Not more than a few years ago, if you wanted a pair of earphones that could provide a solid listening experience with a decent microphone, you would have to shell out $50 or more – that is before considering the numerous other factors like build quality, ergonomics, and additional features. Thankfully, continued advancements in technology have allowed more budget-friendly earbuds to be able to keep up with the big boys.
Of course, the question then becomes “should you buy earbuds with a mic?”. Unlike certain products which might be more specialized and better suited for niche markets, earphones have a bit of a ubiquitous appeal where they can provide value for virtually everyone. Whether it is for working out, conducting business, or simply entertainment purposes, earphones with a mic offer something for everyone.
Still, figuring out what to look for in your earbuds can be confusing. Do you want to go with the best sound quality? Perhaps, especially if you intend to use them for listening to music. If you need them for exercise though, you might need them to provide better durability or ergonomics. That is why we have put together a list of the 10 best earbuds with a mic, highlighting what each one is best suited for.
We realize you may not want to scour through the entire list to find a pair of earbuds with a mic that is right for you. That is why we have put our top 3 recommendations at that the front of the pack. The SoundPEATS, Senso, and to a lesser extent, Actionpie all play ideally into a specific niche, but you have to read more to really dig into the meat of them.
Best Cheap Earbuds with a Mic in 2019
|Actionpie||wired||yes||best for bass|
|Arisen||wireless||yes||11-hrs play time|
|HC-RET||wired||no||on a budget|
|Marsno M1||wired||no||most durable|
1. SoundPEATS: Best Quality Bluetooth Earbuds with a Mic
SoundPEATS is one of the few brands on our list that actually has a solid presence beyond the online world. Even though it is one of the more expensive pairs of earbuds we reviewed, it is still well within the $30 limit that traditionally defines a pair of budget-friendly earbuds.
The SoundPEATS accomplish this through a couple means. First, they use a CSR8645 Bluetooth chip which is designed to work to peak efficiency with the top-tier smart device processors. Beyond the hardware, the SoundPEATS also come with a couple firmware additions to get the most out of the chipset. While the standard 4.1 Bluetooth codec is to be expected, the inclusion of a secondary APTX codec which offers another layer to the audio quality provides excellent fidelity.
Beyond audio quality, this pair of earbuds is also exceptionally comfortable and designed to be worn in a variety of situations. For instance, the IPX6 waterproof rating is still exceedingly good at this price point. The buds are made out of a high-quality silicone material while the exceptionally lightweight design ensures that they will stay in your ears while in motion.
Why we recommend SoundPEATS to you
Ultimately, when you are looking for a pair of earbuds under $30, you generally do not expect them to also provide a solid audio quality. When that package exists and comes in a wireless design, that is an unheard of combination. With the dual Bluetooth codecs to provide higher audio fidelity, the SoundPEATS are potentially the best audio quality earbuds we reviewed – whether wireless or not.
2. Senso: Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds with a Mic
Senso is another brand with a strong brand presence – something that is often unusual in the budget-friendly electronics market as numerous brands with ties to Chinese factories sprout up seemingly overnight. Even better, this brand actually specializes exclusively in wireless earbuds making them uniquely positioned to provide one of the more reliable experiences in the market.
First, these might otherwise be the best all-purpose earphones on our list were it not for a similar pair that is just a little bit better. That said, these earbuds offer a wide range of qualities and features that definitely put them a step above most. Of course, it seems as though Senso is well aware of this fact, and they have priced their earphones accordingly making this one of the most expensive pairs of earbuds we reviewed – though they do still fall within the budget-friendly range.
3. Actionpie: Best Earbuds with a Mic for Bass and Music
Outside of our top 2 pairs of earbuds on the list, you will likely want something to be especially good – or especially cheap. When it comes to the Actionpies, you get the best of both worlds. While they are not the least expensive product we reviewed, they do fall just below the average price. However, it is definitely the audio quality that they achieved at this price point that truly sets them apart from the competition.
These drivers allow the Actionpies to produce some of the best rated audio quality that we saw. For instance, these earbuds can replicate the greatest frequency range on our list between 20Hz to 24kHz. While the sensitivity is a touch high at 110dB, the impedance of only 8 ohms – which is exceptionally low for earbuds – means that it can handle the additional power necessary to truly push them.
4. Symphonized NRG 3.0: Best Earbuds with Mic and Volume Control Handcrafted from Wood
Symphonized is another brand that we encountered which focuses on a fairly narrow specialization, though this time it is determined more by material than by use. Specifically, the Symphonized brand makes it a point to incorporate wood into a wide variety of their audio equipment products. While they do sell listening products that are not made out of wood, it is clear that the wood products are their feature lineup.
This attention to sound detail is apparent in other features of the NRG 3.0s as well. For instance, this is the only pair of wired earphones we reviewed which use gold-plated jacks. This allows the electrical current carrying the audio signal to transfer more efficiently and accurately from the playback device to the earphone. On top of that, the cord was designed to not make noise if moved.
5. ROVKING: Best Noise Isolating Earbuds with a Mic for Computer
And now, meet the most budget-friendly earbuds we found that are also still capable of either providing an excellent experience or filling a specific niche. For the ROVKING earbuds, it is the latter. This because these earbuds definitely leave something to be desired when it comes to both sound quality as well as mic quality when compared to their competitors.
That said, one situation which generally does not call for the best of either is with PC use. In this setting, the primary functions of earphones are to either work for gaming purposes or work for conference calls. In both situations, the absolute quality of both the sound and the mic are less important. Instead, it is the connectivity that matters more.
These earbuds also offer a solid ergonomic design with smaller housings. This means that they will not sit as heavily in your ears and will fit better in general. On top of that, the cord has actually been molded into a hook to slip around the ear and keep the buds securely in place.
6. Arisen Phantom: Best Earbuds with a Mic for Sports and Activity
The Arisen Phantoms might have made it into one of the most recommended spots on our list were it not for a single fact: price. They are by far the most expensive pair of earbuds on our list and even slightly exceed the required $30. While they do definitely provide a solid experience in a number of settings, it is hard to justify paying 50 percent more for a pair of earbuds that are not that much better than some of the others we reviewed.
That said, if you do choose to go with the Phantoms, you will not be disappointed. In terms of audio quality, these earbuds use a dual driver design that is common among products that can produce some of the best sound quality. Despite the fact that the Phantoms use a 6 mm driver, the dual driver arrangement does allow them to produce truer sound than most – though the bass is only okay.
7. HC-RET: Best Budget In-Ear Earbuds with Microphone
HC-RET is not a company with brand recognition that has a wide market presence like some of the other earphones that we reviewed. That said, they have managed to put together a surprisingly durable pair of earbuds at an eye-popping price. Though, it should be noted that the price is remarkable not because of how high it is, but because of how low it is. Quite simply, these are the least expensive pair of earbuds that we reviewed.
Of course, the other shoe has to drop somewhere, and with the HC-RET, that shoe comes in the form of the mic. The mic and the inline controls are by far one of the buggier that we found. The issue seems to stem from a casing that is not meant to withstand the continued pressing that the controls require. This leads to both the controls and the mic failing quicker than most.
8. Mpow: Waterproof Wireless Earphones with a Mic
Mpow is another brand on our list that has managed to find the proper balance between good quality and a reasonable price. Even better, they also have a fairly broad market presence with their products sold both online and in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. That said, few budgetary products – regardless the market – are going to be able to provide all things to all people, but the Mpow actually gets closer to that mark of perfection than most.
Another necessary quality for a good pair of earphones is its wireless capabilities. These days, Bluetooth is a must. However, taking that a step further, you would like to see advanced codecs as well as other wireless qualities. The Mpows check both boxes. First, the battery provides a decent, though not great, 7-9 hours of play time, but it can be fully recharged in only 1+ hours. In terms of audio quality, the CVC 6.0 noise suppression combines with a CSR chip and both the A2DP and AVRCP codec to provide great sound quality.
9. Marsno M1: Most Durable Earphones with a Mic
One of the things that most people expect when they buy a pair of budget earbuds is that they will have to buy them again and again in short succession. This is simply because most budget earbuds might provide some nice features and even decent sound quality, but they often cut corners in terms of manufacturing processes and materials.
This is where the Marsno M1s differ from most of their budget-friendly competitors. By using high-end materials for both the housing and the cord, the Marsnos are one of the few pairs of truly budget earbuds that you can purchase without worry that they will fail in a few months time. This starts with the housing which is made out of an aluminum alloy. This alloy is then treated with 20 different processes to prevent corrosion and oxidation effects.
The cord also has some unique characteristics which make it more durable than most. First, the cord is made out of thermoplastic elastomer, or TPE. This is a material that was designed to bend and flex without breaking, creasing, or fraying. On top of the material, the oxygen-free copper wires are threaded through the cord by hand.
10. KEKU E-Sport: Unique Earphones with a Mic for Gaming
Keku follows the more general trend of budget-minded companies that do not truly have a specialty and simply manufacture a number of products that can be easily made using open source patent designs. That said, they definitely decided to go a bit above and beyond for a pair of earbuds in this price range and ended up surprising us with the level of quality.
For instance, these earbuds are tied on our list for using the largest drivers. While this does not necessarily translate to a better frequency – likely due to merely adequate materials – the size of the driver works especially well for producing deep bass. Of course, this is also likely why the earphones only have a sensitivity of 105dB. Still, they work exceptionally well for gaming.
So, what are the best earbuds with a mic under $30?
In the end, the best earbuds with a mic will be different things to different people. If you are looking for a pair of earbuds that you can take on the go, you are likely going to want to go with a pair of wireless earphones. Of course, if you want a hassle-free pair of earbuds that you do not have to worry about charging, then a corded model is a better idea – especially if you need a pair for a computer.
In terms of the best all-around audio quality, the SoundPEATS are by far the best on our list. For one, this pair of earbuds provides numerous technological components and firmware specifically designed to provide true-to-life audio quality. While the 6mm driver does limit the total amount of bass it can produce, the realism of sound is the best that we saw.
Best Earbuds with a Mic: Buyer’s Guide
The driver is without question the most important part of earphones as it will ultimately determine how well the earphones can reproduce sound. That said, the driver can be affected by a whole host of aspects – each of which may be the ultimate factor in defining its soundscape or merely a part of the whole. Generally, people judge the driver of earphones on two primary categories: size and type of magnet.
For the size, the trend is fairly obvious to identify in that bigger is generally considered better. There is always the upper limit of the size of the average human ear canal that ultimately limits how large a driver manufacturers will put into their earphones, but it is otherwise still understood that bigger is better. In terms of the magnet’s material, this relates to how accurately the magnet in the driver can translate the audio signal across a cone – often made of plastic. In this instance, neodymium is generally seen as the best material which reproduces the source audio signal most accurately.
Speakers have only been around for a little over a century and a half with headphones have only been around for a century – and only getting popular for consumers about 50 years ago. Still, technology progresses around and through these products and this shows itself primarily in the advancements of connectivity. Initially, speakers had to be hardwired and headphones required a 6.5 mm TRS jack, but with the development of wireless technology, headphones are one of the first adopters.
3.5 mm Aux – This is now considered the “analog” method of connecting earphones to a device, though it is arguably still the most popular. While its removal from the iPhone may have caused an uproar, it is only a matter of time before this connection goes the way of so many others. That said, 3.5 mm jacks are still incredibly useful as numerous source devices accept them – with many models of source device not connecting via Bluetooth.
Bluetooth – Bluetooth is the favored way of connecting wirelessly between two specialized devices – though Android’s Near Field Communication is gaining popularity. WiFi technically exists within the wireless connection realm, but it is so infrequent as to be an exception which proves the rule. Regardless, the ability to wirelessly connect the headphones to a device cannot be overstated and should be obvious. The issue then becomes one of signal strength – especially if the source device is stationary, as opposed to a smartphone. Another potential concern involves compatibility, but that is generally only an issue for proprietary brands or for the most extreme of firmware differences.
In terms of the secondary considerations, the earbuds are likely at or near the top of the list. The primary reason, however, usually has little or nothing to do with the audio quality and instead focuses on the intended purpose of use and the setting. Instead, the earbuds are often selected for comfort if the buyer bothers to select them at all. Just as often the earbuds are not something you can choose or even necessarily replace and must simply stick with whatever OEM or proprietary earbud the manufacturer provides.
Foam – This is easily the most popular material to use for earbuds primarily because it is cheap and can be made from hypoallergenic materials. At the same time, foam can also be made to varying degrees of firmness or softness to suit the user’s comfort and can even offer expansion properties to provide a better fit. That said, you do not get foam earbuds because they fit so well but because they are often the most comfortable and can also provide noise-cancellation properties for some of the higher-end models. Though, at the lower end, foam earbuds can be truly dreadful things to use.
Silicone – While far from the most common materials used, silicone is likely the second most common material used. Part of the issue is that silicone will inherently exclude a certain number of people allergic to the product from buying it. On top of that, silicone can create its own issues, though it does solve the major problem with foam earbuds: the fit. Silicone, if properly sized to your ear canal, will often provide the best fit making them ideal for use during heavy activity. Silicone can also make a decent seal and offer some noise-canceling properties, but this can also increase the temperature of the ear canal and lead to waxy buildup over time or sweating.
The body of earphones is often one of the more overlooked qualities that can have a surprising amount of impact of the audio quality produced. Granted, when you are looking at earbuds with a mic under $30, you are unlikely to come across too many manufacturers who put that kind of effort into the design of their earphones’ body, but they might alter the materials which can have a similarly outsized impact on the audio quality. That said, in this price range, your options are quite often limited to plastic or metal – with stainless steel and aluminum alloy being the most popular metals used.
Plastic – Plastic is not a bad material to use with earphone bodies despite the reputation for fragility it may get when used for other purposes. Because earphone bodies are so small and the most common type of plastic used is ABS, you do not have to worry about the durability of plastic earphone bodies. On top of that, the ABS plastic also ensures that the materials are hypoallergenic. That said, plastic – unless specially made – do not confer any inherent acoustical quality to the tone.
Metal – Metal has become a popular choice recently for high-end manufacturers to use as the material for their bodies – though plenty of budget-minded manufacturers have caught on as well. However, you need to understand that, unlike plastic, metal actually will change the tonal quality of the acoustics before the sound reaches your ears if the body is not otherwise engineered. The difference is minor, but audiophiles will be able to notice it immediately. That said, metal does seem to provide a more balanced tone for tonal clarity – though the debate is far from settled. One of the best things about metal is that, despite how durable ABS plastic may be, it does not truly compare to metal.
The bass deserves a special mention primarily because it is so difficult for a driver to accurately recreate. This only makes sense considering that bass is generally generated with membranes thousands of times larger than the driver’s magnet. As such, if you are a bass head, then you are going to need to be far more selective about your pair of buds. In fact, few earphones within the budget range provide anything resembling acceptable bass for someone who prefers bass-heavy music.
It is also important to keep in mind that distortion either through volume or through some “bass boost” mode is not the same thing as actual bass. Generally, the best way for a manufacturer to actually provide good sounding bass is to either have an incredibly large and precise magnet or to have multiple drivers within the housing – with one of them dedicated to reproducing bass tones. Of course, earphones that have either of these features are usually more expensive than their competitors.
Protections can be approached from 2 ways: the features which protect the user and features which protect the earphone. The former is fairly uncommon – though not without precedent – but the types of protections that a manufacturer can provide their earphones are far more likely. Earphone protections can further be broken down into the environmental protections and the component protections.
Environmental protections are almost always reserved for the waterproof rating of the earphones, but some higher-end models may also advertise impact resistance as well. The waterproof level is ranked on the IP scale with the first number referring to dust particles – and an ‘X’ denoting it is untested in this category – and the second number referring to the waterproof rating. A solid IP waterproof rating is 6 with 7 being far more desirable as this allows light submersion.
The other type of protection you may find on the errant pair of earphones here and there is anti-shock protection – though this is far more dependent on where the earphones are expected to be used. Anti-shock earphones are far more likely to be found on products meant to be used outdoors or in high-energy settings as opposed to a more general protection.
If a pair of earphones connects wirelessly, then they will inevitably have a limited power supply which will need to be recharged from time to time. Of course, if a pair of earphones has a battery with a long enough life, then you may not need to worry about the recharge quite as much. That said, batteries are generally judged by 2 categories: how many mAh they contain and how quickly they recharge from a depleted state.
Of the 2 the battery’s capacity is obviously the most important as you may not always be able to recharge your wireless headphones – even if otherwise would do so. At the same time, you will most likely be able to charge your wireless headphones overnight, so needing to be able to recharge them in an hour or two may not be as relevant. Of course, having the ability to recharge your wireless headphones in an hour or two definitely opens up some options in terms of where and how you use them.