Best budget headphones
Headphones are an essential everyday accessory. Music lovers cherish the feel of quality sound in their ears. Then some have to make tons of calls daily and do not want to miss a single thing. There are also individuals to keep fit as companions during exercise.
Whatever your reason for wanting a headphone, there are some things that you need to consider before choosing which headphone to buy. Knowing the types of headphones, you are likely to find in a store is a good place to start.
Over-ear headphones are the biggest types you will find around. They are designed in a way that makes their ear cups cover most of your outer ear, if not all.
On-ear headphones are smaller than over-ear headphones. They are designed to fit on each ear but not cover it entirely like the over-ear headphones.
As the name implies, in-ear means you have to insert in-ear headphones into your ears to use them. This means they are much smaller than on-ear headphones, making them the smallest in the group.
You can also group headphones into other types depending on certain features. Such features include whether it is wired or wireless, open-back or closed-back, and so on.
Open-back vs. Closed-back Headphones
Some headphones are designed to have tiny openings in their casing to escape the sound. These kinds are called open-back headphones. Open-back headphones make for an excellent sound device in quiet environments.
On the other hand, Closed-back headphones have casings that enclose their inners. This serves to protect the sound from escaping and, as such, makes it very suitable in noisy environments.
Best Budget Headphones
One other pertinent thing to consider when choosing a headphone is the price. Nobody wants an overpriced piece of the device while there are better ones out there at a better bargain. Below is a shortlist of the best budget headphones based on customers’ ratings on Amazon.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x professional studio monitor headphone is available on amazon.com for $49. This pro headphone has an over-ear design with earcups swivel at 15° in both directions.
It has a sensitivity of 96dB which means it has a considerably high sound volume level. Its impedance is put at 47 ohms, making it quite unsuitable for mobile devices.
Frequency response of 15 Hz – 20 kHz offers a wider range of bass sounds than most headphones. It is a wired headphone with a 3.0m straight left-side exit.
This headphone is recommended for professionals for use in mixing and tracking.
- One big pro for this headphone is the impeccable sound quality.
- Another is its durability. Also, its closed-back design gives it an excellent sound isolation feature.
- Like most other over-ear headphones, it also has large battery life.
- It is specifically designed for professional musicians in-studio tasks like mixing and tracking. However, it does have its cons, chief of which is its lack of portability. It is also not the kind of headphones you can go around with.
The Sony MDR-ZX110 headphone has a foldable feature, making it portable. It has wired connectivity and a tangle-free cord of 1.2m in length. It is a great companion for mobile devices.
- Its frequency response is a very good plus. It guarantees a great range of sound.
- The audio cable is also made to be tangle-free, which saves you the stress most other wired headphones will give you.
- It is designed to be comfortable. It features a 3.5mm plug, making it compatible with a wide range of mobile devices.
- It does not feature a microphone, making it unsuitable for making or receiving calls (a version of it with a microphone sold for a higher price at $17).
The Zihnic foldable wireless and wired stereo headset has multiple features that make it a versatile option. It features a wireless Bluetooth connection and can also be used with a detachable cord.
- The biggest pro for this headphone is versatility. It features an mp3 player, micro SD slot, FM radio, and Bluetooth connection.
- Its control buttons are at a comfortable distance by the earcup, making it easy to use.
- Its microphone only works with the Bluetooth connection.
The OneOdio studio pro-10 is another professional headphone designed for DJs. Looking for cheap headphones, OneOdio is one of the cheapest and most professional headphones you will ever encounter. It features an impedance of 32 Ohms, making it very suitable for large music devices. Its sensitivity set at 110dB/+- 3dB makes it a favorite for loud audio sound. Its frequency response range is 20 Hz – 40 kHz, making it one of the best studio headphones on Amazon.
- It features a 3.5/6.5mm audio jack, making it compatible with a wider range of devices than most other headphones.
- It works with PCs, phones, mixers, and musical instruments.
- Also, it is built with wireless noise cancellation tech.
- It has a high build quality.
- It is made with professionals in mind. While an average consumer might enjoy it, its optimal value is in the studio or with a DJ.
Koss KPH7 is easily one of the cheapest headphones we reviewed. It is a wired, on-ear device with a 4ft cable. Its 3.5mm plug makes it suitable for a reasonable range of devices such as smartphones, laptops, mp3 players, and so on.
- For an on-ear headphone, the Koss KPH7 is quite portable.
- Its audio cable is also a reasonable length.
- It is easy to handle.
- It is not durable. Also, it is mostly made of plastic and can easily break under much stress.
- It does not feature a microphone, so it can’t make or take calls.
LORELEI X6 is an over-ear and wired headphone with an embedded microphone. Its 3.5mm plug is supported by many devices like laptops, smartphones, tabs, and mp3 players.
- It is lightweight, making it easier to handle than most other over-ear headphones.
- It also features a microphone making it easy to make and receive calls.
- Its noise-canceling capacity is not so good. Its lightweight also makes it less durable than most other over-ears that are heavier.
Maxell 190319 Stereo Headphone is a very portable on-ear, wired headphone. Its 6ft cable and flexible headband make it very easy to handle. Its 3.5mm plug makes it compatible with a wide range of devices, as long as it supports a 3.5mm audio plug.
- It is very portable, easy to handle and carry about.
- It is also comfortable to use. Its audio cable is very long (6ft) and features a 3.5mm plug.
- Also, it is not durable. It does not feature a microphone.
The iJoy Matte Finish is a bargain. It is over-ear, wireless, and features an embedded microphone. Another feature of the iJoy headphone is a micro SD card slot which can be used with its mp3 feature.
- It is versatile: featuring a wireless Bluetooth connection, a microphone, a micro SD slot, and an mp3.
- It is not wired. Yes, this automatically limits the range of devices it can work with to devices that use Bluetooth connections.
The Panasonic RP-HT21 is a portable on-ear headphone. It features a 4.5ft cable and a 3.5mm plug. One obvious downside to the headphone is their lack of a microphone is a good buy.
- It is portable and easy to handle.
- Its cable is reasonably long, which aids comfort.
- Regulate the volume using the volume controls.
- The audio performance is great.
- Its durability is not guaranteed.
- It cannot be used for calls as it does not have a microphone.
Emppsun headphone is one of the best noise-canceling headphones out there. It features an embedded microphone and possesses an active noise cancellation tech design. It also features the popular 3.5mm plug that makes it compatible with a wide range of devices. The empsun wired earbuds are a great alternative to the big clumsy over-ear and on-ear headphones we have been looking at.
- It is budget-friendly. Its 3.5mm plug works with phones, mp3 players, PCs, and so on.
- It is a true wireless earbud.
- Also, it features a microphone of high audio quality.
- It also features a multifunction button that works for volume, play/pause, answering or rejecting calls, and so on.
- Empsun wired earbuds do not have obvious disadvantages apart from the clumsiness of most other wired headphones.
- Has no water resistance.
Things you might want to consider before choosing headphones
Just as with any other gadget or outfit (which a headphone well qualifies to be), comfortability is a factor to be considered when choosing a headphone. Because the definition of comfort differs from individual to individual, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding which headphone is more comfortable than the other.
Over-ear headphones are usually very comfortable. This is owing to the soft, leathery feel their cups are designed to have on the user’s ears. They are also usually very balanced across the head and over the ears. On-ear headphones share several pros with over-ear headphones, such as the ear’s balance and feel.
Therefore, if balance and feel are part of what makes for comfort in your book, over-ear and on-ear headphones are your best bet.
However, what over-ear and on-ear headphones have in balance and feel, they lack portability. For those who count portability as comfort, in-ear headphones are easily their best bet. Because of their small size, they are easy to carry around.
If you are the type that moves around a lot, avoiding the clumsiness of a wired headphone is always going to be a welcome idea. The cables get entangled sometimes, or how you forget to pick your phone along, and it gets dragged by the wire are just a couple of the clumsiness that a wireless headphone helps you avoid altogether.
Many in-ear headphones, or earbuds as they are also known, do not need to be charged. They are powered directly by the device they are connected to. But wireless headphones, of whatever size, usually need their batteries to be charged.
Large headphones like over-ear and on-ear headphones have very strong li-ion batteries that can last several hours. On the other hand, wireless earbuds don’t have as much room as their larger cousins to accommodate large battery cells. Most of them last lesser than 5 hours before they require a recharge.
Although many people enjoy music and use headphones, very few bother to check for headphones’ specifications before buying. This is probably because of the terminology’s technical nature in spelling out these specifications. People familiar with sound engineering easily understand them, but it’s a task to make sense of them for laypeople like myself and most people out there.
However, it is still important to check for a headphone’s specification before paying that dollar. You will come across terms like:
This specifies the headphone’s range of sound production. Most headphones you will encounter put their frequency response between 20Hz to 20kHz. This corresponds to the human hearing range. And a headphone with this frequency response is just fine unless you are looking for a specific sound range for which there are special headphones.
Another term to look out for in a headphone’s specification is sensitivity. A headphone’s sensitivity measures just how loud it can get. Many headphones put this between 100dB and 110dB, which are just about loud enough. But some headphones put theirs at a lower dB, around 90dB. However, anything below 90dB would be too soft.
A headphone’s impedance measures how much power it needs to deliver its optimal sound. Most headphones do not put their impedance beyond 15 – 30 Ohms. Anything beyond this would categorize as studio-grade and require a reliable power source to give its optimal performance.
Many people hardly have any need for headphones with a microphone. But some others consider it quite important. These are the kind of people who are usually on many calls. Some headphones have microphones embedded in them, while some have external boom microphones.
Your choice would depend on the device you are using the headphone with. External boom microphones would be very well suited for conference calls on PCs, while the embedded ones work fine on phones.
Your choice of a headphone goes a long way. And choices are a personal matter, especially in the case of an item like a pair of headphones. You should, therefore, not see this attempt above as a sort of rulebook when you’re making your choice. However, you are most welcome to make it a guide in your choice.