How to choose the best budget headphones

We see lots of headphones with different names, but we cannot even imagine what lies below. Skullcandy, Sennheiser, Pioneer, Grado, Shure, Akg, Samsung, Koss, Panasonic, Philips, Maxell, Jvc etc. – headphones market is flooded. It should be noted that headphone prices are based not just on audio quality.

music, headphones, listen to music

Factors like demand, prestige and a brand’s popularity play a huge role. Moreover, some manufacturers intentionally increase the price depending on their target audience’s readiness to pay. After all, no self-respecting audio enthusiast would buy a pair of headphones cheaper than £300.

If you occasionally listen to music, internet-radio or audiobooks via mobile

If you need something to provide audio, but are not picky about sound quality and you always carry a mobile around then your best choice are ear bud or in-ear earphones


headphones, glasses

Ear bud earphones

Their name comes from their placement inside ear buds. They are held inside your ear by tightly fitting in, but because they are standard in diameter and each person’s ear size and shape is different, they have a nasty habit of falling out.

Also, because of small speaker size they have problems with outputting low frequencies and blocking out outside sound.

So what are they good for? They are very cheap and portable, meaning you can easily carry them around. They are most useful for people who don’t care too much about sound quality and are often bundled together with mobiles.

We think that the disadvantages of using ear bud earphones outweigh the advantages and we do not recommend buying them.

In-ear headphones

In-ear earphones

These offer better quality. Soft silicone nozzles and their location inside your ear are their main differentiating factors.

They are good at blocking out outside sound as well, that is why they are very useful in noisy places like metros, trains or busy city districts. They are good for listening to music on a mobile.

In-ear headphones are portable plus produce powerful bass which might be useful to hardcore music fans as well.

However, they cause a significant strain to the hearing organs because they are placed inside ears, so they may damage your hearing or cause ear irritation if used for long periods of time (4+ consecutive hours per day).

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If you often play games, talk on Skype or listen to music on mobile

On-ear headphones

This is a better choice if you like gaming, sport or are always on the move (for example, you enjoy running in the mornings), if you like listening to audio books or songs on your player for extended periods of time, then you want something which won’t tire your ears and is comfortably situated on your head.

On-ear headphones, girl, nature

Their name comes from their placement – they are put literally on your ears. They are held together by a headband that goes over (or sometimes behind) your head.

On-ear headphones offer better sound quality than in-ear ones because of larger speaker size. Also, their headband helps to hold them firmly on your ears, ensuring that they won’t fall off.

On-ear headphones will best serve gamers or tablet PC owners and people who enjoy listening to music on their players for extended periods of time. They offer decent blocking of external sounds, but not as good as in-ear headphones.
listen to music in winter

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skype headphones

Open back over-ear headphones

If you are a gamer or enjoy “removing yourself” from your surroundings for brief periods of time while working, then open back over-ear headphones is your best choice

This name was chosen because they do not block off external sounds completely and let a part of them in through an opening in the back of the cups. Open back headphones are often used by gamers and music enthusiasts who enjoy listening to music with the highest audio quality on their PCs, while at the same time don’t like missing phone calls or door bell rings.

Main disadvantage of such headphones is large size.

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However, If you want to completely “remove yourself” from the outside world, then closed back over-ear headphones would be the best choice for you.

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If you work at a music or radio studio, do audio recording or music mixing

If you are an audiophile or work with sound on a professional level and want high audio quality then choosing these noise canceling headphones is your best option.

closed back headphones

Closed back over-ear headphones

Closed back over-ear (or full-size) headphones are entirely sound-proof. The cups of such headphones cover your ears fully and lack any openings, hence the name. The speakers are completely isolated from the outside world, which prevents the speaker sound from leaking out and external sound from getting in.

When wearing closed back headphones you completely block out outside noise and your hearing sensitivity is increased to the maximum due to a physiological reaction. That is why sound of the same volume in open back headphones does not strain you, but can be deafening when wearing closed back headphones, and if you remove them for a moment you will have a strange feeling as if your hearing is “coming back”.

While usually being most expensive headphones of them all, their quality and the materials they are made of may vary greatly. As a result, their price also varies, so if you want to have the highest quality audio, but not willing to spend too much money, you should still not ignore these headphones.

Warning: Do not use these headphones outside because you won’t hear signs of danger and might get into an accident.

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The headphones’ sound quality is determined by impedance.

The higher it is, the more power your headphones need and the higher the sound clarity will be. If your sound source is low power, such as an mp3 player, then headphones with high impedance will produce very low volume. Impedance is measured in Ohms. Typically, for an mp3 player or average PC all you need is 24-36 Ohm. For working in a studio you require 200, 300 or even higher.

In your average shop you can find many headphones with impedance of 8-36 Ohm, or those that do not show this parameter on the box. Don’t be fooled – many manufacturers hide this number in order to prevent customers from comparing them with others and preserving their image.

We recommend you only choose headphones that display their impedance parameter to the average consumer, and it should be 32 Ohm. You won’t need any more than that. Find them on Amazon

32Ohm gives great sound clarity that you will be pleased with

In-ear headphones 32 Ohm

open headphones 32 Ohm

close back 32 Ohm

We now know how to choose the best headphones. This gives us more freedom as a consumer to properly determine the quality of different types of headphones and make the correct purchase decision by ourselves.

Take a pair of headphones for free!

We bought these headphones here:

Comment, share, like our Facebook page and you will automatically become a part of the raffle! When 20 people have commented on this article, shared and liked the Facebook page on their profile, we will choose a random winner and send him or her this prize!

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This article is based on the experience of internet users and our own research. You may check out our findings in the video below:

music rave audio


3 thoughts on “How to choose the best budget headphones
  1. i just bought new headphones and this article was the thing i needed. now just need to wait for the order to arrive


    A friend recommended this article to me and I followed this advice and bought a pair of 32 ohm headphones for 9 euros. And later I bought another pair for my friend as a gift. The sales guy was recommending these JVC Pure Bass headphones saying they were great and I bought them for 30. Then I told my friend about it and he said these heapdhones are only 16 ohm, so they’re worse than those that I bought for my self.

    Now I feel stupid. Just shows that you shouldn’t listed to sales people they never tell you the truth. I want to thank the creators of this site I will be your subscriber from now on, please write more articles

  3. I bought open back over ear headphones for jogging in a supermarket and it wasn’t that simple. First I went to a sports store, they had a 50% off on PUMA headphones. They looked like they were made for sports and cost 49 euros. I wanted to know the technical details and the shop assistant told me that they didn’t have any details. Then I went to a common supermarket and looked at a few 15 euro headphones.

    Turned out that 5 of them didn’t have any specifications. 1 had 16 ohm, 2 had 32 ohm and another 13 euro one had 36 ohm. They’re called Vakoss LT-98HV Stereo Headphone Super Bass Sound. I bought them. Sound quality is incredible and the headband is adjustible. Only downside is that they don’t have any markings that show which speaker is the right or left one and the volume control wheel is too small. Could another person have bought high quality headphones for such a price without this information? I doubt it. That’s a lot. I shared and liked this page. Is it enough to participate in your raffle?

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