Whether you’re in the market for gaming, critical listening, or more casual headphones, you’ve probably considered over-ears. Over-ear headphones, also known as around-ear headphones, have large ear cups that fit over and around the ears. They can be a little bulky when compared to in-ear or on-ear headphones, but over-ears are known for their comfort. They can get pretty expensive, with some models costing hundreds of dollars, but you don’t need to take out a small loan to get a decent pair. There are lots of options under $100 that are worth considering, even for more specialized needs.
We’ve tested over 180 over-ear headphones and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones under $100 in 2020. If you’re looking for our top picks for other over-ear headphones, check out our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out.
The best over-ears under $100 we've tested so far are the Mixcder E9. They have a pretty solid design that looks and feels surprisingly high-end compared to other wireless headphones we've seen in this price range - they even come with a nice hard carrying case. Their controls are simple and easy-to-use, and they're quite comfortable too.
These headphones have a pretty good active noise cancelling feature, which can be helpful if you work in a busy office or commute to work everyday. Their fairly well-balanced sound lends itself well to most genres of popular music, and they have also have solid 18-hour battery life, so you can enjoy your favorite tracks all-day long.
While fans of EDM and hip-hop will appreciate their punchy bass, they lack a bit of detail in the treble range, so they're not ideal for brighter genres like classical or even some rock music. Their noise cancelling also isn't quite as good as that of other headphones under $100 we've tested, like the Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless, but they provide better value for the price overall.
If you have a really noisy commute and are looking for something with impressive noise cancelling, check out the Mpow H10. They feel a lot more cheaply made than the Mixcder E9 Wireless, but their noise cancelling performance is significantly better here. Their battery also lasts even longer and they even have an auto-off feature to help further extend it. Their headband is quite large and may not fit smaller heads, but for those who are able to find a proper fit, they're quite comfortable.
Overall, the Mixcder have better build quality and fit, but if noise isolation is your top priority, then the Mpow are the way to go.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for critical listening that we’ve tested so far are the Philips SHP9500. They’re very comfortable open-back headphones that feel reasonably well-made, especially for their price. They come with a detachable cable and have a simple, utilitarian aesthetic that works well overall.
They have a well-balanced, neutral sound with good bass, a nearly flawless mid-range, and great treble. Some may find they sound a bit bright, but those who like classical, jazz, or rock music may prefer this. They have a spacious soundstage and are comfortable enough to wear for hours, which is great.
Although they're balanced enough for most music genres, fans of EDM or hip-hop may find them lacking in thump and rumble due to their open-back design. The Superlux HD 681 have a semi-open design which can create a bit more bass, but they feel very cheaply made and aren’t as comfortable as the Philips. Although these headphones don’t feel as premium as some of the higher-end audiophile headphones out there, they feel better-built than the Superlux and are overall very good critical listening headphones for their price.
If you're looking for something a bit more versatile with better isolation, consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. They don't have the same open sound as the Philips SHP9500, but since they're closed-back headphones, they’re better suited for studio recording, DJ monitoring, or even just listening to your favorite tracks at home. They’re fairly well-built and come with a regular and a coiled audio cable for added versatility. Their bass is a bit boomy, but they don't sound too muddy overall thanks to their great mid and treble accuracy.
Get the Philips if you prefer their open-back design, but if you prefer closed-back headphones that offer a similarly well-balanced sound profile, go with the Audio-Technica.
If you’re a PC or a PS4 gamer looking for the best over-ear headphones under $100 for gaming, then get the Logitech G533. They’re comfortable, well-built gaming headphones that utilize a USB dongle to provide a low-latency wireless experience.
These over-ears do very good job of reproducing video game soundtracks and effects accurately, which is important to a great gaming experience. These headphones are compatible with the Logitech G HUB, which provides numerous customizable features like an EQ, surround sound effects, and microphone settings. Their battery lasts for 17 hours of continuous playback and they have an auto-off timer that can be adjusted in the G HUB.
While a wireless design is great for gaming, it’s a bit disappointing they can’t be used wired. They have a decent microphone, but it doesn’t perform as well as that of the wired Logitech G433 Gaming Headset. They're also rather bulky and don’t feel like the sturdiest headphones. That said, they’re still a good choice for gamers who like to be able to customize their gaming headset and don’t mind a wireless-only design.
If you don’t like having to worry about battery life and prefer wired gaming headphones, consider the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition. They feel even more cheaply-made than the Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset, but they sound good, have a great boom microphone, and are highly customizable when paired with the SteelSeries Engine on PC. They come with a USB adapter that has a channel mixing dial for PC and PS4 gaming and a 1/8” audio jack for the Xbox One or your mobile devices.
Get the Logitech if you like to game wire-free, but if you prefer the reliability of a wired headset, go with the SteelSeries.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best over-ear headphones under $100 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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 of over-ear 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.
02/14/2020: Text updated for accuracy, no changes in picks.
10/21/2019: Replaced Mpow H10 with Mixcder E9. Removed 'Better-Built Alternative'. Replaced 'More Customizable Alternative' with 'Alternative With Better Noise Cancelling'