Our guide to the best budget wireless headphones proves that you really don’t need to spend a massive amount of money to get your hands on a set of headphones that not only sound fantastic, but also look the part. Some of the giants of the audio world such as Sony, Beats, Apple, Jabra and AKG have released some brilliant cheap wireless headphones over the last few years and this is great to see, especially when we're all looking after our money a little bit more these days.
Here at Louder, we've had the misfortune to encounter some cheap wireless headphones which, quite frankly, were a waste of our time and money due to their horrible tinny sound. Luckily, you won't find any such throwaway nonsense in our guide below, as I've picked out a range that deliver great comfort and clear audio.
While some of them cut corners when it comes to extra features to keep the prices affordable, we found that others punch well above their weight and deliver remarkable audio. We've even thrown in some buying advice to make some of the decisions a little easier.
Best budget wireless headphones: The Louder choice
We've highlighted some of our favourite budget headphones below, but if you want our top recommendations right off the bat, then we also have you covered. First up are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 (opens in new tab) headphones which offer excellent value for what you get - and that includes Active Noise Cancellation which at the knockdown price the Q20 sell for, that's outstanding. They also sound the business and offer a whopping 40-hours of battery life with ANC activated and 60-hours in normal mode. Amazing value.
Our next pick goes to the solid Sennheiser HD 350BT (opens in new tab) wireless headphones. While they don't have ANC, what they do have is a 30-hour battery life from a full charge and a balanced sound - not too bass or treble heavy. You can also adjust your listening through Sennheiser's app if needed. They also fold, making them a great choice if you're planning on using them while on the road.
Best budget wireless headphones: Product guide
Making quite a noise for themselves in the cheap wireless headphone area, Soundcore offers active noise cancelling at a seriously low price that few audio brands can match. Impressively, its flagship Anker Soundcore Life Q20 cans are high-res audio enabled too. That's unreal considering how cheap these wireless headphones are.
40mm drivers boast an extended frequency response, and there’s proprietary BassUp technology for extra slam. They don't skimp on battery life either. In fact, it rivals the best at 30 hours with Active Noise Cancellation engaged. Switch noise cancelling off and the Life Q20 jumps to 60 hours of listening time per charge. Even better, there’s a quick charge mode when you need to juice up and dash.
From a style perspective they’re clearly aiming to woo fans of the Sony WH-1000XM3 (opens in new tab), and at a quarter of the price the spec sure looks tempting too. Tribute band or the real deal? You decide, but these are the best budget wireless headphones you'll find right now.
Read our Anker Soundcore Life review
These cut-price Sennheiser over-ear headphones (opens in new tab) aren’t just big on value, they’re feature rich too. The Bluetooth implementation is leading edge, at 5.0 with support for AAC, AptX and AptX low latency codecs (the latter giving better sync when watching videos on your smartphone), and there’s a dedicated Voice Assistant button for use with Siri or Google.
The Sennheiser HD 350BT's battery life is impressive too, with around 30 hours per full charge – there’s USB-C fast charging when you get low on juice. The over-the-ear design is comfortable for sure, but there’s definitely been some skimping on the headband padding. Performance wise, I found the 350BT’s were smooth and measured, which is surprising considering how cheap they are.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no noise cancelling on these budget wireless headphones, but there’s no option for wired 3.5mm connectivity either. Hmm. This means you won’t be able to use them with onboard in-flight entertainment systems, but then if you’re not planning to fly anytime soon, that won’t be an issue.
Read our Sennheiser HD 350BT review
Cambridge Audio weren’t messing around when they upgraded their popular Melomania 1 model – packing the Plus version with more than enough audio goodness to keep users grinning.
True, they don’t feature any noice cancelling tech, but don’t write these earbuds off too quickly. You’ll get a tasty seven hours of charge when using the Melomania Plus’ High Performance Audio mode and another couple of hours on top of that without. You can even fine tune the settlings through the Cambridge Audio Melomania app, and that includes EQ levels, firmware updates, battery checks and more.
The Melomania 1 Plus' audio is wonderful with High Performance Audio mode and is definitely the way to go if you pick up a set. The audio filling your head is spacious without trickling away into the ether and the bass is top drawer – just the right amount for rock and metal.
They might look a little like earplugs, but that's a very minor quibble for what you’re getting out of the box and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus come highly recommended.
Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review
The latest iteration of Jabra’s affordable wireless over-ears, the Move Style Edition, are featherweights at 150g. They also come in three different colours (black, grey and blue-ish), and certainly look more expensive than their budget price.
Battery life is good enough at 14 hours, and quite a step up on Jabra’s first generation Moves, which died after eight hours. The Jabra Moves Style Edition will recharge in just two hours. If you do run flat, a 3.5mm stereo jack means you can wire them up (provided you still rock a device with a headphone port) and keep on truckin’. They’ll also retain their charge for 12 days - helpful if you simply forget to plug them in.
There’s no fancy gesture controls required to operate the Jabra Moves Style Edition either. The earcups sport physical buttons for the features you’ll need. A misnomer perhaps, but all things considered, we can live with that considering how cheap these are.
Read our Jabra Moves Style Edition review
There’s no getting around it: Apple AirPods are the world’s most iconic earbuds, so pretty much everyone will either own a pair or be thinking about getting some. Depending on the time of year, you can often nab them for a little cheaper than the regular price too, thanks to the best AirPods deals (opens in new tab).
Apple AirPods are incredibly simple to set up and use, and they’re always connected, so you literally take them out of the case, stick ’em in your ears and they’re ready to rock. If someone starts speaking to you, take one of the AirPods out of your ear and the music automatically pauses. Slick.
Admittedly, the battery life isn’t great compared to some other budget wireless headphones in this list, and the sound is bettered by the AKGs and Cambridge Audio Melomania 1’s, but there’s plenty else to like here. For example, they’re lightweight in the ear and fast to charge - just 15 minutes’ charge gives you three hours of listening. (If you want the best Apple audio tech – including ace noise-cancelling – check out our AirPods Pro review (opens in new tab).)
The built-in microphones are responsive and will pick up your voice loud and clear if you’re using your AirPods to make and take voice calls. The music playback control is fiddly - you need to use Siri voice command to skip or replay tracks - but of course you can also sort that via your phone.
Read our Apple AirPods review (opens in new tab)
Sony’s clearly the dominant force in noise cancelling headphones these days, and if you want a taste of what the company can do but don’t have nearly £300 to buy the WH-1000XM3, the more entry-level WH-CH700N could be the best budget noise-cancelling headphones for you.
Naturally, the sound quality isn’t as accomplished and the noise cancellation is a little less effective, but for the money this is a really accomplished set of headphones. There’s a slight skewing towards the bassy end of the tonal spectrum, but not in a bad way. The overall balance is natural, there’s plenty of detail, and everything ticks along at a good lick.
On top of all that, this is a really comfortable pair of headphones to wear, and the battery life is amazing at roughly 35 hours. If £100 is your upper limit, you could do a heck of a lot worse.
The BNX-60s were perhaps the first to prove that it really is possible to get both noise-cancelling and Bluetooth technology for under £/$100 – and all without sacrificing sound quality.
These Lindy cans make our best budget noise-cancelling headphones list because they offer a comfortable and snug fit. They sport a volume control, on/off switch for active noise-cancellation (ANC), and a blue light that indicates when the ANC feature is in use on one ear.
There’s also a USB input for charging, pause/play/skip track controls, a Bluetooth connection light, and a standard wired headphone output on the other ear. A full charge gives you about 15 hours of wireless music playback, or a little less when the active noise-cancelling / noise cancellation is switched on.
Cheaper headphones often fall into the trap of producing loads of low-quality bass or overly sharp treble, but these Lindy headphones are surprisingly balanced and grown-up in their delivery. They’ve got a real groove and clarity to them, making them particularly well-suited to rock.
We’ve been fans of the wired AKG Y50s since they were first introduced back in 2014, but there was no guarantee that a wireless version of these headphones would be anywhere as good. Why? Because losing the wires often reduces audio quality.
Thankfully there are no such worries here, though: the AKG Y50BT Wireless sound just as good as the wired Y50s, which means they’re punchy, dynamic, detailed and downright fun to listen to. Whatever you chuck at them, from Soundgarden to Slipknot, sounds authentic and exciting. So you won't be getting Corey Taylor's back up anytime soon when pumping out Nero Forte on these.
Throw in a lightweight and incredibly portable design, plus decent looks and excellent comfort for longer listening sessions, and these are undoubtedly among the best budget wireless headphones to buy now.
Read our AKG Y50BT headphones review (opens in new tab)
Get past the cringeworthy name and the bargain Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 in-ears are some of the best budget wireless headphones for anyone with less than £35 to spend. A fairly hefty neckband helps to keep them in place while you wear them, but you can quickly ditch it if you think it’s too chunky.
That leaves behind a fairly lightweight pair of earbuds tethered together by a thin cable that includes a remote and microphone. Sound quality is also good, particularly for the money, and while the battery life and wireless signal aren’t the best, you can’t have the moon on a stick when you’re only paying £30.
Beats Powerbeats Pro are a cracking pair of true wireless earbuds, but if you don't have the budget for those premium wireless earphones, give the Beats Flex a whirl instead. They offer eight hours battery life and, thanks to an Apple W1 chip, they offer a fast charge function too.
Basically, the Fast Fuel charge fives you up to two hours playback from only a five-minute mega charge. That's ace if you're traveling to work and have forgotten to charge your headphones overnight.
While we found the Siri-enabled RemoteTalk function to be a little hit and miss, the sound is decent considering the Beats falls into the cheap wireless headphones price category quite nicely.
Compact they may be, and a little AOR in design, but these low profile buds are a cut above the budget wireless headphone crowd. Their largely aluminium housing inspires confidence, and the flat neckband is an easy win. They’re also shower-proof IPX4 certified, which makes them a good choice for your daily jog… to the pub.
The E11BT buds magnetise so you can blithely wear them around your neck when supping that pint, and a simple in-line remote offers handy volume and track control; they’re not as fiddly to use as true wireless alternatives.
Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0. There’s no aptX support – but then we wouldn’t really expect it given the price. Obviously there’s no noise cancelling either, but get a good fit (a trio of tips are provided) and you can be sure of reasonable isolation.
Battery life is an impressive 20 hours. You’ll easily go a few days without needing to recharge. When you do, the in-line remote offers up a micro-USB port.
Read our SoundMAGIC E11C earbuds review
The final addition to our best budget wireless headphones round-up comes from Jaybird in the form of its X3 Bluetooth earphones, with wrap-around neck band and flexible ear hooks to help the actual buds stay lodged in your ears.
The noise isolation (there to minimise background chatter) is just ok – check out our pick of the top noise-cancelling headphones if that's your main goal for buying headphones – but the eight hours battery life per charge is decent.
The most unique feature about these cheap wireless earphones is customisable sound: dive into the Jaybird MySound app (iOS, Android) and you can customise your sound settings and save the presets.
Best budget wireless headphones: Buying advice
How to spot the best budget wireless headphones
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You may assume that a limited budget means limited options when it comes to the best cheap wireless headphones, but $100/£80 will get you a decent pair of cheap wireless headphones: from sizeable on-ear noise-cancellers, through to in-ear run-friendly headphones.
There's so much choice now that it’s easy to become crippled by the options available to you. The trick when it comes to choosing is to think about when and where you’ll be doing most of your listening. If your enjoyment of Tool is severely hampered by the inane ramblings of the tools you call ‘colleagues’, definitely consider a pair of budget cans.
If a mess of cables is holding you back during a run or workout, then a pair of cheap wireless headphones that are fitness-specific (ie, sweat- and water-resistant, with a stay-put shape) will be just the ticket.
Getting the right fit for your earholes matters too, particularly when it comes to in-ear headphones. Our ears come in all shapes and sizes, and failing to ensure your chosen headphones fit yours correctly could mean they fall out, or worse still they simply won’t sound good.
When selecting from among the best budget wireless headphones, make sure to consider the battery life being offered and which version of Bluetooth is being used. The later the version – we’ve now moved up to 5.0 – the more battery-friendly and potentially better sounding it is. AptX Bluetooth, meanwhile, is specifically for audio and suggests that sound quality has been prioritised – at least to an extent.
How good are the best cheap wireless headphones?
In a nutshell, yes. Of course, cheap wireless headphones do need to cut some corners in order to get the overall price down to a palatable figure, but many of them are still very impressive in terms of sound, features and performance.
The overall quality of the best budget wireless headphones here means you will get far more joy out of listening to your music, podcasts or audiobooks when you're on the go. We've deliberately chosen cans that sound good when playing most genres of music, but especially rock and metal – hey, what can we say? We love rock and metal!
Overall, don't think that because these cheap wireless headphones may cost way less than the premium wireless cans they must sound way worse, because that's simply not true. We love the versatility of the Beats by Dre Beats X, and use them for commuting, working out and blasting tunes at home, while the AKG Y50BT will blow you away with such impressively detailed sound.
How do we test the best budget wireless headphones?
While their price tags may be low, our expectations at Louder are still high for budget headphones. We’re no less demanding when it comes to testing their ability to rock, and there are other criteria we assess too, including battery life and feature count.
Battery life is obviously a big deal as the last thing we want are headphones that will let us down midway through Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird. Thankfully, budget wireless headphones usually offer stonking playtime, because they often don’t have the drain of Active Noise Cancelling.
We consider the flavour of Bluetooth important too, as this can have a material impact on both sound quality and battery life. Generally we favour Bluetooth 5.0 or higher, as this iteration is more economical when it comes to energy (which translates to longer playtimes) and stable, so you won’t drop out when wind-milling your air guitar.
Ultimately though, audio performance remains the big clincher. For our tests, we listen to a barrage of cuts, from tried and tested classic rock favourites, through more tonally complex prog rock, and then full-on bangers. As budget headphones tend to have smaller drivers and cut-price electronics, we particularly want to hear how well they articulate guitar tones and aggressive drum fills.
Read more on how we test products and services at Louder.
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