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Best budget wireless headphones 2020: cheap wireless headphones to go wire-free

Best budget wireless headphones 2020: cheap wireless headphones to go wire-free
(Image credit: Fotor/Jabra)

The best budget wireless headphones enable you to listen to your music on the go without having to contend with any headphone cables. So there's no barrier between you and your music. But what if you can’t afford to splurge a pair of the world's very best wireless headphones? No matter, as these cheap wireless headphones still deliver great wire-free sound.

Ok so they may cut a corner or two to keep the price tag down, but overall there are some brilliant budget wireless headphones around. Some are so good, in fact, that they have the audio clout to compete with the very best headphones for listening to music just as the artist intended.

Most of the best phones now come without any headphone socket, so if you enjoy blasting Metallica on the way to work, you'll get a lot of mileage out of wire-free cans, and we have some beauties lined-up here in our guide to the best budget wireless headphones.

Look, we're not idiots: we know there are some cheap wireless headphones out there that are about as sonically appealing as listening to Mumford & Sons played through a megaphone, but you won't find any of those stinkers in our guide. Think of us as the big, burly, tattooed bouncer standing between shite cans and the best budget wireless headphones for you. So step inside now and allow us to hook you up... 

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Best budget wireless headphones: Louder's Choice

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: AKG Y50BT

(Image credit: AKG)

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, the best 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
  • Lindy BNX-60
  • Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless
  • JBL Tune 600BTNC
  • Beats by Dre Beats X
  • Sennheiser CX Sport
  • SoundMagic E10BT
  • Jabra Move Wireless
  • Philips SHB4385 True Wireless Bass+
  • Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Best budget wireless headphones: buying advice

You may presume that a limited budget means limited options, but £80 will get you almost any type of cheap wireless headphones, from on-ear noise-cancellers 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 cables are holding you back during rock-fueled run, choose a pair of cheap wireless headphones that are fitness-specific (ie, sweat- and water-resistant, with a stay-put shape). Commuters have the most choice and will find plenty of audio temptation among the best budget wireless headphones below.

Fit matters a lot too, particularly in terms of in-ears. Our lug-holes are all different, and failing to ensure that your chosen headphones fit yours correctly could result in them not only falling out, but could also lead to sub-standard sound. If possible, try 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, consider the battery life being offered and which version of Bluetooth is being used. The later the version (we’re now on 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 and cheap wireless headphones: Louder sound logo

The best budget wireless headphones to buy now

Best budget wireless headphones and best cheap wireless earphones: AKG Y50BT

(Image credit: AKG)

1. AKG Y50BT

Simply the best budget wireless headphones for under £100

Launch price: £80/$97 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 20hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Dynamic and punchy
Fun sound
Lightweight and portable
No noise-cancelling

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

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Lindy BNX-60

(Image credit: Lindy)

2. Lindy BNX-60

Noise-cancelling and wireless for under £100? Here's the proof!

Launch price: £80/$97 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 15hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Decent noise-cancelling
Detailed, solid sound
The AKG Y50BTs sound ever better
Not particularly stylish

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?

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

(Image credit: Skull Candy)

3. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

Moronic name, but these cheap wireless headphones work well

Launch price: £30/$36 | Type: In-ear (neckband) | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Exceptionally affordable
Full, fun sound
Weak battery
Some wireless drop-out

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.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: JBL Tune600BTNC

(Image credit: JBL)

4. JBL Tune 600BTNC

Another noise-cancelling option if you think the Lindy’s look dull

Launch price: £89.99/$99.99 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 12hr (Bluetooth and noise-cancelling) | Connector: MicroUSB

Powerful, weighty sound
Decent noise-cancelling
Bass can be overpowering
Plastic scratches too easily

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.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Beats by Dre Beats X Wireless Headphones

(Image credit: Beats by Dre)

5. Beats by Dre Beats X

The best budget wireless headphones for no-fuss easy pairing

Launch price: £79.99/$59 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8hr (Bluetooth) | Connector: MicroUSB

Fast charging feature
Easy to pair with your phone
Durable – fine to throw in your bag
Voice call function isn't the best

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.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Sennheiser CX Sport

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

6. Sennheiser CX Sport

The best budget wireless headphones for exercise

Launch price: £119.99/$129.95 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Punchy, powerful sound
Sturdy fit
Great for exercise
Short battery life

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.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: SoundMAGIC E10BT

(Image credit: SoundMagic)

7. SoundMagic E10BT

These cheap wireless headphones sound ace for the small price

Launch price: £70/$85 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 12hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Impressive battery
Great wireless quality
Broadly strong sound
Battery box can be annoying

SoundMagic’s E10 wired in-ears were the best budget wireless headphones for years. While these Bluetooth versions don’t outperform their price tag to quite the same degree, their rock-solid wireless performance, excellent battery life and all-round performance mean you’d be hard pushed to find a better pair for less.

This is no super-light pair of true wireless in-ears, though. Instead, the design is a little old-school, with a battery module dangling behind the neck while a mic and control unit hangs from one ear. Still, given the money being asked and the sound quality offered, that relatively rudimentary design seems a more than satisfactory compromise.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Jabra Move Wireless

(Image credit: Jabra)

8. Jabra Move Wireless

No-frills budget wireless headphones with decent sound

Launch price: £65/$78 | Type: On-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8hr | Connector: MicroUSB

Decent sound
Reliable wirelessness
Feel a little cheap in parts
Fairly short battery life

While the more colourful versions tend to set you back at least a tenner more, the unassuming black paint job of Jabra’s cheap wireless headphones is probably the one most people would pick anyway.

As you might expect, the plastic on the cups feels a little on the cheap side and the 8-hour battery life could be better, but the wireless signal is solid and they sound more than good enough for day-to-day use, which is why they've made our best budget wireless headphones guide.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: Philips SHB4385 True Wireless Bass+

(Image credit: Philips)

9. Philips SHB4385 True Wireless Bass+

The best budget wireless headphones for true wireless for less

Launch price: £50/$60 | Type: In-ear (true wireless) | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6hr (+6hr from case) | Connector: MicroUSB

Loads of bass
True wirelessness for pennies
Bottom end lacks definition
Not terribly punchy

True wireless headphones are all the rage right now, but these miniature marvels of modern engineering tend to be rather expensive. Not so the Philips SHB4385s.

The full name gives you a strong hint at the sonic signature here: there’s lots of bass. That’s fine in some ways, but that heavy bottom end could definitely be a bit tighter. In fact, the whole delivery could do with a bit more pep.

That said, you’re getting some great technology, very decent battery life and plenty of comfort for very little money. These buds are certainly deserving of their place on this best budget wireless headphones list.

Best budget wireless headphones and cheap wireless headphones: JayBird X3

(Image credit: Jaybird)

10. Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

The best budget wireless headphones for custom sound

Launch price: £109.99/$129.99 | Type: In-ear | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8hr (+6hr from case) | Connector: MicroUSB

Good Bluetooth reliability
Secure and comfortable fit
Can be used as running headphones
Noise isolation isn't the strongest

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.