The 10 Best Earbuds Under $20: High-Fidelity Audio on a Tight Budget

Get a cheap pair of earbuds that packs a decent punch

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best earbuds under $20
best earbuds under $20

Audio enthusiasts often frowned upon entry-level earbuds because of their inferior sound quality, creating a widespread negative perception of the said products. However, budget audio solutions have improved tremendously with the evolution of driver methods and modern engineering. 

The main benefit of using cheap earbuds is the peace of mind they give you. Instead of worrying about damaging or losing your hundred-dollar earphones accidentally, you can have an inexpensive pair to throw in your gym duffle bag without a second thought. Some budget earbuds even have water-resistant properties, making them ideal for exercising. What’s more, they are pretty functional, allowing you to take hands-free calls or listen to your favorite podcasts on the drive to work. 

While cheap earbuds are undeniably valuable, it can be hard to find a pair that suits your style and audio preferences. The market is overflowing with inexpensive options, but we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and found some of the best earbuds you can get for under $20. We’ve also put together a comprehensive buyer’s guide to highlight what you should consider before entering the market. 

Don’t have the time to go through the entire post? Check out the quick comparison table of our top picks below:

Best Earbuds Just Over $20

KZ ZST X

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Specifications

Connection Type Wired
Driver Size 10 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 40,000 Hz
Impedance 12 Ω
Sensitivity 107 dB
Microphone Optional
Weight 22 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 9.5
Design 9.0
Comfort 9.0
Value 10
Pros
  • Durable acrylic construction
  • Detachable silver-plated cable
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent value
Cons
  • Treble gets too bright at times

The KZ ZST X is a pair of hybrid dual-driver in-ear monitors that improves upon its renowned predecessor, the KZ ZST. It resembles the original visually, but the numerous upgrades under the hood separate it from the previous model.  

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The ZST X comes with a detachable cable and three extra sets of silicone ear tips to ensure you find the right fit. The enclosures are made of acrylic and bear an unconventional shape to accommodate the sizable dual drivers (each earpiece has one dynamic driver and one balanced armature driver).

The ZST X feels premium, durable, and comfortable. Its earpieces fit naturally in the ears, allowing you to wear them for extended periods without experiencing discomfort or irritation. In addition, the ear tips provide decent passive noise isolation for when you want to space out or focus on a task. 

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In terms of sound quality, the ZST X boasts a relatively balanced profile. It features a high-purity silver-plated cable, enabling the monitors to retrieve as much detail as possible. It also produces a satisfying and rumbling low end to give you an immersive listening experience. The bass and treble are noticeably boosted, but they don’t drown out vocals or instrumentals.  

The midrange is a considerable step up from its predecessor, exhibiting a more forward and weighted profile for better instrumental separation. Unfortunately, the highs can cause some fatigue when it occasionally gets a little too bright. 

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All in all, the ZST X is hands down one of the best options on this list. It may be priced slightly above our set budget, but its performance and overall design make it a worthy investment.  

CCA CA4

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Specifications

Connection Type Wired
Driver Size 10 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 40,000 Hz
Impedance 23 Ω
Sensitivity 107 dB
Microphone Optional
Weight 16 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 9.0
Design 9.5
Comfort 9.0
Value 10
Pros
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Decent soundstage
Cons
  • Sibilant treble

The CCA CA4 is another pair of in-ear monitors that provide plenty of value for its price. It looks and feels rugged, featuring substantial metal faceplates that give the acrylic enclosures a premium appeal. 

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The CA4 comes with a detachable copper cable and three extra sets of silicone ear tips to help you find a snug and comfortable fit. These ear tips also provide an above-average seal for effective passive noise isolation. In addition, the ear guides are effective at keeping the device stable in your ears.

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Sound quality is impressive for the CA4, producing deep and weighted bass without sounding overwhelming. The midrange offers a lot of detail, clarity, and balance, especially for female vocals. Unfortunately, some users may notice a faint hissing noise with the highs, sounding too peaky and unnatural.

On the bright side, the CA4 offers a decent soundstage and excellent imaging. It doesn’t sound congested nor overly spacious, making instrumental positioning immersive and impactful.  

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Overall, the CA4 puts forward a great price to performance ratio. Its solid construction makes it suitable as a daily driver. If you primarily listen to female artists, you will love the accurate high midrange produced by these earbuds. 

Best Earbuds Under $20

1MORE PistonBuds

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Specifications

Connection Type True Wireless
Driver Size 7 mm
Impedance 16 Ω
Battery Life 3.5 hrs
Microphone Yes
Earbud Weight 4 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 7.5
Design 9.0
Comfort 10
Value 9.0
Pros
  • Water-resistant
  • Good call quality
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable wireless connectivity
Cons
  • Underwhelming treble

The 1MORE PistonBuds is suited for users with an active lifestyle. This pair of true wireless earbuds has an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making it a worthy companion for working out.   

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The PistonBuds house single dynamic drivers that are among the smallest on this list but deliver surprisingly powerful audio. They also use a chip solution that supports a decent set of wireless codecs to ensure compatibility with your preferred devices.

These earbuds can endure over three hours of playback on a single charge. In addition, the case can provide five more full charges to get you through several days of average usage.  

The PistonBuds has four electronic noise-canceling microphones that can recognize your voice and amplify it for enhanced call quality. This elaborate microphone system is a great feature to have, especially at this price range.

These earbuds have a comfortable stemmed design that lets you pop them in your ears easily. They are constructed primarily of lightweight plastic and feature angled ear tips to provide an ergonomic and comfortable fit. Moreover, the silicone ear tips do an excellent job of creating a tight seal in your ear canals for effective passive noise isolation. The package also includes three extra sets of silicone ear tips to ensure you get a snug fit. 

The PistonBuds feature touch panels located on the back of the enclosures for controlling the device. These panels are highly functional, but they don’t provide haptic feedback. If you take hands-free calls regularly, these touch controls are pretty convenient.

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The included charging case is compact and portable. It is made of the same durable plastic as the earbuds, allowing you to throw it in your bag without damaging the exterior. Moreover, this case is fitted with a USB Type-C port, but it doesn’t support quick charging. 

These budget earbuds are expectedly bass-heavy, but they don’t skimp on the rest of the frequency spectrum. Higher frequencies tend to get a bit overshadowed by the low end, but not to the extent of becoming inaudible. The midrange is stellar, delivering smooth, detailed, and defined vocals. There are no noticeable screeching notes or sibilance, but we wouldn’t recommend using these earbuds as your reference standard.

The soundstage is quite congested relative to high-fidelity in-ear monitors like the KZ ZST X and CCA CA4, but some users prefer this kind of personal staging. In addition, the left to right imaging is accurate and uncharacteristic of earbuds at this price range.

The PistonBuds provide reliable wireless connectivity. They pair with your devices seamlessly and maintain a stable connection throughout usage. 

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The PistonBuds manage to cram a bunch of premium features in such a compact and affordable form factor. They’re comfortable, functional, reliable, and don’t sound bad at all. So if you’re strapped for cash and want a quality pair of true wireless earbuds, look no further.

LUDOS Clamor

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Specifications

Connection Type Wired
Driver Size 10 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance 32 Ω
Sensitivity 92 dB
Microphone Yes
Weight 16 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 8.5
Design 8.0
Comfort 9.5
Value 9.0
Pros
  • Comfortable memory foam ear tips
  • Balanced sound profile
  • Sleek enclosures
Cons
  • Thin cable

The LUDOS Clamor is one of the few wired entries on this list. It is built well and comes with comfortable memory foam ear tips that provide good passive noise isolation. 

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The Clamor comes with an in-line module that houses the controls and the microphone. The buttons for the controls produce nice tactile feedback, giving them a premium feel. The controls consist of three buttons that let you play and pause tracks, answer and reject calls, and adjust volume levels. 

These earbuds are pretty accurate across the sound spectrum. They don’t develop distortion at high volume levels, which isn’t often the case for most alternatives at this price range. The low end is powerful, but it doesn’t encroach upon the crisp midrange and the treble. The soundstage and imaging are impressive as well, boasting good vocal and instrumental positioning.

It is worth noting that the drivers used in these earbuds are the same size as those used in high-fidelity in-ear monitors. They are considerably larger than most mainstream drivers, allowing them to produce more powerful sound. 

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The Clamor has a rugged build that is suitable for daily usage. It has a braided and tangle-resistant cable that makes it easy to store when not in use. In addition, the package includes a mesh carry case and three extra sets of silicone ear tips to ensure you find a good fit. 

The enclosures are made of metal, ensuring that the drivers and internal components are protected. They are also compact enough to provide an ergonomic fit that doesn’t make contact with the outer parts of your ears.

Keep in mind that these are wired earbuds, so if you have devices that lack a headphone jack, you will need a dongle. On the bright side, you won’t have to worry about charging them periodically. If you have devices with limited wireless connectivity, wired earbuds are also ideal.

The memory foam ear tips are remarkably comfortable. You can wear these earbuds for hours without experiencing any discomfort or irritation. Moreover, the ear tips provide a tight seal around your ear canals to provide effective passive noise isolation.

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If you’re not ready to hop on the wireless trend, these sleek earbuds are for you. They offer sound quality that most wireless alternatives can’t match in a durable and comfortable form factor. 

Sony WI-C310

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Specifications

Connection Type Wireless
Driver Size 9 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 20,000 Hz
Battery Life 15 hrs
Microphone Yes
Weight 19 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 8.0
Design 8.5
Comfort 8.5
Value 8.5
Pros
  • Good battery life
  • Reliable wireless connectivity
Cons
  • Dull design

The Sony WI-C310 is a pair of wireless earbuds designed for users with an active lifestyle. It offers excellent battery life, reliable wireless connectivity, and decent sound quality to make a compelling package.  

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The WI-C310 symmetrically places the controller and battery modules opposite each other for balanced weight distribution. This design choice also makes the cable that connects the earpieces more slender relative to the older WI-C300 model.

The WI-C310 has a lightweight build that makes it suitable for sports. Although most of its components are made of plastic, the enclosures are made of metal for added durability. They also have magnetic properties that let you stick them together when not in use.  

These earbuds have an IPX4 water-resistance rating that makes them suitable for exercising. Of course, you can’t soak them in water, but they can easily withstand sweat and light splashes. 

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The overall design is more functional than stylish, but it is still much sleeker than its predecessor. The earbuds pair with devices seamlessly and don’t struggle to maintain a stable connection.  

Sound quality is another positive for the WI-C310. The bass is present, but it doesn’t trench the rest of the sound spectrum. The midrange and treble are more laid back, but you can still appreciate their precise details. This kind of sound profile is ideal for bass-heavy genres, which are popular among fitness enthusiasts. 

The WI-C310 provides exceptional battery life. It is rated to last 15 hours of playback on a single charge, allowing you to get through several intensive workout routines or gym sessions. It also supports quick charging via USB Type-C, which is pretty uncommon for earbuds at this price range. So if you’re in a hurry, you can plug it in for just ten minutes to get an hour of playback.  

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Overall, the WI-C310 is an excellent option for fitness enthusiasts who want a no-nonsense wireless audio solution. Whether you enjoy playing sports, exercising, or running while listening to your favorite tracks, this pair is for you.

Skullcandy Dime

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Specifications

Connection Type True Wireless
Driver Size 6 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance 16 Ω
Sensitivity 83 dB
Battery Life 3 hrs
Microphone Yes
Earbud Weight 4 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 7.5
Design 9.0
Comfort 8.0
Value 8.5
Pros
  • Water-resistant
  • Compact design
  • Snug fit
  • Reliable wireless connectivity
Cons
  • Awkward button placement
  • Underwhelming treble

The Skullcandy Dime is geared towards budget consumers who want to get their hands on a cheap but reliable pair of true wireless earbuds. It produces punchy sound and a full suite of media controls to deliver an intuitive user experience. 

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The Dime comes with a charging case about the size of a key fob, allowing you to slide it in your pocket when you travel or go on your daily commute. It is one of the most compact cases on this list, but it manages to hold enough battery capacity to get you through several days of average use.  

The Dime has a relatively subdued look, uncharacteristic of what we usually see from the brand. It still comes in bold and flashy colorways, but the overall design is more muted than previous iterations. The earbuds have a stemmed design, but it doesn’t stick out as much compared to other stemmed earphones. 

The build quality is pretty impressive. The earbuds feel solid despite being almost entirely of plastic. Their exterior is somewhat resistant to scuffs and scratches, so you won’t have to worry about cosmetic damage from normal wear and tear. In addition, they have an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making them suitable for running or working out. 

The case is made of the same solid plastic as the earbuds, but it isn’t as well constructed. The lid is particularly flimsy and feels like it would tear off if you apply enough force. Nevertheless, it is an acceptable compromise, considering its portability. 

The ear tips provide a snug and cozy fit. They create a tight but gentle seal around the ear canals to deliver effective passive noise isolation without compromising comfort. There are three extra sets of ear tips included in the package to ensure you find a fit suitable for your ears. Unfortunately, the earbuds’ stems tend to dig into the outer parts of the ears, causing noticeable discomfort. It is perfectly tolerable, but we wouldn’t recommend using this pair for more than a few hours. 

The Dime is equipped with physical buttons that give you access to a full set of controls. It lets you play or pause music, answer or end calls, adjust volume levels, skip forward or backward tracks, and activate voice assistant. 

You can execute these commands by pressing the logo on either earbud, which doubles as a button. However, the awkward positioning of the buttons causes the earbuds to push further into your ear canals, applying unnecessary pressure. You might be better off controlling this pair via voice assistant to prevent discomfort.  

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The Dime features dependable wireless connectivity. It pairs seamlessly with your device and doesn’t exhibit common problems like random connection drops. 

Skullcandy is notorious for poor tuning and lackluster sound quality, but that’s not the case with these earbuds. They have an overemphasized bass response, which isn’t surprising for a budget pair, but it doesn’t gloss over the rest of the audio spectrum.

The sound profile is quite warm, making it ideal for bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and electronic dance. In addition, the midrange has a surprisingly strong presence, making it suitable for vocal music or podcasts and movies. Treble is where it falls flat, as there’s an apparent lack of clarity, but it’s not absent. Overall, the sound quality is decent, considering the price. 

These earbuds are rated to last over three hours of playback on a single charge. They don’t support quick charging, which puts them on par with the 1MORE PistonBuds in terms of battery life. However, it has an inferior charging case, which can provide only up to three full charges instead of five, and it is fitted with a Micro USB interface instead of the faster USB Type-C. 

Microphone quality is what you would expect from cheap true wireless earbuds. It is perfectly serviceable in quiet rooms, but don’t even try using them outdoors. It has terrible wind resistance and picks up a lot of ambient noise, making it nearly impossible to communicate with the person on the other line. 

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The Dime is an absolute powerhouse, especially when you consider its tiny dynamic drivers. If you want a pair of cheap but sturdy true wireless earbuds, this product is an excellent pick. However, it isn’t the most comfortable option on this list, so you may want to look for something else if you enjoy your music for hours on end.

Skullcandy Jib Plus

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Specifications

Connection Type Wireless
Driver Size 9 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance 16 Ω
Sensitivity 95 dB
Battery Life 6 hrs
Microphone Yes
Weight 17 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 8.0
Design 7.5
Comfort 8.0
Value 8.0
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Decent sound quality
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Unremarkable design
  • No carrying case
  • Poor call quality
  • Loose fit

The Skullcandy Jib Plus is an excellent alternative to the Sony WI-C310. It is a lightweight wireless pair of earbuds that offers decent battery life and water-resistant properties suitable for various use cases. 

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The Jib Plus has two modules placed on opposite sides of the cable for even weight distribution. These modules house the battery and the controls, respectively. The part of the cable that goes around your neck is flat, while the ones connecting the modules to the earbuds are round. This design allows the device to sit comfortably and securely on your neck.

The control module consists of three buttons that you can use to play or pause music, skip forward or backward tracks, answer or end calls, and adjust volume levels. Unfortunately, these earbuds use a Micro USB interface for charging instead of the faster USB Type-C. 

The enclosures are made of plastic with silicone ear tips. The package includes three extra sets of ear tips of different sizes, but they struggle to provide a snug fit. It also includes wing supports that are meant to keep the earbuds in place, but neither that nor the ear tips are effective at stabilizing the earpieces. As a result, you will find yourself constantly adjusting the enclosures to keep them from falling out when you’re performing strenuous activities.

The loose fit also results in poor noise isolation. It allows a lot of ambient noise to enter your ear canal, hurting your listening experience. You can invest in third-party ear tips to get a good fit, but that only adds to your costs. 

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The plastic used for the enclosures and the control buttons feels flimsy and unreliable. It would’ve also been nice to receive a carry case to protect the earbuds when traveling, but that’s absent as well. 

On a more positive note, the plastic construction makes the earbuds remarkably lightweight. You can use them for hours without feeling any strain on your ears.

The Jib Plus is also pretty reliable in terms of wireless connectivity. You won’t have a hard time connecting it to your device as it pairs without fail most of the time. Once paired, it also does a great job of maintaining a stable connection.

Sound quality is another redeeming factor for the Jib Plus. It has a relatively balanced sound signature with an emphasis on bass and treble. As a result, it delivers rich and multidimensional audio uncharacteristic of earbuds at this price range. So whether you’re listening to music, watching videos, or enjoying podcasts, the audio experience is pleasant. 

The Jib Plus is pretty disappointing when it comes to microphone quality. Your voice comes out muddy and distorted, making it hard for the person on the other line to hear what you’re saying. Nevertheless, it’s perfectly serviceable for average use. 

Battery life is pretty mediocre for the Jib Plus. It is rated to last up to six hours on a single charge, which is considerably lower than what the WI-C310 has to offer.  

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Overall, the Jib Plus offers excellent value for its price, delivering decent sound quality in a compact and lightweight design.  However, it is considerably worse than the WI-C310, which belongs in the same price bracket. 

Best Earbuds Under $15

KZ ATE

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Specifications

Connection Type Wired
Driver Size 8 mm
Frequency Range 15 – 29,000 Hz
Impedance 16 Ω
Sensitivity 106 dB
Microphone Optional
Weight 24 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 9.0
Design 8.5
Comfort 8.0
Value 10
Pros
  • Stunning midrange
  • Detailed presentation
  • Excellent imaging
Cons
  • Bulky enclosures
  • Microphonics

The KZ ATE is one of the cheapest high-fidelity in-ear monitors on the market. If you want the best possible sound at the lowest possible price, this pair is ideal.  

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The ATE produces sound quality you would expect from in-ear monitors that cost thrice as much money. It has bulky enclosures that have gold accents, giving it a relatively premium look. The drivers are made of high-quality copper that helps reduce sound loss for high-resolution audio. In addition, this pair provides enough reinforcements in crucial areas for a durable overall build. 

Meanwhile, the cable is made of rubber materials that can easily tangle if not stored away properly. You should also be mindful of the cable’s positioning when using these monitors to avoid annoying microphonics. 

The ATE is comfortable to wear, but the enclosures are pretty sizable and hefty. The ear tips allow a tight seal in your ear canals for excellent passive noise isolation. It filters out a lot of ambient noise, allowing you to hear what comes out of the drivers without ambient interference.

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The ATE has a wide soundstage that even some more expensive alternatives can’t replicate. It provides a good amount of depth and excellent imaging to make you appreciate the layers of your music. 

The overall sound profile isn’t typical of in-ear monitors at this price range. The bass response is forceful and punchy, but it slightly lacks in weight. Where this pair shines is in the midrange, producing crisp and deep sounds guaranteed to exceed expectations. It delivers rich and intimate vocals that are quite literally unheard of at this price range. The treble is present and provides adequate brightness that’s not fatiguing.  

If you prefer forward mids or enjoy genres that have vocals and instrumentals take center stage, you can’t go wrong with this pair. It gives you a good amount of detail and allows you to dissect the layers of your music.  

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If you want the best entry-level in-ear monitors, look no further. The competitors in the same price range simply pale in comparison to this pair.

Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125

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Specifications

Connection Type Wireless
Driver Size 9 mm
Frequency Range 10 – 24,000 Hz
Impedance 16 Ω
Sensitivity 97 dB
Microphone Yes
Weight 44 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 7.5
Design 7.5
Comfort 8.5
Value 8.5
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Snug fit
  • Good value
Cons
  • The powerful bass drowns out the midrange and treble

The Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125 is one of the cheapest pairs of wireless earbuds you can get today. It is highly comfortable and offers many features that make it stand out from other budget mainstream earbuds.

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The ErgoFit RP-TCM125 has a reasonably straightforward design with bold color options. It comes with extra sets of silicone ear tips to help you find the right fit for optimal stability and passive noise isolation. 

Build quality isn’t a strong suit for the ErgoFit RP-TCM125. The cable has adequate length, but it feels thin and flimsy. It also has a small in-line module that houses the microphone and a single control button. Unfortunately, the lack of a volume rocker means you will have to adjust the volume levels from the source device itself. Nevertheless, the in-line module is a welcome addition at this price point. 

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When it comes to sound quality, the low end is unsurprisingly overemphasized. It delivers deep bass that feels immersive, but it places the rest of the sound spectrum in the backend. Moreover, the midrange and treble seem to infringe upon each other blandly. However, if you’re into bass-heavy music, this pair should suit you well. 

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The ErgoFit RP-TCM125 is a decent pair of wireless earbuds, but it is nowhere near on top of our recommendation list. It doesn’t deliver the best sound, but it is a viable option if you want a cheap and straightforward audio solution. Its lightweight design also makes it suitable for taking on your daily commute.

Skullcandy Ink’d 2.0

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Specifications

Connection Type Wired
Driver Size 10 mm
Frequency Range 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance 16 Ω
Sensitivity 96 dB
Microphone Yes
Weight 6 g

Hayk Saakian Scorecard

Sound Quality 7.5
Design 7.5
Comfort 8.0
Value 8.0
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Decent microphone
  • Good passive noise isolation
Cons
  • Poor build quality

The Skullcandy Ink’d 2.0 is a pair of wired earbuds with a flashy design and a sound profile tailor-made for bass heads. If you prefer a balanced sound signature, you may want to look elsewhere.

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The Ink’d 2.0 flaunts head-turning aesthetics, incorporating bright colors to make it visually stand out from the competition. However, you can also pick it up in more subdued colorways.

These earbuds are made almost entirely of plastic with some rubberized elements. The cable is flat and tangle-resistant, but it feels relatively thin and flimsy. It also has an in-line module that houses the microphone and a single control button. 

The microphone quality is surprisingly decent, featuring good sensitivity and voice isolation. Like the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125, the in-line controls revolve around one button that lets you perform multiple tasks. For example, you can use it to play or pause music, answer or end calls, and enable or disable the microphone.  

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The provided silicone ear tips allow good passive noise isolation, as long as you can get a snug fit. If the default ear tips are too big or too small for your ears, the package includes two extra sets of various sizes as a replacement. You can even use these earbuds for exercising if you don’t mind the cables dangling from your ears.

The main drawback of the Ink’d 2.0 is its lackluster build quality. The plastic enclosures don’t feel like they can withstand too many falls, so you must be extra careful when using them for strenuous activities. On the other hand, this lightweight composition makes them comfortable to use for extended periods. 

In terms of sound quality, the Ink’d 2.0 has a strong emphasis on the low end. It takes advantage of its large drivers to deliver powerful bass, but it overshadows the midrange and treble. On the other hand, it exhibits no distortion at high volume levels, making it suitable for people who enjoy loud and bass-heavy music.

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If you’re stuck with earbuds that you got with your phone for free, this pair is a cheap and worthwhile upgrade. However, don’t expect it to perform as well as budget in-ear monitors like the KZ ATE

Notable Mentions

  1. KLIM Fusion – This wired option offers appealing features, including comfortable memory foam ear tips, rugged metal enclosures, and a compact carry case. It also produces pretty decent audio quality considering its price.
  2. KZ EDX – This pair of high-fidelity in-ear monitors can compete with top dogs like the KZ ZST X and CCA CA4. It boasts a powerful bass response and a rich midrange to create a meticulously balanced sound signature.  
  3. MINDBEAST Super Bass – If you want a pair of wired earbuds compatible with your various devices, this option is for you. It houses sizable drivers that produce immersive bass for music, games, or movies.   

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Pair of Cheap Earbuds

At this point, it should be apparent that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get decent-sounding earbuds. However, some factors need to be considered if you want a pair that perfectly suits your demands and preferences.

Sound Quality

It is safe to say that budget earbuds are more competitive than ever before. With the dawn of new driver methods and modern engineering, these audio devices are no longer limited to subpar hardware that delivers distorted sound. Some of our picks can even outperform significantly more expensive alternatives when it comes to sound quality. 

Cheap earbuds were notorious for their bass-heavy sound profile, but that’s no longer the case. More and more manufacturers are ditching that norm, balancing their drivers’ frequency response to deliver a more proportionate listening experience regardless of preferred genre.

Connection Type


The earbuds at this price range come in different connection types, such as wired, wireless, and true wireless. Your choice between these types depends on the activities you intend to do while wearing the earbuds.

Wired earbuds often have bigger drivers than wireless and true wireless alternatives to produce more powerful sound. In addition, they don’t have onboard batteries, so you won’t have to worry about charging them periodically.   

On the other hand, wireless and true wireless earbuds conveniently get rid of the cable, eliminating common wired problems like tangling and snagging. These devices are also lightweight and comfortable since there’s no cable dangling from your ears.

Durability

If you intend to use cheap earbuds as your daily drivers, make sure they can endure everyday wear and tear. That means you should check the enclosures, cables, and controls to ensure their parts are appropriate for everyday use. 

It is worth noting that most earbuds at this price range are made primarily of plastic and other composite materials, but some are more well-constructed than others. A few options even offer resistance to water and dust, making them suitable for strenuous activities like running and exercising. 

Microphone Quality

If you take hands-free calls regularly, microphone quality should be one of your priorities. True wireless earbuds have the microphone in the earpieces, while wired alternatives often integrate the microphone in an in-line module with the controls. The latter gives you the ability to maneuver the microphone closer to your mouth to improve voice clarity. 

Comfort

Wearing earbuds for extended periods can cause discomfort, so make sure to choose a pair with an ergonomic design. For example, some earbuds implement angled earpieces, effectively preventing the enclosures from touching and irritating the outer parts of your ears. In addition, some options come with memory foam ear tips that provide a snug and comfortable fit for good noise isolation.  

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which earbuds are suitable for working out?

The 1MORE PistonBuds are our earbuds of choice for working out. This pair completely gets rid of cables, giving you a full range of motion, and it is remarkably lightweight and comfortable. Moreover, its sound profile is suitable for bass-heavy gym music.  

  • Which earbuds offer the best sound quality?

Our selection of high-fidelity in-ear monitors outshines every other pick when it comes to sound quality. The KZ ZST X, CCA CA4, and KZ ATE are our top recommendations for people who want the best possible audio for the least amount of money. If you’re okay with their bulky enclosures, you can’t go wrong with either of these three.

Quick Recap

Best Earbuds Just Over $20

  1. KZ ZST X
  2. CCA CA4

Best Earbuds Under $20

  1. 1MORE PistonBuds
  2. LUDOS Clamor
  1. Sony WI-C310
  2. Skullcandy Dime
  3. Skullcandy Jib Plus

Best Earbuds Under $15

  1. KZ ATE
  2. Panasonic ErgoFit RP-TCM125
  3. Skullcandy Ink’d 2.0

Runners-Up

  1. KLIM Fusion
  2. KZ EDX
  3. MINDBEAST Super Bass

Conclusion

That wraps up our list of the best earbuds you can get for under $20. We hope this comprehensive article has helped you in making an informed decision. When everything is taken into consideration, it all boils down to your use case and preferences.

If you want a pair of earbuds you can use when sweating it out, we recommend the 1MORE PistonBuds, the Sony WI-C310, or the Skullcandy Dime. On the other hand, if you don’t value sound quality over comfort and portability, get the KZ ZST X, the CCA CA4, or the KZ ATE.

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