The best budget wireless earbuds 2022: our pick of the top cheap earphones

best budget wireless earbuds against a orange TechRadar background
(Image credit: Future)

The best budget wireless earbuds are excellent value for money, with many boasting good features, solid sound and stylish designs that could give even some of the top-performing earbuds on the market a run for their money. 

Sure you’re often sacrificing something for a budget price, like design, ANC or the sonically sumptuous sound you’d find from the models in our best earbuds and best wireless earbuds guides. But if you’re on a budget there are plenty of wireless earbuds to choose from that bring you everything you need in an affordable package.

The problem with budget earbuds – which we define as earbuds under $100 / £100 / AU$130 – is it’s not always easy to tell which are good value for money and which are cheap because they’re junk. Handily, we’ve tested hundreds of earbuds over the years, so we can spot the high-performing but low-priced gems.

There are great options from big audio names including Audio-Technica, Cambridge Audio, and Sony – but also from new tech up-starts breaking into the space. In all cases, we've tested to make sure they really sound great for the price.

Best budget earbuds 2022: our picks

Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW on white background

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)
The best cheap earbuds for most people

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.2g per earbud
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 5.8mm dynamic
Battery life : Earbuds 6.5 hours, 13.5 hours in the case (20hr total)

Reasons to buy

+
Chic buds with reliable on-ear volume control
+
Useful low latency/hear-through modes
+
Sounds far better than most at this price

Reasons to avoid

-
No companion app
-
No active noise cancellation

These cubist, cool, refreshingly different Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW earbuds are clear proof that Audio-Technica is just… loving Audio-Technica right now. And why not? 60 years of hi-fi heritage is not to be sniffed at (yes, predominantly in analog audio rather than these little things, but what of it?) and Audio-Technica has earned the right to go its own way. 

AT has not tried to emulate any other earbuds from competing brands here and we love the Tokyo audio outfit for it. These buds are available in no fewer than six delicious-sounding colorways (Caramel, Popsicle, Cupcake, Blueberry, Liquorice and Popcorn – try that for size, ice-white-only AirPods) and you're getting Bluetooth 5.0, 20 hours of battery, a beautiful product that fits comfortably, on-ear controls that work well (including volume) plus a low-latency mode, a hear-through function and a sound that's more expansive, clearer and generally better than anything else you can buy for this money.

As long as a lack of companion app and active noise cancellation aren't deal-breakers, these inexpensive earbuds should be on your list – and not on looks alone; the sound is very, very good for $80. 

Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW review

the cambridge audio melomania 1 plus true wireless earbuds with their charging case

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)
The best cheap earbuds for exceptional audio performance

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 9.2g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 5.8mm
Battery life: 9 hours (earbuds) 41 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning audio performance
+
Great app
+
Easy controls

Reasons to avoid

-
No ANC

Cambridge Audio is best known for its high-end audio equipment, but the British audio specialist has branched out into the world of true wireless earbuds over the past few years.

Its first offering, the Melomania 1, are among the best wireless earbuds you can buy, thanks to their stellar sound quality. But now the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus are a worthy upgrade and we think that they put many other earbuds in the shade when you consider the top factors of audio performance, battery life, and ease-of-use. 

We also think they look great too, writing this about their compact design in our review: "These earbuds are very sleek indeed, and their small frame and lightweight build sets them apart from models such as the Apple AirPods."

While the design hasn’t deviated too far from its predecessors, we found that there’s a clear step up in terms of audio performance here, with levels of detail and clarity that could rival some of the best over-ear headphones. 

Their helpful app, easy controls, and excellent connectivity just make us love them even more. The only downside is that there’s no active noise cancellation. However, when these earbuds sound as good as they do, we doubt you’ll miss it much. 

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

JLab Go Air Pop in blue on white background

(Image credit: JLab)
The best cheap earbuds for under $20/£20

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 3.7g per earpiece
Frequency response: 20HZ-20kHZ
Drivers: 6mm drivers
Battery life (on-board): 32 in total (8 hours from buds)

Reasons to buy

+
Light, small, comfortable design
+
Reliable on-ear controls
+
Sounds better than rivals at this price

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the last word in sonic brilliance generally
-
Odd fitted charging cable

Let's cut to the chase. What's thrilling about the JLab Go Air Pop is that since February 2022 it has been possible to buy this new set of known-brand true wireless earbuds for $20 / £20, a fee that even three years ago was unimaginable. And they're actually good

Regular readers will know that TechRadar penned initial thoughts about the remarkably affordable new JLab Go Air Pop soon after their release, but even then, we weren't sure earbuds this budget-conscious could actually do a job. Well, we're sure now. 

What you need to know is that JLab Go Air Pop are actually pretty good generally — and emphatically unbeatable for this money. Although it's important to note that there's little out there to challenge them at this level. If this is where your budget maxes out for non-essentials, such as true wireless earbuds, you will find a reliable product here.

During our testing, we really found that these earbuds belie their lowly price-point. They are not junk. They sound far better than is reasonable. In our review of the JLab Go Air Pop we concluded: "In terms of build, battery life and feature set, JLab is irrefutably top of the class for value — but remember, it is a very small class."

Although sonically they can certainly be beaten, like with the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus buds above, you'll obviously have to pay much more. 

Read our full JLab Go Air Pop review

The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 true wireless earbuds and charging case

(Image credit: Lypertek)
The best cheap earbuds for great battery life

Specifications

Acoustic design: : Closed
Frequency response: : 20Hz - 20kHz
Drivers:: Graphene, 6mm dynamic
Battery life: : 10 hours (earbuds) 70 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound
+
Great price
+
Top-notch battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Ambient mode is poor

When we first reviewed the original Lypertek PurePlay Z3 true wireless earbuds (then known as the Lypertek Tevi), we were blown away. The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 true wireless earbuds are their successors. They’re very similar to the originals, with a few key improvements, and yet still come in at the same affordable price point the originals did — $99 / £99.

This gets you everything we loved about the original PurePlay Z3 (detailed balanced sound, a whopping 80 hours total battery life from its petite USB-C charging case, and a comfortably fitting bud with physical buttons), and adds wireless charging, a powerful new LDX Audio mode, improved app functionality and a hear through ambient mode.

During our testing, we were a bit disappointed that app connectivity is patchy, and the ambient hear through mode is pretty much useless in comparison to the competition from the likes of Sony’s excellent noise cancelling WF-1000XM4.

Yet, at this price, and nothing to detract from the quality standard the originals set out, with a few notable improvements, they remain must-have earbuds. In our review, we concluded: "Despite the low asking price, the PurePlay Z3 2.0 offer solid build quality and top-notch audio performance of a product that normally costs double the amount."

Read our full Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review

the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones

(Image credit: Sennheiser)
The best cheap earbuds for working out

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 15g
Frequency response: 17Hz - 21kHz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic audio quality
+
Sports-friendly design

Reasons to avoid

-
Mids could be richer

If the most important aspect of in-ear headphones for you is the audio quality, these budget wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice. 

With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport Bluetooth earbuds can really bolster your workout through sound quality alone. In our review, we wrote: "The CX Sports provide impressive audio quality across the board, and we were equally impressed by the clarity they provide to treble frequencies, even if we occasionally craved some more richness in the mid frequencies."

With runners in mind, the CX Sports have an IPX4 splash-proof rating. This means they should be able to withstand a sweaty workout session (but you probably shouldn't take them into the shower with you post-workout).  

They have a battery life of six hours, which during our testing we found lasted all day, whether you're wearing them on your commute or taking them out for a jog — and their budget-friendly price won't break the bank.

Read our full Sennheiser CX Sport Wireless review

the lypertek soundfree s20 true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Lypertek)
The best cheap earbuds for commuters

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm dynamic
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 40 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent connectivity
+
Bassy sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Build feels a little cheap
-
Soundstage could be more spacious

If you’re looking for budget-friendly wireless earbuds, the Lypertek SoundFree S20  buds are a great choice. 

During our testing, we found that their intuitive controls and excellent connectivity makes using them a breeze, while a long battery life ensures you won’t be stranded without tunes during a workout or commute. If you do run out of juice, a quick-charge feature means you can pop the buds in their case for 15 minutes and get a good two hours of playback. 

The audio quality, while not perfect, is solid. In our review, we wrote: "They aren’t the most detailed listen, and audiophiles may crave a little more accuracy — but for the price, they sound great, and we’re hesitant to make too many complaints about a pair of budget-friendly buds."

The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 further up in this list are still the superior earbuds, and if you can find them at a discount, we’d recommend picking them up over the SoundFree S20. That being said, the Lypertek SoundFree S20 are still easy for us to recommend, and offer a cheap yet capable alternative to the likes of Apple AirPods. 

Read our full Lypertek SoundFree S20 review

The Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds in black

(Image credit: Sony )
The best cheap earbuds from Sony

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed, dynamic
Weight: 10.8g
Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz (44.1kHz sampling)
Drivers: 5.8 mm
Bettery life: 10 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Informative, organized and lively sound
+
Neat and comfortable design
+
Proper control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is nothing special
-
Could sound both deeper and wider
-
Not short of rivals

There's a lot of competition in the true wireless budget buds space. But the WF-C500 buds are sensibly specified, very light and comfortable, and have a choice of control methodologies that all work well. 

At 20 hours, we found the all-in battery life a little disappointing during our testing. However, 10 hours from the buds alone isn’t all that bad compared to rivals, and should suit more people. 

The sound is rapid, detailed and thoroughly engaging with some areas of real expertise. But there's a confined soundstage and lack of bass extension, which means if audio performance is your top priority it might be worth spending a bit more on other buds, like the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones in the list above. 

In our review, we concluded: "These buds are great value for money. Sound is well-defined, these earbuds describe a soundstage really convincingly, and we also liked that they're incredibly comfortable, offering a snug fit and water-resistance."

Read our full Sony WF-C500 review

the earfun air true wireless earbuds in black in their charging case

(Image credit: EarFun)
The best cheap earbuds for AirPods lovers

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.35g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 6mm cellulose
Battery life (on-board): 7 hours (earbuds) 28 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Well-balanced sound
+
Easy connectivity
+
Fairly long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Trebles lacking detail

The EarFun Air true wireless earbuds took us by surprise, with excellent sound quality, design, and connectivity for the price. The overall presentation makes these earbuds seem far more expensive than they are, with plenty of attention to detail — and they look a little like the AirPods.

Pairing the EarFun Air with our MacBook Pro was incredibly easy, and it took just a few seconds for us to get going. We also found that the touch controls worked really well, allowing you to play, pause, and skip tracks as well as adjust the volume of your music.

The sound quality is very good for the price, this is what we thought about the audio performance in our review: "For budget earbuds, the EarFun Air sound pretty good. They offer reasonably strong bass and a wide enough soundstage to not feel like tracks are being squeezed right into your ear. While they may not rival more expensive options for detail, rhythm and overall range, at this price they're perfectly satisfying. 

Add to this Bluetooth 5 connectivity, auto-pausing when you remove the buds from your ears, and a seven-hour battery life (35 hours with the charging case included), and the EarFun Air are the best super-cheap true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested. 

Read our full EarFun Air review

the Earfun air pro budget wireless earbuds in black

(Image credit: Earfun)
The best cheap earbuds with noise cancellation

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.3g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 10mm composite dynamic
Battery life : 9 hours (earbuds) 23 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Pleasing audio balance
+
Effective noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

-
No app for EQ adjustments
-
Case is a little bulky

On their own merits, the Earfun Air Pro buds are accomplished, but against the competition at this price point they truly shine. 

Amid a sea of similarly-priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, and show a high level of competence in almost all other areas.

We particularly rated their noise cancelling smarts, writing in our review: "we found they blocked out the sounds of a busy street, and even a washing machine at home. An audio passthrough feature is also present for those moments when you need to let the outside world in, making them highly competent noise-cancelling headphones and one of the best cheap headphones out there."

If it weren’t for slightly fiddly gesture controls and — in our experience at least — a slightly uncomfortable fit, these would immediately earn our wholehearted recommendation.

As it stands, these wireless earbuds are an excellent choice for most, offering a blend of useful features and strong performance that should make them popular with commuters in particular.

Read our full Earfun Air Pro review

the soundmagic e11bt budget wireless earbuds

(Image credit: SoundMagic)
The best cheap neckbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 24.7g
Frequency response: 20 - 20,000Hz
Drivers: 10mm dynamic neodymium
Battery life: 20 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic price
+
Elegant design
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble tones can sound harsh

The SoundMagic E11BTs are an extremely capable pair of wireless in-ear earphones, and given their low price, we found it really difficult to fault them — the audio quality is fantastic and they look very elegant. 

With an all black design, they look more ‘sporty’ than their predecessors, the E11C’s, and boast an IPX4 waterproof rating, which means they will be safe from minor splashes and sweaty workout sessions.

They're comfortable to wear thanks to ergonomically-designed eartips and a flat neckband that won’t irritate you while running or working out — and with an IPX4 rating, they should withstand sweaty sessions. 

In our review, we concluded: "If you’re looking for a fantastic pair of value neckband earphones, the SoundMagic E11BTs are a great option."

Read our full SoundMAGIC E11BT review

the jlab go air budget wireless earbuds in black with their charging case

(Image credit: JLab)
The best cheap earbuds to use as a backup pair

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5g
Frequency response: 20HZ-20kHZ
Drivers: 8mm dynamic
Battery life (on-board): 5 hours (earbuds) 15 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Very cheap
+
Robust build

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor sound
-
No lid on charging case

The JLab Go Air don't sound great, and they feel a little cheap — but their ridiculously low price makes them an ideal pair of backup wireless earbuds, or a good first pair of buds for a child.

Just to reiterate, when we tested them we found that the audio quality isn't good. Even the ability to cycle through different EQ presets in the app doesn’t do much to enhance the sound quality, with muddy bass frequencies and sibilant trebles. 

Saying that, the JLab Go Air do have some redeeming qualities. For one, Bluetooth 5 connectivity means pairing is quick and efficient, and once you've paired the Go Air with your device initially, they’ll connect automatically when you remove them from their case.  

Another cool feature that belies the JLab Go Airs' cheap price is the two earbuds’ ability to connect independently of each other; that means you can listen with one earbud while the other remains in the charging case, which could effectively double you battery life (if you don’t mind only listening with one ear). 

You really do get what you pay for with the JLab Go Air, and at this price they could make a good pair of spare earbuds or a neat gift for your kids. For anything approaching analytical music listening however, you’ll want to look elsewhere. 

Read our full JLab Go Air review

the anker soundcore life p2 wireless earbuds in black with their charging case

(Image credit: anker)
The best cheap earbuds for travel

Specifications

Acoustic design: N/A
Weight: 0.13lbs
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Drivers: Graphene drivers
Battery life (on-board): 7 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable fit
+
Enjoyable sound
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Unambitious audio
-
Limited in-line controls
-
Uninspired design

There are better and newer earbuds available from Anker these days, but the Soundcore Life P2 are a solid pair that you can usually pick up for less than £50/$50, making them a really good option if you're on a budget and why they deserve a place in our best budget buds list.

During our testing, we found these were the an excellent pair of earbuds for commuters because they're comfortable, unobtrusive and have an IPX7 rating — so great if you like to walk or run to work. In our review, we wrote: "They have a comfortable, fuss-free design, good sound, decent call quality, and endurance to spare."

However, the sound here is good, but not the best. You won't be able to make the most of the lossless audio you'll find from some streaming services these days, but for providing you with a soundtrack on the bus or while you workout, they're more than suitable. 

Read our full Anker Soundcore Life P2 review

Budget earbuds FAQ

How to pick the best budget wireless earbuds for you

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

It can be a lottery when it comes to buying super-cheap wireless earbuds; you could uncover a real gem or land yourself with a pair or buds that barely work, let alone sound good. 

All the cheap earbuds in this list come with our recommendation, but often you do get what you pay for in terms of connectivity, build and noise cancellation. 

Before you buy, have an idea of what kind of earbuds you need.There are two kinds of wireless earbuds: neckbuds that have a cable connecting each earbud but connect  via Bluetooth to your phone, and true wireless earbuds that have no cables at all.

Do you intend to workout with your earbuds? If so, you'll need buds that will stay put, so look out for interchangeable eartips and fins to hold them in place. 

If you're all about the sound quality, look for earbuds that support hi-res audio files and low latency codecs like aptX Adaptive.  Or, if you want cheap earbuds that will get your through a week's worth of commuting, you'll want to look out for long battery lives - think 25 hours and above. 

What are the best cheap earbuds brands?

Brands such as Sony, Jabra, Cambridge Audio, and Lypertek all offer budget-friendly headphones that don’t skimp on the specs.

If you're after earbuds in the sub-$50/£50 price range, check our brands like JLab and EarFun - though the more you're willing to pay, the better the earbuds will generally perform. 

How we test budget wireless earbuds 

We've tested many of the best cheap wireless earbuds and to be included on this list, we need them to tick a number of boxes. Top of the list is pricing: being available for under £100/$100 is paramount at this level, closely followed by solid sound quality, decent battery life and a good level of comfort. 

We tested the earbuds in a number of different sound environments across a vast selection of musical genres. We listened to podcasts and albums in both quiet rooms and busy aeroplanes, to ensure we knew how they'd handle varying levels of noise too. We also wore them while walking and, often, working out, which meant we could speak to their comfort levels, ANC if available, and how secure they are in your ear. 

We also put those battery claims to the test, making sure we got a sense of how quickly the juice drains from the buds and the case itself during both extensive listening sessions and shorter ones. 

Of course, these earbuds aren't going to compare with high-end buds that are double – or even triple – the price, but our testing is independent, which means we can assure you that you're getting the best sound-per-pound experience.