These are the best wireless headphones under $50 in 2021September 14, 2021
Finding a headphone jack on a phone now is rare. Chances are, your phone doesn’t have one — leaving you to go the wireless route to keep the music playing. If your need coincides with a tight budget, the COWIN E7 is your best starting point to get a set of great, all-around Bluetooth headphones. Here are some of our top choices for the best Bluetooth headphones under $50.
Best overall: COWIN E7
For something at this price range, the COWIN E7 offers dependable sound quality that is, not surprisingly, centered around the bass. It’s a boosted sound that may not be for everyone, partly because the thump and rumble seem purposely tuned to be a little over the top. Don’t worry, though. COWIN did the same with the mid-range, which is one reason why these feel loud out of the box. Treble holds its presence, but it’s playing a support role in the deeper parts of the audio spectrum.
That they support active noise cancelation (ANC) is somewhat surprising at this budget-conscious price, but it’s here. It naturally won’t match the efficiency of what premium ANC headphones can do, but still a value-added feature by any stretch.
What’s crazier is that the E7 can stay on for up to 30 hours on a single charge. Some headphones costing a lot more don’t even come close. Playing audio with that kind of time on your side, you can go for days without worrying about the battery dying out. Even with ANC on, the battery holds up well. It is a shame they charge via Micro-USB—annoying when your phone has moved onto USB-C, but the good battery life does help mitigate how often you charge. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring the cable with you.
The E7 are a bit on the heavier side, but aren’t necessarily uncomfortable. They’ll sit on your head nicely, reducing any fatigue, though your overall mileage may vary based on their weight.
Good ANC performance for the price
Long battery life
Treble is subdued
Heavier than most over-ears
Excellent battery life at a low price
If battery life and cost savings are your primary concern, the E7 from COWIN is your best bet.
Best true wireless: JLab JBuds Air
True wireless earbuds can truly feel liberating, and JLab did a fine job relaying that notion with the JBuds Air. They come with many of the trappings you’d expect from a true wireless pair, like auto on/off and play/pause, and independent earbud audio playback. That means you can just use one earbud for phone calls or keep an ear open for outside noise. With IP55 dust and water resistance, the JBuds Air can go on a run or long workout session, even if it starts raining.
Sound quality doesn’t offer anything particularly surprising. The sound profile skews toward a boosted bass and treble, except the bass is extremely dependent on a tight seal with the earbud to stand out by utilizing the different-sized ear tips and ear hooks in the box. The treble doesn’t pierce through a whole lot, either. Still, it all comes through with a solid dynamic range, even if the soundstage isn’t as wide as other true wireless earbuds.
On their own, the earbuds will last up to four hours on a single charge, while the charging case adds 14 hours. In keeping with JLab’s style, the case has an integrated charging cable, so you would have to be careful handling it, but even if it’s damaged for any reason, you can replace the case entirely for just $10.
IP55 dust and water-resistant
Fun bass and treble boosted sound
Ear tips and ear hooks
Short battery life
Best true wireless
JLab – JBuds Air Icon True Wireless In-Ear Headphones – Black
Cutting off all cables for less
The JBuds Air are cheaper true wireless earbuds offering stellar sound quality, a great seal, and superb comfort.
Best active noise-canceling: Tozo NC2
Tozo is the best among budget headphones, so the NC2 are right at home that way, but what puts them on this list is that they offer ANC. It’s reliable in a very bang-for-your-buck kind of way, meaning it won’t match the performance of more premium earbuds capable of canceling outside noise, but the effect is certainly still there. It strangely does a little better with varying frequencies while inconsistent with low-frequency droning sounds, like an engine or fan.
Their sound signature veers toward bass, and it’s immediately obvious that the highs and mids take a backseat to maintain that skew. That’s great if you like listening to genres that need help on the low end, though it’s unfortunate you don’t have a way to tweak the sound using an equalizer on a supporting app.
Battery life is pretty respectable at up to eight hours per charge, with the case giving you an extra three charges. This is with ANC on, where you essentially have no option to turn it off. Fully charge the case in less than two hours via USB-C, or lay it down on a Qi-enabled wireless charging pad to cut out all wires entirely.
Nice sound quality
Good battery life
Decent ANC performance
OK water resistance
USB-C and wireless charging
Call quality isn’t the best
ANC can struggle with certain frequencies
Best active noise-canceling
TOZO NC2 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds
Getting ANC at this price is hard enough, but it only sounds sweeter with great sound quality, battery life, and portability.
Best over-ear: Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Anker has become quite the value brand of late, and one of the headphone pairs that set the tone are the Soundcore Life Q20. These affordable cans have ANC built-in, and while not as good as their successors, the Soundcore Life Q30, they are solid value at this price.
A lot of that has to do with the excellent battery life, which goes up to 40 hours per charge with ANC on, and 60 hours off. Fast charging them for five minutes will get you up to four hours of playback, so in the rare time you run out of juice, you can get back to listening in short order. The build quality isn’t as good as the newer Q30, but the fit is snug, and the lightweight body shouldn’t feel cumbersome to wear.
Audio quality is basically what you hear is what you get. Unlike other Anker headphones, the Q20 doesn’t work with the company’s excellent app to customize the sound. Still, if you’re looking for good bass and a nice balance with the mids and highs, these headphones will be perfectly fine for what they cost. The ANC isn’t the best you’ll find, but again, it works as well as you might expect for a budget pair of cans.
Really long battery Life
Foldable, portable design
No app support
Anker Soundcore Life Q20 – Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Covering your ears
The Mpow H17 feels comfortable and lasts up to 45 hours per charge, with great sound and a few color options.
Best on-ear: Skullcandy Riff Wireless
On-ear headphones are something of a compromise in that they don’t fully block outside noise, nor do pinch the ears like over-ears might do. The Skullcandy Riff have the comfort part down, given that you can probably wear these for hours and not complain about it. The price is on par with the build quality, which is a mix of metal and plastic that doesn’t feel premium.
You will get good sound from the Riff, courtesy of slightly boosted bass that reveals itself most in quieter confines. The highs and mids are more pronounced, which is hardly surprising because of passive noise isolation. Ambient sound filters consistently, making these fine to wear if you want to know your surroundings, but not so much if you really want to dive into the music. The Bluetooth connection is solid, except it’s also your only option. There is no wired playback here.
Battery life is a respectable 12 hours, and you can get two hours of playback with just a 10-minute quick charge. The only downside is that you’d be charging over Micro-USB, not USB-C.
Solid audio quality
Long battery life
No real passive noise isolation
No option for wired playback
Skullcandy Riff Wireless
Listening inside and out
The Riff offers solid sound, excellent battery life and provide an overall comfortable listening experience.
Best workout buds: Anker Soundcore Life P2
The Anker Soundcore Life P2 are all about ensuring you can stay active. You get an IPX7 rating for a decent level of durability, meaning you can work hard while working out, run in the rain, or even accidentally drop them in water. Anker considers them waterproof, but you should wipe them down after every activity to keep them dry after you’re done.
It helps that they’re comfortable and secure in your ears, too. Of course, every pair of ears is different, but Anker tried to stay as still as possible during intense activity. With Bluetooth 5.0 onboard, you can count on a stable connection to your phone, but as for fit during activity, Anker would’ve been better served to go with a design utilizing ear hooks rather than an AirPods clone.
They do sound good for what you’re paying, especially with an emphasis on bigger sound. There’s some thump and rumble here, with a balanced mid-range and uneven treble, but it’s highly dependent on the kind of seal you get when they’re in your ears. And you’ll have to rely on that because they’re not compatible with Anker’s solid Soundcore app, which would have offered an equalizer for a more personalized sound.
Battery life is decent at up to seven hours per charge at 60% volume. That guarantees a few workouts before having to charge them up again, though the case gives you almost five more charges before it runs out of juice itself. And you get fast charging via USB-C, where plugging them in for 10 minutes gives up to one hour of playback in a pinch.
Bluetooth 5.0 support
Decent battery life
Good sound signature
IPX7 water resistance
Should fit most ears
Should’ve had ear hooks
No app support
Best workout buds
Anker Soundcore Life P2
Flexible workout earbuds
With IPX7 water resistance, 18 hours of battery life, and agreeable sound, it’s hard to say no at this price.
Best battery life: Tribit QuietPlus 50
Long battery life is a convenient feature, and the Tribit QuietPlus 50 offer up to 30 hours on a single charge. That should keep you listening to music and spoken word content for days. And with USB-C support, you can charge back up pretty quickly. Plug in for a quick five minutes, and you can get up to two hours of playback, just like that.
The battery life is a benefit of what is a nice pair of over-ears at an affordable price. They also have a high degree of comfort, where the headband and earcups shouldn’t pose a problem over long periods of use. The earcups are large enough to accommodate big ears. When you want to put them away, the cups fold up nicely for a more compact size when you need to take them with you somewhere.
You can expect above-average sound, with deep and punchy bass, balanced mid-range, and boosted treble, all combining for a decent soundstage. The active noise reduction isn’t exactly full-on noise cancelation, but it’s close, and that means you should be able to drown out at least some of that unwanted noise around you. They are lively, so if you want something that plays a little louder and crisper right out of the box, these are worth a listen.
Long battery life
Comfortable for longer use
Fold up for easier transport
USB-C for charging
Carrying case costs extra
No real app support
Best battery life
Tribit QuietPlus 50
Long listening sessions
The Tribit QuietPlus 50 last quite a long time with up to 30 hours of use on a single charge and sound great doing it.
Best comfort buds: Otium Bluetooth Headphones
They’re not true wireless earbuds, as you have a cable connecting the two sides, but this affordable pair from Otium does sit pretty comfortably when you need to wear them. For something this inexpensive, the IPX7 rating does provide a higher level of sweat and water resistance than is typical, but considering they are supposed to be for active use cases; you should feel comfortable wearing them under those circumstances.
A lot of it comes down to the ear hooks, which help keep the ear tips nestled into your ears. With the right fit and a tight seal, you get the best audio quality Otium can manage with these buds. Naturally, they’re not for audiophiles, and Otium skewed them toward a bass-heavy sound profile. If you like music that bumps, you’re bound to like the way these prioritize that part of the audio spectrum.
Physical buttons stand-in for the onboard controls, and once you learn them, they do what they do without many issues. You’ll get up to eight hours per charge with the battery, though you will have to charge them up using a Micro-USB cable, which is one of the downsides to using a pair like this for the sake of comfort or during a run.
Good audio quality
IPX7 water and sweat resistance
Comfortable and easy fit
Consistent onboard controls
Might be too bass-heavy
Charges via Micro-USB
Best comfort buds
Otium Bluetooth Headphones
Playing nice for less
The Otium Bluetooth Headphones manage to deliver a simple, yet effective design with good water resistance.
Great headphones come in all shapes and sizes. But they also come at different price ranges, as evidenced by this list. Just because headphones are cheap doesn’t mean they’re bad. Getting more for less always feels like a win, and that’s one of the best ways to describe the sound quality, comfort, and battery life with this group of the best Bluetooth headphones under $50.
The COWIN E7 are a solid example. They cover most of the bases with excellent sound quality, ANC support, and 30 hours of battery life — all at a price you can afford.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
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