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Best cheap headphones: the top budget efforts for less than £100

Head towards Amazon and you’ll find plenty of affordable headphones with what looks like very high ratings, but can you actually trust that these pairs are the best cheap headphones available?

Jus because a headphone is highly rated on an online retailer, doesn’t necessary mean it offers the best performance. And there are lots of headphones that combine affordability and good performance without having to scrimp on the latter.

We’re here to help make the search for the best cheap headphones easier by highlighting several pairs we think our worth the spend. When we review headphones we look at many factors, whether it be comfort, portability, wireless connectivity, and of course sound quality. The headphones on this list are we efforts we found scored consistently well in these categories and more.

And as these are the best cheap headphones, we’ve ensured to only pick efforts below £100. That does mean that some of our favourites do miss out, but we’ll label in the copy for the entries above other alternatives for those who want to spend a little bit more on a pair of new headphones.

At this moment in time, the list covers over-ears, on-ears and true wireless to appeal a variety of users. This is only the beginning as we’ll be adding more entries if they are deserving of it.

We’d be remissed if we didn’t ask you to check out should also check out our other best buy lists; from best wireless earbuds and best noise cancelling earbuds, to best running headphones and the best headphones overall. There’s a variety of best buy lists to help you get started on your search.

Best cheap headphones at a glance

How we test

How we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

SoundMagic P23BT

Best budget on-ears
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  • Refined and detailed sound
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Long battery life
  • Cheap


  • Can pinch on the ears
  • Not what you’d call stylish

In the past SoundMagic have been specialists at producing affordable wired earphones, but they’ve been making progress with wireless headphones, and at £49.99, the P23BT are another pair of excellent value headphones.

These is on-ear design, which comes with a few inescapable issues. One that we experienced is the headphones can pinch around the ear, resulting in a little bit of discomfort after prolonged use. Another is that the noise from the outside world leaks through, but some may actually awareness of what’s around them.

However, their compact, lightweight and foldable design makes them, in our opinion, easy to wear and even easier to stow away when not in use. They integrate physical and touch controls, which work surprisingly well in terms of their responsiveness. They headphones also have a 3.5mm jack in case you want to connected to a source that requires a wired connection.

They are short of features but what is provided is very good, especially for the price. Battery life is claimed to be around 54-60 hours, which is better than more expensive options like the Sony WH-1000XM5, although it’s not as extensive as the Marshall Major IV, which offers 80+ hours. They also feature aptX-HD Bluetooth, which allows for playback of Hi-res music streams from the likes of Tidal and Qobuz streaming services. By comparison, the Sony WH-CH520 offer Bluetooth multipoint, though they don’t support higher quality Bluetooth codecs for streaming.

It’s the sound quality that impressed us most when reviewing these P23BT. It’s very well balanced, with a detailed midrange performance, a big soundstage, clear and bright high frequency playback, and bass that offers a decent amount of depth. They sound clearer and more detailed than the WH-CH520, and more balanced the the Major IV, though if you like plenty of bass with your music, you might want to give the Marshall pair a closer look.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: SoundMagic P23BT

Sony WH-CH720N

Best budget noise-cancelling headphones
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  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • Affordable price
  • Solid noise-cancelling
  • Fun, punchy audio
  • Long battery life


  • Sound profile is a bit bassy
  • Could benefit from extra lashings of detail and clarity
  • Average call quality

The WH-CH720N are part of Sony’s refresh of its affordable budget range of headphones, and we feel they offer a strong overall performance for the asking price.

Build quality is decent even though the headphones’ frame and earcups have been made from recycled plastic, with no noticeable creaks or groans when we bent the frame. The use of plastic also keeps the headphones lightweight at 192g. We didn’t experience periods of discomfort wearing the headphones, thanks to the use of padding on the headband and earcups.

Battery life could go as far as 40 hours from our tests with noise-cancelling on, which is less than the SoundMagic P23BT, but it does boast more convenient features than the P23BT on-ears can offer. That includes active noise-cancellation and transparency mode, as well as Bluetooth multipoint, app support (which provides more customisation) and voice assistants in the form of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The noise-cancellation is solid at this price, focusing on culling low frequency sounds and clearing away ambient noise so it’s less of a bother. We wouldn’t say that these headphones clear away every noise they come across, but they’ll make the daily commutes and journeys around cities like London feel less chaotic and disruptive.

The sound quality is similar to the WH-CH520 on-ears in that it takes on a smooth and bassy tone. Bass is punchy, the midrange is clear and detailed, and the upper frequencies and bright and clear enough to have some impact. The Final UX300 offer a more insightful performance (at least with its noise-cancelling off), but they aren’t as affordable as the Sony headphones, nor do they boast as many features for day-to-day use either.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-CH720N

Earfun Air Pro 3

Best budget ANC true wireless
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  • Strong noise-cancellation
  • Solid call quality
  • Robust wireless connection
  • Enjoyable audio
  • Snug, comfortable fit


  • Battery life doesn’t quite reach claimed levels
  • Audio lacks dynamism, not the most detailed performance

We’ve seen more and more true wireless adopt noise-cancelling for less than £100, and the EarFun Air Pro 3 are one of the best examples we’ve tested in terms of performance and price.

They are stacked with an impressive amount of features for their £89.99 RRP. There’s support for the Bluetooth 5.3 standard and aptX Adaptive, which aids the EarFun’s very impressive wireless connection in busy signal areas. Call quality is solid with decent voice pick-up (though this could be better by being a bit louder), and battery life is good although not as long as EarFun claims in our tests (five hours compared to the claimed seven).

We were very impressed by the noise-cancellation, which is some of the strongest we’ve tested below £100. The design helps with its snug fit, with the hybrid ANC thinning out people’s voices and dealing well with public transport and larger gatherings of people. It won’t clear out every bit of noise, and we did find that on the Underground it struggled with loud noises, but upping the volume helps in reducing the intensity of external sounds.

Like the Sony WH-CH720N the the EarFun Air Pro 3 have a bassy register that gives them a richer presentation. It’s not the sharpest, clearest or most detailed audio performance we’ve heard at this price, the Lypertek Z3 2.0 sound clearer and more dynamic to our ears, but those earphones don’t support ANC.

Nonetheless, in terms of features and the value the Air Pro 3 offer, they’re an impressive pair of budget ANC wireless earbuds. There are similarly priced/cheaper options in the Urbanears Juno and Ugreen HiTune T3 but we feel the EarFun offer better noise-cancellation and better sound than either pair.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: EarFun Air Pro 3

We also considered…

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What’s the difference between earbuds and earphones?

Technically speaking, earbuds present a one-size fits all body that sits on your ear canal, while earphones come with ear-tips to burrow further into the ear for a better fit.

Comparison specs

IP rating
Battery Hours
Wireless charging
Fast Charging
Release Date
Model Number
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Frequency Range
Headphone Type
Voice Assistant

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