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 200 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 we've tested so far are the Mixcder E9. These Bluetooth headphones are quite comfortable thanks to their well-padded ear cups and lightweight design. They feature easy-to-use physical buttons that offer great feedback and allow you to control your music without needing to take out your phone, and they last over 18 hours off a single charge.
These headphones' sound profile is quite well-balanced throughout the bass range and most of the mids, providing accurate bass that isn't overpowering or thumpy. Unfortunately, they do lack a fair amount of low-treble, which causes vocals and instruments to be distant and lacking in detail, making these headphones better suited for less vocal-centric genres and content. On the bright side, they feature an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that works quite well and does a good job of blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
Unfortunately, the low price of these headphones comes across in their build quality, and they have a plastic feel. That being said, they still look somewhat premium and higher-end than many other options at this price point. Overall, these are a decent option for a variety of uses, and their good ANC feature helps them rank among the best budget wireless headphones we've tested.
If you have a particularly noisy commute and need something with better noise cancelling, then get the Mpow H10. They feel quite a bit cheaper than the Mixcder E9 Wireless, and their controls aren't nearly as good, but their ANC is a lot better, and they have a more versatile sound profile. Fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop will enjoy the extra rumble and kick from these headphones, and they have emphasized treble that prevents the bass from being overpowering. Their ANC is surprisingly excellent, especially considering their low price point, and they'll give you peace during a noisy plane or bus ride. Unfortunately, they don't feel the most durable, and their hinges make a snapping sound when folding them flat. While this hasn't resulted in any damage with our test unit, it's somewhat concerning. If you want something that feels more durable, you may want to consider the Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless, which also have great ANC but are more expensive and have much more overpowering bass.
If you want something that looks and feels a bit more premium and durable, go with the Mixcder, but if you want the best noise cancelling you can get at this price-point, go with the Mpow.
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 prefer the versatility of a closed-back design, then get the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. They can't deliver the same open, spacious soundstage of the Philips SHP9500, but they isolate a lot more noise and leak much less sound. This makes them a better choice if you're looking for entry-level audiophile headphones at a decent price that you can use on-the-go. They also have a very well-balanced sound but pack quite a bit more bass, so they're more versatile for a wider range of music genres. They're also more portable since they can fold up into a more compact format, although they're not quite as comfortable.
Get the Philips if noise isolation or leakage isn't a concern, but if you need a closed-back design, you'll want to go for the Audio-Technica.
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for gaming that we've tested so far are the Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset. 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, these headphones 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. In addition, 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.
06/12/2020: Updated text for clarity and accuracy; no changes to product picks.
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 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.