Games Technology

The best cheap headphones in 2020

1. Behringer BH 470 Compact Studio Monitoring Headphones

Best cheap headphones overall

Size: 6.69 x 3.15 x 7.87 inches | Weight: 9 ounces | Control Module: No | Microphone: No | Digital Assistant Support: No

A handsome design combined with great comfort and some of the best sound arrangement we’ve heard on a pair of inexpensive wired cans, the Behringer BH 470 stands out as the best cheap headphones in its price class. Behringer somehow managed to construct these from solid metal materials, even adding a matte finish and brown faux leather into the mix for a more upscale look. Small details like the 9-notch adjustable headband track and screwed components show the Swiss audio engineer values build quality.

The only thing it values more is audio performance, which the BH 470 excels at. Bass dominates the soundstage without compromising the mids or highs. Stereo imaging is even more impressive, making Jazz songs and live recordings more immersive to hear instruments distinctly. What’s really cool about these headphones is that they can be modified at the user’s discretion. If you want to swap out the cables or mess around with the sound output by toying with the circuitry inside, go ahead.

2. Anker Soundcore Life Q10

Killer battery life at a super-cheap price

Size: 7.20 x 6.85 x 3.07 inches | Weight: 9.12 ounces | Battery Life: 60 hours | Bluetooth range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Anker is a name synonymous with affordable headphones: wired and wireless. The Life Q10 is the brand’s best offering under $50, spoiling owners with plenty of performance across multiple categories. Battery life maxes out at 60 hours, which is something we’ve yet to see from any other model at this price point. The headphones even support fast USB-C charging to generate 5 hours of playtime on a 5-minute charge. Bluetooth 5.0 also lets you stream music wirelessly up to 50 feet away from your audio device. Plush padding on the earcups make the headphones a comfy wear for about 1 to 2 hours.

The Life Q10’s default signature is decent, giving mids and highs some attention, but accentuating the low end to produce deep bass. Anker programmed a BassUp mode should you want to increase the bass levels, but the feature comes on too strong, resulting in some unpleasant distortion.

3. JBL Tune 500 On-Ear Headphones

Rich sound for a small price

Size: 8.07 x 1.89 x 8.78 inches | Weight: 5.2 ounces | Control Module: Yes | Microphone: Yes | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

JBL is responsible for some of the best cheap headphones below the $100 mark and the Tune 500 is one of its finest options. Hidden underneath the flexible, sturdy plastic frame are JBL’s patented Pure Bass drivers that pump out serious lows; the bass response is thunderous at high volume. JBL’s profile leans towards the warm end, which is good news for music lovers who want more thump in their sound. The soft-padded ear cushions and headband add comfort to the equation, allowing users to enjoy music for long stretches.

Sadly, the headphones (like many wired models) don’t come with volume controls, so you’ll have to do so manually on your smartphone or MP3 player. Thankfully, the sound doesn’t distort or become unbearable when listening at high volumes, though others around you will notice sound bleeding from the cans.

4. JLAB Studio Wireless Studio Wireless

Budget wireless cans with versatile performance

Size: 3.7 x 3.3 x 1.4 inches | Weight: 5.0 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Equipped with 30 hours of playtime, Bluetooth 5.0, and three built-in EQs that you can cycle through at will, the JLab Studio Wireless offers plenty of versatility at such a low cost. Audio isn’t anything to rave about, but each of the programmed modes –Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost – slightly enhance sound quality when paired with the right music genre. Bass Boost will give EDM and hip-hop songs more oomph. Being able to use Google Assistant or Siri to perform voice commands is a cool feature to have as well.

As much as we would have loved USB-C charging here, micro-USB isn’t the end of the world, especially when a full charge gets you about a month of moderate playtime. The one concern we do have with these headphones is the exposed wires, which can rip if caught on something. You’ll want to be careful taking these out of your bag. When you do so, successfully, you’ll see why these are a worthy investment.

5. Koss Porta Pro

Best on-ear cheap headphones

Size: 6 x 3 x 2 inches | Weight: 2.0 ounces | Control Module: NO | Microphone: No | Digital Assistant Support: No

These old-school cans deliver amazing sound that is tough to beat for the price, producing transparent mids and highs with warm, full bass and solid detail. The only thing more pleasant than the sound is the comfort, as the foam earpads and lightweight frame rest gently on the head without applying any unwanted pressure. And how could you not love the nostalgic design that calls back to the days of cassette and CD players?

Since they feature an open-ear design, the Porta Pro bleeds out sound a high level, making the headphones best reserved for listening at home or in isolated areas. The slim, built-in cables also present an issue, as they can easily be ripped out and render the headphones useless. Those who are careful with the Porta Pro will find this on-ear solution to be a noteworthy pickup.

6. OneOdio Studio Monitor Headphones

Great-sounding headphones with sharing capabilities

Size: 7.1 x 5.5 x 3.9 inches | Weight: 10.56 ounces | Control Module: Yes | Microphone: Yes | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

At 10.6 ounces, they aren’t light and clamp down on both the ears and skull to create some discomfort after an hour of listening. The plastic design also looks more appealing in the photos than in person. Nonetheless, these shortcomings take a backseat to the OneOdio Studio’s remarkable sonics, which solely keep this model ranked high on our best cheap headphones list.

Powered by 50mm neodymium drivers, the OneOdio Studio serves up hi-def audio at an unbeatable price. Lows, mids, and highs are well-balanced, offering controlled bass and precise sound reproduction. The headphones sound great by themselves, though you have the option of hooking them up to other audio devices like a portable amp to take in deeper, fuller sound. We also love how you can daisy-chain them to another set of headphones and share music with others. Noise isolation is another area of strength for these cans, as the over-ear design helps create a tight seal to block out high-frequency noises.

7. Audio-Technica ATH-AVC200 SonicPro

Professional sound in a bare package

Size: 11 x 4 x 9 inches | Weight: 7.4 ounces | Control Module: No | Microphone: Yes | Digital Assistant Support: No

Audio-Technica’s historical resume is all the convincing one needs to chance it on these low-priced studio monitors. What the ATH-AVC200 SonicPro lacks in features and style, it definitely makes up for in sound. Bass hits hard and blends smoothly with vocals for crisp and consonant audio. Drums sound accurate, while instrumental separation is superb on orchestral-heavy recordings; hi-hats and cow bells won’t go unnoticed. Despite their large frame, these headphones feel very light and the weight proportion is superb, keeping them stabilized atop the head and preventing slippage.

We’re not too fond of the thin ear pads, which fail to provide the quality comfort and padding of other models. If your interest in these headphones is really high, we recommend looking into third-party ear pads that are compatible with the ATH-AVC200 SonicPro to gain the best experience.

8. Plantronics BackBeat 500

Pliable wireless cans with powerful bass

Size: 7.1 x 5.5 x 3.9 inches | Weight: 10.56 ounces | Control Module: Yes | Microphone: Yes | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

The Plantronics BackBeat 500 is an excellent pickup for the price. Battery life is its biggest selling point, generating 18 hours of playtime on a single charge and featuring a Deep Sleep mode that can keep the headphones on standby for six months. You’re also getting some surprisingly good sound out of these on-ears that rivals models in the sub-luxury range ($150 and up). Bass is emphasized to give listeners a warm and energetic presence on hip-hop and rock tracks.

The athletic-inspired design is light and durable, but the headphones don’t provide the greatest comfort after 60 minutes of wear. It also lacks the sweatproof aesthetics of the BackBeat 500 Fit, which isn’t a huge deal unless you plan on working out with these on your head. They could also benefit from better isolation, as external sounds make their way into the ear canal.

9. Tribit XFree Go

Enough battery life and sound to enjoy for weeks

Size: 7.20 x 6.85 x 3.07 inches | Weight: 9.12 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 60 hours | Bluetooth Range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Battery life alone makes these headphones worth checking out. There are a handful of other models in this price range that advertise higher playtimes, but the XFree Go is the only one we’ve tested that has lived up to its claim of nearly 60 hours; it’s really 56 hours when factoring in high volume and music streaming. Still, it’s an abundant amount to have at your disposal. On top of that, the headphones are super-easy to set up, and produce punchy, loud sound that surpasses its MSRP. The design isn’t anything to rave about, but at least you’ll get quality comfort when worn for casual listening.

I’ll just warn you to expect some technical difficulties right out of the box. For instance, the controls were disabled when I paired the headphones to my MacBook Pro for the first time; it took charging the headphones for a few seconds to break the connection and repair for everything to work. Another disappointment is the aux cable, which only lets you hear audio from the left earcup.

10. Altigo Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Hard-hitting bass for a killer price

Size: 5.6 x 5.2 x 2.8 inches | Weight: 16 ounces | Battery life: 30 hours | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

A newcomer to the audio space, Altigo delivers average noise cancellation and sound in a sleek package. The design of these over-ear cans is what stands out most, highlighted by a sturdy, pliable frame and smooth matte finish. Comfort is pleasant, as the soft-cushioned pads rest gently on the ears to accommodate several hours of use. Bluetooth 4.2 also promises stable connectivity for up to 25 feet of wireless listening, granted that’s a much shorter range than most other models.

The headphones are engineered to block out a decent amount of ambient noise, but not all. It’s enough to silence voices, not heavy machinery or loud frequencies. In terms of sound, I wouldn’t put these up there with Bose or Sony, although the bass is decent for headphones in its price range. Be mindful that using ANC does muffle sound.