With a headphone under $100, one cannot expect world class sonics, but nowadays at this price point, you can get several models that get you pretty darn close. With their Triple-Driver earphone, 1More has changed the game, providing the best sound ever for earphones under $100, and AKG has furthered their dominance of the budget headphone market with their K92 pro headphone, which gives you much of the sound you get from their higher end models for only $60. Here is our list of favorite headphones under $100.
Wired Over-Ear Closed: AKG K92 – Great Dynamics, decent detail, and wide open sound make this an excellent budget headphone for home listening. It will work plugged directly into a phone or DAP, but it will really shine when used with a budget headphone amp/DAC like the Dragonfly Black.
Wired Earphones: 1 More Triple Driver-With it’s two balanced armature drivers paired with a Dynamic Driver, there is no other earphone under $100 that can touch this as far as sound quality is concerned. It will sound good no matter what music you throw at it. A hybrid driver headphone like this used to cost hundreds of dollars. Add to that a three button remote that works with most smartphones, along with an abundance of accessories, and this adds up to a no-brainer.
Wired On-Ear Open: Grado SR80e – The Grado SR-80 has been the budget headphone king for many years now, offering great detail throughout the frequency ranges, and beautiful soundstaging. They also have a decent amount of controlled low end presence for those who like to rock out. The open nature of the headphones coupled with the long cord make this more suited for use at home, but if you want to get a taste of what a true hi-fi headphone sounds like for a beer budget, look no further.
Wired Over-Ear Open: Philips SHP9500s – If on-ear headphones are not your cup of tea, or you don’t like the dynamic in your face sound of the Grados, then you should check out the laid back, yet detailed, neutral sound of the SHP9500. The sound of these is closer to the traditional audiophile standard than the Grados, and while some may see that as boring, others will see it as more accurate. They are also more comfortable, being over-ear headphones with soft fabric covering the plush earpads and suspension headband.
Wired On-Ear Closed: AKG Y50 – If you want a good looking, well built, comfortable, and most important good sounding pair of headphones to wear around town, then look no further. These headphones have nice high end sparkle, slight bass bump and rich midrange that add add excitement to pretty much any song you play. They will sound good with a Spotify stream, as well as a high res file played off your DAP. They are also some of the most comfortable on-ear headphones I’ve ever worn, and take that from someone who usually has to adjust on-ears a lot when his ears get sore.