Best cheap headphones and earbuds 2023: Jabra, 1More, and ot…

Not every pair of headphones or earbuds has to cost over $200. The fact of the matter is that many of us simply can’t afford the lofty prices that brands like Bose, Sony, and Apple demand. But if your cans or buds cost less than $100, you’ll still be able to enjoy some amazing sound and features. You just need to know what brands to look at, which is where we come in.

We’ve compiled a list of the best cheap earbuds and headphones that come in way under the flagship prices of those top-shelf brands, while still delivering features like exceptional sound quality, active noise cancellation, great battery life, and comfortable designs.

anker soundcore liberty 4 nc review 00020

Simon Cohen /

Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

Best overall budget earbuds

Pros

  • Thoughtful design
  • Great sound
  • Impressive noise-canceling
  • Very good call quality
  • Superb battery life
  • Bluetooth Multipoint

Cons

  • Mediocre transparency mode

When you’re buying a pair of midtier wireless earbuds, it’s shocking to think you can get away with spending less than $100 for something as comfortable and awesome-sounding as the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC. But once in awhile, audio companies can deliver some big surprises, and such is the case with our choice for the best overall cheap earbuds.

Soundcore’s Liberty 4 NC checks all the boxes for what most folks are going to want from a set of cheap wireless buds, including intuitive controls, amazing noise-canceling for the price, Bluetooth Multipoint, a comfortable fit, and a user-friendly app you can use to adjust various settings and fine-tune the performance of your Liberty 4 NC.

These wireless buds certainly don’t underperform in any way, especially when it comes to overall sound quality. The Soundcore Liberty 4 NC bring bright and detailed mids and highs, with punchy bass to fill out the low end. And if you want to make any adjustments, you’ll be able to cycle through different audio presets with the Soundcore app. While they’re lacking the kind of Qualcomm aptX-powered performance that products like the Tranya Nova Hybrid brings to the table, let’s just say that the inclusion of Sony LDAC certainly doesn’t hurt.

These earbuds are also great when it comes to battery life, with up to eight hours of listening when ANC is enabled, and up to 40 hours when you add in the charging case. They may be lacking some of the more advanced features of higher-priced headphones or earbuds, but if you’re looking for a nice way to save some dough without compromising audio, the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are supremely good.

And for those who’d prefer a full in-ear experience, as opposed to the stem-like design of the Liberty 4 NC, the Jabra Elite 4 represent an honorable mention you’d don’t want miss. These earbuds fit like a glove and deliver top-shelf audio quality, all for a relatively low price.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

Soundcore Liberty 4 NC

Best overall budget earbuds

soundcore space a40 review 00019

Simon Cohen /

SoundCore Space A40

Another excellent budget all-rounder

Pros

  • Compact and comfortable
  • Good sound quality
  • Very good ANC/transparency
  • Good call quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth multipoint

Cons

  • No wear sensors
  • So-so wireless range

Budget true wireless earbuds typically have to sacrifice something to get the price under $100, often sound quality, noise cancellation, or battery life. The SpaceA40 is impressive because of just how little it gives up, making it the perfect choice for those who love true wireless but would like to save some money when they buy. And unlike some true wireless buds, this pair is particularly comfortable and likely to fit well in all kinds of ears.

You won’t be sacrificing much sound, either: Soundcore’s earbuds have a full-frequency response with a HearID tuning process that helps tweak the EQ (which comes with an impressive number of presets on its own). The result isn’t perfect, but it’s deeply impressive at this price range, and Android users will appreciate the LDAC support, too.

Plus, the Space A40 offers more effective ANC than our previous pick, the JLaB Epic Air (one of our only complaints about those buds), with easy mode-switching using the touch controls and a surprisingly good transparency mode. Unfortunately, there’s no wear sensor here, that handy feature that automatically pauses music when you pop off one of the earbuds.

While we praised the remarkable battery life of the Epic Air, the Space A40 once again goes above and beyond, sporting up to 10 hours of playtime for a single charge, making a total of 50 hours with the charging case (with ANC off). Even when powering ANC and other features, they still grind out around five hours per charge, which is what the AirPods Pro top out at.

Soundcore Space A40

SoundCore Space A40

Another excellent budget all-rounder

1more sonoflow review side

Ted Kritsonis /

1More SonoFlow

Best overall cheap wireless headphones

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • Very comfortable for long periods
  • Ridiculous battery life
  • Solid ANC performance
  • Great app support
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • No wear sensors
  • Wired mode disables extra features

Getting decent sound from a set of $100 wireless headphones is easier than ever, and we’ve featured several models in this category over time. But it’s incredible just how much 1More manages to pack into these headphones while still keeping the price so low. That includes features that were relegated to high-end models just a few years ago, such as a solid ANC and transparency mode, plus a wide range of app capabilities from presets and EQ customization to features like connecting two devices wirelessly at the same time. 

Of course, sound quality also impresses here, thanks to some 40mm drivers that are competitive with significantly more expensive headphones like the Soundcore Space Q45. There’s also support for Sony’s hi-res LDAC, although access to it may be limited for some (such as iPhone users). 

Then there’s the battery life, which clocks in at an amazing 50 hours with ANC on, and up to 70 hours with it turned off. That’s very impressive for wireless headphones, well-suited for multiple days of playback without needing to worry about finding time to recharge.

1More SonoFlow

1More SonoFlow

Best overall cheap wireless headphones

1More Triple Driver in-ear monitors.

Simon Cohen /

1More Triple Driver

Best wired earbuds under $100

Pros

  • Great sound for the price
  • High quality materials and design
  • Huge variety of eartip size and styles

Cons

  • Large size may not fit all ears

Chinese company 1More’s Triple Driver earbuds manage to deliver all the features of a high-end set of in-ear headphones at an affordable price and in a package that looks and feels premium. Frankly, they make other headphones seem outrageously overpriced.

The Triple Drivers deliver clear, quality high frequencies, with 1More claiming a 40kHz maximum range on these puppies, as well as balanced-yet-weighty bass that is comfortably present and never overwhelms the rest of the mix. That also lets you enjoy the sweet performance of the midrange and treble drivers above for a one-two-three punch of excellent sound.

The build quality is another noteworthy aspect of these headphones. The Triple Drivers have durable aluminum alloy casings that gleam with a coppery, sandblasted finish, while the cable is wrapped in triple-braided Kevlar — seriously high-class materials for headphones in this price range. You’ll also get a snazzy carrying case with your purchase, too. These headphones also feature an in-line mic and triple button controls, letting you take phone calls and control playback without needing to take your phone out of your pocket. There’s really no excuse for these to not be your mainstay earbuds.

For such a high-quality listening experience, it’s almost a shock that these earbuds are often offered well under the $100 price range. The 1More Triple Driver boast both material and performance benchmarks we’d expect from headphones that cost twice as much or more. For those with a shiny new iPhone, there’s even a Lightning version available for a slightly higher price and a wireless version as well. There are very few ways to get better sound at this price point anywhere on the market, period.

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

1More Triple Driver

Best wired earbuds under $100

beats flex review

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Beats Flex

Best cheap earbuds for Apple fans

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Very good sound quality
  • Very good call quality
  • Easy pairing with Apple products

Cons

  • Controls can be a bit finicky to use
  • No official IPX rating

Not long ago, the only way you were going to find a set of Beats headphones for less than $100 would be if you found them on sale. That’s why we’re big fans of the Beats Flex. Apple took what was essentially a $100 set of behind-the-neck wireless earbuds (the BeatsX) and cut the price in half.

And as far as we can tell, Apple managed to do it without sacrificing any quality at all. That might say something about the value of the BeatsX, but let’s not dwell on the past. The Beats Flex not only preserve the BeatsX sound quality, with authoritative bass and an excellent balance of mids and highs, but they also improve in a few areas.

Battery life has been extended from eight hours to 12, which makes them much more of an all-day companion. Charging is now done via USB-C (instead of Apple Lightning) — something of an acknowledgment that Android users like Beats products, too.

The magnetically-latching earbuds can now automatically pause your tunes when they snap together and resume them when they’re pulled apart.

Meanwhile, call quality (which was always a high point on the BeatsX) has only been reduced fractionally, mostly because the microphone has moved further away from your mouth.

As a Class-1 Bluetooth device, you can walk an impressively long distance from your phone and still stay connected (up to 300 feet when outside), which makes the Beats Flex a good option for those who want to move a bit more freely.

As long as you don’t mind the tangle-free wires that come along with the Beats Flex, they’re an amazing value.

Beats Flex

Beats Flex

Best cheap earbuds for Apple fans

amazon echo buds 2023 review 1

Phil Nickinson/

Amazon Echo Buds 2023

A price that’s tough to beat

Pros

  • Excellent price
  • Good-enough audio
  • Alexa is built in
  • Solid case
  • Includes “find my” feature

Cons

  • Requires the Amazon Alexa app
  • No wireless charging

Anything we say about the 2023 version of the Amazon Echo Buds has to be said in the context of price. Sure, there’s no active noise cancellation. There’s no wireless charging. There’s no Bluetooth multipoint or spatial audio or transparency modes or …

What you get here is a solid set of $50 earbuds that you likely will be able to get for even less given Amazon’s proclivity for sales prices. You get earbuds that sound good enough for typical situations in which you don’t care that they don’t have ANC. They’re the sort of earbuds that you might buy for your kids, who almost certainly will lose one of them at some point. But given that they have Amazon’s own “find my” feature built in — and, again, that price — you likely won’t go ballistic should one of the buds disappear.

Really, our biggest gripe with these is that they require the Amazon Alexa app if you want to connect them to your phone at all. That’s not how Bluetooth earbuds of any sort should work. But that’s also a relatively minor complaint. If you’re looking for something low-cost or low-concern, they’ll do just fine.

Amazon Echo Buds 2023

Amazon Echo Buds 2023

A price that’s tough to beat

hyperx cloud stinger 2 review 6

Jacob Roach /

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2

Best cheap headphones for gaming

Pros

  • Supremely comfortable
  • Solid microphone quality
  • Great audio quality and positioning
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • The wire locks out some devices

The Cloud Stinger 2 may be affordable, but it doesn’t skimp on impressive game-ready features. That includes a surprisingly comfortable, lightweight design that feels anything but cheap (ideal for lengthy gaming sessions) and excellent sound powered by 50mm drivers plus support for DTS Headphone:X for a more environmental sound that can be helpful in competitive or team play.

HyperX’s Cloud Stinger 2 offers broad platform compatibility for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation (including the latest console generations), plus Nintendo Switch, so you won’t need to worry about a lack of support. And if you prefer team play, you’ll find a solid noise-canceling condenser microphone with a flexible design and flip-to-mute functionality.

Gamers may feel the loss of some features for the sake of affordability. There’s no wireless mode, for example, which can be tricky in some console setups, and no RGB effects to play with. Some gamers may want to pay a bit more and get a different budget version like the Razer BlackShark V2. But those who want to save as much as possible will be very pleased with what they find here. You can also check out our roundup of the best budget gaming headsets for more options.

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 – Gaming Headset, DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio, Lightweight Over-Ear Headset with mic, Swivel-to-Mute Function, 50mm Drivers, PC Compatible

HyperX Cloud Stinger 2

Best cheap headphones for gaming

anker soundcore sport x10 review front

Ted Kritsonis /

Soundcore Sport X10

Best cheap earbuds for workouts

Pros

  • Comfy fit and stability
  • Rugged durability
  • Good sound quality
  • Solid ANC and ambient performance
  • Great app support

Cons

  • Wind can break through
  • No aptX support
  • No wireless charging

A great set of earbuds can make or break your run or workout — they need to fit snugly and stay put, offer great sound, and some kind of sweat and/or water resistance — but what’s more important is that they don’t break the bank. The Soundcore Sport X10 satisfy all that and more.

With a unique bendable earhook design that wraps around ears of all shapes and sizes, the Sport X10 are comfortable enough for even the longest of runs or sessions at the gym and they’re designed to stay securely in place. The in-ear fit is also snug, creating a comfortable seal for listening to your tunes while blocking out outside noise. But an added bonus with the sub-$80 Sport X10s is that they also come equipped with some pretty great ANC, an ambient mode (a.k.a. transparency mode) for letting in just the right amount of outside sound for environmental awareness, and a pretty good set of EQ controls (with 21 presets), all accessed and adjustable through the Soundcore app. Physical buttons on the earbuds make it easy to control music and the ANC features while you’re moving and they can be personalized in the app, too.

But how do they sound? Well, they’re Soundcore, so you know they have a pretty good pedigree. The EQ allows you to tune them to your liking, but with their 10mm dynamic drivers the X10s are capable of, what our reviewer Ted Kritsonis described as “strong lows meet warm highs, with passable mids to create a likable sound profile that works in the conditions you would probably wear them in.” There’s also an extra bass feature, should you like a heavier thump. And while they don’t support the better sptX Bluetooth codec like the Jabra Elite 4s on our list, they do support SBC and AAC, the latter Apple fans will appreciate.

The IPX7 rating of the Soundcore X10 is a definite standout here, which is why we’ve pegged them as our pick for working out, as the rating means they can be submerged in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, so don’t be afraid to hit the hot tub with them still in.

We’ll leave you with the X10s battery life because we know it’s a key feature should you want to run that marathon you’ve been training for. Anker says that the X10s will deliver up to 8 hours of listening time with ANC off (32 total with the charging case), and six hours with ANC on.

Soundcore Sport X10

Soundcore Sport X10

Best cheap earbuds for workouts

The JLab JBuds Mini in a person's hands.

JLabs

JLab JBuds Mini

The best for small ears

Pros

  • Ergonomic design
  • Great earbuds for small ears
  • IP55 rating
  • Customizable EQ

Cons

  • Mediocre noise-canceling
  • So-so battery life

It can be frustrating to find a solid set of earbuds for a pair of smaller ears, but all hope is not lost. Thanks to products like the JLab JBuds Mini, those of us with tiny listening canals won’t be denied a great audio experience. Expectations-wise, we thought the smaller footprint was going to be the only thing to write home about with the JBuds Mini, but we were glad to be proven wrong.

These earbuds sound really nice. This isn’t the type of flagship sound you’ll get from brands like Bose or Sony, but both the mid and high frequencies shine here. Some aspects of the sound quality can even be adjusted through the JLab app, which should bode well for individuals who prefer one type of music over another (some of the presets are genre-specific).

The JBuds Mini are also available in five different colors, and the charging case is just as bite-sized as the earbuds themselves. You’ll also get a few different sets of eartips in the box.

JLab JBuds Mini

JLab JBuds Mini

The best for small ears

The Sivga S01 open-ear headphones.

Sivga

Sivga S01 Open Ear Headphones

Best cheap open-ear headphones

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Great sound quality
  • Solid battery life
  • Good price

Open-ear headphones bring a different kind of sound to the table, and sometimes the results are so good, we just have to talk about it. Such is the case with the Sivga S01 Open Ear Headphones, which can be purchased in black or white finishes. Equipped to handle Bluetooth 5.3 audio, the Sivga S01 uses advanced algorithms and directional audio transmission to ensure you’re getting the best sound possible at the gym, while commuting, or when you’re just casually listening.

This is thanks in part to Sivga’s dedication to the open-ear concept, where in-ear comfort is prioritized. The S01 can be worn for long periods of time without irritation, and you’ll be able to enjoy some impressive sound quality, regardless of the genre you’re listening to. The battery life is nothing to shake a stick at either: You can expect up to nine hours of playback on a full charge, with up to 46 extra listening hours through the charging case.

They may be missing ANC entirely, but if you’re on the lookout for open-ear headphones that don’t break the bank while sounding pretty phenomenal, the Sivga S01 should be at the top of your list.

SIVGA SO1 Open Ear Headphones

Sivga S01 Open Ear Headphones

Best cheap open-ear headphones

baseus bowie ma10 review 00013

Simon Cohen /

Baseus Bowie MA10

Best bang for your buck

Pros

  • Incredibly affordable
  • Comfy and secure fit
  • Decent ANC
  • Surprisingly good sound
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
  • Excellent water resistance
  • Enormous battery life

Cons

  • Huge charging case
  • No wireless charging
  • No wear sensors
  • Slightly laggy controls

Sometimes having one standout feature in a pair of headphones or earbuds is all it takes to make the investment totally worth it. But in the case of the Baseus Bowie MA10, you’re getting a pair of wireless buds that rock in more ways than one. They truly offer the best bang for your buck ($25!), and there’s one feature we can’t stop talking about; It’s the battery life, plain and simple.

On a full charge, you’ll get up to 140 hours of battery life on these bad boys. And no, we didn’t accidentally type an extra digit. That’s definitely the biggest laurel to highlight, but these buds are no stragglers in the sound quality department either. The Bowie MA10 are capable of delivering a wide, immersive soundstage, and from one music genre to the next, these buds really hold their own.

The Bowie MA10 are also great for noise-canceling, although they can’t exactly match the type of premium ANC tech that you’ll find in a set of Apple or Sony earbuds. But if you’re looking to keep the cost as low as possible, there’s no better option.

Baseus Bowie MA10

Baseus Bowie MA10

Best bang for your buck

samsung galaxy buds fe review 00019

Simon Cohen /

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

The best for Android

Pros

  • Accessible price
  • Comfy and secure fit
  • Clear, powerful sound
  • Very capable noise cancellation
  • Good transparency mode
  • Excellent app support

Cons

  • No app for iOS
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth Multipoint
  • Only IPX2 water resistance

It always seems like iOS devices receive priority in the world of headphones and earbuds, at least as far as app-specific enhancements go. So it’s nice when an equally good product comes along that’s tailored to the needs of Android devotees. If you’re looking for a cheap set of buds that will pair nicely with your Galaxy or Pixel devices, feast your eyes on the Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

These are low-cost earbuds that fit comfortably, sound great, and bring some very impressive performance in the ANC department. The Galaxy Buds FE are champs at dialing down on the kinds of environmental sounds that intrude and disturb (like traffic and airplane noise), and you’ll be able to toggle between a few different ANC modes, too.

Where these Samsung buds really standout is when it comes to customization through the Samsung Galaxy Wearable App. This isn’t available for iOS gear, but Android fans will be able to use it to configure up to four gestures per earbud, including Spotify Tap, volume controls, and ANC toggling.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

The best for Android

Frequently Asked Questions

Are headphones or earbuds under $100 any good?

Yes. There’s a wider range of them on the market than ever before and they can offer impressive sound quality from big-name brands such as Soundcore, 1More, Sennheiser, Jabra, Beats, and many more.

Do budget headphones or earbuds have Bluetooth?

Yes, many types of headphones or earbuds have Bluetooth, and with the proliferation of affordable true wireless earbuds, there are tons of choices. Also, check out our guide to Bluetooth codecs guide for an explanation of the tech and general tips for using wireless devices.

Do budget headphones have noise-canceling?

Yes, some do, but it typically isn’t very good. Our picks favor some of the best we’ve found at this price level. If noise canceling is what you’re after specifically, our list of the best noise-canceling headphones and the best noise-canceling earbuds are great places to start your search.

Should I buy over-ear, on-ear, or in-ear headphones?

That depends on how you will use them. If you’re planning to be out and about with your headphones, we generally recommend in-ear models. If you plan on using them at home or at work primarily, on-ear or over-ear models are generally better options.

Is spending more than $100 on headphones worth it?

We believe it can be if you’re someone who appreciates quality sound and superior features. If you have a little more money to spend and you thoroughly enjoy beautiful sound, headphones generally provide some of the best value in the realm of audio, period. Keep in mind that stepping up in price may be worth it, but we caution you: High-priced headphones aren’t always the best quality. 

How do you test headphones?

We test our headphones by using (and abusing) them the way many active people do. 

Instead of examining headphones in a restricted environment, we test them in brutal, real-life situations. We test by playing content from a variety of sources in many different environments, from a bus, listening room, office, and everything in between. We acknowledge that many headphone listeners use them with their smartphones and listen to lower-quality audio tracks and streaming services. So, we do the same. 

Our team also tests various high-res audio files spanning different hardware. We plug headphones into PCs and Macs, try out USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters) and turntables, and use the finest portable players and amps. When that’s all said and done, we make a final comparison to observe the differences between the headphones we’re testing and our favorites. We compare these based on class and price and push them a grade or two higher to see if they can still offer good quality when pushed past their limits. 






Leave a Comment