WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING HEADPHONES UNDER $50
As I mentioned above, there are many options for headphones in the sub $50 category. It seems to be the price that most people are comfortable with paying, but that doesn’t mean they should settle for whatever is cheap. Price at this market point is not reflective of sound quality or build quality.
Some headphone manufacturers can sell their headphones cheap because of the economies of scale. For example, Sony and JVC move many headphones in this price range, so production costs are less because of the competition due to large batch orders at the factories. On the other hand, small companies that grow through word of mouth and have no marketing budget that raises the price can also be competitive.
Finally, it’s tough to ignore the rise of the Chinese HiFi market. We talk about this a lot here at Audiophile. In the past decade, generic brand Chinese companies have moved from producing low-quality tat to some outstanding value audio products such as headphones, earphones, and DAPs (Digital Audio Players).
With production and design costs being so low in China, they have become a real threat to the big brand audio companies and can offer cheap headphones that compete with those many times their price.
AVOID BUYING CHEAP HEADPHONES PURELY FOR FASHION
The biggest mistake I see when buying cheap headphones is purchasing the one that looks the best. I agree this is important as the style of the headphones can match your style. There is, after all, a reason why the Beats headphones come in so many different colors.
However, if these are something you will use daily, there are three other areas to consider when purchasing new headphones. Comfort, Build Quality, and Sound Quality. At under $50, you will have to make sacrifices in each area, but it tends to work out best in the long run if you consider what you want from your headphones in terms of performance and how you are most likely to use them.
YOU DON’T ALWAYS NEED TO SHOP FOR KNOWN BRANDS
As mentioned above, one of the most amazing things in audio advancement over the past few years is what’s known as the “ChiFi” revolution (Chinese Hifi). Before, if you want quality, you would be looking for brands such as Sony, Bose, JVC, etc. Things have changed, and many companies have come out of China and are offering bang for your buck. Budget headphones are better than ever.
These Chinese companies are putting out incredible sounding headphones at prices we could only dream of just a few years ago. Therefore, people in the know who are immersed in the audiophile headphone world have hunted high and low to find the best options for you under $50.
In some cases, a sub $50 headphone from a relatively unknown headphone company can sound better than a set of $200+ headphones from established brand names.
OVER-EAR HEADPHONES VS ON-EAR HEADPHONES
In this category, we will cover both on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones for under $50. The reason to choose one over the other comes down to user preference. For example, if you want to use your headphones exclusively at home or in the office, then maybe you will be better with the added comfort of over-ear full-size headphones. However, if you are someone who travels a lot or is limited for space when doing so, you may prefer the more compact design of an on-ear headphone.
We have found that both headphones’ styles can sound very good during our testing over the past few years. As a result, we would generally advise you to once again look at how you intend to use your headphones and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Advantage: Over-ear Headphones
Usually more comfortable with less pressure on the outer ear
The larger size means the ability to house larger drivers
Tend to isolate better from environmental noise
Advantages: On-Ear Headphones
Closed-Back headphones vs. Open Back Headphones
Again you will see both types of headphones listed above, and yet again, it is important to consider how you use your headphones before deciding what is best. A closed-back headphone is great for commuting or traveling as it allows you to block out a lot more external noise than with an open-back design. An open back has some really unique acoustic properties and can sound very airy and spacious when done right.
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