Girl wearing headphones

The Best Cheap Headphones of 2022

By John Ericson SoundNo Comments

We’ve covered a variety of different headphones in the past, mostly focusing on quality. High-end models often come with a steep price tag, though, and not only may $300 headphones not be in your budget, they also might not be necessary. 

Unless you’re an audiophile or sound engineer, you might not notice the difference between premium headphones and those that cost a lot less. If you’re a Spotify user, for example, you’re likely used to listening to lossy audio formats like MP3 rather than lossless formats that preserve the original audio quality. 

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, an investment in headphones that cost hundreds of dollars might not be a luxury you really need. That said, if sound quality is paramount, we covered music streaming services that share your passion (for a price).  

If you travel a lot, there’s also a risk that comes with endlessly packing, unpacking, and using expensive headphones. The more you do it, the more likely something could go wrong, from the risk of theft to the chance they’ll be crushed in your bag, not to mention the general wear and tear that comes from being on the move all the time. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to completely sacrifice quality to get a decent pair of headphones at a fraction of the price. We’ve put together our current recommendations for the best cheap headphones worth buying, so you can spend your hard-earned cash on something more important.

Many of the options we discuss below typically won’t run you more than about $50, and some cost noticeably less.

Sale
Best Cheap Noise-Canceling Headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q20+
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Battery Life: 40 hours with noise cancelling, 60 hours without
  • Weight: 281g (9.9oz)
  • Active Noise Cancellation? Yes

Best Cheap Wireless Headphones: BLARO Bluetooth Headphones
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Battery Life: Up to 72 hours
  • Weight: 386g (13.6oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Sale
Upgrade Wireless Pick: Sennheiser HD 350BT
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: 5.0
  • Battery Life: 30 hours
  • Weight: 235g (8.3oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Best Cheap Wired Headphones: Sennheiser HD 300
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: n/a
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Weight: 182g (6.4oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Best Lightning Headphones: Thore V200 Pro
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: n/a
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Weight: 363g (12.8oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Sale
Best Cheap Headphones for Gaming: BlueFire Stereo Gaming Headset
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: n/a
  • Battery Life: n/a
  • Weight: 318g (11.2oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Sale
Best Cheap Headphones for Sleeping: Lavince Sleep Headband
  • Type: Headband
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Battery Life: 10-12 hours
  • Weight: 82g (2.9oz)
  • Active Noise Cancelation? No

Best Cheap Noise-Canceling Headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q20+

Soundcore by Anker Life Q20+ Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, 40H Playtime, Hi-Res Audio, Soundcore App, Connect to 2 Devices, Memory Foam Earcups, Bluetooth Headphones for Travel, Home Office

Anker’s entry-level Soundcore Life Q20+ Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones are some of the cheapest on the market from a reputable company. They offer 40 hours of wireless playtime (around 600 songs) with noise-cancelation enabled, and 60 hours without. The headphones are lightweight (9.9oz), with a comfortable headband and memory foam earcups. 

For the price, the sound quality is excellent, whether you’re listening to solo piano or pop music with strong bass (although we definitely don’t recommend using the bass booster setting). The noise-cancelation is quite effective for whenever you don’t want to hear anyone or anything, and is ideal for airplanes, noisy coffee shops, or tuning out your family while working from home.

While higher-end headphones deliver a richer listening experience, if this is your first foray into Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones, you won’t find better quality or noise-cancelation for the price. 

Although these headphones come with a built-in microphone for use as a headset, we don’t recommend using it. The audio quality is no better than what you’ll get from your laptop, which won’t be pleasant for the person on the other end of the call.

We put the previous version of these headphones, the Life Q20, to the test, wearing them day-in, day-out for three months. Pleasantly surprised by the quality on all fronts other than making calls, we rated them as some of the best cheap over-ear headphones we’d come across… until the new model arrived.

Thankfully Anker didn’t feel the need to fix what wasn’t broken, keeping all of the good bits of the Q20 and just adding a couple of useful tweaks.

The old-style micro-USB port was replaced with a USB C version, which also means faster charging: you’ll now get four hours of listening after just five minutes on the charger. There’s also now Bluetooth multipoint support, letting you connect to two devices at once and switch between them as needed.

Pros
  • Audio sounds good across a range of genres
  • Noise cancellation works well
  • Good battery life
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Bluetooth multipoint support
Cons
  • Call quality not great
Buy on Amazon

Best Cheap Wireless Headphones: BLARO Bluetooth Headphones

BLARO Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Deep Bass Wireless and Wired Headsets, 72 Hours Playtime, Soft Memory Protein Earmuffs, Foldable Headphones with CVC6.0 Mic-Black

The BLARO Bluetooth headphones provide an impressive amount of battery life at a surprisingly low price. You’ll get up to 72 hours of use from a single charge, which is about 35 movies, 140 television episodes, 1000+ songs, or seven long-haul flights. 

If you’re someone who hates having to charge devices, or frequently end up with an flat battery on your devices, these wireless headphones will suit you well. Check the battery percentage on your connected phone or tablet to see when you need to recharge.

Connect the headphones via Bluetooth 5 to a mobile device or use a Bluetooth transmitter (sold separately) to wirelessly connect to a TV or PC. You can also connect directly to any device using the included 3.5mm headphone cable.

Audio quality is good for what you’re paying, but don’t expect details to be as crisp as on higher-end offerings. It has plenty of bass, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your personal preference.

The built-in mic isn’t bad for the price, but may not be good enough for work calls. While you’ll hear calls clearly, enough the other person on the line may complain that your voice sounds muffled or distorted. It’s fine for chatting with the parents, but not quite professional enough for clients. 

Fortunately, if you’re not happy with the built-in microphone, the 3.5mm cable also has an inline mic that tends to provide higher audio quality at the other end. Just plug in the cable and you’re good to go.

The comfortable pads can reduce some outside noise, but since there’s no active noise cancelation, they won’t cancel it completely. Adjustable for a range of head sizes and foldable for easier transport, these headphones are available in six different colors.

Pros
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable
  • Both cabled and wireless option
Cons
  • Low-quality microphone
  • No active noise cancellation
Buy on Amazon

Upgrade Wireless Pick: Sennheiser HD 350BT

Sennheiser HD 350BT Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Headphone - 30-Hour Battery Life, USB-C Fast Charging, Virtual Assistant Button, Foldable - Black

While you really don’t have to spend a lot to get something useable, if you’re happy to pay a little more for a set of wireless headphones, you’ll notice the difference. Our upgrade pick, the HD 350BT, adds a number of significant improvements while still staying an affordable option.

These headphones look, feel, and sound more expensive than they are, with excellent build quality. Unlike many cheap headphones, they’re biased towards the high and mid tones, with a balanced output that isn’t overwhelmed by excessive bass.

The main differentiating factor between this model and the more-expensive Sennheiser 450BT is the lack of active noise cancellation. This is less surprising than the omission of an audio jack, something we see more often at the low end of the price range.

If that’s not a dealbreaker for you (and for many people it won’t be), these headphones are well worth the money. While they typically cost more than the other models we’ve listed, the sound quality you get is normally only available from far more expensive headsets.

The 350BT’s have a USB C port for charging, something we’d like to see all headphone makers switch to sooner rather than later. It’s power-only, though, so don’t expect to get an audio signal through it.

We’ve come to expect a high level of quality from Sennheiser, even at the lower end of its headphone range, and these headphones didn’t disappoint. The build is exceptional for the price, with high quality, dense plastic used for the structural components, and no squeaks or rattles.

Comfort is always a potential concern where headphones are concerned. To help with that, headband is designed with a very slim silicone pad inside that helps it remain comfortable and stable, even when you’re wearing the headphones for hours.

Once you’ve set them in position, they tend to stay where they are. The clamping force doesn’t feel very strong (a benefit when it comes to comfort), but it’s in exactly the right direction to maintain stability.

The earpads are extremely soft, with a faux-leather feel and lots of padding. Those of you with larger ears may struggle a little with the fit, however, at least until the pads have conformed to the shape of your ears.

Unless you’re using them all day, every day, the 30-hour battery life means that in the real world, you’ll likely get well over a week between charges.

Multi-point Bluetooth pairing means you can connect to two devices (like a phone and a laptop) at once, and switch between them at will. If a call comes in while you’re listening to music on your laptop, it’ll switch over automatically.

The headphones come with an impressive range of audio codecs, including aptX and AAC. If the device you’re using also supports them, expect lower latency and higher audio quality when watching movies or listening to music.

While there are a bunch of them and they take a while to memorize, the media controls work well. Located on the right ear cup, there’s a dedicated rocker switch for volume and to move through playlists, and buttons for activating your voice assistant, power, and more.

The microphone quality is better than many, and while you’ll probably still need to spend more and/or buy a dedicated headset if you’re sitting on Zoom calls all day, you’re unlikely to be disappointed if you’re in a fairly quiet environment.

Pros
  • Clear, crisp sound across the range, without being bass-heavy
  • Good battery life
  • Comfortable for most wearers
  • Multipoint Bluetooth support
Cons
  • No noise cancellation
  • No aux cable support
  • At the upper end of the budget headphone price range
Buy on Amazon

Best Cheap Wired Headphones: Sennheiser HD 300

Sennheiser HD 300 Closed Back, Around Ear Headphone

Sennheiser has a loyal fan base who swear by its audio equipment, and it’s not hard to see (well, hear) the reasons why.

At the lower end of the company’s range, the HD 300's give you a lot for your money: a lightweight, comfortable set of headphones, with well-balanced sound and a simple, clean design.

Cheap headphones often ramp up the bass to overpowering levels to drown out deficiencies in other areas, which makes the neutral low-end soundscape of these headphones such a pleasant surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if the bass disappears or non-existent. It’s just that lower frequencies are far more refined and balanced than usual from headphones in this price range.

Rock music can sometimes overpower headphones, drowning out the highs. The HD 300 does an excellent job of separating the bass from the higher frequencies, while still providing plenty of low-end power in your favorite pop and rock songs.

As a classical music fan, I’ve found the complexity of orchestral music provides a challenge to most cheap headphones and earbuds, but the HD 300 handles it with ease. There’s impressive separation of instruments, especially in the upper mid-range.

The high range is where a set of headphones will truly be challenged. Pop music provides a fitting test here, and it generally sounds crisp, clear, and uncluttered.

For what you’re paying, the overall sound quality is impressive, and far better than most of the audio gear we see in this price range. Sure, you’re not going to be totally blown away by what’s coming into your ears, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better set of cheap wired headphones.

Unless you’re willing to spend quite a bit more, there aren’t many headsets that can compete with this equipment. Most buyers will enjoy their listening experience, no matter what type of music you’re into.

When it comes to downsides, there aren’t many. We’d have liked to see an inbuilt microphone so you could use the HD 300’s for calls as well, and an inline remote on the cable with basic playback and volume controls would be useful as well.

Of course, these aren’t wireless headphones, so you’ve got a cable to deal with. On the upside, that means no batteries to worry about, but you do need to make an effort not to snag the cable as you move around, and remember to take the headphones off when you get up from your desk!

Finally, there’s no active noise cancellation here. The padded earpieces do block out some background sound, but if you want true noise cancellation, take a look at the Soundcore Q20 (above) instead.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Good dynamic range
  • Impressive audio for the price
Cons
  • No noise cancellation
  • No microphone or inline remote
Buy on Amazon

Best Lightning Headphones: Thore V200 Pro

Thore Over Ear iPhone Headphones with Lightning Connector (Apple MFi Certified) – Closed Back Studio DJ Monitor Earphones (50mm Neodymium Drivers) (V200 Black/Red)

Tracking down a cheap set of Lightning headphones for your iPhone that are actually worth listening to is no easy task: most of them are unashamedly terrible. Thankfully, the Thore V200 with a lightning connector is the exception to the rule

These are closed-back headphones, so you can expect less sound leakage compared to open-back models. Anyone sitting nearby is likely to appreciate that design choice!

Plugging directly into iPhones and older iPads thanks to the MFi-certified Lightning cable, the V200 also ships with a 6.5mm aux cable that’s a nod to the “Pro” part of the name. This larger size of connector plugs directly into mixing desks and other pro-level audio gear, but the cable is a little flimsy for heavy use.

The padded ear cushioning makes wearing these headphones comfortable even for extended use, and also helps reduce ambient noise levels somewhat. It’s no replacement for true noise cancellation, but it’s better than nothing.

The 16-point adjustable headband is designed to fit a wide range of wearers, although those with large heads probably wouldn’t mind if it had a little extra length.

I have a particularly square head shape, and find it difficult to find headphones that will fit comfortably, even for short periods. With the V200s, I quickly found a comfortable fit, and then pretty much forgot that I was wearing them. That’s unusual for me, to say the least.

Audio quality is pretty good for what you’re paying, with clear high and mid-tones together with deep, high-energy bass. We detected virtually no distortion, even at maximum volume.

The headphones are foldable, making them easier to fit into a backpack or case without being damaged. That’s useful, although you’ll still need to be a little careful when on the move. Like a lot of cheaper headphones, they don’t come with a travel case.

Pros
  • Reasonably-priced for Lightning headphones
  • Lightweight
  • Fits a wide range of head and ear sizes
  • Good sound for the money
Cons
  • Headband could be slightly longer
  • Aux cable a little flimsy
Buy on Amazon

Best Cheap Headphones for Gaming: BlueFire Stereo Gaming Headset

BlueFire Stereo Gaming Headset for Playstation 4 PS4 PS5, Over-Ear Headphones with Mic and LED Lights for Xbox One, PC, Laptop(Green)

The BlueFire stereo gaming headset has a lot to offer for its low price. It’s ideal for anyone on a budget, those new to gaming, or anyone prone to throwing their headphones against the wall after getting pwned yet again.

The headphones work on all main gaming platforms, including PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The plush ear cushions and reinforced headband ensure comfort and durability during long gaming sessions, while inline controls on the cable let you quickly adjust the volume or mute your mic. An extra-long two-meter cable lets you put some space between yourself and the television.

The sound quality lacks some detail but is great for the price, and the headphones do an effective job of noise-cancelation. The built-in microphone is adjustable through 120 degrees for optimum placement. It lets you chat with friends or communicate on group missions. The mic can also be removed when you’re not using it, so it won’t get in the way when watching movies or listening to music. 

One thing to note: the default microphone volume can sometimes be a little low. If your fellow gamers complain that your voice is too quiet, the problem may be solved through adjusting the audio settings on your gaming system.

One thing these headphones do lack, however, is subtlety. They’re only available in three bright colors: green, red, and blue, with bright LED lights on the sides to make them stand out even more. Don’t expect to blend into the background when you’re wearing them!

Buy on Amazon

Best Cheap Headphones for Sleeping: Lavince Bluetooth Sleep Headband

Lavince Sleep Headphones Bluetooth Sports Headband, Wireless Sports Headband Headphones with Ultra-Thin HD Stereo Speakers Perfect for Workout,Jogging,Yoga,Insomnia,Side Sleepers,Air Travel,Meditation

Headband-style headphones are ideal for those who sleep a full night with headphones on. Lavince’s Bluetooth Sleep Headband is completely wireless, so you’ll never end up tangled in cords as you sleep.

Two hours of charging gives these Bluetooth headphones over ten hours of play time, which is longer than many similar models. It’s enough for a full night’s sleep or a long-haul flight, and the headband doubles as an eye mask as well.

That said, the stretchy, moisture-wicking material is quite thin, so you may still be able to see a little light through them in particularly bright locations. If so, you may want to use a dedicated eye mask instead.

The band is completely washable after the thin speakers are removed, so sweat isn’t an issue. When you’re not sleeping, use it for walking, running, yoga, or other outdoor exercise, especially if you need a little extra warmth on colder days.

All of the usual controls, like volume, play, pause, and skipping forward are handled via a small panel on the front of the headband. There’s also a microphone built into that panel, so you can take calls with the headband if you really want to.

The headband design will stay in place even when you’re on the move or tossing and turning in your sleep. The lightweight material doesn’t do much to cancel out noise, though: that’s not much help in loud rooms, but an asset when it comes to hearing an approaching car outdoors.

Don’t expect deep bass or anything spectacular from the sound, but the quality is fine for listening to background music or podcasts as you drift off to sleep.

Buy on Amazon

🛏 If you’re happy to spend more and aren’t set on a headband design, we’ve got a bunch of recommendations for the best earbuds for sleeping as well.


Investing in expensive brand name headphones is a big step for some people, and may not be in your budget this year. If you only listen to podcasts and music from standard streaming services, and sound quality isn’t the most important factor for you, save a bunch of money and go for a cheaper set of headphones instead.

That said, one consistent issue with cheaper headphones is the quality of the microphone. If you need to make frequent work calls and plan to use your headphones as a headset, we recommend investing in more expensive headphones better suited to the task, or grabbing an external USB or Bluetooth microphone as well.

🎧 If you’re prepared to spend a little more on headphones, you’ll find more options in our roundups on the best headsets for working from home, the best USB headsets, and the best noise-canceling headphones.


Main image via Jiradet Inrungruang, product images via Amazon

About the Author
John Ericson

John Ericson

Once the owner of a small computer repair shop, John swapped fixing tech for writing about it when he hit the road to travel. A lover of backcountry hiking, language learning, and good wine, he dreams of a smartphone battery that lasts as long as his Nokia from the early 2000s.

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