Best Headphones Under $100 – Audiophile, Basshead, Studio & Wireless

While it’s true that some serious audiophiles and fans of portable audio have deep pockets and fat wallets to purchase TOTL headphones, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of good-sounding headphones for us budget audiophiles.  

The reality is that choosing a set of headphones can come down to a lot of factors such as style, what they will be used for, comfort, and build quality. What makes a cheap headphone good for you might not be what someone else desires. You may have to make some compromises on materials, accessories, and packaging but I can assure you every headphone on the list below is not only cheap but it’s outstanding value for money and sounds great.

The reason we can find good headphones at a low price is that market has become ultra-competitive thanks to the rise of smartphones, iPhones, and on-the-go media consumption. This has led to some great buying options and improved sound quality at a more affordable price than ever before.  So what are the best models this year? Well, let’s get into the list below.

Our Recommendations:

Best Wireless
Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless Over-Ear Headphone - True Black
Best Sounding
GRADO SR60x Prestige Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones
Best for Music Production
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
Model
Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless
Grado SR60x
Sony MDR-7506
Wireless
Audiophile
Editors Comments
A solid set of wireless headphones with lots of extra features and bassy sound.
Beautiful entry level Grado headphones with open back dynamic drivers and detailed sound.
A studio headphone with excellent durability and neutral tuning.
Best Wireless
Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless Over-Ear Headphone - True Black
Model
Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless
Wireless
Audiophile
Editors Comments
A solid set of wireless headphones with lots of extra features and bassy sound.
Best Sounding
GRADO SR60x Prestige Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones
Model
Grado SR60x
Wireless
Audiophile
Editors Comments
Beautiful entry level Grado headphones with open back dynamic drivers and detailed sound.
Best for Music Production
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
Model
Sony MDR-7506
Wireless
Audiophile
Editors Comments
A studio headphone with excellent durability and neutral tuning.

Audio Technica ATH-M40x – Best All Round Cheap Headphone

The ATH-M40x won our 2021 award for the best cheap headphones
The Audio Technica ATH-M40x best headphones under $100 test winner

Coming in at just under $100 the Audio Technica M40x is unbelievable good value for money. Its big brother Audio Technica ATH-M50x is one of the most popular studio production headphones on the market mainly because of strong sound and great build quality. Thankfully for us budget audiophiles a lot trickles down into the cheaper ATH-M40x which we have as out test winner this year.  

Audio Technica has manages to retain a high level of fidelity in the M40 headphones. Its a linear tuning with neutrality and clarity being the star of the show. The headphone is so good it’s used around the world as monitors in music production studios and on the heads of top DJ’s looking for unbiased and transparent sound. 

Buyers are also treated to rugged and dependable Audio Technica build quality. Materials are long-lasting and durable and again because they were designed for professional use the manage to hold up well over the long term.  

Included in the box are 2 sets of detachable cables as well as a carry pouch.  The ATH-M40x use a proprietary 40mm dynamic driver to produce a clean, clear, and well-balanced sound to work with a range of music genres.  When we tested them back in April of this year, we noted that whilst the ATH-M40x were slightly heavier than the competition, they were still well within limits to be used as portable headphones and were surprisingly comfortable.  


Koss Porta Pro – Best Portable Headphone Under $100

Koss Porta Pro Headphones - Best Portable headphone under $100
The small size and great sound makes the Porta Pro by Koss the winner of the best portable headphone under $100

The Porta Pro are one of the most iconic headphones of all time and have been on the market for over 30 years with little to no changes. Why have they lasted so long when other headphones disappear? The sound quality is amazing.

Yes even today with all the advancements in technology the Porta Pro stand out as sounding double or triple their price. The have a clean and clear presentation with smooth detailed mids and some tight punchy bass. The are perfect for pop, rock, classic, jazz and vocal music. Its a tuning that I fell in love with when I was younger and still love listening today.

Despite having such quality sound the Porta pro are the smallest headphone on the list and are easily transported and even fold up. The build quality is excellent with good quality plastic and metal used throughout. Styling gives all that old-school cool, the design hasn’t been touched and fans of retro earphones love them. Its iconic.

Downsides are that they are open back so you can use them in crowded places without everyone around you hearing your music. Oh and the headband has a tendency to pull a hair every now and again. Still this is both the cheapest headphone on this list and one of the best sounding.


Grado SR60X – Best Budget Audiophile Headphones

Grado SR60x headphone
The Grado SR60x are an update to the cheapest Grado headphone that budget audiophiles are sure to enjoy.

I don’t think there is a more legendary name in the headphone world than Grado.  The company was founded over 50 years ago by Joseph Grado, who sadly passed away a few years ago. The company is now still ran from their same New York base by grandson Jon Grado. Its a Legacy headphone brand, its iconic.  

Grado headphone design is legendary and remains relatively unchanged for decades now with only minor refreshes.  The Grado SR60x are the cheapest set of full-size Grado headphones you can buy but they offer many of the technologies which make the entire their more expensive models so good.  

The SR60x are an open-back design, so they won’t be used in the office or commuting due to there being no isolation from the external environment.  However, this the exact reason that the Grado SR60x can produce such a wide and open presentation of the musical soundstage.


Sony MDR-XB800 – Best Bass Headphones

The Sony XB800 are the best basshead headphone under $100

I thought I would include the Sony MDR-XB800 on this list of the best headphones under 100 for one simple reason. Bass.  The XB in the MDR-XB800 stands for extended bass, and good lord do these headphones deliver that in copious brain shaking and eardrum exploding amounts.

These Sony’s, of course, have the great build quality you would expect from a company that is known for making some of the best portable audio gear on the planet.  Although its a rather large headphone, you can still fold the MDR-XB800 down to make them a great option for those looking to commute or travel with them and the do block sound well. 

These headphones also come with a 4-foot tangle-free cable with gold plated 3.5mm connectors and are one of the coolest looking headphones on this list.  Really though, it comes down to the sound.

If you are looking for headphones to use with electronic, rap, or pop music, then these could well be your go-to. The large dynamic drivers combine with a unique air seal technology to create sub-bass levels that will literally vibrate your head.  It’s a unique and very fun budget headphone.


Sony MDR-7506 -Best Budget Headphone for Music Production

The Sony MDR-7506 are the best studio and music production headphone under $100

The MDR-7506 are primarily designed to be used as a studio monitor headphone. However audiophile community has also recognized the Sony MDR-7506 as one of the best sounding low cost headphones.  

Many of the MDR-7506 design choices as a production headphone are also what makes it such a great headphone for portable use. These headphones are designed to be used and abused, the build quality and durability during our testing was one of the best on the market. These headphones are meant to be used in a studio environment and, as such, will have no problems with you throwing them in a backpack, dropping them, or any other nefarious nonsense you like to do with your beloved audio equipment.  

Sound reproduction is almost ruler flat across the audio frequency spectrum. No one area overshadows another, thus letting you hear a load of detail no matter what genre you decide to use them with.  If you are looking for a good set of budget studio monitor headphones, then these are the ones we would go for.  

We also like that the MDR-7560 isolates extremely well and manage to block out a lot of ambient noise from your environment. If you use your headphones for commuting, this can be a great choice. 

The only downside we found was that the cable is quite long when it is fully extended, but it is coiled, so it shouldn’t pose too much of an issue.  


Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless – Best Wireless Headphones under $100

The feature rich Skullcandy Hesh Evo Wireless are our test winners for the best wireless headphones under $100 for 2021

The Hesh series by Skullcandy has been one of the most popular Bluetooth headphones of the past few years. The Evo model refines everything and makes for an outstanding headphone that costs less than $100 on RRP.

What makes them so good? Well a lot actually. The have an extremely comfortable design with big cushion earpads and a easy circumaural fit. They look great and are available in lots of color options. Have in built playback controls. Are fantastic isolators and fold down to make them more portable for travel.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you how good they are how about: 36 hours of battery life and built-in fast charging via USB-C. Tile find my headphone technology built-in and dependable build quality with tough materials.

The sound is fun with punchy deep bass that shows good sub-bass extensions. Overal they are warm and lush sounding with Bluetooth 5.0 support and can be used wired for an extra bump in fidelity. Damn fine headphones for the price if you ask me.


Of course, as the headphone industry evolves, there will be a lot more to add to the list of the best headphones under 100, and we will keep updating if we find anything new that is worthy of a spot.  Feel free to drop us a message below, let us know what your favorite headphones are, and remember to add us to Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date with the latest portable audio news and reviews.

Audiophile Onhttp://www.audiophileon.com
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

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