There are many reasons why people are looking to buy headphones: some people need them with their daily commuting, others like to listen to their music in private, and there are always the audio professionals who want a pretty cheap pair of good-quality headphones. All these people I mentioned tend to look for headphones with a price below 100 dollars, and they get usually overwhelmed by the abundance of available models out there. How could one choose wisely a pair of headphones out of dozens?
It is true that nowadays the market is swarmed with inexpensive headphones: every brand seems to have a low-budget model that claims to have high-quality sound performance without breaking the bank. In addition to that, they come with a ton of specifications that most of the times don’t make any sense to you, unless you are an audio professional or very familiar with these terms. In order to help you find your way among all these headphones, I have gathered here for you the 10 best headphones with a price tag below $100. Every pair is presented with its advantages and drawbacks, so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises when you buy them. So, if you want to narrow down your options to the ten best pairs of headphones, read on!
Top 10 Best Headphones Under 100 Dollars
1. Sony MDR-7506
The first entry on this best headphones under 100 list has been very popular with audiophiles for years now: the Sony MDR-7506 is a pair of wired, closed-back headphones for professional use. Made by a well-known company, they are equipped with 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnets that have a wide frequency range from 10 Hz to 20,000 Hz. They have a pretty flat frequency response which is great for monitoring and will give you precise and accurate audio reproduction. The Sony MDR-7506 come with a lightweight design and they are comfortable to wear in general, although they could use some more padding on the ears. Their folding design and included soft carrying case make them quite portable. The build quality is sturdy and the cable is coiled for better cable management. They are durable headphones that you can trust for a long time. Their design is pretty simple and retro, and they are quite discreet when you wear them. All in all, the lightweight design and frequency response of the Sony MDR-7506 make them really suitable for studio use.
- Precise audio reproduction
- Solid build quality
- Foldable design
- Carrying case
- They could be a little more comfortable on the ears
2. Sennheiser HD280PRO
The second entry of this list comes also from a very reputable company in the audio niche: Sennheiser’s HD280PRO is a pair of professional, over-the-ear headphones. They deliver crystal clear audio quality, covering a large frequency spectrum that ranges from 8 to 25,000 Hz response. Just like the Sony MDR-7506, their response is pretty flat which makes them great for monitoring. They also offer great passive noise isolation that prevents sound leaking either in or out, and compounds up to 32 db of surrounding noise attenuation. The HD280PRO are pretty comfortable to wear for long hours, as they feature thick ear padding. On the other hand, they might make your ears sweat after a while, especially in hot weather. Their design is fairly simple but quite bulky, discouraging you from wearing them in public. Besides that, the ear cups swivel to make them more portable and their cable is coiled for better management. The build quality is very sturdy and ensures durability, combined with the reputation for Sennheiser products. All in all, the Sennheiser HD280PRO are highly recommended both for professional studio use and for high-quality listening to music or gaming at home.
- Great sound quality
- Good passive noise isolation
- Flat frequency response
- Lots of ear padding
- Bulky design and ear sweating
You may also like my list of best earbuds under 100 dollars.
3. TaoTronics TT-BH22
And now for something completely different: the TaoTronics TT-BH22 is a pair of wireless, over-the-ear headphones that comes at a price way below a hundred dollars. They come with Bluetooth connectivity and a battery life of 25 hours. In addition to that, there is the option to use a wired connection. The major selling point of these headphones is their active noise cancellation (ANC) technology that does a good job of blocking the sounds around you, making the TaoTronics TT-BH22 suitable for noisy environments, such as planes and daily commuting. In terms of sound quality, they deliver pretty warm audio performance, with present bass, a little recessed mids and bright high frequencies. The sound quality is much better with the ANC turned on. The headphones include buttons that let you power them on and off, play/pause your music and pair them with your device. A hard case is included in the package, making them easy to carry around. They are lightweight and thus really comfortable on the ears. On the whole, the TaoTronics TT-BH22 are highly recommended to those of you who are looking for a pair of headphones that you can use in noisy environments and doesn’t break the bank.
- Wireless connectivity with long battery life
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Value for money
- Comfortable on the ears
- The audio quality is not as good when you turn off the ANC
4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
If you are looking for a pair of headphones that is popular with audiophiles, you might want to consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. They are wired, circumaural headphones that deliver exceptionally balanced and precise audio quality. They deliver punchy bass, warm mids and crispy high frequencies that are suitable for listening to music, audio monitoring and gaming. The build quality is quite sturdy with plastic and metal parts, as well as the signature of Audio-Technica that has been a reputable brand in the audio niche for years now. These headphones are quite durable, especially thanks to their detachable cables. The earcups can swivel, allowing them to become more compact-sized so that you can carry them around easily. Their over-the-ear design provides you with great passive noise isolation, while also being comfortable on your ears. In terms of looks, they have a pretty simple design, but they are quite large. Their size makes them more suitable for studio and home listening sessions, rather than carrying them around. On the whole, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are great for audiophiles as well as for professional use.
- Balanced and high-quality sound performance
- Detachable cables
- Sturdy build quality
- Comfortable on the ears
- Their size makes them a bit bulky
5. Sennheiser HD 559
The second entry from Sennheiser on this list is a high-quality pair of open-back headphones, the Sennheiser HD 559. The open-back design allows these headphones to deliver a listening experience that resembles that of listening to music on speakers, which is great for demanding users. They deliver balanced audio performance across the frequency spectrum with a wide soundstage. Their noise isolation is not good since they are open-back, so they are better suited for environments where you won’t disturb others with the audio leaking from your headphones. They are made with high-quality materials that ensure both robust build quality and durability. Their padding makes them comfortable and it can be replaced if it wears out. However, they have a drawback: they only come with a 6.3 jack and they don’t include a 3.5 mm audio adapter that suits most devices, so you have to buy it yourself. To sum up, if you are looking for open-back headphones for under $100, you’d definitely want to consider the Sennheiser HD 559.
- Detailed sound performance
- Wide soundstage
- Robust build quality
- Replaceable ear padding
- No 3.5 mm adapter included
6. Anker Soundcore Life Q20
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is a great pair for those that would prefer to go even below $80 for a good-quality pair of headphones with many useful features. These over-the-ear headphones come with wireless Bluetooth v5 connectivity and 60 hours of playtime (40 hours when ANC is on), in order to use them for multiple days in a row without charging them. They also incorporate fast-charging in case you run out of battery, but you cannot charge and listen at the same time. Their noise isolation is great, as they come with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that complements their closed-back design, allowing you to listen to music in very noisy environments without any problem. In terms of sound performance, they perform really well considering their price with crystal clear quality. Another advantage is that they incorporate a built-in microphone that lets you take noise-free calls on the go, while the earcups feature incorporated controls. The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 are great for those of you who want high-quality sound on their daily commute.
- Value for money
- Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
- Great battery life
- Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- You can’t charge and listen simultaneously
7. Grado Prestige SR80e
The second pair of headphones with open-back design on this list is the Grado Prestige SR80e. They deliver balanced audio quality across the frequency spectrum with a wide soundstage that can please any audiophile. Their bass is warm and punchy, while their midrange and highs are crisp and rich. They don’t feature any noise isolation as they have open-back design. They come with wired connectivity along with an adapter to fit all jack ports. Unfortunately, they feature minimal padding and their on-ear design might make them a bit uncomfortable after many hours of use. Their design is simple and retro-looking, while the black colour makes them pretty discreet. On the whole, the Grado Prestige SR80e have been made with sound quality in mind, and as a result they don’t have many additional features. That makes them great for listeners who put audio quality as a priority when choosing headphones.
- Balanced audio performance
- Wide soundstage that gives the feeling of space
- Jack adapter included
- They could be more comfortable
8. Mpow H12
This is another nice choice for those looking for low-budget headphones: the Mpow H12 are wireless, closed-back headphones that come at a price tag way below $100, but still manage to be quite on the same level with other headphones on this list. They come with both wireless and wired connectivity, with a battery life that allows for 30 hours of playtime. Their Bluetooth technology allows them to be connected at two devices at the same time. These headphones incorporate noise-cancelling technology that lets you listen to your music in noisy environments such as planes and trains. The built-in mic lets you take calls on the go, while there are incorporated controls on the earcups that let you play/pause your music and skip tracks, without getting your device out of your pocket. Regarding sound performance, the two 40 mm drivers deliver rich and dynamic audio performance that is great for the price. Their lightweight design makes them comfortable on the ears, complemented by the ample padding. All in all, the Mpow H12 are a great low-budget solution for wireless, noise-cancelling headphones.
- Bang for the buck
- Wireless and wired connectivity
- Good audio performance
- Ability to connect to multiple devices
- Battery life could be longer
9. Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones
The Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones might be the most stylish option on this list: for those looking for headphones with sleek and modern-looking design, you would absolutely want to check this pair. They are wireless headphones with Bluetooth connectivity, and they also come with an optional wire in case you don’t want to be cordless. They have been made with premium-quality materials such as stainless steel, that ensure robust build quality as well as durability. Their design is lightweight and they are comfortable to wear for long hours, without feeling pressure on your head or on your ears. In terms of sound performance, they deliver crisp and crystal clear sound that is suitable for music and gaming. A built-in mic allows you to take calls without touching your device, while incorporated controls on the earcups let you control your music. Unfortunately, they have a battery life of 8 hours, which means that they should be charged often. All in all, the Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones are a stylish option that is very comfortable as well.
- Wireless connectivity
- Good-looking design
- Robust build quality
- Comfortable on the ears
- Poor battery life
10. Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500
Last but not least, the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500 is a pair of wireless headphones that are highly recommended for sports lovers. They come with a P2i military-grade nano-coating which protects them against sweat, moisture and spills. The built-in controls on the earcups are very comfortable for controlling your music while running (play/pause, skip tracks and adjust the volume). They come with wireless Bluetooth connectivity that lets you connect multiple devices, along with 18 hours of playtime. They are easy to pair with your device and very easy to use. Their 40 mm drivers allow them to deliver crisp and detailed audio performance along the frequency spectrum. The bass response is quite punchy, while the middle and high frequencies are crystal clear and rich. They are comfortable to wear, thanks to their lightweight design and memory foam earpads. The only drawback is that the build quality doesn’t seem very sturdy. On the whole, the Plantronics Backbeat Fit 500 are great for audiophiles with an active lifestyle.
- Sweat and moisture protection
- Wireless connectivity
- Comfortable fit
- Nice audio performance
- Build quality could be better
Each and every pair I have presented you with by now is an excellent choice that won’t disappoint you. But how can you decide on one of these? To begin with, sound quality is usually the top priority of most people looking for headphones. Who wants to spend up to a hundred dollars for low-quality music or game audio? Besides audio quality, the truth is that each one of us has different needs and prioritizes other specifications over others: for example, some of you who want to take their headphones outside, would be concerned about noise isolation and would probably consider a pair with active noise cancellation. People such as audio professionals who need to wear their headphones for long hours, find comfort especially important when looking for a new pair of headphones.
There are also other things that you can choose: some people prefer open-back headphones that give you a listening experience that resembles listening to speakers, while others prefer the isolation of closed-back headphones. Wired vs wireless connectivity is also a matter of personal choice that you should take into consideration. In order to find out what you really need, try making a list of everything that you consider important: on the top of the list put everything that you wouldn’t want to sacrifice (for example portability) and put in the end things that are not important for you (for example good-looking design). Using this list as a guide, you can then choose between the previously-mentioned ten pairs, purchase one, and enjoy a new listening experience.