Your buying guide for the best cheap headphones in 2018

Mobile music lovers have never had it so good – although the iPhone 7 doesn’t 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 earphones is one of the best ways to get the most from a smartphone, or any other portable music player. Here are the best cheap headphones under £100, with most under £50.

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

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.

Here, we’ve rounded up ten different pairs, from traditional studio-style cans to tiny in-ear offerings, and given them an extensive listen to see where your money is best spent. Also read: How to stop earphone cables getting tangled or twisted

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.

In-line remotes and microphones

Once you’ve had headphones with an inline remote and microphone you’ll never go back. These allow you to answer calls, shuffle tracks and change the volume on audio playback, while the integrated microphone means you can carry on a conversation – and use voice activated software – without pulling your phone from your pocket. It’s a very useful addition to look out for.

Circumaural headphones

Circumaural is another way of saying that a pair of headphones totally enclose the ears they’re worn over – typically known as over-ear. The advantage to this is lots of bass and good isolation from outside noise. And, because the speakers are effectively sealed against the wearer’s head, there’s minimal sound leakage.

The drawback is always size: over-ear headsets are very big and very heavy, and are always worth trying on before committing to.

Supra-aural headphones

These are a different kind of headphones, although like circumaural headsets they still involve a headband. Supra-aural sets sit on the ears and press inwards to provide enough volume and to stop sound leaking out.

The benefit is size and weight: these can be smaller than studio-style headsets, but the trade-off is often comfort.

In-ear headphones

These are arguably the most common type you’ll see, and it’s obvious why. In-ear headphones are small, very portable, and don’t weigh very much.

Most of the in-ear headphones mentioned below are canal headphones, which means they have rubber grommets or tips on the end which are pushed slightly (and carefully) into the ear canal. This produces excellent audio quality, thumping bass and lots of noise isolation if you find the right size tips.

Noise isolation

Blocking out the outside world is an important job of a decent pair of headphones. Cancelling a rowdy office or the hum of the engines on a long flight can make life much more pleasant. At its most basic, noise isolation simply forms a seal around or inside the ear, preventing unwanted sound waves entering.

In-ear headphones, particularly canal-style headphones, are excellent at this. Otherwise, over-ear headsets are the next best way to go. Pay more than £50 and you might find models with active noise cancellation, where headphones play an imperceptible sound that cancels out constant background thrums such as engine noise. 

You don’t often find decent wireless headphones for under £50 but there are some to choose from in our list – handy for the likes of the iPhone 7. We also have a chart just for the best wireless headphones.

Best cheap headphones 2018

2. OnePlus Bullets V2

OnePlus Bullets V2

4. RHA S500i

RHA S500i

5. Onkyo E700M

Onkyo E700M

6. Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT

Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT

7. Skullcandy Grind

Skullcandy Grind

8. Yamaha EPH-M200

Yamaha EPH-M200

9. Urbanista Seattle wireless

Urbanista Seattle wireless

10. Denon AH-C621R

Denon AH-C621R



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