A lot of the best headphones you can find under $100 in 2021 will vary in quality and can sometimes be hit or miss in terms of accurate, high-quality audio reproduction and other functions. With so many options on the market it can be nearly impossible to find the right headphones for you when it’s much easier to just pick up the most popular option people are buying without considering your needs.
With the availability of different styles and types of headphones, including over-ear, on-ear, wired and wireless, closed-back, open-back, and audiophile headphones, you’ve got a giant selection to choose from. This article will detail the best headphones of 2021 that are priced under $100.
Here the best headphones under $100:
- Best overall: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
- Best wireless: Poly BackBeat Go 810
- Best noise-cancelling: Tribit QuietPlus
- Best earbuds: EarFun Air
- Best in-ears: Mpow M30
- Best on-ear: Status Audio BT One
- Best open-back: Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X
- Best for gaming: Razer Kraken Tournament Edition
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
The best over-ear headphones under $100 for audiophiles or producers
The ATH-M40x headphones are a perfect choice for the music studio or even for audiophiles who want a budget pair of headphones with high audio reproduction accuracy. I would recommend them to anyone who wants one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones with lots of sound isolation under $100.
|Image credit: Audio-Technica Check Amazon||
If you are on a small budget and want to push your spending limit to the max and get some of the best $100 headphones, getting a $100 or less model from Audio-Technica is always a very safe choice. The ATH-M40x is a very solid closed-back pair of headphones that is a top choice among many people, especially those who are producers or who work in the studio.
The ATH-M40x features 40 mm neodymium magnets and aluminum voice coils that are wrapped in copper, which helps lend a hand in the superior audio quality and audio reproduction they have. For ease of use, the ear cups swivel 90 degrees, making them great for DJs and others who like one ear monitoring.
The frequency response of the ATH-M40x headphones is 15 Hz to 24 kHz, and as for the sound signature, one could describe them as sounding flat, balanced, and neutral while remaining natural while keeping plenty of detail clearly audible in the soundstage. The ATH-M40x headphones were made to sound flat with any genre and have a ton of accuracy when it comes to reproducing audio. For the most part, this is true with these headphones.
As for the design, the headphones are made of thick, durable plastic. The headband is very thick and well-padded, and is adjustable to fit many different sized heads. The closed-back ear cups are a bit bulky, but that’s partially due to the thick ear pads.
However, there’s a good amount of sound isolation from these ear pads so people around you won’t be bothered when you listen to music, and they are extremely comfortable to wear around the ear for long periods of time so you will be happy too. Depending on head size, ATH-M40x’s more snug fit can cause irritation with glasses. As a glasses wearer, I personally can easily leave these headphones on for 6 hours and they’ll still be comfortable on me.
2. Poly BackBeat Go 810
The best wireless Bluetooth model under $100
The BackBeat Go 810 is easily the best pair of Bluetooth headphones you can get for under $100. With its incredible battery life and intuitive controls, the BackBeat Go 810 fits in perfectly at the workplace or on the go for consumers of all types. If you need a good wireless pair of headphones, these are a reliable choice, especially if you like genres of music like hip-hop and EDM where boosted bass is appreciated.
|Image credit: Poly Check Amazon||
Poly (formerly Plantronics) has a wide variety of headphones and other electronics for listening to music. The BackBeat Go 810 headphones are a very good option if you want something that is wireless and has over the ear style ear cups. At under $100, it’s not easy to find a Bluetooth headphone model but Poly changes that. The BackBeat Go 810 features 40 mm drivers that provide plenty of detailed audio to your ears.
It has an active noise-cancelling function that can be turned on and off. The battery life will provide you with a whopping 22 hours of playback time with active noise-cancelling on, 26 hours with the active noise-cancelling function turned off. The active noise cancellation is pretty good; as long as the environment isn’t super loud and overwhelming it should work well for you.
Controls and a microphone are built into the ear cups so you can tap to change songs, play, pause, and answer calls. A nice feature these headphones have are two different EQ modes (balanced and bright) that are available via the BackBeat app, allowing you to sculpt the sound of your audio to your liking. This is a great feature for those who like a more treble-heavy sound as opposed to a flatter, more natural sound. As far as sound goes, the BackBeat Go 810s tend to be more bass-heavy. Highs are bright, mids are rich, but the bass is a bit too exaggerated.
When it comes to the design, the headphones have a slimmer closed back, over ear style cup to prevent bulkiness, and memory foam ear pads. The headband does not fold as it is made of metal and padded with cloth. The overall quality of the headphones feels a bit cheaper given the price, but it ticks the boxes where it really counts.
3. Tribit QuietPlus
The best wireless noise-cancelling headphones under $100
If you are in need of an ideal pair of active noise-cancelling headphones, the best wireless headphones under $100 are easily the Tribit QuietPlus. Their noise cancellation easily rivals some higher-end models. I would recommend them to anyone who needs a little extra peace and quiet on their trips by plane, but they’d also be perfect for the daily commute by method of public transit. Rest assured, background noise will disappear with the QuietPlus headphones.
|Image credit: Tribit Check Amazon||
If you are a fan of the popular Bose headphones that have a noise-cancelling function, you’ll be happy to know that there is a budget-friendly model from Tribit, the QuietPlus headphones. The QuietPlus headphones are wireless headphones that have a closed-back, over-ear-style ear cup.
They are marketed specifically as noise-cancelling headphones, and the active noise-cancelling function works really well, reducing background noise by up to 35 dB, and reducing low frequencies up to 97%, making it great for the workplace or on planes. It can be switched on and off when you need to do so, and with active noise-cancelling on, the battery life of the QuietPlus can last up to 40 hours on standby.
On one charge, the battery will give you 30 hours of music playback time, however if you don’t want to use the battery up, you can use the included cable that plugs into the QuietPlus, turning them into wired headphones.
The headphones also feature a built-in microphone, so you can talk hands-free. Controls to answer calls, skip tracks, and play and pause music are located on the ear cups for easy control. The sound quality is surprisingly good, with clear highs, full mids, and punchy bass. The stereo image is also really nice with these headphones. I would say that it sounds pretty accurate and natural without losing that tight low end.
As far as the design goes, the headphones are pretty bulky considering they are noise-cancelling headphones. The urethane foam ear pads are pretty thick (but comfortable) and the cups are pretty big too. The headband is generously padded too, but you’ll be pleased to know that the QuietPlus headphones are still slim enough to fold up and pack away with the included carrying case for storage or transportation reasons.
4. EarFun Air
The best earbuds under $100
The EarFun Air are a perfect choice if you want Apple AirPods but don’t want to spend the money on them. They rival them easily and they are one of the better earbud models at this price range. Because they are sweat and waterproof, they’re ideal for use when exercising or traveling. Consumers and everyone in between will definitely enjoy the EarFun Air earbuds. They’ll fit easily into any lifestyle and bring you plenty of convenience.
|Image credit: EarFun Check Amazon||
EarFun is a newer company that sells earbuds and other listening devices and gear, but the EarFun Air are the product I want to touch on today from this company. The EarFun Air have been rated very highly across many websites, both by consumers and those who are audiophiles or have some sort of job related to the music industry.
The Air earbuds are incredibly intuitive and have some pretty nice technology under the hood. Firstly, they feature PEEK and PU dynamic drivers that provide high fidelity audio, so you’ll hear every detail in your music. They have an extensive active noise-cancelling feature that uses 4 tiny microphones that are built-in to cancel out noise, allowing you to make crystal clear calls with the main microphone.
To control volume and perform other functions like answering calls, you simply touch an earbud, so you don’t have to rely on your phone here when turning the volume up or switching songs. Another cool feature is In Ear Detection, which pauses the music when you take one earbud out and resumes it when both earbuds are securely in your ear. This is especially useful when exercising or conversing.
The battery life here is great, with up to 35 hours of playback time from one full charge and 2 hours of playback from a 10 minute charge. The sound quality is extremely nice, with deep bass, bright highs, and rich mids. Everything sounds pretty balanced and natural.
As for the design, they’re pretty durable, modeled after Apple AirPods and come with a wireless charging case. They fit in the ear pretty securely thanks to the various sized rubber ear tips included in the package, and they are also sweatproof and waterproof, making them perfect for exercising.
5. Mpow M30
The best in-ear headphones under $100
If you’re in need of a pretty good pair of in-ear headphones, the Mpow M30 headphones will be an enjoyable product for you. They are especially good for sports but are comfortable and convenient enough to wear throughout the day while commuting, studying, or working. Typical consumers like students will love these headphones.
|Image credit: Mpow Check Amazon||
In-ear headphones are not the same as earbuds; in-ear headphones sit in the ear canal rather than rest on the outside edge of the ear like earbuds. The Mpow M30 wireless in-ear headphones follow this design of having the speaker closer to the ear canal.
The M30 features intuitive controls on the actual in-ear headphones; since they are wireless there is no cable involved, keeping your hands free and preventing you from getting tangled. These controls are touch sensitive, and with them you can change the volume, skip tracks, play and pause the music, answer calls, and even activate Siri.
The drivers in the M30 use polyurethane material to achieve an ultra-immersive sound for the listener with deep, expansive bass in a small speaker.
As far as battery life goes, the charging case can hold 5 charges with a 1.5 hour full charge, and the in-ear headphones give you 5 hours of playback per charge, giving you up to 25 total hours of playback.
The sound of the M30 in-ear headphones is pretty good for something this affordable. The sound is definitely a little bass-heavy, but overall nothing too extreme, otherwise they sound pretty balanced. The microphone is very clear and sounds great when using the phone. As the M30s are an in-ear design, not much actually sticks out of your ear and instead you must rely on your cartilage to keep them in.
Included in the package are extra retainers and rubber ear tips for comfort. The retainers go around the outside of the M30s and help keep them snug and secure inside of your ear to prevent them from falling out while you’re moving around, making them great for sports because of this extra security. They’re also waterproof, so you can exercise in the rain or sweat on them and they’ll work fine.
6. Status Audio BT One
The best on-ear headphones under $100
The Status Audio BT One wireless headphones are a great solution for those who like on-ear models. Those who want a lightweight listening experience to minimize ear fatigue, skin irritation, and head pressure will absolutely love these headphones. I’d recommend them to any and all people who need a cheap but stylish pair of wireless headphones to use at work or on the go.
|Image credit: Status Audio Check Amazon||
Status Audio is not a well-known manufacturer of headphones, but they have a really nice model for people who like to listen to music with on-ear headphones. The BT One headphones are Status Audio’s solution for these consumers who prefer a more lightweight listening experience.
The BT One headphones are closed-back, on-ear headphones. They are wireless and use Bluetooth technology to pair with your devices, hence the ‘BT’ in the name. On the right ear cup you’ll find buttons for increasing and decreasing volume, playing and pausing the music, and more. There is also a microphone built into the BT One for making calls with crystal clear audio.
The drivers used in these headphones are 40 mm dynamic drivers that pump out high-quality audio. The battery life is really nice, with it providing 30 hours of continuous music playback. Thanks to the fast charging capabilities, you can charge it fully and it only takes 1.5 hours.
These headphones are easily some of the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones under $100. They have tight, controlled bass, and clear mids and highs that don’t get muddied by the bass, but the audio does leak out a fair amount because of the on-ear design. The frequency response range is very impressive, going from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. While there’s not much background noise cancellation due to the design, these headphones sound incredible.
The design of the BT One is very minimalistic but incredibly sleek and fashionable, with an adjustable metal headband that is covered in cloth and leather. The ear cups are thinner due to not being over-ear headphones, and the foam padding is thicker than the ear cups, providing a bit more sound isolation than other on ear headphones do. The ear pads are covered in leather to make them extra comfortable.
7. Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X
The best open-back headphones under $100
For producers and audiophiles who want an accurate, open soundstage, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X headphones are the best choice for open-back headphones under $100. They fit perfectly in the music studio, but audiophiles will also be very pleased to listen to their high-fidelity music and be able to hear it as the artist intended. I recommend these to any music producer or audiophile.
|Image credit: Audio-Technica Check Amazon||
While Audio-Technica primarily focuses on manufacturing closed-back, over-ear headphones, they do have some open-back, over-ear models. For this price point, they offer a really nice model that really opens up the soundstage. The ATH-AD500X is a pair of open-back, over-ear headphones perfect for use in the studio when mixing or for audiophiles who want an extremely accurate listening experience when enjoying music.
Featured in the ATH-AD500X are large 53 mm drivers with CCAW voice coils to ensure the most accurate high-quality audio is sent to your ears. Considering this is an open-back model, the casings that cover the back of the headphones are made of aluminum and are in a honeycomb pattern that opens up your soundstage to provide you with an experience similar to listening to music with speakers.
The sound of the ATH-AD500Xs is very open and expansive, and audio is free to leak out of the headphone backs. This means they’re not a good choice for using as you go about your daily life, unless you practically live in the music studio, because they’ll definitely disrupt everyone around you. Along with this disadvantage to these headphones, they also have no noise cancellation functions so plenty of noise will be able to get to your ears.
The frequency response range of the ATH-AD500Xs is 5 Hz to 25 kHz, and the sound is very flat and not colored at all.
The design of the ATH-AD500Xs is rather cushy. The headband is flexible with 3D Wing Support technology to relieve pressure from your head and is lightly padded with extra headband arms for more support. The ear pads are pretty well cushioned with raised cloth material that will last a long time before flaking and peeling off, but the ear cups leak a good amount of audio.
8. Razer Kraken Tournament Edition
The best gaming headphones under $100
If you want to get one of the best closed-back headphones under $100 on the market for gaming, the Razer Kraken Tournament Edition headphones are a smart choice to consider. I would recommend them for any gamer, from beginners to hardcore players. With the surround sound and extra controls, you can customize your audio experience and get great results.
|Image credit: Razer Check Amazon||
Razer is a leader in the manufacturing of gaming computers and other gaming equipment including chairs and gaming headphones. The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition headphones are perfect for gamers who want a unique listening and playing experience while gaming. The Kraken TE is an ultra-immersive pair of over-ear, closed-back gaming headphones.
They feature 50 mm drivers that are custom tuned for gaming to help increase your in game awareness. Footsteps will be heard clearly and it will sound like you’re physically in the game. THX 7.1 surround sound technology is used with these gaming headphones to give you one of the most immersive gaming experiences. If you’re familiar with 3D audio, it definitely has a similar feel to it; it really does surround you and put you in the game.
Also featured is the THX Spatial USB Audio Enhancer, which is essentially a headphone amp that plugs into the Kraken TE. The amp has volume controls, a control to adjust the bass level, a microphone mute button, a control to adjust the music/chat balance, and a button to employ the Spatial Audio Enhancer.
The sound is pretty good for gaming headphones and adjusting the bass helps find that sweet spot. Highs are bright and mids are full and detailed, while the bass can get overpowering if you have it turned up too far. The microphone quality is nice and it’s retractable if you need to move it out of the way.
As for the rest of the design, the ear cups are pretty big and the ear pads are really thick and filled with cooling gel, which allows for some passive noise cancellation while keeping you cool. While the Kraken TEs aren’t lightweight by any means, the headband is well padded and doesn’t apply pressure to the top of the head or irritate the skin.
While the best headphones under $100 are naturally going to be more cheaply made, you’ll definitely be surprised by many of the models on this list due to their functions, battery life, and audio quality. Budget options for headphones can still provide a ton of use and can be way more reliable than some high-end models of headphones that you would think would last longer or be more functional.
I recommend thoroughly researching whichever model of headphones you choose before buying it to ensure that you’ll get the max value out of it. This article should provide you with a good idea of how much value you’d be getting out of each pair of the best headphones under $100 of 2021 before you take the plunge and purchase one of them. Whether they’re an over-ear pair, on-ear pair, wireless or wired, there is a pair of headphones for you.
For more articles on the best music production gear available on the market, be sure to check back soon with Consordini!