Everyone has experienced the sudden dread of realizing their favorite set of earbud headphones was accidentally left at home. This is where having an inexpensive back-up pair of buds comes in handy. Luckily, it’s usually possible to find an inexpensive replacement at a nearby store. Even so, purchasing budget buds may seem like a risk if you’re used to high-end gear. That’s why we’re giving you the lowdown on the best earbuds under $20 so that the next time you’re in a pinch you can find decent tunes, quick.
This complete, easy-to-read reference will guide you through deciding which bargain set of earbuds is right for you. It’ll discuss key buying points, list several available options, and thoroughly review the absolute best three choices. With our help you won’t be at a loss if you forget to bring along your favorite earbuds.
Things to Think About
- Availability. Inexpensive earbuds are easy to find and easy to purchase. This fact alone makes them a popular choice when you need new buds quickly.
You don’t need to visit a specialty audio store; they’re available at most discount retailers, fuel stations, and grocery stores. The items aren’t tucked behind a locked case so purchases are a very convenient experience.
- Amenities. Remember to keep realistic expectations about budget earbuds. They’ll be equipped with basic functionality but won’t offer many extra options.
You aren’t likely to find earbuds under twenty dollars that have things such as active noise cancellation or premium materials.
With that said though, there is a bit of reassurance in that all of these earbud headphones are manufactured by major brands not some generic knock-off. All the companies have good reputations so you’re not likely to encounter a sub-par product.
- Sound. Earbuds fit directly in your ear canal and do the best job of keeping environmental noise from interfering with your audio. This characteristic is true no matter how much you spend on your headphones.
But earbuds have to properly fit in order to get the most out of them. Even the most expensive buds will sound tinny and hollow if fitted with the wrong ear tips. Most packages include three to five differently sized tips to help out with this.
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Top 3 Best Earbuds Under $20 Reviews
Skullcandy is one of the most well-known brands of headphones on the market. Though mostly advertised towards a young demographic, Skullcandy products have no problem holding their own against much older brands.
The Riot starts with an aluminum housing and very large 11 mm driver. The large driver allows these little guys to produce big sound. The aluminum housing adds durability to the unit. The cord is sufficiently long enough to be tucked away under clothes yet short enough not to get easily tangled.
As for sound; these are surprisingly decent. They’re capable of a wide frequency response so you don’t have to worry about losing part of your music. They accurately represented instruments and vocals of every genre music. If you like loud music then you’ll definitely enjoy listening to Skullcandy’s Riot. That large driver gets louder than you’d want to regularly use.
The buds themselves fit well but are prone to falling out. They’re made of soft comfortable plastic that doesn’t dig into your ears.
Overall, the Riot by Skullcandy proves to be a good value. They offer reputable sound and a good fit.
Panasonic is a consumer electronics giant with products ranging from home appliances like televisions to headphones. Offering such a large spectrum of items can sometimes lead to low quality products. But in Panasonic’s case they do a good job maintaining innovation and quality control across the wide range of products. We definitely see that in their ErgoFit earbuds.
The first thing you notice is their somewhat weird shape and bright colors. They’re not your typical angled bud; more of a hybrid between the flat basic plastic housing and the soft-tipped bud. A plastic angled bud is its foundation; that is then topped by soft silicone eartips.
The hybrid construction is comfortable on its own. You’re able to freely move your head without the earbuds coming loose or falling out. The silicone tips fit well as well without pinching or digging into your ears.
Panasonic have ErgoFit an ample 9mm driver. There’s no cracking sound evident as you listen. Most genres are not only clear but well toned; there’s enough detail and bass to suit most listeners. They do have trouble keeping up with bass-heavy EDM and rap, and in very detailed tracks of classical and jazz. But for general use the overall sound is quite pleasant.
Panasonic balances comfort, style, and usefulness with its ErgoFit earbuds. We don’t think these are going to let you down.
Like the Active Sport before it; Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds 2 is one of the few styles of inexpensive earbuds that include features that increase their comfort and durability.
Smokin’ Buds 2 have an angled barrel instead of the straight mushroom shape. The angle keep the unit fitted snugly inside your ears. They’re a great alternative for anyone who has trouble getting earbuds to sit right.
The angle also changes the sound dynamics. These have the same frequency response as the Riots so the overall sound reproduction is similar. But less sound escapes these and the bass feels more potent.
Smokin’ Buds 2 are acceptable for athletic use since they’re made of moisture-resistant materials. If you’re not into athletics that’s okay though. Sweat proof has the added benefit of being able to save them from spills.
The Smokin’ Buds 2 by Skullcandy are the best earbuds under $20 if you like the Skullcandy sound and look, but are someplace like the gym or cafe where they’re likely to get wet.