Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Overall:Sennheiser HD280PRO at Amazon"Sennheiser's HD280PRO offers the best balance of all the features you could want in a pair of headphones."Best Earbuds:1MORE Triple Driver at Amazon"The earbuds ship with angled tips to ensure a snug fit and come in nine sizes, so you can decide which one has the best fit."Best Design:Sivga SV002 at Amazon"Headphones that will get people to pay attention and ask where you found them."Best Sound:Sony MDRXB800 at Amazon"Sony's MDRXB800 headphones sit over the ear and have a variety of high-end components on the inside"Best Wireless:Anker Soundcore Life Q20 at Amazon"For a pair of headphones in the sub-$60 range, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 pretty much has it all."Best Wired:Audio-Technica ATH-M40x at Amazon"Audio-Technica's ATH-M40x headphones look like they belong in the studio."Best Budget:JBL Live 500BT at Amazon"Up to 33 hours of battery life on a single charge."
A cheap pair of headphones doesn't necessarily mean they're lower quality, and we found some of the best headphones under $100. Many of these products can compete with more expensive models.
When selecting new headphones, there are a few things to keep in mind. Sound quality is essential, but you should also think about comfort. Would you prefer an over-the-ear style, or would earbuds suit your comfort better? What about the portability of the device? Will you be traveling with them often, or will they be attached to one specific station? With that, you will also want to look at the device's durability, and how long they will last. Check out the materials, and see if they offer flexibility or an extended warranty.
With audio quality, headphones with a wide frequency response range, large and high-quality drivers, and noise-canceling capabilities can provide a better user experience. Lastly, debate whether to stay corded or opt for a Bluetooth-based option. There are a variety of cordless headphones options to choose from, and they have various wireless ranges and battery lives.
Our top pick, Sennheiser's HD 280 PRO, is a pair of over-the-ear headphones that's durable, comfortable, and boasts high audio quality. If you'd rather have an in-ear model, something stylish, or a wireless option, we also included our picks for the best headphones under $100 in other categories.
Best Overall:Sennheiser HD280PROBuy on AmazonBuy on B&H Photo Video
Sennheiser's HD 280 PRO offers the best balance of all the features you could want in a pair of headphones, including high-quality audio, comfort, and the ability to drown out ambient sounds.
The Sennheiser over-the-ear headphones are designed with big, plush ear cups and two pads at the top that aim at improving comfort throughout the day. These are wired headphones, however, so if you're on the lookout for a wireless variety, you'll need to look elsewhere. That said, the cord measures a whopping 9.8 feet, so you'll have plenty of slack when connected to your computer or other device.
Sennheiser's headphones are designed for professional DJs first, so you'll find their audio quality, featuring stereo sound and accurate linear sound production, to be among the best on the market.
Senneheiser's HD 280 PRO don't come with active noise-canceling features that will work behind the scenes to drown out ambient noise. They do, however, feature a modular design and construction that's aimed at dramatically reducing ambient noise.
If it's mobility you're most concerned about, Sennheiser has you covered there, too. Its HD 280 PRO headphones have folding and rotating ear cups and weigh just 1.3 pounds, making them easy to bring along wherever you go.The 8 Best Sennheiser Headphones
Best Earbuds:1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones3.9 Buy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Walmart
If headphones are not your style, and you want something a little easier to carry around, consider some of the top earbuds in this price range: 1MORE's Triple Driver.
The earbuds feature three internal drivers that aim to offer outstanding audio quality and accurate depiction of songs the way the artists would want them to sound. In fact, the 1MORE have been tuned by GRAMMY award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi to ensure they create the audio experience you'd want. They have a frequency response of 20 to 40,000 Hz, which is impressive, especially on the high end. This means, highs shouldn't sound scratchy or bright, and your playlist will come through sounding clear and pleasant.
The earbuds ship with angled tips to ensure a snug fit and come in nine sizes, so you can decide which one has the best fit. Six of those ear tips are silicone and three are foam. The buds connect via 3.5mm cable, which fewer phones have these days. However, you can purchase an adapter, or connect them to your PC or other device.
The earbuds also come with an in-line remote control that lets you control your audio without ever taking your smartphone out of your pocket. The earbuds also have a MEMS microphone that has ground wires to reduce background static and create a better-sounding call.1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones Review
Best Design:Sivga SV002 HeadphonesBuy on Amazon
The SIVGA SV002 are perhaps the most attractive headphones in this price range. They feature a solid-wood housing around the ear cups instead of the standard plastic or metal you'd find in just about every other device on the market. Each ear cup features a 180-degree rotation feature that allows you to place them in the perfect position to match your ear's position and maximize comfort. The earpads themselves are made from high-protein leather to ensure comfort throughout the day, while the stretchable padded headband reduces your chances of getting a headache after prolonged use.
These over-the-ear headphones are large, and they include 50mm dynamic drivers. They have a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz, and their sensitivity is 105db. The SV002 headphones come with an in-line mic cable that features remote controls and a microphone for when you want to make calls, as well as a stereo cable for home audio setups. You do, however, have to make sure the dual-sided cable is completely plugged in with this model or the headphones won't work properly.
Best Sound:Sony MDRXB800Buy on Amazon
Sony is known for making exceptional audio products, and Sony's MDRXB800 headphones are no different. The MDRXB800 sit over the ears, and they have a variety of high-end components on the inside, including gold-plated connectors, neodymium earpiece drivers and more. All of this translates to outstanding audio quality with power, deep bass, and solid performance. To keep all that audio directed at your ears instead of outside, Sony has developed a tightly sealed design that limits audio seepage and limits ambient sound intrusion.
Sony's headphones are wired, but they come with a 1.2-meter cord that should suffice for most uses. The earpads are made from urethane foam that makes for a comfortable fit throughout the day. And, just in case you want to go mobile, they have reversible earpads that can be folded and brought along wherever you go.The 6 Best Sony Headphones
Best Wireless:Anker Soundcore Life Q20Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on Soundcore.comWhat We Like
Active noise cancellation
Amazing battery lifeWhat We Don't Like
Band could use more padding
For a pair of headphones in the sub-$60 range, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 pretty much has it all—an awesome battery life, great sound, and noise cancellation. A single charge should provide up to 40 hours of playtime, and if you're in a hurry and you quickly charge them for five minutes, you'll get up to five hours of music.
In addition to the lengthy battery, the Q20 boasts hybrid active noise cancellation with four mics (including an internal feedback microphone and an external feed forward mic). The sound specs are impressive for headphones in this price range, with 40mm drivers, bass up technology for stronger bass, and a wide frequency response range of between 16 Hz and 40 kHz.
On top of all this, the headphones include a mic for calls, and a variety of accessories. You get a charging cable, a travel pouch, and a 3.5mm cable for wired connectivity (yes, they're wired or wireless!)
Best Wired:Audio-Technica ATH-M40xBuy on AmazonWhat We Like
Good soundWhat We Don't Like
Average high end frequency response
Audio-Technica's ATH-M40x headphones look like they belong in the studio, with a professional looking design and both coiled and straight dual-sided 3.0mm cables included. They have plenty of padding for comfort, with cushioning along the band and professional-grade over-the-ear pads to promote both comfort and sound isolation. The ear pads swivel 90-degrees, so you can get the best fit.
These headphones contain 40mm drivers with copper-clad aluminum voice coils. They have a frequency response of 15 to 20,000 Hz, and a sensitivity of 96db. This isn't the best we've seen in headphones in this price range, but it's respectable. Plus, when you consider the build quality and comfort, it makes the ATH-M40x headphones a worthy addition on this list.
Best Budget:JBL Live 500BTBuy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on B&H Photo VideoWhat We Like
Lengthy battery life
Built in mic
Large (50mm) driversWhat We Don't Like
Uncomfortable for some people
JBL's Live 500BT headphones are wireless, with Bluetooth connectivity (support for HFP, HSP, A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles) and up to 33 hours of battery life on a single charge. Plus, there's a built-in microphone, so you can use your phone, tablet, laptop or other device hands-free and talk in meetings, calls, or even games.
You can access your device's voice assistant using the 500BT, as well as listen to your favorite tunes. The 50mm drivers provide clear sound, with a frequency response of between 18 and 20,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 108 dB.
When you're not using the Live 500BT headphones, they fold for easy portability. There's also an included carrying case to take your headphones with you on the go.Final Verdict
The Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones provide good sound and build quality in a comfortable design, making them one of the best wired options under $100. For a wireless option, Anker's Soundcore Life Q20 headphones offer features you'd find in higher-end models like active noise canceling, high-res audio, and exceptionally long battery life.
About our Trusted Experts
Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she's spent the last five years writing about consumer technology. Erika has reviewed roughly 125 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, games, A/V equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets.
Don Reisinger is a full-time freelance writer based in New York City. He has been covering technology, video games, sports, and entertainment for more than 12 years. His work has appeared in Fortune, PCMag, CNET, eWEEK, Slashgear, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and more.
What to Look for in headphones under $100
Sound quality - Some headphones deliver heavier bass while others have a more balanced sound. What do you prefer? You can find headphones that let you adjust the sound profile via an app, which lets you customize the sound based on what you're listening to at the time. Sound quality is somewhat personal, but the best headphones tend to have larger drivers made of higher quality materials, wider frequency response ranges, and a better sensitivity rating, as these specs can help indicate how loud the headphones get and how well they reproduce low, mid, and high tones.
Design - If you're going to be using your headphones for working or gaming, you might prefer a pair of over-the-ear headphones. If you're using them for exercise, you'd probably like a pair of earbuds or a necklace style better—you may also want to look for a pair with water resistance. Look for a style and features that fit your needs.
Wired or wireless- A solid battery life on wireless headphones will give you 20 or more hours of listening, but some headphones offer much shorter battery lives. If you opt for a pair of wired headphones, there's no battery to worry about, but you won't get the range or portability that a wireless option provides. Some headphones have both wired and wireless connectivity.
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Check out our ultimate headphones buying guide.