If you prefer the comfort, ease-of-use, and sound quality of over-ear headphones, you surely know how challenging it can be to find the best bang for your buck. There are tons of options out there, but how do they stack up? It depends on what you're looking for - some models are more versatile with noise cancelling and Bluetooth for added convenience while commuting. However, gamers will want something with lower latency, and audiophiles will focus most on sound quality and comfort. Fortunately, there's something for everyone, even under $100.
We’ve tested over 285 pairs of over-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones under $100. 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-ear wireless headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. These lightweight Bluetooth headphones have a comfortable fit and a good build quality. Their ANC system blocks out an incredible amount of background noise, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
They support multi-device pairing, which is a bit unusual for headphones at this price, and they have a continuous battery life of roughly 44 hours, so you shouldn't need to recharge them every day. You can even use them to listen to audio passively if the battery dies. Their bass-heavy sound profile brings some extra thump and rumble to mixes, which fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop may like, but it can also be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app.
Unfortunately, their mic's recording quality is just okay and has a sub-par noise handling performance, so they may not be ideal for phone calls, especially outside quiet environments. They also leak quite a bit of sound, so if you listen to your music at a high volume, it may bother people nearby. That said, they offer a good range of features, great app support, and outstanding noise isolation. They're even among the best noise cancelling headphones that we've tested.
If you're looking for over-ear headphones with a better leakage performance, you may prefer the Mixcder E9 Wireless. Their ANC feature doesn't perform as well as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless' and they have a shorter continuous battery life, but they leak less audio, so they may be a better choice if you like to listen to music in a shared space like an office. They're also more comfortable, stable, and deliver sound more consistently. Their ANC isn't as effective overall as the Anker's, but it still blocks out a good amount of bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines. While they don't have a companion app, they have a well-balanced sound profile with a much more accurate bass response, which some may prefer. Overall, these are among the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones under $100 that we've tested.
If you want headphones with longer continuous battery life or a more effective ANC feature, go for the Anker, but consider the Mixcder if you're looking for over-ears that leak less sound.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for audiophiles we've tested are the Philips SHP9500. They offer a well-balanced, and very neutral listening experience similar to that of more expensive alternatives, with an expansive passive soundstage that should allow you to immerse yourself in your music. They're also comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time, with a lightweight design, spacious ear cups, and generous amounts of padding.
While they have a somewhat underemphasized low-bass response that robs some EDM and hip-hop tracks of thump and rumble, the majority of their sound profile is very well-balanced, with clear, detailed vocals and lead instruments as well as bright, present sibilants. They're decently well-built for the price, with a mostly dense plastic construction and detachable, replaceable audio cable.
Unfortunately, they leak quite a bit of audio, even by the standards of other open-back headphones. The fabric used to line their headband and ear cups also feels somewhat thin and fragile and could tear or show obvious signs of wear following prolonged use. Still, considering their expansive passive soundstage and well-balanced sound profile, these are a great choice for audiophiles on a relatively tight budget.
If you're looking for closed-back headphones with a very neutral sound profile, you may prefer the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. Their passive soundstage isn't as spacious or immersive as the Philips SHP9500, but their closed-back design helps them to leak less sound. They also have an ANC feature that does an okay job of isolating you from sounds like background conversation. Their default sound profile is well-balanced and neutral, so it's suitable for a variety of content and genres, and they do a better job than the Philips of reproducing low-bass. Their battery provides roughly 24.5 hours of continuous use, so they should easily last through your commute and 9-5 workday. Unfortunately, they aren't as comfortable as the Philips, and some users have reported that their headphones' headband cracked or broke with use.
If you prefer open-back headphones that can create a more natural-seeming and immersive soundstage but consider the Plantronics instead if you want closed-back headphones that are a bit more versatile.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for gaming that we've tested are the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless. These wireless gaming headphones come with a USB-A dongle that allows for low-latency transmission audio, so you shouldn't miss a crucial audio cue while you're gaming. They also supply roughly 16 hours of playback time on a single charge, which should be enough for a couple of long gaming sessions, and have an auto-off timer to help conserve the charge when not in use.
They have default a well-balanced sound profile, so sound effects in action-heavy games shouldn't overwhelm dialogue or music. If you aren't a fan of the way they sound out-of-the-box, you can choose between a couple of EQ presets or fine-tune their audio reproduction via a graphic EQ in their Roccat Swarm companion software, which also features configuration options for their boom mic, including voice modification and voice clarity. That said, their boom mic does a good job of making your voice sound full-bodied, detailed, and mostly clear of background noise without any adjustment.
Unfortunately, they do a poor job of blocking out background noise, which could be annoying if you're gaming in a noisy environment. Their audio reproduction is also highly sensitive to their fit, seal, and positioning on your head, and their adjustable headband can loosen very easily. Otherwise, their low wireless latency and wide range of configuration features help make them one of the best wireless gaming headsets that we've tested.
If you're looking for a wired gaming headset, try the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition instead. They aren't as well-built as the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless, but thanks to their wired design, you can use them to game with no latency. Their boom mic has a good recording quality and does an excellent job of separating your voice from ambient sound, so your teammates should be able to hear you clearly, even if you're gaming in a noisy setting. They have a well-balanced sound profile with some extra boom that can bring out sound effects in games, but if you prefer a different sound, it can also be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app, which also offers a few other useful features like mic volume adjustment.
If you prefer wireless headphones or want the sturdier option, go for the ROCCAT, but consider the SteelSeries instead if you prefer a latency-free wired connection or prefer not to worry about battery life.
Sep 23, 2021: Checked picks to makes sure they still represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to picks.
Jul 28, 2021: Checked picks to ensure that the best products are being recommended and that they're in stock.
May 31, 2021: Renamed 'DJ-Friendly Alternative' to 'Closed-Back Alternative'. Verified the text for accuracy and product availability.
Apr 06, 2021: Replaced Mixcder E9 Wireless with Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless as 'Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 For Casual Use'. Replaced Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with Mixcder E9 Wireless as alternative to the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. Replaced Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset with ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless. Added Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless, Corsair HS60 HAPTIC Stereo Gaming Headset, and Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset to Notable Mentions.
Feb 05, 2021: Removed the Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless and the HyperX Cloud 2/Cloud II from Notable Mentions as the Anker isn't available and the HyperX is only available above our $100 price point. Added the Corsair HS70 Wireless, the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless, and the JBL E65BTNC Wireless to Notable Mentions.
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.