by Adam MolinaMarch 9, 2017

Headphones range from very cheap to insanely expensive depending on the brand, style, usage, and features. In between the two price extremes lie every pair of headphones you’ve ever heard of.  You may think that any pair of headphones (regardless of how good they are) is not worth a large amount of money and you wouldn’t be alone in that thinking. However, contrary to popular belief there are plenty of great options that won’t cost you. That’s the reason we decided to make this list. So in no particular order, these are the best headphones under $100 you can get right now.

Related: Best Headphones of 2017 / Best Earbuds under $100


Best All-Around

Audio-Technica ATH-M40X

You’ve probably heard about the ATH-M50x as the headphones of choice from numerous people but that doesn’t mean you should ignore their younger sibling, the ATH-M40x. Like their older brother, they’re designed for one thing and one thing only: music. Whether you’re an avid listener or someone who uses headphones for your profession, these will get the job done for sure. They come with two proprietary detachable audio cables, one being a standard straight 3.5mm audio cable and the other being coiled. Neither have any remote capabilities which isn’t surprising seeing as these really aren’t meant to be used for anything besides listening to music. Each ear cup has 40mm drivers and swiveling ear cups so that they can rest flat against your chest when you’re not using them. Though the headband isn’t as padded as we’ve seen in other headphones it’s still fairly comfortable and you shouldn’t have any issues wearing these for hours at a time. With a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, we highly doubt that you’ll consider these a waste of $90. Audio-Technica meant business when they designed these and if you don’t feel like shelling out the extra cash for their older brother, these are a seriously great buy.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
10.9 x 8.9 x 4.3 inches/1.9 pounds
Pros
SoundBuild qualitySwiveling ear cups
Cons
Comfort

CB3 Hush

If youre looking more for comfort and active noise cancelling, then maybe the CB3 Hush will be more up your alley. They’re an inexpensive pair of noise cancelling headphones that are the definition of bang for your buck with more than a few solid features all packaged into a pretty modern design. Starting with the build and design, these are very comfortable. The padding on the headband and ear pads feels nice to the touch and allows them to rest comfortably on your head for even the longest listening sessions. If you need to pack them in a bag they’re also fairly flexible and can fold at the hinges so you can throw them in a backpack if you need to. On the right ear cup you’ll find only three buttons, all of which are basically multi-functions. You can turn on the headphones, enter pairing mode, skip tracks, and control volume. On the left ear cup is the switch that will turn on the ANC and a 3.5mm input jack for when the battery dies out. That said, with Bluetooth and ANC turned on, these should get you a solid 15 hours of playback time which is enough for the average flight or commute. The two best features about these headphones are arguably the most important when it comes to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones: the ANC and the sound. A lot of times headphones with weak ANC will simply get a little louder in order to block out the outside noise, but that isn’t the case with the Hush. As the name implies, they have really solid noise-cancelling considering the price. Voices and dog barks will still slice through, but the low hum of trains and even nearby air conditioners get noticeably less audible when you switch it on. These don’t really have an accurate sound but if you’re into a more fun-sounding pair of headphones that sound good then these might do it for you. The CB3 Hush don’t exactly have premium build materials, but that doesn’t mean theyre not a great pair of headphones. At less than $100 these are a no-brainer if you want your headphones to do a little bit of everything and do it well.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
4.0
Noise Cancelling
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Battery Life
15 hours
Size/Weight
6.1 x 2.2 x 7.9 inches/1.2 pounds
Pros
Active noise cancellingsound quality
Cons
Average battery lifeSound leakage

Best Sound

Status Audio CB-1

There hasn’t really been a pair of headphones worth adding to this list list for quite some time, but then the CB-1 headphones by Status Audio came along. These over-ear studio headphones don’t cost too much but they provide a great listening experience that rivals anything on this list. These offer a nice balanced sound perfect for anyone looking to do audio production on the cheap. There is definitely a slight push to the low end but it’s not too much. Just enough to make these enjoyable whether you’re listening to your favorite songs or trying to be as accurate as possible in the studio. In order to keep the price down however corners need to be cut, and here you’ll see that in the build quality. It’s not cheap by any means, but you’ll find plenty of plastic here. But if you can look pass that, you’ll find a pair of headphones with a worth sound.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
10.9 x 8.9 x 4.3 inches/1.9 pounds
Pros
Sound qualityComfortable
Cons
Build quality

Sony MDR7506

The next pair to make the list are the Sony MDR7506. These headphones have a design that lies somewhere in between modern and classic, but they still manage to look pretty cool. They have 40mm drivers with a frequency range of 10Hz - 20kHz allowing listeners to feel some extra low end while simultaneously providing great detail to the mids and the highs. These are really meant for studio monitoring, but they also have easy folding at the hinges so you can toss them in a bag if need be. Nothing says portable like hinges on the headband and being closed-back headphones also allows you to wear these while youre out and about without having to worry about any sound leaking out. If you’re looking for a solid pair of headphones and require high end sound for a modest price, the Sony MDR7506’s are hard to beat. The audio cable ends in a standard 3.5mm jack but also comes with a 1/4” adapter for plugging into equipment. If you intend to use these mainly while traveling or commuting, you might want to bring a small rubber band as the audio cable is 9.8 feet long and coiled, again allowing for some extra length when at a desk in a studio.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Pros
Good soundComfortable
Cons
Long cable

Best Design

Grado SR60e

If you’ve been following Sound Guys for a while then this first one should come as no surprise, but the Grado SR60e made this list (and some others) for good reason. They’re a great pair of headphones that will introduce you to the accurate sound of Grado for a fraction of the cost as some of their more expensive headphones. They have a great retro design that pays homage to the 60 years of experience the company has in making their products. One of the plus sides to these, at least for us, is that the Grado SR60e’s are an entry-level pair of headphones for anyone who needs to hear exactly what is going on with their audio whether that be for personal pleasure or work. They’re open-back headphones so they have an excellent soundstage but on the flip side that means that sound leakage is at it’s maximum. This means you might not want to use these for while next to someone on a train but casual listening around the house or the office won’t be too intrusive. The foam ear cups and adjustable headband allows them to fit on almost any sized head comfortably. Though they’re not the most portable of headphones due to the plastic build and inability to fold, they do come with a thicker audio cable for better sound quality and durability. We just wouldn’t recommend throwing them in a backpack without a proper case. When it comes to a bang for your buck, the Grado SR60e headphones have a lot of bang. Make sure to check out our full review to get a better idea of why these made the list.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
6.69 x 3.15 x 7.48 in/7.76 ounces
Pros
Build qualitySound qualitySoundstage
Cons
Sound leakage

Sennheiser HD-280 Pro

Sennheiser is one of the more recognizable brands in the audio world. So it’s no surprise that one of their headphones ended up on this list. This one comes to us in the shape of the Sennheiser HD-280 Pros. If you like padding and a comfortable fit, you’ll love these. Basically everything that touches your head is padded and can be easily replaced in the future, giving these a long life span when it comes to normal wear and tear. The ear cups also do a fairly decent job at blocking outside noise simply due to their size. They are closed-back headphones with a coiled audio cable that ends in a standard 3.5mm cable so listening with your phone or MP3 won’t be a problem. If you need these for some heavier listening they also come with a locking 1/4” adapter. Assuming you’re looking for a pair to carry with you on your everyday travels, these are a good choice simply because of the build.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
9.6 x 7.4 x 3.3 inches/1.3 pounds
Pros
Build qualitySound qualityComfort

Best Comfort

Creative Aurvana Live!

Creative knows how to make quality audio products for a low price. Their Sound Blaster Roar bluetooth speakers made a big splash in the audio community and the same can be said for their inexpensive Bluetooth headphones, the Sound Blaster Jams. Maybe it’s because they don’t have any cool features or because they aren’t wireless, but the Creative Aurvana Live! headphones are often overlooked. The adjustable headband and ear cups are completely made of plastic, but inside the ear cups are 40mm drivers to push sound. They have an impedance of 32 ohms and a frequency response that goes as low as 10Hz and as high as 30kHz. You probably won’t be able to hear anything at those extremes, but it gives a nice cushion to the sounds that you can hear which fall between 20Hz - 20kHz. The Aurvana Live headphones don’t have the best build quality, but the sound quality makes up for that. These have a 1.2mm cord composed of Oxygen-Free copper and it ends in a 3.5mm jack compatible with most devices. If you’re looking to plug into something a little more high end, it also comes with a 1/4” adapter and a 1.5m extension cable. If you plan on using these for commuting they do come with a carrying pouch, but they’re not the most durable headphones and they don’t fold for easy travel so be wary of tossing them into bags.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
7.5 x 4 x 10 inches/6.4 ounces
Pros
Good soundComfortable
Cons
Build materials

AKG K 240

AKG makes some pretty great headphones, if you need proof look no further than the AKG N90Q headphones we reviewed. Amazing yes, but also expensive. You wouldn’t be alone in not wanting to spend $1,500 on a pair of cans, so if the sub-$100 range is more your cup of tea then you might want to take a look at the AKG K 240 headphones. They’re certainly not the most portable of headphones, but the K 240s aren’t meant to be. If you need a professional sounding pair of cans to edit video or maybe for your home studio, then these are right up your alley. They have a self-adjusting headband that allows them to rest comfortably on your head for the most grueling of editing sessions. Since they’re primarily meant for studio use they do have a semi-open back design which basically means that there is going to be some serious sound leakage. Again, if you’re in a studio setting that’s not necessarily a bad thing but if you’re going to be taking these to the office you might want to keep your playlist PG-13 since anyone near you will be able to hear what you’re listening to. These are geared specifically towards people who require a more accurate sound when listening. Will they work with your iPod? Sure, but you’ll get the most out of them when plugged into an audio interface or good amp. On top of that the audio cable is 3m long and completely detachable. It ends in the standard 3.5mm headphone jack but, like all self-respecting studio headphones, there’s a 1/4” adapter included just in case you plan to plug it into any high end audio equipment.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Size/Weight
4.02 x 7.48 x 10 in/6.4 ounces
Pros
ComfortableOpen-back
Cons
Not the most durable

Keep in mind that the world of audio is ever-growing, so as new headphones are released that we feel deserve to be here we’ll be sure to update it. Let us know what your favorites are and what you think should hold the title for the best headphones under $100.

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