To some, the most overlooked item in their audio stable is the headphones. Don’t worry; you’re not alone; this can even apply in recording studios where mixing using headphones for part of the process is vital, but still, sometimes the phones used aren’t the best.
It’s nice to have a good set of headphones at home. You hear the music differently, and you haven’t got to spend a fortune.
So, let’s take a look at the best headphones under $100 and find the perfect pair for you…
Top 10 Best Headphones Under $100 To Buy 2021 Reviews
1 Audio-Technica ATHM40x Professional Monitor Headphones
Audio-Technica is known for producing some of the best headphones around. Their ATH-M50 series is highly regarded as offering pro-quality performance, but they are a little expensive for some even though they are at a very good price.
Audio-Technica does like to keep their customers happy, and so they have brought the ATH-M40 series. And they are impressive.
Physically they are quite large, though not heavy, weighing just eight ounces. They have been designed for comfort and for some long listening sessions. And have rotating ear cups, and the design makes them feel very comfortable around the ears, and they are made with a feeling of strength about them. They do not feel like they will fall apart.
Having 40mm drivers, they need to be large and robust enough to cope. The headband and ear band material are comfortable and durable.
Well, they are supposed to be a budget range of phones, though you would never know it in some aspects, so the sound will not be as good as units costing much more. Having said that the bass is prominent if not earth-shattering. You wouldn’t call it weak it’s better to be described as not as resonant as the more expensive items.
The mids are clear and accurate with good low-mid depth. This is important because so much of the sound comes from this area and so the sound needs to be right.
At the top, it is crisp and sharp but with a slightly flattened sound. So many times, lower-end headphones accentuate the highs for effect, but not here.
If you are looking for a well-priced quality set of headphones, then Audio-Technica has provided a good product. An excellent set of phones and excellent value at the price.
2 Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
We have had a bit of experience working with Sony 7506’s in studios, so when it comes to reviewing them, we knew what we would be getting. These are the headphones that are found in many recording studios all around the world. So, let’s have a look at why, but also look at why they do not cost the earth?
They are well-made, of course, they are Sony, but they are plastic. That is ok to a certain extent, but they are prone to a bit of damage if you don’t take good care of them. They do come with a bag to carry them in, but it is hardly protection.
It also means, of course, they are very light to wear, which is a good thing. They also fold down into a manageable size when you’ve finished, another good point.
Another issue as far as we are concerned is that they are not over-blessed with padding and can become a little uncomfortable after a while. It would actually have to be quite a while.
They are not uncomfortable to wear by any means, but they could do with a little more padding. Someone mentioned about them that they are lacking in style. Not really. They are not a new product, been around quite a few years, and the all-black decor and the way they are put together are practical rather than with a need to be fashionable.
Ok, let’s get away from what appear to be negatives, let’s talk sound. These are just great headphones and for the price really exceptional. They are not necessarily built for use at home, though of course, you are going to feel their worth, they were made to monitor recording processes and to that end produce a purer sound than maybe other phones at this price point will.
These are excellent, an industry standard and despite little things that Sony could do to improve them, we think they haven’t done a bad job, have they!
Could be the best headphones under $100? But you’ll have to wait till the end of the review to find out.
3 Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 On-Ear Sport Headphones
Initially, headphones were exclusively the domain of people working in the sound industry. Maybe on TV, music, recording studios, radio, that’s why they were designed. Then they came into the domain of people wanting them at home. In the last decade or so another group of people have joined the list of those wanting to use them. Athletes and Commuters.
They are manufactured to a different set of criteria and therefore look different and even sound different.
These are not what you might call substantial when you pick them up. They feel somehow quite weak in your hand. Of course, they aren’t, but it just feels like that. The headband feels different to shall we say the usual feel and the ear cups don’t really cover your ears. If you’re running then maybe that’s a good idea.
But they do have elements that the ordinary phones don’t have. P2i nano-coating, which is heavily sweat-resistant and will even withstand a heavy downpour, is one thing. Rubberized water-resistant ear cups hold the controls which are well laid out and easy to use.
Plantronics is a company also heavily involved with products designed for business communications, and so it is expected that they know a thing or two about wireless comms. The connections are excellent, and as long as you stay within ten meters of your Bluetooth range, there will be very little or no disconnections.
Battery life is impressive at about 18 hours. The sound is adequate but then as we have said these are designed for people running or commuting, and so maybe you’re not looking for studio-quality audio.
For the price, they are a decent buy and do their job well.
4 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones, Soundcore Space NC by Anker
Anker is not the first name you will think of when considering buying headphones. Not unreasonable, as it is not usually part of their core business, which is usually accessories for your smartphone. But they have produced a decent set of noise-canceling headphones with the Soundcore Space.
They are comfortable to wear and have a clever design that allows them to collapse when traveling. They deliver good sound quality, and the battery life is good.
Primarily they are built for people who want wireless over-ear headphones that are comfortable to wear and that aren’t going to cost a fortune. They are some of the cheapest active noise-canceling headphones on the market. The natural noise isolating isn’t too bad, but it cannot compare with models that are more expensive but then I don’t suppose you would expect them to.
Certain aspects of noise-canceling they handle quite well, the lower frequencies and background music, but if you are in an enclosed space, they will not remove the ordinary conversation. The Li-ion battery will give you twenty hours in Bluetooth mode of fifty hours in noise-canceling mode.
The sound quality though is quite good, especially the mids and trebles but the bass is rather lacking in any sort of punch.
There is a bit of an issue though with the controls as far as we are concerned. Maybe its because accessories for phones is their prime business and they have been influenced by the ‘swipe’ technology employed in today’s smartphones, but it doesn’t really work on headphones.
These are located on the right ear cup and play, adjust the volume, skip tracks, and pause. It is not as clean and manageable as simple buttons and can too often be activated just by a casual touch.
For what they are though they are decent phones except for the noise canceling element, which could be better in some circumstances.
5 TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Another name which might not be first in your thoughts when considering headphones. TaoTronics are a Chinese company. They do produce a range of over-ear headphones and earbuds, but are more active in other areas, for example, air-care.
They are quite nicely made with a sleek black look. Being made from plastic, as many headphones at the premium end of the scale are, but plastic isn’t so bad. It’s usually quite strong and robust and means these best Headphones Under $100 will be light.
The controls are set on the edges of the ear cups. On the right, there is a volume that operates in a rocking motion, noise cancellation switch, aux port, and the power button. They are all easy to use and accessible. On the left is a micro USB charger. Maybe a little outdated. They connect through Bluetooth with a decent range.
Comfort is a prime area of interest, especially when you are in the market of noise-canceling headphones. These are designed for situations where you might spend a few hours and want to spend it in peace and quiet, maybe a long plane ride. The padding on the ear cups is quite good, and there is also plenty on the headband, so no complaints in that department.
Sound quality, unfortunately, is not so good. The lower frequencies are weak and the bass very lacking but the mids to seem to have been cut. The top end is there and maybe a little bit too much, which gives a tinny sort of sound. Noise cancellation is probably the best aspect.
There are a lot of positive things you can say about these phones, but they are let down a bit by the sound quality. At the price, though, not too bad.
6 Status Audio CB-1 Closed-Back Studio Monitor Headphones
On first sight, the Status Audio CB-1 headphones look quite impressive, even if their look is rather generic for us. We prefer to see logos on things rather than just nothing.
This is a set of over-ear closed back phones that may have been designed with recording studios in mind. With that in mind if you are used to common consumer headphones that ‘doctor’ the sound to make it sound like what they think the buyer wants, then you might be a little disappointed.
The sound has been made almost flat, which is what you might want for studio work, but it is not necessarily a good thing for use at home. They have 50mm drivers delivering a very neutral sound. Therefore, they can sound a little dull.
They are very comfortable with thick padding on the ear cups that gets wider towards the back, thus fitting the shape of your head, which is a clever idea. The headband is also well-padded, and there will not be a problem wearing these for a long session.
There are two detachable cables, one coiled and one straight with a twisting locking mechanism and they fold up into a small size. Unfortunately, there is no bag for storage though there is a molded insert in the box that you can store them in.
It can be argued that as studio phones, they work quite well. The sound is neutral, but that in itself might dissuade people who want a bit of bottom and top end for listening at home. Being a closed back design there will be very little if any leakage in a studio environment, especially when recording vocals.
If you want that sort of sound quality and you don’t mind the lack of any markings then for the price they are good value.
7 Sennheiser HD 559 Open Back Headphone
If you are talking headphones, it’s not usually long before Sennheiser will appear. We are not going to go on about the quality of this German company, and everyone is aware of that. They make some of the best at the top end, but also let us mere mortals in the lower price ranges have a piece of the action. Here is the HD559.
As usual, it is built well using a sturdy but lightweight plastic. It has velour padding on the headband and ear pads, giving it a very comfortable feel. And it has a three-meter cable.
It is an over-ear open back design which will deliver outstanding performance and prevent any bleed to microphones in a recording situation.
There is a big bottom end with a deep and resonant bass but while it is very evident in the sound not overpowering. The mids will be disappointing to some. The upper ranges also seem to be held back a little which won’t do vocals an awful lot of good, but everything else in this range is fine and full of clarity.
There is plenty of sound detail at the top end. It is sharp and bright without being harsh to listen to.
Overall the sound quality is very good. Not in the class of the more expensive models from Sennheiser, but then you wouldn’t expect it to be. If you like a good all-round sound, with a rich, dynamic bottom end, then this could be the best Headphones Under $100 for you.
At the price for this quality, you can’t really go wrong.
8 COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
The world of noise-canceling headphones is one that seems to be full of good ideas, but when the results are demonstrated, only certain noises are actually canceled. And of course, the budget ranges are the ones with the most problems.
The Cowin E7 though, whilst being very much a budget headphone does quite well in this area and creates decent isolation. If you are on a commute, they will cancel out most of the natural noise around you, and they create a good seal to your ear that won’t disturb your fellow travelers.
Being a budget model, the noise canceling won’t operate so well in very noisy environments, but then few do.
They do feel rather cheaply made, even though the design and build quality appear to be good. But, they are quite well padded though, but the headband doesn’t extend to cope with different sizes of heads very well and thus will be a bit of a tight fit on some.
They are quite bulky and don’t fold down to a smaller size after use so you will need somewhere to put them after use.
The controls are a little cramped, and some might find them hard to use. There are click buttons for volume and track skip and a dedicated switch for Bluetooth and noise canceling mode.
The battery has a long life, about 24 hours, but also takes quite a time to charge. And it has a built-in microphone that will allow you to take calls via Bluetooth.
There are some very good points with this headphone, but the overall sound is probably not one of them. It is adequate, but the bass is a little overdone, which can make the full sound slightly muddy if the volume is a bit high.
Nevertheless, some good features at a very attractive price.
9 Avantree 40 hr Wireless Wired Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones With Mic
Avantree, another company some may not have heard of in terms of headphone manufacturer. They are a large corporation with offices and manufacturing plants in the US, and also England, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain in Europe. Add to those China and Australia. We see, therefore, that they have a large operation.
They have produced a wireless, wired, Bluetooth headphone with a staggering forty hours of battery life in wireless mode. Or if you prefer, you can connect up to the 3.5mm cable provided for a wired connection and use your phone.
These best Headphones Under $100 have not only been designed with music in mind but also TV. It is possible that many people spend more hours watching TV than listening to music and therefore to do so with headphones on they will need to be very comfortable.
These are over the ear headphones that have quality padding over the ear pads and headband. The headband is adjustable so you can make the perfect fit — ideal for long periods of use.
The sound they produce is quite good for a budget range set of phones. The bass is maybe a little prominent, but the highs are crisp and clear.
It should be noted though they do not have a noise reduction capability and as they are not sweatproof, they are not suitable for sports. You can though make Bluetooth calls using them, just as long as your not getting wet while doing them.
As a budget set of phones and for the price you can’t really go wrong. If you are looking for a set for under $100 then if you can sacrifice a bit of quality on the music side, they might suit.
10 Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones
It’s not difficult to see why the Mpow 059 headphone is so popular. They are quite well made, look attractive, and the price just about beats all comers in this market.
As the phone companies in their wisdom have decided that we don’t need 3.5mm sockets on our phones anymore, then the market for wireless headphones has become more prominent.
These phones are one of the products filling that gap and at a price that is affordable. Yes, we can go the whole way and buy Bose or Sony and spend a fortune, and yes the sound quality will be far superior, as will the build and everything else, but do we really need it? Probably not.
The sound quality of these phones is not going to win many awards. It is ok. But that is enough for a lot of people. If you are expecting budget priced quality of sound, you will be happy, if you want something more you won’t. The bass can be a bit overpowering at times, but some will like that.
They are a closed-back design, which means they will keep a lot of external sounds out, but they are not what you would call noise canceling.
Battery life is good up to twenty hours, which is an improvement on previous similar models, but we have to say the build quality is not the best.
Another big asset that makes these phones popular is the built-in mic and hands-free call facility. The phones will achieve a stable connection to your Bluetooth device, allowing you to make calls up to a distance of 33 feet.
They are popular, and at this price and with all the onboard facilities, you can see why. Not a set for the purist wanting a good headphone sound but great value for money.
Also see: Best Headphones Under $1,000 Reviews
Best Headphones Under $100 Buyers Guide
So You Want a Set of Headphones For Under $100
It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Go out and buy a good set of headphones for under $100. Not so easy we are afraid to say.
There are some poor quality products out there in amongst some very good examples. Sorting out which is good and which is not so good though is only part of the problem. The first question that you need to answer is…
What Will You Use Them For?
They are made with so many potential uses. Listening to sound obviously, but what kind of sound and in what environment? For example, do you want the best Headphones Under $100 to listen to the TV? That may demand a different set of considerations to other uses.
You will likely wear them a long time, and the need to be comfortable is therefore probably the first priority. Possibly the quality of the sound, which needs to be good, doesn’t have to be as high quality as if you were listening to music. There is a set we reviewed that lends itself to TV use.
Let’s Get Active…
Some are going to want these headphones for exercise, or maybe even serious athletic training. They need to be well-built, rugged, sweatproof, and they need to fit well and able to withstand the occasional knock. Maybe a Bluetooth connection is going to be necessary to stay in touch during the activity. Good sound quality would still be nice to have, but maybe not the first priority.
What about noise-canceling phones? Maybe for a commute or if you fly or travel a lot. Once again, a different set of priorities.
Also see: Top 10 Best Earbuds under $50
Cheap and Cheerful…
Some will just want the cheapest phones they can find, not really concerned about extra facilities, Wireless, Bluetooth, etc. Just to be able to use them occasionally.
Or finally, the user who wants music. It may be at home, it may even be in a recording studio, but in that situation quality of sound followed closely by comfort will be the priorities.
What you want to use them for, will have a direct impact on what the priorities you set for performance will be. Of course, in every situation, you want as good a sound as possible, but in some, it is not the most vital criteria.
There isn’t a great deal of difference in price, so it is simply a case of what suits your personal requirements most closely.
So What Are The Best Headphones Under $100?
If we are looking for a set of headphones for under $100 then the critical thing for us would be the quality of the sound.
We wouldn’t be using them for sports or TV, commuting or areas where we would need noise cancellation. We would be buying a set of phones that would be as much quality as we could pack into $100 for use indoors.
There are some very good models there and some at some amazing prices and when you see names like Sennheiser and Sony and Audio-Technica. Then you know that in amongst all of these headphones, that all have their strong points, there will be some good quality.
We have chosen the…
That is our choice as the best headphone under $100.
It’s a quality product with a proven track record that is used around the world by professionals. What better recommendation than that can a set of headphones have?