A good set of headphones is a necessity nowadays. In this increasingly noisy world – and with a near-endless music selection inside your phone – there are few greater pleasures than sticking on a set of headphones and losing yourself in some great-sounding tunes.
Not only is this a tried and tested method of relaxing, it’s also pretty effective at blocking out everything going on around you, which is always useful.
The prospect of living in your own little sound bubble is pretty appealing, and the good news is that there are plenty of devices out there that can help you step inside and stay there. But you don’t have to spend a fortune on an escape. The age of needing to be flush with cash to have the best tech is very much over. There are lots of great budget headphones available.
What are the best headphone brands?
You can pick and choose from a wide selection of devices from a lengthy list of brands, and while you’ve probably heard of the likes of Bose, Sony, and Apple, there are actually lots of lesser known brands to consider as well.
Sticking to the top brands definitely has its advantages. You’re taking less of a risk by investing in one of the bigger names, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the way to go. You can often find much better value by looking at some of the smaller brands, and you don’t need to sacrifice comfort, style, or sound quality.
What features should you consider when buying a set of headphones?
You’ll probably be surprised to find all the features modern headphones come equipped with – even at a budget price point. If you need a quick tutorial, these are some features to consider when choosing new headphones:
Bluetooth — This allows you to connect to your phone or music-playing device wirelessly. It’s fairly standard with up-to-date headphones but usually for convenience rather than sound quality. Wired headphones, however, are best for aficionados.
Sound quality — Serious audiophiles might want to spend a bit more to get the richest, expertly engineered sound. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get great sound for a low price. Look out for reviews that credit the lows, meds, and highs or have high frequencies and drivers (a piece of internal tech which converts electronic signals into sound) of 50mm and under.
Microphone — It’s the age of connectivity and most headphones will connect to your phone and allow you make calls via an internal microphone, either built into the headset or the cable.
Manual controls — Many headphones include buttons on the headset for manually controlling the volume, playback, or making calls. Sounds simple, right? Not entirely. You want to be sure the controls are easy to access and easy to differentiate from each other by touch alone.
Closed-back/open-back — Closed back headphones have completely sealed ear cups, which directs sound to your ears and keeps out ambient noise. Open-back headphones let air into the ear cup but can cause sound leakage that goes both ways – in and out. This is sometimes found on very expensive headphones for clearer, more natural sound – but closed-back are often the go-to choice for commuting and noisy environments.
Noise cancelling — Much like it sounds, this is a feature that cancels out ambient and surround noise to allow a completely immersive musical experience. Some headphones are built to physically keep out noise. Others include specific tech that further cancels it out.
How do you choose the most comfortable headphones?
This is down to personal preference and – of course – what best fits your head size and shape. Some headphones are designed with comfort in mind, with padded ear cups or adjustable headband for getting the fit just right. Others are made with practicality in mind, and may fold up for added portability.
We would always recommend spending some time researching everything that is out there, but we appreciate that not everyone has the time or the energy to do this.
What are the best headphones for under £50?
We have done all the hard work for you and tracked down the best headphones for under £50. This list includes some names you probably don’t know, some cheap models from the biggest brands, and everything in between.
There really is something for everyone in this list. We recommend taking your time and carefully considering all the options, and then pinpointing the set that best fits your requirements. Sounds pretty simple, right?
These are the best headphones for under £50 in 2021.