We’d all love to have hundreds to slap down on a pair of Ultrasone Edition 8s or Denon AH-D7100 Music Maniacs. But when your bank balance is looking bleak, you need to downgrade your aural ambitions. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a king’s ransom to pick up a quality pair of cans. There are some decent headphones to be had for a mere double digit price tag. So to make sure you spend your modest budget well, here’s a roundup of the best headphones under 100 dollars in each category.
Sennheiser RS120 (Best wireless headphones under 100)
These wireless cans are perfect for TV watching or listening to the hifi around the home. I say around the home because the cradle has a range of up to 328ft and the signal will even punch its way through ceilings and walls. When not in use, simply perch them back on the cradle and by the magic of modern technology they will recharge.
As you’d expect of headphones bearing the Sennheiser name, the sound quality is excellent, with great bass response, a balanced transparent sound and hi-fidelity audio reproduction. Lightweight and comfy, the Sennheiser RS120’s are a steal at just shy of 100 dollars.
Alternately, if you’re happy to spend some money, I also recommend checking out Sennheiser’s RS180s for home listening audio bliss or the cans which made my list of the best bluetooth headphones money can buy.
Bose IE2 Audio Headphones- Best in ear headphones under 100 dollars
While the brand of choice for frequent flyers with the quintessentially Bose Quiet Comfort 15s, Bose isn’t so highly ranked when listing the best in ear headphones. This could soon change (in the sub 100 dollars market anyway) with the launch of the Bose IE2 Audio Headphones. These reverse engineered (whatever that means) earbuds offer a surprisingly smooth and natural sound thanks to Bose’s patented TriPort acoustic headphones technology. Taking advantage of its expertise in the area, these earbuds also feature sound reduction technology, ideal for commuters and exercise enthusiasts.
Best headphones under 100 dollars for runners and joggers – Plantronics BackBeat Go 2
Ok, so you did look further. In that case you have a tough decision when looking for the best in ear headphones under 100 dollars because (at the time of writing) the popular Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 earbuds also fall within the double digit price range.
Featuring sweat proof materials (military grade, no less), these elegantly shaped earbuds also feature Bluetooth technology with a generous 14.5 hours battery life. Plenty of time for a few laps of the track, an entire day’s bike ride or to keep the music pumping for even the most committed gym bunny. In line controls also allow the wearer to take calls and skip tracks with the lightest of button presses.
So if you’re looking for quality earbuds free from the entanglement of wires, I recommend the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 as the best headphones for runners and joggers under 100 dollars. Alternately, check out the other cans for active people in my breakdown of the best running headphones and best Bluetooth headsets.
Best headphones under 100 for making a fashion statement –SOUL by Ludacris
Celebrities have been queing up to endorse their own eponymously named pair of cans ever since the Dr Dre Beats phenomenom kicked off. The 50 Cent SYNCs and Quincy Jones AKG Q701s are two notable examples I’ve reviewed previously. Well, not wishing to miss the party, rapper/actor Ludacris launched his own pair of chunky over ear cans just over a year ago.
While I’d personally would rather pickup some headphones by Sennheiser, AKG or Grado over celebrity endorsed cans, the SOUL by Ludacris headphones have their fans. Featuring advanced driver and circuitry, you can look forward to some heavy bass sounds, whether you’re audio tipple of choice is rap, electronic or country.
Their price slash shouldn’t denigrate the quality build and audio performance of these cans, with these now rolling in at the same price as Beats Solo HDs while offering an arguably superior sound, making SOUL by Ludacris the best headphones under 100 for fashionistas that want make a statement with their choice of headphones as much as the music they play on them.
Best headphones under 100 for gamers – Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset
When you found yourself fighting off hordes of incoming Halo enemies, about to score a screamer in Fifa or in the middle of a bank job in Grand Theft Auto, you need to ensure your headphones offer the lag free performance you can depend on. Marketing clichés aside, the Logitech Wireless Gaming headsets are a reassuringly chunky pair of cans, with a bold looking and rotatable boom mic and charging rack.
What’s more, their size isn’t all for appearances, with them offering lag free performance (in other words, there’s no delay between other gamers hearing what you say) and immersive (is there any other kind?) 7.1 surround sound. They also pack in three programmable buttons for quickly activating options in your chat client, such as turning on your favourite music morphing your voice.
With gamers as competitive over their screen’s inches as their PC’s RAM, you can plug in their USB radio and sit up to 40 feet away if you’re lucky enough to be playing on a cinema sized screen. With their solid build and reliable audio performance, I recommend the Logitech Wireless Gaming Headset as the best headphones under 100 for online warriors.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under 100 dollars – JVC Hanc250
If buying a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 15s is going to make your credit card cry, take a look at the JVC Hanc250s instead. Available for less than half the price, these noise cancelling headphones offer up to 85 percent noise reduction. This is achieved through the headphones’ external mics which monitor the external noise and then adjust the frequency you hear to block it out.
With a battery life of 50 hours, you needn’t worry about them dying on you in the middle of a flight, and they feature natural sound insulating qualities should you forget to recharge them in the previous month.
Weighing a mere 5.3 ounces, the JVC Hanc250 are exceptionally light for a pair of noise cancelling headphones. What’s more, they fold flat for snugly stowing away in a travel bag or backpack. This is yet another reason why these are the best noise cancelling headphones under 100 dollars.
Along with the Quiet Comfort 15s, check out my roundup of the best noise cancelling headphones.
Best Headphones under 100 for Bass Heads – Skullcandy Aviator 2.0
Beats by Dre aren’t the only big dog in the yard when it comes to pumping out bass. Skullcandy has been quietly chomping up a large slice of the market for bass heavy cans. Following a recent price drop, its standout headphones, the Aviators, can now be picked up for a few cents less than one hundred bucks.
The Skullcandy Aviator 2.0 headphones were born from a pairing between the popular headphones brand and Jay Z’s Roc Nation. As you’d expect, they offer the rather aggressive sounding ‘Attacking Bass’, deemed to be punchy and powerful, with warm, smooth vocals to boot.
Sophisticated and stylish, these will add to the street swagger of anyone wearing them (according to Skullcandy, anyway). So I’m happy to deem these as the best headphones under 100 for bass heads.
Best DJ Headphones under 100 – Audio Technica ATH-M40fs Pro
The Audio Technica ATH-M40fs Pros are arguably the best sounding headphones under 100 dollars on this list. Younger brother to the Audio Technica ATH-M50s, these headphones offer extended flat response and precision sound for monitor mixing. This coupled with the ability to swivel the earpads 180 degrees and replace its cables, drivers and pads makes it a popular pair of DJ headphones.
Audiophiles will also be sated by the Audio Technica ATH-M40fs’ 40mm diameter drivers, neodymium magnets and CCAW voice coils. What all this tech wizardy amounts to is a premium pair of headphones suitable for professional use, whether sound checking in the studio or beat matching in the clubs.
Audio Technica has been manufacturing headphones since 1962, making them as deserving of the headphones buyers’ respect as Sennheiser, Grado and AKG. And now you can get hold of a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M40fs Pros without breaking the bank, making them worthy of the title of best DJ headphones under 100 dollars.
If these don’t float your boat, and you’re willing to spend the extra cash, check out my rundown of the best DJ headphones to choose from.
So that’s my rundown of the best headphones under 100 dollars in 2014 in every category. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.