Affiliate links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Best budget over ear headphones
While true wireless earbuds have gained in popularity, it’s hard to beat a solid good pair of over-ear headphones. The problem is, all of the best ones with the newest features usually require some pretty deep pockets, but you can still afford some great features while maintaining your savings account. We’ve gone through and picked out some of the best budget over-ear headphones.
Editor’s note: this list of the best budget over ear headphones was updated on May 12, 2023, to add the AKG K371, Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT, and Anker Soundcore Life Q20 to the Best list, to highlight Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO, and to add the AKG K240 Studio, Anker Soundcore Space Q45, Audio Technica ATH-M30x, Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, Sennheiser HD 350BT, and Sennheiser HD 560S to Notable mentions, and to update FAQ, sections, and formatting.
People who have a habit of breaking things. We aren’t all capable of handling $500 headphones. It’s okay, we get it. This list is for you. Anyone looking to save some cash. As much as we love great, premium quality headphones here at SoundGuys, we understand that everyone has different priorities. If you want the best for your money, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. In some cases, anyone. The Sony MDR-7506 headphones, for example, is a tried and true pair of classic cans that have been around for decades, and repairable.
For our top five picks, you can find the isolation and frequency response charts at the end of each image gallery. You can learn more about how to read our charts here.
Why is the AKG K371 the best budget over ear headphones?
Folks looking to get some straight forward, good sounding headphones ought to check out the AKG K371. These over-ear headphones have a nice frequency response that doesn’t exaggerate anything much, and lends itself to most listeners. The size and weight of 255g are slim enough and not heavy. Plus you can flip up the ear cups.
Plus the pressure is gentle enough with memory foam ear pads to accommodate people with glasses. In the package AKG includes three different interchangeable cables, which ought to carry you through for quite some time. Isolation is pretty average for headphones without active noise cancelling (ANC), but for budget headphones that just playback your music well, it’s a good pick.
For the best sound quality, check out the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
When it comes to audio, few companies are trusted as much as Sennheiser, so its no surprise its product ended up on the best over-ear headphones under $100 list. Sennheiser has decades of experience making some of the best headphones in the world. While the HD 280 Pro doesn’t sound as good as some of those upper-end models, it also doesn’t cost as much as a car so I think it’s a fair trade. Regardless, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro has dense padding all around the headband and ear cups which make them great for long listening sessions and have an attenuation of up to 32dB.
It also folds easily at the hinges for easy transport and has a frequency response of 8Hz-25kHz, which means it can reproduce sounds even lower than the human ear can hear. Plus, the cable is replaceable so should it happen to break at some point in the future you can just replace the cable instead of needing to buy a whole new pair of headphones. Basically, despite being marketed as studio style headphones, there’s more low end volume that lines up with consumer headphones.
If you’re a creator, you want the Sony MDR-7506
Then you have something like the Sony MDR-7506 headphones, which is arguably one of the best headphones under $100 period when it comes to anything to do with creating. You’ll find these headphones everywhere from TV production studios to recording booths, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon.
The lightweight plastic build is fairly comfortable and it folds to a fraction of its size making it easy to transport. Plus, the long coiled cable makes means you’re free to move around somewhat without pulling equipment off the table with you. It doesn’t give too much emphasis to any one area of the frequency response which means that you get one of the cleanest looks at your raw audio as you edit in the business.
Cut the cable (or don’t) with the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
Frequently found for not much at all, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT is both wired and Bluetooth capable and it’s one of the best over-ears under $100 USD. At this price you’re not getting touch controls, rather dedicated buttons instead. With a robustly built headband you can easily commute with this pair, even though it doesn’t fold. On the whole it sounds good, but a bit light on sub bass. Nevertheless, it sounds great up through treble, and just up the bass slider in your EQ app.
Surprisingly, the onboard mics are pretty good too for calls. Now, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x is a stalwart budget studio headphone, but the added Bluetooth capability (AAC and SBC codecs) lends the budget minded amongst us a bit of a two-in-one situation with the ATH-M20xBT over-ears. You can swap out the cable, and the ear pads as well if you find you wear yours out.
Get the most for your money with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headset is a prime example of high value for low price. It made some of the best budget over-ear headphones because it features a comfortable fit and a straight forward functionality. Its battery reaches 51 hours, 50 minutes to a single charge, and it uses the somewhat outdated microUSB port.
Audio is transmitted either with a headphone jack, or Bluetooth using AAC and SBC codecs. There’s no app and your controls are buttons on the ear cups, which keeps things simple. Best of all though is 40mm drivers that when paired with pretty decent active noise cancelling delivers an enjoyable listening experience. It’s certainly cheap, but it doesn’t lack much, except some luxuries like multipoint.
The Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO is a good budget enthusiast companion
Not particularly well suited to a commute, the Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO is staunchly in the at-home use department. It uses a semi-open back design which keeps your ears cool while donning the velour ear pads. Its frequency response reflects a more studio style sound as well, so bass heads be advised.
For the money, the DT 880 PRO is a great pick for the right user. Nobody here will suggest you take it with you on the bus for example.
The best over-ear headphones under $100: Notable mentions
- AKG K240 Studio: This set of open backs rolls off the bass, and scarcely isolates at all, but it’s a great budget set for mixing audio on a budget ($69.99 at Amazon).
- Anker Soundcore Space Q45: Replete with features like ANC, Bluetooth LDAC, AAC, SBC, multipoint, and an app with equalizer, this wired or wireless set of cans doesn’t feel cheap for $149.99 at Amazon.
- Audio Technica ATH-M30x: These cans provide a relatively neutral sound for $79 at Amazon, ideal for the budget-conscious bedroom producer, or upgrade to the nicer feeling, Audio-Technica ATH-M40x ($119 at Amazon).
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: Combining Bluetooth with an optional wired connection, this set of over-ears is similar to the renowned Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but with added flexibility. Get it for $199 at Amazon.
- Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX: Pushing the threshold of “budget” the collaboration seeks to achieve the sound of the venerable (and pricier) Sennheiser HD 650. In that way, it is budget (costing $199 at Drop) by comparison.
- Sennheiser HD 350BT: For $69.95 at Amazon, you get aptX Low Latency and AAC support, Bluetooth 5.0, and USB-C charging, and of course a wired connection too.
- Sennheiser HD 560S: A rock solid set of headphones that supply a nice sound and a comfortable fit worthy of consideration if you’re sticking around home, because it’ll leak sound, for $146.26 at Amazon.
What you should know about over-ear headphones
People like all sorts of personal audio devices, but over-ears are the mainstay of high-performing headphones. There are many reasons for this, but it mostly boils down to the fact that it’s easier to make them, from the guts to the padding. If you want the most bang for your buck, it’ll come from any of the best budget over-ear headphones.
What are over-ears anyway?
If you’ve been searching our site looking for headphones, you may have noticed that we tend to talk about the different kinds of headphones separately. The most common that you’re probably familiar with are earbuds like the ones that come with your smartphone. Then there are Bluetooth earbuds, true wireless earbuds, on-ears, and finally over-ears.
To answer the question posed at the top of this section, over-ears are simply headphones that completely encapsulate your ears. The ear cups usually have a small indent in the padding for your ears to rest comfortably in. On-ears on the other hand, don’t completely cover your ears and therefore have slightly worst isolation in most cases.
Why is isolation so important?
Isolation is arguably the single greatest factor that impacts how you perceive music. If there’s a lot going on around you, your brain has a hard time picking out some of the frequencies that lie within the range of the outside noise. For example, if you’re on an airplane the low rumble or the jets will effectively draw the attention of your brain away from that smooth bass line you’re trying so hard to listen to. It’s how humans evolved to hear: we notice the loudest sounds above all else. The more you can separate yourself from the noises around you, the better your music will sound.
An added benefit of good isolation (and noise cancellation) is that you won’t be so tempted to increase volume beyond what’s safe for your hearing in order to drown the environmental sounds out.
What’s a Bluetooth codec?
Bluetooth has come a long way since it was first introduced as an alternative to wired listening. It still isn’t a perfect replacement for a reliable audio cable, but the advancement of the Bluetooth codec—how data is packaged and sent between two different devices over Bluetooth—has helped things a lot.
An easy way to think of it is like languages that Bluetooth devices speak. If they speak the same codec (or language), then more data can be transferred more efficiently. If not, they default back to the most basic codec which is SBC (or in keeping with our analogy, hand gestures). It’s not as efficient, but SBC is universal, so everything can at least fall back on it.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
We test every product that comes our way by way of recording objective measurements and using everything in a typical environment. While audio is a measurable science, we don’t neglect the importance of personal preference. Some people may really enjoy a bass-heavy sound while others may be forever in search for their platonic ideal headset.
Here at SoundGuys, we try to account for every need and preference when collating best lists. While our site does operate via affiliate links, none of our writers benefit from awarding one product over the other.
Frequently asked questions
Oh, do we have the list for you! Our best headphones under $1,000 compilation includes some good picks. With that said, there are plenty of excellent headphones that don’t reach those prices.
We like the Monoprice BT-600ANC for its great noise cancelling, and the Sennheiser HD 350BT is a good performer too.
Honestly, the answer depends on what you’re looking for in a pair of headphones. These days LG has focused more of true wireless earbuds, whereas Bose has over ear and true wireless earbuds. For over ear headphones, Bose is better than LG.