Cool, Colorful, Quality Headphones for $35 or Less

Photo: Hryck.

Take a look around. I bet you can find someone nearby that has those neo-iconic white cords flowing from their ears. That's because Apple has the earbud market on lock, thanks to the massive popularity of its many media devices. (See also: 6 Ways to Save Money on iPads, iPhones, and Macs)

But lately I’ve noticed another brand of audio accessory gaining momentum, and you probably know what I’m talking about. Beats by Dr. Dre are sleek, shiny, over-the-ear headphones that are doing a bang-up job of making converts out of style-seeking content consumers. They’re hot, for sure, but they’re also pricey, with the cheapest model retailing for $199.

Still, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dream of looking like a 46-year-old rap star. Just for you, I’ve found five fashionable pairs of high-quality headphones that’ll set you apart without setting you back. Ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang, baby.

iWave’s Grass Roots Collection ($29.99) isn’t just comfortable and state-of-the-art — the latest in transducer technology is used — but they’re also eco-friendly. With an elegant natural finish that gives the headset an urban-meets-the-great-outdoors aesthetic, these phones, made with recycled materials, provide impeccable performance for an excellent value.

Surprisingly low on price but high on quality, the iHome iB40 headhones ($29.99) riff on the Beats by Dr. Dre design — streamlined red, black and silver touches — for a fraction of the cost. The padding is soft, the headband is adjustable, and the sound is rich and detailed. Plus, there’s an in-line dial that allows you to easily control the volume. So you can pump up the jam. Pump it up while your feet are stumpin’.

Hardcore music lovers may appreciate Wicked Audio’s Reverb series ($29.99), which comes in three colors (red, blue, and black) and feature stylized artwork for an edgier appearance. Padded earcups facilitate a comfy fit and maximum noise isolation to drown out ambient sounds. Like from that crazy preacher on the subway.

Sporting a ’90’s sense of style and sensibility (and why not — BSB and NKOTB are staging a comeback… again), the DJ Sport Headphones by chicBuds ($34.99) turn rockin’ out on your iPod into a dope experience that’s all that and a bag of chips. Available in two styles — hot pink and multicolor — they’re compatible with nearly any listening device, fold up for easy storage, and feature insulating sound. So everybody around you will automatically know to talk to the hand when the face ain’t listenin’.

Hear the rainbow with Coloud Colors' monochromatic headphones ($35) in seven bright and fun solid hues. The green pair, in particular, really pop — and you can score them for less than $35 on Amazon with free shipping. The only problem is that unlike the other brands, the padded cups don’t fully envelope the ears — perhaps a problem for some. Otherwise, the collection is just like your iPhone buds; they’re equipped with a microphone and remote function so you can answer your calls as they come in. Or not. I send those unknown numbers straight to voicemal and crank up the Cee-Lo.

Disclosure: I have no affiliate with these companies and do not get any benefit for my recommendations.

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Guest's picture

the ihome link above says the headphones are $29.99 not $19.99 like mentioned =(

Mikey Rox's picture

Thanks for pointing that out, Santos. My apologies for the oversight. I'll update right away.

Guest's picture

The Sennheiser HD-238 is far and away the best headphone in this price range. It is absolutely phenomenal.