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 wireless 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 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 makes them worth the price difference.
If you like the feature-packed experience the Mpow H10 provide but are looking for better-built headphones, consider the Anker SoundCore Life 2. Their ANC isn’t as good as that of the Mpow, but they leak less sound and feel like more durable headphones. They’re comfortable and have an exciting bass-rich sound that’s great for fans of hip-hop and pop music.
Although they don’t isolate much noise, they have relatively low leakage for over-ear headphones thanks to the great seal the earcups form around your ears. Unfortunately, this seal can be a little too good and tends to trap a lot of heat under the earcups. This can be bothersome even during casual listening sessions. If you don’t mind taking breaks every now and then to cool down your ears, they provide great value for their price and are a solid alternative to the Mpow. You can also consider the Anker SoundCore Space NC, which isolate a lot more noise but have a more dark, veiled sound.
If you’re looking for great open-sounding headphones for less than $100, get the Philips SHP9500. They don’t feel as premium as some of the higher-end critical listening headphones out there, but they’re very comfortable and are still fairly well-made 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 are 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 also sound great but have a bit more low-bass to satisfy fans of more bass-heavy genres due to their semi-open design. The Superlux feel very cheaply made, though, and they aren’t as comfortable as the Philips. Overall, these are 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, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x 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 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.