Appliances, Phones

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Whether you want to listen to an upbeat playlist to keep you motivated during a workout, put on an audiobook on the way to work, or enjoy some golden oldies or relaxing background music in your spare time, you’ll need a reliable pair of headphones. But you don’t have to spend a lot to make sure you get a great listening experience, we’ve found these budget offerings deliver quality to match more expensive rivals.

The best headphones under £50 include both wireless and wired options with solid sound capabilities, long battery life (if applicable) and comfortable padding or ear tips so you can keep listening for hours at a time. Whether you need a pair for the commute, a flight, or to wear around the home, we’ve found the top options that don’t come with a high price tag.

We wanted to ensure this roundup is accurate no matter when you’re browsing, so we haven’t picked models on short-term offers and have focused on ones with a recommended retail price (RRP) that’s within our £50 price limit.

Best headphones under £50

HP Omen 16 2023 Gaming Laptop 16.1″ WQHD IPS 165Hz 14-Core Intel i9-12900H 32GB

Powerful 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900H 14-Core (Base Clock 2.9GHz, Up to 5.0 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 24 MB Intel Smart cache, 14 cores, 6 Performance-Cores, 8 Efficient-Cores, 20 threads). When it comes to raw power and performance, the Omen 16 Laptop makes no compromises. With an Intel Core processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, feel free to crank up the settings everywhere you go.


Acer Aspire 1 A115-32-C96U Slim Laptop | 15.6″ FHD Display

  • Purposeful Design: Travel with ease and look great doing it with the Aspire 1 thin, light design.
  • Ready-to-Go Performance: The Aspire 1 is ready-to-go with the latest Celeron processor from Intel delivers a balance of performance and graphics with faster connectivity.
  • Visibly Stunning: Experience sharp details and crisp colors on the 15.6″ Full HD display with 16:9 aspect ratio and narrow bezels.

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 (2023) – 12.4″ Touchscreen, Thin & Lightweight

  • The perfect everyday laptop – Ultra-portable at under 2.5 pounds with a vibrant 12.4” touchscreen for work or play, wherever you are.
  • Colors you crave – Available in Platinum, Sage, Sandstone, and Ice Blue, all in a durable, cool metal finish

How the GH Tech Team tests budget headphones

When testing the best headphones under £50, we’re looking for great value for money. That means models that deliver surprisingly good specs and sound quality to rival mid-range and premium contenders.

During our tests, we listen to a range of music genres – everything from rock and pop to classical and electronic, and we use them to play podcasts too. We evaluate the battery life (for wireless models), and we look at how comfortable they are and how effective any noise-cancelling technology is.

HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 15.6″ FHD 144Hz Display

AMD Ryzen 5 7535HS ( 3.3 GHz base clock, up to 4.55 GHz max boost clock, 16 MB cache, 6 cores, 12 threads)


  • Capable noise-cancelling
  • Comfortable fit


  • Plasticky feel

Active noise-cancelling (ANC) is one of those features that tend to add extra expense when you’re comparing different headphone models, so it’s impressive to find it in these Soundcore cans that don’t cost more than £50. These often go on offer, going for as little as £37.99 when on sale.

On test, we like the capable ANC for silencing background noises during our commute or at the office and the sound quality is excellent for the cost. Its battery life is solid, too, and we’re also happy to report that they’re comfortable to wear for a long time. In fact, they’re more comfortable than the Beats Studio Pro model which costs six times as much.

By default, they’re quite a bass-boosted pair of headphones, but it’s possible to tweak this using Soundcore’s companion app, which gives you many different equaliser options to get the best sound out of the cans. The bass boost makes the thumping overpowering, so we’d switch to “Soundcore Signature” and this sounds great for all our music and podcasts. Of course, it’s not audiophile-level, but it’s excellent for the price.

For a noticeable upgrade, we’d suggest you go with the 1More Sonoflow SE – they cost just a little more but are frequently on offer, so you may be able to pick them up for just over £50. On this pair, the comfort, sound and ANC are excellent.

  • Noise-cancelling
  • Battery life
  • Charging
  • Weight
  • Yes
  • 40 hours (with ANC on)
  • USB-C
  • ‎245g

HP Stream 14″ HD BrightView Laptop, Intel Celeron N4120, 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage

Seamless multitasking and smooth performance are like a breath. Featured with a 1.1 GHz base frequency, and up to 2.6 GHz burst frequency, this laptop is powerful enough even for your busiest days. [Integrated Intel UHD Graphics] Acting with an integrated UHD GPU, a journey of stunning visuals, vibrant colors, and immersive movies begins anytime, anywhere.


  • Capable noise-cancelling
  • Comfortable fit


  • Plasticky feel

For the super-low price, this is a seriously well-rounded pair of earphones and the first buds we’d recommend to most people on a tight budget.

There’s no ANC, but they’re small and convenient, with a USB-C connection for fast charging and a solid and fun bass-filled sound. However, you’re not stuck with the sound that you get initially. You can tweak the equaliser via the companion app – that’s where you can also turn on a low-lag mode to help with gaming and video calls. They’re comfortable to wear for a long amount of time and, even without noise-cancelling, they block out more than enough external sounds in our testing.

The P20i is an impressive and affordable little package, and as they also stay in our ears well and come with a good range of ear tips so that you’ll get the right fit, we think they are a decent option for the gym too.

Is there really a difference between cheap and expensive headphones?

While it’s possible to find decent headphones at low prices, we still think high-quality expensive headphones are worth it. Most people can tell the difference once they make the step up.

If you’re picking up a set under £20, it’s hard to view it as a long-term investment and you should be aware that it may not be built to last for a long time. On the other hand, the pricey pairs are more durable, deliver much better audio performance with a wider soundstage and have advanced features like impressive active noise-cancelling, high-quality smartphone apps, spatial and 3D sound support and better water, dust and sweat resistance.

It is also worth knowing that sometimes the price difference isn’t due to these improvements but more due to materials, branding or style.

Sometimes, as we hope this list proves, you can get great value headphones at a much lower price than you’d expect – but, if you have the ability to increase your budget, it’s worth looking at mid-range and premium pairs too.

At what age can kids wear headphones?

There’s no specific recommended age at which kids can start wearing headphones, but it’s important to pay attention to how loud the volume is. This applies to adults as much as it does kids, but you don’t want children to be blasting the music so loud that it starts to damage their hearing.

We have a separate roundup of the best headphones for kids (all of which come with built-in volume restrictions) for this exact reason. If they’d prefer a pair with a more “grown-up” design like those on this list, it’s worth knowing that you can also set a maximum level within your iPhone’s sound settings (look for the “Headphone Safety” section).

The location of this option may differ between various Android devices (and it isn’t available on some), but there should be an option to set a volume limit on the majority of handsets. We’d recommend not only doing this for kids but also for yourself – and we’d advise a limit of 85 decibels.

How to pick the best budget headphones

We’re sure you already know some of the key things you’re looking for in a new pair of headphones, but these are the most important specs that we’d keep in mind:

Sound quality

Of course, this is one of the major differences between more expensive models and budget pairs. But, having tried many of both categories, we can say that there are many less expensive pairs that deliver far better quality than you’d expect and that not every pair that costs hundreds of pounds sounds that much better.

The models on this list deliver better audio than we’d expect for under £50, and it’s worth remembering that it can be hard to tell the difference if you haven’t trained your ears to notice musical subtleties.

Mainly listening to podcasts and audiobooks? You’ll get on fine with affordable headphones.

Wireless or wired

With smartphone manufacturers including Apple, Google, Sony and Samsung now having ditched the 3.5mm headphone socket on their products, there’s no doubt that wireless headphones are the future.

However, wired models do deliver less lag, better longevity (because there are no batteries to run down) and the potential for higher audio quality. We know most shoppers are looking for wire-free options, though, so almost all of the headphones on this list are wireless options.

Battery life

The wireless models on the list all offer solid battery life, going for at least six hours on a single charge. The truly wireless earbuds that don’t have a cable connecting each bud will also recharge themselves whenever you place them back in their charging case, making it rare that they’ll run out unless you’re wearing them for a very long time between charges.


We’d recommend looking out for models that have a quick charge functionality, as this can be handy when you’re running low on juice. Just a few minutes connected to the mains or a portable charger can reward you with several hours of playback time.

The ability to fast charge via USB-C is invaluable in our experience, and you’ll find those models that charge with an older USB-A or Micro-USB cable can’t charge up as fast.

Also, for added convenience, it’s worth looking out for wireless charging. With these models, you can simply place the case on a charging pad (we recommend the EarFun Air, which costs £49.99) and it’ll start to top up with power.

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