We listen to a variety of different mediums in our everyday lives such as music, podcasts, videos, and more so having a solid set of headphones will make your life that little bit better, removing any audio glitches and cracks for a smooth experience. A good pair of headphones however aren’t the cheapest peripheral around, especially ones that produce stellar sound while also providing great overall comfort.
Luckily, if you do have a $100 budget, you can get that and then some with a number of options on the market that offer up a bunch of great features. Not only this but durability and comfort too, providing you with a listening experience that you’ll truly be happy with.
Without further ado, let’s get into the best headphones under $100.
In forming this best headphones under $100 roundup, we certainly had to whittle down a pretty extensive list of models to ensure that the top selections offer up the absolute best sound quality, features, amongst other aspects.
We hope that these reviews not only give you the definitive answer on which are the best headphones under 100 but also ones that appeal directly to you.
Best Headphones under $100 in 2021
90-degree ear cups
Aesthetics could be better
Audio-Technica is a brand that manufactures a wide array of sound-related products, as the company name alludes too, but some of their headphone lines are particularly stellar, especially in and around the $100 price bracket. The model we’ve opted for as our top selection is the ATH-M40x as it’s just under that all-important $100 budget yet still offers similar features and specs of more pricier options.
The drivers Audio-Technica have opted for here are of a 40mm nature which are certainly large enough to produce some high-quality sound as well as one that will satisfy your high volume needs. Moreover, in their construction, the drivers are made with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils which truly points to the premium build quality Audio-Technica puts into their products.
Not only is the sound quality excellent, these headphones are comfortable too. The circumaural design of the ear cups allows for not only isolated audio but extreme comfort, shaping around your ears. Additionally, thanks to the professional-grade ear pad and headband material, you should never really feel fatigued from wearing the ATH-M40xs for extended periods of time.
In terms of the actual design of these headphones, they’re not exactly mind-blowing but they’re sleek and stylish enough to get by. The ear cups are designed with a 90-degree rotation in mind which is a nice feature and one that many would be pleased about, especially those in the music industry.
Not as powerful as over the ear
The Jabra Elite Active 45e are the only in-ear headphones to make the cut on the best headphones under $100 which means they must be pretty special if they’re beating out other over the ear picks.
With in-ear headphones you know you’re getting a little more versatility over something like over the ear due to their much smaller form factor and removing the cumbersome feel. This makes them ideal for sporting activities or for those wanting a more subtler look. The Jabra Elite Active 45eare certainly that offering up a small rectangular design hooked together through a wire. But, this is where the wires end and they are in fact wireless thanks to the Bluetooth tech built-in. This is obviously a big plus for those wanting a bit of freedom from those cables that always seem to get tangled.
Looking at the audio quality, you’ll be receiving a rich and detailed sound thanks to the care and attention Jabra has put into crafting the headphones. Moreover, thank’s to their in-ear nature, they’re very good at noise isolation and keeping you immersed in whatever you’re listening to. If you want to fine-tune that sound further, there’s a handy accompanying app that you can use to customize all aspects of these headphones, making them perfectly tailored to your liking.
Finally, in terms of durability, you’d be hard pushed to break these headphones due to the sweat, dust, and waterproofing build. This is more than useful if you’re out and about while using them and almost essential if you’re using the Jabras for working out.
Stellar sound quality
Fell a little 'plasticy'
GRADO flies under the radar a little when searching for the best headphones around but they have seriously stellar choices that blow some of the competition out of the water. One such model is the SR80e which boasts top-tier sound quality and the looks to match.
The audio that comes out of these headphones is pretty astounding considering the cost, beating out options that are double the price and from the more named brands. They’re also open back which you might think would lead to inferior volume vs an ear cup but this is simply not the case and something that we’re sure you’ll agree with.
They have an ‘amp’ look about them when considering design which fits right into any audiophile’s idea of well-designed headphones, meaning they not only boast great audio quality, they look pretty fantastic too.
The only real drawback to these headphones is that they lack a little comfort in the headband department with no real cushioning. This means that you might experience a little bit of fatigue if you’re wearing for long periods of time but don’t get us wrong, they’re not uncomfortable and still offer some support.
A big, named brand
Might look a bit retro for some
If you weren’t satisfied with us not providing the ‘big named’ brands, here’s one for you; Sony. As we’re sure you’re aware, Sony produces high-quality products no matter what market they’re entering, and headphones are no different.
The headphones on show here that make the best headphones under $100 cut are the MDR7506. Now, these headphones are sporting that retro look which some might find off-putting but dont fret, the audio that comes out of these things is certainly not retro.
This model utilizes 40mm drivers for powerful, detailed sound with Neodymium magnets that provide performance exceeding the requirements of digital audio sources. They also sport a closed-ear design that allows for comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises, keeping that sound well and truly encased.
As you can see from the product image, these are a set of wired headphones giving you that reliability and removing any worries that you’ll lose connection. The wire itself is a little different than what you’d traditionally expect with its coiled nature. While this might look a little strange at first, there’s a bunch of benefits to a wire of this ilk such as providing more length while not getting tangled and in your way.
We’ve already mentioned that the aesthetics are a little retro but they also have a few features that more than enhance durability and portability. You can fold the MDR7506s up into a smaller package which is great for those traveling as well as being made with a rugged construction so you know that they’re not flimsy.
Things To Consider
When you’re looking at headphones to buy, many would typically overlook the driver size as they might think it doesn’t really matter. However, this is a particularly important spec to consider as it pretty much determines how powerful and clarity of your audio.
We’d recommend at least 40mm drivers in this $100 price bracket as these provide a solid overall listening experience and are similar to that of 50mm you typically see in more expensive headphones.
Wired vs Wireless
The wired vs wireless headphones debate has never been more heated at this current time due to the fact that Bluetooth technology has come so far, almost removing the argument that a wireless set of headphones is prone to disconnection. Moreover, the audio quality is pretty stellar too, making wireless options extremely attractive.
With all this being said though, there’s a reason why wired headphones are still around and still offer up the best overall reliability and probably the best listening experience as a whole.
It simply comes down to usage when considering wired vs wireless. If you’re using headphones for sport or just need to be wire-free for a purpose then this is the obvious route but if you can deal with the wires then we’d probably recommend it for both audio quality and ease of use.
So, when it comes down to what the best headphones under $100 are, we’d happily put forward the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x to take the crown. The sound quality coupled with the durability and comfort of these headphones is something that you’d think you would have to pay a premium for. While these aren’t exactly the most budget they’re definitely at a respectable price point and if you do choose to pick up the ATH-M40x we’re sure you will not be disappointed in all aspects of what makes the better headphones so great.
If you are looking for aa bit of a different selection though, maybe with more freedom and portability, the Jabra Elite Active 45e are a really excellent choice and one that is perfect for those wanting a durable, long-lasting pair of in-ear headphones that have resistance to the elements