Budget Headphones Better Than Beats

Two things are crucial to creativity in this world: 1) A bean or leaf related beverage of your choice and 2) Music. If you need to drown out the world and are on a budget then check these headphones out, you won't be sorry! Happy creating!

We all know the two most important things for creative inspiration are coffee and music. This is a fact that simply cannot be refuted (tea would also be an acceptable coffee substitution). It is therefore my responsibility to express to you the headphones I fell in love with the moment I tried them on. Without further adieu, I give you “Budget Headphones That Are Better Than Beats”.


[Disclaimer: “Budget” in this case refers to being under $50. This is all based on personal preference. Before I buy anything expensive I do extensive research but what may be perfect for me may not be right for you.  While I’m sure there are Beats headphones that are astonishing I was never able to listen to ones that made it worth the cost. The ones I tried at various retail chains may have been played out and overused. I have no hate for Beats or the people that work there, this is just about sharing my alternative to what has become mainstream and successful.]


Sound on a budget

If you’re like me then you don’t want to give up your first born if you can get something just as good, or better, for the cost of going out to eat at Chili’s. If you ask my wife she’ll tell you that I’m too particular (that should be a compliment to her then since I also fell in love with her). In my venture to find great headphones we scoured the internet and went to countless stores. We tried on Bose, Beats, Sony, Skullcandy (my inexpensive ear bud option), and a plethora of other brands over the course of almost a year.   

Consulting The Experts

I read articles from professionals in the field. I spoke to my three music teaching relatives and got input from anyone else I could. I asked music aficionados right down to people at my gym who just wanted some sound. What I found was that all the industry standard headphones were WELL out of my budget. 

Cost vs Quality

It’s not that I couldn’t drop $300 on a pair of headphones, I just don’t want to go into debt for the sound of music (while the hills might be alive with it my wallet will only get me so far up that incline). I knew my option was out there but I was getting frustrated dealing with the $10 ear buds that just sounded hollow. They were okay (my wife actually liked them) but I like to FEEL the music. 



Affiliation Because I Believe

That’s a lot of rambling to get to a short point. I just want you to know how much I invested in getting the right headphones. I don’t make reviews or recommendations lightly. If I recommend a product it’s because I truly believe in it and use it. That being said, the link below is an affiliate link that will provide a small commission to me if you deem these headphones worthy. I won’t be offended if you go somewhere else; I stand by this product regardless of anything I may get from it. While affiliate marketing helps keep the lights on and coffee flowing freely I don’t rely on it to make my decisions and will never recommend something I don’t believe in. 

And The Winner Is…

[Drumroll please!] Introducing the Sony MDRXB400!

Sony MDRXB400 noise cancelling headphones

The Pros:

Sound – For the price this can’t be beat (pardon the pun). The whole sound was what won me over.  I found bass lacking in most all other budget sets, leaving the music sounding ‘hollow’, and at worst, tinny.

Passive Noise Cancelation – This relies on the structure of the headphone. By using sound absorbent padding that rests on your ears around the speaker, passive cancellation (as opposed to active cancellation which uses power to electronically filter noise) is able to keep cost down while still providing a muffling effect.

Cost – This goes without saying but at under $40 I couldn’t even begin to scoff at the quality.

Style – They’re sleek by being black but comes with a rim of blue (or other colors if you’re not a blue freak like me). The cord is also flat which keeps tangles from forming. I didn’t realize how nice this was until I had it. From now on, flat cords are on my priority list.

Built-in Mic – I’ve never had need for this but it is nice to have the option to answer a call without having to take off my headphones.

The Cons:

Padding disintegrates – This was bothersome at first, making me consider buying a new set.  The lining over the padding flaked off after about 18 months.  This hasn’t changed the way they sound (still going strong after 3 years of daily use).  Also, nobody can tell because the part that’s flaking is against my ears. This is strictly cosmetic but may be enough to negate this set for some.

Wired – I personally like wired headphones but realize that not everyone does. Bluetooth never seems to have the power that wired options offer.  There are instances where I wish I could move freely without having to switch the headphones from my laptop over to my iPhone but it’s a minor inconvenience.

Not Active Cancelation – While the passive system works well for virtually every cafe I’ve been to, there have been rare circumstances where I wish I didn’t have to turn the volume up so high to drown out the noise of the outside world.  Construction going on just outside or screaming kids have a tenancy to get through the padding.

Final Thoughts

I’m in love with the Sony MDRXB400s. When they eventually give out I will buy them all over again. The quality is superb even for a set much higher in price. I’m sure Beats (and other competitors) have versions that will knock this pair back to the stone-age but I just haven’t seen that at this price point. If you can look past the possible degradation of the lining these headphones are definitely worth trying out. 

So what do you think? What do you use for your musical inspiration? Am I completely wrong in my review? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time!


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