Budget Headphones Buyers Guide
When shopping on a lower budget it is often best to do your research and window shop for a while, otherwise you may find yourself with a poorly-made set which won’t last very long. Having to then scrape together more cash for a replacement set.
Some manufacturers advertise their products in a very misleading fashion so it is wise to know what you are looking for before you shop so you can filter through the filler for the facts.
You should keep your expectations realistic, budget audio-electronics will always be exactly that, however, there are many models lurking in the lower priced regions which outshine the rest.
If you haven’t got audiophile ears and are willing to compromise perfection for practicality you will find there are a number of models out there which will pleasantly surprise.
What to Look for when buying Budget Headphones?
With a cheap set of headphones quality really is everything so first let’s discuss the materials.
Quite often the quickest and easiest way to lower the retail price for the customer is by slashing the production costs.
Cheaper materials in the lower-priced regions are therefore sometimes unavoidable but with so many competitive products a keen-eye can pick the better sets out.
Comfort is a key concern with cheaper models, a general rule of thumb is the bigger the headphones the better the cushioning should be. Idyllically employing fabrics which are breathable or skin-friendly.
Ears can become very hot with an over-ear headphone option especially if it is closed back and they can sometimes start to sweat as well. On-ear sets can be less intense.
They should have a good range of adjustment, headbands need to be sturdy but also flexible and once again they are comfier if they are suitably padded. Some of the cheaper plastic sets won’t be very comfortable for too long.
If they are ill-fitting or too hard on your head, they can cause cranial pressure quickly leading to headaches during use.
Typically you are going to see a lot of plastic utilized in exterior parts and you may have to settle for that if you don’t want the internal components sacrificed which are of course far more important considering their prime functionality is the audio they provide.
All headphone speakers work in the same manner and the simple transducer hasn’t really changed all that much since its early days.
How good the audio quality actually boils down to the driver performance. The quality of the components used and the way in which they are put together is crucial to how well they respond to the electrical input signal they are given.
With budget models, you will typically expect a neodymium driven speaker and you will have probably noticed the materials don’t differ too heavily from one another.
The data processing aspects of the circuity and how well they are engineered can improve speakers functionality. The response is generally somewhere between 20 and 20, 000 Hz but how accurately they recognize the frequency and to what degree is dictated by their chips.
Matching sized diaphragms built from the same composites can sound completely different playing the same audio because they interpret the signals differently depending on how finely tuned their response is.
Some headphones have an extended frequency response and their circuitry has been optimized to provide better bass frequency recognition and handling. If you enjoy bass-heavy genres of music this is going to be much more crucial to your requirements.
Without this low-frequency attention, you may find you get a lot of distortion as bass frequencies disrupt the magnetic field quite heavily and require a lot of air with a very energetic motion to push out an accurately low sound wave.
When shopping on a very low budget you should keep in mind that, the electrical signals are less true to input if they are sent wirelessly and because of this, you need to spend little more on a wireless set for decent sound.
With this in mind, we have opted for wired models today. Utilizing a direct signal through a cable sends a cleaner more accurate signal which means that better audio can be reproduced.
Wired models can seem a little retro or restrictive to some and they do have a tendency to tangle up. They can also typically be an easy breaking point, as they are tugged and pulled around during use.
You essentially have 3 options when it comes to the wires. Y leads are said to tangle less but they are connected to each driver which then present double the amount of weak spots.
A single-sided cord is joined to one active speaker which helps to reduce the potential, but they are more likely to become tangled. A detachable cord provides a stronger connection point but can also tangle-up on you.
Some manufacturers counter the weakness with a reinforced entry point or a plug-in rotating connection point.
There are ways to try to make wires tangle proof, this usually involves an outer covering. This can be done with woven/braided textiles or plastics.
Are Budget Headphones Any Good?
Whilst you are certainly more likely to get a better-manufactured product if you spend a little more if you haven’t got a lot of options you will find yourself fairly satisfied with some of the over-ear sets under $100 we have selected.
We highly recommend the Edifier Audiophile set or the Behringer HPX2000 as they have superior drivers to the majority of their competitors. They also feature custom-engineering, which enhances the way the components delegate the workload, recognize frequencies and reproduce them, for ultimately better audio.
The headphone market is essentially overstocked and the rampant competition means that we see some very capable products available at an attainable price. You aren’t going to find mind-blowing audio from a bargain set and they probably aren’t going to last you a lifetime but you should expect more than adequately balanced full-range stereo sound with good dynamic reproduction.
If you are shopping on a shoe-string keep quality as your key factor. Think long-term and you can save yourself some extra cash in the long-run.
Of course, the audio itself is important and if you can stretch to it, buy the best your dollars can get. Keep your expectations realistic and read between the lines of the specs to find a set which ticks all the right boxes.
If you are on the lookout for a low priced pair so that buying a dozen doesn’t set you back, then hopefully today’s inclusion of two, very appealing bulk buy options along with a few very low-priced standalone options will have helped you find exactly what you want.
As ever we hope our buyer’s guide has given you all the info you need to make an informed purchase and we wish you happy shopping for your next good quality, budget set of headphones.
Sometimes, it is wise to go with a reputable brand when you are shopping with a very restrictive budget in mind. Quite often, their larger-set-ups allow for cheaper production costs without sacrificing too much of the brand’s integrity. This means you can often get yourself a good deal.
Did You Know?
We have a range of articles highlighting affordable headphones with budgetary limitations. You might want to head on over to our best headphones under $30 or best Bluetooth headphones under $50 articles.