The headphones you really want probably cost hundreds, but the bank balance doesn't always facilitate. Luckily, you can get decent budget headphones giving you great sound on the go.

We've reviewed the best cheap headphones you can buy, all under £100/US$100 with many under £50/US$50, with a range of style styles and types for you to choose from. We've got budget wireless earbuds, neckbuds, USB-C and more.

Scroll past the list for some more detailed buying advice on choosing the right pair.

If you're looking for something more premium and high-end then check out our chart of best headphones. If you're looking for current bargains, take a look at our pick of the best headphones deals.

Best cheap headphones 2022

1

Enacfire A9 - Best Overall

Enacfire A9 Wireless Earbuds
  • Pros
    • Great sound
    • Useful noise cancelling
    • Comfortable fit
    • Decent battery life
  • Cons
    • Average Ambient mode
    • Only in black

The Enacfire A9 are the best budget wireless earbuds with active noise cancelling (ANC) we've tested to date.

Coming in at a very affordable price, not having ANC would be understandable and it's not just there but very good indeed, even if the Ambient mode is fairly average.

The earbuds get a lot else right too with a comfortable fit, useful touch controls, solid battery life and decent sound quality. Perhaps the main downside is that they only come in black.

Read our full Enacfire A9 Wireless Earbuds review

2

SoundMagic E11C - Best Wired Earbuds

SoundMagic E11C
  • Pros
    • Stylish
    • Good sound
    • In-line control & mic
  • Cons
    • Basic set of tips

SoundMagic has come up trumps with the E11C headphones, setting a high standard for what to expect from a budget pair of cans.

They're stylish, comfortable and have excellent features like an in-line control that works with both iOS and Android. We'd like more tips in the box, but it's not the end of the world, especially considering how good they sound.

Subtle tweaks in the audio profile, mean these headphones punch above their weight in sound quality. Powerful, yet balanced and considered tuning make them very versatile indeed.

Read our full SoundMagic E11C review

3

Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC - Best ANC Performance

Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC
  • Pros
    • Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation
    • Powerful bass performance
    • Great battery life
  • Cons
    • No auto-pause tech
    • Case feels a little cheap
    • No auto-switching of ANC profiles

If you're looking for the best noise cancelling at the lowest cost then Anker provides the best combination of the two.

The hybrid ANC on offer here is excellent and you can easily find the Soundcore Life A2 NC for a lot less than their RRP. There are three presets for different environments and the app offers EQ sound customisation, too.

Solid battery and bass performance as well as touch controls add up to a great buy, even if there's no ear detection for auto-pause and the ANC doesn't automatically switch between those profiles.

Read our full Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC review

4

OnePlus Type-C Bullets - Best for USB-C

OnePlus Type-C Bullets
  • Pros
    • Very cheap
    • Decent sound quality
    • Good compatiblity
  • Cons
    • Not the best fit

There’s not a lot to say apart from these are the best value for money USB-C headphones you can get - handy if your phone or other gadgets no longer has a headphone jack. It's an increasingly common problem. 

The Type-C Bullets because worked on every USB-C phone we tested them on as well as MacBooks and Windows laptops.

They sound good, offer decent build quality and have a very reasonable price tag.

Read our full OnePlus Type-C Bullets review

5

Nokia Essential Wireless Headphones (E1200) - Best Over-Ear

Nokia E1200 headphones
  • Pros
    • Excellent battery life
    • Detailed, rich audio
    • Very affordable
  • Cons
    • Cheap build
    • No ANC
    • Micro-USB

If you're looking for cheap over-ear headphones then our current pick of the bunch is the E1200 from Nokia.

Although they have a cheap platsic build, the headphones are comfortable and have easy to use physical buttons. Perhaps most importantly, they offer excellent sound quality along with long battery life - two of the key things you should look for in wireless headphones.

You might have more on your wish list but there's no noise cancelling here and you'll have to put up with the older Micro-USB port rather than USB-C.

Read our full Nokia E1200 headphones review

6

Google Pixel Buds A - Best Smart Features

Google Pixel Buds A-Series
  • Pros
    • Google Assistant support
    • Plenty of smart features
    • Good sound quality
  • Cons
    • Limited earbud battery life
    • No ANC
    • Can't customise controls

If you can afford the top end of our price cap, the Pixel Buds A are great wireless earbuds if you value smart features.

They feature the Google Assistant so you can get many things done hands-free and they can do various other things like live translation, ear detection, Fast Pair and Adaptive Sound.

You won't find most of that on even more expensive rivals, but there's no ANC here and battery life for the earbuds themselves isn't anything special. However, the case can top them up quickly.

Read our full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review

7

Huawei FreeBuds 4i - Best for Huawei Users

Huawei FreeBuds 4i
  • Pros
    • Good ANC
    • Solid sound quality
    • Decent battery life
  • Cons
    • Awkward design
    • App issues
    • Limited touch controls

Huawei knows how to make decent wireless earbuds that don't cost the earth and the FreeBuds 4i have a lot to like about them.

They are among the best you can get around this price with active noise cancelling, which along with sound quality, is very good indeed. They also last longer than most with 10 hours from the buds themselves.

The glossy design won't be for everyone and the touch controls are limited. Our main gripe is having to get the AI Life app from the App Gallery for compatibility which is a pain.

Read our full Huawei FreeBuds 4i review

8

Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2 - Best for Custom Sound

Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2
  • Pros
    • Cheap
    • Swappable filters
    • Great sound
  • Cons
    • No mic as standard

If you want great-quality sound at an affordable price, the Alfa Genus V2 should be on your shortlist.

They're excellent in-ear headphones for under £50 providing good build quality but more importantly, great sound quality. This is largely due to the interchangeable filters.

It might sound like a gimmick but they mean you can change the audio profile depending on your personal taste and/or what you're using them for at any given moment.

Read our full Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2 review

9

Adidas RPD-01 - Best for Running

Adidas RPD-01
  • Pros
    • Impressive fit
    • Great audio quality
    • Budget friendly
  • Cons
    • Long full-charge time
    • Middling battery life
    • Awkward media controls

Those looking for affordable headphones to use while running or other exercises should look no further.

The Adidas RPD-01 are not only cheap, but offer a secure fit thanks to different sizes of tips and wings. Neckbuds are perfect for fitness users thanks to longer battery life and the fact you can't lose them.

They don't have the best controls but they're usable and the sound quality is excellent. The RPD-01 also have an IPX4 rating to combat sweat and rain.

Read our full Adidas RPD-01 review

10

Nothing Ear (1) - Best Premium Features

Nothing Ear (1)
  • Pros
    • Active noise cancellation
    • Wireless charging
    • Affordable price point
  • Cons
    • Average audio quality
    • Divisive design
    • Slightly buggy

Nothing's first pair of wireless earbuds are surprisingly affordable making them an option for anyone who can't afford the flagship pairs from the likes of Samsung or Apple.

At under the 100 mark, you get noise cancelling and wireless charging which is a rare combination.

If you want a pair that stand out design-wise then it is certainly these, but that mike equally put you off. Sound quality isn't the best and our experience was buggy so they are something of a risk.

Read our full Nothing Ear (1) review

Your buying guide for the best cheap headphones in 2022

Mobile music lovers have never had it so good - although some modern smartphones no longer have a headphone jack, the standard headphones you get with smartphones are at an all-time high in terms of quality.

This does tend to be flagship phones though and cheaper ones might not even come with some in the box. Either way, spending a little to upgrade your headphones is one of the best ways to get the most from a smartphone, or any other portable music player.

The instant lift in audio quality needs to be heard to be believed – better, more impactful bass, crisper, more detailed treble and better isolation from the outside world are all worth the investment. Choosing headphones isn’t just about improved audio quality, though – there are plenty of things to consider to make sure you end up with something that suits you perfectly.

For a long time, it was unfeasible to get cheap headphones with active noise cancelling (or ANC) but things have changed, although the feature is still going to add money to the price tag compared to those without. We have a dedicated round-up for the best noise cancelling headphones which you can browse, too.

Types of cheap headphones

In general, there are three types of headphones to choose from: in-ear, on-ear and over-ear. They do as you would expect although often have different names and within each category, you can get various styles.

Following the launch of the Apple AirPods wireless earbuds are all-the-rage. Check out our chart of the best true wireless earbuds as well as the best cheap true wireless earbuds if you're on a tight budget - some of which will appear here.

Most buyers will be looking for the first two, as over-ear headphones are big and heavy so are more suited for static use at home or at your desk.

The cheapest are in-ear, or earbuds, as they are the most basic but getting on-ear headphones might improve both comfort and sound quality. Look out for extra features like an in-line control, microphone and comfortable foam tips.

Find out how we test audio.