In the market for a new pair of earbuds or headphones? There are tons of options out there, and it can be hard to find the right pair for your budget. Whether you have less than $10 to spend, or you’ve saved up enough money for a $300 pair of headphones, there is something on this list that will appeal to both your sense of style and your acoustic sensibilities. Read on to see five headphone options that suit a variety of budgets and tastes.
1. Best Cheap Earbuds: JVC Gumy Plus Earbuds
Looking for the cheapest possible headphones? You can find a pair of these earbuds for around $7 online. And while they are definitely dirt cheap, they aren’t without merit. CNET featured these earbuds on their list of the best cheap headphones. They are available in a variety of colors, and they sounds very good for such cheap headphones. While the treble isn’t as solid as the bass, and there’s no inline mic, these are still a decent option for the budget-conscious.
Price: $6.99 (30 percent off)
2. Best Cheap Smartphone Earbuds: Moshi Mythro Earbuds
Need a new pair of earbuds to use with your iPhone? These might fit the bill nicely.
We’re a big fan of Moshi around here. We recently reviewed one of their cool laptop bags, and we featured their iVisor Glass screen protector in a roundup of our favorite iPhone 6 accessories. Their Myrtho earbuds were named best headphones for under $50 by CNET. The earbuds feature DR8 (8 mm) Neodymium drivers (15 Hz-20kHz / -10dB @ 1kHz), as well as a handy inline mic. There mic control lets you activate Siri, pause music, fast forward, or go back to the previous song. The mic also lets you control incoming calls, as well as managing call waiting.
Moshi also offers a free “burn-in” app to help break in your earbuds. By playing back a curated list of tones/frequencies, the Moshi Audio Burn-In Tool is designed to help headphone diaphragms to relax and reach their optimal level of sonic performance. Opinions are mixed about whether the burn-in process is worthwhile. WIRED ran an interesting piece a few years back arguing that burning-in is pointless, but some audiophiles still swear by it. I used Moshi’s tool to burn-in for the longest setting before listening to music through them.
Comparing Mythro against Apple’s own EarPods, I preferred the Moshi earbuds. For me, the Apple EarPods have never fit quite right. When I’m running, I often find myself pushing the earbuds back into place. In contrast, I found the Moshi earbuds fit my ear perfectly. They also come with two other soft ear tips, in the event that the default ear tips are a poor fit for you.
I found the highs and mids pretty similar between the EarPods and the Mythro earbuds, but I definitely noticed a difference in the bass. Whether its due to the quality of the earbuds themselves, or simply a side effect of fitting better, I found the bass to be more prominent when wearing Mythro earbuds.
When you consider you’re paying about the same for these earbuds as you would for a replacement pair of official Apple EarPods, I’d personally rather have a pair of Moshi Mythro earbuds. It’s a close call, but for me, Moshi takes the cake. If you need inexpensive earbuds that give you plenty of pumping bass while you hit the gym, these are a solid choice.
3. Best Sub-$100 Studio Headphones: AKG K240 Studio Semi-Open Headphones
Looking to spend about $80 for a nice pair of studio headphones? These headphones from AKG are designed to deliver solid bass, while still keeping the mids and highs perfectly balanced. The headband is self-adjusting, so it will fit a variety of head shapes comfortably. The headphones also look cool, which is important to some people. The frequency range is 15 Hz to 25,000 Hz, with 55 ohms impedance. That means they will be less prone to blow-outs than headphones with a lower impedance. These headphones can be used for recording, DJ work, or simply enjoying your favorite music.
Price: $71.99 (52 percent off)
4. Best ‘Cool’ Headphones Over $100: InnoWAVE Headphones
If you’re looking to spend between $100 and $150 on a pair of headphones, you’re probably looking for headphones that sound great. There are some people shopping in this price range who specifically seek out headphones with a “cool factor” in the design. If you’re looking for something that looks cool and sounds solid, the InooWAVE headphones are an intriguing option.
We were provided with a sample of these headphones for the purposes of this review. The InnoDevice brand is backed by award-winning designer YoungSe Kim, who has worked for big companies like LG and Samsung.
Here are some of the pertinent specs. The frequency response is 10Hz to 23,000Hz, with an impedance of 32 ohms. 40mm dynamic drivers fuel an output sound pressure level of 103dB. Overall, we found the sound to be decent, if a bit flat. The mids were solid, but the bass could have been beefier, and the highs a bit more crisp.
Fit is always hard to establish, since everyone’s head and ear shape are a bit different. For me, I found the top band a bit constricting. The ear cups weren’t as plush or deep as I would have liked, but others who wore the headphones found them very comfortable.
If you’re looking for alternatives in this price range, we recommend the Sennheiser HD 558 or Sennheiser HD 598 headphones. While they retail for a bit more than what a pair of InnoWAVEs cost, you can find the Sennheisers at deeply discounted prices online. They don’t look quite as cool, but they are well-reviewed.
5. Best $300 Headphones: PSB M4U 1
The Wirecutter has named these headphones the best $300 pair money can buy for two years running. The M4U 1 is essentially the same design as the award-winning M4U 2 headphones. The key difference is that M4U 2 headphones have better amplification and Active Noise Cancelling circuitry, which the M4U 1 lacks. These headphones fold up for easy storage, and there are self-adjusting replaceable ear pads for your comfort. The headphones are designed to give you the feeling that the music is being played right there in the room with you. If you want to drop serious money on some new headphones, these are one of the best pairs you can buy.
Price: $249 (17 percent off)