Times have changed. These days you don’t have to spend a fortune to get great-sounding headphones. The market is more competitive than ever. If you can’t or don’t want to spend more than $100 on headphones, there are a ton of good options available for your consideration.
We’ve sifted through the competition to bring you the best headphones in a variety of different categories. There’s something for everyone on this list. Whether you’re after wired or wireless headphones, earbuds, or over-ear headphones, we’ve got it covered.
One thing all our picks have in common is outstanding sound quality. So kick back and take a ride to value-town with our list of best headphones under $100, starting with our comparison table…
- 1 Top 8 Best Headphones Under $100 for 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 1More Triple Driver – Best Wired Earbuds Under $100
- 1.2 2 JLab Epic Air ANC – Best True Wireless Earbuds Under $100
- 1.3 3 Sony MDR-7506 – Best Wired Over Ear Headphones Under $100
- 1.4 4 Jabra Elite 45h – Best Wireless On Ear Headphones Under $100
- 1.5 5 Anker Soundcore Life Q20 – Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100
- 1.6 6 Beats Flex – Best Apple Headphones Under $100
- 1.7 7 Turtle Beach Recon 200 – Best Gaming Headphones Under $100
- 1.8 8 Jabra Elite Active 45e – Best Workout Headphones Under $100
- 2 Best Headphones Under $100 Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for Something Else?
- 4 What are the Best Headphones Under $100?
Top 8 Best Headphones Under $100 for 2021 Reviews
|Model||Style||Build Quality||Sound Quality||Rating|
1More Triple Driver
|(5 / 5)||(5 / 5)||(4.1 / 5)|
JLab Epic Air ANC
True Wireless Earbuds
|(4 / 5)||(3 / 5)||(4.2 / 5)|
Wired Over-Ear Headphones
|(4 / 5)||(5 / 5)||(4.8 / 5)|
Jabra Elite 45h
Wireless On-Ear Headphones
|(4 / 5)||(4 / 5)||(4.4 / 5)|
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
|(3 / 5)||(3 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)|
|(4 / 5)||(4 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)|
Turtle Beach Recon 200
Wired Over-Ear Headphones
|(3 / 5)||(3 / 5)||(4.5 / 5)|
Jabra Elite Active 45e
|(4 / 5)||(2 / 5)||(3.8 / 5)|
1 1More Triple Driver – Best Wired Earbuds Under $100
The 1More Triple Driver wired earbuds are almost five years old. Yet, they are still unrivaled when it comes to pure sound quality at a reasonable price.
Not only do they sound great, but they look and feel like premium in-ear headphones that should cost twice as much as they do. In all honesty, these are the best value for the money headphones under $100.
The Triple Driver array…
Consists of two balanced armatures and a single dynamic driver in each earbud. The armature drivers, known for their razor-sharp accuracy, handle the mid and upper frequency ranges with delicate precision. The dynamic driver brings an authoritative yet smooth weight to the bass. It has a frequency range of 20 – 40,000Hz. Remarkable for in-ear headphones.
Build quality is also outstanding…
Brushed aluminum driver housings combine solid protection with a high-class finish that belies the cheap price. A braided Kevlar reinforced cable brings a high level of durability and tensile strength to the most vulnerable part of any wired headphone.
An in-line triple button remote, complete with a microphone, enables complete control of playback and call handling for a hands-free experience. A detachable cable would be the only improvement that could be made. All in all, these are some of the most durable headphones under $100 out there.
Comfort and convenience…
You also get a wide range of silicone and foam ear tips. Plus, a magnetic clasping carrying case that also has a premium feel to it. For such all-around audio and material quality, it comes as somewhat of a shock when you realize all this premium excellence can be had for well under $100.
Furthermore, for iPhone users, there’s a Lightening version offered and a wireless model too. You simply can’t go wrong with the 1More Triple Drivers. Very little in the market offers such quality at this price point, period.
- Beautifully well-balanced sound.
- Material quality.
- Amazing value.
- Non-detachable cable
2 JLab Epic Air ANC – Best True Wireless Earbuds Under $100
In the market for the best airpod pro alternative under $100? Then look no further than the JLab Epic Air true wireless earbuds.
No other true wireless earbud offers these features for such a cheap price…
They have a very competitive battery life of eight hours with the ANC turned on and up to 12-hours with it switched off. With a charging case that offers a further four charges, this puts the JLab Epic Air right up there with brands that cost significantly more.
Five sets of differently sized silicone ear tips and one foam set take care of any fit issues. IP55 water and dust resistance rating means you can wear these out in the rain with no issues. As a result, they are some of the best water resistant earbuds under $100 you will find.
One more nice feature is if you remove one of the earbuds, built-in sensors automatically pause the music. And when you replace them, the music restarts.
A minor criticism…
The active noise cancellation doesn’t make a huge difference. This may be partly because they naturally stop a lot of noise anyway, thanks to a very effective seal.
If you do want to allow ambient noise in, the “Be Aware” mode can be tweaked to allow a little or a lot of environmental sounds into your ears. Very handy when you need to hear what’s going on around you.
Not the best on this list, but still very good. Not happy with the factory settings? You can use the JLab app to change the EQ settings to something more preferable. The app also allows you to customize the touch control tap commands.
Again, these are things you can’t usually do with low-priced true wireless earbuds. No other true wireless earbud offers as much as the JLab Epic Air at such a low price while still managing to sound great.
- IP55 rating.
- Decent battery life.
- Customizable sound.
- Not the most effective ANC.
3 Sony MDR-7506 – Best Wired Over Ear Headphones Under $100
These are studio-style headphones that have been part of the Sony range for years. Looking for cheap critical listening headphones? Ones that focus purely on sound quality rather than features like Bluetooth or ANC? If so, then these might be the cans for you.
Whether you’re a casual listener…
A podcaster, or studio technician, you won’t find a more accurate pair of headphones than this for under $100. A mainstay of recording studios across the world for decades, they compete with models costing twice the price.
It’s a wonderfully neutral sound profile designed to let you hear every aspect of a song’s recording. They also have a spacious sound stage. Thereby making them some of the best closed back headphones under $100 currently on the market.
Extra features are thin on the ground…
No in-line controls or mic, no wireless capabilities or noise-canceling technology, or just about anything else. These are purely functional rather than versatile headphones. No battery because they are passive headphones with no power requirements. Forgetting to recharge will never be an issue.
We’ll happily admit the MDR-7506 does look like a relic of a bygone era. For some, they will have retro-appeal, but more fashion-conscious listeners will probably prefer something more contemporary.
Superb sound and value…
If you can get past the old-school look, you’ll have an ultra-comfortable, durable, and incredibly reliable set of headphones that are a pleasure to listen to.
For more information on these classic headphones, check out our in-depth Sony MDR 7506 Review.
- They will last for years.
- A spacious and neutral sound profile.
- Accurate delivery across the ranges.
- Dated aesthetic.
- No extra features.
4 Jabra Elite 45h – Best Wireless On Ear Headphones Under $100
Simply put, the performance to price ratio of the Jabra Elite 45h is second to none when it comes to wireless on-ear models. They’re the king of value in this category and are way more than just great-sounding cans.
Battery life is just one outstanding feature…
A full charge will give you 50 hours of continuous playback. In the unlikely event you run the battery flat, a quick 15-minute charge will give you a remarkable ten extra hours. This is right up there with industry-leading standards, making these some of the best battery life headphones under $100 you can buy.
A nicely padded headband and a unique earcup design that covers the whole cup ensure supreme levels of comfort. Controls are intuitive and easy to use. Most headphones place the buttons on the bottom of the earcup, but here they’re much higher up. So, you can use your index finger rather than your thumb to control things. It’s a far more intuitive set-up.
The sound profile is refreshingly neutral…
There’s no overblown bass to bleed into the mids or overly bright trebles, as is often the case at this price. Instead, you’re treated to a well-balanced affair that performs well for a wide variety of musical genres. The Jabra Sound + app also allows you to tip the balance in any direction you like. Want more bass? You got it.
The only negative we can see is the lack of input for wired listening. But with battery life this long, this is much less of a problem. Otherwise, the Jabra Elite 45h is unquestionably the best on-ear, wireless headphone under $100.
- Mammoth battery life.
- An engaging sound profile.
- Comfortable for extended use.
- Smart control layout.
- No wired connection.
5 Anker Soundcore Life Q20 – Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 proves that you don’t have to break the bank to get an effective ANC system that also delivers a high-quality audio performance.
The Hybrid ANC technology is capable of shutting out 35dB of ambient noise, a figure that rivals models that cost way more. There are three different ANC modes to choose from if you still want to let some ambient noise in.
Features 40mm dynamic drivers…
These have a frequency response of 15Hz – 40,000Hz. Meaning they deliver an accurate and detailed sound profile that’s very pleasing on the ear. The bass response can be given a boost via Soundcore’s proprietary BassUp technology.
This evaluates and adjusts the bass output on the fly to give you the bass more oomph if you so require. A simple double-tap on the play button activates this feature.
Amazing battery life…
You can get up to 40 hours of playback with ANC switched on and a marathon of 60 hours in standard mode. If run completely flat, a lightning-quick five-minute charge will provide an extra four hours of listening. Alternatively, you can use the accompanying cable for a wired connection.
If there’s one area these headphones are slightly lacking in, it’s comfort. The earcups are generously padded. We just wish Anker had extended that generosity to the padding on the headband. After a couple of hours, this becomes noticeable, and you need a five-minute break to reset things.
Affordable ANC at its best…
You can’t have it all at this price range. All the same, Anker has undoubtedly created one of the best headphones under $100 that feature effective ANC and fully deserve their place on this list.
- Surprisingly effective ANC.
- A clean sound profile.
- Bass boost if required.
- Super-powered battery.
- Thinly padded headband.
6 Beats Flex – Best Apple Headphones Under $100
The Beats Flex is the first set of headphones from a company that makes an effort to tap into the budget market. And we have to say they’ve done a fine job of it. They’ve taken the essence of the BeatsX and managed to reduce the price by 50% while not sacrificing the level of quality in the slightest.
BeatsX for less…
As far as we can tell, Beats Flex has pretty much the same level of sound quality as BeatsX. The same commanding bass and well-balanced mids and treble are present and correct. Bass-heads will be impressed by the punch on offer here.
The Beats Flex also improves on their more expensive stablemate in several other areas. Battery life received a boost from eight to 12 hours. A USB-C charging port replaces the Apple Lightning setup, which means that the Beats Flex is also capable of being used by Android owners.
What makes these good for Apple products?
The standard Apple W1 chip allows Beats Flex to seamlessly integrate into the Apple universe. Another nice feature is the magnetic earbuds. Remove the buds from your ear, magnetically attach them around your neck, and they automatically pause the music. Separate them, and they kick back into gear.
Class-1 Bluetooth technology means the Flex will stay connected up to 300 feet away from your device if there are no obstructions in the way. Wireless technology has come a long way in a short space of time, and the Flex makes full use of it.
An impressive set of features for earbuds that come in well below the $100 threshold, and one of the best headphones for iOS devices under $100 you can buy.
- Amazing value.
- Respectable battery life.
- USB-C charging.
- Incredible wireless range.
- Bass led profile, not to everybody’s taste.
7 Turtle Beach Recon 200 – Best Gaming Headphones Under $100
Whilst top-quality headphones can double up as decent gaming headphones; dedicated gaming headsets are usually a much better option. They need to have all the important features to get the best out of your gaming experience.
Great for gaming…
A good microphone is a must for online team player communication. Multi-platform support is also very important. Often this means gaming headsets will be more expensive than the equivalent standard headphones.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case with the Turtle Beach Recon 200. It comfortably manages to combine all of the above features at a price well below $100 while pulling off the sound quality and aesthetics of models of much higher price.
Any modern-day gaming device…
The Recon 200 will be compatible with it. Whether you’re a PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, or desktop gamer, it is ready for action. It’s doubtful that you can find a multi-platform headset under $100 that sounds anywhere near as good.
Adjustable mic volume controls allow you to alter how much of your voice you can hear in the headphones. You can also adjust the volume of overall chat audio if things get too hectic.
The only real negative is in the design…
More than a little experimentation was required to find the best fit. There are certainly more comfortable gaming headsets out there, but we doubt you’ll find any in this price bracket. It’s not hard to see why the Turtle Beach Recon 200 is the best headphone under $100 for gaming.
- Multi-platform compatibility.
- Clear and adjustable microphone.
- Impressive spatial sound.
- Won’t double up as your music headphone.
8 Jabra Elite Active 45e – Best Workout Headphones Under $100
The Jabra Elite Active 45e is unlikely to be challenging for any sound quality awards anytime soon. However, they make an excellent choice for those who want to focus on their workout without the constant need to re-position their headphones.
They are connected via a neck cable that hooks over your ears. At first sight, they look a little too bulky to stay firmly in place. But once properly adjusted, the moldable ear hook design makes them virtually impossible to shake free.
The reason these earbuds don’t score highly in the sound department is that the ear tips are designed to let ambient sound in. This is purely to increase safety. Especially when out running or cycling in busy areas.
They are more about practicality than high-fidelity sounds. If you often work out in the gym, you’ll probably want a set of headphones that provide a better seal.
Decent connections and battery…
A Bluetooth 5.0 connection ensures that connectivity always stays strong. Another factor that helps you stay on point and distraction-free. Battery life clocks in at just over the 9-hour mark. More than enough to last a week of working out, unless you’re a serious endurance athlete. A 15-minute quick charge affords you an extra 1.5 hours of playback.
For those on a budget who want to stay safe while exercising outdoors, the Jabra Active Elite 45e is worth a closer look.
- Excellent connectivity.
- IP67 dust and water resistance.
- Bluetooth 5.0.
- MicroUSB charging.
- Quite uncomfortable.
Best Headphones Under $100 Buying Guide
You can only expect so much from a pair of headphones in this price bracket. Companies have to cut corners when trying to make such affordable products. The headphones on this list are never going to measure up to the top performers in their class, and it would be ridiculous to expect them to.
There’s a reason the high-end models like Sony, Bose, or Sennheiser can cost upwards of $500. This list is meant for the shopper on a budget. Those who want to make the most of limited funds by getting the most value possible from the cheaper end of the market.
Wired vs. Wireless Audio
As a rule, wired headphones always have superior sound quality to their wireless counterparts. Therefore, if audio performance is top of your requirements, you should always opt for a wired model. Wired headphones support lossless playback and are generally built to a higher standard, as there’s less technology to try and jam into a relatively small space.
The importance of a good fit
Regardless of how much you’re prepared to spend on headphones, the fit is one of the most important factors. Whatever style of headphones you chose, make sure a good seal can be achieved for maximum audio enjoyment.
Looking for Something Else?
We’ve got plenty of headphones and earbuds for all your needs. Check out our in-depth SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review, our Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Review, our Monolith M1060 Headphone Review, our JLab JBuds Air Icon Review, and our Skullcandy Indy True Wireless Review for awesome products you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive review of the Best Waterproof Headphones for Swimming, our Best Workout Headphones and Earphones Review, our Best Earbuds with Microphone Review, as well as the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds currently on the market.
What are the Best Headphones Under $100?
Normally in this section, we’d pick an overall winner. But, as we’re not exactly comparing apples with apples here, that would be a futile exercise. We can say that if you’re looking for the highest level of sound quality and you can use it at home, in the office, or on your commute for under $100, then our choice would be the…
The sound quality is possibly matched by the…
…but they are primarily for indoor listening only. The 1More Triple Driver has way more versatility and is our top pick based on those criteria.
Until next time, happy listening.