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Best Budget Earphones of 2016

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Finding the perfect pair of in-ear-earphones is always a tricky proposition. There are a multitude of factors that have to be kept in mind - sound quality, comfort, fit, looks and so on. Moreover, sound is a very subjective matter and people have different preferences when it comes to what kind of sound signature they like.

Some people prefer a bass heavy sound while others look for a neutral, well balanced and flat sound signature. What compounds the matter even further is the wide range of options available.

Let's take a look at the best budget earphones you can buy in India.We have listed earphones ranging from 600 rupees, all the way to 3,00 rupees, in the hope that you can find the one which suits your needs and budget.

1/10 Jays One

2/10 RHA S500

The RHA S500 are available for Rs 2,999 and deliver incredible sound quality for the price.

They are made of an aluminum alloy, and are thus extremely lightweight at just 10 grams. They also feature a tangle free cable with a cloth like texture. The S500 uses micro dynamic drivers with an impedance of 16 ohms, a frequency range of 16,000 - 22,000 Hz and come with a gold plated 3.5mm jack.

Out of the box, they offer an incredible 7 different types of silicon plugs and a carry pouch.

Coming to their sound, the highlight of the RHA S500 is their impressive sound-stage and neutral sound signature. However, for people used to the typical processed sound signature of earphones geared towards less discernible consumers, the highs may come across as screechy and the bass a bit lacking.

However, they deliver an incredibly detailed and balanced sound, and are a great buy at the price.

3/10 Sennheiser CX 3.00

The Sennheiser CX 3.00, with an MRP of Rs 3,599 are available for around Rs 2,600 on e-commerce websites.

These are incredibly popular, and come with a 1.2 m tangle-free, elliptical cable, a carry case and a right angled 3.5mm jack. They come with a two year warranty and look sleek, although some might find them too shiny.

They have a frequency response of 17Hz - 21Khz and an impedance of 18 ohms. Coming to their sound, they have a V shaped frequency response, which looks like the ‘rock’ setting of your equalizer. They are advertised for bass lovers and deliver the same, with crisp lows, which sadly do tend to crowd the sound-stage and sideline the highs and lows. As compared to the RHA S500, they have a more ‘fun’ sound signature that will attract the masses.

4/10 Sennheiser CX 1.00

The younger brother of the CX 3.00, the CX 1.00 have a street price of around Rs 1,799 as compared to their Rs 2,999 MRP, and are great for those looking for a solid sound upgrade for less than 2,000 rupees.

They have a 1.2m symmetrical cable, a right angled headphone jack and are featherweight at 9 grams.

They have 28 ohm impedance transducers which claim to deliver deep and powerful bass. Just like the CX 3.00, they are also aimed at bass lovers. They come with 4 sizes of silicone plugs out of the box.

Their sound signature is again very similar to the CX 3.00 and have a V shaped frequency response. They are crisp and well detailed, but the bass lack the punch of the CX 3.00. However, for the very same reason, they are a tad more neutral and the lows don't overshadow the mids and highs as much.

5/10 Sony MDR - XB50AP In-Ear Extra Bass earphones

The Sony MDR -XB50AP are available on e-commerce websites for around Rs 2,200.

They are earphones designed with a single minded focus - to deliver tight and punchy bass. To deliver the same, they come with big 12mm neodymium magnet drivers and a powered bass duct. What sets them apart from the others in the list so far, is that they also come with an in-line remote and microphone for hands-free phone calls.

They come with 3 pairs of silicon sleeves and a carrying pouch out of the box and have a tangle free cable and a gold plated 3.5mm headphone jack.

One negative of the MDR - XB50 AP is that because of the huge 12mm driver units, they are quite huge and heavy, and difficult to wear for extended periods of time or whilst lying down.

Coming to their sound, they deliver incredibly tight, punchy and crisp lows, while also maintaining clarity in the mids and highs. Where they excel is at sub-bass, sounding exceptionally good in rock tracks. What makes them stand apart from other bass heavy earphones from the likes of Sennhesier or Skullcandy, is the fact that the bass, while being incredibly powerful, doesn't overpower the sound, and even the mids and highs are incredibly crisp and detailed.

However, they are not for people who primary listen to classical or instrumental music.

6/10 Audio Technica ATH-CKX5 BK Sonic Fuel In-ear earphones

There cannot be a top 10 list of earphones without one representative from the house of Audio Technica. The company is well known amongst music fans for it’s headphones, but it also makes good quality earphones at affordable price points.

Handful of a name aside, the ATH-CKX5 promise a perfect fit with their 360 degree rotating eartips and ‘C-tip’ design. They come with a carry case, 2 silicon plugs and 2 pairs of ‘C-tips’ out of the box. They are aimed at people who hit the gym or play sports and are available in a multitude of colors, namely black, blue, green, red, and white.

They come with 8mm drivers with an impedance of 16 ohms and frequency response of 15 ~ 22,000 Hz.

Coming to their sound, they again are focused a bit towards an emphasis on bass, however, the bass here is crisp and tight and doesn't take over the sound stage. Mids are a bit recessed, and highs are crisp and clear.

They are available for Rs 1,299 on most e-commerce websites.

7/10 Tekfusion - Twinwoofers In Ear Earphones

The Tekfusion - twin woofers, as the name implies are earphones made specifically for hardcore bass lovers and are available on most e-commerce sites for around Rs 1,299.

They come with a 1.2mm cable with a gold plated 3.5 mm headphone jack. They have 10mm drivers, with a frequency response of 19- 21 KHz and an impedance of 6 ohms.

As expected, these are not for those looking for a well balanced and neutral sound signature. These are for ‘bassheads’, with powerful and punchy lows that do tend to overpower the sound. The mids and highs are decent, however, unlike the Sony MDR- XB50AP which manage to deliver powerful bass without compromising on the rest of the sound, these deliver bass at an expense of clarity of the mids/highs.

The twin woofers are not targeting those who want a neutral sound, they are built for one purpose, to deliver powerful bass and they do an exceptional job of that.

8/10 Sennheiser CX 180 Street 2 in-ear-headphones

The Sennheiser CX 180 are an incredibly popular pair of earphones available for around Rs 840 online.

Much like the CX series, they are tuned to deliver a powerful, bass driven sound. They have a frequency response of 18 to 20,000 Hz and an impedance of 16 ohms.

While they may not match up to the likes of the CX 3.0 or the RHA S500 in terms of sound quality, they deliver an incredibly powerful package at their price point. They have a very fun sound signature, with good punchy lows. Their soundstage and clarity is lacking compared to more expensive offerings though.

There is a bit of distortion at full volume, and they do sound a little muddy in complicated and layered recordings. However, one has to remember they cost about 800 bucks, and for that price they are a great upgrade to bundled earphones.

9/10 Cowon EM1 In-Ear Headphone

These Cowon EM-1 are available for Rs 799 online and truth to be told, are exceptional for the price. They are not very popular and are an off-beat choice, but they deliver the goods and how.

They come in Black, Red and White and come with a 1.2 metre tangle-free flat cable and a gold plated headphone jack. They have big 10mm drivers with a frequency range of 20 to 22,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 103dB/mW. Sadly, they don't come with a carry case.

The sound quality is the biggest surprise here and they deliver crisp highs, clear mids and punchy lows, all without any element overpowering the other. The soundstage is decent for the price, however they do suffer a bit from sibilance.

Their build quality is also fantastic and they are a great buy for people looking for a neutral sound signature at this price point.

10/10 SoundMagic ES 18

The Soundmagic ES18, available for around 600 rupees, are clearly the best earphones to go for if your budget is less than 700 bucks. In fact, they sound almost as good as earphones two times their price.

They come with a 1.2 metre cable and are available in both Red and Black. They have 10mm neodymium drivers, with a frequency range of 15 - 22,000 Hz and an impedance of 16 ohms. They come with a gold plated L-shaped 3.5mm headphone jack.

They are incredibly popular, and for a reason, as they deliver a crisp, detailed and well balanced sound. They are tuned for a neutral sound signature, and are not for those expecting extremely powerful bass. Bass lovers, at this price point should look towards the CX-180 instead.

The Soundmagic ES18 are my personal pick for earphones on a very tight budget, and their sound really does belie their price point. In fact, they have no business being available for such a low cost.

Features Writer at NDTV Gadgets 360. Past - Sub Editor at India Today Tech, Content Writer at TechRadar India.
A PG diploma holder in English Journalism from IIMC, New Delhi. Avid tech enthusiast, cinema buff, voracious reader and Formula 1 fanatic.