April 18, 2021

The best cheap headphones

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  • Flagship headphones can cost hundreds of dollars, but you can still find some excellent pairs of earbuds, over-ear, on-ear, and wireless headphones for much less.
  • With impressive audio, great build quality, and a comfortable design, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x offers everything you could want in a pair of entry-level studio headphones for less than the competition.
  • Amazon Prime Day 2020 is right around the corner, and some headphones on our guide could be on sale for even less, so look out for deals on October 13 and 14.
  • You can find our coverage of the best Prime Day headphone deals here and the best Prime Day tech deals here

If you spend a lot of time listening to music, watching shows and movies, and playing video games, then a good set of headphones is one of the quickest ways to get the most out of your media. A good set of cans creates an immersive experience by letting you hear all the detailed highs and lows of your songs, films, and game worlds.

Audiophiles will happily spend a lot of money for high-end headphones, but since you’re reading this, you’re probably like most people and you’re not looking to drop several Benjamins on a pair. Even audio enthusiasts will admit that you don’t have to spend hundreds, and that inexpensive headphones have come a long way in recent years with a number of very nice sets to be found for affordable prices.

In the budget-friendly range, you shouldn’t get into the weeds regarding technical specifications like equalization, frequency response, active noise cancellation, impedance/resistance, and so on — these are more of a concern with high-end gear. At lower price points, your primary considerations are durability and sound quality: Your headphones should be well-built enough to withstand regular use without cracking or falling apart, and should offer good sound for casual music listening, movie watching, and gaming.

With these criteria in mind, we’ve rounded up the best affordable headphones that you can get right now. Our top picks include standard over-ear headphones as well as some more specialized models that offer additional portability, wireless functionality, or other features built for specific tasks.

Here are the best cheap headphones you can buy:

Prices and links are current as of 10/7/2020. Added a note about Prime Day, links to related headphone buying guides and reviews, and buying advice on how to choose a headphone type. Updated by Steven Cohen.