Saturday, June 22, 2024

The best Bluetooth headphones for under $50



Finding a headphone jack on a phone now is rare. Chances are, your phone doesn’t have one — leaving you to go the wireless route to keep the music playing. If your need coincides with a tight budget, the COWIN E7 is your best starting point to get a set of great, all-around Bluetooth headphones. Here are some of our top choices for the best Bluetooth headphones under $50.

Best Overall: COWIN E7


For something at this price range, the COWIN E7 offers dependable sound quality that is, not surprisingly, centered around the bass. It’s a boosted sound that may not be for everyone, partly because the thump and rumble seem purposely tuned to be a little over the top. Don’t worry, though, COWIN did the same with the mid-range, which is one reason why these feel loud out of the box. Treble holds its presence, but it’s playing a support role in the deeper parts of the audio spectrum.

That they support active noise cancelation (ANC) is somewhat surprising at this budget-conscious price, but it’s here. It naturally won’t match the efficiency of what premium ANC headphones can do, but still a value-added feature by any stretch.

What’s crazier is that the E7 can stay on for up to 30 hours on a single charge. Some headphones costing a lot more don’t even come close. Playing audio with that kind of time on your side, you can go for days without worrying about the battery dying out. Even with ANC on, the battery holds up well. It is a shame they charge via Micro-USB—annoying when your phone has moved onto USB-C, but the good battery life does help mitigate how often you charge. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring the cable with you.

The E7 are a bit on the heavier side, but aren’t necessarily uncomfortable. They’ll sit on your head nicely, reducing any fatigue, though your overall mileage may vary based on their weight.


  • Good ANC performance for the price
  • Long battery life
  • Great comfort
  • Affordable price


  • Treble is subdued
  • Heavier than most over-ears

Best Overall



From $60 at Amazon $70 at Newegg

Excellent battery life at a low price

If battery life and cost savings are your primary concern, the E7 from COWIN is your best bet.

Best True Wireless: JLab JBuds Air


True wireless earbuds can truly feel liberating, and JLab did a fine job relaying that notion with the JBuds Air. They come with many of the trappings you’d expect from a true wireless pair, like auto on/off and play/pause, and independent earbud audio playback. That means you can just use one earbud for phone calls or to keep an ear open for outside noise. With IP55 dust and water-resistance, the JBuds Air can go on a run or long workout session, even if it starts raining.

Sound quality doesn’t offer anything particularly surprising. The sound profile skews toward a boosted bass and treble, except the bass is extremely dependent on a tight seal with the earbud to stand out by utilizing the different-sized ear tips and ear hooks in the box. The treble doesn’t pierce through a whole lot, either. Still, it all comes through with a solid dynamic range, even if the soundstage isn’t as wide as other true wireless earbuds.

On their own, the earbuds will last up to four hours on a single charge, while the charging case adds 14 hours. In keeping with JLab’s style, the case has an integrated charging cable, so would have to be careful handling it, but even if it’s damaged for any reason, you can replace the case entirely for just $10.


  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IP55 dust and water-resistant
  • True wireless
  • Fun bass and treble boosted sound
  • Ear tips and ear hooks


  • Non-detachable cable
  • Short battery life

Best True Wireless

JLab JBuds Air


$44 at Amazon $50 at Best Buy $40 at Walmart

Cutting off all cables for less

The JBuds Air are cheaper true wireless earbuds offering stellar sound quality, a great seal, and superb comfort.

Best Active Noise-Canceling: TaoTronics SoundSurge 90


Taotronics likes to play in the budget arena, and the SoundSurge 90 are very much in play that way. The main feature is the ANC support, which is reliable in a very bang-for-your-buck kind of way. It won’t match the performance of more premium cans capable of canceling outside noise, but the effect is certainly still there. It does well with consistent low-frequency droning sounds, like an engine or fan, but struggles more with higher-pitched tones.

They have a sound signature that veers toward the bass, though it’s immediately obvious that the treble is equally boosted to balance things out. That’s one reason why they may be a bit loud out of the box, but also why the mids aren’t as pronounced here. You will get a warm sound with some sharpness, depending on the genre you’re listening to. All told, however, these headphones sound better than their price would indicate.

Battery life is off the charts, netting you up to 35 hours of battery life on a single charge, or 30 hours with ANC turned on. Fast charging support gives you up to two hours of playback with only a five-minute charge. It takes only 45 minutes to go from empty to full. That’s courtesy of USB-C, adding to the convenience of using the same cable your phone does.


  • Great sound quality
  • Long battery life
  • Solid ANC performance
  • Foldable design
  • USB-C charging


  • Treble sometimes oversharpens
  • A little fragile

Best Active Noise-Canceling

TaoTronics SoundSurge 90


$50 at Amazon

Travel-friendly headphones

Getting ANC at this price is hard enough, but it only sounds sweeter with great sound quality, battery life, and portability.

Best Over-Ear: Mpow H17


Mpow has usually preferred to go with a fairly balanced soundstage on its ‘H’ series headphones, and the H17 follows that same path. You get a boosted bass presence that is punctuated by warm treble and mids. The signature belies the price you pay to wear these headphones, and that’s already a good omen for the rest of the feature set here. Not to mention the few colors you get to choose from, including a rose pink variant that would be a hit with women and girls.

The over-ear design does offer some decent passive noise isolation, though you may find the fit to be a little tight. Or you might not. In either case, the Mpow H17 is on the lighter side, and they fold up nicely when you want to take them with you. The ANC support is solid, focusing mainly on low-frequency sounds. You might hear an audible buzzing sound when not listening to music or podcasts, whereas other times you won’t. It is very much hit or miss that way.

Battery life is almost ridiculous at up to 45 hours per charge. Mind you, that’s with ANC off, but even if you have it on, you’re easily cracking 30 hours anyway. With USB-C onboard, a 10-minute quick charge gets you two hours of playback.


  • Good soundstage
  • ANC support
  • Really long battery Life
  • Foldable, portable design
  • Various color options
  • Fast charging


  • Could fit a bit tight
  • Plastic build

Best Over-Ear

Mpow H17


$50 at Amazon

Covering your ears

The Mpow H17 feels comfortable and lasts up to 45 hours per charge, with great sound and a few color options.

Best On-Ear: Skullcandy Riff

On-ear headphones are something of a compromise in that they don’t fully block outside noise, nor do pinch the ears like over-ears might do. The Skullcandy Riff have the comfort part down, given that you can probably wear these for hours and not complain about it. The price is on par with the build quality, which is a mix of metal and plastic that doesn’t feel premium at all.

You will get good sound out of the Riff, courtesy of slightly boosted bass that reveals itself most in quieter confines. The highs and mids are more pronounced, which is hardly surprising because of the lack of passive noise isolation. Ambient sound filters consistently, making these fine to wear if you want to know your surroundings, but not so much if you really want to dive into the music. The Bluetooth connection is solid, except it’s also your only option. There is no wired playback here.

Battery life is a respectable 12 hours, and you can get two hours of playback with just a 10-minute quick charge. The only downside is that you’d be charging over Micro-USB, not USB-C.


  • Solid audio quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Lightweight build
  • Long battery life


  • No real passive noise isolation
  • No option for wired playback
  • Micro-USB charging

Best On-Ear

Skullcandy Riff


$38 at Amazon $40 at Best Buy From $20 at Walmart

Listening inside and out

The Riff offers solid sound, excellent battery life, and provide an overall comfortable listening experience.

Best Workout Buds: Anker Soundcore Spirit X


The Anker Soundcore Spirit X were renewed in 2019 and that included upgrading some of the key features. You get a modest IP68 rating for a decent level of durability, meaning you can break a sweat working out, run in the rain, or even accidentally drop them in water. Anker particularly points to its “SweatGuard” protection from sweat-induced damage, but you should wipe them down after every activity so you’re ready for the next run or workout.

It helps that they’re comfortable and secure in your ears, too. The ear hook and bud design are done with placement in mind, so these aren’t supposed to move much while you’re moving. Granted every pair of ears is different, but Anker tried to make these stay still during intense activity. With Bluetooth 5.0 onboard, you can count on a stable connection to your phone.

They do sound good for what you’re paying, especially with the emphasis being placed on bigger sound. There’s some thump and rumble here, with a balanced mid-range and uneven treble, but it’s highly dependent on the kind of seal you get when they’re in your ears. It’s a sound profile that probably won’t wow from the start, though does stay consistent. The shame is that they aren’t compatible with Anker’s solid Soundcore app, which would have offered an equalizer for a more personalized sound.

Unfortunately, as with many other headphones at this price, you will have to charge them with Micro-USB instead of USB-C. But battery life is excellent at up to 18 hours per charge. That guarantees a few workouts before having to charge them up again.


  • Bluetooth 5.0 support
  • Long battery life
  • Good sound signature
  • SweatGuard resistance
  • Should fit most ears


  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Uneven bass response

Best Workout Buds

Anker Soundcore Spirit X


$30 at Amazon $30 at Walmart

Flexible workout earbuds

With IP68 water resistance, 18 hours of battery life, and agreeable sound, it’s hard to say no at this price.

Best Battery Life: Tribit XFree Tune


Long battery life is a convenient feature unto itself, and the Tribit XFree Tune fits the bill with up to 40 hours on a single charge. That should keep you listening to music and spoken word content for a full week. It’s just unfortunate you will have to keep a Micro-USB cable handy for charging, as there’s no USB-C support.

They also have a high degree of comfort, where the headband and ear cups shouldn’t pose a problem over long periods of use. The ear cups are large enough to accommodate big ears. When you want to put them away, the cups fold up nicely for a more compact size when you need to take them with you somewhere.

You can expect above-average sound, with deep and punchy bass, balanced mid-range, and boosted treble all combining for a decent soundstage. They are lively, so if you want something that plays a little louder and crisper right out of the box, these are worth a listen.


  • Really long battery life
  • Comfortable for longer use
  • Great sound
  • Fold up for easier transport


  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Battery Life

Tribit XFree Tune


$40 at Amazon

Long listening sessions

The Tribit XFree Tune last quite a long time with up to 40 hours of use on a single charge and sound great doing it.

Best Comfort Buds: Mpow Flame


When comfort trumps all else, the Mpow Flame should have you covered. The ear hook and bud design are made for greater stability so that when you wear these, they don’t fall out of place. Part of the reason for that is because of the IPX7 rating, which makes these well suited to working out or going for a run.

There aren’t too many surprises with how they sound. The Flame feature boosted bass and treble, where both sides of the audio spectrum are louder by default. It does make the mids a little muddy, drowned out to some degree by the highs and lows. If you’re looking for a thumpy sound at the gym, you will appreciate how these come through.

Battery life is decent at up to nine hours of playback. You will have to make do with Micro-USB to charge them, which should take about 90 minutes from empty to full — a rarity to see faster charging at this price.


  • Comfortable and stable
  • Bass boosted, V-shaped sound
  • Long battery life
  • Fast charging
  • Should stay in most ears


  • Mids sound muddy
  • Micro-USB for charging

Best Comfort Buds

Mpow Flame


From $19 at Amazon $23 at Walmart $31 at Newegg

Comfortable listening

The Mpow Flame is durable and super comfortable with bass-boosted sound, plus respectable battery life.

Bottom line

Great headphones come in all shapes and sizes. But they also come at different price ranges, as evidenced by this list. Just because headphones are cheap doesn’t mean they’re bad. Getting more for less always feels like a win, and that’s one of the best ways to describe the sound quality, comfort, and battery life with this group of the best Bluetooth headphones under $50.

The COWIN E7 are a solid example. They cover most of the bases with excellent sound quality, ANC support, and 30 hours of battery life — all at a price you can afford.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide


Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.

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