Top 20 Best Headphones Under 100 – Complete Guide
All of us want to own great things in a budget. Fortunately, the leaps of technology create a grey area where a budget can be skillfully utilized. This area is a price range where the manufacturers have big enough budget to innovate but buyers can still afford these items. A budget up to $100 is such an area for headphones. In the middle of this price coordinate, you’ll find headphones which do not have a rickety build or shoddy finishing. Rather, they offer warm, enjoyable audio with a sturdy build. We picked 20 of them for our best headphones under 100 for 2017 list. These probably cannot compete with Audeze LCD-4 or Grado PS1000e, but they sure make a good listen for casual listeners and audiophiles alike.
Why the Best Headphones Under 100?
Ever used a $60 headphone that you liked? Now try out a $200+ headphone like Sennheiser Momentum. You might notice some difference. Try a $350 headphone. They might sound marginally different from the Momentum. You might even chalk the differences off to your tastes or their particular sound signature. For a casual listener, the subtle differences in the sound signature aren’t apparent as the price goes up. An audiophile with the full paraphernalia of amplifiers, DACs, velour pads, custom cables etc. might discern the differences.
A casual listener wants to enjoy the music. Meaty and warm bass helps with the popular genres of music. They want durability. They want portability. Features like Bluetooth connection, Active Noise Cancellation(ANC), foldability etc. make the headphones more valuable to them. This is doable within the $100 range. In the best headphones under 100 list, we have tried to avoid dirt cheap headphones that deliver neither performance nor reliability. We dug deep into the pile for relatively inexpensive headphones that bring surprisingly good sound for those low budgets.
How to make you headphones sound better?
Whichever best headphones under 100 you buy, there are a few things that you can do yourself to get the best performance out of them:
- Most headphones come with their earcups marked ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ or ‘L’ and ‘R’. Always try to wear the right ear pieces on the right sides. This will allow you to hear the stereo mix as the artists and engineers intended it.
- Experiment with the earcup placement. Move the earpieces around your ears for a better fitment. Check in which position you hear the audio better position. Usually there will be a sweet spot where the fitment is good and the audio is as good as it gets with that headphone.
- Burning-in has lot of takers. This is the process of ‘loosening up’ the driver. No, you don’t go at them with a hammer. Instead you play all possible genres of music on the headphones continuously for 20-100 hours. The sound ‘opens up’ as the believers say. We say there’s no harm in trying. Just leave the headphones plugged into your music collection overnight and the next day as you go about your work.
- High bitrate songs can improve your listening experience phenomenally. You hear only what you feed into the headphones. The better the music quality is, the better it will sound. Try to get FLAC version of your favorite songs. MP3 format is lossy and sounds markedly different.
- Microphonics causes a problem with even the best headphones. This is noise from the cable movement. Remember to use a shirt-clip to keep the cable stable.
How to maintain the best headphones under $100 in good condition?
Another way of getting the most out of your prized headphones is to take proper care of them. Here are a few tips:
- Use the headphone case to carry them. There’s a reason they were packed in a case. Don’t put the headphones commando in your bag with other heavy stuff, they will break.
- Keep the extra cord length tied up in a bunch. Don’t roll over them with your rolling executive chairs. Some headphones have their cables permanently attached. They become unusable when the cord breaks.
- Give the headphones a wipe down with a soft microfiber cloth once in a while. Clean the inside of the earcups and the underside of the headbands.
- Keep your headphones away from pets lest they confuse them for chew toys.
- Keep them away from heat, moisture and water.
What are the key features of the best headphones under 100?
Headphones command no small market and the manufacturers tend to make tall claims. We looked through this skull duggery and found the 20 best headphones under $100 for 2017 based on:
- Audio: The main purpose of headphones. We checked for neutral or slightly warm audio response which most casual listeners like. A touch of bass boost was also forgiven because it makes the audio that much fun. But too much bass didn’t make the list. Bluetooth headphones were checked for over-air audio quality, preferably Apt-X support.
- Types: We have covered headphones of all types in the best headphones under $100 for 2017 list: Bluetooth, open-back, close-back, noise-cancelling, DJ-style, neutral headphones etc.. We went back a few years to check for yet unrivaled popular headphones.
- Comfort: The headphones on this list are tested to be comfortable. They have decently big earpads to go around the ears. The headband does not press down hard on the top and sides of the head. Most of them have cable attached only to one side.
- Features: The best headphones under $100 for 2017 have many convenience features like wireless connectivity, complimentary case, ANC, detachable cable etc..
- Value on money: We waded through most headphones and compared similarly-priced ones based on the value they bring for money. Audio was the main concern here. Each extra feature and comfort added brownie points to the best headphones’ kitty.
TOP 20 BEST HEADPHONES UNDER 100 – COMPLETE CHART
|1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Tuned flat for incredibly accurate sound monitoring across the entire frequency range||$$||4.5|
|2. Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones||Upgraded driver design||$$||4.5|
|3. Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Advanced build quality and engineering||$$||4.5|
|4. AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones||Patented Varimotion 30 mm XXL transducerfor accurate signal transfer||$$||4.5|
|5. Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Headphones||Advanced build quality and engineering||$$||4.5|
|6. Avantree Audition Super Comfortable Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones with Mic||High-Resolution sound with aptX||$$||4.4|
|7. Edifier H840 Audiophile Over-the-ear Headphones||40mm driver units fine tuned for quality sound output||$$||4.4|
|8. Audio Technica AUD ATHAD500X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones||Self-adjusting 3D Wing Support Housing||$$||4.4|
|9. Mpow Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset||Passive noise isolating, NOT active noise cancellation||$$||4.4|
|10. Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones||Very clean, deep bass response, Jack plug 3.5/6.3 mm stereo||$$||4.2|
|11. Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones||Significant noise reduction||$$||4.0|
|12. Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones||Dynamic, closed-ear headphones with up to 32 dB attenuation||$$||4.0|
|13. Skullcandy Crusher Headphones with Built-in Amplifier and Mic||With Sensation55 – Skullcandy’s patent-pending bass extension driver||$$||4.0|
|14. August EP650 Bluetooth Wireless Over Ear Headphones||Bluetooth Headphones with Warm Bass Rich Sound||$$||4.0|
|15. Bluedio Turbine T2s Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Mic||T2S Ultra-big speaker||$$||3.9|
|16. Monoprice 108323 Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone||Designed for the professional sound spinner||$$||3.9|
|17. Photive BTH3 Over-The-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones||Bluetooth 4.0 Stereo Headphones – Advanced Bluetooth CSR version 4.0 Latest technology||$$||3.9|
|18. Photive HF1 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones||Engineered with Advanced Bluetooth 4.0 with HD APTX Codec||$$||3.9|
|19. Sennheiser PX 100-II On Ear Miniheadphone||Advanced Duofol transducer system pumps out rich, lifelike audio||$$||3.9|
|20. Koss PortaPro Headphones||Designed for deep bass performance||$$||3.9|
Audio Technica ATH-M40x is the best affordable audiophile headphone available today. Its bigger, pricier brother, the M50x, is pretty well-known in the market for its gutsy, fun sound. But M40x has the neutral signature which allows you to tune it any which way you want. It’s a studio headphone, so although it’s chunky, it is very comfortable. The structure is very flexible with a detachable cable. ATH-M40x has more features than the twice-as-expensive headphones. It is a slam dunk choice for the best headphones under $100 for 2017.
Design and Features
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones look like the beefy cousins of some slim Sennheisers. But these weigh only 8.5 ounces without the cable. More importantly, these sit so comfortably on your ears that you will forget they are on. The headband is thickly padded, the cushioning running down to the sides of your head. The earcups are large and shaped in racetrack oval formation. These easily sit around the oblong shape of ears. The ear pieces swivel freely 180 degrees for one-sided listening. They fold 90° flat. The arms fold to reduce the footprint of M40x by half.
These affordable headphones have a detachable cable. It attaches to one earcup through a 3.5mm port. This end of the accompanying cable locks into the port, so it doesn’t get yanked off accidentally. Since this is an audio-focused studio headphone, it comes with two cables, both without inline remote or mic. One is a straight cable and another is a coiled one with more ‘give’ for studio use. A carry bag with drawstring is shipped with M40x. A screw-on 1/4-inch jack is also included. They are 40g and $50 lighter than the famed M50x.
Sony 7506 ad V6 headphones have dominated the neutral sound signature domain in the sub-$100 category. And M40x can dethrone both. It sports a flat sound signature with excellent extension on both ends. You want more bass, turn it up. You want less bass, improve the midrange. Thankfully M40x is not colored like M50x, so it can be easily altered. The bass is refined and tight. You hear plenty of details in the low frequencies here. The casual listeners who have been spoiled by bass-heavy headphones like Skullcandy might want more weight in the low-end. This can be easily remedied by the equalizer. Purist audiophiles will find the bass just right.
The midrange and treble both reflect similar refinement. The mids sound rich and untouched by any bass bleed. The synths are stunning. The intricacies of the music jump at you, so much so that bad recordings sound a tad harsh. In studio monitoring, this is an advantage. We suggest you treat these babies with the best formats. The soundstage is good but not fantastic or out-of-the-head.
- Neutral, well-extended audio
- Excellent refinement for the price
- 2 Detachable cables
- Single-sided listening
- Soundstage could be more open
Although closed-backed headphones are great for commute, they cannot play as naturally as open-back headphones. The airy, large soundstage of Grado SR80e headphones are the added benefit of open design. These are for the true music lovers, who want to snuggle up on a rainy day and listen to their favorite recordings alone and in peace. You have to use them in quiet rooms because they let ambient noise through. But that’s the price for the rich and dynamic music. Their audio earns them a top spot on the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The one aspect of design that Grado SR80e headphones focus on is comfort. These are on-ear cans weighing 8.2 ounces. The headband is a slim affair coated in leather. It is broad enough to offset the weight of the ear pieces. The earcups have an open grill on the back. They use foam pads to attach to the ears. These are the right balance of firmness and softness meant to hold the headphones in place comfortably. The metal rods projecting from the headband allow you to swivel the earcups to suit your head shape or fold them flat.
These budget headphones are connected to the cable on both earcups. We wish Grado had opted for a single-sided cable as it allows you to move your neck easily. The cord terminates in a 3.5mm plug with a beefy casing. You might have some trouble inserting it in smartphones with cases. A 6.3mm screw-on adapter is shipped with SR80e. It doesn’t have an inline remote or carry case. It would be something you leave attached to your home music setup/studio setup.
With a repeated caveat that Grado SR80e open-back headphones do not block outside noise, we delve into their finer points. These are premium–sounding cans, which is why their design and accessories are basic. Some affordable headphones can do neutral audio response, but only SR80e can make it energetic and dynamic. The audio has such kick even with a flat response. The bass is flat and toes the line but it sounds amazing because of the open back. It’s refined and impactful.
The mids have that airy quality which highlights the layers of details. SR80e hasn’t smoothened down any detail. So you get startling clarity with both good and bad recordings. This is an audiophile investment so try to use quality music files here. Sony 7506 just can’t sound so exciting. The audio sounds natural and original with the open form of SR80e with substantial bass and precise tonal balance.
- Natural audio in a wide soundstage
- Impressive details and clarity
- Premium, energetic audio
- Easy to drive
- Double-sided cable and thick 3.5mm plug housing
If some of the features that ATH-M40x has are not important to you, the M30x can easily take its place at around $20-25 less. As the cheaper headphones in the line, M30x is supposed to sound less exciting. But to a casual listener, there’s barely any change in quality between M40x and M30x. A professional music setup in a studio with experienced listeners might cough out a few differences. Except for a non-detachable cable, it is almost as good as M40x. No reason to keep it from the best headphones under $100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
Audio-Technica will choke on their integrity before delivering sub-par products. And it reflects in the M30x headphones. They take a huge-leap over the M30 and look almost similar to the pricier M40x. The material on the headband and earcups has improved from M30. It looks much more posh. The earpads are racetrack oval and fit almost all ear sizes. The headband is burly and padded luxuriously. The earcup can overturn 180° for single-sided listening. They can swivel left and right but not fold flat. The arms of the headband articulate to reduce its space consumption.
These affordable headphones have their cable attached to one earcup. The single-sided cable is still a blessing even if it’s not detachable. The 3m cord terminates in a 3.5mm plug. A 6.3mm studio adapter is supplied with it. The fabric pouch makes a reappearance here. M30x has good noise isolation and minimal sound leakage. It weighs only 7.8 ounce which is surprisingly lightweight for its look.
As we mentioned, Audio-Technica M30x barely makes a step-down from M40x in terms of audio. It has the same neutral frequency response which is rare in budget headphones in its price bracket. The bass is usually boosted and loosely controlled in such headphones. But M30x has tight, punchy bass. It also gives you a lot of scope for equalizing and changing the sound signature to your taste. The bass robs nothing from the midrange which is clear advantage for orchestral and classical music. But it has relatively less focus on bass compared to other headphones in this price range. Purists will like M30x.
The midrange focus is great for the more subtle music genres like jazz and rock. There’s end-to-end clarity throughout the frequency spectrum. With all these features, it could be M40x. Unless you are a music producer mixing music, you will not notice the difference. The huge earpads provide efficient passive noise isolation so you can enjoy your music in peace.
- Neutral audio response
- Detailed mid-focused sound
- Good passive noise isolation
- Comfortable with single-sided listening
- Bass may not be enough for some listeners
The classical design of the AKG K240 MK II headphones takes you back in time. The large, plush earpads, the suspension headband and velour pads all indicate its audiophile status. AKG has tried to widen its audience by creating a semi-open design. It does not block all noise but it blocks some. The audio quality and amenities of AKG K240 MK II at this price are way above average, hence their place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The AKG K240 MK II headphones can easily draw you some admiring looks. They have large circular earcups. The back of the cup is semi open. It is airier than the closed-back headphones but a tad less airy than the open-backed headphones. The headband is suspension type. There’s a wide leather strap that expands till the control cables. This is a self-adjusting arrangement, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting headband size equal amounts from both sides. The earpads are covered in cushions sheathed in synthetic material. Velour pads are also provided in the pack. They are difficult to slip on but they are worth the effort.
These budget headphones have detachable cable. The straight cable is 6 feet long and the coiled cable is longer and ‘gives’ when you pull back from the playback device. Both the cables are replaceable and available online. A studio jack of 1/4 inch is supplied to connect to professional equipment. A carry case would have been a great addition here. We suggest that you use these headphones with care. The wiring runs through the thin headband and can get damaged promptly.
Whatever AKG K240 MK II headphones lack in terms of portability, they make up with their audio. These are meant for the classical, rock, jazz etc. fans. The mid-to-high range is superlative in its performance. The exciting sound, bares all the intricacies of the track. Music producers love it because MK II says it like it is. Bad and imperfect recordings give up their trouble points with it. Critical listening will definitely benefit from this behavior. But the harshness of bad recordings can create fatigue over long listening sessions. It has a classic bright sound that you relate with gramophones in the 1970s.
While the mids are agog with details, the bass looks less shiny in comparison. Bass is not sloppy here but merely neutral and tight. But the high-mids steal attention from it. The clean sound resides in a wide soundstage. You get an around-the-head kind of audio reproduction.
- Luscious high-mids
- 2 detachable cables
- Self-adjusting headband
- Refined sound good for critical listening
- Needs to be handled with care
Audio-Technica is never going out of style. M20x headphones are the most affordable of their line. With biggies like M40x and M50x, why look at M20x you ask? Because it costs less and it has more bass than M40x. These headphones are aimed more towards casual listeners crossing over to audiophile territory. They bridge the gap between boosted bass sound signature and surgically neutral audio. At their price, they blow all competition out of the water and land in the best headphones under $100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
Even as the M20x headphones move down the budget line of Audio-Technica, they do not skimp on build quality. The all-black body is substantial just like M40x. They look similar except for the lower quality synthetic sheath on the earcups. The comfort level is same with racetrack oval ear pieces. The headband is also lavishly padded. The ear pieces can swivel reverse for single-sided listening. They also move left and right to conform to your head shape.
The cable of these affordable headphones connects to the left earcup. It’s not detachable but less intrusive because of the single side. The long cord is sturdily built. The heft tells you it will last a while. The cord terminates in a 3.5mm plug. This has a bulky casing that won’t get through the holes of phone cases easily. It’s less likely to get damaged though. A 1/4 inch screw-on adapter is supplied for studio equipment.
If you have tried the flat-as-pancake M40x headphones, you cannot miss the punchy bass of M20x headphones. This brings a little warmth and fun into the audio. You will lose none of the clarity. The weighty bass is clear and well-defined too. The bass attack is fast and keeps up with the rhythm of the music. These are not bass-heavy headphones like Beats though. The noise isolation from the large pads further enhances its low-end performance.
Midrange sits nicely on the foundation of good bass. Mids are clean and moderately refined. Audio-Technica is a stickler for details and M20x beats almost all competition in terms of audio resolution. The soundstage is wide open and instrument placement is outstanding for the price. They are good for everyday use even in noisy areas like subway, gym , office etc.. They are not studio-grade though unless you are on a shoestring budget. For professional work we suggest you pony up $20 extra for M40x.
- Detailed audio with meaty bass
- Excellent build quality
- Single-sided cable and listening
- The plug casing is too thick to go through phone cases
Avantree Audition headphones are a hoot at their price. As Bluetooth headphones go, these perform great. At their price, they work without lag and deliver quality audio with Apt-X support. Lightweight as they are, they remain comfortable to wear for long hours. If you can shell out a few more bucks within a $100 budget, Audition Pro has even better audio. Audition is good for games and movies while the Pro works well for gaming too. Avantree lobs a home run with both cans right into the best headphones under $100 list.
Design and Features
The Audition headphones from Avantree have a classy stylish design. The cans are black with subtle red highlights. The headband is thin and broad. Red stitches along both edges make it stand out. The oval earcups hang off of metal hoops on either side. The ear pieces are large enough to encircle your ears. The earpads are plush and springy to keep your ears comfortable. Audition clocks only 6.4 ounces on the scale. That adds to the comfort factor.
The left side of these budget headphones has the power and volume buttons. It also carries the NFC panel and mic. They utilize Bluetooth 4.0 which is energy-smart for wireless communication. Apt-X kicks in for better audio quality with phones and playback devices that support Apt-X. You can connect two devices to the headphone at the same time and play from one at a time.
NFC allows you to sync with your NFC-enabled phone with a single tap. Battery lasts through 40 hours per charge and 12 days standby. If it runs out of charge, you can use it in the wired mode with the accompanying 3.5mm male-male cable.
The Bluetooth connection with Avantree Audition headphones was easy to set up. The connection remains strong with the occasional blips of silence. You might not be as lucky with the NFC performance. Sound-wise Audition did pretty well. It has a good amount of bass with decent extension. It doesn’t sound tinny or inadequate. Bass isn’t boosted unnaturally either because there’s no distortion at top volumes.
Avantree has a stuck with a balanced response that gives all frequencies a chance to perform. In doing so, they have created a genre-independent headphone which favors a music-lover with varied taste in music.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC-enabled
- Apt-X support
- Balanced tones
- 40-hour battery life and wired connection
- NFC connection is buggy
Edifier 840 headphones look like your regular plain Jane headphones, but they have claimed audiophile attention. These are enjoyable headphones at a very reasonable price. For a music person with simple needs, these headphones guarantee quality build. At their price reliability is hard to come by. But Edifier 840 users never had to compromise on comfort or durability, hence its place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Edifier 840 headphones remind us of the Bose QuietComfort. They have the same low-key design. The headband is moderately thick and broad. The ear pieces are oval and plushly padded. Somehow 840 hits that sweet spot of design where it’s simple but enormously comfy. Our ears did not warm up too much with the synthetic leather. The branding on the headphone is also low-profile. It is available in with-mic and without-mic versions within a $10 difference. You find a choice between black, white and blue colors. These are plastic headphones. With their matte finish, they look their price.
The cable is connected to both the earcups. As mentioned earlier, single-sided cables are more preferable because they offer better mobility to your neck. The cord extends 6 feet long and ends in a 3.5mm plug. In the with-mic version the mic is on an inline panel. Since these are low budget-oriented headphones, we suggest being careful with them if you want them to last long.
The sound signature of Edifier H840 headphones is designed for pure fun. The audio response is V-shaped. The vigorous bass and treble make any music come alive. The bass has a boost which is entertaining without being boomy or obnoxious towards the midrange. You get decent details and loose bass but to casual listeners its plain enjoyable. In short, the entertainment value glosses over little details. In a headphone this price, it’s more than we expected.
The midrange is warm slightly clouded near the crossover to mids. If you enjoy popular music like hip-hop, sassy rock, rap etc. you will definitely get great value for money with these affordable headphones. We loved them for their warm coloration that any purist would turn their nose up at. For regular Joes, the pure entertainment value at this price is good.
- Reasonably priced
- Very comfortable
- Entertaining bass and audio
- Available with mic
- Double-sided cable
Because bass dominates most of the cheap headphones lists, we seem to have more vocal-centric headphones in ours. The AD500x from Audio-Technica is one smooth-sounding headphone. With the typical audiophile design, these are open-back headphones meant for quiet Sundays by the fireplace. A-T’s legacy of gorgeous sound is part of AD500x’s charm. Together, the comfort and audio buy it a place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Audio-Technica AD500X headphones use the suspension design to hang over your head. These feature large round ear cups padded optimally. They are covered with soft cotton fabric material. You can replace them with leather earpads if you want. We found the fabric comfy but our ears did warm up a little. The headband is a self-adjusting system of a band over head and two cables to restrain it. The band is slotted to keep up ventilation for the top of your head. The earcups carry aluminum grille on their back.
These affordable headphones have a single-sided non-removable cable. It is 10 feet long, so optimum for connection to audiophile gear like amps and DAC. It is also convenient if you want to connect them to your TV. There are no extra with these headphones. They are designed with the bare minimum with a focus on audio.
A person is said to mature into audiophile level when she/he understands the importance of neutral audio response. Not all audiophiles are necessarily against bass boost. They just prefer to be able to do it themselves by equalization. And if a headphone is already colored by bass boosting, it’s difficult to equalize it in or out. This is what makes headphones like AD500x so valuable. Its neutral, natural audio is pliable like a metal film, it will bend any which way you want. The bass here is tight and punchy. But it’s probably not as bold as the casual listener likes. The good news is you can easily equalize it up or down.
The midrange shines here. The vocals and guitars have a bold ring to them which complements classical, rock, jazz, or orchestral music. Add to it the huge soundstage, you feel like the performance is around your head. Instrument separation has been nailed here. Stereo imaging is spot-on so it makes a great headphone for gaming too. But it doesn’t have a mic.
- Open-back design create huge soundstage
- Excellent instrument separation and stereo imaging
- Wonderfully detailed mids and sparkling highs
- Soft fabric earpads
- 10-foot long cable
- Bass is tight but mids take the attention here
Mpow Bluetooth headphones are very reasonably priced for the convenience they bring. Leaving you untethered from your playback devices is an advantage that costs you big bucks. But with Mpow headphones you get clean Bluetooth connection and normal features at an affordable sum. The audio is primed towards the tastes of a casual listener. The stylish looks and comfort add up to a place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The glossy black/red combination of the Mpow Bluetooth headphones immediately catches your attention. The outer side is done in black plastic. The earcups have red highlights. They have oval ear pieces. The thick earpads are covered in protein leather which feels like skin to your ears. These can sit around the medium-sized ears comfortably. The left earcup holds the buttons and the USB port for charging. The right side has the mic and 3.5mm port. The headband can be extended. The headphone folds at its arms and reduces into a portable package.
These affordable headphones connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. It is multipoint Bluetooth which means more than one devices can be connected to it at a time but only one plays. There are separate buttons for volume and track navigation. A common button handles call answer/reject, play/pause and power.
Battery lasts through 13 hours of music playback and 15 hours of talk time. A 3.5mm male-male cable is provided to listen to music in the wired mode if battery runs out. A microfiber cloth pouch is also part of the package. You can easily fold up the headphones and tuck them away safely in this drawstring bag. Charging cable accompanies Mpow.
The Mpow Bluetooth headphones are entry level Bluetooth headphones, so we won’t critique the ‘midrange’ and ‘tonal balance’ here(whatever does that mean!). Instead we suffice it to say that they bring static-free enjoyable sound. They have a good amount of bass. We didn’t have many instances of Bluetooth obstruction between the stipulated 33 feet. Though we do wish the Bluetooth range was larger.
We found the noise isolation good enough to be used in the gym. The grip provided a good seal against ambient noise. They get fairly loud, but be careful because the audio leaks. You don’t want to irritate your neighbor with repeated renditions of Ganja Babe.
- Stylish looks
- Can be used in wired mode
- With mic
- Small Bluetooth range
If you are looking for DJ or pro gear at a small budget, the HD 202 II are great headphones to have. These have been around for the better part of the decade but they are still very popular. These are comfortable and lightweight. DJing can take long hours and these sit inconspicuously on your head. They have the typical Sennheiser chops so they sound upscale too. There is one too many reasons to have them on the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser HD 202 II headphones are quite decadently designed for their price. Have no illusions, these are plastic cans. But they look and feel sturdy. They have oval earcups with plush earpads. These are sheathed in pleather. It looks wrinkled but it’s very comfortable on the ears. The earpads are replaceable. The replacements are easily available online. The underside of the headband is padded at the cranial arch. Between all these cushions, they fit easily on all head shapes. The earpads also seal your ears properly for excellent noise isolation.
The cable of these affordable headphones runs to both ears. But it’s 10 foot long so you get plenty of leeway to shake your head or headbang with the music. A belt clip to tame the extra cable length and 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter are also shipped with the pack.
From a design point of view, Sennheiser makes it plenty clear that HD 202 II headphones are meant to be professional gear. They don’t fold and have an absurdly long cable. Audio reflects the same. They have a neutral audio response which can be colored to perfection in the studio. The audio is sprinkled with details throughout the spectrum although not as much as the Audio-Technica M40x.
The performance of HD 202 II headphones is not genre-specific. It works well with all kinds of music due to the flat response. Decent bass underscores the vocals and guitars well. The highs are energetic but without much bite. Remarkable noise isolation and low audio leakage enhance the audio experience.
- Comfortable and affordable
- Natural, detailed and neutral audio response
- 10-foot long cable
- Replaceable ear pads
- Headband sits forward on the head, might not work for everyone
- No single-sided monitoring
Cowin is not a name we often hear in the headphone domain. But the E7 headphones made some waves with the community. This is a wireless noise cancelling headphone. They are perfect for everyday use when you cannot be bothered by a wire. They tie up comfort, quality audio and durability into a neat package. Both the noise-cancelling and normal version of these cans cost below $100. Such reasonable products are exactly what our best headphones under 100 list was after.
Design and Features
The Cowin E7 headphones have a glossy black and metal design. They have circular earcups. The headband is moderately broad and thick. The ear pieces are mounted with puffy cushions sheathed in protein leather. These feel like human skin on your ears. The buttons reside on the earcups. The earpieces rotate 90° so that the headphones fold flat. The headphones do look their price up close. The clamp on the ears is moderate. But people with big heads should stretch them out a little bit.
These affordable headphones go wireless using Bluetooth. The ANC can be switched on or off. You can use them on flights and switch it off when you are jogging so that you can hear vehicles and warnings. There’s a mic onboard the E7 for taking calls on your connected phones. The battery chugs out 30 hours of music on a single battery charge. Even if the battery dies on you, you can use it in wired mode with the accompanying 3.5mm male-male cable. A pouch with drawstring is also shipped with it.
We checked out the Cowin E7 noise cancelling headphones. Although nothing like Bose, they managed to drown out a fair amount of low-frequency noise from fans, AC, airplane engines etc.. Mid-to-high frequency noises may get through, which is good because human voices lie in this range. In an office, you would want to hear your colleagues calling out to you. E7 is consistent in its performance. It does equally well in both wired and wireless mode. The audio sounds natural and has decent amount of details.
We love how these affordable headphones have kept the bass on the leash. It might not be as tight as the A-T M40x but it isn’t overbearing or boomy. It does not cloud the midrange vocals. You can use them for TV viewing/movie watching apart from music.
- Bluetooth-enabled and Active noise cancelling headphones
- Comfortable and fold flat
- Can be used in wired mode
- Natural-sounding audio
- Not very refined audio
Audio Technica is not the only brand bringing studio headphones in a sub-$100 budget. The Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones are competition. These can be poor man’s mastering headphones. Featuring a flat but feisty audio signature, these headphones are built for comfort during long-drawn out listening sessions. They are not as good-looking or reliable as the M40x. But they definitely have more bass. And with that they have a great chance to be on the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones dull in comparison to the M40x headphones. They are all black with just a Sennheiser logo on the earcup. The earpads are racetrack oval and encircle the ears. The headband is padded in the cranial arch region. The cushioning is sheathed in protein leather which looks a tad cheap compared to the synthetic leather on M40x. But these are pretty comfortable. The earcups swivel 90° to make the headphones fold flat.
The cable of these affordable headphones is non-detachable. It is permanently connected to one earcup. This is a coiled cable that extends between 3.3-9.8 feet. Although the cable cannot be removed, it can be replaced if you are creative with a soldering iron. At its price point, we hoped it had detachable cable though. That way even if the cable got damaged, the headphone would be still functional for a layman. The 280Pro provide excellent noise isolation for studio work. They are light on accessories with just a 1/4 inch adapter.
The Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones are conditioned for professional audio mixing and mastering. Sennheiser has created a neutral frequency response without robbing it of any of its fun. The low end is meaty and carries its weight in all genres. So it sounds much more exciting that the surgical-sounding neutral headphones. This is tight bass that does not tarnish the sanctity of mids. The bass is also well-defined. There is no distortion until ear-splitting volumes. The extension into deep sub-bass frequencies is remarkable.
The audio sounds just as the artist intended it. In fact, studio professionals would use 280Pro for critical listening. It supports all genres well: classical, orchestral, jazz, hip-hop, EDM, you name it. The excellent bass brings a nice luscious quality to classical recordings. These budget headphones can impress both pros and casual listeners.
- Neutral but exciting sound
- Excellent bass extension
- Comfortable for long listening hours
- 10-foot replaceable no detachable cable
- Price could be more reasonable for this build
Skullcandy Crusher headphones are unique because of their bass slider. That’s right. You can adjust the bass on these babies. With a subwoofer packed in them, they can increase bass to ridiculous levels. Anyone who likes the dirty bass that dominates the sound will like them. Audiophiles with any sense will not touch these with a 10-foot pole. But we wanted to have something for everyone on our best headphones under 100 list for 2017. And these make the cut.
Design and Features
The Skullcandy Crusher headphones look peppy just like the brand promises. They are available in 15 color combinations and each one looks better than the next. The matte finish keeps them from looking cheap. The build is the typical bold style of Skullcandy. The earcups are racetrack oval. The earpads are luxurious and covered in nice synthetic leather. The headband also has padding in slots which allows the top of your head to breathe. The arms fold to make the Crusher more portable.
These affordable headphones carry a bass extension driver in each earcup apart from the full-range driver. This is brought to life by the bass slider for visceral bass. The bass variation functionality works only on an AA battery that goes in the right earcup. Both earcups are ported for bass performance. The Crusher has a detachable cable that connects single-sided to the right earcup. You can switch off subwoofers by eliminating battery or turning down the slider. The cord has an inline remote with a single multifunctional button for Android and Apple devices. A drawstring pouch is included in the pack.
We tested various combinations of the volume and the bass slider with Skullcandy Crusher headphones. We found that bass up till half the level of the slider is more than enough for any sane person. Volume should not max out except with the subwoofers are off. The bass does get a bit of boost with every movement of the slider. The response is not neutral or natural. But it has the visceral head-vibrating bass that bassheads enjoy. With the slider off, we got slightly pumped and meaty bass.
At the no-subwoofer setting we found that the midrange sounded rich and detailed. The highs were crisp and clear. We cannot condemn the headphones for allowing obscene bass. Rather it panders to a large audience with a good audio response that has the capability to go intensely bassy upon your choice.
- Separate subwoofer built in
- Bass slider for variable bass
- Detachable cable
- Stylish look in 15 colors
- Rich sound with bass boost off
- More that 40% of the bass variation is unusable due to distortion
August EP650 headphones are another find from the throes of Bluetooth headphones that are worth the money. This sleek design caught our eye but impressed us with the sound. They have all the features of a good wireless headset and they executed all them well. They are often sold at discounted prices online too. That is one more reason to pick them up. The fun sound and comfort earned them a rightful place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The August EP50 headphones don’t just have a welcoming name, they have an attractive look too. The sleek headband is optimally slim but padded underneath for soft contact with your head. The earcups are almost rectangular. They are capable of encircling normal-sized ears. The thick earpads are springy and soft. They adapt comfortably to your head shape. The arms of the headband fold and reduce the footprint of EP50 to half. These are portable headphones you can carry to your daily run or work.
The controls for Bluetooth are located on the right earcup. There are separate track and volume navigation buttons. A multifunctional button in the middle handles the rest. Apart from Bluetooth, these budget headphones are also capable of syncing via NFC with NFC-enabled devices. The battery lasts through 10 hours of music playback. A 3.5mm port allows you to listen to music in the wired mode. EP50 also has an in-built mic for hands-free calls.
These affordable headphones are available in noise-cancelling model. Other colors are blue, gold, silver, white and red.
The August EP50 headphones are most often bought by casual listeners. They don’t worry about mids this and treble that. They worry about whether these sound good. We thought they sound great. There’s a bit of calculated bass boost which enhances the sound quality. It makes the audio sound more substantial. But the vocals are not muddied by the bass bump. So you can easily discern the dialogues when you watch movies with these on.
The Bluetooth connection is pretty stable. It doesn’t falter within a few weeks of use. The connection was also quick and easy. Sound isolation is good as in it blocks some external noise. But sound leakage happens and your neighbor gets to hear your jams.
- Enjoyable sound with meaty bass
- Bluetooth and NFC enabled
- Comfortable and foldable
- Can be used in wired mode
- Audio leakage at mid-high volumes
Bluedio Turbine T2s Bluetooth headphones pack some solid build and good sound. At their price we can barely complain. They connect well.They look stylish. The audio has a sound helping of bass which makes any song enjoyable for a casual listener. These look compact on your head and are well-suited for small-to-medium ears. Four sassy colors round up the numerous reasons why T2s should be on the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Bluedio Turbine T2s Bluetooth headphones are actually quite elegant petite headphones. Their round earcups fit the small-to-medium ears better, as in they encircle the ears completely. With large ears the earpads with sit on the ears making them uncomfortable. The headband sits forward on the head, so you don’t feel any pressure at the top of your head. Both the headband and the earcups have ample padding. The earcups carry the turbine design on their back as the namesake. In spite of the low price we bought them at, the feel durable. But we were careful in handling them.
The arms of the headband swivel 195° to reduce the footprint of these affordable headphones by half. They use Bluetooth 4.1 to connect wirelessly. This is an energy-efficient communication protocol. All the buttons are on the right side. These include power/pairing button, the volume buttons and a wheel clicker. The latter works as Play/pause and track navigator. The battery lasts for 40 hours per charge. The come with a cable for use in the wired mode.
Bluedio Turbine T2s Bluetooth headphones pack 57mm drivers. With that you expect big sound. T2s don’t deliver entirely up to that expectation to an audiophile’s ears. But casual listeners will be happy with the bass. Bass is heavy here. They even muddy up the mids a bit. So these headphones are for the bassheads. The treble is boosted to match up with the power of bass.
The midrange is decent. The vocals are clear. Bass does bleed into the mids. But that hardly matters to the usual music lovers, especially if they listen to EDM, Techno, hip-hop, rap etc.. Put on some club music on these and you can dance through the night. What wires are going to tangle you up? None.
- Solid stylish design
- Excellent button arrangement
- Can be used in wired mode
- 40 hours battery life.
- Bass bleed into mids
Monoprice 108323 DJ Style headphones have surprised tons of people with their bold sound. Their build can pass them off for much more expensive cans. The detachable cable is a perk we don’t often get at this price. The sound is enjoyable and natural. They aren’t neutral so they can be your go-to sets when you want to enjoy the music, not critique it. At their price, they offer many features to figure on the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Monoprice 8323 headphones are built like a tank relative to their price. They feel very sturdy. The earcups are racetrack oval. They are mounted with thick pads so they might not completely go around big ears. The headband is also padded thick under the cranial arch. The cushioning is draped in some sort of synthetic material which is soft on your ears. The earcups can swivel towards your ears to conform to your head shape. They can also rotate 90° and turn flat. The headband has some clamping force. Stretching them out before use might be a great idea.
These affordable headphones have detachable cables. They come with a 4-foot long thin cable and a thick 11.5 foot long one. The short cable is quite flimsy but the other one is great. Replacing the stock cable with a better one can improve audio. A 6.3mm screw-on adapter is also part of the pack. There is no inline remote but the replaceable cable gives you a chance to add one.
The Monoprice 8323 headphones looked quite plain but we understood why they drew so much attention. The bass is unbelievable at this price point. It’s meaty and well-defined. You get the low-end power and decadence in their sound. The bass bump is properly executed even at this price. We expected boomy sound running rampant over the mids. Or we expected them to sound a little tinny. But there’s an amazing substance to the lower frequencies which makes them genre-independent. Classical to Techno, the sound well everywhere.
The midrange has good presence and a decent amount of details. The treble is smooth. Audiophiles might want a little more bite to the treble.
- Powerful bass
- Clean mids and smooth treble
- 2 detachable cables
- Impressive build quality
- Clamping force
Photive BTH3 headphones bring a lot of value to the table to be ignored. They have crazy discounts on these sometimes. These are wireless cans built like Bose QuietComfort ones. They come with an excellent carry case. They have a sleek build that looks elegant perched on your head. Advanced Bluetooth ensures that sound quality is compromised as less as possible. Together, all these qualities earn them a place in the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Photive BTH3 headphones are rather ordinary to look at. They are very compact though. The headband is slim but broadens at the cranial arch with padding. The earcups are oval. The can swivel forward and adapt to the shape of your head. They also rotate 90° and fold flat for easy storage. The earpads are cushy and sit comfortably on your ears. The simple design works well for most head sizes.
These budget headphones connect wirelessly through Bluetooth 4.0. The battery lasts through 12 hours per charge. The buttons are divided between the two earcups. The volume and call-related buttons are one earcups. The music related buttons like track navigation. Indicator lights for Bluetooth sync are also stationed on the ear pieces. The most exciting accessory with these is the flat case. It can hold the BTH3 folded flat. There’s a mesh pocket for wires.
The BTH3 headphones from Photive sound surprisingly mature at its price. The bass is only present the original amount. BTH3 does not boost it. But it doesn’t sound insufficient in any way. Although bass has the punch, it doesn’t respond fast. So complicated bass tracks will sound muddled in their details. The mids are crisp. They are clean and get the deserved attention. There’s a boost around 1Khz. This enhances the vocals and guitars. The highs are sparkly.
- Natural audio with clear bass and sparkly highs
- Can work in wired mode
- Comes with a very nice case
- Battery life is low
The takers for on-ear headphones are few but they do exist. The Photive HF1 headphones are supra-aural cans in a likable package. The uber-lightweight construction makes them that much more comfortable. They have a muted elegance that appears in their audio response as well. Their classic take on both design and looks find them a place on our best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
We were pumped to know that Photive HF1 headphones weigh only 5 ounces. The design is all-black done up in brushed aluminum and steel joints. The earcups are padded with cushy earpads with holes for compression. The headband is also optimally padded to keep the weight down. The buttons are on the right earcup. They include volume/track navigation buttons, a multi-functional button and an LED indicator for pairing.
These affordable headphones use Bluetooth 4.0 with Apt-X support for quality wireless playback. The battery lasts through 12 hours of music. A 3.5mm port is provided to connect via cable. The earcups fold flat for easy storage.
Even though most headphones in their price coordinate are boosting bass, the Photive HF1 steer clear of such gimmicks. They focus on a neutral sound signature. The midrange is smooth and works well even with bad recordings. The details are agreeable. The highs are crisp. The bass is punchy but not visceral like Skullcandy Crusher. The natural audio sounds good with all kinds of music.
- Extremely lightweight
- Can work in wired mode
- Comfy on-ears
- The headband-earcup connection is fragile
Most people end up resenting their office headsets. But some take a liking to it. Sennheiser PX 100-II mini headphones are built like those office headsets minus the mic branching out. These are lightweight and breezy on your ears. They bring Sennheiser’s quality audio in their wake. These are unconventional but definitely a great candidate for the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser PX 100-II mini headphones are built like the office headsets. They have a slight build strengthened by a metal headband. The round earcups have on-ear foam earpads. The headband has light padding under the cranial arch for a soft contact. The arms of the headband fold to reduce them to the size of sunglasses.
The cable of these affordable headphones is attached to one earcup. The cord terminates in a 3.5mm plug. A pouch accompanies the PX 100-II for easy portability.
The Sennheiser PX 100-II headphones make an effort to jazz up the audio of the original PX 100s with some bass helping. The bass rumbles here with energy. Even complicated tracks are handled well as bass is agile. The midrange clarity stands in spite of the bass boost. The highs have improved over the PX 100s. They have some sizzle to them now but it’s not enough to make them sound harsh.
- Enjoyable audio
- Airy foam earpads
- No inline mic or remote
Koss PortaPro headphones have been around since the 80s and they look the part. The classic design has a wicked tension adjustment system too. Koss has left the popular design as it is and it still sells like hot cakes. The audio quality is phenomenal at this price point. This is a freaky but worthwhile addition to the best headphones under 100 list for 2017.
Design and Features
The Koss PortaPro headphones are built to be extremely lightweight. The thingamabob above the earcups makes them look like a Star Wars prop. The headband is a plain metal strip. The earcups have bowl-shaped foam pads. Koss adds a ‘Comfort Zone’ feature that allows you to control ear piece tension using a slider.
The ear pieces of these budget headphones fold inwards and lock for easy portability. The cable is connected permanently to both sides. It ends in a 3.5mm plug. A carry case is included for convenience.
Koss PortaPro headphones perform unbelievably well for the price. The bass is head-trembling. Bass goes deep and supports the other frequencies beautifully. This is tight, clean bass that enhances the listening experience in any genre. The midrange is amazingly detailed. The vocals and guitar sound alive in the song. The highs are resolved and sparkly.
You need a quiet room to enjoy them because they are not noise isolating and they leak audio beyond moderate volumes.
- Impressive sound with great extension on both sides
- Deep, luscious bass and detailed midrange
- ‘Comfort Zone’ adjustment
- Noise leakage