Remember those days when we were tied to our music listening device of choice by cables attached to a flimsy set of headphones? Well, those days are well and truly gone – and while you can obviously still get a cracking set of wired headphones, the wireless variety are the top choice for a bit more freedom while you’re tuned into your favourite sounds. And if your bank account won't stretch to a premium pair, this guide to the best budget wireless headphones should help.
They may cut a corner or two in an effort to keep the cost down, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get great sound for your money. In fact, some really do have the audio capacity to go toe-to-toe with the very best headphones around.
- Get your hands on the best headphones under £100
- Stuff you ears with the best true wireless earbuds
- Amazon Prime Day 2020: The latest early Prime Day deals
Best budget wireless headphones: The Louder Choice
If it’s the very best budget wireless headphones you want, look no further than the AKG Y50BTs. This long-running pair of Bluetooth-powered on-ears is peerless at the price, thanks to the super-portable, foldable construction, great comfort and excellent all-round sound.
Yes, the design is a bit, umm, bold, but we reckon most people can get away with the black finish at least, even with the big, white logo adorning the earcups.
We genuinely think the AKG Y50BTs are the gem in this category, but perhaps you’d prefer in-ears, or maybe you want some noise-cancellation tech chucked in. You might feel, fairly legitimately, that £80 isn’t ‘budget’ enough. Fear not, for we’ve got you covered: just scroll down to find the perfect pair of budget wireless headphones for you, and cheap noise-cancelling headphones that are wallet-friendly too.
In a rush and want to quickly scan the rest of our picks for the best budget wireless headphones? Then here you go:
- AKG Y50BT
- Anker Soundcore Life Q20
- Sennheiser HD 350BT
- Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
- Lindy BNX-60
- Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless
- Jabra Move Wireless Style Edition
- JBL Tune 600BTNC
- Beats by Dre Beats X
- Sennheiser CX Sport
- SoundMagic E11BT
- Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
Best budget wireless headphones: Buying advice
You may assume that a limited budget means limited options, but £80 will get you almost any type of cheap wireless headphones: from sizeable on-ear noise-cancellers, through to in-ear run-friendly headphones. In fact, you can now buy some of the best true wireless earbuds at this price.
There's so much choice now that it’s easy to become crippled by indecision. The trick when it comes to choosing the best budget wireless headphones for you 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 noise-cancelling headphones.
If a mess of cables are holding you back during a rock-fuelled run or workout, then a pair of cheap wireless headphones that are fitness-specific (ie, sweat- and water-resistant, with a stay-put shape) are just the ticket.
- Save money with the best Apple AirPods deals
- Explore the best deals on Bose headphones
- 6 slick Bluetooth turntables to put a modern spin on your vinyl
Getting the right fit for your lugs matters a lot too, particularly in terms of in-ears. Our ears are all different, and failing to ensure your chosen headphones fit yours correctly could result in them not only falling out, but could also lead to sub-standard sound. If at all possible, try a pair before you buy, but also feel free to return a purchased pair if you don’t feel that you’re getting the fit or sound that you should.
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.
Best budget wireless headphones: Round-up & reviews
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 as good. Why? Because losing the wires often reduces audio quality.
There are no rush worries here, though. The AKG Y50BTs 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, just as the artist would want.
Add a lightweight and very portable design, plus good looks and excellent comfort, and these are undoubtedly the best budget wireless headphones to buy.
Read our AKG Y50BT headphones review
Making quite a noise for themselves in the budget wireless headphone area, Soundcore offers active noise cancelling at a price few can match.
Impressively, its flagship Life Q20 cans are high-res audio enabled too. 40mm drivers boast an extended frequency response, and there’s proprietary BassUp technology for extra slam.
Battery life rivals the best, at 30 hours with ANC engaged. Switch noise cancelling off, and this jumps to 60 hours. There’s a quick charge mode when you need to dash.
Clearly style-wise they’re aiming to woo Sony WH-1000XM3 buyers, and at a quarter of the price the spec looks tempting too. Tribute band or the real deal? You decide.
- Load up on tunes with the best music streaming services
- Protect your hearing at gigs and festivals with the best earplugs
These cut-price Sennheiser over-ear headphones 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.
Battery life is impressive too at 30 hours, there’s USB-C fast charging when you get low.
The over-the-ear design is comfortable, but there’s been some skimping on the headband padding. Performance wise, the 350BT’s are smooth and measured.
Unsurprisingly, there’s no noise cancelling, but there’s no option for wired 3.5mm connectivity either. 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.
Hi-Fi-tuned, these big value true wireless earbuds from audiophile maker Cambridge Audio are a no-brainer if you’re after sonic cred for remarkably little bread.
A high stamina nine hour battery will last most of the day, and they ship in a rechargeable case that will extend playtime by a whopping 36 hours. Build quality is excellent, and they come in a choice of Black or Stone finishes.
Running Bluetooth 5.0, there’s support for AAC and aptX, so stability and synchronicity is excellent. They deliver a convincing stereo soundstage courtesy of a pair of 5.8mm drivers, and while we’d hesitate to class them as sports buds (because they’re not), they do warrant an IPX5 rating for water and sweat resistance. Experiment with the foam or rubber tips to get the best fit.
Noise-cancelling is a real quality of life enhancer. How else are you supposed to get through a flight surrounded by screaming children without it? Or even a day in the office surrounded by the nattering imbeciles you’re forced to work with? The problem is that noise-cancelling tends to add a pretty big extra wedge to the price of a pair of headphones, but not so with the Lindy BNX-60s. These cheap wireless headphones are very feature-rich for the small price.
It's true that the quality of noise-cancelling isn’t quite up to the standard of a more premium pair of noise-cancelling headphones, but it’s still good enough for keeping the hum of the outside world at bay. USB recharging means you don’t have to constantly find fresh batteries either.
The sound is good, too: detailed, clear and rhythmic. There’s really nothing not to like here other than the boring looks, but does that really matter?
Get past the cringeworthy name and these bargain-tastic in-ears are some of the best budget wireless headphones for anyone with less than £50 to spend. There’s a fairly hefty neckband that helps to keep them in place while you wear them, but it can be removed 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.
- Great sound, less cash: best budget turntables
- And these are the best turntables in the world right now
The latest iteration of Jabra’s oh-so affordable wireless over-ears, the Move Style Edition, are featherweights at 150g, and available in three colours (black, grey and blue-ish). They certainly look more expensive than their ticketed price. That’s our kind of style.
Battery life is good enough at 14 hours, and quite a step up on Jabra’s first generation Moves, which expired after eight, and they’ll recharge in just two. If you do run flat, a 3.5mm stereo jack means you can wire them up (provided you still rock a smartphone with a headphone jack) 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 them. The earcups sport physical buttons for the features you’ll need. A misnomer perhaps, but all things considered, we can live with that.
If you want a bit of budget noise-cancelling but the Lindys above look a bit boring for your tastes, you can’t go far wrong with the JBL Tune600BTNCs. The plastic ear cups get scuffed up quite easily, but the compact design is very portable and there are a number of colours to choose from.
Comfort levels are high, the 12-hour battery is more than good enough for most scenarios, and the noise-cancelling is decent for the money. The weighty, bassy delivery is a real draw for many people, although for others it might be a little overpowering. Like a big bottom end? Then these JBLs are the best budget wireless headphones for you.
- Need a new mobile? These are the best phones for music
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 X 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 travelling 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 X falls into the cheap wireless headphones price category quite neatly.
If you’re after a pair of cheap wireless headphones to soundtrack your runs or gym workouts, the Sennheiser CX Sports are the way to go. Those rather garishly-coloured fins do a great job of keeping the buds comfortably nestled in your ears, regardless of how, er, enthusiastically you throw yourself into your workout.
The cable between the two earphones runs around the back of the neck and includes a control unit and mic, as well as the six-hour battery. That might not be great longevity, but at least charging them up is quick - 10mins of juice-up time gets you a whole hour of music.
Audio is weighty, solid and punchy, which is perfect for delivering that extra bit of musical motivation when you need it the most.
Compact they may be, and a little bit 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.
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.
Are the best budget wireless headphones any good?
In a nutshell, yes. As mentioned earlier on in this guide, cheap wireless headphones do need to cut some corners in order to get the overall price down, but many of them are still very impressive in terms of sound, features and performance.
The overall quality of the best budget wireless headphones means you will get far more joy out of listening to your music 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 Beast 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.
You can regularly find them on sale too. On that note, the shopping technology we use in this guide also displays the best prices online for each product, so you'll quickly be able to see which retailer is offering the juiciest deal on each of our featured best budget wireless headphones.
About the author
Tom Parsons is a music and film fan who's been testing audio kit of all varieties for around 13 years, most of those at What Hi-Fi? He also loves rock and metal and is a particularly big fan of Coheed and Cambria.