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The 6 Best Headphones under $100 - Fall 2018
Reviews

Best Headphones under $100
273 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 canceling.

So far, we've tested 98 headphones under $100 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy in 2018. 

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones under $100: Logitech G433

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.6
    Mixed Usage
    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:
    7.9
    Critical Listening
    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:
    5.7
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    5.9
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    6.2
    Office
    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:
    6.0
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    7.5
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested so far are the Logitech G433. They're a gaming headset with a casual design that you can use outdoors. They're decently comfortable, and they have an excellent sound quality that's surprisingly well-balanced for their price range. 

    They won't be as convenient as some of the wireless Bluetooth headphones on this list for day-to-day use, but they sound a lot better and come with both a boom mic for gaming and a regular audio cable to use with your phone. This makes them a versatile choice for both gamers and critical listeners.

    The HyperX Cloud Alpha and Cloud II have a better build quality and they're more comfortable than the G433 but they do not sound as well balanced and do not come with a customizable software or extra pads included in the box.

    See our review

  2. More Versatile Alternative: Skullcandy Hesh 3

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want a more versatile alternative to the Logitech G433 and you enjoy a bit of bass, we recommend the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They won't sound as well balanced as the Logitech and their build quality isn't as good as some of the other over-ears under a $100 like the HyperX Cloud Alpha, the Cloud II, and JBL E55BT.

    However, they deliver a powerful bass range that will satisfy any fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM, rap, and dubstep. They're also very lightweight, comfortable and easy to use with an incredibly fast charge time that delivers up to 19 hours of continuous playback. Overall, if you want a good wireless over-ear under $100, the Hesh 3 are a solid option and a definite improvement over the past Hesh headphones from Skullcandy.

    See our review

  3. Best On-Ear Headphones under $100: JBL E45BT

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.7
    Mixed Usage
    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:
    7.3
    Critical Listening
    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:
    6.5
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    6.6
    Office
    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:
    5.8
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    5.6
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want a more portable and breathable option than the Skullcandy Hesh 3 but are not a big fan of in-ears, get the JBL E45BT. They're not as comfortable for everyone as the over-ears on this list and they're slightly less durable than the Skullcandy Grind

    On the upside, they have a longer battery life than the Skullcandy, they're also a bit more portable since they have a collapsible design that will take less space in a bag. They're lightweight, comfortable, and deliver a decent sound quality that's balanced enough for most music genres.

    They do not have as many options as the Samsung Level On Wireless, which you can sometimes find on sale under a $100 but overall the JBL E45BT deliver a solid performance and are one of the best on-ears you can get at this price range.

    See our review

  4. More Comfortable Alternative: Skullcandy Grind

    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the compact size of on-ears but typically find them a bit too tight on the head or not very comfortable, then get the Skullcandy Grind instead of the JBL E45BT. They will not last as long as the JBL on a single charge. Their sound quality is also a bit less balanced although they do sound pretty decent for their price range.

    On the upside, they have a durable build quality and they're one of the most comfortable on-ear designs that we've tested so far, only beaten by the Bose SoundLink On-Ear which are a lot more expensive. They're also easy-to-use with a long battery life and regular audio cable so you can use them passively when the battery dies.

    See our review

  5. Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $100: Jaybird Freedom 2

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches: test

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.7
    Mixed Usage
    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:
    6.5
    Critical Listening
    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:
    7.2
    Commute/Travel
    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.
    Score components:
    7.8
    Sports/Fitness
    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.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Office
    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:
    5.4
    Home Theater
    Score components:
    5.1
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Balanced Armature

    If you like the super compact format of in-ears and earbuds and don't want to spend more than $100, then get the Jaybird Freedom 2. Their out of the box sound quality isn't as good as the over-ears and on-ear recommendations. Their relatively short battery life and cumbersome charging clip may also be an issue for some. In this case, you might want to consider the Jaybird X3 for the longer battery life or the X2 for their regular micro USB port, although they are a bit outdated.

    On the upside, the Freedom 2 have a slightly more comfortable earbud-like design that some will prefer over the original fit of the original Freedoms. You can also customize their sound profile with the MySound app and they are a lot more portable and better suited for sports than the Skullcandy Grind or the JBL E45BT.

    Unfortunately, they are slightly pricier than the regular Freedom F5 but deliver the same performance and experience overall, which may not be worth the additional cost for some. But on the upside, they have a stable wireless design, decent sound, and isolation and they're fairly comfortable, which makes them a good choice and a versatile option most use cases.

    See our review

  6. More Comfortable Alternative: Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you find typical in-ears a bit uncomfortable but still want an ultra-portable headphone under 100$, then get the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear. They're wired so they won't have the range of the wireless Jaybird Freedom. They're also not as well built as the 1More Triple Driver (which are an excellent alternative to the Bose).

    However, they have a slightly more comfortable earbud fit that most will prefer over the in-ears like the Jaybird and 1More. They also have a well-balanced sound that packs a lot of bass, and a good isolation performance that makes them suitable for commuting and the office. Overall, if you do not need any fancy features and just want a wired headset for most use cases, then the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are a good choice.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • JBL E55BT. An over-ear alternative to the JBL E45Bt with a slightly better performance overall but a higher price. See our review
  • JBL Endurance Sprint.  A sports headset with a decent enough performance for most use cases. a good alternative to the Freedom 2. See our review
  • Plantronics Backbeat Go. A budget and lightweight over-ear with a decent sound. Build quality feels a bit cheap and they do not outperform the Hesh 3. See our review
  • Cowin E7. Decent noise canceling but a mediocre sound quality and slightly confusing controls. See our review
  • Logitech G533. A wireless gaming headset with lots of customization options. A good substitute to the Logitech G433. See our review
  • Corsair Void RGB. A good alternative to the Logitech G433 if you're looking for a wireless gaming headset. See our review
  • HyperX Alpha. A wired gaming headset with a sturdy build quality and a mobile-friendly design. Also a good alternative to the Logitech G433. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH M40x. Good audio quality, straightforward, wired design. Slightly plasticky and a bit cumbersome to use as casual headphones. 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
  • Sony MDR-7506. Above-average audio quality and a decently comfortable design. Build quality feels a little plasticky and cheap. See our review
  • Jaybird X2. Good in-ears under $100 and an alternative to the Jaybird Freedom. A bit outdated and it doesn't have any app support. See our review
  • 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. Great build quality and good sound. A good alternative to the SoundTrue Ultra but their in-ear fit might not be as comfortable for some. 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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