There are plenty of good options if you want an entry-level pair of headphones that delivers 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. Below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $100 we have tested so far.
Best Over-Ear Headphones under $100
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.
If you want a more versatile alternative to the Philips SHP9500, then get the Skullcandy Hesh 2. They’re less comfortable than the Philips, but they’re wireless and closed-back, so you can use them for commuting or as your everyday headphones. They have a good battery life, are not too leaky, and they also come in a variety of color schemes to best suit your style and preferences.
The Bluedio T4 would be a good alternative to the Hesh 2 but their incredibly high latency makes them a bit less versatile, especially if you're going to be watching a lot of videos.
Best On-Ear Headphones under $100
If you want a more compact format, we recommend the Marshall Major II. They have a decently comfortable on-ear fit and they’re stable enough to run with. Their build quality feels a bit weak and they don’t isolate well against ambient noise. However, they are sufficiently portable to fit into most bags, they sound decently well balanced and do not leak much even at higher volumes.
Alternative for Critical Listening
If you want an on-ear headphone strictly for critical listening, then the Grado SR80e are a better option than the Marshall Major II. They're a bit more expensive than the Marshall and they're also less practical for everyday casual use but they have a comfortable on-ear fit and an open design that delivers a good and open 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.
Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $100
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.
- Sennheiser HD 518. Great audio quality, a good substitute for the Phillips SHP9500 but a bit less comfortable. See our review
- Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 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
- Audio-Technica ATH-M40X. 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
- Bludio T4. Feature packed and versatile headphones at an affordable cost. Incredibly high latency makes them unusable for videos when wireless. 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
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.