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Best Cheap Earphones - Top 5 - Buying Guides

"Ever wondered which in-ears sound the best around £50? We've collected the ones that sound way better than their price would suggest!"

Getting more and more annoyed with the sound from your earbuds? At HiFi Headphones we talk to plenty of people with this issue so we thought we'd give a hand for those who don't get to talk to us on the phone. The products below represent excellent value for money, they all punch well above their weight in terms of sound quality and last but not least, they are nice to your wallet as they all cost under £50.

SoundMAGIC E10

Introduction - The E10 is from the second generation of SoundMAGIC headphones, it's the successor to the excellent (and still available) PL11.

Description - The E10 sounds good, looks great and is beautifully made with metal casing and a high spec braided cable. SoundMAGIC are known for pushing the boundaries of what you can expect for your money, at it's release you would have definitely had to spend at least twice as much to get the same quality in design and finish.

Anything else? - The E10 is also available as the E10M with a three button iDevice controller and mic.

Describe the sound - Few products capture a What HiFi? 5 Stars review but it's immediately obvious to hear why the E10 is a twice What HiFi? Award Winner. The E10's sound signature has a powerful and fun sound with plenty of bass, a great level of control and musical detail. The E10 has slightly elevated bass, which does give a warm and smooth tone, the sound feels like a reasonably accurate interpretation of what is really there, but EQ has been applied in the best possible way. Vocals are also treated gently, soundstage is always short with IEMs but here imaging has natural movement within a very decent sense of space. A nicely designed earphone with sound quality that is sure to impress. Very hard to beat at this price point!


Introduction - RHA design fantastic audio products at their research and development centre in Glasgow, UK. The MA350 has a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminium build with excellent sound isolating properties and wearing comfort. The cable sports a braided fabric design that not only keeps the cable snag-free and also ensures a longer earphone lifespan. This build quality is rare at this price point.

Description - Unlike traditional earphone designs the RHA MA350 is inspired by the aerophonic design of trumpets, a perfectly shaped chamber channels air and sound efficiently to create a natural and clear sound with full and deep bass response.

Anything else? - The RHA MA450i is a high spec earphone that combines RHA's renowned sound quality with an inline remote and microphone for seamless control of your music library and calls. The inline remote and mic controls calls, music and volume on your Apple device.

Describe the sound - Another What Hifi 5 Stars product, the MA350 has a natural voice which feels acurate and effortless. Relaxed but not bass prominent they have a decent sparkle to the top end, consequently a great choice for the commutor or regular traveller.

Audiofly AF33M

Introduction - The Audiofly AF33M is an excellent multi-use IEM offering best in class for value-conscious consumers that still want a superior sound experience. For casual listening or taking calls, the Audiofly AF33M deliver amazing sound at an affordable price.

Description - The design of Audiofly products is a joyful blend of vintage music equipment, the latest moulding techniques and incredible colour combinations. With custom eartips, precision engineered alloy parts and serious attention to the sound chambers and nozzle, Audiofly mean business! Four pairs of specifically designed silicone eartips are included for better isolation and improved sound.

Anything else? - Audiofly have split the mic from the multi function button for better voice transmission during conversations, so you only need to say it once to be heard. To have such a great combination of accessories and a mic is almost unheard of at this pricepoint.

Describe the sound -The AF33M is fitted with a custom voiced 9mm dynamic driver for impressive detail in sound reproduction, but this is no bloated bass monster. The sound is refined and accurate, solid but also delicate with a pretty spakle. It's surprising that you can build such an impressive piece of design with all of these exclusive features and still get it sounding so good for such a low price.


Introduction - Quarkie are probably most notable for their crazy creative designs, British made and designed the Quarkie earphone range delivers fantastic quality sound. The company motto "Quarkie looks and serious sounds." Pretty much captures the brands identity perfectly. Earphones are available in a number of mad looking form factors, from snakes to rusty bolts, gemstones to reptile eyes.

Description - Despite the novelty looks, build quality and engineering is superb. At the heart of the unit is a 13.5 mm drive unit with a high-tech design that produces balanced sound with sparkling high-frequencies and deep, powerful bass.

Anything else? - Included is a microphone/MFB controller that is compatible with both iPhone and Android. Unique custom-made eartips are included in four sizes giving a perfect ear canal seal for optimum performance.

Describe the sound - Quarkie have given their headphones a reasonably flat frequency response. This gives them impressive tonal balance, Quarkie want you to hear the music just as it was intended to sound. These earphones are more sensitive than average so they can get very decent volume when used with phones or iPods. Neodymium magnets are employed for a wider dynamic range, higher sensitivity, a bigger frequency response and a faster transient response than other systems. The effect is a realistic presentation far beyond what you would expect from a pair of snake heads or chameleon eyes!

SoundMAGIC E30

Introduction - SoundMAGIC E30 are balanced sounding with a professional fit over the ear fit and solid construction - exactly the quality we have come to expect from SoundMAGIC. The E30 in-ear monitors can be and are used in professional audio situations but personal listening rather than stage monitoring is the more usual circumstance to find them in.

Description - Worn over the ears, the professional cabling keeps the E30 firmly in the ears when walking and the cable out of the way at the gym. Included optional earhooks guarantee a secure fit, along with a generous selection of tips. This gives them lower than average microphonic cable noise and great noise isolation.

Anything else? - Cabling is surprisingly high end, a top quality braided audio cable is used to squeeze out the highest quality audio and best durability possible. Strain relief is well thought out and a metal 3.5mm jack plug finishes off the high quality construction.

Describe the sound - SoundMAGIC have configured the drivers of the E30 for a neutral, detailed sound with well defined bass which reaches quite deep. Natural tonally flat reproduction with decent soundstage has been achieved. The in-ear design of the E30 gives high levels of noise isolation ensuring sound is not lost or diluted. The SoundMAGIC E30 is a great headphone for those who enjoy an eclectic mix of music and want an incredibly stable fit to the ear.

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