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Best Cheap Headphones


A pair of proper headphones is one of the most useful gadgets you can get. They are great for listening to music, playing games, watching movies, or making the daily commute to work a much more pleasant experience. 

The only problem is that they can also end up costing you hundreds of dollars. And cheap headphones are often not that good. After all, what you pay is what you get, right? While that’s mostly true, knowing where to look will give you much better results. 

So, why don’t you check some of our top picks? 

Things to Keep in Mind

We understand you’re eager to start looking for some great budget options. But, do keep in mind that different kinds of headphones can differ quite a lot between each other. Each pick has its own pros and cons.

Understanding what these are can help you make a much better buying decision. 

  • Type: There are over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear headphones. Each option has its own pros and cons
  • Enclosure (For over-ears): There open back and closed back headphones to choose from. More about them in the reviews down below
  • Sound signature: Some headphones are tuned for producing heavy bass, others have elevated mids and highs (ex: gaming), while some offer more neutral/balanced sound
  • Noise isolation and cancelation: These are two different things. Noise isolation is the natural isolation you can get from the headphones, Noise cancelation is an entirely different tech that’s much more effective (And expensive)
  • Comfort: Clamping force and padding are two of the main things you want to look out for in terms of comfort. Be careful with in-ears as some people just can’t stand having something resting inside their ear canal
  • Build quality: The more sturdy that your headphones are, the more likely they are to survive the tests of time. Removable cables and ear-pads help a lot in this regard as well
  • Water and dust resistance: If you plan on using your headphones outdoors a lot, even a bit of water resistance can make quite a lot of difference
  • Extra features: Some headphones come with extra functionality such as built-in microphones, onboard controls, and more. These can prove useful in certain occasions such as playing games or using the headphones on the go

As a side note, don’t forget that the definition of “cheap” can differ a lot depending on who you ask. 

Our Best 5 Cheap Headphones

So, these are some of the things that you should keep at the top of your head while looking for headphones in general. They’ll help a lot in deciding what to buy if you can separate what matters to you or not. 

For example, gamers will absolutely need an option with a microphone, athletes will probably prefer earbuds with onboard controls, etc. 

So, with that out of the way, let us check out some of the best, cheap headphones!

1: Philips SHP9500

Our Open-Back Pick

At the moment of writing this article, these headphones retail for about $75. This is the best open-back pair we’ve ever tested on the sub-$100 range. Many people go as far as to compare them with much more expensive, Sennheiser headphones. And while we wouldn’t go that far, the mere fact that some can even think about doing such a thing proves that these headphones are a superb value. 

  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Open-back
  • Features: Removable 3.5mm cable

If even these are too expensive for you and you still need something that’s open back, we’d recommend looking into Superlux HD668B. Just keep in mind that in terms of value, you just can’t beat the SHP9500. 

In case you’re not familiar with them, open-back headphones are popular due to the fact that they can provide a wider soundstage. This means that sounds are more natural and spacious rather than inside your head. 

The downside to the SHP9500, just like with all open-backs, is that it leaks sound quite a lot and offers zero noise isolation. But, that’s what happens with every open-back pair by design. 

As for Philips’ offering, in particular, we’d say that their sound is very balanced. Out of the box, the bass is very lackluster – even for open-back sound. But, you can greatly improve that with the help of a mediocre sound-card and an equalizer. 

Other than that, the production of these headphones has actually been discontinued. This means that there are a lot of items when they are not available for purchase or where their price is horribly inflated. And that’s especially true for the EU, unfortunately. 


  • Superb sound for your money
  • Extremely comfortable 
  • The removable cable is a welcome addition
  • Superb value


  • Zero noise isolation by design (both from inside and out)
  • No features apart from the removable cable
  • Can be hard to find at times

2: Sony MDREX15AP

Our Cheapest Pick

If you’re looking just for the cheapest option that can get you through the day, that has to be Sony’s MDREX15AP. They could work a bit on the name – but their earbuds are definitely not bad for the money. 


  • Type: In-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Features: In-line microphone with a multi-function button (Optional)


At this price point, you obviously shouldn’t expect to get anything crazy. These go into your ears, they produce sound, and that’s about it. That’s what sub-$10 earbuds are made for. Maybe a tad bit over $10 if you go for the variant that includes an in-line microphone with a multi-function button. 

Just like all in-ears, these offer zero soundstage. The sound is inside your head. As for comfort, that’s largely going to depend on whether you feel comfortable with earbuds resting inside your ear canal or not. The ear tips are soft enough for most people and you’ll find 3 different sizes in the box – just in case the pre-installed ones are not the right size for you. 

The build quality of these Sony earbuds is mediocre at best and the cables are not removable. So, we’d advise you to be very careful with them – which is to be expected at this price point. 

At least one good thing about most earbuds is that they are good at blocking outside noises. Mostly thanks to the fact that they rest inside your ear canal and that kind of makes them ear-plus and headphones in one package. 


  • Very cheap
  • One of the most portable options


  • All-around mediocre at best (Audio, build, comfort, etc)
  • Zero soundstage by design

3: HyperX Cloud

Our Closed Back Pick

As far as raw sound quality and sound balance are concerned in closed-back headphones, there are some slightly better options out there at a slightly higher price tag – such as the Audio-Technica M40x or the Sony MDR7506. However, these don’t offer a microphone. And for the same price, you can also get the Cloud 2 as it offers a soundcard with onboard controls. 

So, if you want the best closed back headphones for under $100 in terms of sound, go with either the M40x or the Sony MDR7506. But if you need something that can offer good sound while it’s also usable on the go and for gaming on the cheap, the Hyper X Cloud is probably your best option. 


  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Features: Removable microphone and in-line volume controls


One of the strongest points of the Cloud series is the build quality. This is a very sturdy headset that can withstand quite a lot. Unfortunately, only the microphone is removable – so make sure to be careful with the cable. 

Other than that, we also love how you can replace the ear-pads very easily and without the risk of damaging the headphones. 

In terms of sound, the bass is surprisingly lacking for a closed-back headset and the highs can get very sharp. You quickly get used to it but we definitely wouldn’t recommend these to bass lovers. 

As far as comfort is concerned, the Clouds are known for being one of the most comfortable headsets that you can get. The pressure is evenly applied around your head and that’s how they can be a bit tight without feeling too clampy. However, people with larger heads may find the clamping force to be a bit too much over long periods of usage. 


  • Very sturdy
  • Good value
  • Can be used as both a headset and a pair of headphones


  • A bit too sharp with weak base in terms of sound
  • Can be a bit too tight over long periods of usage for some

4: Mixcder E9

Best Cheap Headphones for Commuting

There are mainly two ways to block outside noises with headphones. You can either use the build materials of the headphones – or you can implement ANC (Active Noise Cancelation). 

ANC is much more effective as it’s using the microphone/s of the headphones to reproduce outside noises, like the row rumble of an engine, out of phase. This effectively cancels repetitive sounds and that’s why ANC headphones are the best for commuting. 

The only problem is that ANC usually costs a lot. That’s why we think that the Mixcder E9 is a good pick for those who need that kind of noise isolation. It’s superb for commuting without asking for a lot of money. 


  • Type: Over-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Features: ANC, built-in microphones, wireless, onboard controls, and removable cable


As you probably already noticed, apart from ANC, you also get a ton of other features. There is wireless connectivity, onboard controls, and more. One thing to keep in mind at this point is that even if you wish to use them wired, you’ll still need battery to use ANC as that requires extra power. 

In terms of sound, we’d say that this is a bassy pair of headphones. But to our surprise, it’s extremely smooth and clear and definitely not the kind of dirty, boomy base that we commonly find on cheap headphones. 

Still, as expected at this price point, the highs aren’t exactly clear or balanced. If that was the case nobody would spend more than a hundred dollars for a pair of headphones. And we’re not saying that these sound bad. They are one of the best-sounding headphones for less than $100. But they also don’t sound as good as say the SHP9500 (Unless you value bass over audio balance). Pros and cons to everything. 


  • Clear base 
  • ANC
  • Onboard controls and the microphone are welcome additions
  • Wireless
  • Great battery life (30 hours according to the manufacturer)


  • The treble is a bit inconsistent (But you can somehow improve that with the help of an equalizer)

5: TOZO T10

Our Waterproof Pick

Waterproof headphones can come in handy if you like using your earbuds outdoors or working out even when the weather is kind of cloudy. And as far as budget, waterproof earbuds are concerned, these are probably the best we’ve tried so far. 


  • Type: In-ear
  • Enclosure: Closed-back
  • Features: Bluetooth, multifunction button, IPX8 rating, and a portable charging case


In case you’re not familiar with IP ratings, IPX8 is the highest that you can find on earbuds. It represents how much water and/or dust the device can withstand before receiving damage. In this case, you should technically be able to submerge the earbuds at least a meter underwater. Though, we obviously recommend against doing this. 

The sound is very bassy – even to the point of overwhelming the other frequencies at times. This makes it a terrible choice for people who love neutral/balanced sound and a great one if you love an overwhelming base. 

Other than that, these earbuds also offer extremely good noise isolation. In some cases, they can even compete against noise-canceling headphones which is absolutely insane for the money. 

The build quality is pretty decent. Especially for the money. These should last you for quite some time even if you mistreat them. Just try not to throw them on the ground with force or something. 

Comfort is quite possibly the only downside. It’s not exactly bad – but the ear tips are kind of hard/stiff and that’s definitely a small con. 

The battery is also mediocre at best as it can last for about 3 to 4 hours at best. That’s ok for short listening sessions but you’ll definitely need the charging case if you want to use these while traveling. 


  • Great noise isolation despite not having ANC
  • Very high IP rating
  • Good value
  • Very portable
  • The charging case is a welcome addition


  • Overwhelming bass (Can be a pro if you prefer that kind of sound)
  • Relatively short battery life
  • Zero soundstage by design 

Wrapping Up

These are our top picks. Consider their pros and cons and choose whatever personally fits you best. To wrap things up: 

  1. Philips SHP9500: A great choice if you like open-back headphones. It sounds great for the money but don’t forget that it offers zero noise isolation by design and it also doesn’t offer any features (Apart from the removable cable)
  2. Sony MDREX15AP: The cheapest earbuds you can grab on this list. They are not particularly good in any way but that’s to be expected from something this cheap
  3. HyperX Cloud: If you need a closed-back pair of headphones that can do a little bit of everything, these are your best bet. They don’t sound as good as some slightly more expensive options but that’s the price you pay for getting a jack of all trades
  4. Mixcder E9: One of the very few headphones that come with Active Noise Cancelation on the cheap. Great for commuting with the only downside that the highs could be a bit sharper (Using an EQ helps quite a bit with such tasks)
  5. TOZO T10: The only waterproof option on this list. A great pick for outdoor usage and maybe even commuting. Just keep in mind that its bass can be a bit overwhelming

And that’s all there is to it for now. There is obviously no superior option that can rule all of those. Each pair has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, all you have to do is to balance things out and choose the one that serves you best. 

For example, gamers will probably prefer the HyperX Cloud as it comes with a mic, commuters will prefer the Mixder E9, etc. 

If there’s something you still don’t understand, feel free to let us know about it in the comments. 

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