Finding the perfect set of budget-friendly earphones can be a challenge. With so many different styles and models to choose from, we wanted to help you make the right selection before you spend your hard-earned cash. We evaluated each set based on sound quality, design, comfort and the ability to stand up to our everyday routines. Here are our picks, ranked from best to worst.
Priced on the higher side of our review units, the iClever BTH20 headphones were my favorite. They paired effortlessly to my iPhone and kept a solid Bluetooth connection when I was listening to music and receiving phone calls. I enjoyed deep, clean bass; subtle midrange; and crisp highs, which allowed me to enjoy acoustic versions of my favorite artists. The iClever earbuds felt secure and at home inside my ears, whether I was using them at the gym or playing outdoor sports. I squeezed roughly 8 hours from a single charge. It was simple to control the volume, skip tracks, make calls and pause my streaming service using the multifunction button. A couple of design flaws: no built-in magnets on the earbuds and too-thin audio cables kept the iClevers from achieving a higher score.
The ErgoFit earbuds come in a variety of colors, which should appeal to the fashion-conscious. They also deliver crisp highs, warm mids and deep lows despite their low price. Compared to other earbuds in their price range, the ErgoFit produced cleaner, clearer audio. Even better, they conform to the shape of your ear canal, creating a snug but comfortable fit for those long jam sessions.
The Betron YSM1000 earphones come out of the package ready to take on your favorite music selections with ease. They delivered a richer experience than most other low-cost earphones, including a punchy bass, noticeable midrange and clean high notes that can be heard across all music selections. I think the draw to these earphones is the quality construction, which includes metal buds and no-tangle cord design. The buds offer a comfortable fit, allowing for long periods of listening to music or podcasts without breaking a sweat. I was disappointed that they lacked an in-line mic or control button, which meant I couldn't make calls or skip tracks without taking out the earphones.
The BYZs deliver surprisingly impressive low-end sound, vibrant highs and truly noticeable midrange, which made listening to my favorite artists during my commute and extended workout sessions more enjoyable. Despite the low price, the buds can take quite a beating. Phone call quality was respectable, with very little of the echo typically found in lower-end earphone models. On the downside, the included detachable clip popped off more often than I would have liked, making walking down the street quickly very difficult. But at this price, the BYZ BS-K68s are definitely worth picking up.
Sennheiser, a brand associated with high-quality earphones, came strong with the budget-focused CX3s. They produced the kind of sound quality typically found in earphones costing way more than the $21 dollars we spent on this set. With these headphones connected to my streaming service, I enjoyed smooth highs, subtle midrange and well-managed bass via the comfortable - earcups. The lightweight construction, angled earbuds and simple design made these headphones a strong contender, but the absence of an in-line mic, volume and track buttons is a major oversight.
The Ink'd S2IKDZ-010 earphones perform well enough for the low cost. The earbuds produce everything from the lows of Mos Def to the highs Taylor Swift well enough that we could enjoy our rush-hour commute. The ear cups seemed a bit on the cheap side, however, and felt like they might not stand up to the rigors of everyday use. Features such as an in-line mic, playback buttons and a flat cable design help keep the earphones on our list.
The Wim 56S lets you ditch the wires for a solid pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Sound quality was enjoyable across the low and high spectrums, but the headphones struggled to bring together any sort of midrange.These earphones proved themselves during a rainy outdoor session, as they kept going even when they got a bit wet and sweaty. They were comfortable enough, but I was aware that they were in my ears during longer jam sessions. The built-in controls were simple to use but a bit larger than I would have liked. The buds dropped several calls and had slight echoing when connected to a call. But they cost just $18, so I would recommend picking up a pair if you're ready to cut the cord.