Best Budget Earbuds for 2023: Cheap Wireless Picks – CNET

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$80 at Amazon

Top budget wireless earbuds with noise canceling

Earfun Air Pro 3


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$100 at Amazon

Latest Anker noise-canceling earbuds

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC


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$50 at Amazon

Best new budget open earbuds

Amazon Echo Buds 2023


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$100 at Samsung

The Galaxy Buds FE have stabilizer fins like the discontinued Galaxy Buds Plus

Samsung earbuds with sport fins

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE


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$50 at Amazon

Best cheap open earbuds

Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS


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$21 at Amazon

Best wireless earbuds under $25

Baseus Bowie MA10


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$36 at Amazon

Good-sounding cheap wireless earbuds under $40

Tranya T20


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$120 at Jabra

Best budget earbuds from Jabra

Jabra Elite 4


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$70 at Amazon

Good value open earbuds

1More Fit SE S30


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$70 at Amazon

Best Anker wireless sports earbuds

Soundcore by Anker Sport X10


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What are the best cheap wireless earbuds?

I’ve tested hundreds of true-wireless earbuds over the last several years, including many budget buds that cost less than $100 and even a few that cost as little $20. With so many budget wireless earbuds out there, it’s hard to say which is the best overall. However, a few models do stand out from the pack, which is why they’re at the top of this list. These include the Earfun AirPro 3, Anker Liberty 4 NC, Amazon Echo Buds 2023, Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS and Samsung Galaxy Buds FE.

For these mini reviews, I’ve included details on the earbuds’ battery life, audio quality and key features, including whether they have active noise canceling, plus their IPX water-resistant rating in case you’re interested in using these for running or working out at the gym. Keep scrolling to see the best overall inexpensive earbuds available right now. I’ll update this list as other top affordable wireless earbuds are released. All the buds on this list cost less than $100 and several cost less than $60.

Read more: Best Wireless Earbuds for 2023

Best budget wireless earbuds of 2023

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Earfun has put out a series of wireless earbuds over the last couple of years with one important commonality: They’re very good values, made more so by frequent discounts. The company’s new-for-2023 Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds feature the latest Qualcomm QCC3071 system-on-a-chip with AptX Adaptive for Android and other devices that support the new LE Audio standard and LC3 audio codec, which is superior to the SBC codec (they also support AAC for Apple devices).

Lightweight and comfortable to wear — I got a good seal with the largest ear tip size — these aren’t a huge upgrade over the Earfun Air S, but they are better. They have slightly larger wool-composite drivers (11mm versus 10mm), slightly improved noise canceling and better battery life (up to 7 hours with noise canceling on, according to Earfun).

In short, the Earfun Air 3 deliver strong performance for their modest price, with robust bass, good clarity and a relatively wide soundstage. They also pack in a lot of features, including a wireless charging case and “multidevice” connectivity. (I could pair them to two devices simultaneously but had to pause the music on one device and hit play on the other for the audio to switch.) They’re IPX5 splash-proof and also work well (though not exceptionally well) as a headset for making calls. 

Use the code EAP3CNET at checkout at Amazon to drop the price to just less than $50.

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New for 2023, the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds carry a lower list price than last year’s Liberty 4 buds and are arguably better. They have improved noise canceling and better sound quality, along with support for the LDAC audio codec for devices that support it. (Many Android smartphones do, and in theory it offers slightly improved sound quality when paired with a music streaming service that offers high-res tracks.) They’re lightweight buds that should fit most ears comfortably with four sizes of ear tips to choose from. 

The Liberty 4 NC buds have single custom drivers compared with the Liberty 4’s dynamic dual drivers — and a completely different case design — but I thought they delivered more pleasant sound than the Liberty 4s. Their treble is a little smoother, and they feature strong bass performance. They came across as fairly open, with a reasonably wide soundstage. You can tweak the sound profile in the companion app for iOS and Android. 

The buds come in several color options and are IPX4 splashproof, so they’re suitable for running and gym use. They feature excellent battery life — up to 10 hours on a single charge at moderate volume levels — and there’s also a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in and sounds pretty natural with only a very faint audible hiss. While the noise canceling is an improvement over the Liberty 4’s and is effective, it falls a bit short of what you get from Bose’s and Sony’s premium ANC earbuds. 

Like the Liberty 4, the earbuds have six integrated mics for noise canceling and making calls. Callers said they thought the buds did a pretty good job of reducing background noise, with my voice coming through relatively clearly. They’re an all-around good performing set of buds for the money, and they offer a strong feature set, including ear-detection sensors and wireless charging.

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Amazon’s 2023 Echo Buds impressed me in a few ways that I wasn’t expecting. For starters, they sound good for inexpensive open earbuds, delivering decent clarity and ample bass. But they also have a robust feature set, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, hands-free Alexa and ear-detection sensors that pause your audio when you take one or both buds out of your ears. 

Their sound falls short of that of Apple’s AirPods 3, which deliver fuller bass and overall fuller, smoother sound (they’re better at handling more complicated music tracks with a lot of instruments playing at the same time). But the AirPods 3 cost around $150 and offer only about 15% to 20% better audio. In short, if you’re looking for open earbuds — or “semi-open” as these types of earbuds are sometimes called — the Echo Buds are good value at their $50 list price and even easier to recommend when they go on sale.

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Carrying a list price of $100, Samsung’s new-for-2023 Galaxy Buds FE feature a single driver (Samsung isn’t saying what size it is), three mics on each earbud and active noise canceling. They charge in a case that’s the same size and shape as what you currently get with all of Samsung’s latest Galaxy Buds, including the Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. And they look a lot like an updated version of Samsung’s discontinued Galaxy Buds Plus earbuds, which also came with a set of swappable fins that helped create a secure, comfortable fit. Like those buds, the Galaxy Buds FE are sweat-resistant with an IPX2 water-resistance rating that protects against splashes. 

They don’t sound quite as rich as the Galaxy Buds Pro, and their voice-calling performance isn’t up to the Buds Pro’s level (it’s decent, not great). But they do offer respectable sound quality (it’s certainly as good as the Galaxy Buds 2’s) and decent noise cancelling. I also found them to be lightweight and comfortable to wear. While they may not measure up to more premium earbuds, including the Buds Pro, they deliver good bang for the buck. The Galaxy Buds FE are rated for up to 6 hours of battery life with noise canceling on and 8.5 hours with it off.

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What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode. Battery life is rated at 5 hours at moderate volume levels, and these are IPX4 splash-proof.

Apply the code DCCNETSP at checkout to get an additional 13% off, bringing the price down to $34 — a very good deal if you’re looking for open-style earbuds.

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Priced at just $21 after you click an instant 30% discount coupon on Amazon, the Baseus Bowie MA10 delivers surprisingly good sound along with active noise canceling for its low price (you just don’t see too many active noise canceling earbuds at this price). They’re IPX6 water resistant (can withstand a strong spray of water) and also have multipoint Bluetooth pairing and connect to a companion app. They stick out of your ears a bit, but they did fit my ears comfortably.

The earbuds deliver impressive battery life, offering up to 8 hours on a single charger at moderate volume levels with an extra 132 hours in the charging case. Yes, you heard right — 132 hours! However, the one big downside to these buds is that their charging case is rather large and bulky. If you can live with that, these are a very nice bargain.

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The Tranya T20 remind me a little of a cheaper version of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 without the noise canceling. They’re pretty no-frills and missing more premium features such as an ear-detection sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take a bud out of your ears. But they sound surprisingly decent for their modest price, if you get a tight seal, they sit pretty flush with your ears (they don’t really stick out much) and they have decent battery life — up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels. They also work pretty well for making calls and are IPX7 waterproof.  

The case feels a little cheap and the buds are lightweight. The Galaxy Buds 2 definitely feel more premium. However, the buds are well-tuned and have a relatively wide soundstage. Don’t expect the world from them and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Jabra has replaced its entry-level Elite 3 buds with the new-for-2023 Elite 4, which offer active noise canceling and multipoint Bluetooth pairing. What’s a little confusing is that Jabra also sells the Elite 4 Active, a slightly more ruggedized version of the same buds that carries a list price of $120 but sometimes sells for less than the standard Elite 4. So get the Elite 4 Active if it costs less.

The lightweight Elite 4 fit my ears comfortably and offer good, well-balanced sound with punchy bass and decent clarity. They support Qualcomm’s AptX audio codec (for Android and other devices that support AptX) but only the SBC codec for iPhones (no AAC support). The Elite 4 are missing more-premium features like ear detection sensors and have a four-microphone array for noise canceling and voice calls (voice-calling performance is good but not exceptionally good). Battery life is rated at up to 7 hours at moderate volume levels and the buds have an IP55 water-resistance rating, which means they can take a sustained spray of water and are also dust-resistant. As with a lot of other new buds, you can use either bud independently in a mono mode. 

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1More makes a couple of open sports earbuds with ear hooks. The Fit S50 buds are the flagship ($120) and feature a little better sound than the Fit SE S30, have a more premium design and are fully waterproof (IPX7 rating). But I like the fit a little better on the step down S30, which is IPX5 splash-proof (can sustain a spray of water) and costs half the price, making it a better value.

The case is bulky and feels a little cheap (the lid is flimsy), but the buds themselves seem sturdily built and the ear hooks are nice and flexible. They have 14.2mm drivers that output decent but not great sound (there’s a bit of distortion at higher volumes), which is par for the course for these types of open buds that sit on top of your ears and fire sound into them. They’re also good but not great for voice calling. A companion app for iOS and Android allows your tweak the sound with an equalizer and you can update the buds’ firmware. The buds are available in black or white and offer up to 10 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.

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The Soundcore Sport X10 have an interesting design with rotating swiveling ear hooks that flip up when you’re using them and flip down when you want to set them in their charging case, which has a smaller footprint than a lot of buds with ear hooks. 

As long as you get a tight seal, they sound good, with powerful, punchy bass and good detail. They also have active noise canceling, which is effective though not as good as Sony or Bose’s noise canceling. They’re also fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating, which means they can be fully submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours with an additional three charges in the charging case.

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Other budget wireless earbuds we’ve tested

JBL Live Free 2: Like the Live Pro 2, JBL’s new Live Free 2 buds are surprisingly good. With 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips, they combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance. Features include multipoint Bluetooth pairing and wireless charging, and they’re rated for up to 7 hours with IPX5 water-resistance (splash-proof).

Beats Studio Buds: The Beats Studio Buds look a lot like the rumored stemless AirPods some people have been waiting for. Geared toward both iOS and Android users, they are missing a few key features on the Apple side of things (there’s no H1 or W1 chip), but they’re small, lightweight buds that are comfortable to wear and offer really good sound. While their noise canceling isn’t as good as the AirPods Pro’s, they do have a transparency mode, and they’re decent for making calls. Read our Beats Studio Buds review.

Sennheiser CX: If you can’t afford Sennheiser’s flagship Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds, the CX are a good alternative. They feature very good sound, plus decent noise canceling and voice-calling performance. The only issue is they stick out of your ears a bit and may not fit some smaller ears. This model, which often sells for less than $100 on Amazon, doesn’t feature active noise canceling but the step-up CX Plus does (the CX Plus is also a good value, particularly when it goes on sale).

Factors to consider when choosing budget wireless earbuds

How cheap?

Before anything else, you’ll want to figure out how much you’re willing to spend on new budget earbuds. Value priced earbuds continue to improve, so you can find good “cheap” buds for not too much money (less than $100). But if you don’t even want to spend that much, there are some fairly decent buds that cost less than $40. Read more: 5 true-wireless earbuds worth buying for less than $40.

Fit 

It’s key that the earbuds you buy fit your ears well. They should offer a comfortable, secure fit. If you don’t get a tight seal with noise-isolating earbuds, sound quality and noise canceling can be dramatically impacted for the worse. Open earbuds don’t have that issue, but they should be comfortable to wear and sit securely in your ears.

Performance and sound quality

Because budget earbuds vary so much in terms performance and sound quality, the idea is to avoid ones that sound mediocre and pick ones that deliver better performance than you’d think for their modest price. We include products like that on this list.

Return policy

While we don’t expect as much from cheap earbuds, you still hope they fit well and sound decent. That’s why it’s critical to buy your buds at a retailer that has a good return policy, in case the buds just aren’t good enough.

How we test true-wireless earbuds

We test true-wireless earbuds based on five key criteria, comparing similarly styled and priced models. These criteria are designsound qualityfeaturesvoice-calling performance and value.

Do cheap earbuds sound as good as the AirPods 3rd Gen and AirPods Pro 2?

Apple improved the sound quality of the third-gen AirPods so it raised the bar. That said, many true wireless earbuds that cost less than $100 or even less than $50 offer surprisingly good sound for the money and measure up pretty well against the AirPods and AirPods Pro, though not the AirPods Pro 2, which offer significantly improved sound. 

What are the biggest differences between cheaper buds and more premium buds?

Often, the biggest difference is build quality. Premium buds tend to feel sturdier and tend to be built with more premium materials. They also have a more premium look and feel to both the buds themselves and their charging case. In theory, premium buds should hold up better over time. Additionally, they tend to have more features such as ear-detection sensors and they pair with a companion app so you can upgrade the firmware (as well as tweak the sound and possibly customize the controls). Finally, while some cheaper buds have active noise cancellation, the performance of the noise-canceling and transparency modes tends to be better with more premium buds.

Do cheap earbuds work well for making voice calls?

Some do. Many cheaper buds now feature multiple microphones and some do a surprisingly good job when it comes to voice calling. A few models on this list have surprisingly good noise reduction and measure up well against the AirPods, which are known for their strong voice-calling performance.

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