Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
These days, it's easy to find low-priced headphones in a broad range of styles and colors. But headphones are more than a fashion statement, and what distinguishes the models on this list of the best headphones under $100 is that they earn high marks for sound quality from Consumer Reports' testers.
The models here not only rank among the top headphones in our ratings but also earn CR's Best Buy designation, thanks to prices that start as low as $50. There's something for everyone in this roundup, whether you care most about high-quality sound, the convenience of Bluetooth, the unmatched portability of true wireless earphones, or even active noise cancellation.
Consumer Reports puts dozens of headphones through a battery of tests to help you sort through the noise and find headphones that sound as good as they look, and we also conduct annual member surveys to measure owner satisfaction and reliability. We buy every product we test at the same places you might shop yourself.
Portable High Fidelity
You won't find many headphones that deliver such superb audio for the price as the in-ear 1MORE E1001 Triple Driver, which typically costs around $70. These wired 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 iPhone and other devices. And the isolating design also muffles ambient noise and blocks sound from bleeding out and bothering people around you. Our member survey turned up a superb owner satisfaction rating for 1MORE headphones, though their reliability score is just average.
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air earphones look a lot like Apple's AirPods, but they cost about half as much and have a few notable advantages. Unlike the AirPods, the Ankers have an isolating design that will muffle some outside sound, and our testing shows that their audio quality is significantly better, too. CR's technicians also note that they fit and stay in place well, avoiding a problem that affects many true wireless models.
According to Anker, the earphones have a 5-hour battery life and come with a charging/carrying case good for three additional charges on the go. They're also advertised as water-resistant. (Consumer Reports doesn't test water resistance or battery life in headphones.)
They have tap controls for calls and playback, and support for digital assistants, and they come with the option to use the right earpiece alone for single-ear listening. Anker's reliability and owner satisfaction ratings are middle of the road.
For the Audiophile
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. (Prices have fluctuated lately—shop around or go directly to Grado's website to snag them at this price.)
These on-ear home/studio-style headphones are built for the audio-focused listener. Their open-back ear cups, which are meant to boost the clarity of the audio, won't block sound from bleeding in or out, and their large profile and long, sturdy cable limits their portability. All that means they’re best used in a quiet environment where you can really focus on the music—and where you won't irritate other people nearby. If you're on the fence, Grado's scores for reliability and owner satisfaction may settle it: The brand has outstanding ratings for both.
Portable Noise Cancellation
1MORE makes another appearance on this list with the ComfoBuds Pro. You get the convenience of true wireless headphones, great sound quality, and superb noise cancellation, all for around $100.
The model delivers modern noise-canceling features, including adjustable levels of sound-blocking and a monitor mode that pipes in outside sound when you want to hear it.
1MORE advertises a 6-hour battery life, backed by a charging case that will power up the headphones twice on the go. To sweeten the deal, the ComfoBuds feature a quick-charging function for an additional 2 hours after just 15 minutes of charging.
We didn't get enough responses about 1MORE in our last headphones survey to generate reliability or owner satisfaction ratings.
The Jabra Move Style Edition, an on-ear Bluetooth model with a sleek appearance and more-than-decent sound, comes with convenient features like controls for calls, playback, and volume, and the option to forgo Bluetooth and use the detachable audio cable included with your purchase. Jabra gets an unimpressive reliability rating in CR's survey of our members but does better for owner satisfaction.
The headphones have a closed, isolating design that will keep some noise from leaking in or out during a listening session. And they have an advertised 14-hour battery life, more than enough to get you through a day of listening.
The Sennheiser CX 150BT is a fantastic pair of headphones for the price. Our tests show this pair's audio quality is above average, and better than some models that cost a lot more. There aren't a ton of extra features, but Sennheiser boasts a 10-hour battery life, more than enough to get you through a gym session or a day's commute. The brand's superb ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction sweeten the deal.
Sennheiser also sells the similarly named CX 350BT, which gets the same score in our ratings but costs a bit more. Essentially, the only difference is compatibility with aptX, a digital audio format meant to improve the quality of your playback.
This over-ear wireless model from Monoprice is usually available for around $50—a steal, given the superb noise-canceling performance and dependable sound quality. Monoprice sweetens the deal with a solid rating for predicted reliability and an outstanding owner satisfaction score.
The BT-300ANC features integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback, and the ear cups fold in and swivel flat for easy storage and transport. According to Monoprice, the battery will run for 8 hours between charges with Bluetooth and noise cancellation turned on. You can keep the music going even longer by switching off Bluetooth and using the detachable audio cable, which is included.
How to Choose Headphones
With so many types of headphones, how do you know which pair is right for you? On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Elias Arias explains everything you need to know.