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 315 pairs of over-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones with an over-ear design 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 with a wireless design that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. If you're looking for headphones for casual use, they deliver over 44 hours of continuous playback time and are equipped with an auto-off timer to conserve their battery life when you're not using them. They also have a lightweight, comfortable, and well-built design, which is good for long days on the go.
These over-ears have an adjustable active noise cancelling (ANC) system that can block out a fantastic amount of ambient noise. Using 'Transport' mode, they can cut down the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Out of the box, they have a v-shaped sound profile that delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom while vocals and lead instruments are bright. You can customize them to your liking using their graphic EQ plus presets.
Unfortunately, their integrated mic has sub-par noise handling. As a result, your voice may be drowned out by background sound if you're taking a call from a busy street. The headphones also leak audio at high volumes, which can disturb others around you. These wireless over-ears offer a lot of versatility, making them a solid choice whether you're at the office or on the go.
The Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless are the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones under $100 for work we've tested. Although their ANC doesn't block out as much overall ambient noise as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they still do an excellent job of cutting down coworker chit-chat. If you take a lot of conference calls, their controls also have a mic mute function, which is handy in long meetings if you don't want others to always hear you.
These comfortable over-ears have a decent leakage performance, so if you like to listen to audio at a high volume, others around you shouldn't hear it. They also support multi-device pairing, so you can connect your headphones to your PC and smartphone at the same time, and last over 22 hours continuously. You can customize their excited sound profile to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
Unfortunately, their mic has a disappointing recording quality, so your voice sounds thin and a little distorted. The mic also struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise, and it can be difficult to hear you clearly if you're talking in a noisy office. However, if you're looking for over-ears well-suited for office use, they're worth checking out.
The best over-ear audiophile headphones under $100 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. 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.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless are the best over-ear gaming headphones under $100 that we've tested. Thanks to their wireless dongle, they have low latency, which means that your audio and visuals stay in sync while gaming. The dongle also makes them compatible with PCs and PlayStation consoles, but if you're an Xbox gamer, you can only use them wired via their 1/8" TRRS cable.
Out of the box, these decently comfortable over-ears have a warm sound profile that adds extra boom to your gameplay, which can help emphasize sound effects like footsteps. Although they lack a thumpy low-bass, their companion software has a graphic EQ and presets to help you to adjust their sound. Their boom mic offers an alright overall performance, ensuring your voice sounds clear and easy to understand. They have over 25 hours of continuous battery life and have an auto-off timer.
Unfortunately, they're very prone to inconsistencies in bass and treble delivery. You may especially notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or wear glasses. The headphones also have a plasticky build, and the hinges don't feel especially solid. However, these gaming headphones offer solid overall performance at a wallet-friendly price point.
If you want headphones that can wirelessly connect to your Xbox console, try the Xbox Wireless Headset. While these headphones have a much more bass-heavy, muddy default sound profile than the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless; however, they support Xbox Wireless. They're also much more comfortable and stable. Their boom mic has an excellent recording quality, so your voice sounds natural and clear when you're gaming with friends, and it does a decent job of separating it from ambient sound. If you find their bass-heavy sound overwhelming, their app includes a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize it. They also support Bluetooth, so you can stream music or chat on your phone and hear game audio from your Xbox at the same time. Unfortunately, their latency over non-Βluetooth wireless is high, which may cause audio syncing issues when you're gaming.
Go for the SteelSeries if you want lower wireless latency or a more neutral default sound profile, but try the Xbox Wireless if you're looking for wireless headphones that are fully compatible with Xbox.
May 17, 2022: Moved the Razer Opus X Wireless to Notable Mentions and added the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless as 'Best Over-Ear Headphones For Work Under $100'. Removed the JBL E65BTNC Wireless and Corsair HS60 HAPTIC Stereo Gaming Headset from Notable Mentions.
Mar 30, 2022: Removed the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as they've been discontinued. Replaced the Mixcder E9 Wireless with the Razer Opus X Wireless as the Mixcder are hard to find in stock. The Razer also offer slightly more versatile performance.
Jan 25, 2022: Replaced the Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset with the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless as the 'Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $100 For Gaming' because the Logitech currently cost more than $100.
Nov 22, 2021: Replaced the ROCCAT Elo 7.1 Air Wireless with the Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset as the Logitech have lower non-Bluetooth wireless latency. Also replaced the SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 with the Xbox Wireless Headset as the Xbox headphones support Xbox Wireless technology, which some users may prefer.
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.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $100 with an over-ear design 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.