Best Headphones for Every Budget and Kids, Too

Several readers have asked recently about the best inexpensive headphones and earbuds both for themselves and their kiddos—and today seems like a great day to respond.

Generally these are the best values, price points and styles of headphones for adults and kids, too:

Best inexpensive wired headphones. Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds are smartphone compatible with integrated microphone and remote for Apple (iPhone* / iPod / iPad), Android and Blackberry Audio devices. Tonally balanced audio with crisp highs and deep low notes. Wider frequency response for musicians and fuller listening enjoyment . Lively sound quality for recorded audio. Comes with small, medium and large earpads to ensure a perfect fit for adults and children. Your choice of several beautiful colors. About $13.

Best mid-level wired headphones. 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones have two balanced armatures and a separate dynamic driver to deliver an extremely accurate music-listening experience with unsurpassed dynamic power and clarity from deep bass to sizzling highs. The built in microphone and remote are Apple and Android compatible. About $99.

Best value for high quality wired, noise cancelling headphones. Bose QuietComfort 20 is the Cadillac of smartphone replacement earbuds. These are only for those with discriminating hearing and music appreciation to go along with it. Available in two models: one for Apple devices* and one for Samsung/Android devices. Features noise cancelling that reduces surrounding distractions, letting music stand out. Many other high-end features. About $250. 

Best inexpensive in-ear bluetooth sport/fitness headphones. These Senso Bluetooth Headphones are ideal for the active listener who cannot be dealing with a cord draping from the ears to the device. Bluetooth is a highly desirable method by which headphones and a listening device can communicate with one another without a visible connection. Personally, I love the style of these earbuds with their flexible behind-the-ear hooks that keep the headphones comfortably firm in place while I tap dance, turn cartwheels and bunny jump—all while listening to my favorite music. You believe that? What you can believe is the part about me loving this particular style of wireless headphone, and the price! About $38.

Best mid-level bluetooth on-ear wireless headphones. Get ready for an elevated audio experience with the Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth Headphones. This is a sleek and simplified headset which will deliver amazing sound and a long-lasting battery life (12 hours after a full charge). Backup cable comes with mic plus remote functionality, just in case. Powerful 50mm drivers for crystal clear, refreshingly loud and clear playback. Extremely comfortable, too. About $80.

Best inexpensive kids headphones. These Kids Headphones by Onanoff are just perfect for your little ones who don’t need ultra-high quality sound. Tired of replacing busted headphones? These are about as indestructible as headphones can come and are designed to be volume limiting—good for hearing health. Lots of other great features, like a built-in audio splitter, so make sure to check these out. So darned cute, too, coming in a variety of bright colors and five sets of stickers for your little ones to decorate their headphones! Comes with a travel bag. About $25.

*NOTE: The latest model iPhone 7 does not come with a traditional headphone jack and requires either Bluetooth headphones or a lightning-to-headphone jack adapter.

Resource Links: 

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Headphones

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Senso Bluetooth Headphones

Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth Headphones

Kids Headphones by Onanoff


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  • Hajime Sano

    I love your column and read it regularly! I’d like to add my $.02 on headphones.

    Philips makes some really nice ear hook headphones/headsets for around $15-$35. The price depends on whether or not it has microphones (headphones do not have microphones, headsets have microphones), and whether it is for Android or iOS. I learned the hard way that there is a difference. If you want it for your smartphone, be sure you get the one for the right OS. The headsets come with an app that helps you control the functions. I don’t know if the headphones have an app. The sound quality is pretty decent, though you may have to experiment with the different size ear pieces that come with it. The right size ear piece will isolate you from outside noise and give you a better audio experience.

    A headphone example is:

    Philips seems to have changed their headset line up a bit since I last purchased, but a current headset example (without the earhook) is:

    For an audiophile experience at a reasonable price ($100), an audio professional recommended the following studio monitor headphones:

    My educational background is in Computer Science & Engineering (MIT) and Electrical Engineering (USC). I’m also an avid musician and athlete. I have very discerning ears, but also lead an sport-active lifestyle, so I’m picky about my headphones. I want great audio quality, durability, and a reasonable price. I hope this information is useful to someone.