It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone needs a decent pair of headphones – and thankfully that requirement doesn’t have to come at a buttock-clenchingly high price. There are loads of great budget headphones available right now – and here are our favourite five, from dinky earbuds to larger noise-cancelling cans.
Sennheiser CX 475 (£20)
The Sennheiser CX 475s have been around for a hot minute now, but following a price cut they can be snapped up for a mere £20 – and that’s a bargain for earbuds of this quality. Solidly built, comfy to wear and even-handed when it comes to tonal balance, they sound great with pretty much any type of music. A great cheap replacement for the dire earbuds bundled with your smartphone or portable music player.
SoundMagic ES20 (£25)
If you’re feeling a touch more flush the ES20s, a fiver more than the Sennheiser CX 475s, offer a slightly more rugged build: there’s some aluminium in the construction and the internally twisted cable won’t tangle as easily. And the audio quality? Detailed, dynamic and similarly tonally balanced. A smashing set of earbuds for the price.
Lenco HP-080 (£30)
You might be forgiven for thinking noise-cancelling headphones are a no-go at the budget end of the market – but allow Lenco to prove you wrong. Its HP-080 cans deliver decent levels of noise cancelling, albeit with the introduction of a slight hiss. That said, the effect will improve any plane or train journey, and serves to boost audio quality too.
Jay a-Jays Four (£42)
A stylish pair of iPhone, iPod and iPad-friendly earbuds (they feature a three-button remote and microphone for taking calls and stopping/skipping tracks), the a-Jays are comfortable, lightweight and, thanks to their flat cable, almost impossible to tangle. Sound quality is open and revealing with plenty of low-end heft. Available in black or white finishes.
AKG K451 (£50)
Originally priced at around £130, you can now pick up AKG’s K451s for as little as fifty sheets – and that’s a stonker of a bargain for a pair of slim, lightweight and sturdy on-ear cans that sound as good as they look. In fact, our golden-eared chums at What Hi-Fi? called the K451s “simply exceptional”, excelling even with lower bitrate material. A premium set of ‘phones for a pittance.