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 188 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 and the best headphones under $100.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 that we’ve tested so far are the Mpow H10. They’re comfortable active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones that are fairly easy to use and provide pretty good value overall. They’re a decent choice for commuters looking for travel headphones that won’t break the bank.
They have pretty good audio reproduction for budget headphones and are suitable for a variety of music genres. They isolate a reasonable amount of noise across the board and can help reduce the deep thump and rumble of bus engines along with the chatter of a lively office. They also have a great 23-hour battery life and can be used while charging or passively with their provided audio cable.
On the downside, they leak quite a bit of sound, so they won’t be ideal for use in quiet environments where you could disturb others. They also have a plasticky build that feels rather flimsy. The Mpow H5 Wireless are less expensive but feel better-built, especially for the price. That said, the H10 are one of the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones under $100 we've reviewed and their well-rounded sound and ANC feature make them worth the price difference.
If you’re looking for well-rounded over-ear headphones for casual use but prefer something that feels a little better-built, then get the Anker SoundCore Life 2. They don’t isolate noise as well as the Mpow H10 Wireless, but they leak much less sound and have a better build quality. They have an exciting, bass-rich sound profile that’s well-suited to most popular genres of music, and they have a great 28-hour battery life.
Although they have plush, comfortable ear cup padding, their headband is quite large. Even when set at the smallest setting, the headphones are still too large for those with smaller heads. These headphones, like the Mpow, also aren’t compatible with a companion app which would let you customize the way they sound. That said, if you aren’t concerned about them fitting too loosely and don’t need any customization options, these are decent mixed-usage headphones. You can also consider the Anker SoundCore Space NC, which isolate a lot more noise but have a more dark, veiled sound.
If you prefer being able to customize the way your headphones sound but are trying to stay under $100, then get the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Wireless. They’re not as comfortable as the Mpow H10 and their control scheme is a bit more difficult to use, but you can customize the way they sound with the Sennheiser Captune app, which features a great parametric EQ. They also have a great 29-hour battery life and don’t leak as much noise as the Mpow.
Although you can technically use the Captune app with any pair of headphones, or even Bluetooth speakers, the EQ settings will only remain active while the app is in use. The advantage of these headphones is that once you EQ them with the app, you can benefit from your personal sound signature no matter what device you’re listening to. They may not be the most comfortable over-ears we’ve tested, but their customizability at this price point makes them worth considering.
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 the SHP9500 don’t feel as premium as some of the higher-end critical listening headphones out there, they feel better-built than the Superlux and are overall very good critical listening headphones for their price.
If you prefer closed-back headphones for your critical listening needs, consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. They’re comfortable studio headphones that sound very good with 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. They’re fairly well-built and come with a regular and a coiled audio cable for added versatility.
Like most critical listening headphones, these have poor noise isolation. Their closed-back design isolates 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.
If you’re a PC or a PS4 gamer looking for good 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 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 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. They are 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’re well-rounded gaming headphones that sound very 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 use with your mobile devices.
While they feel fairly well-made for the price, they don’t have the same build quality as other models in the Arctis lineup, like the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless. If you’re looking for better-built wired gaming headphones, the HyperX Cloud II are worth checking out – they feel much more durable and are among the most comfortable gaming headphones we’ve tested so far. The Arctis have a more balanced sound, though, and perform slightly better overall.
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.