Not everyone can or wants to spend a lot of money on headphones, but $100 or less can get you a lot if you know where to look. We’ve reviewed hundreds of headphones under $100, including wired, wireless, over-ear, and earbuds to find the best ones for every need. We think the Jabra Move Wireless headphones are among the best overall, but if that’s not what you’re looking for, we have recommendations in every style.
Best wireless headphones under $100
Who these are for: If you’re looking for traditional over-ear wireless Bluetooth headphones and want good sound for the least amount of money.
Why we like it: The Jabra Move Wireless headphones perform well at all the basic functions you need, for a modest price. They sound about 75 percent as good as Bluetooth headphones that cost four times as much, and the mic is clear for when you make phone calls, too. The controls are easily accessible and understandable, and the earpads, padded headband, and pivoting earcups make the fit comfortable for most people. Plus, the battery’s eight-plus hours of talk/listen time (we measured 15 hours) and 12 days of standby time mean you’ll get a full day’s listening before needing to charge.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The cable included with the Move lacks a remote and microphone, so you won’t be able to make calls when the battery dies. Additionally, the sound via the cable is a little brighter than via Bluetooth. We’d prefer that the Move fold for storage and have replaceable earpads, too.
Battery life: Eight hours (claimed, though we got 15 in our testing)
Warranty: One year
For more info, see our full review of the best wireless headphones.
Best wireless earbuds under $100
Who this is for: These are great if you want wireless noise-cancelling earbuds for travel or commuting, with solid basic features, but don’t want to break the bank paying for features you don’t need.
Why we like it: They have balanced sound quality, multiple integrated microphones that ensure clear phone calls, and a fit that is lightweight and comfortable. The active noise cancelling isn’t the absolute best, but it is better than average. The BT 100 NC headphones have a decent battery life (7½ to 12 hours, depending on use) but will function while charging—a feature that can be very useful for long workdays or flights. They’re mildly water and sweat resistant, so if you get caught in a storm or sweat on a hot day, you don’t need to worry about them shorting out. However, the collar will likely get in the way of vigorous workouts, so if you need earbuds for hitting the gym or taking a jog, check out our guide to the best wireless exercise headphones.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The volume controls on the BT 100 NC model are independent of your phone’s, so you’ll want to put your phone’s volume up to max before tucking it in a pocket—otherwise the headphones may sound too quiet even if you turn them up all the way. We’d prefer a longer battery life with active noise cancelling enabled (7½ hours barely meets our minimum requirements). And the collar, though lightweight and unobtrusive, does feel a bit plasticky, and it doesn’t fold to fit in your pocket.
Battery life: Seven and a half hours
Protected against: Splash of water (IPX4)
Connections: Bluetooth 3.5 mm cable
For more info, see our full guide to the best wireless earbuds.
Best wired headphones under $100
Who this is for: Great for any listener (or for musicians, podcasters, or recording enthusiasts) who wants a very accurate set of headphones. They’re affordable and put your hard-earned cash toward great sound quality rather than extras like Bluetooth or noise cancelling.
Why we like it: The MDR-7506 headphones have been a recording-studio and live-audio mainstay since being introduced in 1991. Not only do they provide a neutral sound across all frequency ranges, but they also give you a better sense of space and dynamics in your music than many options twice the price. They’re durable, comfortable, and reliable, and a great value at under $100.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Although the long, coiled cable is practical for studio use, you can’t swap it out for a standard shorter cord with a remote and a mic for mobile-device use. You also won’t be accused of being a trendsetter in the MDR-7506 headphones, as they’re professional-looking, not stylish. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, check out the rest of the picks in our The Best Headphones Under $200 guide.
Cable style: Coiled (9.8 feet) with 3.5 mm and removable ¼-inch adapter
Warranty: 90 days
For more info, see our full guide to the best wired headphones under $200.
Best wired earbuds under $100
Who this is for: Wired earbuds are for folks who want the best sound quality for their money, because with these what you spend goes toward the audio rather than the cost of Bluetooth or other added features.
Why we like it: The Marshall Mode earbuds can handle any style of music brilliantly. The bass is slightly boosted, but there is no boomy or blurry quality, even on already bass-forward songs. The highs are clear yet don’t have the piercing intensity that too many earbuds in this category do. All of our panelists were able to get a seal and comfortable fit. The single-button universal remote answers calls; plays, pauses, and skips tracks; and activates voice commands. An added feature: The microphone is separate from the remote and sits up higher on the cable, closer to your mouth, making your voice clearer on calls.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: A single-button remote means no volume controls. And though the remote will handle play/pause, voice commands, and tracks on most devices, some Android users might find the track-skipping won’t work as consistently. Unfortunately, because of the varying OS coding on Android phones, this is a common issue with universal remotes. And though the overall balance of the Mode earbuds is quite good, the highs can occasionally sound slightly coarse when compared with headphones in the $200+ range.
Remote: Single-button universal
Warranty: One year
For more info, see our full guide to the best earbuds.
Best kids headphones under $100
Who this is for: Kids headphones are sized for smaller noggins, but more important, they include volume-limiting features to protect kids from hearing damage even if the kids themselves aren’t ready to self-regulate volume on their own—a crucial tool to pair with their computer or tablet.
Why we like it: When used properly, the Puro BT2200 headphones remain within safe listening levels, but they also were the hands-down favorite of all our kid testers, which means your little ones will be more likely to use them. The BT2200 will fit kids from 2½ to 11 years old comfortably (they even fit our grown-up headphone expert, Lauren Dragan) so you can buy these headphones early and they’ll grow with your child. Plus, they are sturdy enough that with proper care they should last a long time, too. While a lot of other kids headphones are made of cheap breakable plastic, the BT2200 headphones have a well-constructed aluminum frame and a 30-day money-back guarantee with a one-year warranty.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: When using the headphones wired, the included cord must be plugged in the correct direction or else the volume reduction will not work. The cable design is the biggest concern for us, so we recommend keeping an eye on your child when the cable—rather than Bluetooth—is in use. That said, with the headphones’ 18-plus hours of battery life, listening corded is primarily a backup plan. The only other flaw we found with the Puro BT2200 was the inability to change tracks using the headphones themselves. Also worth mentioning, not as a flaw so much as an observation: If you’re hoping to use these headphones on long car trips, and you have a narrow car seat with thickly padded headrest sides (like the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70), most of the headphones we tested—including the Puro BT2200—will not fit in between the car-seat’s side crash supports.
Battery life: 18 hours
Warranty: One year with 30 day money-back guarantee
Connections: Bluetooth and 3.5 mm cord
Learn more about safe listening and other picks for kids in our guide to the best kids headphones.
Best workout headphones under $100
Who this is for: If you need an affordable set of headphones with great battery life, the Jaybird X3 is the way to go.
Why we like it: With a unique charging system that has no battery door, plus an extra-thick connector cord between the earbuds, the X3 is made to take a beating. This set comes with a wide variety of both silicone and memory-foam tips, as well as stabilizing wings to customize your fit. Plus, you can wear the X3 with the cable threaded over your ear or hanging down, further adapting it to your personal preferences. Once in place, the X3 will stay put through high-impact workouts. The remote is slim and light, and designed with easy-to-reach and intuitive controls, so it won’t bang annoyingly against your head, yet you can still adjust your music or take calls easily without looking. In our tests, the sound quality was very good, with a slight sibilance to consonants and a little extra bass but otherwise very smooth.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The unique charging system that prevents water from getting inside the battery requires a special adapter that’s really small and easy to lose or to forget at home. Yes, you can get a replacement along with a bunch of new silicone wings and tips on the Jaybird website, but it can be a nuisance if you’re forgetful. Additionally, all of those wings and tips and ways to wear the X3 create a bit of a learning curve. Jaybird has helpful videos to assist you in the setup process, but you should give yourself a few workouts to find your best combination. It can be a little frustrating at first, but once you find the right configuration, you won’t need to mess with it again, and the earbuds will stay firmly in place. For folks who have shorted out their workout headphones through sweat in the past, the X3 is worth the extra effort.
Battery life: Approximately eight hours
Protected against: Sweat and splashes of water
For more info, see our full guide to the best wireless workout headphones.
Best noise-cancelling headphones under $100
Who this is for: If you spend a lot of time in environments with low-frequency, steady sounds like motor hums or plane-engine noise, and want the best noise cancelling you can get for under $100, these are for you.
Why we like it: The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b headphones are no match for our top noise-cancelling picks in terms of sound or noise cancellation. However, they are significantly cheaper and offer a pretty good listening experience. They’re a great mix of good price, active noise-cancelling performance, and sound quality.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The ATH-ANC7b headphones offer a lot more noise cancellation than competition that costs more, but the noise cancelling is far less effective than our top picks’. Because these cost less, we consider that an equal trade-off. In terms of sound quality, the bass on these headphones is a somewhat boomy but the treble is decently clear. Overall, for what they cost, what you get in the ATH-ANC7b headphones is pretty fantastic.
Battery life: 40 hours (claimed)
Connection type: 3.5 mm corded
For more info, see our full guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Best wireless earbuds under $50
Who this is for: Sometimes you just need a pair of inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds that get the job done.
Why we like it: The Ink’d Bluetooth earbuds sound decent, with lots of bass, and they’re comfortable for long-term wearing. The necklace/halo feels flimsy, but it’s lightweight and comfortable, and it’s flexible enough to coil for storage.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you have bigger ear canals, you may not get a full seal with the included tips. Strangely, Skullcandy includes only medium and small tips, and purchasing third-party tips adds extra cost. Plus, the sound of the Ink’d Bluetooth is less balanced than we’d like. The boosted bass can blur the lower-mid guitar range, and the mildly coarse-sounding high-frequency range can make strings sound a little tinny. Lastly, if you are making numerous phone calls, you’ll need to pay attention to the placement of the mic; your voice can sound a bit muffled if your shirt or jacket gets in the way.
Battery life: Eight hours
Warranty: Two years
For more info, see our full guide to the best wireless earbuds under $50.
Best wired earbuds under $50
Who this is for: If you need a backup pair of headphones that handles the essentials, or earbuds you won’t cry over if you lose them, budget wired earbuds get the job done for as little cash as possible.
Why we like it: The AKG Y20U earbuds sound better than Apple EarPods, fit a broad range of ear shapes and cost only around $30. They have more depth to their sound than anything we tested in this category, with pleasantly boosted lows that don’t muddy the mids or overpower the highs. You won’t lose detail in the vocals or strings, but that’s because the highs are somewhat elevated, too. That said, the Y20U earbuds’ highs aren’t sizzling, sibilant, or piercing.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: If you have an older device with lower power output or you like listening to music extremely loudly, you may not get the volume level you desire, as the Y20U earbuds aren’t the most sensitive. Additionally, we’d prefer a three-button remote, but we weren’t willing to sacrifice comfort or sound quality to get it.
Warranty: One year
Remote: Single-button universal
For more info, see our full guide to the best wired earbuds under $50.
Best workout headphones under $50
Who this is for: This style of earbud is for people who are going to work up a sweat but want to keep their spending to a minimum.
Why we like it: If you’re a casual gym-goer, the Aukey Latitude EP-B40 is the best budget option. These were the only sub-$50 sport earbuds we tested that fit comfortably and sounded pretty good while still being able to endure workout conditions. The silicone wings and tips keep the earbuds stable in your ears, and the IPX4 rating means the headphones won’t short out when faced with a little sweat. The eight-plus hours of battery life will last you through more than a week of hour-long workouts before you have to recharge, and magnets in the earbuds allow you to clip them around your neck when you aren’t listening. Additionally, Aukey’s two-year warranty protects you against manufacturing defects. Most wired workout headphones cost less than $50, but we think a wireless option like this is generally better for exercising.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Latitude EP-B40 headphones aren’t nearly as durable against moisture as our top wireless exercise picks, and the long cable can bounce annoyingly when you jog and tug a bit as you turn your head.
Battery life: Eight hours
Protected against: Splash of water (IPX4)
Care and maintenance
Taking good care of any headphones will keep them working better and longer. And if you’re on a budget, this can mean big savings in the long term. In our blog post on how to clean earbuds and headphones, we recommend wiping down headphones’ earpads and tips regularly with a mixture of soap and warm water on a lightly damp cloth. If your headphones are powered, make sure they’re off and disconnected before doing this.
Before borrowing or lending a pair of headphones, always make sure to give them a quick wipe-down. The same goes for right after a workout or on a particularly humid or rainy day, because even water- and sweat-resistant headphones shouldn’t be exposed to moisture for too long. And wireless headphones should always be completely dry before charging.
In addition to keeping the outer surfaces clean and dry, remember that the insides of earbuds collect earwax, skin cells, sebum, and other oils, which can affect sound quality. We recommend getting a small, soft brush and cleaning tool to make sure your earbuds are always free of debris.
Keep your headphones away from very cold or very hot—and especially humid—environments. Store them in the bag or case that they came in to protect them from getting dirty or damaged in your bag. If your headphones didn’t come with a bag or case, or if you don’t like the one you have, we recommend getting this one.
Always unplug your wired headphones by grasping the plug on the end and gently but firmly pulling it out, rather than yanking on the cable. If you have sealed earbuds, twist to remove them from your ears rather than pulling them out by the wires—doing so protects both your earbuds and you, as creating a vacuum between the two can be damaging to your ears.
Avoid kinking or bunching your headphone cables by using a Velcro fastener or a plain-old twist tie to keep them wrapped up in a loop. Wrapping the cable around your device while your earbuds are plugged in, or storing them in a messy tangle, is a surefire way to shorten their life expectancy.
Lastly, if you have powered headphones, make sure the rubber door on the charge port and/or battery compartment is sealed during storage. If you’re unable to keep the ports covered, we recommend cleaning them out regularly with a cotton swab to keep them free of dust and moisture.
Wrapping it up
Many good headphones and earbuds cost $100 or less, and we think the Jabra Move Wireless is the best pair you can get on a budget. If you can afford to spend a little more, check out our guide to the best headphones, which gives an overview of the models we like for a broader range of prices.
Read the original article on The Best Headphones Under $100.