Table of Contents
- 1 Best Headphones Under $100 in 2017
- 2 1) Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones – Best Value Headphone Under 100
- 3 2) SENSO Bluetooth Headphones, Best Wireless Sports Earphones – Best Bluetooth Headphone
- 4 3) Mpow Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset – Best Price-Performance Ratio Headphone
- 5 4) Avantree 40 hours DUAL Mode Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones – Best Headphone With Mic
- 6 5) Phaiser BHS-750 Bluetooth Headphones Runner Headset Sport Earphones with Mic – Best Running Headphone
- 7 6) Bluesim Wireless Bluetooth 4.1 Sports Headphone – Best In-Ear Headphone
- 8 7) AmazonBasics Lightweight On-ear Headphones– Best Average Headphone
- 9 8) Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK In-Ear Headphones– Best Budget Headphone
- 10 9)Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic– Best Stylish Headphone
- 11 10) Symphonized Wraith 2.0 Bluetooth Genuine Wood Wireless Headphones – Best Premium Headphone
- 12 How did we pick the best Headphones under $100?
- 13 Winner: Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones
- 14 Best Headphones Under $100 Buyer’s Guide – What factors should You consider when choosing a pair of headphones?
- 15 What do Headphones mean to you?
- 16 Is it really Sound Quality?
- 17 Are you getting them for the Design or the Brand Name?
- 18 The most popular brands for headphones under $100
- 19 Best Headphones Under 100 FAQ
- 20 Wrapping it up
If you’re on the lookout for a nice pair of earbuds or best headphones under 100 dollar, it should be a sweet spot in terms of the ideal price-performance ratio.
At $100, headphones and earbuds alike are inexpensive, highly affordable but still versatile and useful and are capable of delivering excellent sound quality that belies their low price.
But how are you supposed to choose the right one when there’s such a huge market out there, full of different kinds of models, brands and manufacturers?
That’s why we’re here.
Best Headphones Under $100 in 2017
|Name||Item Weight||Item Dimension||Additional Features||Price|
|Cowin E-7 Wireless Over-ear Headphones||0.85 lb||3.62 x 6.54 x 7.13 in||Noise cancelling, Bluetooth, Over-Ear||View Price|
|SENSO Bluetooth Headphone||0.2 ounces||1.3 x 4.9 x 4.7 in||IPX7 Waterproof Rating, Transmission Distance: 30ft, Noise Reduction: CVC6.0||View Price|
|Mpow Bluetooth Over Ear Headset||0.69 lb||5.31 x 7.28 x 3.35 in||High-Fidelity, Portable||View Price|
|Avantree Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones||6.35 ounces||7.76 x 7.17 x 3.23 in||aptX, Deep Bass, Super light & comfortable, Up to 40 hours music time, Easy one-touch pairing with NFC technology, Dual mode||View Price|
|Phaiser BHS-750 Earphones||0.61 ounces||2.48 x 5.12 x 1.77 in||The Highest Audio Quality , The Easiest Way to Manage Battery Life||View Price|
|Bluesim Wireless Sport Headphone||3.2 ounces||4.6 x 3.6 x 1.8 inches||Bluetooth Version: 4.1, Charging Time: approx 1.5 hours, Operating range: Up to 33 feet (10meters without barrier & signal interference)||View Price|
|AmazonBasics On-ear Headphones||3.73 ounces||2.5 x 5.5 x 6.8 in||foldable, lightweight||View Price|
|Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK Headphone||0.2 ounces||3.25 x 3.6 x 6.75 in||lightweight||View Price|
|Hussar Magicbuds||3.2 ounces||4.9 x 4.3 x 1.9 inches||IPX7 Waterproof with Nano coating, Noise Reduction: CVC 6.0, Siri: supported||View Price|
|Symphonized Wraith Wireless Headphones||12.8 ounces||10.8 x 8.4 x 3.6 inches||Booming Bass, Noise Isolation||View Price|
1) Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Over-ear Stereo Headphones – Best Value Headphone Under 100
The E-7s are true Stereo headphones, which might sound a little inferior compared to other models in the same price point which can feature up to a 7.1 speaker configuration – meaning 7 possible directions plus an additional sub-woofer for deep bass – but the way the E-7 pulls this 2.0 stereo sound off is mesmerizing.
Not only is the sound quality itself perfect – almost too perfect considering the low price – the stereo always kicks in at the right time, letting you hear directional sound when you would want it, but filling both your ears with perfect aural entertainment simultaneously at just the right moments as well.
All this noise is created, mind you, by two 40mm drivers, one for each ear. Apart from the sound quality itself, the E-7 has a lot of other things going for it, too.
For example, there’s built-in Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to listen to whatever you want, where you want, provided you have a Bluetooth-capable device to pair the Cowin with.
And with NFC, that problem largely solves itself. The maximum wireless playtime is a generous 30 hours, which is more than the average user will need, anyway. Recharging is also extremely quick at 10 minutes of charging per hour of playing time.
This is not just a huge convenience, getting rid of messy cables and all that, it’s also amazing that Cowin decided to include this in a sub-$100 product. Again, proof of an excellent price-performance ratio.
Additionally, the Cowin E-7s feature a unique active noise-cancelling mode which, unlike most traditional headphones of this type, can be turned on and off.
Granted, even with the mode off, the E7s will generally sound like typical noise-cancelling headphones, only slightly less muffled.
Still, the ability to regulate how much real-world noise you want to hear is refreshing. All of this makes the Cowin E-7 one well-rounded pair of headphones. And for a price as low as $69, there’s really no good reason not to try them out.
Our only nitpick: The E-7s are slightly large, if not bulky. They will comfortably fit on your ears, no doubt, but other people will perhaps give you a few estranged looks at the weird-looking large orbs gracing your head.
Of course, a lot of this comes down to preference in the end, and doesn’t negatively impact the headphone’s performance at all.
- Price: For $69, you haven’t got a lot to lose, especially considering the amount of features you’re getting
- Sound: Beautiful, high-fidelity stereo sound provided by two 40mm drivers is fantastic to listen to, directional sound is there when you need it, gone when you don’t
- Connectivity: Both 3.5mm, USB and Bluetooth with a playing time of up to 30 hours are available – integrated NFC is a handy feature
- Extras: Selectable active-passive noise-cancelling is a convenient feature, even if not hugely useful in practical use
- Wearability: Large and comfortable over-ear design; wireless Bluetooth option removes the need for messy cables – comfortable fit
- Wearability: Bulky feel and design make it look a little oversized;other headphones offer a slimmer, more streamlined appearance
In conclusion, the E-7s are some of the best headphones under 100 you can get in terms of performance, value and features.
While they are, of course, not without any flaws altogether, they are sure to impress the vast majority of their users. A definite recommendation.
2) SENSO Bluetooth Headphones, Best Wireless Sports Earphones – Best Bluetooth Headphone
Designed for sports enthusiasts, particularly joggers and runners, these tiny earbuds come with more than a handful of useful features as well as lots of practical and useful extras.
For example, an integrated microphone, technically making the SENSOs a headset, Bluetooth functionality with some 8 hours of playtime, water-and sweatproof design, a so-called hook that prevents the earbuds from slipping off during use and silicone detailing for a more comfortable fit are all standard.
Furthermore, the earbuds come with three sets of exchangeable silicone ear tips, a USB to Mini-USB connector cable and USB car charger as well as adaptors for use with Android or iOS mobile devices.
So, well-equipped as they may be, how do the SENSO earbuds actually perform in real-life situations? Quite admirably, actually. The sound quality,considering these are very small, almost undersized in-ear headphones, is excellent.
Sure, it doesn’t rival larger on-ear headphones like the Cowin E-7s above, but for the price and size, there’s really nothing to complain about.
In addition, the integrated mic and playback controls accessed via buttons on the earbuds themselves are both very well-made.
The microphone easily cancels out almost any background noise and the buttons, completely belying their small size, are tactile and feel great to use.
Not just that, the choice of materials, a hard, thick plastic in this case, as well as the carefully placed and well-thought-out button layout really help with using these controls and make it unlikely to hit anything by mistake.
The connectivity options, even featuring Bluetooth 4.1, make it easy to use with almost any computer, smartphone, tablet or MP3-player.
Add to that an extremely low price tag of only $35, and you’ve got yourself one of the best earbud deals on the market as of now.
Unfortunately, the SENSOs are not without flaw, at least not completely. The biggest issue with using these earbuds, one that probably every user will notice soon enough, is the noise-cancelling feature, or rather the lack thereof.
While the SENSO earbuds are advertised as being noise-cancelling, they in fact do nothing more than shield your ears from external background noise through the use of suitable materials like hard plastic and silicone.
This means that the outside world may sound a little muffled when wearing them, but not much more than that, unfortunately.
Stereo,to the dismay of many audio enthusiasts, is only simulated on the SENSOs whilst 3.5mm connection options are missing completely. And finally, the lackluster playing time of only 8 hours could be improved upon.
Audiophiles will probably be gravely disappointed by the lack of stereo, poor battery life and noise-cancelling, but practical-thinking buyers looking for an affordable set of earbuds to use on the go might want to give the SENSOs a try.
- Price: Extremely affordable at $35; excellent price-performance-ratio
- Sound: Excellent sound quality for a pair of compact in-ear headphones
- Connectivity: A plethora of adaptors and cables are provided for connecting and charging the SENSOs with almost any device; Bluetooth function is appreciated
- Extras: Water-proof,Sweat-proof, 3 exchangeable pairs of eartips, myriad connecting and charging options, the latest Bluetooth 4.1, a built-in noise-cancelling mic, a carrying case and more; what do the SENSOs not have?
- Wearability: Bluetooth capability makes cables unnecessary; in-ear design is practical and comfortable; ear hooks prevent earbuds from slipping about
- Sound: No active noise-cancelling feature; no true Stereo sound; in-ear design makes fidelity inferior to larger on-ear or over-ear headphones
- Connectivity: Lack of traditional 3.5mm audio jack option makes connecting the SENSOs to non-computing devices (home entertainment sets, desktop speakers, mixers etc.) a bit difficult; Bluetooth only supports a playing time of up to 8 hours
In conclusion, the SENSO earbuds are definitely one of the best budget deals out there, provided you can deal with the lack of features present in equally-priced, but larger and bulkier headphone sets.
3) Mpow Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset – Best Price-Performance Ratio Headphone
First of all, price. At $35, these headphones sit at the very bottom in terms of pricing, even among other budget products.
In spite of this, the Mpow Headphones are not tiny earbuds like the similarly-priced SENSOs, but full-sized over-ear headphones.
Still, they sport quite a sleek design, looking way more compact than they actually are, and can even be separated and folded to make transportation easier.
Sound is produced by two 40mm drivers made out of precious neodymium, a material that is seldom used in budget products such as these.
The attractive-looking red headband can not only be folded, but also adjusted to fit different head sizes. Similarly, the earcups are movable to suit different head shapes.
As the name implies, these best headphones under 100 also offer Bluetooth functionality with a rather average playing time of 13 hours. That might be enough for most, but it certainly isn’t that impressive when compared to other offerings in the same price range.
Of course, the Mpows can also be used permanently in wired mode via a 3.5mm jack or USB should the user wish so. Sound quality is impressive, if not amazing considering the cost.
The two 40mm drivers really do their best here, providing the user with some of the nicest possible sound quality and fidelity at under $100.
The stereo doesn’t sound forced or artificial and kicks in at just the right spots, again an almost unbelievable feature in a product this cheap.
A built-in mic is also standard, as is hands-free calling when connected to any device within 33 feet.
Noise-cancelling is not active on these headphones, but the well-thought-out shape and tight feel of the large earcups make an electronically-controlled active noise-cancelling feature unnecessary, anyway, as the soft material encasing your ears will dampen most, if not all background noise on its own without compromising sound quality in the slightest.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and as such, neither are the Mpow Headphones. Their primary flaw is simply the lack of any refinement.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and as such, neither are the Mpow Headphones. Their primary flaw is simply the lack of any refinement.
Granted, no-one should expect great craftsmanship from devices this cheap, but other over-ear headsets like the Cowin E-7 prove that great quality doesn’t have to come at the expense of a lower price point.
Basically, the material quality and feel of the Mpows is a little lackluster.
It lacks polish, it’s not as comfortable as its opponents on the market and it’s ultimately somewhat of a pain to wear for extended periods of time.
- Price: Almost perfect price-performance-ratio, $35 price tag is generously low
- Sound: Great sound quality thanks to 40mm neodymium drivers and large earcups as well as impressive stereo implementation, passive noise cancellation works just fine for most usage scenarios
- Connectivity: 3.5mm, USB and Bluetooth options are available
- Extras: Adjustable and retractable headband is convenient, easy to use, adjustable earcups even more so; integrated mic and hands-free calling are both highly practical
- Wearability: Soft over-ear earcups fit nicely and muffle exterior noise well
- Sound: No active noise-cancelling means some external background noise will interfere with listening to music or making calls
- Connectivity: 13 hours of maximum Bluetooth playing time is nothing to brag about
- Wearability: Lack of polish and higher-grade materials make the Mpows feel lackluster in quality; uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time
All in all, the Mpow Bluetooth Headphones are a great deal for the price and are sure to impress many.
With a sleek design completely contradicting their over-ear form factor, great stereo sound and a portability advantage thanks to the retractable headband,these are worth a look.
Unfortunately, potential buyers should also brace themselves for an uncomfortable wearing experience, low-grade materials and so-so battery life and noise cancelling.
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4) Avantree 40 hours DUAL Mode Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones – Best Headphone With Mic
One of the largest headphones for the price, the Avantrees pack not only two 40mm drivers, but also an integrated amplifier using aptX and running at an impedance of 32 Ohm.
This makes the Avantree Bluetooth Headphones one of the best (among best headphones under 100) deals among lower-priced offerings as very few, if any, budget headphones from other manufacturers include an integrated amp, a device that can be very costly when purchased separately.
But this is not the only area where the Avantrees excel. They also feature full Bluetooth 4.0, unlike most opponents that still rely on the slower version 3.0, as well as an integrated microphone, hands-free calling, integrated NFC for easier connection and pairing options with smartphones and other mobile devices and a staggering 40 hours of playtime when used wirelessly.
Apart from these extras, the Avantree Headphones also include an adjustable headband and ultra-soft, oversized earcups as well as faux-leather cushions for a more comfortable user experience.
Overall, the Avantrees are a blast to use. Sound quality is superb; not only is the volume just right, but clarity, stereo quality and bass are way above what you would expect from other, similar headphones.
All of this is probably a positive side effect of the built-in headphone amp. Connectivity options are pretty standard or a change, as the Avantrees support 3.5mm and USB connections besides the aforementioned Bluetooth 4.0.
Unfortunately, although a USB charger is included, only 3.5mm connections are supported for audio playback.
This limits the Avantrees’ usability across some devices that might be equipped with neither Bluetooth nor a 3.5mm audio jack, such as newer, thin notebooks, ultrabooks and some smartphones and tablets.
However, these are only exceptions, and in their current state, the Avantrees are perfectly compatible with most devices. All of this will set you back by only $55, making the Avantrees a truly great deal.
Flaws are not easy to find in such a great product, but make no mistake: There are a few.
For example, the included microphone and hands-free calling functionality are both quite a letdown when compared to the rest of the Avantrees’ features.
Whilst the noise-cancelling works pretty well, call quality just isn’t really that ‘up there’. Also, due to the design itself, the Avantrees are anything but portable.
In fact, they are very bulky and hard to store in compact bags or cases suited for regular-sized headphones. Using these on the move is going to be a bit of a problem.
- Price: $55 is a great deal for a pair of well-equipped over-ear headphones
- Sound: Excellent fidelity, volume and bass; stereo and headphone amp
- Connectivity: 3.5mm connector comes as standard; Bluetooth supports a playing time of up to 40 hours, making this one of the best-performing headphones in terms of battery life
- Extras: ptX-compatible headphone amplifier; integrated NFC; adjustable headband; repositionable earcups
- Wearability: Extra-soft earcups made out of faux-leather; large over-ear, adjustable design will fit almost any head shape/size
- Connectivity: USB connection for audio playback not supported, making connecting the headphones to some modern notebooks and tablets without Bluetooth problematic
- Wearability: Large, bulky design limits the headphones’ use outdoors
In short, these are a great pair of headphones for the enthusiast on a budget.
With upmarket features for a lower than average price, there aren’t a lot of reasons not to consider the Avantree Headphones. Prepare for a few caveats, though, as they are far from perfect.
5) Phaiser BHS-750 Bluetooth Headphones Runner Headset Sport Earphones with Mic – Best Running Headphone
Originally released as a premium item for more than $150, the interesting Phaiser BHS-750 earbuds have since dropped in cost so dramatically that they now share their demographic and price point with the rest of the entries on our list.
At the lowered price tag of $35, the Phaiser BHS-750s are still quite the eyecatchers.
Sporting a pronged design that helps with securely fitting and wearing the tiny earbuds, they don’t just look unique for show, but are significantly different from most other earbuds in quite a lot of ways.
For example, the backside of the earcups is made out of a metallic, ferromagnetic material.
For easier transportation in between listening sessions, one can simply clip the two earbuds together and they’ll instantly fuse magnetically.
A neat idea, and in practical usage scenarios, a very useful one. Speaking of earcups, these come with a lot of accessories. A lot.
First of all, there are four interchangeable sets of soft tips to choose from. These all feel fantastic, as they are made out of the same basic materials, but the thickness, diameter and shape of each of them is different.
Likewise, there are six different pairs of prongs, or wings, as Phaiser calls them, included with the earbuds.
Chances are that users will most likely stick to one of these six as they were designed to fit vastly different ear shapes, but just having the ability to choose from such a vast array of accessories is refreshing and makes the Phaisers feel more upmarket.
Apart from all of this, you get little more than a few plastic clips, a USB charging cable, the user’s manual and a nice little bag to store all these extras in.
Apart from that, you get quite the high-end service with the BHS-750s.
Bluetooth 4.1 for superfast wireless connections, a fully sweat- and waterproof construction, excellent passive noise-cancelling via the appropriate set of ear tips, generously big-sounding bass for such a small pair of earbuds, integrated stereo and a microphone with hands-free calling functionality.
Alas, let’s not praise the Phaisers too much, as there is quite a lot to be said about their shortcomings.
Firstly, these are pure Bluetooth 4.1 earbuds, meaning that, besides the wire running in between the two earbuds and the USB charging cable, there is no way to connect any sort of audio cable to the earbuds.
If your device of choice for listening to music doesn’t support Bluetooth 4.1, you won’t be able to take advantage of these earbuds’ features.
Also, battery life is pretty substandard at 8 hours. For small earbuds, this isn’t critically bad, but still below average. We had hoped that such a well-equipped pair of earbuds would’ve upped their game on this front, but no.
And, finally, great amount of accessories not withstanding, the feel, finish and comfortability of the Phaisers is questionable.
It’s certainly something you’ll need to get used to, and you will most likely only be able to enjoy them to their fullest after a long testing period of experimenting with the different wings and tips.
- Price: Great value at $55, especially considering this is in actuality a $160 product
- Sound: Stereo and bass are positively surprising on such a compact pair of earbuds, call quality is excellent as well
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1 included as standard, making some of the fastest and energy-saving wireless audio connections possible on a budget pair of earbuds
- Extras: Four pairs of soft tips and six pairs of wings make this a pair of earbuds for literally anyone, the compact carrying bag makes transporting the earbuds and accessories easy, sweatproof and waterproof throughout; mic with hands-free calling, stereo and bass integration, perfect passive noise-cancelling depending on soft ear tip
- Wearability: Magnetically tipped earcups make it easier than ever to clip the earbuds onto something whilst on the move, wings provide a tight fit on any ear shape and prevent the earbuds from falling out
- Connectivity: Earbuds are purely Bluetooth-driven and can’t be connected to any device via cables; playback devices’ Bluetooth 4.1 support must be taken into consideration; Bluetooth battery life of 8 hours is quite subpar compared to rest of the product
- Wearability: Comfortable fit depends on personal preference and differences in ear shape, head size and jaw length, for example; exchangeable ear tips and wings will not be comfortable to use for some
While we would have loved to give the Phaisers a perfect rating, we just couldn’t. Behind the facade of a perfect product lies a very good one, albeit one with significant flaws.
Still, in the end, it’s your call whether the Phaisers are really worth it.
6) Bluesim Wireless Bluetooth 4.1 Sports Headphone – Best In-Ear Headphone
Another pair of earbuds falsely labeled as headphones by their lesser-known manufacturer, the Bluesim Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are very much like the Phaiser BHS-750s above, but with one significant difference.
They don’t try to be luxurious. As such, this is a ‘what you see is what you get’ product.
For just a meager $40, you shouldn’t feel the need to ask for a lot, but low price aside, these earbuds actually offer their users quite a lot, albeit in much lower quality in terms of craftsmanship and reliability compared to ‘luxury’ earbuds such as the Phaisers above.
First of all, the magnetic clip functionality of the Phaisers returns with the Bluesim earbuds, although the material used here is of obviously lower quality, not just visually speaking.
Scratches are easy to produce and wear should be expected pretty quickly. The rest of the earbuds’ construction is not all that tank-like, either.
Simple black plastic is used all around, giving the Bluesims a sort of minimalist look, although that is probably unintentional.
Also similar to the Phaisers, the Bluesim earbuds include interchangeable pairs of ear tips and wings, which are referred to as Soft Hooks by Bluesim.
However, unlike the Phaiser offering, these interchangeable pairs are only different from one another in one way, their size.
Therefore, it is not possible to modify the Bluesims to fit different ear shapes or experiment with different levels of sound isolation.
In almost any other way, on paper, at least, the Bluesim earbuds are identical to the Phaiser BHS-750s: They both feature Bluetooth 4.1, stereo and a boosted bass, a sweat-proof design, a built-in mic with hands-free calling and more.
And, in fact, the Bluesims possess one special advantage over almost all other earbuds and headphones in their price range as they are equipped with CVC 6.0 Active Noise-Cancelling technology.
On the flipside, there is also a lot that these earbuds are lacking, namely build quality, feel, fit and finish.
They are just not comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and the low battery life of 6 hours, the rather disappointing sound quality, weak microphone and other issues compromise the Bluesim earbuds’ image.
Though it might seem as if we are great opponents of the Bluesim Bluetooth Headphones, we are not by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, the Bluesims are some of the best budget earbuds around in our opinion. However, ‘budget’ is where the secret lies.
- Price: Amazing value at a low price tag of just $40
- Sound: Stereo and bass integration on such a low-priced pair of earbuds, one of the most cost-effective implementations of advanced active noise-cancelling in any pair of headphones or earbuds
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1 included
- Extras: Interchangable soft tips and soft hooks for an optimal fit at every ear size; magnetic clip functionality makes storage easy and chic, integrated microphone
- Wearability: Soft hooks prevent the earbuds from accidentally falling out, magnetic clips are convenient and practical
- Price: With a low cost unfortunately comes poor material quality; uncomfortable fit in spite of interchangeable tips and hooks
- Sound: Mic is weak, sound quality unimpressive
- Connectivity: No option to connect an audio cable; Bluetooth 4.1 must be supported
- Extras: Ear hooks and tips only come in different sizes, not shapes
- Wearability: Uncomfortable design, fewer customizability options than what exchangeable parts suggest, simple, cheap materials used in construction
Don’t look at the feature set and specifications and think this pair of cheap earbuds is in any way in the same market segment as much more upmarket models such as the Phaiser BHS-750s.
7) AmazonBasics Lightweight On-ear Headphones– Best Average Headphone
While their models generally are reliable and do a good job at what they’re designed for, their relatively downmarket appearance and feature set often understates or, in rare cases, overstates the actual performance.
Having said that, how do Amazon’s in-house on-ear headphones actually fare? The devil, this time, is not in the details, as the AmazonBasics headphones barely have any to show.
What you get here is one of the most basic pair of headphones imaginable. Two earcups—which are adjustable by swiveling, surprisingly—containing one 36mm driver each, mounted on a non-adjustable headrest.
No buttons, no frills. All of this is made out of the simplest form of black plastic, with some inserts of soft cushioned fabric here and there.
Sound quality is surprisingly good, belying the ultra-low price instantly.
Though you shouldn’t expect anything rivaling the top entries on our list, the sound fidelity provided with the AmazonBasics Headphones underlines their great value.
Connectivity-wise, it’s just as basic as the name implies, yet again. Instead of the ever so popular Bluetooth, these headphones rely solely on a 3.5mm connection.
Amazon made a wise decision to go with such a connector instead of USB as it guarantees a wider range of compatible devices overall.
All in all, these seem to be one pretty effective pair of headphones, especially considering the price tag. But how do their advantages stack up against their shortcomings?
Better than you might have expected, actually.
The AmazonBasics headphones can only be compared with products positioned higher on our list with some immense difficulty, but the flaws that they do possess simply do not matter that much for the extreme budget-oriented buyer.
No Bluetooth? Fine, you can live without it. No microphone? Not that many people need it, anyway. No noise-cancelling, not even passive? Of course not, that would be a couple of bucks more expensive.
An almost total lack of any extras? Okay, the headphones themselves are enough.
And what are you supposed to expect for just $15? How about a largely inadjustable, uncomfortable construction that quickly hurts your ears? Eh, it’s not a deal breaker. Not for $15.
- Price: One of the best price-performance ratios on our list, $15 price is affordable for everyone, respectable quality for the cost
- Sound: Better than expected; nice stereo, bass et al; no obvious flaws
- Connectivity: Single 3.5mm connection is minimalist and underwhelming, but guarantees compatibility with a broad range of devices
- Extras: A simple, small carrying bag is included; earcups have swivel functionality
- Connectivity: 3.5mm is the only option; No USB, no Bluetooth
- Extras: No microphone, no special accessories, no extra features of any kind, no noise-cancelling, poor earcup construction that quickly hurts the ears and head when using the headphones for more than a few minutes
Overall, buyer beware when dealing with AmazonBasics headphones. They may seem appealing, but unless you have got a very good reason not to shell out any more than $15 for a new pair of headphones, look elsewhere.
8) Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK In-Ear Headphones– Best Budget Headphone
When we called the AmazonBasics headphones ultra-low priced we weren’t exaggerating. The fact that there is an even cheaper product, however, is slightly disconcerting. At $9,99, can these Panasonic earbuds really be competitive with others on the market or are they just a joke?
Of course, as we included them in our list, they definitely have their merits. What those would be? Simply put, the Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPKs are the AmazonBasics Headphones of the earbud segment.
As earbuds are naturally less expensive than over-ear or on-ear headphones, it was to be expected for the Panasonics to follow that market trend.
So, what features do the Panasonics offer? Besides the ability to listen to music when connected to a compatible playing device via a 3.5mm connector, not much, actually.
The exchangeable eartips are nothing to brag about, in fact, they can barely be felt at all, and the rest of the Panasonics’ construction is as basic as it gets.
There isn’t even a built-in volume control. I know what you’re thinking: “Did you just say ‘exchangeable’? Does that mean these come with accessories?”
To answer your question, yes, yes they do. Besides the three sets of ear tips, though, there isn’t anything worth mentioning. However, that does not mean that these earbuds don’t feature any interesting attributes.
For example, the tiny rivers in these things are not just 9mm in diameter—1mm larger than the standard size for comparable earbuds—but they are made out of neodymium, a highly surprising choice of material for a low-budget product such as this.
Furthermore, the cord, with its 3.6 feet length, is longer than most users will ever need it to be, guaranteeing hassle-free connections with any device and even making sharing the earbuds among one other listener a viable, only slightly uncomfortable option.
However, it is also important to look at the areas where the Panasonic earbuds don’t particularly positively surprise.
First off, there’s their weight. Though this is touted by the manufacturer as a positive side effect of the minimalist design, all it means in real-life use is that the earbuds are very likely to slip and fall off your ears.
This model could have benefited from the prongs or wings that were used by some similarly-sized earbuds on our list.
Secondly, the sound quality is anything but impressive, just barely qualifying as ‘passable’.
Third, of course, don’t expect any sort of extras that are not explicitly mentioned on the frontal side of the box. There are many more minor nitpicks worth mentioning, but we think you get the idea.
- Price: Cheapest product on our list; $10 price tag is unbeatable in terms of affordability
- Sound: 9mm larger-than-standard neodymium drivers
- Connectivity: 3.6 foot long cord makes cable hassle a non-issue for the most part
- Extras: Exchangeable sets of ear tips are a surprising addition considering the price point
- Wearability: Very lightweight
- Sound: In spite of exotic driver setup, sound quality is disappointing
- Connectivity: Only the built-in 3.6 foot long cord and 3.5mm connector can be used; no Bluetooth or USB
- Extras: Even the most basic amenities are missing: noise canceling, true stereo, volume control (or any controls on the earbuds themselves, for that matter) and many more are not included; Ear tips not very useful
So, in conclusion, the Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK earbuds are similar to AmazonBasics’ offering in many ways. If you are on an extremely tight budget, there isn’t really any better product out there. As long as you’ve got more than $10 to spend, though, well…
9)Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic– Best Stylish Headphone
With their non-removable, long hooks, silicone ear tips, sleek black-and-red design and button controls mounted onto the earbuds themselves, the Hussar Magicbuds also seem to borrow a lot of practical design elements from the SENSO model.
In fact, besides the Hussar logo, there really isn’t any way to tell them apart. In other words, they offer exactly the same features as the SENSOs.
A built-in ear hook to prevent the little buds from slipping off your ears during intense activity, on-board playback controls, a completely water-proof exterior, Bluetooth 4.1 and so on and so forth.
However, it’s not as simple as it may seem at first. For example, the Hussar Magicbuds use a different battery than the SENSO earbuds, a battery that features one extra hour of playing time compared to its competitor.
Additionally, the price is lower, too, at $25 instead of the SENSOs’ $35. Another big, big addition to the Hussars is active noise-cancelling.
Yes, you read that right, the Hussar Magicbuds are fully equipped with CVC 6.0 active noise-cancelling right out of the box.
It seems that, although the Hussars may be a little, say, ‘inspired’ by the SENSO design, they’ve got quite the few quirks and advantages of their own, too. And these don’t just stop at noise-cancelling and price.
For example, the Hussars ships with a more in-depth user’s manual and a more well-made, albeit weird-shaped carrying bag for the earbuds themselves and the various accessories.
However, being a copy also has its disadvantages, mainly from an ethical perspective. Would you really buy a cheap knock-off just for the sake of saving $10?
Of course, the Hussars are much more than that, mainly as they’ve got a few niceties of their own not shared by the SENSO emplate, but their originality is questionable.
And would you really want to spend your money on something that might turn out to be a fraud? Just to save $10?
How about the fact that the Hussar earbuds inexplicably lack the SENSOs car charger and USB hub attachment?
Again, your call. Just know that, price advantage aside, you’re not really losing that much by choosing the SENSOs over these. Be warned.
- Price: Great deal at $25; Cheaper than similar SENSO counterpart
- Sound: Excellent sound as on the SENSO model; active noise-cancelling included
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1, USB and 3.5mm connections are all available, guaranteeing compatibility with almost any device
- Extras: Carrying bag, mic, 3 sets of exchangeable ear tips and sufficient cables are included as standard
- Wearability: Hooks prevent Hussars from falling out of your ear whilst jogging, running or participating in other intense activities
- Extras: Not as many accessories included as on the SENSO earbuds
- Wearability / General: No-name manufacturer presents shady-looking product at an unusually low price? Not good for brand image, or your own personal image, for that matter
All in all, the Hussar earbuds are worth it, but only if you, for whatever reason, can’t go for the SENSOs of similar nature.
The Hussars’ trustworthiness is severely hampered by the lack of recognizability due to the brand, the lacking extra features and the eerie similarities between the SENSO and Hussar models.
First off, there’s the design. There’s simply nothing in the price range quite like it.
The Wraith 2.0s go for a ‘retro’ style and thus feature a stylish metal adjustable headrest with thick leather padding and Walnut wood-clad earcups with equally thick cushions.
Everything else is just as shiny and metallic as the headrest, rounding off the great, unique look. Alternative looks featuring Zebra wood are also available.
On the black plastic edges of the earcups, in between the cushioning and the wood, you will find a variety of connector as well as power and playback settings.
Amazingly, the Wraiths not only support Bluetooth 4.1, but also 3.5mm, USB and even the less common 2.5mm audio inputs.
The actual real world performance of the Wraiths is admirable, too. Sound quality is excellent considering the $75 price tag, as are the stereo and bass.
Whilst the Wraiths only feature passive noise-cancelling, system used here is truly awesome, blocking almost all real world sounds as soon as you put the headphones on thanks to the large, comfortable padded earcups, making an active system seem like a unneeded feature in this case, anyway.
This is all powered by two high-quality 40mm drivers. Besides sound quality itself, the Wraiths feel great to wear. The cushioning is perfect whilst the metal parts don’t distract at all.
In fact, the headphones’ shape was specifically designed so that only the ushioned, softer parts will actually touch your bare skin or hair during regular listening activity.
All the metal, meanwhile, faces directly away from you, looking stylish without compromising on practicality or usability.
There are a few things, though, that the Wraiths seemingly lack and that we would like to see on a hypothetical 3.0 model.
First off, there isn’t any NFC on these headphones, which would have been totally fine had they been priced at $50 or less, but alas, they are not.
Additionally, a microphone would have been a nice addition, too.
And, while we admired the well-thought-out use of passive noise-cancelling on the Wraiths 2.0s, an active system would have been a good idea at this price point, especially considering the competition partially features an advanced hybrid system that can be toggled, like on the Cowin E-7s, for example.
Meanwhile, the Wraiths are stuck, lagging behind their peers technologically. Taking all of this into consideration, they are a tad too expensive given the feature set, too, we argue.
- Sound: Excellent sound, stereo and bass quality; one of the best implementations of passive noise-cancelling in any comparable set of headphones
- Connectivity: Highest number of connectivity options of any headphones on our list; USB, 3.5mm, 2.5mm and Bluetooth 4.1 are available
- Extras: Adjustable headband is a practical addition that fits into the ‘retro’ design theme
- Wearability: Stylish design makes Wraiths stand out; combination of metal and wooden surfaces is unique, looks upmarket; on-ear design is comfortable; great cushioning on the headband and earcups
- Price: $75 sounds like a little too much given the included features (or lack thereof)
- Extras: No microphone, NFC or other, useful features taken for granted at this price level
As always, it’s your job to weigh the positives against the negatives here, but our verdict is the following. The Symphonic Wraith 2.0 headphones are a great pair, no doubt about it.
However, you might want to wait until the 3.0 version comes out as the lack of NFC, microphone and active noise-cancelling makes these $75 headphones seem unattractive to bargain-hunting buyers.
Too bad, we say, as a lower price and / or an expanded feature set could have greatly improved these already stunning headphones.
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How did we pick the best Headphones under $100?
This question has probably been lingering in your mind for quite a while now.
Allow us to answer it to our best abilities. As you can see when skimming through our Top 10 list, we generally measure headphone quality based on a handful of pillars.
These are Sound quality, Price and Value, Connectivity, Extra features and Wearability.
Sound quality concerns itself with fidelity, volume, stereo quality if applicable, bass strength, distortion, frequency response and many other aspects that make the distinction between something that sounds good and something that just doesn’t.
Price and Value is just that: An analysis of how fair the price of the given headphones is.
Meanwhile, a pair of headphones has a good score in Connectivity if it supports many wired and wireless connection standards like USB, 3.5mm or Bluetooth.
The more, the merrier, generally speaking. Extra features are always nice to have, but some headphones come completely without them. This can make the difference between a great product and a nuisance that need to be RMA’d.
Examples of extra features are things like NFC for faster, easier Bluetooth connections, adjustable dimensions, small accessories like ear tips or a carrying bag or built-in features like hands-free calling or a waterproof build. Again, the more, the merrier.
Wearability, lastly, is a general term for everything that makes the headphones nice (or the polar opposite) to wear. This can be anything from the choice of materials to special features or simply the product’s size.
The best possible wearability rating can be achieved by a pair of headphones that is compact, comfortable and convenient, no matter how it achieves these values.
All of these pillars are taken into consideration differently based on the type of headphones we are reviewing. This type can vary between in-ear, on-ear or over-ear.
In-ear headphones, more precisely called earbuds, are the smallest and cheapest category, usually offering a compromise between sound quality and portability.
On-ear headphones, on the other hand, are the norm, being about mid-sized whilst offering much better sound at the expense of great physical size.
Over-ear headphones, then, are the truly big boys, boasting with great sound while wasting a lot of space at the same time.
Of course, choosing between these types is up to the buyer, but we still grade headphones differently based on the type as we feel that, for example, a $50 pair of earbuds is not directly comparable to a $50 set of over-ear headphones, no matter how similar their performance might be.
The Cowin E-7 took the number one spot on our list, and with it, the right to be called our top pick for headphones under $100.
But how did it achieve this? After all, it was outclassed by some of its opponents in some areas.
However, the Cowin E-7s possess a quality that is not present anywhere else on the list. What that quality is, you ask? Versatility. The Cowin E-7s are simply a very well-rounded design.
As over-ear headphones, they are large enough to be able to physically pack a lot of features, from the newest Bluetooth 4.1 to NFC and a highly unique selective noise-cancelling tech that is one of the few active noise-cancelling systems available among the headphones on our list.
Apart from that, the sound is excellent, they trump almost all other models in terms of battery life, the price is very fair and the design is highly appealing, too.
In fact, our only complaint is that the E-7s might be a little too large or bulky for some users. Look at the other headphones we reviewed and you’ll see the amount of criticisms is much, much higher for each and every one of them.
Thus, even if a few are superior to the E-7s in some ways, the Cowin headphones are still the best model overall.
Best Headphones Under $100 Buyer’s Guide – What factors should You consider when choosing a pair of headphones?
This is a tough one. What happens should none of the ten headphones we picked really suit you?
Well, how about you learn how to choose the pair that best suits you?
After all, you know the saying: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man how to fish and feed him for the rest of his life.” Well then, let’s go fishing!
Types of Headphone
There are three of these:
The former is the largest headphone type around, but if you don’t mind size, it’s gonna be the most powerful in terms of performance. If you want something to really knock you off your gaming chair with its sound quality, you’ll need to go over-ear on your next purchase.
In-ear headphones, also called earbuds, are completely different. These are the kind of headphones you’d by as an accessory for your phone or MP3 player at best, namely because they’re so small.
If they’ve got a mic, it’ll be mounted on a small bracket that’s fused to the power cord as the earcups themselves will be too small.
Generally, in-ear headphones are very much inferior to all other types and are mainly bought for their low price, ease of concealment and of course their small footprint.
A compromise between the two can also be made in the form of supra-aural, or on-ear headphones. These are basically like over-ear models, but shrunk a little bit. They generally sit in between in-ear and over-ear headphones both in terms of price and quality.
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the presence—or absence—of a built-in microphone. Many headphones have one of these, especially smaller ones, and it allows you to answer calls, chat with friends, use your headphones for gaming and more.
A mic certainly is a very handy thing to have, especially when it’s got hands-free calling.
However, if you have already got a dedicated microphone, all you need to know is whether your headphones can be connected to it, as a separate mic will always be superior to built-in variants used in smaller headphones.
Finally, the last important bit to take into consideration is noise isolation. There are four possible types you’ll encounter: None, passive, active and hybrid.
I don’t think we’ll need to discuss the absence of noise-cancelling here beyond just stating the obvious and saying “You will hear everything clearly without any sound isolation”.
Passive isolation works by a careful choice of materials that shield your ears from sound that isn’t emitted by your headphones. Generally, this is most effective on the larger over-ear headphones and least effective on small earbuds.
Active noise isolation works by electrically changing the headphone’s sound output to actively combat any sound that might be coming from your environment.
This means that, when using your headphones, you will most likely not hear your surroundings at all. Cheaper versions of this kind of system often make a certain compromise between noise isolation and volume, but more expensive ones basically provide no difference that the human brain could measure.
Hybrid noise isolation means that the pair of headphones is passively isolated and, at the same time, equipped with an active isolation system. With the push of a button, you can turn that active system on or off, letting you decide how much noise you want to hear.
Due to the limitations of passive noise-cancelling and the electronics needed for such a system, headphones equipped with this type of noise isolation are usually of the over-ear configuration and pretty expensive.
Generally speaking, expect to pay a lot for over-ear models, less for on-ear ones and even less for in-ear earbuds. Remember to always pay only at a level you are comfortable with.
As we all know, this is probably the most subjective criterion of them all, and for that reason, we won’t dwell on it too much. Simply put, don’t buy something that you’re appalled by, design-wise. You will only regret it.
On the other hand, don’t make looks the deciding factor in your buying decision. Accept the fact that an effective pair of headphones might not look as beautiful as an art piece. This is especially true for over-ear headphones, which can sometimes appear as bulky.
This is important. If you have the means, test out the headphones before you buy.
Everyone has got a different head and different ears. In fact, scientists around the world are trying right now to develop working ear recognition technology as it has been found out that the shape of one’s ear is even more unique—and harder to fake—than a fingerprint.
Tough, then, that your headphones will have to sit on those perfectly unique ears the whole time. Better try them out first to see if they fit.
Also: Don’t overreact! Some headphones might feel great at first, but start to produce noticeable strain on your body once you wear them for longer periods of time.
You should try them out for at least an hour or two, just to make sure. Of course, all of this can change based on your exact needs. You might not want to do the est for more than a few minutes if you know that’s how long you’ll use your pair on average.
On the flipside, if you are a true power user who will need their headphones for a multitude of uses pretty much the whole day, every day, you might want to try them out for much longer than just an hour.
Also, keep an eye out for certain models being advertised with comfort in mind. This should ease your search for a pair of headphones that is comfortable to wear for long.
And, lastly, We don’t think that it is possible to overstate how important sound and build quality are. They’re almost everything that separates your headphones from good or bad, in fact.
Pay close attention to the materials used. Is that real metal, or just plastic with metallic paint? Is the wood genuine? Does this thing start to wobble or get loose when I push on it a little?
Do these kinds of tests with the product to see how well-made it is, then take that into account when choosing your preferred pair.
As for sound quality, the best thing you can do is, again, to test the headphones out.
Simply use them for an hour or so, listening to music—any kind of music, not just the songs that you like! You’ll need to try out every genre that comes into your mind, otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on a few details.
Maybe the bass sounds horrible, but you didn’t notice that because you only like Pop and Rap? Don’t let that happen.
What do Headphones mean to you?
This question is one you’ll need to answer for yourself. Do you see them as a fashion item, as a part of your next outfit? Are you an audiophile who demands the very best in terms of audio quality? Do you work in the music industry and need a new pair for testing purposes or for work? Or are you just a casual user who likes to listen to your own playlist every now and then?
Think this through carefully before making any sort of buying decision. Whatever your criteria and needs are, though, we are sure there is one pair of headphones out there that will meet and fulfill them fully.
Is it really Sound Quality?
One sentence: Value does not equal price. What do we mean by that?
We mean that value is the overall ‘score’, so to speak, the headphones’ worth, their quality, performance, reliability, design and so much more thrown all together.
Price, on the other hand, is just a fixed value. It’s a number, a certain amount of money that someone wants from you in exchange for the headphones. Don’t let people fool you by making you think they’re one and the same. They’re not.
And only one of them is related to sound quality. Can you guess which one?
So, next time you see an ad for a certain brand or model of headphones labeling the high price as a positive, arguing that it somehow means sound quality is superior to all less expensive ones, we hope you’ll know which one not to buy.
Are you getting them for the Design or the Brand Name?
Liking a certain pair just because of the looks or the brand—or maybe even both at once—certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Hey, many people do it with all sorts of products. And you’ll certainly not need to worry if you plan to buy your headphones mainly as a fashion item.
In fact, if that is the case, go for it and buy the best-looking, most prestigious headphones from the best brand that you can find at the price you’re comfortable with.
In any other case, just be aware that buying headphones mainly for the looks or the brand name can effectively mean ignoring aspects that are actually of practical use, like audio quality, comfortability, size and so on.
The most popular brands for headphones under $100
Cowin has established itself over the years as a true enthusiast’s marque, boasting with superior audio quality, design elements and, most importantly, competitive pricing to boot.
Their lineup is pretty varied, though they mainly focus on larger over-ear and on-ear headphones. One of their trademarks is the fact that Cowin is one of the few manufacturers in the budget price segment to use a hybrid noise-cancelling system on some of their larger models. Pretty impressive!
SENSO are a relatively unknown and small manufacturer of eadphones, specifically earbuds. SENSO’s models are very affordable, sport modern designs and often come with quite a lot of accessories.
A user-friendly firm, SENSO also offers very generous support to its buyers considering how small of a company they are. Most of their models are targeted towards sports and gymnastics enthusiasts.
Panasonic needs no introduction. The Japanese electronics megacompany has been around for ages and has been known to produce an unimaginable variety of devices, among them headphones.
However, in spite of their immense budget, Panasonic’s headphones aren’t exactly enthusiast-grade for the most part. Instead, they focus on bringing portable audio to the masses with cheap, compact and lightweight in-ear headphone designs.
AmazonBasics appeared out of nowhere in 2009, but went largely unnoticed until its recent boom in popularity. The concept is simple: Small subsidiaries and companies under the ownership of Amazon produce and sell simple, inexpensive and generally reliable devices and tools of all kinds on Amazon.com.
Their headphones, in this case, come in all shapes and sizes, but only in black, cheap-looking plastic and are relatively low-quality. However, if you are on a serious budget, they are capable of doing more than their sub-$10 price tags might suggest and are worth a look.
Mpow is another manufacturer that is unfortunately foreign to many. This company specializes in Bluetooth-equipped devices of all kinds, but their headphones deserve special credit. The Mpow headphones have one big advantage: Style.
Although most are large over-ear designs, they are designed in such a way that makes them appear sleek, elegant and easy to fit into any modern outfit. Mpow are definitely worth checking out if you prefer something that is not just up to date and efficient, but also good-looking and inexpensive.
Q: Do I really need a headphone amplifier?
A: If you don’t consider yourself an audiophile, probably not. Of course, this depends on what device you connect your headphones to. CD players, for example, tend to have pretty awful amps, whilst Hi-Fi sets, sound cards or any pair of good speakers will most likely do such a good job that you won’t feel the need to buy a separate amp.
If you do care a lot about sound, though, you might consider checking out an amp as it can improve your listening experience.
A: Barely. There are a lot of bargains out there, and all of them can outperform the many ridiculously priced offerings that don’t offer any advantage in performance compared to less expensive models.
Yes, those are out there. In fact, they are the norm. You’d be surprised at how cheap a pair of headphones that is actually priced in accordance with its level of quality can be. Too bad most manufacturers aim for profit, not honesty, so you’ll have to be on the lookout for overpriced headphones pretty much all the time.
Additionally, here are a couple of questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before making the big decision and buying your pair of headphones.
Q: How long is the Battery life?
A: Although this is only important if you are considering a Bluetooth pair, battery life can still be quite the deciding factor. This, of course, largely depends on how much you plan to use the headphones and how much time you’ll be willing to give up for charging them every now and then.
Q: Are they really comfortable?
A: As mentioned earlier, you better test them out to verify that. But, seriously, ask yourself this question: Are they really (Note: the ‘really’ is supposed to be in bold font here) comfortable? Yes, in that tone. Maybe you’re not sure, maybe there was this slight annoyance that you ignored because you thought it wasn’t that bad.
If so, reconsider. Just the slightest flaw in the design could drive you mad once you’ll have to get used to wearing it on your head regularly. Remember that.
Q: How is the sound quality?
A: Once again, try them out. Of course, this is subjective, but you should, no matter what kind of user you are, be well able to detect low-quality sound and distinguish it from perfect sound.
And there you have it. The comprehensive guide to buying the pair of headphones that’ll suit you best. Following the steps outlined above, you should have no problem making a conscious buying decision.
Of course, we couldn’t have possibly covered everything, not even in a guide as long as this, but it should represent a fair tutorial on the topic, a sort of crash course, so to speak.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go out there and get yourself the nicest pair of headphones you can find! We’re certain you’ll love them.