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Best Cheap Headphones

5 Headphones Under $50


One of the most popular articles on the Computer Peripherals site is the list of "5 Cheap Earbuds." But let's say you're not an earbud fan. Let's say you hate the feeling of plastic poking you in the ear, and you'd much rather use an over-ear or an on-ear type of headphone. Let's also say that you don't want to spend a lot of money on them.

When it comes to headphones -- both the in-ear and the over-ear variety -- you tend to get what you pay for. Not spending enough can mean you're stuck with shoddy materials and tinny sound. But if you're not expecting audiophile quality, and you accept that you just may need to replace them in a couple years (or sooner), you can still luck out with something usable and comfortable. Here is a list of decent options for people who just aren't interested in treading in the high-end waters of headphones.

All of them are priced below the $50 threshold, and all of them use the MSRP. Since retailers and online retailers typically sell the products for less than the MSRP, you should be able to find most of them for even less than these price tags.

1. Sony MDR-NC8

Noise-canceling headphones are usually in the upper echelon of the price range for headphones, but the MDR-NC8 stays below the $50 mark. This model from Sony features 30mm drivers and has active noise-canceling technology. One plus in its column is that it will still operate even if the AAA battery powering the noise canceling dies on you. This is good news for business travelers (the oft-designated user of noise-canceling headphones), who may despair about their limited options once they're mid-flight. At the time of this writing (January 2013), they are offered in black and white.

Image courtesy of Sony

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2. Sennheiser PX 90

Sennheiser is a well-known presence in the high-end headphones category, but it dips into the entry level with the PX 90 and its $39.99 MSRP. These on-ear headphones are billed as being lightweight, and they have a retro-style steel headband. They are also offered in an around-the-neck design, known as the PMX 90. They have a two-year warranty.

Image courtesy of Sennheiser

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3. Skullcandy Icon 3

The Icon 3 on-ear headphones from Skullcandy are bold and bright, and they come with on-ear touch controls for accessing microphone and track-control functions. So rather than fiddling with your music player while it's tucked into your jacket, you can just tap the side of the headphones to change songs or answer a call. Like many of Skullcandy's headphones, these are geared toward athletic users and they boast a non-slip rubber headband. Four color options are offered: black, white, khaki and Galactica Plasma (green) for a $39.95 MSRP.

Image courtesy of Skullcandy

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4. Koss UR50

These over-ear headphones from Koss are described as being "full-sized," but they also fold flat for storage. The metal headband has padding for comfort, and the leather-covered ear cups are also able to swivel. Their over-ear design is also meant to isolate ambient noise. Its 4-foot "Flex" cable is designed for durability. The UR50 has an MSRP of $49.95, and Koss says they are covered by the company limited lifetime warranty.

Image courtesy of Koss

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5. Vizio XVTHB100 Bluetooth Headphones

Cheap Bluetooth headphones can be difficult to find, especially when you're seeking to stay below this $50 mark. If you're looking for something that lets you use your tablet or laptop untethered, take a look at Vizio's XVTHB100 Bluetooth stereo headphones. While Vizio might not be known as a traditional player in the headphones market, it prices these headphones at $39.95 -- practically unheard of for Bluetooth stereo headphones. Features include 30mm drivers, a funky design, and a microphone so they can double as a headset for your smartphone. Battery life is listed as six to nine hours, depending on the type of usage.

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