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Best Headphones Under $100: 36 Experts Reveal Their Favorite Budget Headphones

Think you need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality pair of headphones?

Think again...

We asked 36 headphone experts and reviewers one simple question:

"If you could only choose one pair of headphones and had only $100 to spend, which headphones would you choose?"

We wanted to know what the experts consider the best headphones under $100 — and let me tell you, the answers we received from these 36 established headphone reviewers were nothing short of amazing. We've listed them all below.

The 3 Best Headphones Under $100 [as voted by 36 experts!]

Picture

Headphones

Votes

Sony MDR-7506

Sony MDR-7506

6 Expert Votes
Grado SR80e

Grado SR80e

4 Expert Votes
1More Triple Driver

1More Triple Driver

4 Expert Votes

Read on to discover each expert's favorite headphones under $100. You can either skip to your favorite expert using the quick navigation links below or grab a beverage and start reading!

Responses Listed in Alphabetical Order

Grado SR80e ....... or maybe the Grado SR60e with the optional L-Cush earpads.

Brent Butterworth

BrentButterworth.com

I guess Grado SR-80i for over/on-ear (although that's open-back and thus won't work for some people).

For in-ear, probably Phiaton MS 100 BA.

Cameron Faulkner

TechRadar.com

Jabra Move Wireless! 🙂

Chris Martin

PCAdvisor.co.uk

PC Advisor number 1 is a pair of Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2.

Chris Thomas

Reviewed.com

Okay, this is going to be a bit long—hope you've had coffee!

For in-ears: Decibullz Contour ($59.99) with Comply tips

If you're going to be listening to music on the train, bus, car, or other transport, your biggest enemy is auditory masking. Consequently, isolation is the #1 thing you can do to improve your music quality—and open-back headphones are going to sound awful in the presence of loud noise. These form-fit to your concha making for a perfect fit every time, and if you pair these with comply tips the isolation is crazy good. They're not the best in-ears you can buy from a performance standpoint, but they're really great for the gym and commuting.

For over-ears: Sony MDR-V6/7506 ($89.99)

Yeah, I know it's not an audiophile darling like the Grado SR80e ($99.99), and definitely not as fun, but I'm a sucker for these because it's what we bought in our phonology lab for "good" headphones back in grad school. They're surprisingly decent for what they are, and what a lot of people use for video work. They're versatile, have a flattish frequency response, the coiled cable is a nice plus, and they isolate surprisingly well.

For on-ears: V-Moda Crossfade M-80 ($99) —OR— Grado SR80e ($99)

Okay, these are a stretch on price, but it's tough to argue with the durability of the V-Moda cans. They're metal, have removable/replaceable cables, and very good sound quality. I'm generally not a fan of on-ears, but it'd be nice to have a pair that will probably survive whatever you throw at them.

The Grados are just plain fun. Good quality for the price, and they're more comfortable than they look. Not a great pair of commuter cans, though.

Christopher Minasians

PCAdvisor.co.uk

Well I've reviewed quite a lot of earphones, rather than headphones...however at a $100 budget, I would have to go with something super cheap and yet something that punches well above its weight.

The SoundMagic P21S is my go-to cheap headphone - it's absolutely fantastic for what it does + it's super portable!

Dale Thorn

DaleThorn.com

The Philips SHP-9500 would be a pretty good choice. I got mine from Massdrop for $60, but the normal street price would likely be $80 to $90 USD. The sound quality is top notch, with a slightly weak low bass and small treble recess, but either of those are easily addressed with the music player bass/treble controls. The spacious and airy sound is exceptional at this price level, but there's an even bigger surprise - the build quality is among the better $400 headphones I've had, and I've had a lot of those. Highly, highly recommended.

David Carnoy

CNET.com

Really hard. Skullcandy Grind is a good value in on-ear. Wireless version of it coming for $90.

Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon

AudioCheck.net

Superlux HD668B. Great sound, detachable cord. And for $100 I will take two of them 😉

Drew Baird

Moon-Audio.com

Grado SR80e would be my pick. Great bang for the buck!!

I wouldn’t have a clue what headphones to suggest for $100, except maybe the Grado SR80e.

I love them for traveling. Fine midrange, great for jazz and rock music. And light! If you bust ‘em, no big deal. I made a pair at the Grado factory once, shadowing one of the staffers there. Great fun! And I learned something. Besides getting a good set of ‘phones!

Geoffrey Morrison

TheWirecutter.com

For a little more than a $100, I like the Sony MDR-7510. Less harsh than the MDVR6 and the MDR-7509. It's kind of a sleeper.

John Nemerovski

MyMac.com

The 1More MK801.

Ken Kessler

KenKessler.com

Anything on-ear from Sony, Sennheiser, Grado, AKG or Audio-Technica within your budget. Can't fail!

Lauren Dragan

TheWirecutter.com

ACK! Trick question: I'd get two: the Sony 7506 for home/work and the in-ear Koss Fitclips for the gym. Total $ today: $94.

Now $100 isn't a lot of money and I have to admit budget gear isn't my strongest point but if I would be limited to $100 (excellent question btw) I would keep it simple and go for minimal expense:

The good old Koss Portapro, a classic.

Or if I could choose a non headphone, it would be the:

The $5 VE Monks earbuds paired up with with a Fiio E10K at home. Sub $100 Total! Fun guaranteed!

Marc Chacksfield

TechRadar.com

I would probably go for the AKG Y50 range. Great look and sound for the price.

Marcus Downey

Headfonics.com

For $100 and sticking strictly to that limit I would probably choose The V-Moda M80 (silver edition) now selling for $89.00 on Amazon. Ultra portable, and probably one of the better balanced headphones out there at this price where sometimes 'da bass' is the top priority. I love mids and this headphone does mids better than most in this category.

Michael Calore

Wired.com

Hands down, the Sony MDR-7506

Mike Olson

Headphone.com

The best $100 headphones I would have to say are the Shure SE 215. They are rugged, fit very securely, great noise isolation, have a detachable cable system, and sound fantastic for the price. I hope this helps.

Nathan Wright

Ohm Image

Tough, pretty, well outfitted, and impactful, Shure's palatably priced SE215 is killer.

Nick Schmiedicker

Reviewed.com

Sony MDR-V6/7506.

In-ear I would say the SoundMAGIC E80, very smooth and refined for a $99 IEM, that is tuned for a more audiophile sound signature rather than consumer.

I’d have to go with Sennheiser HD280 PROs. They’re neutral enough for listening to FLACs via iOS, and offer great isolation in the office and on the train. I’m not sure about the more recent models, but the pair I bought about 7 or 8 years ago is very durable — I still use them for commuting every day.

Ryan Waniata

DigitalTrends.com

Right now, I'd choose the Triple Driver from 1More. Brilliant sound and top-notch build quality.

Sam Rutherford

TomsGuide.com

That's tough. It would either be the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ears or the over-the-ear V-Moda Crossfades (if you can find a deal).

I really don’t have much to say about the sub-$100 segment. Maybe the 1More Triple Driver in-ear monitor.

Srajan Ebaen

6moons.com

Whatever current Grado model fits that budget.

Steve Guttenberg

CNET.com

1More Triple Driver in-ear headphone

Steven Rochlin

EnjoyTheMusic.com

Just posted the Edifier 840. The 850 are said to have less bass, more neutral.

Two selections for you - for active use the Shure Se215 due to its removable/replacable cable. For less active use the new 1more triple driver model.

Theo Nicolakis

TechHive and Audioholics

These would be my top choice. With the 15% discount they are offering you’re close to your target for the adult pair. These are ridiculously good headphones and have stellar sound but are tad bit bass heavy but the bass is very clean: Puro Sound BT5200

Also the RBH-EP1. On sale for $89. A steal for this in-ear monitor.

TJ Donegan

Reviewed.com

Sony MDR-V6/7506

Wojciech Pacuła

HighFidelity.pl

No problem. And I am ready to answer you because I just bought such 'phones for my daughter - AKG Y50. Great design, nice in using and really Goood sound. Only spending twice as much you will gain some sound quality. Go listen, you'll see 🙂

Breaking Down the Answers

Wow! That was a lot of different headphones! Let's break them down into separate categories and see which ones received the highest number of votes.

The table at the top of the page shows the headphones that received the highest number of votes overall, so if that's what you're looking for, go check it out!

You might also like: Best Headphones for Running: The Top 3 Results of a Unique Analysis

Over-ear vs. On-ear vs. In-ear

The data elements below show the percentage of over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear headphones chosen.

Over-ear

33 %
Over-ear

On-ear

31 %
On-ear

In-ear

36 %
In-ear

The in-ear category was the most popular among the three, followed by the over-ear and then the on-ear. Let's take a look at each individual category in more detail.

Most Voted Over-ear Headphones


Picture

Name

Number of Votes

#1

Sony MDR-7506

Sony MDR-7506

6 Votes

#2

Sony MDR-V6

Sony MDR-V6

3 Votes

The two over-ear headphones above have been voted more than the others. In fact, they were the only over-ear headphones to receive more than one vote.

Most Voted On-ear Headphones


Picture

Name

Number of Votes

#1

Grado SR80e

Grado SR80e

4 Votes

#2

 V-Moda Crossfade M-80

V-Moda Crossfade M-80

3 Votes

#3

AKG Y50

AKG Y50

2 Votes

The three on-ear headphones that stood out were the Grado SR80e, the V-Moda M-80, and the AKG Y50 — all great headphones. However, the V-Moda isn't always under $100. For that, you'll have to find a deal.

Most Voted In-ear Headphones


Picture

Name

Number of Votes

#1

 1More Triple Driver

1More Triple Driver

4 Votes

#2

 Shure SE 215

Shure SE 215

3 Votes

There were two in-ear headphones that stood out. They were the Shure SE215 (with three votes) and the 1More Triple Driver (with four votes).

Conclusion

A HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this mammoth post! Please share if you think it was useful!

Most of these experts have been through hundreds of headphones (some even more!). Needless to say, they've tried some very good (and very bad) headphones.

Of the ones under $100, three pairs seem to stick out in particular: the Sony MDR-7506, the Grado SR80e, and the 1More Triple Driver. They received the highest number of votes overall, and may very well be the best headphones under $100 currently on the market.

If you could only choose one pair of headphones and had only $100 to spend, which headphones would you choose?

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