Best cheap wireless headphones 2024: tried and tested

Best cheap wireless headphones 2024: Jump Menu

Wireless headphones come in all shapes and sizes, and sell for wildly different prices. For the most part, you get what you pay for, so pricier models will sound better and have more advanced features. But you'd be surprised at just how good some 'cheap' models can be. And by cheap, we mean a maximum price of around £100. 

The standard has really improved in recent years. Now cheap models offer extras like active noise cancellation (ANC), customisation using a mobile app and water-resistance, all of which were once the preserve of much pricier pairs. Sound quality has come on leaps and bounds too – though remember, the best wireless headphones with higher prices will sound better.

We've put all of the below through our thorough testing process and they've all come out with five stars. Some have even picked up Awards. We give each pair plenty of time to run in and use them in a variety of situations with all different genres of music. We try all their features too, in order to make sure we're seeing everything they can do. For more information about our testing process, check out our how we test section further down the page.

Joe Svetlik
Joe Svetlik

I've been testing wireless headphones since the AirPods were just a glint in Tim Cook's eye. In my 20 years in the business, I've seen cheap wireless headphones come on leaps and bounds. Sony currently dominates this area, thanks to its sophisticated features and great sound, but check out our Also consider section to see other pairs worth a listen. If you're on a budget, there are plenty of options to give you great sound on the go...

The quick list

The best cheap wireless headphones we recommend in 2024

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Best overall

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. The best cheap wireless headphones with an in-ear fit.

Specifications

Type: In-ear
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX4
Battery life: 20hrs (buds: 10hrs; case: 10hrs)
Weight: 5.4g each

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and comfortable design
+
Spirited, well-balanced sound
+
Fine control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly small-scale sound

If you've read What Hi-Fi? over the last couple of years, you'll know that Sony's high-end wireless headphones (like the WF-1000XM5) are extremely good. But that doesn't mean it can necessarily make a great budget pair.

Though in this case, it can: the WF-C500 won a 2023 What Hi-Fi? Award. They handle the basics very well, with Bluetooth 5.0, and compatibility with SBC and AAC codecs. Battery life is a healthy 10 hours from the headphones themselves, and another 10 from the charging case, making a total of 20.

They pair with Sony's consummate Headphones Connect app for sublime controls, and numerous extra features (like the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine, which upscales audio files to something approaching ‘hi-res’ quality). Voice controls come via Google Assistant and Siri, and the IPX4 rating means they're resistant to water splashes.

Sonically, they're even-handed and nicely balanced, with well-shaped bass notes. In short, they offer a lot of what makes Sony's high-end buds so compelling, without cutting too many corners. It's worth noting that Sony's next-model-up, the WF-C700 (further down this list), offer active noise cancelling for only a small price bump.

Read the full Sony WF-C500 review

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
SoundA convincing sonic balance★★★★★
FeaturesPlenty to like, but there's serious competition about★★★★☆
BuildComfy for hours, and built to last★★★★★

Best budget

The cheapest wireless headphones we can heartily recommend.

Specifications

Type: In-ear
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: No
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX7
Battery life: 35hrs (buds: 7hrs; case: 28hrs)
Weight: 5.35g each

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy, expansive sound
+
Great feature set
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble needs more refinement
-
Inevitably limited given the price

All of the headphones on this list are quite cheap, but the Earfun Air are cheapest even by these standards. They're the most affordable headphones of any style that we can heartily recommend.

Before the Earfun Air, we had never awarded five stars to a set of proper budget wireless headphones – despite testing models from well-known and highly respected audio brands.

In the Air, this little-known company has produced a comfortable, nicely built set of headphones that also boast excellent battery life, wireless charging support and a pleasant and spacious presentation. Fans of a grippy, energetic listen to get you through a workout will find much to enjoy here.

The Earfun Air buds have a waterproof IPX7 rating, so they can be submerged in up to a metre of water for up to 30 minutes, and an impressively long battery life of 35 hours. There are also touch controls and in-ear detection tech to pause playback when you remove them.

If you’re after dirt-cheap wireless headphones for casual listening, the Earfun Air could just be the ideal proposition.

Read the full Earfun Air review

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
SoundPleasingly expansive given the price★★★★☆
FeaturesIn-ear detection, waterproofing and decent battery life★★★★☆
BuildReassuringly solid★★★★★

Best ANC earbuds

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Five-star wireless earbuds combine comfort, ANC and sensational sound quality.

Specifications

Type: In-ear
Bluetooth version: 5.2
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX4
Battery life: 7.5hrs (+7.5hrs from charging case)
Weight: 4.6g each

Reasons to buy

+
Very comfortable fit
+
Refined presentation for the money
+
Detailed, dynamic, musical sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Charging case lacks battery oomph
-
No aptX or LDAC support

Sony's excellent wireless earbuds slot neatly between the budget WF-C500 (which don't have ANC) and premium WF-1000XM5.

They're brilliant options that more than justify their price tag. The buds are impressively small, and their lightweight design helps make them even more comfortable than Sony's XM4. Battery life is competitive at seven and a half hours.

They lack aptX HD and LDAC but do feature noise-cancelling tech, which the cheaper WF-C500 lack. Adaptive Sound Control automatically switches listening modes depending on your location, and Sony's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) upscales low-res digital audio files to higher quality. A software update has seen Bluetooth Multipoint also added so you can connect to two devices simultaneously.

The Sony's sound quality is superbly balanced too, with deep, detailed bass, expressive mids and engaging highs. They're a very musical listen for the money and a clear step up from the cheaper WF-C500.

Downsides? The charging case only provides one extra charge which seems a little mean. But the superb sound and great feature for an affordable price set make these easy to recommend as some of the best cheap wireless earbuds available.

Read the full Sony WF-C700N review

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
SoundA real jump in quality over the C500★★★★★
FeaturesApp support, ANC, Adaptive Sound Control and more★★★★☆
BuildImpressively small and very comfortable★★★★★

Best ANC over-ears

What Hi-Fi? Awards winner. Anyone seeking cheap over-ears with solid sound and great ANC should look no further.

Specifications

Type: Over-ears
Bluetooth version : 5.2
Noise cancelling : Yes
Built-in mic and controls : Yes
Waterproofing : None
Battery life : Up to 50 hours (ANC and BT off), 35 hours (ANC / BT on)
Weight : 192g

Reasons to buy

+
Lively sound presentation 
+
Decent ANC for the price 
+
Solid build quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
A little over-enthusiastic in the bass
-
No case or foldability 

The WH-CH720N were designed to be an affordable pair of over-ears with a heavy feature set and a particular focus on budget noise cancelling. In this sense, they've delivered exactly what Sony intended, and for a very reasonable price, they’re a dependably made, enthusiastic-sounding pair of headphones that, while occasionally straying into the realm of excessive bass, deliver strong ANC and a large feature set to the market's mid-to-low price bracket. 

A big part of the CH720N’s appeal is to provide noise cancelling without a huge expenditure, and the novice cans don’t let themselves down. While more premium models such as the WH-1000XM5 over-ears or the Bose QuietComfort 45 will block out external noises more effectively, we find these affordable Sonys do a pleasing job of dampening, if not silencing completely, outside noises and distractions. Further features, including Bluetooth multipoint, voice calls, a hefty battery life and Sony DSEE sound upscaling, only sweeten the deal.

Sonically, the CH720N are great for the price, and while you'll certainly receive more refinement and balance the higher up the price ladder you go, the affordable cans feel like they're spoiling you for £100. Sony might have focused on features, but the sound these over-ears provide is detailed, robust and exciting, with decent texture and feeling across the board. Job done. 

Read the full Sony WH-CH720N review

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
SoundAn energetic, enthusiastic sound that rarely puts a foot wrong★★★★★
FeaturesA very strong feature set for the price★★★★★
BuildFar from luxurious, but solid, well made and comfortable★★★★☆

Best over-ears without ANC

Certainly cheap and definitely cheerful – compromised in the least compromising way.

Specifications

Type: Over-ear
Bluetooth version: 5.2
Noise-cancelling: No
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Waterproofing: IPX4
Battery life: 50hrs
Weight: 147g

Reasons to buy

+
Balanced and engaging sound
+
Great battery life
+
Useful and extensive control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly dynamically inhibited
-
Could conceivably have greater insight

The Sony WH-CH520 on-ear headphones are without a doubt one of the less glamorous products in Sony’s seemingly endless catalogue of headphones. But it doesn’t automatically follow that they’re not worthy of attention.

You can’t really expect the Earth when you’re paying £49 / $59 / AU$79 for a pair of headphones, so keep your expectations realistic. If you do, there’s every chance you’ll be quite impressed with the feature set of the WH-CH520. Wireless connection is via Bluetooth 5.2 (with ‘Fast Pair’ for Android devices). The Sonys have multipoint connectivity, and there’s compatibility with SBC and AAC codecs. And they can run for as much as 50 hours between charges, which certainly exceeds our expectations at this price point.

The Sony WH-CH520 don’t take long to establish themselves as a nicely balanced, quite informative and enjoyable listen. They’re not the most expressive headphones you'll have ever heard, but they do well to dig up detail across the frequencies and present it clearly, even if we would like a little more dynamic variation.

Ultimately, what’s remarkable about these Sonys is how little compromise they demand of you, both in terms of audio performance and ergonomics. They’re a terrific bargain. 

Read our full Sony WH-CH520 review

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Test results
AttributesNotesRating
SoundVery little compromise, especially given the price★★★★★
FeaturesMultipoint, upscaling and app control are all on board★★★★★
BuildPlasticky, but they carry it very well★★★★★

Also consider

The best cheap wireless headphones alternatives we've tested:

Panasonic RZ-S500W: the former Award-winning RZ-S500W were Panasonic's first foray into wireless noise-cancelling earbuds and they're sensational performers for the money. Sound quality and noise cancellation are both first-rate.

JBL Live Pro 2 TWS: if you prefer a 'stem' design to the more rounded look, these are for you. They have all the features you could want, and perform brilliantly too.

How to choose the best cheap wireless headphones for you

The best cheap wireless headphones come in all shapes and sizes. You can get some pretty decent wireless over-ears and in-ears for not much money at all. Some models also boast the added bonus of noise-cancelling, too.

Healthy battery life should be a priority for any of the best budget wireless headphones – anything around 20 hours and above for over-ear headphones and over six hours for earbuds (plus charging case battery life) is good.

If you're a fitness fiend who wants a secure fit and waterproofing, you're better off going for a pair of sport headphones with sweat/water resistance. Look out for an IP rating of at least IPX4, meaning they'll survive basic splashing but not a dunk in the drink.

You also might want to consider which version of Bluetooth they're running. We're currently on Bluetooth 5 (5.3 to be precise). Newer versions can offer improvements in performance over older versions when it comes to things like wireless range, so it could pay to do a bit of extra digging through the specs of any pairs you're considering.

You'll also want to consider comfort, especially if they're going to be sat in or on your ears for any length of time. Finally, you definitely want decent sound quality for the money. As the best cheap wireless headphones around, all of the above have come out of our testing labs with flying colours.

How we test cheap wireless headphones

In order to put these headphones through their paces, we use them in real-world conditions. That means we run them down from full to empty to gauge battery life (multiple times) and use them outdoors in both built-up areas and open spaces to test how stable the wireless connection remains to the music source.

Using them outdoors also lets us check their noise-isolating properties, and active noise-cancellation (ANC) if they have it. We try them with both smartphones and computers to see how well they stand up in different use cases. And if they're a sporty pair, we'll take them out for a jog or to the gym to check how well they stay in our ears while exercising.

Each pair is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few that we favour the highest among the 100+ pairs we listen to each year. What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, and we keep class-leading products in our stockrooms so we can always compare new products to ones we know and love.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

For more information, check out our dedicated how we test page.

MORE: 

These are the best wireless earbuds in town 

Wondering why there's so much Sony on this list? Let us explain 

Wi-fi for headphones is great news for sound quality, so is it the death knell for Bluetooth?

F.A.Q.

What are cheap good quality headphones?

It depends what you're looking for, but you can't go far wrong with any pairs on this list. The best overall are the Sony WF-C500, but if you want noise cancellation and/or an over-ear pair, there are options for you above.

Are wireless headphones worth buying?

We think so. The sound quality – especially at this end of the market – isn't much different from a wired pair, and the added convenience is a godsend (no more cable tangle).

Why do people still use wired headphones?

Some prefer a wired connection as it's more reliable (though all of the pairs on this list have rock-solid wireless connections). At the high end, a wired pair will give you better sound quality. Or maybe they just haven't upgraded from their old pair of wired headphones.

Recent updates

  • 30th April 2024: Changed to new Best Buy format. Removed Panasonic RZ-S500W and JBL Live Pro 2 TWS from main list. Added new 'Also consider' and F.A.Q. sections.
  • 6th February 2024: Removed JBL Flow Pro.
  • 11th May 2023: Removed Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, added Sony WF-C700N and JBL Live Pro 2 TWS.

Today's best cheap wireless headphones deals

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

With contributions from
  • Navanski
    2 pairs from JBL and 2 pairs from Earfun. As shown by other reviews, for example the digital audio players where A&K unjustifiably dominated, What HiFi seem unable or unwilling to share the love.
    My personal choice for budget TWS would go to the Edifier X3. Great fit, aptx and amazing sound at a bargain price of just £27 on Amazon at the moment.
    Reply
  • Mikejs
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    Save money without sacrificing sound quality with our pick of the best cheap wireless headphones around.

    Best cheap wireless headphones 2022 : Read more
    Each and everyone of them has a 5 star rating which is pointless as some are clearly more capable than others. Placing the Earfun buds higher than the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ is crazy when the Cambridge Audio are clearly superior in every way when it comes to sound quality. 5 stars for everything tells me NOTHING, you need to be more selective and more explicit when it comes to rating HiFi products.
    Reply