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October 22, 2018

Spend less on earbuds with these sub-$20 picks!

by John_A

A headset — earphones or earbuds (or even a single earbud) with a microphone and controls — is a different beast than a set of earbuds or headphones without a mic. For starters, not every set works with every brand of phone once you add the third wire. You need to make sure what you’re buying is made specifically for one brand (Blackberry and Apple come to mind) and will work with Android when you need to answer calls and adjust the volume. And when products are cheap, there are literally thousands of choices to wade through. So we chose the best ones.

Best fit

JLab Bass DJ Inspired Earbuds


JLab’s BASS DJ inspired earbuds have a universal mic and music controls, are super lightweight and include seven different pairs of gel comfort cushions to fit almost everyone. Combined with their ergonomic profile, these are some of the lightest and well-fitting earbuds you’ll find under 20 bucks. They’re also tough with a kevlar cable and flex attachment joints.

$20 at Amazon

Best for calls

NoiseHush NX85


The NoiseHush NX85 is the best headset we tested when it comes to talking on the phone. The microphone works great without yelling for calls and voice assistants. They have a flat tangle-free cable, easy to use controls and deliver surprisingly good sound when listening to music or watching a video.

$19 at Amazon

Best value

OnePlus Bullets


OnePlus makes its headphones just like its phones with a solid, if unspectacular, design mixed with good quality components and a great price. They have compact solid metal enclosures, come with a variety of tips and have a solid cable with an in-line mic and remote. You would expect to pay much more for a product this well made, and the OnePlus Bullets live up to the OnePlus standard of offering more for less.

$20 at OnePlus

Most comfortable

Panasonic ErgoFit


Want cheap earbuds that you can wear all day? The Panasonic ErgoFit earbuds are great! The sound is decent for music or phone calls, and they aren’t the prettiest things to look at. But whatever the tips are made of is awesome because they fit inside your ear without bugging you that they’re in them.

$13at Amazon

Best sound

Monoprice Hi-Fi Reflective Sound Earbuds


They handle calls just fine, fit better than average and aren’t terrible to wear. And they sound awesome. Their “Reflective” design points the drivers away from the ears so the sound reflects back. This keeps your ears from ringing or hurting, even with the enhanced bass response these buds deliver. You need ot hear it to believe it.

$12 at Amazon

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a set of earbuds that work just the way you want them to work. We’ve got a selection here that covers all the basics and you’ll be sure to find something you like. I like the Monoprice Hi-Fi buds, because I really do dig the sound that comes out of the tiny little things. And at just $12 a pair, I don’t have to worry too much if I leave them in a cab or airplane.

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