Want the best affordable headphones and speakers? Get a refurbished set!

Julie Tremaine
·5 mins read
Want better quality audio equipment without spending a fortune? Consider buying refurbished headphones and speakers. (Photos: eBay)
Want better quality audio equipment without spending a fortune? Consider buying refurbished headphones and speakers. (Photos: eBay)

Personal audio equipment is one of those major purchases where you truly get what you pay for. If you invest in high-quality electronics, it’s going to make a difference in sound quality and longevity — and because those headphones or speakers are something you’ll use practically every day, that investment is money well-spent.

But what if you could get better quality audio equipment without spending as much? You can — if you consider refurbished headphones and speakers.

According to Consumer Reports, buying refurbished electronics is one of their recommended ways to save a substantial amount of money. When you buy refurbished, you’re purchasing a returned item for a steep discount.

“Refurbished headphones may have needed repairs or might have simply been cleaned up after being returned to the manufacturer for other reasons,” according to Consumer Reports tech writer Thomas Germain. “And while buying refurbished often means the products may not come in their original packing, you can score some real savings on a number of models that come recommended by our testers if you're willing to give that up.”

Usually, refurbished products are simply items that someone has purchased, tried and decided to return. (One study from Accenture found that only five percent of returned electronics were retired because they were defective, so you’re extremely likely to be purchasing a returned-by-choice item rather than a repaired one.)

When purchasing refurbished headphones and speakers, experts like Germain and CNET’s senior editor Rick Broida say that choosing products that come with warranties is most important. “Apple’s refurbs are quite literally good as new,” Broida wrote, and they come with a one-year warranty. “That’s why I always go refurbished when shopping for Apple products. Risk factor: zero.”

“It might take you a little while to notice poor performance and defects in a refurbished product, so it helps to have at least one month to decide whether you want to keep it,” as Consumer Reports writer Tercius Bufete noted in a guide to refurbished electronics. He recommends purchasing from a seller such as eBay, which promises like-new electronics, and has generous warranty and return policies in case something does go wrong.

Here are 10 refurbished headphones and speakers that offer big savings, and have been rigorously renewed by trusted sellers.

This water-resistant portable speaker is perfect for home use, or to take on the go for camping or a trip to the beach. It comes in the original packaging, from one of eBay’s Top Rated Plus sellers, and is a factory-refurbished product that has Bose’s one-year manufacturer warranty. At $94.95, it’s 27 percent off the MSRP of $129.95 for a new product.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad Certified refurbished products are tested to ensure they’re working like brand new and are restored to the original factory settings. These Apple AirPods Pro are $244.99 and are covered by Best Buy’s standard return policy.

These earbuds, guaranteed to be in like-new condition, are sold on eBay directly from the manufacturer, so they’re backed by the manufacturer’s warranty and eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. These small in-ear wireless headphones have up to 28 hours of battery life and 4-microphone call technology which filters out background noise. At $99.99, they’re offered at 44 percent off the $179.99 MSRP.

For people who prefer over-the-ear headphones instead of earbuds, these COWIN E7 headphones offer premium sound quality and noise filtration with 90 degree swiveling earcups. These wireless headphones offer Bluetooth connectivity and 30 hours of playtime, and come directly from the manufacturer. They’re covered by a one-year manufacturer’s warranty and a 30-day return window, and are offered at $59.99.

Equipped with Jabra HearThrough technology, these earbuds allow you to be aware of what’s happening around you, while still hearing excellent quality music and phone calls. The Elite 65t has 15 hours of total battery life, and up to 5 hours of listening time on a single charge. Sold directly from Jabra and covered by a 180-day warranty, these earbuds are $49.99, 58 percent off MSRP of $119.99.

These refurbished Bose headphones offer premium sound quality and are backed by a one-year warranty from the manufacturer. Designed for comfort and engineered to have the highest sound quality, the QuietComfort 25 is designed to cancel out even the loudest background noise, like the roar of an airplane engine. They’re offered at $99.95, a whopping 64 percent off the $279.95 MSRP.

This small, portable Bluetooth speaker comes in colors ranging from aqua to mauve and even camo print. It has up to 20 hours of playtime and charges through a USB port, and is waterproof and durable enough to take anywhere. Sold directly from the manufacturer and covered by a 30-day return policy, this JBL speaker also has phone tech support. At $134.99, it’s 25 percent off the $179.95 MSRP.

Earbuds are small and convenient, but aren’t the easiest to use while working out — except for these Bose Soundsport Wireless headphones. Designed for an active person, these earbuds are waterproof and sweatproof, and have a special hydrophobic cloth to keep moisture out, even while exercising. And the tangle-free cord is a bonus, ensuring your earbuds don’t slip out. These are sold through eBay direct from Bose, and include the eBay Money Back Guarantee. Offered at $69.95, they’re 53 percent off MSRP.

These wireless headphones connect via Bluetooth for up to 12 hours of premium sound, with active noise cancellation. Offered in black, white, pink and navy, the Tune 600BTNC has buttons on the ear cups that allow for easy control over your calls and music. They’re covered by JBL’s one-year warranty and are offered at $74.99, which is 25 percent off MSRP.