Looking for the best headphones under 100? You’ve come to the right place. There are plenty available in the market, but you cannot buy just anyone without going through all the benefits and features it has to offer.
What exactly is the problem behind choosing the right headphone? There are plenty of issues, such as:
- The quality of sound it produces
- The material and make of the headphone
- Connectivity options it has to offer
- Compatibility issues
- Some people prefer noise isolation, while others use headphones casually
Not to mention headphones should be cheap, these are just a few things you care about, or at least a few of them. Moreover, with technology advancing quickly, you tend to change your head gears more often than not, looking for the perfect and economical option.
Before coming up with our verdict about these headphones, we went through the details and specs of each of them, gauged them on the basis of customers’ feedback, analyzed their prices as well as value for money, and every other things best cheap headphones had to offer. So, all your concerns are well-answered in these reviews.
The Advantage of Using Headphones
When considering benefits of the headphones, we can divide them into general advantages and technical advantages. General benefits of headphones are those that you get with any type of headphones; in-ear headphones (or earbuds), over-ear headphones (these are also earbuds), and over-ear headphones (those with basic construction).
What headphones have on offer?
- Detailed Sound: First of all, headphones give you a chance of getting close to your favorite song, movie or game. You get high quality sound that you wouldn’t, without wearing them. That’s true. Even in the calmest place where you can hear pin-drop silence, there is a subtle noise that can cause disturbance in listening. Remember, you tend to increase the volume of your TV set when you want to listen to any dialogue?
Headphones offer passive noise-isolation (or natural noise isolation) that kills the surrounding noise from entering into your ears. You don’t have to increase the volume, because you’re already listening to the detail quite clearly.
- Acoustic Sound: Nowadays, younger generation likes to listen to acoustic sound. They prefer ambience to get the feel of the music. While your stereo system can do that, but still, you don’t want to trouble others, would you? Headphones can create that ambient environment for you, because of over-the ear design.
As the foam, leather or whatever material they’re covered with, conforms to your ears, you don’t listen to anything else, other than what you intend for. Headphones with closed back ear cups produce sound with maximum acoustics and heavy bass.
- Moments of Privacy: While headphones keep you from troubling others, they also give you a chance to enjoy your privacy in the crowd. When you’re walking to work, working out, making important report or assignment for the next day, traveling somewhere, or simply want to disconnect yourself from this world, headphones come as blessings.
With passive noise-isolation you can concentrate on your activity in a better way. Some headphones also feature active noise isolation, which is one step ahead to giving you maximum noise-isolation.
- Hands-free Calls/Controls: You’re definitely aware of how to use headphones with your smartphone, iPad or laptop, but do you know, some headphones can simply liberate you from touching these devices? That’s quite true. Branded headphones often come with built-in microphones and controls (and you know that) and some of the headphones have added features to take/end calls, chose music files, play tracks and stop music etc. That means, once you’re connected, you don’t have to use your mobile device, unless you’re updating your status on Facebook or checking emails.
- Wireless/Bluetooth: If you’re already in headphones, you’d know that at times, headphones can be annoying. Well, not exactly the headphones, but the cord/cable can be irritating at times.
Good news is, there are some best Bluetooth headphones under 100 that will eradicate issues of tangling cables and broken wires. Then there are wireless headphones that may not feature Bluetooth technology, but they allow long range and connect you from any king of audio source.
- Portability: All kinds of headphones are portable, especially Bluetooth models that require no cable. Here, size and rigidity of some headphones may push you to have an extra bag to keep them safely, but most headphones under 100 have flexible designs. You can turn and twist them to put in a carrying case. You can either put it in your travel bag or carry separately. They are lightweight gadgets so, there’s no trouble carrying them.
Technically, Headphones are better than Earbuds
Coming to the technical aspects of headphones, over-the-year design compared to in-ear design is far more relaxing and disturbance free. Although, it has some limitations, like it cannot withstand intense physical activities, can fall and break, over-the-ear design is better in terms of sound quality and detail. So, if you’re not planning to use headphones for workout sessions, you should try one of our picks for the best headphones under 100.
- Ear Comfort: In-ear headphones need perfection, which means, they need to be atoned with your ear shape and ear canal. Since every human being has unique features, ear shapes may differ as well. In-ear headphones come with different sizes of ear tips, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will give you the perfect fit.
On the other hand, over-the-ear design is far easier to get acquainted with. Large circumaural ear pieces are spacious enough to let your ears rest without causing any ear pain.
- Better for Long Listening Sessions: You may be using headphones for an hour, but professionals may have to wear them for as long as 8 hours, every single day. We’re talking about sound mixing experts, sound editors, producers, music composers, DJs and other related people. In-ear headphones are simply out of their priority list, because our ear canals will definitely get hurt during sessions so long.
Over-ear design makes it much better for the ears, since you have nothing to put inside your sensitive organs. In fact, they, keep your ears warm and active throughout the listening. Yes, you need to take breaks from time to time, but relaxing time will not be that long.
- Compatibility: Most over-ear headphones are compatible with all audio devices. Well, earbuds can also claim the same, but they simply cannot work on all devices and give the same results. Earbuds work better with mobile devices, but they don’t give the same result with stereo systems, PCs and laptops because of the impedance. Headphones, on the other hand offer no such trouble. Most models work on all kinds of devices, and some models are make ordinary audio device sound much better.
Types of headphones
Do you use desktops? Do you have a laptop computer? Even if you don’t, you must be familiar with several different mobile devices and have a smartphone. In each of these cases, headphones fit themselves perfectly as people who normally use these gadgets most part of the day tend to watch movies, listen to songs, or play games on these devices without troubling others.
For outdoors; such as jogging, workouts and walking downtown, smaller versions are perfect. Then there are relatively larger versions, such as over the ear headphones. These headphones are great for indoor activities.
So, exactly how many options do you have? Let’s find out!
#1. Over-the-Ear Headphones
These headphones fit around your ears, so they’re also known as circum-aural headphones. As these headphones have larger ear cups than normal ears, they provide sufficient amount of sound as well as all-round entertainment to the listeners. A pair of over- ear headphones can literally take you to your comfort zone.
Over-the-ear headphones are different than their counterparts, on-the-ear headphones (discussed separately below). Here are some features of over-the-ear headphones.
- Padding: They have padded headband and ear cups to cushion your head and ears. The ear cups are extremely comfortable and have a lot of space for all kinds of ear shape.
- Circumaural design: Ear cups have circumaural design that covers your ears completely. This setting is best for sound proofing and creates surround sound effect as well.
- Noise-cancelling: While most over-ear headphones have closed-back ear cups for passive noise isolation, high-end models feature active noise cancelling feature to cut external noise.
- Bluetooth: There are some good over-ear models with advanced Bluetooth technology. Apart from the wireless connectivity, these models control the volume and allow you to take calls or control your audio device through built-in remote.
Some great brands for over-the-ear headphones include Audio-Technica, Sony, Sennheiser and Phillips etc.
#2. On-Ear Headphones
As their name suggests, on-ear headphones fit right on your ears without enclosing them fully. On-the-ear headphones feature tension design so that they can be held tightly to your ears. The lack of tension can cause them to tilt the other way, or slide off your ear. If you use these headphones, we suggest not to use them too frequently or for longer durations.
- For sensitive ears: If you have sensitive ears (which some people have), or have specific ear shape, you might feel a little bit uncomfortable as these headphones put certain amount of pressure on ears.
- For normal ears: Even if your ears can bear them, regular use of these headphones can hurt them. Eventually, the pressure can make you’ll feel uncomfortable due to soar ears.
Anyhow, you can get some of the best wireless headphones in this particular category. They are good for physical activities, such as jogging, biking, swimming and workouts.
#3. In-Ear Headphones
In-ear headphones are best for you, if you cannot stay at home, yet you don’t want to miss out on the latest albums or songs of your favorite band. Or perhaps, you’re an entrepreneur who want to stay connected with news on current affairs.
In-ear headphones are available in a large variety of colors, themes and designs. When it comes to design, in-ear headphones have a lot; some earbuds go directly inside your ears, while some have added support to hold the tip of your ears.
In-ear headphones are best for professionals like bodybuilders, athletes, sports person, cyclists, travelers, hikers and adventure lovers. In fact, you can add more professions, whom you see staying outside for most part of the day.
Simple technique to wear these headphones
For some people, keeping these earbuds (alternate name for in-ear headphones) can be challenging. If you’re one of those whose earbuds keep jerking off, you can prevent it with a simple technique. Loop one wire of the headphones over the back of your neck and take the remaining wire of over your ear. Place the earbud into the ear canal and let the other wire hang normally.
There is a wide range of choices in this category. Some popular in-ear headphone brands include Sennheiser, Jabra, BOHM, LG, Panasonic, LG and Apple. Moreover, you can find some best headphones under 100 of some great brands in this particular category, such as Shure, Bose, LG etc.
#4. Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolation Headphones
Yes, these headphones can simply isolate you when you don’t want to connect with your surroundings or people. Over-the-ear headphones, with those large ear cups are the prime examples of noise cancelling headphones. Digging deeper, there are two types of noise-isolation.
- Passive noise-cancelling: Actually, noise cancelling headphones offer specialized padding that reduces external noise of the audio output chamber or from the people around you, significantly. Heavy padding of over-ear headphones offer natural and passive noise isolation.
- Active noise-cancelling: Headphones with active noise-cancelling can be expensive. Active noise-cancelling is possible because of the added batteries in the ear cups. They produce sound waves with equal frequency and opposite direction, to cancel out the noise from the surrounding.
This category comprises of on-ear headphones and over-the-ear headphones, but you may have to spend a lot of time to search for an affordable model.
#5. Wireless Headphones
They don’t have wires? Yes, they don’t!
Then what is the source of power? Wireless headphones have a small battery inside that keeps them running for a while. So, they need to be recharged once after every few hours, if you’re using them continuously. This is one benefit you’ll get.
The problem starts when your wireless headphones run out of charge while you’re travelling, and you have nothing to recharge them. Another important problem is, they might lose signals if you go beyond certain distance from the source. At the same time, they offer multiple channels so that you can change your frequency.
Wireless headphones may or may not have the Bluetooth capability. Those without Bluetooth need a sound transmitter that connects with the audio device. The transmitter offers 300-foot range and smoothly transfers signals through closed windows and doors, sealed roofs and concrete walls. Bluetooth models, on the other hand, don’t have that much range.
Headphones Buying Guide
Choosing the best headphone within tight budget can be tricky. Even if you’re willing to compromise on price, there are plenty of things to pay attention to. The job becomes even harder and confusing, since you have too many options to choose from. Anyhow, here are some tips to narrow down your choices and chose from the list of best headphones under 100.
Consider the Form Factor
As mentioned earlier, headphones come in several different styles, but not all of them can fit your ears. So, always start with the form factor and narrow down your choices. Do you find them comfortable? Are they too tight?
Moreover, you should also consider these factors:
- Where or how often are you going to use them? If you’re an occasional listener, investing in high-end models would be a waste of money. If you’re an audiophile or a music pro, form factor would be your top priority.
- What kind of music will you be listening? If you want to listen to jazz, classic or something with heavy bass, close-back models will be suitable. But if you want to listen to the details of sound, you may want to consider open-aire design.
You have three options of form factor, each with its own merits and demerits.
Pros: Earbud headphones are perfectly portable and you can use them on the go. They offer certain level of noise isolation as well, so they’re useful in public spaces, buses and airplanes. It depends upon the person and his comfort level with the headphones whether he prefers earbuds or over-ear headphones, but earbuds offer more breathing space to your ears.
Cons: You may need to sacrifice the quality of sound which you can get from over-the-ear headphones. Then, there’s a continuous threat of them sliding out because of the ear shape and sweat. Moreover, you need to remove them after wearing them for about an hour, or you can damage your hearing.
- Headphones with Ear Pads
They are far more comfortable for ears as they don’t get inside your ear canal. Because of the headband and circumaural ear cups, they neither make your ears hot, nor slide off from the ear. For better sound quality, you can choose open-backed headphones. But if you need more ambience and heavy bass, try closed-back headphones. They are easily portable and keep you connected with your surrounding as well. All over-ear headphones fall in this particular category.
You cannot use these headphones in an exceptionally loud environment. In case of open-back headphones, as they’re outside your ears, the sound they produce can be heard by others, especially when the place around you is super quite (a library, perhaps). You will get good sound quality but the bass will not be as good as closed-back headphones offer.
- Full-size Headphones
If you have a full-sized headphone, you’re a serious music lover who don’t want to be distracted. They feature great bass response, noise isolation, and sound clarity. The extra padding makes them more comfortable then other headphones around. This particular category is meant for serious music lovers, and most of the studio quality headphones fall in this category.
Full size headphones are not portable because of their size. Plus, they’re not too flexible to fit in your bag. You may need an extra small bag to carry them. Since full-size headphones cover your ears completely, your ears might go hot after long usage. You also need to consider material quality since sweating is the major outcome of wearing full-size headphones.
Go through the Special Features
Form factor is the basic thing, but modern-day headphones offer some impressive features that you should look for. It also depends on the situation and your own view whether any of these feature is desirable.
#1. Noise Isolation:
First of all, noise isolation does not refer to noise cancellation. Headphones with noise isolation features are capable of blocking outside noise by physically sealing your ears. The seal may be inside your ear or around it, depending upon the form factor you’re using.
However, noise isolation headphones may not be as effective as noise cancelling headphones. So, they do not need batteries to do so. They simply keep ambient noise and disturbance out and keep you focused on the music. You can find some best headphones under 100 with noise isolation feature.
# 2. Noise Cancellation:
Noise cancellation is the reverse of noise production. Noise cancelling headphones have special feature that samples the noise in the surrounding and create its inverted version inside your ears. This inverted version cancels the effects of surrounding noise.
This feature is very effective, but the headphones come expensive. You also need batteries for such headphones. This particular feature can be found in both, ear pad and full size headphones, but the latter offers better noise cancellation.
Apart from not having any cord or wire, wireless or Bluetooth headphones also give you controlling options, such as playing, pausing and skipping, without using your device.
Wireless headphones are available in two versions.
- There are home versions with a base station. You can connect more than one headphones to the base, at one time. They offer long range though.
- Then there are portable versions that offer small dongles. But signal range is not as good as home versions.
5 Rules for Buying Online
If you’re buying best headphones online, you’ll hardly get an opportunity to test them (close to none). So, how can you ensure that the headphones would fit your head? How would you make sure they offer best sound quality, heavy bass response, and noise isolation? Plus, your experience about the headphone comfort will be zero.
So, follow these tips to remove your concerns.
- Online Reviews: Buying any product just because it looks good in the image, is the worst mistake you can make. The best thing is to check what other customers had to say about the product. Same is true for headphones. There are some great e-commerce stores where customer reviews are available, but Amazon.com is the best.
- Know Where to Buy: Ideally, you want to go the local store and choose the pair of head gears, but local stores often sell items on higher price. That’s simply because, the thing is readily available and the customer has the option of checking it.
Anyhow, local stores don’t have a large variety of headphones or any other products, like online stores. Moreover, online stores offer amazing discounts and deals from time to time. So, if you want to find the best headphones under 100, Amazon.com is the place to visit.
- Check Durability: First thing you should do is, go through the headphone specs and read descriptions about the material and quality of earbuds. Then read FAQ section related to it. Finally, read customer reviews available at the end. This is the best way to determine the durability, next to physical testing.
- Check Warranty: Always look for manufacturer warranty. In fact, a warranty can make your purchase safe. You can find best quality headphones online that offer 2 to 3 year warranties.
- Expert’s Pick: You may be having trouble choosing between final two options of headphones. Or perhaps, you have too little time to go through all the reviews and specs. In this situation, you can read online headphone reviews and go for judge’s pick. Most of the time, expert’s pick save ample amount of shopping time online.
Things to Make Sure While Buying Physically
If you are buying from physical store, you have option to check the headphone thoroughly. Apart from getting information about the warranty, you should check following features for yourself.
- Comfort and Convenience: Try the headphones at least for 15 minutes, or more than that if possible. The reason is, your comfort level after five minutes of wearing a particular pair of headphones is quite different than when you where it for 15 minutes of more.
- If you’re buying a traditional model, pay attention to its material, padding, durability and convenience. The headphones must have good padding to survive longer. It should adjust and conforms to your head perfectly.
- If you’re buying earbuds, then you should verify whether you get extra pairs or earbuds. Sometimes, extra pairs are necessary for those with different sizes of ear holes in both ears.
- Sound Quality: Connect the headphones with your MP3 Player and start testing. Check the headphones on high volume. The frequency levels totally depend upon your own description of sound quality. You should be paying attention to ambience, bass, noise isolation and sound clarity.
Now that you’ve gone through our list of best headphones under 100 dollars, your doubts have been removed by now and the right one must be there in your mind. Even if you have any concerns left, revisit the online or physical store and follow these tips before making purchase decision.
- Buying online: Read customer reviews, especially those who have purchased the headphones from the same store. Read experts’ pick as they may have the perfect match for your needs. Go through product features and match them with the benefits you’re seeking.
- Buying from physical store: Try and test the headphones like a pro by checking material quality, comfort and sound quality. Check for the warranty associated with the headphones
If you have done all these things, there’s just one thing for you to do – Go ahead and Purchase!
Here are some questions regarding headphones people generally ask online. Although, most of the things have been explained in the headphones buying guide, some technical features may still need more explanation.
Q.1. I am a regular gym hitter. Which headphone model suits me?
Answer: For physical activities, you can choose in-ear headphones or on-ear headphones. In-ear headphones or earbuds have light weight and they fit inside your ears. Plus, some models offer external support too.
On-ear models also have the same purpose, and there are some good Bluetooth models as well. The only problem is, they tend to put more pressure on your ears, to make sure they don’t fall during physical activity.
Q.2: Is there better option to avoid tangling cables?
Answer: Yes, there are quite a few models available in the market that feature tangle-free cables or detachable cables. You need to check whether your headphones support tangle-free cable or not.
Q.3: I like to listen to loud music but my headphones bother people around me. What to do?
Answer: It means, you have open-air headphones – those with open-back ear cups. You can replace them with close-back ear cups for better results.
Q.4: What is the difference between noise isolation and noise-cancelling?
Answer: There is a difference of functionality. Noise isolation is something that comes naturally. It’s more like a sound proofing to your ears, provided by over-ear headphones, or in-ear models (to some extent). On the other hand, noise-cancelling is a man-made technology that produces sound to cancel out external noise from the surrounding. In general, noise cancelling is better for trouble-free listening.
Q.5: Is it possible to lose hearing, if we use headphones carelessly?
Answer: Yes, anything louder than your ear’s capacity can damage the hearing permanently or temporarily. This is the reason why headphone users should take breaks more often. You can apply the rule of 20/40 here, which means, if you listen to the music above general volume (your device would tell you when you exceed that level), then your ears need 40 minutes of rest after 20 minutes of listening.
Q.6: I am experiencing loss of audio in one ear piece. What to do?
Answer: This is a common issue. After sometimes, you might feel crackling, snapping, popping or no sound at all on one of the earpieces. Here’s what you should do.
- Firstly, ensure that the audio jack (3.5mm) is fully plugged in. The L-shaped connector should be fixed with the audio device, while the straight input is properly inserted into the headset.
- Secondly, make sure that the audio source works properly, and is turned on. If the headphones are connected to the computer or laptop, try to configure settings and adjust the volume.
- If the problem is not resolved, connect your headphones in another audio device. Otherwise, you need to replace the cable.
Q.7: I am experiencing my headphones have too high volume. What to do?
Answer: Simply decrease the volume of the audio source.
Q.8: What should I do when my phone is not responding to microphone and button presses?
Answer: You need to check the headset plug first. Make sure that there is no connection issue. If you have multi-press function, you can vary the speed of pressing while using microphone or remote.
Q.9: My headphones’ mic/remote does not work with my smartphone. What to do?
Answer: This is a software issue and devices other than iOS may have this problem. You need to install the latest software and update your device first, before using the headphones.
Q.10: What should I do if the microphone does not pick up sound?
Answer: You need to make sure that the headphones are properly connected to your smartphone. The socket should be clean and dust-free. You may want to check the microphone, whether it is blocked or covered.
You can see:
- Best Earbuds Under 50
- Best Earbuds Under 100
- Best Headphones Under 50
- Best Studio Headphones
- Best Wireless Headphones for TV
- Best Workout Headphones
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