Man the game has really changed over the last year or so. Not so long ago, you couldn’t find many earphones under $30 that sounded decent. Now there are tons of them out there, filling the need for some inexpensive everyday carry earphones/earbuds that sound good for your daily commute. Or maybe you’re just rough on your earphones and don’t want to spend a lot of cash. In any case, here are some great sounding earphones for around 30 bucks.
Best Overall: Brainwavz Delta ($20)
These slick looking metal earphones give you a lot for around $20. They have a nice balanced sound with clear mids, clear highs, and tight bass that sounds good with pretty much any genre of music you throw at them. There is an inline mic with call/music control for use with a cell phone, and they also come with a nice complement of eartips, including Comply foams to ensure a stable fit. If that’s not enough, you also get a snazzy red and black hardshell case to carry them around in.
Runner up: Symphonized NRG X ($20)
My runner up is also pretty snazzy looking with its real wood earpieces and chrome accents. Like the Delta, they also come with a nice hardshell carrying case, but unlike the Brainwavz, they only come with the standard S,M,L silicone eartips, no foam. They have an inline mic with volume and call/music buttons for use with a cell phone. The sound is V-shaped with accent on treble and bass, so mids are a little more recessed/muffled than the Delta. However, the bass is a little tighter and deeper. These sound best with: Rock and Electronica.
Best Of The Rest:
RHA MA390 ($30)
These don’t come with all the goodies of my top 2 picks, but the sound of the RHA earphones is just a little bit fuller on the top and bottom end. However, the mids are a touch more recessed. If you listen to a lot of bass heavy music, then you might like these better than the Delta or NRG X because the bass is really pumped up on these. The Aluminum earpieces look pretty classy, and as far as accessories go, you get three sets of eartips along with a mesh carrying bag. These sound best with: Hip-Hop, Electronica, EDM
DEIVVOX High-Performance In-Ear Headphones ($29)
These earphones from Amazon also have nice looking Aluminum earpieces, which are designed to have the cable worn either over the ear, or straight down, depending on user preference. Speaking of the cable, it’s of the tangle-free variety, and also has a nice metal in-line remote with volume/playback/call control. These earphones have a really sweet, detailed midrange along with tight, deep bass, but the forward treble can sound a little bright and unnatural on some songs. They some with both S,M,L foam and silicone eartips, plus a drawstring carry bag. These sound best with: Jazz, Blues, Singer/Songwriter
KZ ZSN ($23)
If you like the Pro-Style IEM form factor, then you will dig these dirt-cheap hybrid (1 Balanced Armature + 1 Dynamic Driver) IEMs from KZ. On this model, they have moved away from the exaggerated bass and treble sound signature present on most of their earphones to a more balanced sound. The treble is still a little sibilant on certain tracks, but the mids and bass are smooth, and there is some decent instrument separation, especially for $20. If you don’t have a lot of money, or you are looking for a good starter Pro-Style IEM, check these out, they have a very entertaining sound for the money. No mic/remote or many accessories. Just S,M,L silicone eartips. These sound best with: Jazz, Blues, Singer/Songwriter
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.