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    Table of Contents
  1. Intro
  2. Best Over-Ear
    1. Alternative
  3. Best On-Ear
    1. Alternative
  4. Best Earbuds
  5. All Reviews
  6. Q&A
Updated

Best Headphones under $100 - Fall 2017
Reviews

There are plenty of good options if you want an entry-level pair of headphones that deliver an above-average listening experience. The headphones in this list may not be the most comfortable or well rounded, but they offer a satisfactory sound quality and additional features like wireless Bluetooth and active noise cancelling.

So far, we've tested 25 headphones under $100 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy today. 

Best Over-Ear Headphones under $100

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
5.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
8.0Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
4.9Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
5.2Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
5.2Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The best over-ear headphones under $100 we've tested are the Philips SHP9500, especially if you care about sound quality. They sound as good as much pricier headphones and have an above average build quality that’s not typically found on open headphones at this price. They’re comfortable and have an open and wide soundstage, which makes them particularly good for critical listening but not for other use cases. 

See our review

More Versatile Alternative

If you want a more versatile alternative to the Philips SHP9500, then we recommend the Cowin E7. They’re decently comfortable, wireless, noise canceling and don't leak much so you can use them on the bus or at the office. Unfortunately, they don't have the best sound quality as they are overly bass-heavy and dark. However, they have a good battery and a great wireless range.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $100

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.7Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.2Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.3Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
6.8Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
6.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

If you prefer the compact size of on-ears but don't typically find them comfortable, then consider the Skullcandy Grind. They're surprisingly well-padded and don't put as much pressure on your ears like other similarly designed models. They're also decently versatile and well made for their price range.

Sadly, they don't fold so they're not as portable as other on-ears, and they won't be the best to use in loud, noisy environments, but their build and sound quality are easy to recommend if you're looking for a well-rounded pair of headphones to use on a daily basis. 

See our review

Alternative for Critical Listening

If you want an on-ear headphone strictly for critical listening, then we recommend the Grado SR80e. They're a bit more expensive than the SkullCandy Grind and they're also less practical for everyday casual use but they have an open design that delivers a good and spacious audio reproduction.

They have the same design and overall performance as the Grado SR60e but sound a bit better, which may be worth the additional $20 price difference depending on how much you value sound quality.

See our review

Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $100

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.2Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.1Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.1Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.4Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.1Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:

The best in-ear headphones under $100 we have tested are the 1More Triple Driver. They excel with their well-balanced sound quality that's easily on par with much pricier headphones. They’re lightweight, portable and their in-ear fit should be sufficiently stable for jogging. They also come with a wide variety of tips to help you find a more comfortable fit. 

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sennheiser Momentum In-ear. Lightweight, and sturdy in-ear design. Poor isolation and mediocre sound quality. See our review
  • Sony MDR-7506. Good audio quality and a decently comfortable design. Build quality feels a little plasticky and cheap. See our review
  • Shure SRH 440. Well-balanced sound. Does not isolate well in loud environments and can be a little leaky at high volumes. See our review
  • Grado SR60e. An earlier variation of the Grado SR80e. Performs almost the same but slightly worse sound. See our review
  • Bose SoundTrue Around -Ear. Great audio quality, straightforward, wired and super comfortable design. A bit leaky at high volumes and slightly plasticky. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $100 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones under $100. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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