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Headphones

Best Headphones for Under $100

As our testers have found, it's possible to get excellent sound at a midrange price

These days it's easy to find low-cost headphones in a broad range of styles and colors. But headphones are more than a fashion statement, and what distinguishes the models on our list of the best headphones for under $100 is that they earn high marks for sound quality from our testers, and a couple even fall in the Excellent range.

The models here not only rank among the best headphones in our ratings but also earn our CR Best Buy designation, thanks to prices that start as low as $50.

Every year, CR buys dozens of headphones at retail—just like you might—and runs them through a battery of tests to help you sort through the noise when you're shopping for your next pair.

Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

1
Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless
Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless

    Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless

    The Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless packs performance, features, and great audio into a sleek on-ear Bluetooth model at a midrange price. You can pick up the Hesh 3 Wireless for under $100.

    The headphone has a closed, isolating design that will keep some noise from leaking in or out during a listening session. It's rated for 22 hours of battery life, and to save on battery life, you can also use it as a wired model using the detachable 46-inch cable. These headphones come with integrated controls for calls, playback, and volume, and the earcups fold back for easy storage and transport.

    2
    1MORE E1001 Triple Driver
    1MORE E1001 Triple Driver

      1MORE E1001 Triple Driver

      You won't find many headphones that deliver such superb audio for the price as the in-ear 1MORE E1001 Triple Driver, which costs just $80.

      These earphones have a sleek design and come with extras, including a removable shirt clip, a carrying case, and nine sets of earpieces of varying shapes and sizes to help you find a good fit. The integrated microphone, call/connect, playback, and volume controls will play nicely with your iPhones and other devices, and the isolating design also muffles ambient noise and blocks some sound from bleeding out and bothering the people around you.

      3
      Grado Prestige SR80e
      Grado Prestige SR80e

        Grado Prestige SR80e

        The Grado Prestige SR80e is a perennial favorite among music fans looking for a bargain on top-notch sound. For just $100, the SR80e's outstanding audio quality is hard to beat.

        These on-ear home/studio-style headphones are built for the audio-focused listener. A fairly large profile and a long, sturdy cable limit their portability. And their open-back earcups—a design choice intended to create an uncongested soundstage—aren't meant to block sound from bleeding in or out. All that means they’re best used in a quiet environment where you really want to focus on the music.

        4
        Monoprice True Wireless Earphones IPX4
        Monoprice True Wireless Earphones...

        Monoprice True Wireless Earphones...

        True wireless headphones used to force consumers into a choice between suboptimal performance or a price above $100. But that's all changed with the Monoprice True Wireless Earphones IPX4, which deliver great sound for just $50.

        Monoprice hasn't cut any significant corners to meet the bargain price. The IPX4's advertised battery life is typical for true wireless models, at 2 to 4.5 hours of operating time, and the carrying case should be able to recharge the earpieces four times. The earphones have call and playback controls, and they're water-resistant as well, according to Monoprice.

        People with smaller ears may have issues finding a secure fit, which is a challenge with a lot of true wireless earphones, so it's best to try them on before you buy.

        5
        Optoma NuForce BE6i
        Optoma NuForce BE6i

          Optoma NuForce BE6i

          If you're looking for portable Bluetooth headphones but want more battery life than you'll get with a true wireless pair, consider the Optoma NuForce BE6i, $80, which strikes an appealing balance of price and performance.

          These earphones deliver great sound, and they're rated for 8 hours of operating time. The back of the earpieces clip together magnetically for easy storage, or to keep them in place around your neck when they're not in use. They come with extra earpieces and ear-bowl fittings if you want a little more support. The manufacturer also claims that they're water-resistant—okay in a rainstorm, though not in the pool.

          Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. We make it easy to buy the right product from a variety of retailers. Clicking a retailer link will take you to that retailer’s website to shop. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our mission. Learn more. Our service is unbiased: retailers can’t influence placement. All prices are subject to change.
          Thomas Germain

          I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. Reliable information is the way to make that happen, and that’s why I spend my time chasing it down. When I’m off the clock, you can usually find me working my way through an ever-growing list of podcasts. Follow me on Twitter (@ThomasGermain).