Serious listeners care to hear their favorite recordings rendered with the kind of smooth, clear, and balanced presence that brings music to life. But phone users do not usually have it too good with the headphones that come with their mobiles.
Aside from Apple’s stock earbuds, most models that are in the package usually feature somewhat ordinary qualities. And not all high-end phones include a decent set, either. There’s no question that users can upgrade to better in-ear headphones, or even wireless models.
Comparison of the Best Earbuds Under 100 USD
We’re all about enjoying music seriously, and it’s why we wrote reviews about a number of top rated in-ear headphones that we think are capable of extraordinary performances.
We have updated the list as of January 2017. Before we proceed to the interesting details, let us list our careful selection of the best earbuds under 100 USD.
Now that you have an overview of the top rated earbuds under $100 today, let’s continue with our earbuds reviews.
We chose in-ear headphone models that many reviewers regard as among the finest available, each selling for under a hundred Dollars online. One or another of these should meet the needs of those who desire only the best sound performance and comfort in this price range.
The venerable audio specialist has been offering these in-ear headphones, a fact that should please those who associate the company with loads of well-placed bass. It also features innovative and comfortable earpieces that will fit the majority of ears with great comfort.
Basically, if you like musical bass response the way Klipsch does it with the rest of their audio gear, you’ll probably like this pair a lot. Rich and powerful sound across a wide range of frequencies but with an emphasis on deep and lows is what the brand is famous for producing. This in-ear model is the exactly sort that listeners who like heavy tracks will take to.
The drivers respond with a very rich and warm sound in the tonal mid-range that will suit many modern genres. You’ll get mounds of well-defined slam from the drives, although at the cost of slightly lower perceived definition in the highs. The pair is good for comfortable listening to hip-hop or techno styles that are redolent with very fat lows. The warm profile does help to lessen the raucousness that comprises much of modern music, smoothening things for more pleasant listening.
Constructed of robust elastomeric materials, the housings come in white and black versions. The lightweight earpieces have a rubberized coating that gives them a soft and assuring feel when they’re seated in your ears. Each housing is slanted a bit forward, providing for a more extended acoustic housing without letting the opposite stems project well beyond the ears.
Included are four sets of its patented oval-shape ear tips that will let you seal your ear openings better and with more comfort than with conventional rounded tips. For users with ears that are particularly hard to fit, a pair of double-flange ear tips are provided that can slip into narrower ear canals more readily.
The 3-button in-line controls and mic allows users to take calls, playback tracks, and adjust volumes on Apple mobiles. The cluster is integrated into a flat and sturdy cable that is resistant to tangles, which comes in a nice-designed case along with four pairs of the special oval-type ear tips as well as a clothing clip.
Those looking for more tonally balanced performance may find it’s not for them. But if you’re seeking rich powerful sound that does justice to the low-down, pounding beats you love, the Klipsch’s R6i is one of the best earbuds for bass available and will exceed your expectations.
This new design does many things well and has become an audio classic and one of the best in ear-headphones of 2017. Its lightweight but well-made earpieces have stainless steel housings that that are angled to hold in place.
As with most in-ear models, the earpieces are designed to be sealed with properly-sized tips. This particular model does not actually try to isolate the listener totally against all ambient sounds, unlike designs that are more intrusive or advanced noise-cancelling systems. It does take calls with decent clarity, while focusing on delivering excellent audio performance.
The 10.8 mm drivers can efficiently produce authoritative sound from a wide range of mobile devices. Low passages were deeply rendered and the highs were sharply detailed. The mids emerged with great warmth and intimacy within a smooth and balanced tonality.
With such qualities, the drivers are suitable for listening to classical recordings as well as RnB and acoustic tracks that feature vocal talent. Strings were detailed with body and instrumental voices were clearly imaged. However, the transparency that the drivers are capable of will also amplify recording artifacts in poorly produced and/or highly compressed tracks.
The thick cable resists tangles and has a conveniently L-shaped plug at its end, and the in-line control cluster is conveniently situated near the middle of the Y junction. The microphone’s in-line location further up the left-side cable is in an ideal location for picking up calls and voice recordings. Some other designs have their mics incorporated into a side earpiece, which in practice doesn’t work so well for headset duties.
Music volume, playback, and calls were handled with just the one button. This was good enough for our iPhones, but owners will have to rely on iOS screen controls to manage volume. A carrying case and an airline adapter along with two sets of ear tips in silicone and foam materials in three sizes comprise a well-rounded accessory package.
Focal’s Sphear is a comfortable in-ear design that will please music enthusiasts with its transparency and naturally balanced sound. It sells as one of the best in-ear headphones under 100 dollars and for good reason.
Bose is known for their processed and yet pleasing sound and this model is a great example of their sound-shaping expertise. It’s a well-built pair of in-ear headphones with a comfortable fit and superb audio performance.
This pair offers a smooth and mostly neutral rendering with rich and enjoyable lows. Although the mids are nicely imaged and articulated, the details of the highs weren’t conveyed as impressive for the drivers were not able to render every musical nuance as well as expected.
The designers added a smart way to stabilize the earpieces with their ‘StayHear’ tips, finned attachments to the earpieces that have a soft wing-style look and are available in various sizes. These are designed to push against the flesh of the inside ear to better hold the housing in place. This way, active users can continue moving about without much concern that the earpieces would drop off too easily.
These special tips comprise small, medium, and large sizes. Users with smaller ears will likely be able to adapt one of these for a comfortable fit, while those who are who tend to be active while listening will also find the stable design a sensible choice. A rounded neoprene carrying case plus a small carabiner is also included in the package.
As with the company’s other earbud-type models, this design is good for those who don’t care for things to be wedged into their ear canals. The actual buds are meant to be seated somewhat lightly on the ear openings as they are kept in place by the fins. These are really comfortable earbuds to wear; they mostly stayed in place even during runs and other vigorous activities.
The quality of calls was pretty decent as well. Note that due to the open design it is not really optimized for the noisiest settings, as more environmental sound does get in than is usually the case. The in-line music controls and headset functions are well designed and complete, with tactile buttons that are readily manipulated by feel.
A convenient clothing clip is integrated into the sturdy cable is, which is a few inches shorter on average than other cables in this class. It was probably made to be short so that you won’t have a lot of wire hanging or flying around while you’re moving around.
We can recommended Bose’s SoundSport to listeners who are looking for an in-ear model but who don’t care for things in their ears. These earbud-type headphones offer a mostly balanced and rich sound along with a great level of comfort and stability for very active listeners.
Bose’s SoundSport In-Ear is the safe pick for those who need a great-sounding and comfortable set of in-ear headphones that fit securely. With its iOS controls, it’s one of the best iPhone earbuds under 100 dollars.
Wired headphones are fine until you try wearing them when you’re running or jumping around. If you are at all into fitness or outdoor stuff, you should consider getting a pair of the best Bluetooth earbuds. Wireless designs can be finicky to use or else subject to trade-offs, and finding one that fits you well and provides decent value can be take time.
This model’s Bluetooth connection employs the AptX compression codec with mobiles that support the standard, resulting in sound quality that is all but indistinguishable from that of wired connections. The highly efficient 16-ohm drivers are readily powered by most mobile devices, with an audio profile that is somewhat v-shaped and features a looseness and warmth that infuses the entire range.
This model is inclined towards bass output, providing an aggressively paced experience in genres like hip-hop and rhythmic blues. The bass is not exactly taut and supple though, with the highs foregoing some clarity and the mids recessing slightly for a more textured sound. The overall smoothness is still pleasing, but the experience won’t be the best for classical or other complex tracks with quiet passages or a lot of vocal talent. Gym goers will surely get a lift when listening to their workout tracks.
The compact package includes a nice hard-shell case, three pairs of silicone and one of foam tips, two sets of ear hooks, a Velcro wire tie, plus a micro-USB charging cable. The flat connecting cable resists tangles and is just long enough to span both ears. Like many wireless earpieces, the housings are bulkier than that of the typical wired earbud.
There is an in-line 3-button control/mic module with headset and playback controls. These are compatible with iOS, Android, and even Windows phones and offers some functionality with desktop computers as well. Battery life is relatively good with about 3-4 hours of music and streaming play on average, but it can take almost two hours to charge the unit fully. The earpieces seemed to connect almost immediately with various wireless devices, which is a great convenience.
The streaming audio quality was quite good for streaming wireless connections. However, you cannot just connect the source to audiophile headphone amps like you might do with wired headphone systems. Just the same, this model is pretty popular as one of the best wireless in-ear headphones.
Brainwavz’ Blu-200 has a sound stage that’s rich and inviting and is oriented more towards music with a pounding beat that’s good for workouts. It’s one of the few Bluetooth models with good battery life that also works for users with active lifestyles and is our pick for the best Bluetooth earbuds under 100 dollars.
This gold-colored model was supposedly tuned by a Grammy-recognized sound engineer. Theatrical marketing aside, that appears to be the case. Not only does it come with massive set of accessories, it hits a level of performance out of all proportion to its reasonable price. The beautiful housings are solidly constructed of aluminum alloys, with a matte black and gold scheme.
Dual balanced armatures work with a solitary dynamic driver to render sound in a 3-way configuration. This remarkable arrangement is not unlike the configurations of many advanced speaker systems and is rather unique in its class. The angled design of the earpieces doesn’t provide great stability when you’re moving about. But each houses an extended acoustic structure that allows for a better seal around the ear tips and a lesser profile at the other end.
This model offers a tonally neutral landscape that will impress audiophiles who want crisply defined highs to go with richly imaged mids and vocals and tight, punchy lows. The accurate and nuanced rendering of voices is imaged with clarity, liveliness, and depth within an expansive yet balanced sound stage. This is the mark of serious audio design.
The bass in particular is among the most intense we’ve ever heard in any in-ear model. Recordings with deep low notes benefit from multi-drivers’ ability to output a separately forceful bass response with hardly any distortion at volume. Drums are wonderfully full-bodied and outlined naturally with nothing added to their presence. All these musical qualities make this set a superb choice for listening to different genres, from classical to rock to acoustic and anything else.
An in-line module mic features 3-button controls for taking calls and music volume, selection, and playback, and their interface works well with both iOS and Android mobiles. Nine sets of ear tips of various designs, sizes, and materials form a part of its impressive accessory package. Six are made of silicone while the others are foam types with superior noise-isolating properties.
A convenient and carrying case in black leather grain with magnetic closures is included. There’s also a matching gold-color clothing clip and yet another gold-hued accessory, an airline adapter. This in-ear model definitely sets a standard in terms of theming and accessories.
With its elegant aesthetic and innovative multi-driver design that brings smoothly balanced yet nuanced sound that enlivens the experience of any track played through it, the 1MORE Triple Driver is our pick for the best in-ear headphones under 100 dollars.
Shure’s signature sound can be heard in this in-ear pair, which also features the most advanced cable system in its price range. The brand traditionally does not emphasize bass response too much and instead focus on delivering percussion with depth and body. Worn on the move or while stationary, you can enjoy a variety of dynamic genres, from classical and acoustic to techno.
Highs are very clear and presented with a lot of detail and articulation. A similarly detailed mid-range is warmly presented within a spacious sound stage that opens up your music. Even if the drivers aren’t the most efficient, they work to surround you with an expansive experience that brings dynamic tracks to life.
Each earpiece comes in either a translucent black or else a clear plastic housing. The latter exposes the wiring inside each shell along with gold-plated connections of the detachment system. The housings are formed in a unique shape that can be pliably adjusted to the interiors of the typical ear. The quick-lock system has connectors that allow you to twist the housings, and because these sit on the center of the ear, they are more comfortable to wear.
Each earpiece is centered on your ear opening with its stem pointed up as the attached wire loops up and around to the rear. This is made possible by the cable’s semi-rigid jacket that forms the first two inches or so of the wire coming from the stem, which is bent into position atop the ear. Once you’ve found just the right angle to this, the earpieces should securely hold in place.
Included in the package are 6 ear tips and sleeves in Small, Medium, and Large sizes that are of good quality. These are for forming a noise-isolating seal that is good enough to stop the noises of a busy commute from intruding into your music.
The extra-long 64-inch cable is reinforced with Kevlar and is thicker and sturdier than usual, with its dual ends attaching to the stems of both earpieces. This arrangement is a big benefit as you’ll be able to keep on using it until the drivers go bad or get lost, without having to deal with a degrading cable. One thing though, this is a pure enthusiast model with no call or music playback controls. You’ll simply have to get used to the absence of headset conveniences.
Shure’s SE215 offers one of the warmest, most expansive, and inviting performances, especially with music that’s full of vocal talent. With its superb sound and comfortable earpieces, this model already sells well among the top earbuds under 100 dollars. It represents great value in high fidelity headgear, although you’ll have to get used to the lack in-line controls.
This is a persuasive pair of headphone that offers sound performance with colorful and attractive looks that belie its relatively modest price. The drivers are tuned to boost high and low sections slightly, although the frequencies are smoothly balanced within a moderately expansive sound scape. This profile yields a pleasingly smooth sound that’s comfortable to listen to in extended sessions.
This model evenly mixes good bass response with crisply detailed highs and an agile mid-range that’s capable of lively performances. Along with the mostly balanced and rich sound, the good noise-isolating seal works to keep your listening private. It renders most genres quite well, from rock to classical and all genres in between, and has become the favorite earbud-type headphone of many a sporty-minded audio enthusiast.
The oblique housings are unique in that their tips do not have to be pushed deep inside the ears to achieve good noise isolation. Those who hate having pieces slipped deep into their ears are going to find this to a rather pleasing and comfortable configuration. Although, as the housings slip in at an angle they are more likely to come loose if the user engages in really vigorous field activities.
For listening to a wide range of music while seated or otherwise unmoving, this is one of the best in-ear headphones you can get for the money. There’s a version that enables Apple owners to control their calls and music listening with in-line controls incorporated into the lengthy cable. A similar version for Android phones offers much the same headset functionality.
It’s a challenge to find a superior in-ear model at this comparatively low price. For this reason, Sennheiser’s Momentum In-Ear remains our choice as the top budget in-ear headphones for stationary listening.
Here are a few things to think about when selecting one of the top rated in-ear headphones.
For earbud-type models, Apple’s EarPods can be pretty good stock performers out of the box. It might be news to a lot of iPhone users that better stuff is available from renowned audio brands. There are many others available that can offer superior performance and conveniences.
In-ear designs are tinier and much lighter than full-size headphones You only have to seat them atop your ear openings with no need for external frames to keep them in place. Most come with soft ear tips on the business ends of their earpieces. These are meant to wedge loosely into your outer ears to form a noise-isolating seal that stops external noises from intruding.
The majority of ear tips are made of soft silicone rubber or foam material formed into rounded shapes, and some have flanges for greater traction. Others have springy stems or else mount pliable ear hooks or fins that assist in keeping the earpiece housings fastened whenever the user gets physically active. The earpieces should seat firmly on the ear openings, with any accessory ear hooks or fins/wings pressing against the fleshy inside ear for more stability.
Good headphone designs should fit comfortably at all times, whether you’re stationary and seated or else actively moving around. They should isolate noise and channel soundwaves in the usual public settings. The better designs also reverse-seal your own music to some degree, preventing most of it from escaping and being readily heard by others nearby.
Only you could know whether you can exploit the advantages of wireless audio streaming. This will mostly depend on whether you will be doing most of your listening while seated and standing or else moving around. If it’s the former then you’re more likely to find traditional wired models as reasonable values, as these typically provide more performance for the price in comparison to most wireless models.
Then again, if you tend to be at the gym or outdoors doing workouts or field exercises, you’re far more likely to get a lot of good use out of a Bluetooth model that matches your mobile device. With one of the best wireless in-ear headphones, you won’t have to mess around with bad poor connections or twisty cables whenever you’re out and about. As a bonus, you will also be able to stream your favorite recordings from Bluetooth sources other than your phone, i.e. laptops or car audio Bluetooth connections.
Two driver technologies normally found in in-ear models are dynamic and balanced-armature designs. Dynamic drivers are good at generating bass frequencies and typically convey a slightly warmer and richer tonality. Balanced-armature designs can be readily tuned to produce a more detailed mid-range, but are not too good at replicating the kind of intense bass that dynamic drivers are known for generating.
Purchasing headphones of any kind isn’t quite that straightforward a process, since you cannot simply test a set on display without confronting the hygiene issues involved. For one, you’ll be putting into your ears a very personal set of items that have likely been shared way too much between strangers. Then again, if you are ready to wipe them clean as you try them on then it becomes less of a chore, especially if you enjoy listening to various stuff one after another.
Do note that these tiny in-ear models are rarely as sturdy or as durable in extended use as full-size headphones. The main advantage of the bigger units is in the more comfortable around-the-ear fit that they can provide to most users. If you plan to listen mainly at home or some other easeful and stationary setting, you should consider a full-sized set of headphones in place of in-ear models that you may not be using as often.
To get a better idea of stuff in the market that can meet your personal standards and needs, you could try researching top rated in-ear headphones at online review sites.
Here are examples of spicy but informative video reviews of a few of the best in-ear designs:
Different models are designed for the needs of various owners, and many do prefer simpler wired earpieces that deliver the most value in audio performance. In-ear designs that sport Bluetooth wireless connections typically feature bulkier earpiece shapes or control modules due to the need to house their tiny battery packs.
Wireless headphones evolved as much more convenient headgear options for music enthusiasts who are active in sports or out in the field. Specialized in-ear fins or around-the-ear hook attachments were developed to hold the individual earpieces in place. Some work by pressing with their edges on the inside flesh, others by looping upwards to hang off the tops of the ears.
The majority are constructed with lightweight metals or plastics that angle their wires at their stems in order to make them loop up or drop down. Most designs use cables that drop downwards, but there are certain advantages to looping schemes in highly mobile situations.
Playback and call functions on control modules integrated into the cable can be quite convenient. With these controls you can handle incoming and outgoing calls as well as select, play, and navigate your tracks using buttons or sliders on the remote. With many designs, you can also adjust volumes or even switch between multipoint Bluetooth connections.
We like models with mics that are integrated along one earpiece cable or the other. Most users also find control modules that are located closer to the center Y between earpieces to be more convenient for manipulation. Just remember that it’s not realistic to expect the miniature microphones that are built into these modules to offer call quality as good as that of dedicated and professional headsets.
The priciest active noise-cancelling designs do tend to offer better call handling and voice recording performance along with their audio playback functions. Most buyers will only choose in-ear models that feature integrated audio controls, and so should you if the option is available for not much more in price.
Due to their tiny and lightweight forms, in-ear headphones are easier to design with decent moisture or water resistance. Full-size models can start sounding murky once they have been drenched or soiled while in active use.
Sport in-ear models are designed to endure the harsh handling and changing conditions that are found outdoors or in the gym. Their shells are built with channels and materials that drain water or wick moisture away more readily. Many have looping stems or wing-like attachments to hold the earpieces steady while you’re moving around enough to work up a sweat.
If you start with our selection of models, we think you’ll soon find a pair of the best earbuds under 100 Dollars that answers your desires.
Value in-ear headphones
Those searching for an inexpensive yet reliable pair to replace their iPhones’ stock earbuds won’t have to look farther than Sennheiser’s Momentum In-Ear in order to satisfy their musical wishes. It’s true that there are other good options available at or near this price, including Sennheiser’s own IE designs. But the Momentum continues to hit the sweet spot of great sound performance, style, and price.
Earbud-style models for active users
Not every in-ear design is good for use in overly active situations. You can’t assume a particular model can handle the business if it isn’t designed for listening during fitness sessions or fieldwork. In-ear models can become as problematic in sweaty conditions as regular headphones if they aren’t built to resist moisture.
If you’re into active lifestyles, it’s best to look for a pair that’s marketed as a sports model. For this use, we still recommend Bose’s tried-and-true SoundSport model. It offers pretty good sound for an earbud-style model that doesn’t full seal in use. The earpieces are also stabilized with accessory wings that keep them in place when their user gets physical. These features provide listeners a lot of flexibility in various situations so that they can still enjoy their music when they’re on the go.
Uncompromising in-ear headphone
To satisfy the more demanding audiophiles, the 1MORE Triple Driver offers the kind of sound that serious music lovers will appreciate in spades. This model represents one of the most advanced and finest-sounding in-ear designs we have ever tested
It’s more than reasonably priced considering the superbly balanced and rendered audio performance that its array of drivers are capable of producing. What’s more, it offers convenient headset controls and numerous matching accessories that equal or lead the category in most cases. It’s the obvious wired pick for the best in-ear headphones under 100 Dollars. On the other hand, if only the most comfortable earpiece design will do then Shure’s SE215-K is a slightly more warm-sounding but equally impressive alternative.
Brainwavz’s BLU-200 offers a very convenient blend of multiple wireless connections, great sound performance, and good stability in active settings. It’s the sensible choice for active users who care for convenience of hands-free usage as much as sound quality, and sell as some of the best Bluetooth wireless earbuds currently available.
When you’re off to the stores, do try to have a good time while testing gear. Start by just putting on and trying any display model that catches your fancy. Before anything else, make sure that whatever you’re considering is comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time.
Once you’ve figured out which models sounds great with the music currently playing, switch to your own device if possible to play your own genre favorites. You may yet discover great in-ear headphones that you would not have otherwise thought of.
If you enjoyed what you’ve just read, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our review of the best earbuds under 100 Dollars.