Home / Features / Best cheap headphones 2023: top budget wireless earphones for less than £100/$100

Best cheap headphones 2023: top budget wireless earphones for less than £100/$100

Our favourite 'phones for affordable cordless audio

Sonic kit can set you back hundreds, but you don’t need deep pockets to bag a solid set of wireless earphones. Want reliable ‘phones for everyday listening? The best cheap headphones make cord-free audio more affordable, without cutting corners where it counts.

From accessible cans to budget earbuds, the list below features our pick of the top earphones available for less than £100/$100. While they might not rival high-end headphones for outright feature-packed performance, each pair promises to please the ears – and a few give premium competitors a good run for their money.

Whether you want in-ears, on-ears or sporty neckband numbers, our round-up covers excellent cheap headphones fit for every need and noggin. So you can upgrade your playlists without downgrading your credit score.

Our pick of the best cheap headphones

Sony WF-C500: some of the best cheap true wireless earphones

Sony WF-C500

Aping the ergonomic design of Sony’s premium earbuds, the WF-C500 are lightweight wireless earphones for easy everyday audio. Small and subtly sculpted, the in-ears offer a faff-free and comfy fit. Output from their 5.8mm drivers can be tweaked via the Headphones Connect app, while big buttons on the back of each ‘bud make for straightforward control inputs. There’s no active noise cancellation, but three tip sizes help you find a seal that reduces background sound. And while the charging case’s compact proportions mean it can only extend longevity by 10 hours, standalone battery life is impressive at 10 hours’ playback.

Stuff Says…

With adjustable sound, a comfortable shape and 10 hours of on-board battery life, these compact Sony ‘buds are up there with the best budget earphones

Tech spec:

Battery: 10 hours (earphones), 10 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 5.8mm • Weight: 5.4g (earbuds), 35g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX4

Cambridge Melomania 1+: some of the best cheap earphones for audiophiles

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+

Courtesy of a recent price cut, Cambridge Audio’s bullet-like Melomania 1+ earbuds now offer superb sound quality at a remarkably accessible price. Their tidy, cylindrical shells are seriously light at 4.6g apiece, yet their nine-hour battery life is properly competitive – with another 36 available from the charging case. There’s no active noise cancelling, but the 1+ do offer excellent passive sound isolation, plus the option to tweak EQ levels in the partner app. Add voice assistant support, together with a balanced soundstage broad enough to please audiophiles, and you’ve got a whole lot of wireless earphones here for your money.

Stuff Says…

With intuitive controls, useful app features and excellent audio quality, the Melomania 1+ are the best cheap earphones for audiophiles on a budget

Tech spec:

Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 36 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 5.8mm • Weight: 4.6g (earbuds), 37g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX5

Earfun Air Pro

There might be a new edition, but the original Earfun Air Pro arguably offer better value than their successors. Distinctive angular stems set them apart in a crowded marketplace, as does the inclusion of ANC – something rarely seen in earphones this cheap. There’s no app compatibility, but the Air Pro’s 10mm dynamic drivers promise a neutral, balanced listen, while infrared wear-detection pauses your playlist if you remove them. Their pebble-like case isn’t the most compact, but it does add a solid 23 hours to the nine on-board the Air Pro.

Stuff Says…

Feature-packed yet affordable, these distinctive noise-cancelling earphones offer plenty for the price

Tech spec:

Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 23 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 10mm • Weight: 53g • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IPX5

JBL Tune 660NC

JBL knows how to hit the price/performance sweet spot, and these noise-cancelling cans are no exception. Pairing dynamic audio with stellar ANC, the Tune 660NC do plenty for their accessible price tag. Designed to sit comfortably on your ears, the headphones are relatively light at 116g, while folding hinges above the cups allow for easier stashing. Promising “Pure Bass Sound”, the 660NC deliver a weighty listen that doesn’t want for energy. With ANC enabled, battery life tops out north of 40 hours, while five minutes of refuelling gives you a two-hour boost. Google Fast Pair support means easy syncing with compatible Android devices, too.

Stuff Says…

Punchy sound, long battery life and decent ANC: these JBL headphones offer a lot of features for an accessible price

Tech spec:

Battery: 44 hours (ANC) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: Yes • Driver size: 32mm • Weight: 166g • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: N/A

Sennheiser CX True Wireless

Awarded a five-star review at full price, Sennheiser’s CX True Wireless earphones are only more tempting after a hefty ticket reduction. Their large, functional shells won’t be to every taste, but they do at least benefit from Sennheiser’s robust build quality. Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity means high-quality audio that’s less hungry for power, resulting in nine hours of on-board battery life. Responsive touch controls are complemented by voice assistant support and the exemplary Smart Control app, which unlocks all sorts of adjustments. And while there’s no ANC, the 7mm drivers still deliver a dynamic, punchy listen that stops short of shrill.

Stuff Says…

Want assertive audio, decent battery life and a fantastic interface? If you’re comfortable with their dimensions, the CX are money well spent

Tech spec:

Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 27 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 7mm • Weight: 6g (earbuds), 37g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4

Jabra Elite 45h

Classy looks can’t mask the plastic build of Jabra’s budget headphones, but the Elite 45h are no cut-price cans: well-made and comfortable to wear, they also ship with a truly generous suite of features. Top of the list are two 40mm full-range drivers, delivering a detailed and dynamic listen. Backing them up is a battery good for 50 hours on a single charge, comfortably eclipsing pretty much everything in this list and price bracket. Swivelling cups assist with wearability, while intuitive buttons streamline the experience. And while there’s no ANC, Jabra’s Sound+ app allows in-depth tailoring of the sonic experience.

Stuff Says…

Understated looks, capable drivers and class-beating battery life: these Jabra ‘phones offer superlative on-ear value

Tech spec:

Battery: 50 hours • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 40mm • Weight: 160g • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: N/A

Beats Flex: the cheapest Beats headphones you can buy

Beats Flex

Featuring a tangle-free neck loop with integrated volume, music and call controls, the Flex earphones are Beats’ best effort at cheaper audio. And they’re pretty close to being a bona fide bargain. Audio performance doesn’t rewrite the rulebook, but you can expect well-defined highs and suitably wobbly lows from the 8.2mm drivers – a sound signature which lends itself well to processed beats. Magnetic backs mean the dinky buds can be usefully clicked together when they’re not occupying your earholes, while the cable itself sits naturally without flopping about. And the whole package is complemented by a lengthy 12-hour listening time.

Stuff Says…

Beats on a budget, the Flex aren’t sonically special, but their versatile design and commendable battery life add up to great value

Tech spec:

Battery: 12 hours • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 8.2mm • Weight: 18.6g • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: N/A

RHA TrueConnect 2

Adopting a straightforward approach to wireless audio, the TrueConnect 2 focus on nailing the basics. That means a neat, understated design. It also means nine-hour battery life, with an impressive 35 more stored in the charging case – which is good, given the 79g heft of the holder. IP55 water-resistance renders the TrueConnect 2 good for drizzly conditions, too. What you don’t get is ANC or the option to pair with multiple devices at the same time. There’s no partner app for tweaking the EQ, either. But if you’re happy with a warm presentation, you’ll find these easy on the ears.

Stuff Says…

Designed for hours of easy listening, these no-frills wireless earbuds ditch extra features in favour of full-bodied sound and solid battery life

Tech spec:

Battery: 9 hours (earphones), 35 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 6mm • Weight: 6g (earbuds), 79g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: IP55

Anker Soundcore Life Q30: some of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

Slightly bulbous by design, Anker’s Soundcore Life Q30 are unlikely to win awards for their looks. But when you compare their price to their spec sheet, you’re unlikely to mind too much: these are among the most skilful ‘phones you can buy for less than £100/$100. Active noise cancellation is the headline feature, deploying dual microphones to detect and counteract background sounds. Add 40mm drivers, 40-hour battery life with ANC and comprehensive customisation options in the Soundcore app, and these shape up as the kind of cans that could confidently go up against big-name rivals.

Stuff Says…

Not the most stylish wireless headphones, the Q30 make up for their looks with a feature list to rival over-ears at twice the price

Tech spec:

Battery: 50+ hours • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 40mm • Weight: 141g • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 • Water-resistance: N/A

Urbanears Boo Tips: some of the best cheap wireless earbuds

Urbanears Boo Tip

Absurdly light at less than 4g per earbud, these eco-friendly phones use 91% recycled plastic in their matte construction. While the soundstage can feel slightly cramped on textured tracks, the Boo Tips produce an energy which belies their lightweight build and relatively low price, with 10mm drivers delivering unexpectedly rich, well-balanced bass. That said, they’re not without compromise: stem touch controls can’t be customised and battery life is mediocre at 4.5 hours. And without ANC, limited noise isolation means the Boo Tips can struggle top stop outside sounds from leaking into an otherwise enjoyable listen.

Stuff Says…

Featherweight and eco-friendly, these straightforward in-ears turn recycled trash into respectable audio for a fair price – limited noise isolation notwithstanding

Tech spec:

Battery: 4.5hrs hours (earphones), 25.5 hours (case) • Wireless charging: No • ANC: No • Driver size: 10mm • Weight: 3.95g (earbuds), 36.7g (case) • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 • Water-resistance: IPX4
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