well-balanced sound
+
Audio customization in the app works great
+
Bluetooth multi-point pairing
+
50-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
On-ear design isn't for everyone
-
Noise isolation isn't the best
-
No 3.5mm jack

The Sony WH-CH520 are the new super cheap, on-ear wireless headphones from Sony, coming in at only $60 / £60 / AU$99. These headphones are on-ear rather than in-ear or over-ear, which means you won't get active noise cancellation or Hi-Res Audio support (but you wouldn't expect to at this price), but they deliver quality, well-balanced sound (as well as a few useful tricks), making them fantastic value and our favorite pair of cheap on-ears.

The bass adds depth but sounds controlled and fun with electronic or dance music. Mids let vocals stretch their legs, which gives denser instrumental mixes a chance to shine – although you'll obviously lose more detail here than you would with higher-end models. Trebles tend to elevate out of the mid-range well enough, giving them space to breathe. 

The Sony CH520 replace the Sony CH510 both in terms of Sony's line-up and in this guide to the best cheap headphones. They're a worthy upgrade, adding in some notable improvements, like more cushioning, which is essential for a good pair of on-ear headphones where the earpads sit directly on your ears. The only thing these headphones are missing at this great value price is a 3.5mm jack, but with good app support, multi-point pairing and an impressive 50 hours of battery we really can't complain.

Read our full Sony WH-CH520 review

JLab Go Air Pop in blue on white background

(Image credit: JLab)
The best super cheap true wireless earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 3.7g per earpiece
Frequency response: 20HZ-20kHZ
Drivers: 6mm drivers
Battery life (on-board): 32 in total (8 hours from buds)

Reasons to buy

+
Light design with small, comfortable earpieces
+
Reliable on-ear controls
+
Sounds better than anything else at this price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the last word in sonic brilliance generally
-
Odd fitted charging cable

Let's cut to the chase. What's thrilling about the JLab Go Air Pop is that since February 2022 it has been possible to buy this new set of known-brand true wireless earbuds for $20 / $20, a fee that even three years ago was unimaginable. And they're actually good

Regular readers will know that TechRadar penned initial thoughts about the remarkably affordable new JLab Go Air Pop soon after their release, but even then, we weren't sure earbuds this budget-conscious could actually do a job. Well, we're sure now. 

What you need to know is that JLab Go Air Pop are actually pretty good generally — and emphatically unbeatable for this money. Although it's important to note that there's little out there to challenge them at this level. If this is where your budget maxes out for non-essentials, such as true wireless earbuds, you will find a reliable product here.

During our testing, we really found that these earbuds belie their lowly price-point. They are not junk. They sound far better than is reasonable. In our review of the JLab Go Air Pop we concluded: "In terms of build, battery life and feature set, JLab is irrefutably top of the class for value — but remember, it is a very small class." Although sonically they can certainly be beaten, like with the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus buds above, you'll obviously have to pay much more. 

Read our full JLab Go Air Pop review

The Earfun Air Pro 3 true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Earfun)
The best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 52g
Frequency response: Not listed
Drivers: 11mm
Driver type: Wool composite dynamic drivers
Sensitivity: Not listed
Impedance : Not listed
Battery life (on-board) : 7 hours
Battery life (charging case): 37 hours
Wireless range: Not listed
NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Great all-rounders
+
Excellent battery life
+
Solid noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

-
No wearing detection
-
Sound is fun but not fantastic
-
Stem design not for everyone

EarFun might not be a household name sort of brand, but it's making a habit of releasing some of the best budget earbuds around. The latest buds, the EarFun Air Pro 3, are no exception, building on the success of previous EarFun Air buds that came before it. 

What we have here is a sub-$100/£100 pair of buds with decent sound, excellent battery life and active noise cancellation (ANC) that really impresses for the price. That's why these buds are our top pick if you're looking for cheap buds with ANC on a budget.

Sure, the EarFun Air Pro 3's ANC isn't able to compete with some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market today. But they cost more than half of some of those brands, and the level of quiet that they're capable of should be good enough for you to focus more at work and keep sounds to a minimum when you're travelling.

It's the same story with audio, it's good considering the price. Other notable features include 7 hours of battery life and a further 37 from the case (that bumps up to 9 hours and 45 hours if you don't have ANC on), and multipoint pairing, which means you can connect to multiple devices – a feature you won't even find on some high-end buds. 

Read our full EarFun Air Pro 3 review

The 1More Triple Driver In-Ear cheap headphones in black and gold

(Image credit: 1More)
The best cheap wired headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20 - 40,000Hz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Lush sound quality
+
Excellent build and design
+
Unmatched value

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic remote feels cheap

The 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones are our favorite pair of cheap, wired headphones. During testing, we found that they served up stellar audio, great build quality and an attractive design. Considering they end in a 3.5mm jack and are incredibly cheap, it’s hard to find a better-sounding and built pair of headphones than the 1MORE Triple Drivers.

There’s not much we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Although their rubber cable is annoying and the remote control here feels cheap, they're only problems if we're feeling picky. That said, if you are looking for a little extra refinement and luxury materials, the Quad Drivers that are also from 1More are still a bargain at twice the price. 

For their price, it’s difficult to do better than 1MORE's Triple Driver in-ear headphones. But if you'd prefer a pair of true wireless earbuds, then we'd recommend heading back to the top of our list and opting for the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus buds instead. 

Read our full 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone review

soundmagic e11bt budget wireless earbuds

(Image credit: SoundMagic)
The best cheap headphones if comfort is priority

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 24.7g
Frequency response: 20 - 20,000Hz
Drivers: 10mm dynamic neodymium
Battery life: 20 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic price
+
Elegant design
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble tones can sound harsh

The SoundMagic E11BTs are an extremely capable pair of wireless in-ear earphones, and given their low price, it really is difficult to fault them. During our testing, we found the audio quality to be fantastic, especially considering the price, and the design to be very elegant so rest assured they won't look cheap at all. 

They're also extremely comfortable to wear. Most cheap headphones don't pay that much attention to your comfort, but the E11BTs prioritize it. This is because they boast ergonomically-designed eartips and a flat neckband that won’t irritate you while running or working out. 

Great for fitness, they also come with an IPX4 rating, which means they should withstand sweaty sessions. Finally, the battery is decent here as well, giving you a good 20-hour listening time and only two hours of charging time to full.

Read our full SoundMAGIC E11BT review

JBL Tune 670NC

(Image credit: Future)
The best budget over-ear headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 174g
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Drivers: 32mm
Battery life: Up to 70 hours (ANC off), up to 44 hours (ANC on)

Reasons to buy

+
Very portable
+
Good battery life
+
App works well

Reasons to avoid

-
Audio is pretty quiet
-
Weak bass
-
Average ANC

If you’re looking for a pair of over-ear headphones on a budget, then the JBL Tune 670NC are our top picks. They offer adaptive ANC, Bluetooth 5.3 support, and up to 70 hours of battery life. For this cheap price, the performance isn’t perfect. For example, ANC isn't mind-blowing here and sound quality is fine but quiet and subdued. Still, the battery life is phenomenal and the JBL Tune 670NC thrive when it comes to convenience. 

When we first saw these headphones we immediately thought: portable. They fold and bend in a few different ways so you can easily throw them into your bag. They’re also incredibly lightweight, both when you hold them in our hands and wear them on your head. 

Sound quality is just fine. At least until you jump into the EQ settings to do some tweaking. Use them out of the box and they're surprisingly weak. We used the vocal setting for most music as it's loud enough to confidently hear without cranking up the volume. Unfortunately, the bass is positively weak and lacking any kind of oomph. ANC is just okay. When trying them on a busy road, we could still hear traffic although it did make attempts to block out some of the more annoying elements. 

For the average user looking for a cheap pair of reliable over-ears, the JBL Tune 670NC will do the job well. It's just if you want to know you have the absolute best that you may find yourself looking elsewhere. 

Read our full JBL Tune 670NC review

The Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro over-ear headphones in black

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)
The best cheap headphones for studio recordings

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 0.43lbs
Frequency response: 5Hz - 35,000Hz
Drivers: N/A
Battery life: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Crisp, balanced audio
+
Sturdy build

Reasons to avoid

-
Only “over-ear” for smaller ears
-
Minimal noise isolation

Beyerdynamic makes loads of equipment for both audiophiles and audio professionals, and some of it comes at a high price. But, the Beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro headphones find a sweet spot offering professional audio and a high standard in design for a lower price point.

The DT 240 Pro headphones are more affordable than heaps of other studio monitor headphones. This price puts them in close competition with some of Audio-Technica’s cans, like the widely praised ATH-M40X or the wireless ATH-SR5BT, which can be found on sale in the same ballpark as the DT 240 Pro.

Beyerdynamic shines in performance with the DT 240 Pro. As studio monitor headphones, the sound produced is not very colorful, but that’s exactly as it should be. All the sound comes through clean and incredibly well balanced. The bass is easy to pick up on without being thumpy, though with a subtle punch at higher volumes. From the bass on up to the high end, all the sounds mesh clearly, with the DT 240 Pros not boosting one register over the other. They're neutral, perfect for recording and best of all, cheap.

Read our full Beyerdynamic DT 240 PRO review

the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones

(Image credit: Sennheiser)
The best cheap headphones for running

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 15g
Frequency response: 17Hz - 21kHz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic audio quality
+
Sports-friendly design
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
Mids could be richer

If the most important aspect of in-ear headphones for you is the audio quality, these budget wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice. During our testing we were pleasantly surprised by their lively, bass-heavy presentation and very comfortable fit. In fact, we found that the Sennheiser CX Sport Bluetooth earbuds can really bolster your workout through sound quality alone. Of course, we were equally impressed by the clarity they provide to treble frequencies.

With runners in mind, the CX Sports have an IPX4 splash-proof rating. This means they should be able to withstand a sweaty workout session (but you probably shouldn't take them into the shower with you post-workout). They have a battery life of six hours, which means they'll last you all day, whether you're wearing them on your commute or taking them out for a jog — and their budget-friendly price won't break the bank.

Read our full Sennheiser CX Sport Wireless earphones review

Best cheap headphones: FAQ

How to choose the best cheap headphones for you

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

In order to create this guide, we’ve tested, listened to and compared lots of cheap headphones in every category, shape and size. When we found a great pair, we then put it against the rest back-to-back-to-back to make sure they still really deserved the title of ‘best cheap headphones’. 

You might be wondering what we were looking for through all this expansive testing? Sound fidelity was clearly the most essential detail – but we also made sure to consider comfort, design and other features also.

Like most people, we prefer our music detail-rich and well-balanced. We can live with our music sounding a bit warm with an emphasis on the mids and highs, but we still like to be able to feel the bass. Also, it’s important to look for headphones with reasonable battery life if they’re wireless, a robust, durable build that will stand up to the trials of everyday commute and comfortable padding to help make longer listening sittings nice and comfortable. 

Keep in mind though, that testing headphones will be, at least on some level, subjective, and our taste in tonal balance might not match yours (neither will the size of our head or the shape of our ears). Still, we’ve done our best to take subjectivity out of the equation and can present, through our expertise, the best cheap headphones that won’t hurt your wallet.

By their very nature, the headphones you prefer will ultimately boil down to your own personal taste. However, seeing as the headphone market is extremely saturated, it is genuinely hard to figure out what the best headphones for your tastes actually are. That’s where we come in. 

Now, bear with us – it’s impossible to get our hands on every affordable pair of headphones, but we won’t recommend anything we haven’t used ourselves. So if we missed your favorite pair of Beats headphones, it wasn’t on purpose, we assure you.

With this guide, we went through a process – exhaustively testing a huge amount of cheap headphones from all over the internet in every style under the sun. In-ear, over-ear, wireless – everything you can think of. 

We then took the results of all of this exhaustive testing, and measured each headphone against each other until we could confidently pick a few to proudly wear the ‘best cheap headphones’ badge. So rest assured, even if we didn’t pick your favorite headphones, there isn’t a single pair in this list that will disappoint.

How we test cheap headphones

Testing cheap headphones is, in a way, harder than testing the best ones if money is no object. Most cheap headphones and earbuds aren't going to deliver the same audio quality as their premium counterparts, after all, which also means that narrowing down your options can be trickier.

We look at both wired and wireless cans and earbuds, naturally, as there are appealing options from both type