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Best wireless earbuds under $100
Just a few years ago, functional and reliable cheap true wireless earbuds would have been an oxymoron, but now they’re being released in droves. You no longer have to shell out $150-plus for a pair of solid, truly wireless earbuds. Instead, as technology has progressed, you can save your money and enjoy the latest and greatest audio engineering has to offer. Here are the best wireless earbuds under $100.
- This list of the best wireless earbuds under $100 was updated on June 7, 2023, to add the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 to the Best list, highlight the Beats Studio Buds, and add the Nothing Ear 1 to Notable mentions.
Why is the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 the best pair of wireless earbuds under $100 for most?
Samsung has really made leaps and bounds in recent years, overtaking the true wireless earbuds market, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 demonstrates why. Originally retailing for about $150, the introduction of the more premium Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro (and time) has helped drop the price point of the active noise canceling (ANC) buds. Occasionally, you’ll find these for a couple of bucks over the $100 threshold, so hunt around, but typically they should fit your budget.
If you’re like many Android users, you probably have a Samsung device, in which case you’ll benefit from not only the Android-exclusive app but also Samsung Seamless Codec. This codec transmits your audio at a variable transfer rate (88-512kbps) to optimize it with your connection at a given moment, not unlike how LDAC behaves. Other users get standard AAC and SBC codecs. If you’ve got an iPhone, these are not the best choice for you because there’s no app for iOS. Samsung gives a decent 5 hours of battery life (ANC on) with a 5-minute quick charge yielding an extra hour.
The ANC onboard filters noise well, even better than the last generation’s flagship (Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro), which is promising. So you might be getting the mid-tier product, but you still get so much from it. AKG tunes the default frequency response, and it sounds good. The app supplies some EQ presets too. At a mere 5g each, the small bean-shaped buds are comfortable, but the touch controls can behave with hypersensitivity. Because the Galaxy Buds 2 only have an IPX2 rating, we wouldn’t recommend taking it for a run. However, keep reading for other suggestions if that’s your concern.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone is decent. Tempering your expectations of any true wireless earbuds and their microphone will help anyone expecting radio broadcast mic quality. Basically, the mic captures your voice and most everything else in the office.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Google Pixel Buds A-Series is the smartest set of budget earphones around
The budget-friendly Google Pixel Buds A-Series succeeds the famed Google Pixel Buds (2020), and the A-Series has almost all the same specs as its pricier sibling, including an IPX4 rating, a Bass Boost feature, and Google Assistant integration. Few wireless earbuds support hands-free Google Assistant access, let alone the best wireless earbuds under $100.
Upon its release, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series had some volume quirks (it was far too quiet), but Google has since released firmware 233 to bring the output up to an acceptable level. Listeners who enjoy spoken word content will appreciate the Pixel Buds A-Series’ under-emphasized bass response, which yields much clearer vocal reproduction. If you’re exercising or just enjoy more of a bass-heavy sound, then take a minute to enable the Bass Boost response in the Pixel Buds app (Android only).
Ultimately, this is a really solid set of earbuds with plenty of advanced software and hardware to keep up with newer releases. If you want additional noise canceling and Google Translate, you’ll have to pony up for the flagship Google Pixel Buds Pro, but if you can do without, these are great buds for the price.
While the Pixel Buds A-Series lacks noise canceling, it uses Google’s Adaptive Sound, which essentially adjusts the volume based on background noise. This is a fine feature, but it can wreck the dynamics of a song. The earbuds have pressure relief vents that should mitigate any uncomfortable suction-like feeling you get with other earphones.
The microphone is quite good on the Pixel Buds A-Series, but its quality decreases as you introduce background noise. Take a listen to our sample below.
Google Pixel Buds A-Series microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini is a pint-sized pick
For under $100, the 1More ComfoBuds Mini has some of the smallest earbuds (3.7g each) on the market with some ANC on tap. In white, red, and black color options, the IPX5-rated buds can handle most daily excursions.
Interestingly, the ANC is pretty good with a function to filter wind noise, but the small size means you might not get as much environmental isolation as a more effective seal can offer. It sounds pleasant, although, for some reason, the tuning gets more bassy when you turn on the ANC. That might be a bonus for some listeners who use extra bass for focus. You will need to rely on the app to activate ANC rather than touch controls, and 1MORE customizes the sound for you based on your fit.
In all, the battery lasts 5 hours and 19 minutes per charge with ANC. Considering the minute size of the ComfoBuds Mini (and, in turn, the internal batteries), that’s a rather impressive figure. AAC and SBC codecs are your sole options for Bluetooth connection. For the price, it’s a good pick.
The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini doesn’t have the best mics. In ideal circumstances, it captures your voice fine, and in an office, it picks up keystrokes. However, it is useable. Where the mics really struggle is in the presence of street noise, which interferes with the transmission of your voice. Take a listen below.
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Street conditions):
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Office conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Sony WF-C500 can go anywhere
The Sony WF-C500 isn’t a particularly notable pair of earbuds because it isn’t a specialist. Rather, this pair of IPX4-rated earbuds will get the job done at just about every twist and turn.
While the WF-C500 lacks noise canceling, it has good enough isolation to rival other noise canceling earbuds. The default frequency response is very good and should please most listeners. Still, if you’re someone who likes to tweak things to absolute perfection, the Sony Headphones Connect app (iOS and Android) has plenty to offer. Here, you can use its five-band equalizer to adjust the sound and choose to prioritize sound quality or connection stability. For iPhones, you get the necessary AAC codec to get the best audio you can get with your Apple device. Android owners will make do with SBC or AAC only.
This is the only headset listed to support any kind of 3D audio, and with the WF-C500 set up through the Sony app, you can take advantage of Sony 360 Reality Audio. Bear in mind that access to 360 Reality Audio content is limited to certain services like Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music.
The WF-C500 microphone is all right in ideal conditions but really lags behind the competition when it comes to sub-optimal environments.
Sony WF-C500 microphone demo (Ideal):
Sony WF-C500 microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Athletes and exercise enthusiasts should pick up the Jabra Elite 4
The Jabra Elite 4 skates into our list by one cent, originally retailing for $99.99. You get Bluetooth 5.2 firmware along with SBC and aptX Bluetooth codec support. (Sorry, iPhone owners, no AAC here, although it still works just fine with iPhones.) As with most other Jabra products, the Elite 4 is built to endure with its IP55 dust and water-resistant build, making it great for exercise. As it lacks stabilizers, it will depend on your specific in-ear fit.
Jabra features ANC and HearThrough (transparency mode) with these affordable buds and a comfortable, sleek design with four color choices. The earbuds hardly protrude from the ear, with each bud weighing only 4.7g. These feature a multifunction button for playback and call controls and, surprisingly, Bluetooth multipoint. You can even select a designated smart assistant (Siri or Google Assistant only) to help execute simple commands.
While Jabra’s Sound+ app (iOS/Android) usually adds a significant number of software features to its other headsets, the Elite 4 mainly sports a personalized ANC, five-band equalizer, and HearThrough mode. You can also enjoy Spotify Tap integration through the earbuds for Android users, something more companies are investing in, like Samsung and Skullcandy.
Jabra nails all of the fundamentals with these earphones, like excellent sound quality and impressive isolation, making it a great pick for anyone’s daily driver. The ANC itself isn’t all that impressive, but the isolation is more than enough for most folks.
The Jabra Elite 4 microphone is fairly decent. It uses four mics, and in ideal circumstances, it captures your voice pretty naturally. With the introduction of noise, it tends to still capture the voice, but also some of the noise itself. Even so, you’ll still come through to the person on the other end of the call. You can also toggle on a sidetone in Sound+ so that you can hear yourself when speaking.
Jabra Elite 4 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Jabra Elite 4 microphone demo (Office conditions):
Jabra Elite 4 microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Why is the Sennheiser CX True Wireless a great set of earbuds?
When the Sennheiser CX True Wireless initially came out, it cost more than our $100 budget. Since its drop in price, it has become a truly excellent option for its sound quality and feature set. Using the Sennheiser Smart Control app, you can assign commands to different touchpad gestures, as well as access to EQ and updates. An IPX4 rating rounds out the package. Although you may miss wings or stabilizers to keep the buds in, the frequency response of the buds favors a somewhat more bass-forward sound, which is good for workouts.
The CX True Wireless utilizes Bluetooth 5.2 with the high-quality aptX codec and Apple-friendly AAC codec. Our testing yielded inconsistent results, with one earbud lasting 8 hours, 31 minutes, and the other draining at 5 hours, 50 minutes. According to Sennheiser, the buds are meant to switch, which is the primary and secondary earbuds, to even out the battery life over time.
The only thing that keeps the CX True Wireless out of the Best list is the knowledge that the ANC-capable Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless costs only a little bit more ($89 at Amazon) for active noise cancelation. Perhaps though, the very good isolation on the CX True Wireless suffices, in which case, it’s a great choice.
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless microphone behaves with a standard proficiency in filtering out low-level environmental noise. It’s not podcast quality, but it’s certainly good for phone calls. Listen for yourself:
Sennheiser CX True Wireless microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Get Beats for less than $100 with the Beats Studio Buds
The Beats Studio Buds take the simple formula of Bluetooth-capable earbuds with ANC and apply it here for under $100. While the ANC won’t beat the likes of the latest Beats Studio Buds Plus, you still get an effortless IPX4-rated pair of buds with 4 hours and 24 minutes of battery life to a single charge.
Beats doesn’t give you any way to create a custom EQ within its OS-agnostic mobile app, but most listeners will like the sound. The bass is a bit louder than the mids, but not to a degree where it hampers audio quality.
The Studio Buds supports just the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, which doesn’t give Android phone owners a reliable high-quality codec. Still, we doubt your ears will care too much. If you only have $100 to spend, we recommend these. Of course, if you want Beats but don’t like the Studio Buds, the Beats Flex is still a great buy ($64 at Amazon) and tether the buds together for added security.
Listen to the Studio Buds microphone demo below and let us know your thoughts.
Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Office conditions):
Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Street conditions):
Beats Studio Buds microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The best wireless earbuds under $100: Notable mentions
This is a crowded price bracket, so be sure to take a gander through our notable mentions. If you don’t see all the features you want, maybe consider upping your price threshold.
- Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): This sometimes costs a bit more than $100, disqualifying it as a top contender, but it’s a great pair of entry-level smart earbuds that retails for much less than the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro. You get hands-free access to Alexa, which is helpful for smart home enthusiasts. Noise canceling is good and rivals more expensive competitors. When it’s in stock, you can get it for $119 at Amazon.
- Anker Soundcore Life A1: Anker’s IPX7 earbuds cost just $49 at Amazon, and feature stabilizing ear wings that keep the buds in place no matter how you move. The boosted bass response may be a bit much for most listeners, but you can amend this from your media player’s EQ module.
- Anker Soundcore Space A40: Making it just under budget ($79 at Amazon), these buds supply effective noise cancellation and 22 EQ presets, with the unusual inclusion of the LDAC codec.
- Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW: For just $43 at Amazon, Audio-Technica’s earbuds provide great sound quality and above-average isolation. You don’t get any app support, though, and the earbuds only stream audio over the SBC Bluetooth codec.
- Jabra Elite 3: Lacking ANC altogether, the Jabra Elite 3 is a straightforward set of earbuds at a great price ($59 at Amazon). Its aptX codec supplies great audio, and its default tuning is pretty consumer-friendly.
- Jabra Elite 4 Active: Not to be confused with the Jabra Elite 4, this one has a greater IP57 rating with less impressive noise canceling. However, it’s still a great set for $89.99 at Jabra.
- JLab Epic Air Sport ANC: Okay, this set of earphones is an epically good deal and sells for $89 at Amazon. You get some premium features like top-notch ANC, an ear hook design, and a relatively consumer-friendly sound. The touch controls aren’t great, and neither is the mic quality, but if you can overlook those things, you’ll love these buds.
- JLab GO Air POP: This extremely budget-friendly set of earbuds sounds great, with over 11 hours of battery life, and an IPX4 rating. Its touch controls lack some refinement, and the mic is imperfect, but it’s so cheap ($24 at Amazon).
- Nothing Ear 1: These buds feel premium for $99 at Amazon with good sound, a bit of ANC, and a stylish and lightweight design.
- Nothing Ear (stick): For the person who desires a pair of unsealed earbuds akin to AirPods, the Ear (stick) is a slick-looking option at a low price ($99 at Nothing) compared to AirPods. The app isn’t half bad, either.
- OnePlus Buds Z: If you like the design of the original Apple AirPods but want something that seals your ears, you should check out these budget buds for on the product’s website. They have an IPX4 rating, quick charging, support the AAC codec, and good mic quality.
- OnePlus Buds Z2: This set of earbuds merits an IP55 rating, and you can use either bud in mono mode. When you buy the Buds Z2, you get access to Bluetooth 5.2, which opens the door for LE Audio support. These Buds Z2 has good noise canceling, especially for the price of $99 at Amazon, but it limits you to SBC and AAC streaming.
- Skullcandy Dime 2: For well within budget ($24 at Amazon) the Dime 2 fits nicely, has an IPX4 rating, and the mics are better than you’d expect. The downside is the battery life is pretty short.
- Skullcandy Mod XT: If you can get past the stiff buttons on the buds, the combination of the price of $48 at Amazon, IP55 rating, Bluetooth multipoint, and consumer-friendly frequency response makes this set stiff competition.
- Skullcandy Push Active: The Push Active earbuds have an IP55 dust and water-resistant rating that makes it a great option for athletes. You can access your smart assistant hands-free due to Skull-iQ, making it a smart and strong pick for $69 at Amazon.
- TCL MOVEAUDIO S600: If you want the AirPods look and feel, you’ll enjoy the premium features at an affordable price ($99 at Amazon) like a bit of ANC, an IP54 rating, and wireless charging.
- Technics EAH-AZ40: Frequently found on discount ($117 at Amazon) the EAH-AZ40 is a comfortable, straightforward set of buds. Its app works on iOS and Android and includes a helpful equalizer. The mic handles external noise pretty well for the price too.
- TOZO NC2: For some surprisingly effective noise canceling for an affordable price ($39 at Amazon), the NC2 isn’t perfect, but it’s better than you’d expect, despite a sort of useless manual, it connects to your phone faster than most flagships can muster.
- TOZO T6: As a straightforward set of earbuds, this budget set has some quirks, like maxing out the volume when you initially connect. If you can look past such an oversight, it’s not bad for only $26 at Amazon.
- 1MORE ColorBuds 2: The 1MORE ColorBuds 2 comes in various fun colorways, so you can express your style through your headset. The earphones are durable too, as denoted by the IPX5 rating. Find a pair for $99 at Amazon.
What you should know about cheap wireless earbuds
When you buy a cheap pair of earbuds, even the best wireless earbuds under $100, you’re sacrificing style, build quality, and extra features like noise canceling. Just because you’re saving money on your affordable wireless buds doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing basic Bluetooth performance though. You can read our in-depth buyer’s guide or skim the important stuff below.
How long do wireless earbuds last?
When true wireless earbuds like these were first released, you were lucky to get four hours of playback from a single charge. Now, we have earbuds exceeding 10 hours, setting a new standard for the technology. While shelling out more than $100 on wireless earbuds is worth it for many, it’s unnecessary if you’re just looking to get a basic, reliable pair of everyday earbuds. Companies like Jabra and Sony are cornering the cheap wireless market with good quality products for significantly less than the competition.
The battery life of Bluetooth earbuds is already improving! For instance, the Beats Powerbeats Pro exceeds 10 hours of playback on a single charge. Generally speaking, the included charging cases make up for an across-the-board poor standalone battery life. Also, pay attention to specifications regarding fast charging, as some earbuds can top up your listening time by charging for 10 or 15 minutes.
If you’re on an international flight, you may want to look at over-ear headphones instead. Whether you’re getting a pair of the best wireless earbuds under $100 or the best earbuds you can find, the battery cells will deplete over time, forcing you to reach out to the company for repairs or to buy a new set.
What is a Bluetooth codec?
Typically we advise listeners to keep an eye out for high-quality Bluetooth codecs. If you’re not too familiar with how codecs work, fear not. They dictate how data is transferred from a source (phone) to a receiver (headphones). Ideally, Bluetooth transfer rates wouldn’t have to make compromises between efficiency and quality, but bandwidth remains limited. Companies are always looking for inventive workarounds: Bluetooth SIG teamed up with Fraunhofer to produce LE Audio and the new LC3 codec, which will greatly improve wireless streaming standards and aid the hard-of-hearing community.
iPhone users should get earbuds with AAC support, while Android users should invest in aptX-supported buds.
If you’re an iPhone user, make sure to get earbuds with AAC support. Android users, on the other hand, should get something with aptX support. While Android devices support AAC streaming, its performance is inconsistent across the board.
What is noise cancelation and how should earbuds fit?
None of the best wireless earbuds under $100 will supply a wide range of ear tips or outperform something like Sony WF-1000XM4 or Shure AONIC Free, but improving isolation is an easy way to improve sound quality. Take a few minutes to figure out which included ear tips are best for you. Ear tips that fit well will seal to your ear canals and stay in place as you jostle your head around. Effective isolation is the oldest form of noise canceling, and it blocks external noise from reaching your ears.
Some earbuds come with fit tests in the app, but it’s uncommon at this price. If you can’t get the provided tips to work, invest in a pair of third-party ear tips. Doing so could end up preventing irrevocable hearing loss, too.
Increasingly, earbuds under $100 have also been released with some form of active noise cancelation, proving you don’t need to break the piggybank in order to access the feature these days. Not all ANC is equal, however, but that’s why we test each pair of earbuds. ANC works best on low and midrange-frequency noises, while isolation is most effective with high-pitched noises.
How should wireless earbuds sound?
Wireless earbuds are typically aimed toward your average consumer, so the frequency response will reflect that with amplified bass and treble notes relative to the mids. Very generally speaking, this is how we created the SoundGuys house curve, which we use as a way to score how a headset sounds. This curve is by no means a universal truth for what sounds good, but it is what most people will find pleasant.
If your headset manufacturer also has a mobile app, you can probably use that to EQ the sound profile. Not all earbuds, especially those under $100, come with a companion app though. If that’s the case, you may want to check your streaming service to see if it has an EQ module (like Spotify), or download a third-party EQ app.
Athletes need IP-certified earbuds
IP, or Ingress Protection, ratings denote how dust- or water-resistant a product is. Our deep dive into IP ratings is a great resource, but if you don’t have time, the higher the number, the more resistant a product is to dust or water.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
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Frequently asked questions about wireless earbuds under $100
For those who prioritize their workouts and need earbuds that can keep up, the Jabra Elite 4 is the top pick. Designed with athletes in mind, they ensure a secure fit and won’t budge, even during the most vigorous exercises.
If you’re looking for an immersive music experience without spending a fortune, the 1MORE PistonBuds Pro is a standout option. With its impressive sound quality and comfortable fit, it’s a top pick for those who prioritize audio fidelity.
Currently, we quite like the Sony WF-C500, which is on our best list for its good looks, solid functionality, feature-full app, and 3D audio.
The way songs stream over Spotify sound won’t depend on your earbuds specifically. However, better-quality earbuds will make any streaming service’s music sound better. As for the iPhone, you’ll want to look for a pair of earbuds that support the AAC codec. This codec works well with iPhones to efficiently transfer data from the source device to the earbuds, so it will maintain the quality of your music very well.
Yes, you can always charge the case, even if the earbuds are not in the case.
Battery life is important besides the obvious reasons that charging is annoying or getting caught with a dead battery at an inopportune moment isn’t fun. The longer your battery life to a single charge, the longer your earbuds can potentially last you overall because there’s a finite number of charge cycles before battery degradation occurs. Seeing as replacing your batteries is either very difficult or, most often, not really possible, a longer battery equals a longer-lasting set of buds.