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.
The HC-RETs deliver sound quality typically found in earphones that cost way more than the 13 bucks we dropped. These earphones reproduced thunderous bass, tight midranges and natural highs that made me feel bad for people who paid way more for their high-end buds. Thanks to the comfortable fit, I was motivated to go the extra mile at the gym. It even made my delayed commute to work a pleasure. Construction of the earbuds is sturdy and stylish, and the angled connector worked well with a number of smart devices. The built-in mic/control button was easy to use, allowing me to quickly take calls and skip songs. For the price, we would suggest picking up a couple of pairs for each device or travel bag you use.
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 G-Cords delivered great sound quality at an incredible value. These earphones performed well during my daily activities, delivering deep, rich bass, a clean midrange and highs that allowed me to enjoy my favorite vocalists. The built-in mic/music control pod worked well and adapted to all my smart devices with ease. Earphone construction was solid and allowed me to throw them in my bag without worrying about everyday wear and tear. The earbuds also have a lightweight design, which let me wear them for longer periods of time. However, the jack input was a bit short, making it hard to use with some protective cases.
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.