These days you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a good pair of headphones.
Whether you prefer to buy a pair of over-ear or inner-ear headphones, there’s plenty of choice for headphones under $20. Headphones today at this kind of price can offer plenty of modern-day functionality. They can also offer plenty of sound quality too.
Therefore, we decided to compile a list of six of the best headphones under $20. So, if you’re looking for headphones to use in your room at home, in the gym or out for a run, we hopefully will have you covered.
So, let’s get to it and find the perfect pair of affordable headphones for you…
Top 6 Best Headphones Under $20 To Buy 2021 Reviews
1 Koss UR20 Over-Ear Headphones, Flexible Sling Headband
For under $20, these aren’t bad at all. The headband is adjustable and will fit any size of head. The padding on the underside of the headband is made from a webbed material. It’s an unusual choice, but it works rather well.
Although the webbed material offers little in the way of padding, it is never the less comfortable. A big plus is that it’s also breathable. Not something that can be said for PU leather that’s more typically used.
The earcups do use PU leather. This means they’re not breathable and will leave your ears feeling a little warm after extended use. However, they’re nice and soft and feel comfortable to wear.
The headphones are bulky, so they’re not the kind of headphones you’re likely to want to take out on your trip to the gym or daily commute. They also lack any connectivity or microphone, so these are probably destined to stay in the house.
The headband has a slingshot design, which allows you to twist the earcup for one-eared listening. There’s no doubt that it’s useful, but unfortunately, it’s awkward and takes a lot of force to execute. This is no way as easy to use as a pair of headphones with 180-degree swivel capacity.
The overall build quality is fair for the price. You do, however, get a lot of plastic and cheap materials. You also get hinges that look a little on the flimsy side.
The frequency response is between 18Hz to 24,000Hz with an impedance of 16 ohms.
These are advertised as having studio sound – they don’t. It’s not that they sound bad, it’s just that the sound signature is too far from what you find in a good quality pair of studio headphones.
Studio headphones have a flat response with no bass coloring or enhancement. The Koss UR20 Over-Ear Headphones are bass-heavy. The enhancement of the bass isn’t as strong as on some headphones, but it’s too much for studio monitoring.
The Koss UR20 Over-Ear Headphones are great for listening to a wide range of music. The bass is punchy and forward though it can get a little muddy at higher volumes. The lower frequencies do drown out a little of the middle frequencies but not enough to lose all the detail.
They sound engaging when listening to hip hop but also for less bass-driven genres of music. These are a bit of an all-rounder and ideal for listeners with eclectic musical tastes.
- Comfortable around the ears.
- Breathable headband.
- Suitable for a wide range of music.
- Long cable.
- Do not have ‘studio sound’.
- One eared listening is difficult.
2 Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones
Behringer is a well-respected manufacturer in the music world and make some great audio products.
To have a set of Behringer headphones in the sub $20 category is awesome. These are another bulky set of none Bluetooth headphones. But unlike the Koss headphones, the Behringer headphones have a touch of class and style about them.
They have white plastic earcups and hinges with a hint of white detail on the headband. The top of the headband and the earcups have nicely emblazoned Behringer logos. They look kind of cool — definitely the best headphones under $20 when it comes to style.
The headband is not adjustable, so although it is fine for most users, if you have a very small or a very large head, it might not be suitable. The oval earcups, like the headband, are made from PU leather. They both feel soft and comfortable, even over extended periods of use.
For an inexpensive pair of headphones, these look better constructed than most in this price range. The plastics look durable, and the hinges look like they might get through more than a few months of abuse. What’s more, they even have a tangle-free cable – Nice!
You can’t have everything for this kind of price, and one of the least impressive areas about these headphones is the level of noise isolation. When listening to music you can still hear a significant amount of noise from outside. For a closed-back pair of headphones, we’d have expected a little better.
The sound, on the other hand, was actually better than we’re expecting. The bass is dynamic and involving. The lower frequencies are strong and full. The higher frequencies sound clear and transparent. The overall listening experience if energetic and exciting.
These are perfect for listening to high energy and bass-driven genres of music. If you like the kind of sound signature you get from Skullcandy or a pair of Beats, you’re going to like these too.
- Good build quality.
- Strong bass.
- Great styling.
- Tangle-free cable.
- Headband does not adjust.
3 Otium Bluetooth Headphones
These feature-packed headphones give plenty of bang for the buck. They are in-ear earbuds that fit around the top of the ear with a soft and pliable plastic hook. They’re joined together with a non-tangle cable. All the Bluetooth controls are directly on the right earbud.
They have three different sizes of ear tips to ensure the best fit. Once they’re in situ, they feel comfortable to wear over prolonged periods. They also feel secure and don’t feel like they’re ever going to fall out.
These are great to use at the gym, on your commute, or even out on your bike. Best of all, since they’re IPX7 rated, you don’t need to worry about them getting wet or covered in sweat. An IPX7 rating at this price is a real unexpected bonus.
The 4.1 Bluetooth connection was reliable, and the mic worked well, even in noisier environments. The controls on the right earbud are quite small but easy to use. You’re able to play, pause, or skip your tracks without having to reach for your phone.
On a full charge, they will give you up to 8 hours of playtime. Perfectly acceptable for earbuds. There is a charging light on the right earbud, and also a charge bar indicator will be displayed on your phone.
There’s no charging carrying case with these. That means you’ll have to make sure that they’re fully charged before venturing out. There is, however, a normal carrying case.
They sound quite bassy and have the distinctive modern sound we’re used to from modern headphones and earbuds. However, the bass does, at times, sound a little muddy when the volume is pushed. The trebles are clean and sound clear even at higher volumes, the mids are a little lacking, including vocals, which is no surprise with a bass-heavy set of earbuds.
If you’re down the gym, on your bike, or having a run in the park, these would be great. They’ll stay on your head and in your ears, they won’t break, and will keep you motivated with some punchy, exciting sound.
- IPX7 rating.
- Secure fit.
- Good Bluetooth connection.
- No chargeable carrying case.
- Middle frequencies are a little thin.
4 LETSCOM Bluetooth Headphones IPX7 Waterproof
The Letscom headphones are another great pair of workout headphones. And they come in a good choice of funky colors. We like the green and black ones we’re reviewing, but the pink and gray ones look a lot of fun too. Don’t worry if you’re a bit of a traditionalist; there are all black or black and gray versions available too.
The style and design of the Letcom headphones are similar to a lot of similar sports headphones at this price. Though we did find the headphones a little bulkier than some. They are in-ear with flexible plastic loops that fit over the ear and a cable connecting the two earbuds. They have four different sizes of ear tips included to help you get the best possible fit.
The overall quality is surprisingly good. Also, we think you’ll agree to have an IPX7 rating at this kind of low price is a bonus. You can sweat and throw water over yourself to your heart’s content, and these things will keep on working.
If you’re desperate to keep in touch with the office on your run or gym workout, these are Bluetooth connected. The mic and all the music controls are on the right earpiece. Although the buttons are small, they have to be, we found them easier to use on the Letscom than a lot of similar headsets. They just don’t seem to be quite as fiddly.
The Letscom Bluetooth Headphones have eight hours of battery life on a full charge. You can reach a full charge in two hours. This is perfectly reasonable at this price point.
Charging is via micro USB through the connection on the right earpiece. The Letscom headphones come with a soft case, so there’s no additional charging capability through a carrying case.
First of all, the noise canceling is good. They block out external sound, either at the gym or outside in the traffic, really well. When you want to totally immerse yourself in your workout, these are great.
They have an energetic and engaging sound signature, which is perfect for sports use. These are great for bass lovers and lovers of high energy music. They’re a solid choice for sporting use.
- Controls are easy to use.
- IPX7 rating.
- Lively sound signature.
- Good color variants.
- Use 4.1 Bluetooth.
- They’re a little bulky.
5 Bluetooth Headphones TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds
If you don’t like to have hooks around your ears, these are an excellent alternative for in-ear headphones. Although they’re not quite as secure as headphones fitted with ear hooks, they still don’t feel like they’re likely to come out.
As well as feeling snug and secure, they also feel comfortable. We think they feel more comfortable than headphones with ear hooks though this will be down to personal preference. One point to note is that if you wear sunglasses or glasses, these are a far better choice.
The TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds have an IPX6 rating. This means that you can’t immerse them in water or rinse them under the tap. However, they’re still resistant to sweat and will be fine to wear outside on a rainy day. The fact is that for most of an IPX6 rating on a pair of sports headphones is perfectly adequate.
All the controls for your music and microphone are on the in-line remote. The controls are easy to use, but the remote feels a little large, heavy, cheap, and plasticky.
The better news is that they use Bluetooth 5.0. This proved stable with zero dropouts or problems during use. It could be that Bluetooth 5.0 was given precedence over a higher IPX rating to get under the $20 mark. A good move in our book.
The battery life on these is awesome. You get an incredible 20 hours of playtime on a single charge. How on earth can they do this? These have to be the best headphones under $20 for battery life.
This is not just best in class, but it’s just about the best for any set of sports earbuds we’ve reviewed. If you need some long-playing time, you’ll find these hard to beat. The 2-hour full charge time ain’t bad either.
To save your battery when they are not in use, you simply place the two earpieces together, and they’ll connect by magnets. It’s a great idea we’ve seen on a few other earbuds, and it works well.
These aren’t all about the bass. The bass is still prominent, but it’s just that it isn’t as forward when compared to a lot of modern and sports headphones. If you want headphones with some heavy thumping bass, you need to look elsewhere.
The sound is nicely detailed, and vocals come through particularly well. If you like listening to less bass-driven music, these would be a great choice. They also are great on calls as the spoken voice comes through very clearly.
- Excellent battery life.
- Good Bluetooth connection.
- Clear vocals.
- Lacks bass.
- Heavy in-line remote.
6 Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones
The Hussar Magicbuds are a great budget pair of sports earphones.
We like the name, the design, branding, and the packaging. Hussar has put in a little thought into the product, for sure. The earphones look cool and even come with a nicely branded hard carrying case and climbing hook. We’re not sure what we’ll do with a climbing hook, but thanks anyway!
These are in-ear earphones with an over-ear hook. Like all of these kinds of earphones, they’re a super-secure and comfortable fit. Perfect for running, workouts at the gym, or cycling. The only real downside is that if you wear glasses, the ear hooks will get in the way of the eye-glasses temple tips.
These are fitted with Bluetooth 5.0, so you’re almost guaranteed to maintain a solid connection at all times. All the controls for your music, and the mic, are of course, on the right earpiece. They always are!
The Hussar earphones have a voice prompt. They give you voice notification of all incoming calls and numbers. You never need to miss a call again when you’re on the move.
These are IPX7 rated, so will take whatever water or sweat comes their way.
The Hussar earbuds are advertised as having a battery life between 7-9 hours. Isn’t that 8 hours then? Nearly every other set of earphones of this kind has a battery life of 8 hours. Why not just say 8 hours? Moving on…
The noise reduction technology works well. If you want to get immersed in the music and cut out the outside world, you can. Whether you’re using these in an urban environment or a noisy gym, you’ll easily be able to focus on your training.
They sound great at even relatively high volumes. There’s plenty of deep thumping bass, and the trebles are clear and detailed. The mids are a little thin, but other than that, they sound great. These are an excellent sounding pair of budget sports earphones.
- IPX7 rating.
- They look cool.
- Hard carrying case.
- Good noise canceling.
- Not a good choice if you wear glasses or sunglasses.
- Sound a little thin in the middle frequencies.
Also see: Best Headphones Under $1,000
Best Headphones Under $20 Buying Guide
Over-ear headphones are generally more suited for indoor and less rigorous use. Some over-ear have slim profiles and good modern connectivity. However, this isn’t the case with the two over-ear headphones we’ve reviewed.
Both are a little too bulky to be used for your daily commute or your trip to the gym. Additionally, neither have Bluetooth connectivity, so they lack the functionality required for headphones that are taken out and about.
If you want a slimline pair of headphones, with all the functionality, you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune. But for under $20, to get a highly functional, slimline over-ear headphones, was stretching the budget a little too far.
The good news is that the two over-ear headphones we featured had better quality bass, and overall sound quality, than their in-ear headphone rivals. Their greater size and increased driver diameters helped to deliver better sound.
Also, for stationary and non-sports activity, we found the over-ear design to be more comfortable.
One huge advantage of in-ear headphones is their weight, secure fit, and low profile. Because they’re light, it makes them ideal for sporting activities. If you’re a gym bunny, like walks in the park, running, or cycling, these are ideal. They’re also an inexpensive option to use for your daily commute.
As well as having a small profile, their design makes them more secure in the ear. This is perfect for any physical kind of activity or sport.
Another advantage of in-ear headphones is that they are easy to store. This gives them a huge advantage when it comes to portability. They’re easy to just slip in your bag or pocket.
If you need a hard-wearing and durable set of headphones, in-ear headphones are likely to offer more durability. Most in-ear headphones have some kind of sweat and water protection. If you’re using them for sport, an IPX7 rating will give you the most protection.
An IPX7 rating means they can be immersed in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, and they’ll still work. It doesn’t mean you can go swimming in them, but it does mean they’ll stand up to your sweaty workouts. They’ll all stand up to the times you get caught out in the rain.
At this kind of price, we didn’t expect any of the headphones to have a hard case. However, as it turns out, we were surprised to find that the Hussar earbuds come with a hard carrying-case as standard. A very handy extra to keep your headphones safe from any potential damage.
Only the in-ear headphones featured Bluetooth. All had reliable connectivity, but the one that gave the best rock-solid connection was the TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds. This used Bluetooth 5.0 and had zero dropouts during use.
The two over-ear headphones don’t need batteries or charging.
The four inner-ear headphones have battery lives between 8-20 hours. An 8-hour battery life on a full charge is fairly standard. The TaoTronics Wireless Earbuds had a whopping 20 hours battery life on a full charge.
Anything above 8 hours is a bonus. 20 hours is exceptional. Well played TaoTronics.
More Expensive Options
If, after reading through this, you’ve decided to extend your budget, then check out our review of the Best Headphones under 100 dollars currently available.
You may also be interested in our in-depth reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Bone Conduction Headphones, the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, and the Best Studio Headphones for Home Recording on the market.
So, there you have it.
Some excellent headphones for not a lot of money. If you are on a budget, the options are much less limited than you might have expected. Functionality, durability, and sound quality have never been better.
All the headphones we selected are great affordable options. However, the one that we’d recommend as or top pick is the…
We liked them because of the long 20-hour battery life, the rock-solid Bluetooth connection, and the clear vocals. We also liked the fact that when the sun comes out, you can put your sunglasses on without sacrificing comfort.