It’s easy to see what the fuss is about once you find the right pair of true wireless earbuds. They’re portable, powerful, and you never have to worry about cables getting yanked from your ears. However, they can tend to get pricey for a high-end setup — Bose’s and Sony’s best sets can run you over $200. We’re not here to break the bank, so let’s take a look at the best true wireless earbuds for under $50.
The best true wireless earbuds under $50:
- Edifier TWS 1
- Mobvoi TicPods Free
- JLab Go Air
- Creative Outlier Air
- 1More Piston Buds
1. Edifier TWS 1
Edifier’s TWS 1 earbuds stick to the simple side, and that allows them to keep their priorities straight. Heck, Edifier didn’t even give the buds a creative name or anything. The TWS 1 are IPX5 rated so you can wear them for a workout, and the earbuds themselves are light as a feather. You should manage around seven hours and 10 minutes of playback on a single charge, but don’t expect a speedy recharge with the included micro-USB charging case.
The TWS 1 offers a solid connectivity range thanks to Qualcomm’s powerful technology which should give you a range of about 10 meters. We never experienced lag or latency in our testing, and we found that the TWS 1 automatically pairs to the last device you used each time you open the charging case.
For a pair of truly wireless earbuds that cost under $50, the TWS 1 delivers respectable sound quality. They have an overall neutral sound profile with a consumer-friendly bass boost that’s perfect for most listeners. Isolation is fine — there’s no noise-canceling — but you’ll have better luck tuning out high-pitched sounds rather than low-pitched ones. The microphone is nothing to write home about but it’ll do for the sub-$50 category.
2. Mobvoi TicPods Free
As far as cheap earbuds go, the Mobvoi TicPods Free offer great isolation. They block out high-frequency noise very well. You’ll get the same consumer-friendly frequency response as most earbuds under $50, which means there’s plenty of bass to go around. The high frequencies suffer a bit though, and you can’t take advantage of mono listening, which may be an issue for the hearing impaired.
They’re IPX5 rated for water resistance, and automatic ear detection stops playback if you lose an earbud on accident. Mobvoi’s TicPods Free pack smart controls and you can activate your smart assistant easily in case you want to change songs in the middle of a workout. The stemmed design is comfortable, but the ear tips tend to run a bit small so you may need a pair of third-party tips. You won’t be blown away with just 3 hours, 35 minutes of battery life, but at least the charging case adds another charge cycle.
3. JLab Go Air
JLab’s Go Air earbuds are another great true wireless option for under $50. They’re IP44 rated, so they stand up better to dust than the previous pairs, though you’ll have to be more careful around water. JLab managed to craft a lightweight yet durable pair of buds, so they should survive a drop or two. If they do happen to break, you still won’t break the bank to replace them.
The charging case features an open design, which is a little odd, but the case itself is one of JLab’s best features. It packs an integrated charging cable that’s tested for 10,000 bends, so you can keep your battery topped up and ready.
JLab Go Air microphone demo:
JLab’s Go Air earbuds have decent connectivity, and the 4 hours, 5 minutes of battery life is just fine. They feature quick charging capabilities, so you should at least get back to full-strength in a hurry. You won’t get the best sound quality around, because the over-amplified bass makes it hard to hear much auditory detail from your music. However, the overall profile is fine for a cheap pair of wireless earbuds, and you can do worse for your money.
4. Creative Outlier Air
On the other hand, if you’re looking for cheap true wireless earbuds that sound very good, then the Creative Outlier Air is the way to go. They’re lightweight and portable, and they feature an overall stylish design. The sliding charging case and glowing ring lights are unique, and you can listen in mono from either earbud. The Creative Outlier Air earbuds come with an IPX5 rating and you can expect nearly eight hours of battery life on a single charge.
They support both the aptX and AAC codecs, which means that Android and iPhone users alike can enjoy these buds. Creative Outlier’s Air earbuds still boost bass notes a bit too far sometimes, but it’s not overwhelming like some other pairs. These true wireless earbuds for under $50 happen to have a fine microphone setup that supports phone call audio in both earbuds, or in just one.
5. 1More PistonBuds
The 1More PistonBuds may be affordable but they boast premium features like an IPX4 water-resistant build, touch controls, and USB-C charging. The stemmed design is different from the sea of AirPods lookalikes because the stems are short and unlikely to catch on a facemask. The angled nozzles are comfortable, and the ear tips promote a proper seal to the ear, which is absolutely necessary if you want the best sound quality from these buds.
1More PistonBuds microphone demo:
Bass notes are heavily amplified and sound twice as loud compared to midrange notes. You can’t equalize the sound in the proprietary app, so you’re stuck with the default sound profile. This is perfectly fine for commuting and working out, but may not please budget audiophiles. Battery life is fine: expect to get 3 hours, 30 minutes of listening from a single charge. Fortunately, the charging case provides an additional 16 hours of playtime, but fast charging isn’t supported.
Don’t miss:= 1More PistonBuds review (SoundGuys)
Listeners who want a pair of cheap earbuds that perform well enough for everyday use, and can withstand a rigorous workout every now and then should get the PistonBuds.
What should you know about true wireless earbuds under $50?
What makes a cheap pair of truly wireless earbuds good? Well, the answer gets tougher the more you limit your budget. Here are a few key features that are sure to come into play while you shop:
Not all Bluetooth codecs are equal
No wires mean that your new pair of earbuds will rely on Bluetooth to connect to your phone or laptop. A Bluetooth codec indicates just how much data makes it from your source device to your earbuds, so the more is definitely the merrier. Every Bluetooth-based device supports the SBC codec, but that’s only the most basic option. There are plenty of higher-quality options like aptX, LDAC, and AAC, but they’re not always present on budget buds.
You’ll most likely only get one or two codecs on each cheap pair of earbuds, so it’s important to track down the right ones. Every Bluetooth device supports SBC, which is the default, mandated Bluetooth codec. Android users should be careful to look for the aptX codec and iPhone users will want the AAC codec. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference while listening, but it’s always best to have the right setup.
Durable earbuds have IP ratings
If you want to work out, go to the beach, or spend time singing in the rain, then IP ratings have to become your new best friend. IP stands for Ingress Protection, and it’s a standard for how resistant a device is to water and dust. The rating follows an IPXX format, and the first X indicates dust-resistance while the second covers water-resistance.
Higher numbers are better, and IP1X to IP5X ratings are considered dust-resistant while IP6X devices are dust-proof. On the waterside, IPX1 to IPX6 is water-resistant while IPX7 and IPX8 are waterproof.
A proper fit is key to optimal sound quality
No matter your budget, sound quality is an important part of any pair of earbuds. After all, who wants to spend money on something that sounds bad? Both frequency response and passive isolation are essential to overall sound quality, and it’s often difficult to find great earbuds that are lacking in one area or another.
Passive isolation covers how well your earbuds can block out external noise. Unless you have earbuds with active noise-canceling technology — unlikely on truly wireless earbuds under $50 — your passive isolation will rely exclusively on how well your earbuds fit into your ears. If they fit snugly in your ears and create a physical seal, you should have a much better listening experience. Many cheap earbuds come with multiple sets of ear tips, so you may have to experiment with sizing a bit.
The frequency response determines just how well each frequency is replicated in your earbuds. Many of our under $50 pairs of truly wireless earbuds tend to skew towards a bass-friendly response. It’s not a bad thing because many users will want to feel the pounding basslines, but it’s not always the most accurate. The increased bass can mask higher-pitched sounds which can make your music sound off.
Very few true wireless earbuds have good battery life
We’ll be honest — the battery life on most true wireless earbuds isn’t great. On average, you can probably expect about four to five hours of playback, and it’s mainly because most manufacturers can’t pack large batteries into the small form-factor. However, most true wireless earbuds come with wireless charging cases, so you can probably recharge quickly for a few extra hours of playback. If budget is no issue, then you might want to consider Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus with nearly 12 hours of battery life.
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