When it comes to a pair of headphones that won’t break the bank but don’t skimp on sound quality either, your options are surprisingly vast. While our top recommendation would have to be the 1More Triple Driver in-ear Headphones, we’re not going to stop there.
We’ve narrowed down our favorite picks to six choices, and included a variety of different models. Whether you’re looking for wireless or wired earbuds, here are our top recommendations.
At a glance
- Best headphones under $100: 1More Triple Driver
- Best headphones under $100 for bass: Beats Powerbeats3
- Best wireless headphones under $100: Status BTOne
- Best true wireless earbuds under $100: 1More Stylish
- Best headphones under $100 for gaming: Turtle Beach Recon 200
- Best headphones under $100 for audio mixing: Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Why you should buy them: They offer outrageously good performance for the money in a small and stylish package.
Who they’re for: The serious listener who wants incredible sound in a hyper-portable package.
Why we picked the 1More Triple Driver:
Chinese company 1More’s Triple Driver earbuds manage to deliver all the features of a high-end set of in-ear headphones at an affordable price, and in a package that looks and feels premium. Frankly, they make other headphones seem outrageously overpriced.
The Triple Drivers deliver clear, quality high frequencies, with 1More claiming a 40kHz maximum range on these puppies, as well as balanced-yet-weighty bass that is comfortably present, and never overwhelms the rest of the mix. That also lets you enjoy the sweet performance of the midrange and treble drivers above for a one-two-three punch of excellent sound.
The build quality is another noteworthy aspect of these headphones. The Triple Drivers have durable aluminum alloy casings that gleam with a coppery, sandblasted finish, while the cable is wrapped in triple-braided Kevlar — seriously high-class materials for headphones in this price range. You’ll also get a snazzy carrying case with your purchase, too. These headphones also feature an in-line mic and triple button controls, letting you take phone calls and control playback without needing to take your phone out of your pocket. There’s really no excuse for these to not be your mainstay earbuds.
For such a high-quality listening experience, it’s almost a shock that these earbuds are often offered well under the $100 price range. The Triple Drivers boast both material and performance benchmarks we’d expect from headphones that cost twice as much or more. For those with a shiny new iPhone, there’s even a Lightning version available for a slightly higher price, and a wireless version as well. There are very few ways to get better sound at this price point anywhere on the market, period.
Why you should buy them: You won’t find a better meld of bass power and overall function at this price point.
Who they’re for: The bass-lovers of the world.
Why we picked the Powerbeats3:
While these powerful wireless earbuds debuted at $200, the Powerbeats3 from Beats by Dre have since dropped in price and are easy to find at or below the $100, which is why we’ve given them the nod for this category.
The Powerbeats3 have plenty to offer low-end junkies. In our testing, we found the Powerbeats3’s bass response to be, well, powerful. At times we even felt the bass was too overpowering for our taste, but if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll be pleased with how the Powerbeats3 sound. That isn’t meant to imply that bass is the only thing these wireless earbuds do well — in fact, they have the ability to produce great detail and instrument definition that we prefer over other similar wireless earphones, such as Apple’s fully wireless AirPods. Right out of the box, these are perfect for hip-hop and other bass-dominant genres.
In terms of design and feel, the Powerbeats are on the bulkier side, but we appreciate how well the malleable ear hooks keep them snug and in your ears. That around-ear design also makes them well-equipped for workouts, and they’re sweat-proof, too. The same goes for their wireless design — though they’re connected with a band and not fully wireless. Despite that concession, they still provide more freedom than a wired pair of headphones.
If you need powerful, driving bass to help you press out those last few reps, or just rattle your skull a bit on the way to work, these are definitely worth considering.
Why you should buy them: For the price, you won’t find better sound in a set of wireless headphones.
Who they’re for: Those who want a lightweight set of wireless headphones that sound really good, and don’t break the bank.
Why we picked the Status BT One:
Excellent wireless sound from a set of on-ear headphones that cost about $100? We were skeptical too until we tried the Status Audio BT One. But once you throw these incredibly light on-ear cans on your head and turn them on, we think you’ll be amazed at how good they sound.
With a flat frequency response that doesn’t favor lows, mids, or highs, the BT One nonetheless do justice to them all. With a clear and even sound signature that works just as well for Kendrick Lamar as it does for The Killers, these headphones are a great reminder that you do not need to dip into your line of credit just to get decent portable audio. Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX support, let these cans maximize the quality of your phone’s audio signal.
The synthetic memory foam earcups are very comfortable (and replaceable!) as is the foam-cushioned headband. But a big part of their overall comfort comes from their weight (or lack thereof) — just 133 grams vs 215 grams for the Beats Solo 3. Sure, that’s due in part to the use of plastic for pieces like the hinges, but the earcups are actually made of aluminum.
With a claimed battery life of 30 hours and the ability to recharge completely in just one hour via USB-C, battery anxiety is effectively non-existent, even for the longest of plane trips. With the included hard-shell carry case, the BT One fold down into a remarkably small package making them only a little bigger than a paperback novel. The BT One also come with an analog cable should the battery ever fail to keep the tunes going wirelessly.
Of course, you get a full set of controls including play/pause, volume up/down, track skip/back, and call answer/end, but you can also summon your voice assistant via a long-press on the play/pause button.
You may not find the BT One’s styling especially exciting, but these wireless headphones definitely have it where it counts: The sound.
Why you should buy them: Don’t let the name fool you — the 1More Stylish fully wireless earbuds are all about substance.
Who they’re for: Those who want a superior alternative to AirPods, as well as an excellent workout option.
Why we picked the 1More Stylish:
Fully wireless headphones often get extra scrutiny since, historically, wireless audio just can’t stack up to wired delivery, but we were blown away by how great these sound when we reviewed them — especially for their impressive price point. A lot of this is thanks to aptX and AAC codec support and Bluetooth 5.0, providing excellent wireless playback. But it’s apparent from the first moment with these earbuds that much care and attention went into the physical audio engineering. The mix is well balanced and great for any genre you pump through them, but can still rock a strong low-end kick.
It’s not just the 1More Stylish’s sound performance that’s impressive, either. Their battery life clocks in at around 6.5 hours of listening at 50% volume on a single charge — which is much better than similarly priced fully wireless options — and their wireless charging case can boost that up to 26 hours with three additional charges. Charging is fast, too, requiring only 15 minutes for about three hours of listening.
They’re surprisingly robust too, which means that even though the Powerbeats 3 are technically the best pick on this list for the gym, the 1More Stylish deserve consideration for workouts too. Plus, their long battery life means you won’t have to worry about them going dead on you halfway through your training session. So, really, these wireless earbuds take two categories: They’re the best true wireless earbuds under $100, and the best workout and running headphones under $100.
Why you should buy them: This single headset can easily cover all your gaming needs on any platform.
Who they’re for: Gamers who want an affordable option that will work across every platform.
Why we picked the Recon 200:
Even though a great pair of headphones can pull double duty as your go-to gaming cans, gaming headsets are simply a better option. They often include vital features for gaming — like a mic for online multiplayer communication — that normal headphones do not. They also need to support your favorite platforms, which is easier said than done. These extra features often result in higher price tags on gaming headsets than your average pair of headphones, especially if you’re looking for a high-quality pick.
Luckily, the Turtle Beach 200 can do all of the above for less than $100, despite looking and sounding like a headset two or three times as expensive.
Crucially, the Recon 200 supports every modern device you can play games on, including the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android, PC, and Mac devices. You’ll find the performance is best with PS4 and Xbox One since the headset was designed to work primarily with those two consoles, but you won’t find another headset under $100 that supports so many platforms and sounds better than the Recon 200.
The Recon 200’s mic features adjustable controls that let you change how much of yourself you can hear played back in your headphones (often referred to as “sidetone”), as well as the dominance of chat audio in the mix. The only real way the Recon 200 hints at its price range is in its design, requiring some trial-and-error to find the most comfortable placement on our head. Still, even with that extra effort required, it’s easy to see why the Recon 200 takes the top slot for this category.
Why you should buy them: They offer great durability and excellently balanced sound at a great price.
Who they’re for: The podcaster, musician, or video editor who needs a pair of workhorse headphones.
Why we picked the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro:
There are plenty of options from Sennheiser under 100 clams that could pull mixing duty, but the HD 280’s design and feature set make them the best choice. The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro are the rugged mainstays you’ll see in the background of many radio stations, recording studios, and video-editing rooms for a reason: They sound great, take a beating, and their simple black aesthetic keeps them from nabbing too much attention.
These cans won’t fail you even in the most challenging studio conditions; Sennheiser has designed the HD 280 Pros with a rugged frame, and the coiled, one-sided cable mitigates wear and tear from everyday use. While they look like bruisers, they aren’t heavy, and the generous ear padding and rotating earcups make them comfortable for prolonged mix sessions. They’re even collapsible for easier storage, too.
Most importantly, the HD 280 Pro’s sound quality is excellent for their price. Their crystal-clear sound digs up subtle moments from deeper layers of the music, with a frequency response of 8-25,000Hz. They are closed-back, however, which is important to note in case you absolutely require an open-back option, but we’re still confident the HD 280 Pro will fulfill your editing needs — not to mention they sound excellent for casual listening, too.
They may not wow with style, but if you’re looking for some affordable over-ears that will last you many years of solid use, in or out of the studio, we suggest you start with these.
Research and Buying Tips
- Are headphones under $100 any good?
- Do headphones under $100 have Bluetooth?
- Do headphones under $100 have noise-canceling?
- Should I buy over-ear or in-ear headphones?
- Is spending more than $100 on headphones worth it?
Yes. Especially for wired models, they can offer impressive sound quality from the right brands.
Many pairs do. If you want headphones without any wires at all, your choices will be more limited, but 1More’s Stylish are our favorite choice at present. Also, check out our Bluetooth guide for an explanation of the tech and general tips for using wireless devices.
Yes, some do, but it typically isn’t very good. If noise canceling is what you’re after specifically, our list of the best noise-canceling headphones is a great place to start your search.
That depends on how you will use them. If you’re planning to be out and about with your headphones, we generally recommend in-ear models. If you plan on using them at home or at work primarily, on-ear or over-ear models are generally better options.
It certainly can be if you value sound performance and premium features. If you have room in your budget and you appreciate great sound, headphones, in general, offer some of the best dollar-for-dollar value in the audio world, period. As such, stepping up in price may be worth it, but be warned: Not all expensive headphones are great, either.
How we test headphones
We test headphones and earbuds the way normal people live.
We run every pair of headphones through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower-quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we do too.
However, we also move up to high-resolution audio files, as well as a wide variety of sources, including plugging in directly to a PC or Mac, using USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and employing high-quality dedicated portable players and amplifiers. Finally, we compare the headphones to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two higher to find out if they can punch above their weight.
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