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The 6 Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 - Spring 2019
Reviews

Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100
346 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
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Whether you’re in the market for gaming, critical listening, or more casual headphones, you’ve probably considered over-ear headphones. 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 163 over-ear headphones and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones under $100 in 2019. 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 wireless Bluetooth over-ear headphones, the best headphones under $100, and the best over-ear noise cancelling headphones.

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 For Casual Use: Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.5
    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:
    7.0
    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:
    6.4
    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:
    6.9
    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:
    6.6
    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:
    5.7
    TV
    Score components:
    5.5
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best Bluetooth over-ear headphones under $100 for casual use that we’ve tested so far are the Skullcandy Hesh 3. They have a lightweight design that’s fairly comfortable and easy-to-use. They’re more portable than most over-ears since they fold quite compactly, and are overall decent wireless headphones for most use cases.

    The Skullcandy Hesh 3 have an exciting, bass-heavy sound that’s well-suited for electronic music like dubstep. Their battery life is quite good, and they provide 19 hours of continuous playtime on a charge. They charge in about an hour, too, which is great. They also have an excellent wireless range, which means you shouldn’t have a problem if you leave your audio source in one spot and walk around a bit, though this largely depends on your Bluetooth source.

    Unfortunately, these headphones don’t have any power-saving features and don’t automatically turn off if you leave them on by accident. They may also sound excessively bass-heavy to some and don’t have an EQ for you to customize their sound with. All things considered, though, they’re a decent choice for those looking for satisfactory over-ear headphones at a fair price.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Mpow H5 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for even cheaper wireless over-ear headphones, get the Mpow H5. Their battery doesn’t last as long as that of the Skullcandy Hesh 3, but their build quality is actually better. They also have a few more features, like active noise cancelling (ANC) and multi-device pairing. They sound decent and they’re relatively comfortable.

    Unfortunately, their noise isolation performance is disappointing, especially for headphones with ANC. They isolate better than the Skullcandy, but not as well as the Cowin E7 Pro. That said, they’re more comfortable and better-built than the Cowin. The Mpow H5 provide great value for their price and are decent over-ear headphones all-around.

    See our review

  3. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 For Critical Listening: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.2
    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:
    7.6
    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:
    5.5
    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:
    5.8
    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:
    5.9
    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
    TV
    Score components:
    5.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you need well-balanced headphones under $100 for critical listening, get the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. They’re wired headphones, so you don’t need to worry about battery life or latency, which is important when in the studio. They’re fairly well-built and come with a regular and a coiled audio cable for added versatility.

    The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are comfortable headphones that sound very good. They have deep, yet well-balanced bass, an excellent flat mid-range, and very good treble. They’re well-suited for mixing audio, DJ monitoring, or just listening to your favorite tracks at home.

    Like many critical listening headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x have poor noise isolation. Since they’re closed-back, they isolate better than most open-back models, but they’re still not designed to be used in noisy environments. They also don’t have a microphone or any control options, so if you’re using them with your smartphone, you’ll have to take calls and control your audio on your phone directly.

    See our review

  4. Open-Back Alternative: Superlux HD 681

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer a more spacious sound and have access to a quiet listening room, get the Superlux HD 681. They don’t feel as durable as the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x, but they’re significantly cheaper and sound a bit better too. They have surprisingly accurate audio reproduction and a decent soundstage for budget headphones and are well-suited to critical listening of nearly all genres of music.

    Although these headphones come with a generous 8-foot audio cable, the headphones themselves feel cheaply made and plasticky. This is somewhat to be expected considering how little they cost, but there are similarly-priced headphones that have felt much better-built, like the Polk Audio Buckle. That said, the Superlux HD 681 are among the best-sounding headphones we’ve tested so far and are worth considering for critical listeners on a budget.

    See our review

  5. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 For Gaming: Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    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:
    5.8
    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:
    5.7
    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:
    6.7
    TV
    Score components:
    7.8
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re a PC or a PS4 gamer looking for good gaming over-ear headphones under $100, then get the Logitech G533. They’re comfortable, well-built gaming headphones that utilize a USB dongle to provide a low-latency wireless experience.

    The Logitech G533 are great-sounding over-ear headphones. They do a very good job at reproducing video game soundtracks and effects accurately, which is helpful especially if you enjoy multiplayer games. These headphones are compatible with the Logitech Gaming Software, 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 Logitech Gaming Software program.

    These headphones have an acceptable microphone, but its recording quality isn’t as good as that of some wired models, like the HyperX Cloud II. The G533 are also rather bulky and doesn’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 bulkier design.

    See our review

  6. Better-Built Alternative: HyperX Cloud 2/Cloud II

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

    If you prefer gaming headphones that have a sturdier build, get the HyperX Cloud II. They’re not wireless like the Logitech G533, but they’re much better-built and have a removable microphone for added versatility. They sound decent and have an outstanding microphone that captures speech clearly, even in the noisiest environments.

    Unfortunately, the HyperX Cloud II have disappointing treble performance which results in a sound that lacks a bit of detail. Their bass delivery is also prone to inconsistencies, especially among those who wear glasses, and they’re not compatible with software that would let you customize their sound profile either. However, they’re still good gaming headphones, thanks to their durable design and excellent microphone, and are worth considering if you prefer a wired headset.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • JBL E55BT Wireless: Comfortable, lightweight wireless over-ears that are decent for most use cases. Issues with bass consistency and poor noise isolation. See our review
  • Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless: Active noise cancelling wireless over-ears with very good isolation performance. Sound dark and cannot be customized. See our review
  • HyperX Cloud Alpha: Well-built, comfortable wired gaming over-ears that sound better than the Cloud II but have less gaming-specific controls. See our review
  • Cowin E7 Pro Wireless: Budget wireless over-ears with a great battery life and adequate noise isolation, but feel cheap and aren’t the most comfortable. See our review
  • Corsair HS50: Sturdy wired over-ear gaming headphones with a better microphone than the HS70, but still not as good as the HyperX Cloud II. See our review
  • Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 Wireless: Lightweight wireless over-ears that sound decent, but feel flimsy and have poor isolation performance. See our review
  • Polk Audio Buckle: Well-built wired over-ear headphones that have a premium look and feel but sound unremarkable. See our review
  • Corsair HS70 Wireless: Well-built gaming wireless gaming over-ears that sound great but have a mediocre microphone and can’t be used wired. See our review

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 wins 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.

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