Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – 2019: Best Headphones & Wireless Speakers Under $150

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By John Anon November 07, 2018, 2:57pm
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Thanks to the varied number of products now available you don't always have to spend a lot to get a lot. This is very true in the headphone and speaker market where there are now more great options than ever before. While although you might not get all of the features you would with a more expensive option, or possibly not the same sound quality, what you do get is arguably better value with these products. To help you shop smarter during this Holiday season here we’ve put together the best headphone and speaker options currently available for under that $150 marker and have arranged the list so you can find the right product to suit your specific needs - whether it be sound quality, durability, battery life, or just portability.

Prices below are subject to change. This post will be updated regularly to ensure the most up-to-date pricing, but during the holidays, there will be flash sales and price drops so keep that in mind.

Headphones Under $150

Best overall - in need of a quick pick? This is the one

For the money and when all things are considered the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT is likely your best one-size-fits-all solution for under $150. You won’t have much change back from the $150 but you will get a pair of headphones that sound great with 45mm drivers and a frequency response of 5-40,000 Hz, as well as wireless capabilities with a battery rated to offer up to 38 hours of usage. Add to that a comfortable fit and NFC support and these are your best option overall.

Best value overall - hard to argue with how much you get at this price

The AKG Y50BT are another great all-round option and one that’s right now available at an unbeatable price. So if value is the main decision factor here then these are the one to check out first. As not only do these headphones provide a typical AKG sound quality along with a 20-20kHz frequency range, but these are also wireless headphones and one with a battery rated to offer up top 20 hours of usage. Probably the bargain on this list today.

Best wireless - if wireless matters most, these are worth buying

As the ATH-SR5BT are wireless they also remain the best option for this category. However, if you need another decent wireless option then the Sony XB950BT are worth a look. These are specifically going to appeal to those looking for greater bass as these are part of the company’s EXTRA BASS line which means they come with the option to artificially add to the bass as and when needed. If you are less interested in bass then you will certainly be better off opting for the ATH-SR5BT. If you do opt for the Sony XB950BT, however, you can expect up to 20 hours of usage off the charge.

Best value wireless - if you want to save as much as you can then these are a great option

If you are hoping to save a bit more money and not interested in the AKG Y50BT then the Jabra Move Wireless are worth checking out. These are priced well under $150 (in fact well under $100) and offer a reasonably good sound quality as well as the option to use wirelessly - although the battery life is fairly limited at up to 8 hours. Though they do come with a 3.5mm port and so can be used as a wired option as and when needed. All in all, for the cost these are a solid pair of headphones.

Best true wireless earbuds - the ultimate freedom at a great price

For some people, going truly wireless is what matters the most and if that’s you and you want to remain under the $150 barrier then take a look at the 2018 version of the Samsung Gear IconX. These were a lot more expensive when they first launched although the time in between has seen their price drop down to below $150 making them even better value now. Not only are these true wireless earphones that offer up to 5 hours of usage (as well as the ability to charge when in the case), but that usage can increase if you opt to forgo the smartphone altogether. As the Samsung Gear IconX feature 4GB of storage allowing the wearer to store a decent number of songs directly on the earbuds. If you’re a Samsung smartphone owner you can also expect a few additional integrations as well.

Best in-ear headphones - freedom meets reliability

One of the best in-ear wireless options right now is the Bose SoundSport Wireless. These features an excellent sound quality and also are durable enough (sweat and weather-resistant) to be used as sports headphones. Making them a great all-round option for any user. One of their more limiting aspects however is the battery life which is limited to up to 6 hours on a single charge. But the sound quality on offer easily makes up for that shortcoming.

Best value in-ear headphones - surprisingly good quality for a low price

The 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones cost almost half the price of the Bose SoundSport which immediately makes them worth a look. Especially considering the price difference is not necessarily representative of a lesser product as the company has looked to offer as high-end of a product as it could for the price. So you just might be surprised by the sound quality and the design of these headphones. Although, it’s worth keeping in mind these are wired headphones which might be a deal-breaker for some consumers.

Best value in-ear wireless headphones - low price, but wireless

If you do need a wireless option then you’ll want to check out the Beyerdynamic Byron BT. These are actually even cheaper than the 1More option and well under half the cost of the Bose in-ear headphones. This is in spite of being wireless and offering up to 7.5 hours of usage on a single charge. Add to that a sound quality that’s better than you’d expect at this price point.

Best noise canceling headphones - when all you want to hear is the music

The Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones are not new headphones but they remain one of the best active noise canceling options and especially at this price point. Even more so considering you can adjust the ANC to better suit the environment. One of the main downsides is the ANC relies on the use of AAA batteries so you will likely want to use rechargeable AAA batteries with these or you might find the overall cost of owning these headphones rising considerably over time. These are also wired-only headphones.

Best NC in-ear headphones - the best option that goes in your ear

Noise calculation is not often something associated with in-ear headphones and especially at this price point but the Libratone Q Adapt do solve both of these problems and fairly well. In fact, the noise cancellation on offer is adjustable so the user is able to set the level to suit the amount of noise they would like to let through. These are wired headphones and do come with a USB Type-C connector so unless your device also supports USB-C then these will not be the ideal solution for you. In addition, these are made by Google-related devices so you can expect more features to be available to owners of a Pixel phone than other phones - though for music playback they will work fine with any USB-C device.

Best headphones for sound/studio - when the little things matter most

If the sound quality is what matters most to you then the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the ones to check out. These are a great pair of headphones for the studio or just for those looking for a finer and clearer sound output as well as a design which looks to help with isolating nearby sound in a passive manner. These are wired headphones and Audio-Technica does offer a wireless version for those that want it - but not for under the $150 price ceiling.

Best value headphones for sound/studio - decent quality at a low price

If you are in need of a super affordable and good sounding part of headphones for the studio then take a look at the Sony MDR-7506 headphones. These can be picked up for well under $100 and offer a closed design along with 40mm drivers and a frequency response of 10Hz - 20 kHz. Making these a good and solid solution although once again these are wired headphones. Though that is unlikely to be as much of an issue for those looking for a pair for use in the studio.

Best headphones for running - the ones that won't let you down

Although this list is capped to $150, in our more general ‘best headphones’ gift guide, the Jaybird X4 was chosen as the best option for runners overall. For those on a budget, the good news is these headphones cost less than $150 making them one of the few options that you’ll find in both gift guides - which arguably further highlights how good these are regardless of their price. For those new to the Jaybird X4, these are specifically designed with runners in mind and are a workhorse solution so you can expect them to be durable enough to withstand frequent use and in different environments. Add to that a comfortable fit, a great sound quality, and a battery that’s rated to offer up too 8 hours of usage on a single charge - one of the benefits of the Jaybird X4 over the Bose SoundSport.

Best value headphones for running - new version of a popular classic

If you would like to save even money then the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100 are here to help. These are a follow on product to the original Plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones which have proved to be highly popular with runners over the last few years. With the 2100 model now coming with an improved level of durability and more features, and all while managing to remain below the $100 marker. One of the main selling points of these headphones for runners -- like the original model -- is these come with ‘Always Aware’ ear tips so runners outside can remain audibly aware of their surroundings at all times.

Best headphones for kids - sound quality, wireless, and kid-friendly

If you are in the market for a pair of headphones for younger listeners then the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 are the best option. These are highly affordable headphones which are designed with kids in mind and come with a number of protections that parents would hope to see with a personal audio solution including a sound cap and a non-toxic build quality. In addition, these are wireless headphones which offer a fairly substantial 18 hours of usage in between charges. A worthwhile purchase.

Best headphones for gaming - performance, in-game chatting, and great sound quality

The HyperX Cloud Alpha are a great option for gamers. While most of the HyperX line are great options for gamers to consider, the HyperX Cloud Alpha are one of the newer options and the best within this price bracket. These headphones also build on the HyperX Cloud II and therefore offer a number of the same features although with improvements in some areas including the sound quality and level of distortion through the use of dual chamber drivers. In addition, while the Cloud II come with a detachable microphone (and so does the Cloud Alpha), this model also features a detachable cable for easier transportation when needed.

Best headphones not for music - multi-purpose use headphones

The Power Acoustik Farenheit HP-902 are worth considering if you are not particularly interested in music playback as these headphones are designed for other uses, including watching TV. The package, which costs less than $100 comes with two sets of headphones for TV viewing by more than one person at the same time. These also come with a transmitter which allows for greater control of the headphones and although the TV is a good use case for these, they are just as useful in other circumstances where there are lots of electronics devices in a small space - like when in the car.

Speakers under $150

Best speaker overall - if you want one suggestion, this is it

The UE BOOM 3 is probably best speaker for most people that are looking to spend under $150. As this one comes with enough of the main features most people will be looking for. Those hoping for better sound can rely on the 360-degree design for an even distribution and greater sound depth. While those looking for a speaker that lasts can rest assured as the BOOM 3 features a battery rated to offer up to 15 hours. Then there’s the IP67 rating guaranteeing dust and water-proofing to the point where the speaker can even be submerged underwater for up to 30 mins. If all that’s not enough, the BOOM 3 can be paired with a number of other speakers for an even greater and richer sound.

Best value speaker overall - as cheap as it gets

If value is your main concern then it’s hard to argue with the value on offer with the OontZ Angle 3 from Cambridge Soundworks. This speaker costs well under $50 and provides a decent sound quality and volume with 10 watts of peak power, an IPX5 certification for water-resistance, a built-in mic for making and taking calls from a connected smartphone, a battery that’s related to last up to 30 hours, and an overall size and design that makes it a highly portable unit. For the price, this is a great option.

Best speaker for durability - built to last

Most wireless speakers now come with a durable build quality so they can be used outside as well as indoors. However, few come with the durability seen with the Fugoo Tough. As this is a speaker specifically designed to be as durable as possible with the company claiming the Tough is not only 100-percent waterproof, but also mud-proof, snow-proof and shockproof. Add to that a battery that’s rated to last up to 40 hours and this really is the ultimate affordable speaker for all environments. In addition, the sound quality comes courtesy of six drivers and a 360-degree design for improved sound distribution.

Best waterproof speaker - take it to the pool and in the pool

Like durability, most speakers on this list come with some waterproofing if not a fully waterproof build so you can actually opt for most of the options listed here. Therefore, the Anker Flare+ more stands out as the waterproof speaker that also comes with a number of other features that will add to the water-themed listening experience. At the waterproof level, the Flare S features an IPX7 rating meaning it can be submerged in water. While the additional features include a battery rated to last up top 20 hours, a 360-degree design for better sound quality and distribution, Bluetooth 5.0, and even LEDs to add light effects to the party. All of this is available for under $100 and those looking for even more value and opt for the original Flare speaker which although offers less battery life and a smaller sound, is even cheaper.

Best speaker for battery life - all the power you need

Arguably the Fugoo Tough is the best option on this list for battery life due to the up to 40 hours on offer. However, it’s not the most portable which is where the Charge 4 comes in. This is also not the smallest speaker around but it size means JBL has managed to include a 7,800 mAh capacity battery which is rated to offer up to 20 hours of usage. Likewise, the Charge 4 also features a USB port so users can charge their smartphone through the speaker when needed. This is all in addition to a JBL sound quality, the ability to connect the Charge 4 to other JBL speakers for a greater sound, and a durable build quality which includes an IPX7 waterproof rating.

Best speaker for sound quality - especially if you want that bass

The Sony SRS-XB31 is a great option under $150 for those who want a better sound quality. Even more so if better sound quality is defined by bass as this is part of Sony EXTRA BASS line which means it naturally comes with an emphasis on bass as well as the option to artificially push the bass even more when needed. Lower end aside, this speaker can last for hours without needing to be charged, features an IP67 waterproof certification, and also features light effects for an added party feel.

If you are strictly looking for better sound quality without any of the added bells and whistles, than the Bose SoundLink Micro is well worth checking out. As the sound quality is literally one of the main selling point with this speaker thanks to the Bose tweaking that's in effect and that results in a much better sound than you might expect from a speaker of this size. Speaking of which, the size all makes this a highly portable speaker that can be taken just about anywhere - that and its general durable build which includes an IPX7 rating.

Best for sound quality on a budget - you don't have to spend a lot to get a lot

Like the Oontz Angle 3 Plus, the Tribit XSound Go is designed for those looking for the best, but most affordable option as this speaker is super cheap. In spite of its low price it features a surprisingly good quality sound thanks to the inclusion of dual high-performance drivers and passive radiators. This is in addition to a very good expectation of battery life, a durable build quality including waterproofing, and support for Google Assistant and Siri when connected to a smartphone.

Best on the go speaker - take the music with you, everywhere

If you’re looking for the best option that combines portability with sound quality and features then the UE Wonderboom is the speaker you are looking for. This is a highly portable device which comes with a seriously good level of durability including an IPX7 rating. In addition, the sound is much louder than you might expect thanks to the UE Wonderboom utilizing a 360-degree design. All of that also comes with a battery that’s rated to last up to 10 hours and a price point that’s hard to beat.

Best on the go speaker on a budget - it doesn't get more portable than this

Of course, it’s hard to ever talk about speaker portability without mentioning the JBL Clip 2 as this is probably the most portable speaker you’ll find. It’s so small in fact that it’s largely considered a clip-on accessory so think of this as something you can easily attach to your bike or bag - it even comes with its own carabiner clip. In spite of its size, it also comes with a battery that lasts up to 8 hours, an IPX7 waterproof rating, a built-in mic for calls, and also features an attached 3.5mm cable so users can directly plug the speaker into devices for more of a physical connection. Best of all, this all comes at a super low price.

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November 07, 2018, 2:57pm
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