As with many things in life, you get what you pay for where earphones are concerned. As long as you are prepared to accept that you won’t get the worlds best earphones in a value package, you’ll be fine. You can, however, still get damn fine set of in ear headphones – you may just have to decide on which factors are most important to you. This can pretty much be broken down into three distinct types where you use your earphones for…
- Smartphone use with in line call controls and microphone
- Listening to music only
- For sports, running or gym use
Click one of the links above to jump to the best value earphones in that section.
Budget plays an important part in choosing earphones as well – because of this we have also created several pages showing you the best earphones in some of the most popular price ranges:
- Best earphones under £100
- Best earphones under £50
- Best earphones under £30
- Best earphones under £20
Once you have a good idea of what the most important use will be for you, then you can look at choosing the best value in ear headphones. Look at our recommendations below for each type.
Best Value Earphones for Smartphone
Now that most of us have a smartphone of some description, we now also want additional controls built into the earphones we use. This includes a microphone and call controls as well as a music remote. Not all earphones with in line controls are compatible with all smartphones, so some care is required when choosing (read the specs/features carefully). You may find that the microphone and play/pause control work fine on any smartphone, while volume or next/previous track controls may be iPhone only. See our Best Earphones with Microphone page for a more comprehensive look at this type of earphones.
New kids on the block, UK based Ei8htball are the ones to beat when it comes to affordable smartphone friendly earphones.
The earphones as a whole are finished to a very high standard that puts many other manufacturers to shame. All the materials and parts used are high quality – the only negative is that lack of a storage case. The earphones themselves are made from metal, and as a result feel very tough but still remain incredibly lightweight. The cable is of the woven type, which is again strong and lightweight. The microphone and control button unit is very nicely finished and doesn’t feel like a last minute add on as can sometimes be the case. The overall result is a very lightweight set of earphones that are incredibly comfortable to wear.
The sound is fantastic – really detailed with a great depth. The bass has depth and remains punchy – bass heads may want to add a little more bass using EQ. The mid range has a great snappy punch and the treble is really light, airy and open. In our book, the Ei8htball EX811 are the earphones to beat at the moment – we love them!
You can also read our full Ei8htball EX811 review for more details
Snapping closely at the heels of the Ei8htball EX811 earphones, we have the MediaDevil EB-01. Known for producing accessories for smartphones, the EB-01 earphones are their first audio offering.
Made from wood that has been reclaimed from furniture manufacturers, the EB-01 earphones are aimed at the more eco conscious user. The wood is finished beautifully and is set off by the black woven cable. The earphones are very lightweight and comfortable and come complete with a cable clip and hessian style storage pouch.
The bass on the MediaDevil EB-01 earphones is incredibly warm, deep and big. They don’t have the same accurate punch as the Ei8hball EX811, but they make up for that in warmth. The mid range sound very natural & the treble is also controlled without any overemphasis. While these aren’t as spacious or detailed as other earphones made from metal – they do sound fantastic.
You can read more in our full MediaDevil EB-01 review.
Skullcandy are a relative newcomer to the headphone market, but have quickly gained a following in recent years. They are known for producing affordable headphone styles that stand out from the crowd, the Titan 2.0 follows this trend. With detailed, machined aluminium earpieces and a choice of eye catching colour combinations, the Skullcandy Titan 2.0 earphones look very nice indeed.
The sound is truly quite incredible for the money giving you a balanced, powerful bass that doesn’t overwhelm while higher frequencies remain crisp, spacious with plenty of detail. The microphone hangs to one side rather than at the cable split, making your voice in calls clearer.
Although at first glance, the RRP of £40 may not seem like a value choice, but these are often available well under the £30 mark. The Skullcandy Titan 2.0 earphones are amazing value for money and perform better than many much more expensive earphones.
Best Value Earphones for Music
If you want to listen to music while commuting or walking about town but don’t need a microphone, call controls or to use them for sport, a set of standard noise isolating earphones is all you need. You can see a more in depth comparison of these on our Best Noise Isolating Earphones page. In our opinion, this is where you will find the best value in ear headphones.
Acorn produce a range of wooden accessories for use with various smartphones. The E1’s are their first venture into audio accessories.
The light coloured wood used in the E1 earphones is beautifully finished and feels very lightweight. Differing to other similar earphones, these come with a silicone cable – we like this as it seems to tangle less than the woven cables do. The overall product presentation is of a very high standard with the packaging comparable to that from Apple.
The sound is also very good indeed. Much like the MediaDevil EB-01, the bass is really big and warm with a very natural sounding mid range. The treble is also nicely balanced without any over accentuation. We prefer the sound of the Acorn E1 earphones over the MediaDevil EB-01, but only just – its a very close call. We love these simply styled wooden earphones and still use them regularly even now testing has finished. You can read more about them in our full Acorn E1 review.
Depending on your budget, the may cost a little more than you are looking to spend. However, the extra few pennies make a big difference when it comes down to the quality of sound they offer. The SoundMAGIC E10’s have become a renowned set of earphones having won several awards over the last couple of years, due entirely to their incredible value for money.
These stunning earphones compete in audio quality with many other sets on the market that cost over twice as much. On top of this the build quality is also very high resulting in a stylish yet rugged pair of earphones. The choice of available colours is also a bonus meaning you can choose a pair to match your style.
We recommend these amazing in ear headphones time and time again. We think that they are some of the best value earphones around, to get a full run down on them, read our full SoundMAGIC E10 review.
The SoundMAGIC PL11 earphones are the cheaper relative of the E10’s above. They are considerably cheaper, and perhaps fulfill the best value earphones role a little better – but the quality of audio and general finish is not quite as high. Despite them not being on the same level, they do still perform as well as earphones that are much more expensive. The customer reviews on Amazon are a testimony to this and repeatedly provide comments like: “Flawless Sound Quality”, “Excellent sound and value for money” or “These earphones are the best i’ve used”.
We feel that the SoundMAGIC PL11 earphones sit above the rest of the competition in this lower price range, beating offerings from established brands like Sony. They are amazing value & tick all the boxes for a set of good sounding basic earphones.
Best Value Earphones for Sport
Earphones that are designed for use while playing sports, running or working out at the gym will often have extra special features that you won’t find on a normal set of noise isolating earphones. A secure fit is key – so you will often see additional methods of attaching them to your ear. Secondly, safety is also an issue – particularly if using them while running as you will need to hear traffic etc. See our Best Earphones for Running page for a more comprehensive comparison.
The MX685’s have been designed by Sennheiser with input from Adidas specifically for use while participating in outdoor sport activities. The result is a natural sounding set of earphones that are tough, sweat resistant and fit securely. They fit in the outer portion of your ear, rather than directly in you ear canal. This makes them ideal for running use as it allows you to hear noise (traffic etc) from your surroundings which is incredibly important for your safety.
There are no bells, whistles, microphones or music controls here – just a simple set of in ear headphones that are designed to do a specific job. We think the Sennheiser MX685 are a cracking set of value sports earphones that do exactly what they’re supposed to. Read our full Sennheiser MX685 review.
Time for another value option from SoundMAGIC, bring on the PL30. Where SoundMAGIC always excels is the audio quality for the price. Once again this holds true, the PL30’s better the sound quality of earphones that are far more expensive giving you a generous amount of warm bass and plenty of clear detail throughout the spectrum.
Thanks to the wide selection of included ear adaptors, the fit is very good and secure. Also included are a set of optional ear hooks (not shown) which will help keep the PL30’s in place while working out at the gym. These do block out more external noise than the Sennheiser MX685’s above, so if you plan on running in traffic, these may not be the best choice – but they are a fantastic choice for the gym.
Price can often make a huge difference when it comes to the quality of a product. This article has shown you that it is possible to find the best value in ear headphones that still perform amazingly well without paying top quality prices.