Are Cheap Earbuds or Headphones Bad for Your Ears?

Cheap earbuds or headphones can be bad for your ears because of poor designs that can lead to fit issues. These products can also do a lousy job of regulating volumes, causing hearing damage. But not all cheap earbuds or headphones are bad.

This post will examine if cheap earbuds or headphones are bad for your ears. I’ll explain some ways they can be harmful and highlight what you should consider if you choose cheap headphones. 

Let’s dive in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Cheap earbuds or headphones have the potential to be bad for your ears, but not all cheap options are inherently bad. 
  • Cheap headphones or earbuds can have a poor fit, leading to discomfort and potentially long-term harm to your ears. 
  • They can also be bad for your long-term ear health if the headphones get loud enough to cause damage. 
  • Knowing which cheap earbuds or headphones options are bad for your ears is difficult.

Are Cheap Earbuds or Headphones Bad for Your Ears? 

Cheap earbuds or headphones have the potential to be bad for your ears, but not all cheap models are bad just because they are inexpensive. Any headphones can cause damage to your ears if the volume is loud enough. 

The reason cheap earbuds or headphones are generally seen as worse for your ears than more expensive headphones is that cheaper models might not fit properly or do a good job of regulating volume. 

If your headphones don’t fit properly or are made of materials that cause discomfort, long-term use can potentially damage your ears. This might result in injury rather than hearing loss, but it’s good to know about either way. 

If you buy a cheap pair of headphones or earbuds, you still want to make sure that they fit properly and that you don’t listen to music at full volume. Cheaper products often don’t function as well, so it’s essential to pay attention to how they work. 

Cheap headphones and earbuds can malfunction, causing the volume levels to go up and down. If you aren’t expecting this, you might turn up the volume on your listening device and get blasted with high volumes when the headphones kick back on. 

But not all cheap earbuds or headphones lead to ear damage. It’s difficult to say which models will do so, and as long as they seem to be functioning correctly, you are probably ok. Even more expensive headphones can be an issue. 

If you have the money to spend on nicer headphones, it’s probably a good idea to avoid some of the issues associated with cheaper earbuds and headphones. But if you can only afford cheaper models, that doesn’t mean you will surely get ear damage. 

Are Earbuds More Damaging Than Headphones? 

Earbuds can be more damaging than headphones for your ears because earbuds get inserted into your ear canal and can subject your ears to more overall volume. Earbuds can also cause more discomfort with prolonged use. 

But regular headphones can also be bad for your ears at high volumes. They can cause discomfort as well. As long as you listen to music at lower to medium levels and don’t wear headphones for too long, they are generally not damaging. 

Are Headphones Bad for Your Ears? 

When misused, any type or style of headphones can be bad for your ears. If you leave your headphones on for too long, it can cause discomfort and other issues that can be bad for the overall health of your ears. 

But the big issue relates to volume. When you blast your ears with high noise levels for long periods, you will likely experience hearing damage at some point. This can easily happen with headphones. 

So always keep the headphone volume at a moderate level, no matter what headphones you use. It’s better to be safe than sorry because long-term hearing damage can take a lifetime to occur.

How to Choose Cheap But Good Earbuds

Here are some vital factors to take into consideration before going ahead to make a purchase.

Noise Cancellation

Earbuds with the noise cancellation function usually come with a built-in microphone that helps to detect every incoming noise frequency. Thus, the speaker emits similar inverted sound frequencies to isolate the noise.

You can check out earbuds with this function, even though there are a few earbuds under $50 with the feature.

Size and Comfort

Not all earbuds have the same size, even though they all seem to be similar in size. Some are pretty small for your ears, while some are too big for you. There’s no special thumb rule for size.

However, it’s wise for kids and teenagers to go for smaller earbuds, while adults stick to the bigger ones.

The size of earbuds can primarily affect your comfort while you plug them into your ears. Thus, it’s wise to go for earbuds that are perfectly snug for your ears to gain maximum comfort while you enjoy your music.

Wired or Wireless

The benefits of wired and wireless earbuds are similar to that of headphones—wireless or wired. Nonetheless, we see a lot of people using wireless (Bluetooth) earbuds because they are simpler to use, although they are more expensive.

But, the wired earbuds have their own unique merits over wireless as you don’t need to charge them. They are great for people that are always on the go. Thus, it’s essential to go for the option that best fits your needs.

Frequency Response

The frequency response varies for the different earbud models. But, it’s essential to know the frequency response of the earbud you intend to buy because it determines the deep bass level of the earbuds.


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions relating to if cheap earbuds or headphones are bad for your ears. 

What is worse for your ears, earbuds or headphones? 

Over-the-ear style headphones are generally better for your ears because they often don’t get as loud as earbuds. This can prevent hearing damage in the long run and can be safer if you listen to headphones often. 

Is it healthy to wear earbuds all day? 

It’s not a good idea to wear earbuds all day, and you should take a break after a few hours of use. Wearing earbuds all day can lead to discomfort, and you also risk long-term hearing damage if you listen with the volume up loud. 

Are wired headphones safer than Bluetooth? 

Wire headphones and Bluetooth headphones are equally as safe for your ears. Both are safe to wear as long as you don’t listen to music too loud. But you can get permanent hearing damage if you listen at loud volumes over extended periods. 

Does wearing AirPods damage your ears? 

Just like with any other style of earbuds, if you wear AirPods too long or listen with the volume up really loud, you can damage your hearing. You never want to listen to music at too loud of a volume for an extended period. 

Final Thoughts

You don’t want to risk damaging your ears by listening to loud music or wearing headphones for too long. Cheap headphones and earbuds can cause damage, but they can also pose no issues if you keep the volume at a reasonable level. 

Have you ever had issues with your ears caused by cheap earbuds or headphones? Let me know in the comments below.

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