Finding a pair of the best headphones can be difficult, especially with how many different types and price-points we find ourselves in nowadays. We’ve also seen the market saturated with different types of advertising tactics, such as freely using the word “studio” in headphones that really aren’t good at all. Our website is dedicated to finding the best of the best, and as we continue our dedicated to numerous guides, today we look for the best headphones under $100 to help your search. We’re not into choosing just one pair for our readers because we know that many have different needs, especially when it comes to overall price, fit, application and more. Let’s get into it.
Picking the best headphones under $100
- Headphone type: The type of headphones is definitely a factor here. Since the word “headphones” can be a bit broad, we selected quite a few different shapes and sizes to fit your intended needs.
- Over-Ear: Also known as on-ear, or merely closed-back — these are the typically headphones you’ll see with ear cups and a headband. They fit over your head and on\around your ear to give you a full listening experience.
- In-Ear: Also known as earbuds, these fit inside of your ear conveniently and give you a bit more freedom to move around. Many prefer these for exercise but we’ve seen them used for anything really (aside from perhaps studio recording and production).
- Open-Back: These are over your ear but have an “open design” to allow some of the sound to exit your ear cups. This helps prevent build ups of frequencies, which isn’t a big deal for your average consumer and more preferred by studio mixing and mastering professionals.
- Semi-Open: A mixture of both closed-back and open-back — it still allows for some sound to come out, but not as much as pure open-back headphones. Some mixers even like these since it’s in the middle for both recording and mastering. Other merely like the fit.
- Wired or wireless? As always, headphones will also go down the ladder of two types of connectivity: wired with a cord (some with interchangeable) and others without (connecting typically via Bluetooth). This will definitely pinpoint where you’ll be looking further. You can read our best wireless headphones or best wireless earbuds guides for some more help, although not all of those typically fall within under $100 like in here.
- Additive features? Some highlights in here you may absolutely need: interchangeable cables, collapsible build for storage, carrying cases, microphone attached, waterproof for sports, sweat-proof for runners, voice-control of answering phone calls, replaceable ear pads, and more.
If you wanted to save even more money, our recently published best headphones under $50 may also help. Otherwise, let’s get down to the best models out there under $100.
The best headphones under $100
Up first we have the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x, a part of their now famous M-Series, which deliver accurate audio and long-lasting comfort – perfect for mixing and tracking for you DJs and studio producers. These professional monitor headphones feature 40mm drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils that pound out an impressive frequency range of 15 – 24,000 Hz. The circumaural design contours around the ears for solid sound isolation, with minimal bleed for the loudest of environments. The 90° swiveling earcups also make it easy for one-ear monitoring, whether you are on stage or in your own studio – also coming equipped with professional-grade headband and earpads that are built for your long shows or studio sessions. They are also collapsible for space-saving portability, making them easy to store on your tour bus. The M40x come with two interchangeable cables: a 1.2m – 3.0m coiled cable and a detachable 3.0m straight cable. If you’re a DJ or producer looking for some of the best headphones under $100, look no further than the Audio-Technica’s to take your studio sessions to the next level. You can also read our ATH-M40x review for a bit more information.
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Next we look at the smallest member of the Momentum family, the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear, which despite it’s compact design (which you may even be looking for), still delivers crisp, powerful sound. These feature a sleek and elegant design, composed of over 200 contrasting stitches gracing the back-lacquered zipper on the soft-covered case that provide your earbuds with the utmost comfort and protection. The earbuds are made of high-quality stainless steel, manufactured using their precision milling technology – delivering uncompromising sound in such a minuscule package. They feature ergonomic and adjustable earbuds that may be rotated up to 15° in order to adapt to your comfort – also coming with four sleeves to fit any sit ear. The Momentum’s also come with a variety of in-ear accessories like an intuitive remote for iPhone and Android, elliptical cable to minimize tangling and sound loss, gold-plated jack and integrated hands-free microphone – all to enhance your listening experience. If you’re looking for something more low-profile backed with quality technology and sound, then grab the Sennheiser Momemtum In-Ear, whose design makes them one of the best headphones under $100.
Here we introduce the Sony MDR-VR, a pair of circumaural, closed-back stereo headphones that are recommended for recording, monitoring or mixing – which should be heavily considered for you DJs or producers looking for the best headphones under $100. They’re actually becoming a bit more rare as time goes on but they’re still an amazing pair if you can find them (they’re still pretty available). They feature a compact, powerful neodymium magnet and copper-clad aluminum voice coil for accurate, unusually extended 5 – 30,000 Hz frequency range – for optimal use, connect these to your keyboards and synthesizers. The large 40mm aura-nomic designed drivers in the earcups provide the most natural playback listening – again good for recording or monitoring. The earcups and headband are both padded and adjustable for comfortable extended wear, with a secure fit. The oxygen-free connecting cable is used for low-distortion, while maximizing signal conductivity – also coming equipped with a flexible coiled cable with 10’ extension for your instruments. The 1 Watt power capacity featured in this pair is for handling louder, distortion-free monitoring levels when recording or producing. If you’re looking for some studio headphones that won’t burn your wallet, then try these out. CNet’s Sony MDR-V6 review rated them highly.
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
Moving further we look at another Sennheiser model, the HD 280 PRO, which have a comfortable but durable design for professional monitoring applications. We know many who consider a “Sennheiser HD or bust” mentality when it comes to headphones, especially those on a studio. These compact, around-the-ear headphones are designed to exceed the demands of the professional environment, with their robust construction combined with quality sound and noise isolation make for a great match in the necessary field. The high ambient noise attenuation and accurate, linear sound reproduction will have you focused on your applications – providing you with the ultimate music experience for doing your work. The drivers of this pair feature a solid frequency range of 8 – 25,000 Hz, while also providing a good sound pressure level of 113 dB. The HD 280 PRO’s also come with soft earpads for a comfortable fit, and swiveling earcups offering maximum flexibility in any situation or storage. If you are on a budget, these serve as one of the best headphones under 100 dollars for your monitoring applications.
Finding a solid pair of workout headphones that stay in and provide quality sound for under 100 bucks is not easy, but cue the Bose SoundSport – a pair of wireless sport headphones that offer patented Bose technology, which is the reason why they might be the best headphones under $100. The SoundSport are engineered with their Bose StayHear+ Sport tips that provide the utmost comfort and stability for your ears during your workouts – also featuring soft silicone material and a unique shape that sits in your ears, avoiding any irritation if worn long periods at a time. The Bluetooth and NFC pairing allow you to connect easily to your devices wirelessly – so you don’t have to worry about a long cord getting in your way during activity. A volume-optimized EQ gives these headphones a balanced audio performance at any volume. The lithium-ion battery featured in the SoundSport offers up to 6 hours of playtime per charge, taking 2 hours to recharge. The ‘Bose Connect’ app also gives you a personalized listening experience – helping you manage paired devices to eliminate confusion. Any Bose for under $100 is a steal, and you should consider the SoundSport if you want to enhance your workouts.
The Jabra MOVE’s are more wireless headphones that provide Big sound with their over-ear design that features an in-line microphone. The Jabra’s have a clean Scandinavian design and come with an ultra-light, comfortable headband to ensure a perfect fit while jammin’ out. They come equipped with the latest 4.0 Bluetooth technology that has a talk/listen range of up to 10 meters. The 40mm dynamic speakers belt out a frequency range of 20 – 40,000 Hz, while also having a good sensitivity of 94 dB – both really solid numbers for wireless headphones at such a price. The 40mm omni-directional in-line microphone allows you to control both music and calls directly from your headphones – for your own convenience. Jabra MOVE’s provide up to 8 hours of music time and 12 days of standby time – allowing you to take your music on a trip without running out of battery. They also come with a 3.5mm cable that allows you to listen when you run out of battery (or if you simply can’t figure out how to connect). The sleek, unique design and solid sound of these headphones is why they are one of the best headphones under $100, and make sure to not miss out on the MOVE’s if you are feeling some fresh, underground wireless headphones. Tom’s Guide’s Jabra MOVE review found them to be “very good”.
Here we look at some great sound isolating earphones under $100, the Shure SE215 that feature some detailed sound with enriched bass. These are considered to be one of the best headphones for your musicians on a budget, as they are designed with Sound Isolating sleeves that block up to 37 dB of ambient noise and ensure long-lasting comfort – providing the sound needed for your personal listening or professional monitoring. The Sound Isolating sleeves come in a 3-sized Fit Kit (S/M/L) that should be experimented with to create the fit best for you. A good seal is also imperative for optimizing sound isolation and bass response, as well as comfort. The lightweight, low-profile shape with an optimized nozzle angle is designed to sit comfortably in your ear, while also coming with a formable wire for secure placement, and over-the-ear configurations which keeps the cables out of your way – again best suited for you musicians. The detachable Durable Kevlar reinforced cable allows for easy replacement or customization, and the Gold plated MMCX Connector has a lock-snap mechanism that allows a 360 degree rotation for a comfortable fit. The best part about these headphones is that they’re budget-friendly being under $100. Musicians must take advantage of the Shures if they want to take your shows or recording sessions to the next level with some earbuds, although we still recommend some over-ear for that application.
JayBird BlueBuds X2
If you’re looking for some serious workout headphones under 100 bucks that supply the full-package without blowing your budget, then the BlueBuds X2 are one the best headphones under $100 on the market. The sweat-proof X2’s deliver wireless music and calls with a built-in, high-quality in-line remote/mic, combined with premium audio performance that others in this guide cannot match. These in-ear headies are designed to wrap around-your-neck to ensure the cord doesn’t get in your way, and also built with a tiny 6mm driver that delivers a striking frequency range of 20 – 20,000 Hz. They also come equipped with multi-sized patented Secure-Fit Enhanced Comfort Sport Ear Fins, and Comply Premium Sport Foam Ear Tips to ensure a solid seal with long-lasting comfort – making these a great choice for you serious Alpha-Athletes. The X2 supply a patented Super-Capacity Battery HD that delivers up to 8 hours of playtime (approx. 2.5 hours to recharge) – good enough for a full week’s workouts. These ultra-small headphones deliver not only quality sound, but also come equipped with patented features built on comfort, which can be obtained at a very reasonable price.
AKG K 240
Moving towards the end of our guide, we examine the AKG K240 studio professional headphones, which over-ear, semi-open design makes them of the best headphones under $100 for professional applications like mixing, mastering and playback. The advanced-patented Varimotion 30mm XXL transducers deliver a wide range (15 – 25,000 Hz), increase sensitivity (104 dB), and high sound levels. The headphones have an over-ear design that contours the ears nicely, and come with a self-adjusting headband ensuring optimal fit and solid comfort for your long studio sessions or DJ sets. They also come with a 3m detachable single-sided cable for ease-of-use, and a professional mini XLR connector, which allows quick replacement of the cable. The cable includes a convertible jack plug for easily connecting portable equipment. Reasonably priced studio headphones are often tough to find, and if you are on a tighter budget, don’t miss out on the K240, which are located on the lower price point of this guide. AKG is well-known for quality, especially making appearances in our best studio headphones guide and the like.
Plantronics BackBeat Go 2
Last but not least, we have some more wireless headphones that were created for sport, and have a lightweight, low-profile design that make them one of the best headphones under 100 dollars for athletes. The BackBeat Go 2’s feature a P2i military-grade nano-coating finish that protects the earbuds from sweat, moisture, and even spills – very durable. They also feature a 2nd generation in-line mic/controls that make it easy to answer calls, change tracks, adjust volume, and activate VoiceOver commands for your select smartphones. The 3 sizes of cushioned eartips and stabilizers make for a custom, comfortable fit and optimal sound. This pair allows you to enjoy your sounds up to 4.5 hours of listening and 5 hours of talk time – also coming with a standby time up to 6 months (woah!) with the DeepSleep hibernation mode. The Planatronics come equipped with some neat features, and a rugged design that are built to withstand sweat during your summer workouts. Grab the 2nd gen BackBeat Go’s if you want some premium audio to boost your lifts.