It’s easy to break the bank on these accessories that often get more expensive than your music device. Comfort, sound, and style are all important considerations when picking out new headphones, but you shouldn’t have to take a second mortgage to afford it.
In fact, headphones are one of the few pieces of technology that are relatively timeless, meaning you can save money on an older model that will still lend a solid listening experience.
To help you sort through the choices, we’ve rounded up our top budget headphones.
1. Koss PortaPro (with Case)
Dynamic element design for deep bass performance; Comfort zone setting on temporal pad for comfortable, secure fit; Multi-pivoting earplates and adjustable headband for added comfort; Collapsible for maximum portability when listening on the go; Includes convenient carrying case; Straight, dual entry 4 foot cord; Frequency response: 15-25,000 Hz.
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M35
Fold them up, toss them in their storage pouch and take them on the road. Created especially for field recording and studio tracking/mixing, these compact folding headphones offer beautifully balanced, articulate sound, impressive power handling, and a lightweight ergonomic design.
3. Panasonic RP HTX7
The old school, retro style HTX7 Retro Monitor Stereo Headphones are a throw back, but function with the top technology of today! These lightweight headphones have a frequency response of 7Hz-22kHz and a maximum input of 1,000mW!
4. Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120-D
The Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 Earbud Headphones are really inexpensive and sound decent for their measly price. They also offer a comfortable fit. The thin cord has a tendency to tangle easily (especially if you stick the headphones in a pocket). They don’t seem incredibly durable, and there’s no integrated microphone for cell phone calls. For under $10, you’ll be hard-pressed to find in-ear headphones that sound better and are more comfortable than the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120s.
5. JVC Flats (Black)
If you’re someone who’s on a very tight budget and wants headphones that sound decent and are relatively comfortable and lightweight, you can’t miss with the JVC Flats. They’re also a good choice for kids and people who are prone to losing headphones. Cosmetically, I like them better than the Panasonic HT-21s, which are also a good low-budget pick at $5; the Flats also sound a little better. By contrast, the MEElectronics HT-21 Travel — another 4-star, $20-ish pair of headphones — offers sound quality similar to that of the Flats, but isn’t quite as comfortable.
To be clear, however, the Flats don’t have the sound or build quality of more-expensive headphones that cost closer to $100. But at $12 to $14, depending on the color, they’re definitely a bargain. I may just pick up a second pair.
6. MEElectronics HT-21 Travel (Black)
Enjoy deep and powerful bass along with good clarity and a spacious presentation, extreme comfort, and the convenience of a single cable and folding headband. The supra-aural design (ear cups rest on your ears) uses ear cups that swivel to fit the shape of your head/ears and a padded, lightweight, adjustable headband that is comfortable for long term wear. The cable is designed without a split, connecting only to the left ear cup, eliminating cable tangle and frustration. Sound leakage is reduced due to the closed back design of the ear cups, so you won’t disturb your neighbors like an open backed headphone. Travel with a headphone has never been easier, as the headband folds and the ear cups swivel into a compact size perfect for storage and travel during those rare occasions you will not be listening to the HT-21.
7. Yamaha EPH-30 (White)
The Yamaha EPH-30 Inner Ear Headphones offer surprisingly good sound quality for the money. They’re comfortable and provide some passive noise isolation. Plus, they’re very energy efficient. The Yamaha EPH-30 headphones seem pretty fragile; there’s no carrying pouch; and the white version gets dirty fast.
The Yamaha EPH-30 Inner Ear Headphones are a fantastic option for anyone on a budget, offering sound quality on par with the sound of sets that cost at least twice as much.
8. Panasonic RP HJE355 (Red)
As with a lot of these noise-isolating earbuds, the fit of the eartips and the type of seal you get makes a huge difference in terms of sound quality. If you can’t get a tight seal, you lose a lot of bass.
One of the different-size eartips should allow you to get a tight seal. However, a small fraction of users simply won’t get that tight seal or find these terribly comfortable. That caveat aside, the RP-HJE355s are a very solid set of earbuds for the money. Without any trouble, they could pass for earphones that cost twice as much.
What Did You Choose?
Let us know about your choice of budget headphones and if your model is not listed here than tell us by commenting below and we just might add it to the list.