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Best cheap earbuds 2021: Inexpensive Bluetooth buds

Here is our pick of the best Bluetooth earbuds, headphones, and even speakers for the holidays.

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There are lots of Bluetooth and wireless audio items around online -- and some of them are at eye-watering prices. Here are a selection of lesser-known brands with price tags of under $100 that will help you relax listening to your favorite sounds over the holidays.

I have included a selection of earbuds, over-ear headsets, and Bluetooth speakers so you can choose the form factor you prefer when you are relaxing with your music or catching up with some work.

Lavanda Lune earbuds

Compact in shape and fit snugly in the ear

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Lavanda Lune wireless earbuds smashed through its target on Indiegogo, and it is not hard to see why. They are compact in shape and fit snugly in the ear when you twist them. They are  IP66 sweat and water resistant.

These earbuds are fitted with an Airoha 1552A chip and have ANC and ambient mode. Bluetooth 5.0 means these earbuds will easily connect to your device, with a playing time of up to 5 hours with ANC switched on and up to 9 hours when ANC is switched off. The case will deliver up to 45 hours of playing time (with ANC off). Sound is good -- although even with ANC switched on I could still hear ambient noise around me.

Use the left earbud to control ANC or use the right to navigate your way through tracks. You can tap either earbud for call management or to wake up your voice assistant.

Coumi wireless earbuds

Snug-fitting active noise cancelling earbuds that are splashproof

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Coumi wireless earbuds are snug-fitting active noise cancelling earbuds that are IPX7 splashproof and comfortable in the ear. The battery life is good -- over five hours at fairly loud volume, more if you switch ANC off. Adjust volume, answer your phone, or move through tracks by tapping either the right or left earbud. 

Bass is good and mid ranges nice and clear, as are calls. Pairing to the earbuds is quick and easy and the charging case, charged by a type-C cable will give up to  30 hours from fully charged -- longer if noise cancelling is not activated. These are nicely fitting ergonomic earbuds and the ANC feature is a bonus. 

Tronsmart Element T6 Max

Bluetooth speaker delivers 60W sound with great sound

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

Wow, the Tronsmart Element T6 Max Bluetooth speaker packs a heck of a punch sound-wise. It is not too large standing at about 8 inches high, but it booms out 60W sound with good deep bass and great sound across the mid and upper ranges.

Device pairing is easy and the 12,000mAh battery and will play for over 20 hours before needing to be charged via its USB-C cable. It has TWS so you can pair two of these speakers together, and it has three equaliser audio modes: balanced, 3D, and deep bass.

Pair the speaker through Bluetooth 5.0 or use NFC or the 3.5mm audio jack. You can also use your voice assistant through the speaker. The speaker is IPX5 water resistant so it can cope with splashes, but not full immersion. This would be a great addition to your home theatre setup.

Enacfire E90

Hybrids combining both in-ear and stick styles for an ergonomic fit

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Enacfire E90 earbuds are the latest in the Encafire range -- and they look completely different to other earbuds. They are not completely in ear -- nor do they have a stick hanging out of your ear. These hybrids combine both styles to make an ergonomic fit

Inside the IPX8 waterproof earbuds there is a Qualcomm chipset that offers good deep bass with CVC noise reduction technology. Sound is good across the ranges

Connection to your phone is quick and easy, the battery life is over 4 hours at mid-volume, and the carry case will provide up to 48 hours playtime. The charger is type-C

It is simple to play and pause music, answer and hang up calls and turn to the next or previous song, or invoke the voice-activated assistant. Nice earbuds for the price point.

Tribit QuietPlus 50 wireless headphones

Over-ear headphones with ANC and a warm rich sound

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Tribit QuietPlus headphones are over-ear headphones that have ANC and a warm rich sound across bass and mid-range. Simple to connect they will give up to 30 hours of playtime before needing to be charged via USB-C. The headphones are equipped with a Qualcomm chip for excellent sound quality and Bluetooth 5.0 for a simple connection. Calls are clear and response time is good. The earphones fold up to fit in the soft supplied pouch. I love these headphones for immersive sound and ANC that really cuts out ambient noise.

Earfun earbuds

Really comfortable and do not move around

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Earfun Air Pro are ANC earbuds that have a short stick and do not fit completely in the ear. However, they are really comfortable and do not move around. The accelerometer in the earbuds means that you need to tap each bud firmly for the command to be accepted. Sound is great in the mid-range and the bass is clear, but not booming. Call quality is good and noise cancellation is acceptable (although difficult to toggle through the settings (three taps on the left bud) without invoking the voice assistant (two taps on the left bud). Currently at an additional 10% off if you use the discount code EFAIRPRO1.

MU6 ANC headphones

Comfortable to wear, with ANC and good sounds

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Mu6 Space 2 noise-canceling headphones are over $100, but well worthy of inclusion for their quality. They are incredibly comfortable to wear, with deep padded cushions and a large shell that fits comfortably over your ears. Bluetooth connects well and the sound is good. Call quality is mainly good across a range of PC's and mobile devices. ANC is excellent and an added bonus is the headphones stop playing music when the headphones are removed and start playing when they are replaced.

Tranya Rimor Earbuds

Deliver really loud, excellent sound with minimal distortion

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Tranya Rimor earbuds connect quickly to your device and can be used in true wireless mode or mono mode with friends. Noise-cancelling filters our a lot of ambient background noise to give a nice sound. These earbuds will give you up to 5 hours playtime on a single charge and the charging case supplies enough charge to give four full recharges.

These earbuds support touch for volume control, track selection and for answering and rejecting calls.  

The only downside is that the charging case does not seem to hold a charge for as many weeks as others on this list -- but if you use these regularly, you will not notice any issues. These are a nice set of earbuds for the audiophile.

Earfun Free earbuds

Rich bass and good sound across all ranges

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Earfun Free earbuds are IPX7 with good rich bass and good sound across all ranges. They sit comfortably in the ear and connect easily to your device. They have 6 hours playtime and the charging case will deliver up to 24 hours playtime. The case quickly charges giving you a quick boost for extra listening time

The EarFun Free earbuds are on offer too for $29.99 until the end of December 2020 with code EFFREEBC

Votomy VT 360 Bluetooth speaker

Bluetooth speaker delivers superb bass for up to 12 hours

The best Holiday audio for under $100 zdnet

The Votomy VT360 Bluetooth speaker is loud at 30W and has a 5,200mAh battery that will deliver superb bass from its dual bass passive radiators for up to 12 hours. It has TWS so you can pair two together to really belt out the sound. Mid and high ranges are superb.

Tap the speaker to answer a call and speak through its built-in microphone. It also has a 3.5mm jack for direct connection to your device.

The speaker is IP67, which protects it from dust and water ingress. It can also be used as a power bank to charge other devices.

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

Our sister sites also have the following gift guides: