Good cheap headphones 2021, for gaming and general use!

Woman using a laptop while wearing headphones

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

After going through a headphone rabbit hole, I got to know that many of the usual "gaming" headsets aren't that great of a purchase, know what is the best for your money.

One problem with the recent increase of the word "gaming" on several products, is that more than often they are nothing but a basic product that you are looking for, but with some RGB lights put on it, just branding over it to sell as a gaming product for a higher price. They make you pay more, for less, just by trying to put lipstick on the pig, and sadly, it works!

The search for a good cheap headphone

This article is the result of around two weeks of searching about entry-level, or cheap headphones in general, I am not a specialist on the topic, but fortunately, I fell on the right track!

And as a note, the word cheap can have different meanings, some of the headphones here may not be cheap for you, and as they may not be for me either, but fear not, there are several great headphones and I will attempt to give info on how to know you are getting the best bang for the buck.

The list is focused on entry-level headphones, being as cheap as possible, where cheap means that I tried to find the lowest price possible while maintaining great sound quality.

Which headphones are truly good for gaming?

Oh is it that Ultra RGB 4.0 Gaming Headphone? Most likely no...

When you search for a gaming headphone you will notice that most results will show lots of products that follow this agenda.

I don't believe that "gaming" will mean that a headphone is bad, I heard about some great ones! But personally, it has become a red flag, as some of the gaming ones don't even bother to show a minimum amount of specifications about the headphone.

How is this for gaming? Is this better for gaming because of...? No technical aspect is a big red flag!

After learning something about headphones, I got to know that there are different kinds of headphones.

Headphones can have different song signatures, for example, the Harman Curve has an extra bass and treble, attempting to recreate speakers, and it is good for sound production.

For general use, like gaming, listening to music, or watching movies it can become very subjective, you may enjoy listening to a flat headphone, and that is your taste.

But in a technical aspect, you could put it on these words: "which song signature will be better for me on gaming?"

I recommend checking out signatures, and decide which one may be the best for the game you are playing.

For me, in practice, the Harman Signature is great for gaming, and I believe the same is true for a flat signature, as they are "transparent", so the headphone will influence as minimum as possible the sound you hear during gameplay.

That said, competitive games are well designed, and I don't believe headphones will play a magical role on anything, you are the one playing the game after all. If you have any research on the topic, be it about song signatures on gaming, or related, please contact me and let me know, I will update the article.

AKG Pro Audio K361

At the time of this writing, the K361 is around $100 on Amazon.

This closed-back headphone has great reviews from a lot of different sources, it is often compared to the K371, but being "cheaper" on its build.

Unexpectedly, many people recommend this one instead of its more expensive model(K371), but being a matter of taste.

Technically speaking

  • Compared to the expensive model by some sources
  • The K371(the expensive one), is rated a B on Crinacle's ranking
  • Not listed on Crinacle's ranking
  • Foldable
  • Light
  • Flat/Harman

Koss Porta Pro

Koss Porta Pro is known for being great because they are! The design for the headphone was introduced in 1984, a supra-aural headphone model.

Koss Porta Pro goes for around $35-$50 on Amazon

Technically speaking

  • Outstanding quality for the price
  • Rated a C on Crinacle's ranking
  • Defined as bass rolled/warm on Crinacle's ranking
  • No sound isolation, they are not designed for that, which is not intrinsically a bad thing

Creative Aurvana Live!

Another headphone with great recommendations, if this product is available in your country for a reasonable price, it is great!

Creative Aurvana Live! goes for around $30~$50, but sadly it is not widely available in all countries, like for example the Koss Porta Pro or the AKG K361.

Technically speaking

  • Didn't find it on the Crinacle's list at the time of this writing
  • Adjustable
  • Closed-back
  • Warm, bass elevation

Philips SHP9500

The Philips SHP9500 is another widely appraised headphone, for being great for its price, and they are also known for comfort. There is also an SHP9600 model that you may want to check out.

Philips SHP9500 is available on Amazon for around $75.

Technically speaking

  • Grade C on Crinacle's list, described as bright
  • Open Circumaural
  • 1.5m cable

Honorable Mentions

These are also worth taking a look at:

  • The Sennheiser HD 600 is great, although they cost more than the other headphones on the list. You can also take a look at the Sennheiser brand in general
  • The K371 is a great model, which was noted on the K361 section
  • Take a look at IEMs, they appear to shine on this price range
  • There are good reviews around the Superlux 681 Evo, and the 668B
  • The BLON 03 and the Moondrop Aria IEMs may be worth searching about

I recommend checking the Z Reviews YouTube channel and metal571.

What is the Crinacle's list?

The list I talked about above is a ranking that compares the headphones, the Crinacle's Ranking.

I find it to be a good reference, as I'm someone without experience in this field, there you can search for headphones and have a solid reference to look at.

Read the notices on the page, and know that nothing is set on stone!

I also recommend taking a look at how to read the measurements.

The bottom line

There are a plethora of options when finding an entry headphone, and this ends up including even your geographic region, as some brands may be more expensive in certain areas, I attempted to list some that should have a solid price all around.

The list is what I got to know after a certain time searching on the topic, it is not perfect, one thing with headphones is that you will see many different opinions on the same headphone, which can become very confusing.

After all, it is up to you to decide what to buy, hopefully, this list can save you some research time around the topic. Purchase what makes you happy!

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