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How to spend less on a pair of wireless earbuds

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Earbud prices can run all over the place. The ones you typically hear about most often are super expensive. Still, there are some great budget options out there, such as the Creative Outlier Air V3, which offer fantastic battery life, exceptional comfort, and superb sound quality. But besides those, we’ve done the research and gathered some of the best cheap true wireless earbuds for any style and budget.

Best overall: Creative Outlier Air V3

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It’s hard to beat the Outlier Air V3 on battery life. Even compared to the best wireless earbuds, they outperform most of them with up to 10 hours of audio playback per charge at default volume. Add another three charges in the case, and you’ve got about 40 hours of total listening time. Creative also finally added wireless charging, making charging easier when you don’t want to plug in.

Creative largely based the design on the previous Outlier Air V2, which are a little bigger, though used the same ear tips for improved fit and comfort. It also gives you a better seal to trap in more bass and preserve as much soundstage as possible. The codec support includes aptX and AAC for excellent compatibility on top of that — another plus for a pair of earbuds that sound so much better than their price implies. And you finally get an Ambient Sound mode to hear your surroundings, as well as an active noise reduction setting that does muffle some of that background noise.

While Creative did throw in its excellent Super X-Fi technology again, it still doesn’t work with most content that would benefit from it. For example, you can only apply it to its music and video files stored on your device rather than something you would stream. It also replaced physical buttons on the earbuds with touch controls that are just OK.

Another plus is that Creative also delivers on a companion app that offers some decent settings, including a pretty long list of equalizer presets that even includes some popular video games. With all that in play, the Outlier Air V3 are one of the best budget pairs we’ve heard right out of the box, so that counts for something.

Pros:

  • Great audio quality
  • Ambient mode works well
  • Excellent battery life
  • Comfortable fit
  • Improved touch controls
  • Wireless charging support

Cons:

  • Super X-Fi too limited
  • Not fully noise-canceling
  • Bulky case

Best overall

Creative Outlier Air V3

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  • $60 at Amazon

Well rounded

Creative adds a couple of key features to the Outlier Air V2, making them a fantastic choice for those who want to save money.

Best value: Anker Soundcore Life P3

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There’s no doubt that the Creative Outlier Air are some of the very best true wireless earbuds you can buy. Still, if you’re looking for something different, Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 stand out as effective alternatives. They have ANC and a comfortable design that should work for most ears. The IPX5 rating doesn’t make them all that rugged, so you will have to be careful, but there’s a lot to like about how these earbuds perform.

They have larger drivers that kick out really good audio quality with deep bass and lively highs that are an impressive package at this price. Creative holds an edge in overall sound quality, but these are more than capable of serenading your ears and are better at nullifying background sounds. Unlike Creative’s pair, these have ANC, and it’s surprisingly good for budget buds.

It’s also nice to have the Soundcore app to alter the sound through the equalizer or make other adjustments. A sturdy Bluetooth connection and effective mics also keep phone calls going when you need them to.

Rounding out the experience is decent battery life at up to six hours of playback with ANC on (seven with it off) and another 28 hours in the case, keeping the audio going for a reasonable amount of time. Those numbers are also relative to volume levels, so keep pumping it up, and you’re not going to crack those higher battery numbers.

Pros:

  • Good sound quality
  • Surprising ANC performance
  • Pretty comfortable fit
  • Decent battery life
  • Solid app support
  • Wireless charging support

Cons:

  • Weaker mid-range sound
  • Not especially durable

Best value

Anker Soundcore Life P3

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$80 at Amazon $80 at Walmart

Serious value

With good sound and noise cancelation, among other pros, the Soundcore Life P3 are a real bargain for what they deliver.

Best upgrade: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

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The purpose of this article is to highlight true wireless earbuds that sound great, work as intended, and come in at a low price. Our next pick is the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2, and if you’re in the market for a higher-end earbud experience that doesn’t have an outrageous price tag, it could be an excellent fit.

Right off the bat, the Liberty Air 2 sound wonderful. The earbuds feature “diamond-inspired drivers” and a “premium TPU diaphragm,” which translates to a wide soundstage and deep bass. So no matter what kind of music you’re listening to on the Liberty Air 2, it’ll sound great. We’re especially fond of Anker’s HearID feature, which customizes your listening experience based on your hearing sensitivity. Phone call quality could be better, and indeed, Anker did improve that with the more expensive Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro, but your results may vary here.

There are plenty of other features outside of the audio side, such as 28-hour battery life, Qi wireless charging, touch controls, and the ability to use either earbud on its own for mono playback. However, when it comes to getting a premium listening experience, the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 deliver that for a lot less money than other companies out there.

Pros:

  • High-quality sound with deep bass
  • Audio is personalized for your ears
  • Total battery life of 28 hours
  • Robust touch controls
  • Qi wireless charging

Cons:

  • Phone calls could be better

Best upgrade

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Wireless Earbuds

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

Spoil yourself

These push the limits of “cheap,” but the Liberty Air 2 deliver a super high-end experience for less than the competition.

Best for tight budgets: Back Bay Audio Tempo 30

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Back Bay Audio hails from Boston, and its main claim to any fame is offering more for a lot less. The Tempo 30 are ready to play, focusing mainly on two key areas to stand out. First is the audio quality, which prioritizes bass — hardly a surprise for a pair of inexpensive buds — yet offers other ways to listen, too. Bass Mode is, as it implies, pushing the lows to rumble more for a deeper sound profile. There’s also a Game Mode that reduces lag to make audio and video sync up better when playing games or watching shows and movies.

Getting the right sound is easier when you have no less than six different ear tips to choose from, and their smaller size should fit most ears relatively easily. Despite the audio focus, there are no extras, like ANC or ambient sound, so you won’t have any way to block outside noise. With a tight seal, though, you do get pretty good passive noise isolation.

Touch controls aren’t bad, all things considered, and you will have to learn how to consistently switch between modes, but otherwise, these earbuds are pretty straightforward. The second thing that makes them stand out is the IPX7 water resistance. So if you want cheaper buds to work out or run in, these may be right up your alley. Just don’t go swimming with them.

And battery life? The Tempo 30 can go up to eight hours per charge, depending on volume levels, with the case adding another 24 hours. So you can charge them up via USB-C pretty quickly, except there’s no way to fast charge them in a pinch.

Pros

  • Great sound for the price
  • Bass and Game modes
  • 32 hours of total battery life
  • IPX7 water-resistance
  • Solid Bluetooth connection
  • Extremely affordable

Cons

  • No fast charging
  • No ambient mode for runners

Best for tight budgets

Back Bay Audio Tempo 30

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$45 at Amazon

Very cheerfully cheap

The price is very right for these insanely affordable earbuds that offer way better sound than you might expect.

Best underdog: SoundPEATS T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds

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If you’re reading this and have no idea what SoundPEATS is, don’t fret. It’s a relatively small and obscure company that’s been creating top-notch audio gear since 2010. When it comes to cheap true wireless earbuds, one of the best options comes from SoundPEATS.

Looking at the T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds, there’s a lot to like off the bat. These earbuds sound better than their price would indicate, for starters, thanks to 12mm drivers that really do turn out good audio playback. Turn on ANC, and performance continues to get better, helping round out a solid package. Comfort is pretty good, though their size isn’t as sleek as others are, so you may find them sticking out a bit more.

Battery life is impressive at up to 10 hours per charge and up to eight hours if you leave on ANC. The case includes an extra two charges, and its size is small enough to take with you just about anywhere. USB-C charging ensures you won’t need a Micro-USB cable anymore. When you run out of juice, plug in for an hour, and you should be good to go.

Pros

  • Good sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Smaller charging case
  • Solid battery life
  • Decent ANC and Transparency modes

Cons

  • Not very rugged

Best underdog

SoundPEATS T2 Hybrid ANC Wireless Earbuds

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$60 at Amazon $50 at Newegg

Not your first choice, but worth a good look

You may not know SoundPEATS, but the company makes some of the best cheap true wireless earbuds.

Best battery life: Tribit FlyBuds C1

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For someone that’s always on the move and needs earbuds that aren’t always running out of juice, the Tribit FlyBuds C1 are an easy pair to like. Where most wireless earbuds reach a limit, either for the earbuds themselves or what the case can manage, the FlyBuds C1 are adept at both. They can play for up to 12 hours per charge, while the case gives you 50 hours total.

It’s not that Tribit has set or broken a record, but it is a combination that keeps audio playing for longer than most, regardless of what they cost. The beauty of this is that the case itself isn’t massive, so you get longevity without the extra bulk to go with all that juice. Part of what enables the FlyBuds C1 to hit these numbers is that they don’t have ANC or ambient modes. Unfortunately, they don’t have a dedicated app to customize the sound, either.

Despite that, they do sound good on their own, and other elements, like call quality, comfort, and durability, hold up well to round out a good overall performance for a pair of budget buds.

Pros

  • Good audio quality
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Comfy fit with extra tips
  • Pretty durable
  • Decent call quality
  • Affordable price

The Bad

  • No ANC or ambient modes
  • Can get a little loose
  • No wireless charging
  • No dedicated app

Best battery life

Tribit FlyBuds C1

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$70 at Amazon

Keep going, and going, and going

For earbuds that can last an insanely long time in between charges, the Duet 50 Pro’s 130 hours of usage time is the tops.

Best comfort: EarFun Air Pro

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If the images don’t do them justice, you can wear the EarFun Air Pro and feel that they’re as comfortable a pair as you’ll find out in the market. That’s not always the case with earbuds that only offer three ear tip sizes, but even so, odds are good you’ll find one of those three suits your ears just fine.

Granted, EarFun is hardly the only brand with comfy earbuds, but the Air Pro are a nice combination of form, function, and feature set. Not only are they great for longer listening sessions, but they also produce quality sound for the price. With ANC and ambient modes available, they’re ready to either block outside noises or let them in to help you hear surroundings. These modes aren’t going to be on par with more expensive earbuds, but the results are easy to appreciate for what you pay.

That also matters for phone calls. The greater comfort means you can keep these on to take any calls. And when you do, you’ll find the six-mic array does a good job keeping voices clear and audible throughout. Battery life is up to seven hours with ANC turned on. Keep it off, and that goes up to nine hours. The case gives you at least another two charges (and a little extra), but no wireless charging, sadly.

Pros

  • Outstanding comfort
  • Good audio for the price
  • Good ANC and ambient modes
  • Decent battery life
  • Excellent call quality

Cons

  • No wireless charging

Best comfort

EarFun Air Pro Wireless Earbuds

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$68 at Amazon

No sore ears here

Planning to use your earbuds for hours on end? Make sure your ears stay nice and comfy with the EarFun Free!

Best workout buds: Treblab X3 Pro

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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 Treblab X3 Pro are IPX7 rated, which means you’ll be able to do some intense workouts without worrying about whether you’re going to damage them in the process. Just don’t swim with them, as they’re not rated for full submersion.

The X3 Pro should feel lightweight and secure in terms of comfort, thanks to the ear hooks that keep them in place. It’s a design that does wonders for stability, comfort, and fit, making it easier to wear them for more extended periods or when you’re particularly active, like during a run, for instance. So long as you get the proper seal with at least one pair of ear tips out of the box, you will see just how good these earbuds can get.

Larger drivers, plus an obviously bass-heavy audio profile, make them sound great for the crowd looking for power. Of course, they aren’t going to sound anything like balanced audiophile earbuds, but that’s not really the point. You want tunes to pump you up while you break a sweat? These can manage that just fine.

Battery life is impressive at up to nine hours per charge, with an extra 36 hours coming from the case. No wireless charging, though USB-C charging should get you back up and playing in short order. Without ANC and ambient modes, battery life is only really affected by how loud the volume is.

Pros:

  • IPX7 water-resistant
  • Secure and comfortable fit
  • Punchy audio with deep bass
  • Charges with USB-C
  • Solid battery life

Cons:

  • No ANC or ambient mode
  • Not rated for swimming

Best workout buds

Treblab X3 Pro

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  • From $70 at Amazon

Flex those buds

Comfort and durability are super important for workout earbuds, and the Treblab X3 Pro fit that need.

Best hook design: JLab Audio Epic Air Sport ANC

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JLab Audio made the Epic Air Sport ANC rugged enough to handle regular workouts and runs, thanks to the IP66 rating. They’re just not meant for exposure to water, so keep them as dry as possible. The ear hooks are flexible enough to feel comfortable on just about any pair of ears, and with six pairs of ear tips in the box, you’re bound to find something that works.

Getting that passive noise isolation only benefits the onboard ANC to block out the background when you want to hear little else than your music, podcast, or audiobook. The Be Aware mode is JLab’s ambient setting when you want to pipe in some of the background to stay aware of your surroundings, especially when out for a run or talking to someone.

The sound comes off as balanced, with an extra boost for the bass, though you can change that in JLab’s Air ANC app, where you can adjust ANC controls and sound through the included equalizer. JLab claims up to 15 hours of battery life per charge, albeit with ANC off. Keep it on, and the number is still an excellent 10 hours per charge. And when you need to charge, you can use the cable built into the case or set it down on a Qi charger for wireless charging.

Pros:

  • Solid audio quality
  • IP66 sweat resistance
  • Various ear tips and sizes
  • Excellent app support
  • Long battery life for workouts
  • ANC and ambient modes

Cons:

  • Don’t swim with them
  • Bulkier design may not be for everyone

Best hook design

JLab Audio Epic Air Sport ANC Headphones

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$80 at Amazon $100 at Best Buy

Gonna make you sweat

JLab prioritizes sweat resistance, comfort, customizable sound, and battery life with the Epic Air Sport ANC.

Best sound quality: 1More Stylish True Wireless

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The 1More Stylish True Wireless are perfect for the person 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 of a fun, slightly off-balanced sound will also love them. However, 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. The soundstage is wide and spacious, making it very easy to pick out individual instruments and vocals.

The Stylish True Wireless performs exceptionally well with up to 6.5 hours on a single charge in terms of battery life. 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. So 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 excellent 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 discomfort or fatigue, even after long periods. 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 Earbuds

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  • $57 at Amazon $40 at Walmart

Fantastic sound

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

Best noise-canceling: Mpow X3

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Noise cancellation is a great feature offered by some headphones, but it’s something we don’t often see with true wireless earbuds — let alone ones that are considered cheap. That’s why the Mpow X3 are so interesting.

The Mpow X3 come with fully-fledged active noise cancellation, allowing you to block out 28dB worth of background noise. Of course, it’s not as effective as expensive over-ear headphones, but for minimizing the noise of a dishwasher, vacuum, or air conditioner, the X3 work great. You’re also treated to excellent sound quality, with the 10mm drivers giving you a pleasant and balanced listening profile with crisp clarity.

Rounding out the experience are a few other goodies — namely, 27 hours of total battery life, USB-C charging, and Bluetooth 5.0 for a stable wireless connection. Mpow’s plastic charging case isn’t the best we’ve ever encountered, but it gets the job done.

Pros

  • Comfortable in-ear fit
  • Active noise cancellation
  • 27 hours of total playback time
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • USB-C for charging

Cons

  • Plastic case feels cheap

Best noise-canceling

Mpow X3 ANC Bluetooth Earphones

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From $40 at Mpow

Focus on what matters — your music

Noise cancelation isn’t something we usually see in cheap wireless earbuds, making the Mpow X3 very cool.

Best bass: TOZO T6

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Bass lovers rejoice! The TOZO T6 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. They’ll take a backseat to the bass, but the presence is still there. The dynamic range is excellent; however, the soundstage is a bit weak, thanks to the overpowering bass.

Battery life is also quite strong, with the T6 lasting up to six hours for continuous use and the charging case providing another 24 hours of battery life — a total package of 30 hours! The Micro-USB charging port isn’t ideal, but you can ignore it and use Qi wireless charging instead.

In terms of comfort, the T6 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. As a result, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any discomfort or fatigue with the earbud, even over several hours of listening.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • AirPods rip-off design

Best bass

TOZO T6 True Wireless Earbuds – Black

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  • $35 at Amazon $64 at Walmart

Tons of bass

The TOZO T6 feature a wireless charging case, excellent bass-heavy sound, and superb comfort.

Bottom line

As we mentioned at the top, the best wireless earbuds have gotten much better over the past few years, with a resulting drop in prices to go with that. The Creative Outlier Air V3 are a great example of that, proving themselves to be awesome true wireless earbuds at an incredibly low price.

The Outlier Air V3 offer up to 10 hours of battery life on the earbuds alone, which is impressive unto itself. Most true wireless earbuds end up with around five to seven hours of battery life per charge — even high-end ones. To take it a step further, the Outlier Air V3 case can charge up the earbuds another three times, netting you 40 hours of audio playback. Pretty good times when you get great sound and superb comfort for those long listening sessions.

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.

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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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