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 180 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 headphones under $100 for casual use that we've tested so far are the Mixcder E9. These decently well-built headphones are very comfortable, making them ideal for long listening sessions. With an over 18-hour battery life, you can also use them when you're on the go.
Thanks to their accurate, well-balanced sound profile, these headphones are ideal for a variety of music genres. There's even a bit of extra punch in the low-bass, which should please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They also have an active noise cancelling feature, though it doesn't block out background noise as well as some of the other headphones we've tested.
On the downside, these headphones have a mediocre microphone performance, so they may not be ideal for phone calls. Their build also feels a bit plasticky, though they have a more premium feel than some of the other models in this price range. That being said, these versatile headphones have a good price-to-performance ratio that ranks them among the best budget wireless headphones we've tested.
If you're looking for a pair of headphones under $100 with an impressive noise cancelling performance, consider the Mpow H10 instead. While their build quality feels a bit cheap compared to the Mixcder E9 Wireless, these headphones are still comfortable enough to be worn for long periods. Their ANC feature does a better job cancelling out background noise, making them ideal for use while commuting or in an office setting. They also have an excellent 23-hour battery life, so you won't have to worry about recharging your headphones every day. Overall, their sound profile is decently neutral and should be versatile enough for most music genres. On the downside, these headphones aren't as stable as some of the other models we've tested, and they would likely fall off your ears during light physical activity.
If you want a better-built, slightly better-sounding pair of headphones, go with the Mixcder, but if you want better noise cancelling and a longer battery life, choose the Mpow instead.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for audiophiles we've tested so far are the Philips SHP9500. They have an outstandingly well-balanced sound profile that rivals what some of the most premium audiophile headphones have to offer. They're also remarkably comfortable, with a lightweight design that's perfect for long listening sessions.
These wired headphones deliver exceptional audio fidelity at a very reasonable price. They reproduce instruments and vocals with great detail and clarity, without sounding overly sharp or harsh. They also provide a good amount of warmth and fullness and have an open, spacious soundstage. However, like most open-back headphones, they lack quite a bit of thump and rumble, so they won't be ideal for listening to EDM or hip-hop.
While the large, spacious ear cups of these headphones give your ears lots of comfortable breathing room, their padding is covered with a rather rough material. It's unlikely to be a dealbreaker for most people, but it doesn't feel as pleasant on the skin as the velour fabric that's more common on higher-end models. That said, they still provide the best value we've seen for audiophiles on a budget, and are very easy to recommend overall.
If you want a closed-back pair of headphones with great audio reproduction, consider the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 instead. While they aren't as comfortable as the Philips SHP9500, they have a stable fit that helps them stay securely on your head. Their well-balanced sound profile makes them versatile enough for a variety of music genres, and they have a deeper, punchier bass than the Philips. Thanks to their closed-back design and active noise cancelling feature, they also do a much better job cancelling out ambient noise. You can even use these headphones wirelessly, and with over 24 hours of battery life, they're ideal for listening when you're on the go. Unfortunately, because they're closed-back headphones, their soundstage won't sound nearly as spacious and natural as open-back headphones like the Philips, which may be disappointing to some critical listeners.
If you're looking for open-back headphones with a more natural-sounding soundstage, go with the Philips, but if you prefer a more versatile pair of closed-back headphones, go with the Plantronics.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for gaming that we've tested so far are the Logitech G533. These wireless gaming headphones are compatible with either your PC or PS4 and will let you game from the comfort of your couch without having to worry about a long cable dragging everywhere. They feel well-built, are comfortable, and provide good value for the price.
Out-of-the-box, they have a very well-balanced sound profile that lends itself well to all kinds of video game soundtracks and effects. Some people might find they lack a bit of bass by default, especially if you wear glasses, but this can be corrected with the graphic EQ in the Logitech G HUB software. You can also activate their surround sound effects, adjust mic and volume levels, and even customize their multifunction button. Their 17-hour battery life is great, and, while they take quite a while to charge, you can still use them while charging.
Unfortunately, these wireless gaming headphones don't have an audio jack, so they can't be used wired with a regular audio cable. This also means they aren't compatible with the Xbox One at all. Also, while their mic still sounds decent, it doesn't perform as well as wired models, such as the Logitech G433 Gaming Headset. That said, the G533 still provide great value for the price, especially considering the wireless freedom they deliver.
If you prefer the reliability of a wired headset, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition. These headphones aren't quite as customizable as the Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset, but you don't have to worry about battery life, console compatibility issues, or latency. It also has a better-performing microphone, though not quite as good as the more premium, and comfortable HyperX Cloud 2/Cloud II. The HyperX have unbalanced treble, however, and no sound customization options. The SteelSeries can be fine-tuned with the SteelSeries Engine software and are easier-to-use thanks to their simple in-line channel mixing dial.
Get the Logitech if you prefer a wireless design; however, if you prefer the simplicity of a wired headset that still has lots of features, you'll want to get the SteelSeries.
08/11/2020: Added the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as a 'DJ-Friendly Alternative'.
10/21/2019: Replaced Mpow H10 with Mixcder E9. Removed 'Better-Built Alternative'. Replaced 'More Customizable Alternative' with 'Alternative With Better Noise Cancelling'.
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 headphones reviews. 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.