How to spend less than $100 on a pair of true wireless earbuds

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True wireless earbuds have gotten great over the past several years. The ones you typically hear about are super expensive, but there are some great budget options out there, such as the Creative Outlier Air, which offer fantastic battery life, great comfort, and superb sound quality for under $100.

Best Overall: Creative Outlier Air

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Battery life is one of the standout features of the Creative Outlier Air. Even compared to some high-end true wireless earbuds, the Outlier Air outperforms most of them with up to 10 hours of audio playback on the buds themselves. The included charging case nets you an additional 20 hours of audio playback, which equates to up to 30 hours listening time. The only real downside is that the case does not feature wireless charging, which is unfortunate.

Comfort is excellent, but only if they fit your ear. Unlike most other earbuds and true wireless earbuds, the Outlier Air only come with one extra set of ear tips in the box. Typically, earbud companies will include small, medium, and large ear tips in the box with the medium size coming pre-installed. Fortunately, a bud doesn’t shove too far into your ear, which means it may be easier to get a better seal.

The Outlier Air also have great sound quality. The low- and mid-bass are neutral and flat while the upper-bass and low-mids have a small boost, giving sounds such as male vocals and bass guitar a small boost. The mid-mids all the way up to the mid-treble are smooth and neutral, and while there’s not much upper-treble, the treble rolls off nicely. This gives you an overall balanced sound that has a small bass bias and instruments in the treble might sound slightly muffled, but most won’t be able to hear the difference.

The Outlier Air don’t feature a smartphone companion app, which means that what you see is what you get. Some earbuds will not feature a customizable equalizer, while others won’t let you change the media control scheme. Outlier Air don’t do either.

Pros:

  • USB-C for charging
  • IPX5 water resistant
  • Good comfort
  • Superb sound
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • No smartphone app
  • Only comes with one extra set of ear tips

Best Overall

Creative Outlier Air

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  • $70 from Amazon

Well rounded

The Creative Outlier Air have excellent battery life and sound at a great price. Just make sure they fit in your ear.

Best Battery Life: Back Bay Duet 50

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The Back Bay Duet 50 are great for those who value battery life above all else. They feature up to eight hours of audio playback on a single charge, which is pretty standard for most true wireless earbuds. However, the Duet 50 take it a step further with the included charging case, which offers an additional 32 hours. While the battery life is great, the Duet 50 still charges over the aging Micro-USB and has no support for wireless charging.

In terms of sound quality, they feature a V-shaped sound signature that equates to heavy bass and treble, along with a neutral midrange. While the bass and treble are elevated, they aren’t overbearing, so the bass won’t give you headaches and the treble isn’t fatiguing or piercing. The Duet 50 also feature Bluetooth 5.0, which is great for better efficiency and range. Unfortunately, Bluetooth 5.0 doesn’t improve in the audio department, so sound quality over Bluetooth should sound exactly the same compared to other earbuds with older versions of Bluetooth.

Comfort is excellent with the Duet 50. The buds are relatively lightweight and the ear tips are super soft and comfortable. They also come with multiple ear tip sizes in the box, which will help with fit. You likely won’t experience any sort of fatiguing or discomfort from wearing the Duet 50, even over long periods of time.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Superb, V-shaped sound
  • IPX5 water resistant
  • Excellent comfort
  • Bluetooth 5.0

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No wireless charging case

Best Battery Life

Back Bay Duet 50

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  • $45 from Amazon

Lasts forever

With up to 40 hours of battery life, the Duet 50 by Back Bay are an easy “set it and forget it” earbud.

Best Workout Buds: Soundcore Liberty Neo

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When looking for workout earbuds, one of the most important things to look for is how water resistant they are. Fortunately the Liberty Neo are IPX7 rated, which means you’ll be able to do intense workouts without worrying about them getting damaged. Just don’t swim with them, as they’re not rated for full submersion.

In terms of comfort, the Liberty Neo are excellent. They use a tip and wing mechanism to help with stability, comfort, and fit. You’ll get multiple tip and wing sizes in the box, which will help tremendously with finding the right combination that works for you. The earbud is rather light and don’t enter your ears too much, making them super comfortable even for those who traditionally don’t like in-ear earbuds.

Battery life on the Liberty Neo is mediocre at best with up to five hours of battery life on a single charge. The included charging case nets you up to 10 additional hours of listening, which brings the total to 15 hours. It’ll still last you a full work day (assuming you’re wearing them all day) and a few days if you don’t use them so regularly. Usually, true wireless earbuds get at least 20 hours of audio playback, at the very least, with most getting 24 hours. To add insult to injury, the Liberty Neo charge over Micro-USB with no support for wireless charging.

The Liberty Neo produce above average sound quality, but that won’t matter much when working out. The bass and mids are neutral and flat, and the treble is only slightly elevated, giving the Liberty Neo a slightly brighter sound signature overall. This means that sounds such as female vocals and hi-hats from drums will be elevated slightly. However, they fall short on dynamic range and soundstage. There’s not much depth or separation to the sound. Again, this is fine if you’re working out as you won’t be focusing on the music.

Pros:

  • IPX7 water resistant
  • Superb comfort
  • Great sound

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No wireless charging
  • Mediocre battery life

Best Workout Buds

Soundcore Liberty Neo

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  • $50 from Amazon

Flex those buds

Comfort and water resistance is super important for workout earbuds and the Soundcore Liberty Neo fit the bill perfectly.

Best Value: Letscom Wireless Earbuds

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If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, look no further than the Letscom Wireless Earbuds. Aside from the super generic name, the Letscom Wireless Earbuds are a fantastic option, especially at this price.

In terms of sound quality, the Letscom Wireless Earbuds are solid. Bass and midrange are neutral, and the treble is elevated quite a bit, sometimes making them sound piercing and fatiguing to the ear depending on how much treble is in that specific track. S’s and P’s may sound sharp and you may find it difficult to listen to. Dynamic range is excellent, and the soundstage isn’t the widest we’ve heard, but it’s decent enough that you can make out where instruments are spatially.

The biggest fault when it comes to the Letscom Wireless Earbuds are their battery life since they only get 3.5 hours of audio playback on a single charge. That’s not great. The bare minimum a true wireless earbud should have is at least 5 hours. However, they make up for it in the form of the included charging case, which nets you an additional 17.5 hours of audio playback, totaling 20 hours. Total playback time is actually comparable to most high-end true wireless earbuds. The case charges over Micro-USB and does not feature wireless charging of any sort.

Fortunately, the Letscom Wireless Earbuds are super comfortable. They come with multiple ear tip sizes in the box, and the bud itself doesn’t get shoved too far down your ear. The bud isn’t all that heavy either making them super comfy, even when using them for the full listening time.

Pros:

  • IPX5 water resistant
  • Long battery life (with case)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Superb comfort
  • Good sound

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No wireless charging case
  • Sound could be slightly piercing to the ear for some

Best Value

Letscom Wireless Earbuds

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  • $28 from Amazon

Comfy listening

The Letscom Wireless Earbuds are fantastic as long as you’re okay with only 3.5 hours of battery life.

Best Sound Quality: 1More Stylish True Wireless

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The 1More Stylish True Wireless are perfect for the person who’s looking for superb sound quality without breaking the bank. It’s not neutral, and there’s a noticeable bump in the entire bass region, but it’s not enough to drown out the mids and treble. Bass lovers will love these but those who are a fan for a fun, slightly off balanced sound will love them as well. Howeverm the most impressive part about the sound signature is the soundstage. While it won’t beat some of the more expensive true wireless earbuds, the Stylish True Wireless holds its ground. Ths soundstage is wide and spacious, making it very easy to pick out individual instruments and vocals.

In terms of battery life, the Stylish True Wireless perform exceptionally well with up to 6.5 hours on a single charge. The included charging case nets you an additional 17.5 hours of battery life, totaling up to 24 hours of audio playback with the bud and case. The case itself is relatively small and compact. You likely won’t have any issues with it fitting in your pocket or purse. Unfortunately, it still uses Micro-USB for charging and doesn’t feature wireless charging at all.

Comfort is excellentm too. They are super light and easy to get in and out of your ear. The earbud stays in your ear without issue. You’re unlikely to feel any sort of discomfort or fatiguing, even after long periods of time. You get multiple ear tip sizes in the box, which will help with fit.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Superb sound with wide soundstage
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No wireless charging case
  • Pricier than other options on this list

Best Sound Quality

1More Stylish True Wireless

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  • $90 from Amazon

Fantastic sound

The 1More Stylish feature great sound, long battery life, and excellent comfort for a great price.

Best Bass: TOZO T10

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Bass lovers rejoice, the TOZO T10 is the earbud you want if you’re looking for a ton of bass. The bass is obviously boosted quite a bit, giving the overall sound a warmer tone with a ton of thump and rumble, but not enough for the bass to be considered muddy or distorted. The midrange and treble are neutral and flat. Obviously, they’ll take a backseat to the bass but the presence is still there. Dynamic range is excellent, however, the soundstage is a bit weak thanks to the overpowering bass.

Battery life is the weakest link here. You get only 3.5 hours of audio playback on the bud and an additional nine hours from the included charging case. This means you’ll get a total of 12.5 hours of audio playback between the bud and case. In terms of charging, you get Micro-USB for wired charging but you do get Qi wireless charging, which is always welcome.

In terms of comfort, the T10 perform exceptionally well. The buds are super lightweight and don’t shove too far down your ears. They come with multiple ear tip sizes in the box, which should help with fit, and the ear tips are super soft and sit comfortably in your ear. It’s unlikely you’ll experience any sort of discomfort or fatiguing with the earbud, even over several hours of listening.

Pros:

  • Excellent, bass-heavy sound
  • IPX8 water resistance
  • Wireless charging capable!
  • Superb comfort

Cons:

  • Poor battery life
  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Bass

TOZO T10

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  • $50 from Amazon

Tons of bass

The TOZO T10 feature a wireless charging case, excellent bass-heavy sound, and superb comfort.

Bottom line

As we mentioned at the top, true wireless earbuds have gotten really great over the past few years and as a result, they’ve come down in price. A great example of this are the Creative Outlier Air, which are an awesome set of true wireless earbuds at an incredibly low price.

The Outlier Air offers up to 10 hours of battery life on the earbud alone, which is impressive on its own front. Most true wireless earbuds feature around 5-7 hours of battery life for the earbud, even high-end ones. To take it a step further, the Outlier Air’s case can charge up the earbud another two times, netting you a total of 30 hours of audio playback. They also feature great sound and superb comfort for long listening sessions.

How to choose the best cheap true wireless earbuds

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Just because the most popular true wireless earbuds are expensive doesn’t necessairly mean you have to pay a premium for a great set. When looking for any set of true wireless earbuds, your main focus should be sound quality because if they sound like crap, there’s no real point in getting them even if they’re the most stylish and comfortable earbud on the planet.

Otherwise, you’re looking at comfort and battery life. The latter can be a bit tricky with true wireless earbuds as there are a number of factors to take into account, including how long the bud lasts, how much extra juice you have with the charging case, and how long the bud takes to charge while in the charging case.

Sound Quality

Sound quality should be the top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn’t matter if they’re super comfortable or look pretty if you can’t hear what you want to listen to. Unfortunately, most true wireless earbuds trade sound quality for convenience and compactness, although that’s not always the case.

Our top three picks are earbuds that all sound great but have vastly different sound signatures. The 1More Stylish make the top of our list for having superb dynamic range and soundstage. They may have a slightly boosted bass but it’s not enough to bother most people. Our second pick is the TOZO T10, which feature really great sound but with much more bass. Our third pick is the Creative Outlier Air thanks to the more neutral sound signature. The Outlier Air are an excellent pick for those who want more accurate sound, even if it doesn’t have the greatest soundstage.

Best cheap true wireless earbuds, ranked by sound quality

1More Stylish True Wireless
TOZO T10
Creative Outlier Air
Soundcore Liberty Neo
Back Bay Duet 50

Comfort

True wireless earbuds are generally very comfortable since they don’t wear on your head and neck. For this reason, it’s very difficult to rank all of these true wireless earbuds because generally speaking anything on this list will be fantastic.

To take this a step further, most true wireless earbuds use standard ear tip sizes, which means even if the included ear tips don’t fit you or are super uncomfortable, you can do a quick Amazon search for better ear tips.

Best cheap true wireless earbuds, ranked by comfort

Creative Outlier Air
TOZO T10
1More Stylish True Wireless
Letscom Wireless Earbuds
Soundcore Liberty Neo

Battery Life

Battery life is by far the hardest thing to try to determine when looking at true wireless earbuds. Not only do you have to worry about the actual earbuds’ battery life, but the battery life on the charging case as well. Some true wireless earbuds have excellent bud battery life but awful charging case battery life or vice versa.

Our top pick is easy: the Bak Bay Duet 50. These offer up to eight hours of battery life on a single charge with the charging case offering an additional 32 hours of juice. This totals up to 40 hours of battery life between the bud and case.

The Creative Outlier Air take the second spot for offering up 10 hours of battery life with the buds, and an additional 20 hours with the charging case. This totals up to 30 hours of audio playback between the bud and case.

Best cheap true wireless earbuds, ranked by battery life

Back Bay Duet 50
Creative Outlier Air
1More Stylish True Wireless
Letscom Wireless Earbuds
Soundcore Liberty Neo

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Peter Cao spends more time than he’s willing to admit listening and analyzing music, headphones, or earbuds. When not on the clock, he’s probably still doing the same, playing basketball or playing video games.