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.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40XFull Review
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.
If you’re 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 they’re 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.
Disclosure: CB3 Audio is a partner brand of SoundGuys.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:
- Best headphones under $50
- Best headphones under $200
- Best bluetooth headphones of 2017
- Best noise cancelling headphones