While Bluetooth earphones are rising in popularity, using wired earbuds still have some key advantages. They don’t suffer from connectivity issues, nor do they run out of battery life after a couple of hours. Also, they’re typically cheaper while having much better sound quality than some of their wireless counterparts.
As long as you’re using a device with a headphone jack or you own a 3.5mm dongle, wired earbuds are still a solid, cost-effective option. The six pairs we’ve listed are durable options that sound great with all types of music.
1. KZ ZSN
If you’ve never heard of KZ before, they’re a small audio company based in China that makes excellent-sounding in-ear monitors at very affordable prices. The KZ ZSN is no exception.
The KZ ZSN earbuds sound good enough that they can likely compete in sound quality with earbuds that two or three times the price. They may even be contenders to to replace your studio monitors in a pinch. While KZ has made a lot of earbuds, this is a recent release that balances price and performance very well. This pair has a bassy sound profile and can get loud enough to drown out the ambient noise around you.
They’re also very comfortable, as they’re shaped in a way that fits snugly inside your ear. The outsides have metal housing while the insides are made of green, purple, or black colored plastic, which gives them a unique look. The wire that they come with has a preformed hook that hangs around your ear and prevents it from falling off.
Unlike most earbuds in this price range, these have a detachable cable. If your wire ever snaps or breaks, you can easily buy a replacement cable and swap it out in under a minute. You can also purchase a separate, Bluetooth-enabled cable that turns your pair into wireless earbuds.
If you prefer a more recognizable brand, the Sony MDR-XB50AP Extra Bass earbuds are a great choice. Like other headsets in the Extra Bass lineup, Sony has tuned these to have above-average bass. The punchiness of the bass is definitely noticeable. They have a fairly full sound that makes them good for listening to most types of music.
This pair has a Y-shaped flat cord that reduces tangling. Like other Sony products, the earbuds themselves are quite durable and should last for a long time.
The Sony MDR-XB50AP also has an in-built microphone that you can use for calls and voice notes. The right wire has a smartphone control button that you can use to pause, play, and skip your songs.
In addition to the earbuds itself, you get four additional pairs of tips in varying sizes and a small soft pouch that you can use to carry everything.
3. JBL T210
Where the JBL T210 earbuds excel is how comfortable they are to use. These are light and fit very well inside your ear with the right sized tips. They don’t become uncomfortable to wear, even after a couple of hours of use.
This pair has a balanced sound present in many of JBL’s budget options. While they won’t have much bass or power, they’re good for listening to most kinds of music and sound nice with audiobooks and podcasts. These earbuds respond well to equalization if you want to adjust the sound profile.
The JBL T210s come in three colors; black, white, and pink. Regardless of which you get, all of them look very distinct. This is because of JBL’s tips that have an orange-colored accent, as well as the shiny metal plating around each earbud.
The pair also has a built-in microphone and single-button smartphone controls. The earphones have a flat cord that prevents tangling in your pocket.
If you’re looking for a cheap pair of earbuds with decent noise isolation, the Symphonized NRG 3.0 is a great pick. They’re well-built and offer good noise reduction. The casing on the outside of each bud is made of wood, which gives them a warmer sound than most of the other options in this price range.
These earbuds are instantly striking because of the wood grain, which gives them the look and feel of a more expensive pair of buds. They’re available in six styles that determine the shade and grain of the wood, the color of the wire, and the accent colors on the back of each earbud.
Along with a standard mic, this pair has built-in buttons that allow you to control your music app and adjust your phone’s volume in a pinch.
The NRG 3.0 comes with a carrying pouch made with a natural material that compliments the look of the earbuds. It also comes with six pairs of earbuds in varying sizes and styles, so you won’t have to worry about losing one or both of the attached tips.
The Skullcandy Xtplyo is one of the best options for those looking for a cheap pair of wired sports earbuds. This has a couple of features that make it stand out from the plethora of affordable buds for working out.
First is that they’re designed to be sweatproof. The exterior is sealed shut, which means external elements such as sweat and water won’t be able to damage the internal components.
Also, they stay firmly in your ears and do not slip off unless you pull on the wire, even while running on working out in the gym. This is thanks to the TripleLock, a grippy appendage that hooks onto the inside of your ear and prevents the buds from falling out. They’re also very lightweight.
Lastly, their tips act as ambient ear gels. This means that they do not block out external noise, unlike other in-ear buds. This is especially important if you exercise outdoors, as it allows you to be aware of your surroundings while still enjoying your music or podcasts.
The Panasonic ErgoFit buds are probably the most popular wired headphones of any type on Amazon, with over 50,000 reviews. There’s a good reason why. They offer decent sound quality, build quality, and comfort, while also being one of the cheapest options available.
The ErgoFit name comes from Panasonic’s way of designing the buds, which make them comfortable to have in your ears for extended periods. While they don’t offer the best sound reproduction, they’re fine for listening to a couple of songs at the office or watching a YouTube video.
The base model comes without a mic, but the ErgoFit with Microphone costs just an extra few dollars. Both models are available in over a dozen colors.
If you need a couple of pairs of extra earbuds around the house as backups, these are a great option. They’re also a good choice for young kids.
The Best Wired Earbuds
With the current limitations of Bluetooth earphones in terms of battery life and connectivity, wired earbuds aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. You can get wireless earbuds to suit all budgets, but the ones we’ve listed above sound much better than most wireless pairs that come at the same price. All of them also make a great backup in case your Bluetooth earbuds run out of juice.
However, if you’re committed to ditching wired peripherals altogether and you’re on a budget, don’t worry. You can check out the best cheap Bluetooth earbuds or the best affordable true wireless earbuds instead.