5 of the best budget headphones

Can’t afford to upgrade your ears? These cheap beats may be low on cost, but they’re high on quality

Closed-back earcups, solid headband, durable cabling and plenty of colour options make these cans a cracking choice for the fashion-conscious commuter. There’s a bit of echo and clutter to the sound, but they’re largely balanced and enjoyable, with good bass weight for the price.

Sony MDR ZX300 £33

There’s something awfully try-hard about Skullcandy’s ‘gnarly’ marketing, but they do make decent cans. In fact, the Lowriders are excellent, with crisp, clear and detailed sonics. Build is unexceptional, but they fold away neatly and sport a mic and one-button control.

Skullcandy Lowrider £40

The iGrados have been giving sonic satisfaction for years now, and with a new driver inside now sound better than ever. Masses of detail, loads of punch and near-perfect tonal balance make for fantastic audio quality, but don’t take them on the tube – their open backs leak sound like a sonic colander.

Grado iGrado £50

Blimey, we’ve not been this torn in ages – these JVCs sound almost as good as the Skullcandys and are incredibly cheap. On the other hand, they’re flimsy and have a rather unconvincing grip on your head, making them unreliable when out and about. For home use only, but a bargain in terms of sound.

JVC HA-S160 £20

A price tag of £35 for any kind of headphones is good, but for a noise-cancelling pair it’s silly-cheap. More surprisingly still, the noise-reducing tech actually works fairly effectively and they also offer up an impressively clear, punchy and detailed sound. We could do without the background hiss, mind.

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