When you start to consider buying earbuds up to a budget of $100, then you will naturally become a little bit more serious about build quality, how good the sound is and what extra features they may have.
Spending $20 or $30 and maybe you won’t be so surprised if there are problems. But if you’re paying up to $100 you really don’t want the same problems.
Of course, it rather depends on what you want them for, as to where you place your priority of performance. Some will focus on the sound quality others will need a rugged build for physical activity.
But no worries, which of these is most important to you, we’ve got it covered. So, let’s have a look at what’s on offer with the best earbuds under $100. And find the perfect pair for you…
Top 10 Best Earbuds Under $100 For The Money 2021 Reviews
1 1MORE Triple Driver in-Ear Earphones
The first thing that you will always notice is the build quality. Do they look like they have been made well with good materials? Do they look good? The answer with the 1More is a resounding YES! They are most definitely very well manufactured.
The metal construction of each earpiece shows you that they are built to last and will not fall to pieces in five minutes.
They feature a very good design on the angle of the ear tip, which allows them to sit nicely in the ear. And are comfortable and easy to wear with no issues with the way they fit. To make sure you get a good seal, you are given nine sets of ear tips to choose from.
The cabling is durable as well and made from a strong braided material. If there is a weak point, it is where the cabling splits which has a plastic splitter fitting.
There is an inline control that is located on the cable from the right earpiece. It is not intrusive but is comfortably positioned. The control buttons are raised to allow them to be easily found and operated. It is quite well designed for ease of use and has music selection and volume controls as well as call answering.
Whilst the build quality is solid; it is in the sound department where they excel. Each earpiece has three drivers giving you a wider range of frequencies. Certainly, it is an impressive sound with a rich bass that doesn’t bury the mids and prominent highs. The sound quality is impressive.
Being compatible with all smartphones, tablets, and PC’s offers good communication facilities. The headphone jack is straight rather than right-angle for ease of use.
The price range offers good value. They are well made and look impressive, but it is the sound quality that will really impress.
2 Shure SE215-K Sound Isolating Earphones
Where there is a need for sound, you will find Shure somewhere, and what you will always find is a quality product. The SE 215 are sound isolating earphones that are built with what the user requires at the center of the design. They are comfortable to wear and very lightweight.
The rather slim design and weight are central to the comfort aspect, and the angle of entry of the bud into the ear canal is comfortable but offers a good seal. The earpads themselves are designed to be soft and without the hard feeling of some. Various sizes and shapes of the pad are included to make sure you get a great fit.
Having established they are well made and comfortable to wear, let’s consider the sound. With Shure’s reputation, this area was always going to be good. Using the technical experience that has made them recognized as one of the best in the business, the sound is excellent.
The high frequencies are crisp and clear with no sharp edges even at volume, and the bass is deep and very evident in the sound mix without being overpowering. It is in the mids though that they excel. As hard as it is to create a well-balanced sound from such small speakers, they have achieved it, and the sound stage is wide and very impressive. The frequency range is 21Hz to 17.5kHz.
Just for good measure, they have included a few nice touches, one of which is to ensure a good connection they have placed a gold plating on the 3.5mm connector. They are compatible with IOS and Android devices that carry the required 3.5mm headphone connection.
Having been designed to be lightweight and comfortable, they will inevitably be vulnerable unless treated with care.
Priced right at the top end, but when you consider exactly what you are getting for your money, they are a good buy. Best earbuds under $100? Could be?
3 Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd
Beyerdynamic is a German company specializing in audio products. Founded in Berlin in the 20’s they still have their headquarters in Germany in Heilbronn. They produce typical German quality in their products.
These earbuds are constructed with aluminum that has been anodized. They look very stylish and sleek with the company logo on the panels. Inside each barrel, housing is a dynamic driver. The cables from the ears meet at a Y-splitter. An inline microphone and remote controller is located on the cable from the ear.
The controller has three separate buttons for play and sound control. It is fitted with a cable management slider.
One area they do score heavily is in comfort, and they are surprisingly easy to wear. They are so designed so as no to extend past the outer ear, which makes them visually unobtrusive but also comfortable to wear in bed. This makes them one of the best headphones and earbuds for sleeping currently available.
They have a conical shaped ear tip, which is set at a good angle to fit easily. Five pairs of ear tips are included to make sure you get a great fit.
The unit has a frequency range of 10-25,000Hz. and has a 3.5mm jack plug. Please ensure your device contains the input for this sort of jack plug as some of the phone companies in their wisdom do not include them in their designs.
The sound quality is good, if a little bass-heavy, which does seem to be the norm with earbuds. Nevertheless, strong as it maybe it doesn’t impinge upon the mids and the tops are clear. It is a very good sound platform.
These are high-quality earbuds, and whilst we are constantly edging toward the ‘wireless’ future, these phones prove that nothing beats wired and we doubt it will.
Excellent earbuds and great value for money.
4 Soundcore Anker Liberty Air True-Wireless Earphones
I wonder if anyone remembers the Apple Airpod. They were Apple’s wireless Bluetooth earbuds thrust on the market in 2016. They played music of course but had a microphone to use the phone and connection to Siri, Apples’ so-called digital assistant. This product is not dissimilar and carries all the functions of an Airpod, but of course, at a fraction of the price.
Anker is a company better known for other activities like producing battery packs and cables. But they seem to have taken a liking to producing earbud products. For their basic idea, they seem to be impressed with the Airpod.
The build is quite small, which is helpful as it fits in your pocket easily. Battery condition on the charger is displayed with three LED lights. The actual unit is made from plastic and is rather cheap looking with the Soundcore logo taking up space not used by the small holes for the microphone on each earbud. Maybe you could say that a minimalist approach might have served them better on the design front.
The charger though is more akin to the Airpod in design. Replace the buds in the unit, and they drop into place and charge automatically. On the positive side, the buds are certified to handle sweat and light moisture.
Connection and pairing are quite good, and you get a solid connect. Once having been connected once they automatically pair on the next use.
Control-wise there could be a few problems as they operate from touch-sensitive buttons on the earbuds. Tapping and double-tapping and holding down for a few seconds can be a bit confusing until you are used to them.
The sound is actually quite good, and the microphone works well for calls, so those aspects are very positive. You should get nearly five hours from the battery before a recharge is necessary. And they come with five pairs of spare ear tips to ensure a good fit.
5 RHA MA390 Universal Earbuds
With due respect to our Celtic brethren, if you are looking for innovation and creativity in design, then Glasgow in Scotland might not be the first place on your list to try. How wrong might you be?
A quick look at musically creative Scotland gives you a clue, Jack Bruce, Annie Lennox, Midge Ure, Maggie Bell, Angus Young, Gerry Rafferty, and Ian Anderson. (oh and don’t forget Sir Billy Connolly who knows which way up the banjo goes) There is quite a list, and if you haven’t heard Mogwai, do yourself a favor… as loud as you can handle it.
RHA come from that creative source of inspiration, and the MA390 shows how good they can be. And at a price that makes you think they have missed a zero somewhere.
The creativity extends far beyond the aerophobic design made from aluminum. It’s a clever design. If you imagine how a trumpet is played, and then reverse the procedure, then you will have a good idea of how these work.
Rugged cables are used and controlled by a Y-splitter. To assist in the control of cables that on some units are out of control, a slider is used to bring the wires from the earbuds together at a point comfortable to you. It also stops them from getting snagged in unfortunate places.
The silicone tips are strong yet comfortable and if fitted well isolate the sound very well. The remote control is multi-functional and easy to use. But if we have to find a complaint, then the microphone is not of the highest quality. The connections though are good with a gold plated 3.5mm headphone jack.
Sound-wise they are designed for general use, rather than the specialist. As usual a little bass-heavy, the sound is no more than quite good, and are not going to win many awards. But then the price probably dictates that.
For the money, they are a good buy, and you can’t really go wrong with them.
6 Thinksound ms02 In-ear Monitors
The ms02 is really quite unique in some respects. Well made and built to last, but very stylish into the bargain. The Housings for the earbuds are made from a combination of metal and wood. Yes, wood. Certainly gives them a very strong and durable feel in the hand.
They are monitor earphones rather just earbuds, and so the quality of construction is likely to be higher as they may be used in a pro-environment.
The housings of the earbuds are actually quite long, so positioning is important for comfort. Further ear tips are included to help you get the right fit. The cabling is reinforced Kevlar, another high-quality inclusion, and tangle-free.
They are certainly very smart looking, well made, and are going to be durable. They are though, as we said, in-ear monitors and not what you might call earbuds as most people understand them. For example, they do not have an inline control system or a mic.
We weren’t hopeful when we see 8mm drivers, which are a little on the small side, especially for bass. But then we hadn’t heard earbuds constructed partly of wood before. Slick and crisp highs, but with a warm feeling and not in any way sharp as some are.
The same with the mids, warm and clean and very clear, but then the bass. You don’t just hear it, you feel it. We are not sure if that is good for a monitor or not, but it certainly is great for casual listening.
These are a very good set of earphones that are different in many ways. Quality in the construction and materials and a great sound, but nothing in the way of sound control.
7 Plantronics – BackBeat 100 Wireless Earbuds
A budget product from Plantronics, these are a lightweight and simply constructed set of earbuds that have a neckband that is flexible for ease of use. Fitted in the neckband are the control units. These are simple to use with one-touch controls. Music and calls are handled this way, and they are Bluetooth 4.1 enabled.
The earbuds are fitted with magnets so when they are not in use, they can be made secure attached to each other and avoid tangling of the cables. Included are ear tips that are nicely cushioned for comfort in three different sizes, so you can get the best fit.
If you receive an incoming call, you will feel a gentle vibration, and because the controls are in the neckband, it is quick and easy to respond. Voice alerts will then inform you about the connection, battery life, etc.
They enjoy Multipoint technology, which will let you use two devices at once and stay connected to both. And you can interact with either device for answering calls, etc.
The battery will give you about eight hours of use and takes about ninety minutes to charge. A micro USB cable is included for charging. The battery levels are shown on a screen of users of OS software and IOS. Or Android users can download the Plantronics app, which will place the battery condition on the status bar of their device.
We haven’t talked about sound quality because there isn’t much to discuss. These are a budget set of earbuds and sound a bit like it. The strengths of this product, unfortunately, is not in its reproduction of the sound, but for the price, it is about what you would expect.
A budget set of earphones at a budget price that will appeal to some.
8 Marshall Mode EQ In-Ear Headphones
These earphones incorporate a design that will sit securely in your ear, but also give you a comfortable fit. And they include four alternative pairs of ear tips, that give you the chance to find the best fit.
An interesting feature on these earphones is that there is an EQ control included. Now it may be a very basic control, but nevertheless, it does provide some sound options. The EQ switch will let you choose between two settings. One boosts the lower frequencies giving the sound a bit more bass. The other lifts the high frequencies providing some brightness at the top end.
The 9mm drivers provide the sound. We would agree that it is not the most sophisticated of systems, but it is a feature not often seen on this kind of equipment, and it does give you an element of control over the sound.
The in-line remote for the EQ also incorporates other functions. You can use it to answer calls, play or pause your music and rewind or fast forward — all quite basic but easy to operate and well-positioned for use.
The jack plug is a sturdy affair and will fit any device taking a 3.5mm plug. It is an L-design rather than a straight though, which will be negative with some people.
Frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz, and the SPL is only 100Db so is unlikely to cause any harm through excess use of volume.
For the price, they are a decent set of earphones. We wouldn’t say the sound was the best, or that they are the most durable we have come across, but for the money represent a decent buy.
9 Etymotic Research HF5
Etymotic Research is an interesting company. Established in 1983 in the US, they essentially design and manufacture products to assist people with hearing problems. They, therefore, have a history of working in the field of sound reproduction and have developed the HF5, noise isolating in-ear earphones.
This isn’t the only set of earphones they make, and their ER-4 version is used by musicians and recording engineers because of its accuracy of the reproduction.
You can, therefore, expect no compromise in the build quality. Sturdy earpieces and barrels and a strengthened four-foot cable lead them to be comfortable and lightweight but also feeling secure. They come with a variety of ear tips, and for when they need a clean, a filter removal tool and replacement filters to protect inner ear health.
Pushing the sound are balanced armature drivers. It may be of interest that this company invented insert earphones in 1984 using such balanced armature technology. This has since become the standard for quality in-ear audio. We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, at the quality of the sound.
The sound they produce will not be suitable for everyone. Across the frequencies, the sounds are warm, not harsh at all and the bass is laid back and doesn’t thump. Those who like heavy bass and shrill tops may not appreciate them, but others certainly will.
They are a well made earphone, with a very clear and easy sound to listen to. Real hi-fi needs to produce the sound that was heard when the recording was actually made. Put these on, and you will be very surprised at the quality.
At the top end, price-wise, but real quality does not come cheap.
10 urBeats Wired In-Ear Headphone
The urBeats wired in-ear headphone is a lightweight set of phones that are good for travel and exercise use. They are made from chrome, and they are therefore rugged and tough but also look very good. Great lengths have been undertaken in their manufacture as the metal housings have been precision machined and because of the refined fit will stop unwanted vibration.
To get the best from these well-designed earphones, you do need a good seal in the ear. And a variety of designs are included to ensure the seal is tight, but also comfortable. A good fit will keep your music in and unwanted external sounds out.
The sound itself is solid enough. A new and improved driver design delivers the sound. The bass is a bit on the heavy side, and the tops can be a little sharp at times, but that is also the norm. Surprisingly the mids aren’t too bad and are quite prominent. It does, though, depend a little on the style of music you are listening to. Generally speaking, the sound is acceptable.
They have a built-in microphone that will give you the option of hands-free talk on your Apple devices. The mic quality is acceptable without being great, but that is the norm with these fittings.
One big asset they do have is their strength. The earpieces themselves are tough as is the tangle-free cabling and they look like they might take a bit of less than careful handling.
Not the cheapest by any means, but they are strong in build and have a decent sound.
So, What Are The Best Earbuds Under $100?
As the price you are going to pay for your earphones goes up, so do the expectations of the results you want to achieve. Nothing wrong with that. You pay your money; therefore, you want a quality in build and performance that you consider appropriate.
There have been some good products reviewed here, all with their own plus points but for us, the best of the lot is made by the company that really do know earpieces and ear design.
Our choice is, therefore…
Well made, good, warm, neutral sounds made by a company that has all the know-how.
Our choice for the best earbuds under $100.