Typically, the field of the best gadgets around only diminishes as the price comes down but when it comes to the best headphones, especially under $100, that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there more gadgets to choose from. There are plenty of start-ups disrupting the space. And there are already a plethora of existing brands with offerings too.
So competition in this space is fierce, leaving more than just a few great devices to select from.
None of that is to say that all headphones are created equal, however. Whether wired or not, some simply perform better than others. Fortunately, Android Headlines has spent a good deal of time with headphones and conducting research into audio wearables. So, without further ado, here are our top picks for the best headphones you can buy right now at under $50 and $100.
Top 8 Best Headphones under $100
Now, for the absolute best headphones around, having a budget under $100 can be significantly limiting. You won’t find any “true audiophile” sets here because they simply don’t exist below a certain price range. However, Android Headlines has tested plenty of offerings across the array of available devices. And we’ve also done a significant amount of research to fill in the gaps.
Having said that, the following are our best recommendations for headphones that come as close to audiophile as possible at under $100. So none of these is likely to disappoint.
|Cost||Where to buy|
|Strauss & Wagner EM8C/EM205||From $39.95||Strauss & Wagner, Amazon|
|EarFun Free Pro||$49.99||Amazon|
|Marshall Mode||From $37.57||Amazon|
|Anker Soundcore Life Q20||From $42.49||Amazon|
|JBL Live 660NC||$99.95||Amazon|
|Tribit QuietPlus 78||$79||Amazon|
Best wired earbud-style headphones under $50
Strauss & Wagner EM8C/EM205
Strauss & Wagner may not be the first brand to come to mind when considering the best headphones — at under $100 or otherwise. But don’t let the sub-$50 price tag on its Strauss & Wagner EM205 and EM8C fool you. These headphones are arguably the best on this list, especially at that cost.
Now, the similarities between these two models are no accident. In fact, they’re effectively the same with one key difference. While EM205 features a standard 3.5mm audio jack, EM8C is for USB-C devices. And, in fact, the latter is effectively the only one that will work with USB-C audio smartphones.
Setting that aside, what these headphones bring to the table is near-perfection on audio balance. With plenty of power to spare across effectively every frequency. If audiophile quality sound is what you’re after, these two gadgets have that. Or, at the very least, as close as you’re likely to hear at under $100. Packed into a thoughtful, timeless wired design with a longer-than-average, relatively tangle-free cable, reasonable call quality, and easy-to-use in-line controls.
Best wireless earbuds under $50
- Price: $39.99
- Buy: Amazon
Conversely, if you’re looking to go wireless, SoundPEATS T3 sets out to prove that you don’t have to pay over $50 for great wireless audio with all the latest features. More directly, you don’t need to pay over that price for at-a-tap ANC and Transparency modes. With noise cancellation at up to 24dB. Or for AI-led noise cancellation on voice calls — enabled by Sound+.
Otherwise, these are pretty great headphones too. Offering up to 5.5-hours of listening per charge and 2 recharges from the carry case, these earbuds are built on 10mm drivers. The design features touch controls, a comfortable ergonomic design, and plenty of balance. With an IPX4 rating to prevent damage from light splashes, rain, and moderate workouts.
These earbuds also utilize Bluetooth 5.2 via the BES2500 chip. Enabling lossless audio transmission that’s not typically found in Bluetooth headphones.
Best wireless noise-canceling earbud-style headphones under $100
EarFun Free Pro
- Price: $49.99
- Buy: Amazon
Conversely, for a slightly higher cost, EarFun Free Pro brings a similar level of audio quality but with additional features in tow. For instance, an IPX5 splash-resistance rating will keep these headphones safer still. While 6+ hours of ANC audio listening keeps the music or other media flowing all day. And, when it’s time to charge, these earbuds can be popped onto a wireless charging pad. Or a compatible smartphone for reverse wireless charging.
In terms of design and comfort, EarFun Free Pro brings a design that fits snugly in the ear. With minimal surface area outside of the ear. And the all-day comfort with these earbuds is met with low-latency binaural audio as well.
Of course, if you’re looking to spend just a bit more, EarFun’s Air Pro 2 model, found on the best overall headphones list linked above, is well worth a look too at just $99. And that delivers titanium composite drivers, additional features, and other benefits.
Best wired noise-isolation in-ear headphones under $100
- Price: From $37.57
- Buy: Amazon
Jumping back over to the wired side of the earbuds equation, the next entry in our best headphones at under $100 is Marshall Mode.
With Marshall branding, there’s not much needed insofar as introductions. The company itself is world-renowned for its prowess with audio, particularly when it comes to stage audio and equipment used by musicians. And its earbuds, priced at just $47 on Amazon or just under $60 direct from the company, are no exception.
For the money, Marshall Mode brings thoughtful features such as an L-plug on its 3.5mm audio jack and four different earbud tip sleeve sizes as well as an in-line remote. It also brings customized drivers that pump out high-fidelity audio with no noteworthy distortion and plenty of power across bass, treble, and mid frequencies. For what is easily some of the best sound and comfort that it’s possible to find in this price bracket.
Best wired (or wireless) headphones under $50
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
- Price: From $42.49
- Buy: Amazon
Now, most modern on- or over-ear headphones that could be called “the best” — even under $100 — ship with the capability of being wired or wireless. So our next entry, Anker Soundcore Life Q20, does too. And while this is also one of the older entries on our list, it brings a lot of bang for your buck.
To begin with, Anker Soundcore Life Q20 brings up to 40-hours of playback time with ANC active and the volume at reasonable levels. That’s with 5 minutes of charging delivering 4-hours of playback. It also packs Anker’s BassUp feature. So if the oomph from the oversized 40mm Hi-Res drivers just isn’t enough, bass can be amplified.
The noise cancellation algorithm can also automatically detect and cancel out specific frequencies of sound. So it blocks cars and airplane engines better than many competitors. Combined with extended range support beyond the average human hearing, these are going to be some of the best headphones you can buy. For under $100 or otherwise.
Best wireless headphones under $100
- Price: $79.99
- Buy: Amazon
Stepping up a notch from there, and entering into the realm of audiophile brands, is Edifier’s W820NB. Of course, the model designation here may not be the most memorable but the audio quality certainly will be.
What sets Edifier apart isn’t simply a matter of branding though. These headphones are some of the best under $100 because they’re Hi-Res Audio certified, with extended frequency support and support for more audio formats. Additionally, these come with support for the Edifier app. So audio from the titanium diaphragm drivers can be fine-tuned for your own ears rather than relying on whatever suits most people.
In terms of extra features, Edifier W820NB can be used in both wireless and wired modes. Just in case the up to 29 hours of noise-canceling mode — 49 hours without that mode — isn’t enough. The deep neural network-enhanced mic allows for crystal clear calls. While better materials and comfort allow you to keep these headphones on all day long. And finally, there’s not only an ANC and transparent mode. These also ship with a dedicated low-latency gaming mode in tow.
It would be hard to go wrong buying these particular Edifier headphones.
Best wireless noise-canceling headphones under $100
JBL Live 660NC
- Price: From $99.95
- Buy: Amazon
Staying in the realm of adaptive noise cancellation and 40mm high-quality drivers, our next entry is JBL Live 660NC. And, of course, JBL requires no introduction either. For just under $100, what makes JBL Live 660NC some of the best headphones around isn’t just audio quality though. It also boils down to features.
Aside from Ambient Aware passthrough mode and ANC, these headphones offer one-tap or voice-activated access to AI. Specifically, to either Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant — or whatever AI your device uses. And that’s not limited to playback controls, making calls, asking questions, or performing searches either. In fact, JBL Live 660NC also allows users to check battery life, power off the headphones, and more. Controlled alongside a few other customizations in the JBL app.
Up to 50 hours of wireless listening — 40 using ANC — and four hours from a ten-minute charge are also great features to have. As is the ability to go wired or wireless.
Best wired (or wireless) noise-canceling headphones under $100
Tribit QuietPlus 78
- Price: $79.99
- Buy: Amazon
Tribit QuietPlus 78 is yet another gadget that’s well worth considering for its ability to offer almost identical features. While the company doesn’t include quite the same degree of AI access or controls, or a dedicated app, it is more affordable at under $60 with current sales. And it does that without dropping audio quality. Offering a similar driver size and great optimization for those drivers as the JBL Live headphones above.
Better still, it still manages to deliver touch controls for that price as well as wired and wireless modes, with audio that’s arguably on par.
Additionally, Tribit enhanced its headphones with dual-level ANC rather than single-level cancellation. So you can listen in audio-passthrough mode, standard mode, or with either of two well-engineered levels of noise cancellation. Battery life falls in upwards of 40-hours too, with ANC on. And the company includes all the cables you’ll need as well as a premium carry case. All in a design that also competes in terms of comfort and material use.