If your budget for a pair of headphones allows, then one among the best wireless headphones under $100 is within reach. They range from over-ear headphones to true wireless earbuds, giving you some variety to select from. For the best of the bunch, you’d have to start with the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT because of their excellent sound quality, comfort and consistency.
Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT
Sennheiser doesn’t often compete on aesthetics, but the company is very consistent in its audio prowess. Even at a price range like this, the HD 4.40 BT are the best wireless headphones under $100, proving that you get real bang for your buck. It might be somewhat surprising, given they came out in 2017, but they’re still available and sound just as good as today’s headphones.
Granted, the sound signature here isn’t on Sennheiser’s regular audiophile level, opting to go with a more crowd-pleasing soundstage that slightly boosts the bass. Despite that, it works really well for multiple genres, pushing a vibrant sound that never feels imbalanced to any significant degree. You could listen to hip hop or rock on these and probably draw the same conclusion. Call quality holds up well, too, making them convenient to use when you need to talk.
Unfortunately, because they’re a pre-2018 model, they don’t benefit from the support features in the company’s Smart Control app. That means you don’t get the chance to tweak these with an equalizer. The older app Sennheiser used for such purposes is no longer available, so you’re left out of any customization. They also don’t have any active noise-cancelation (ANC).
It’s nice that they’re comfortable to wear with decent cushioning, which matters because battery life goes up to 25 hours per charge, give or take the volume you’re listening at.
Excellent sound quality
Good call quality
Wired playback included
No access to Smart Control app
No active noise-cancelation
Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT
Sound you can trust
These Sennheiser cans have aged well, pumping out great sound that should cater to most pairs of ears.
Best Over-Ear: Anker Soundcore Life 20Q
With the Anker Soundcore Life 20Q, you’re basically paying $1 for each hour of battery life you get out of these headphones per chage. You get up to 40 hours of playback while ANC is enabled, but that number goes up to a ridiculous 60 hours when you keep ANC off. For that kind of duration, they need to be comfortable to wear, and thankfully, they are. The headband has great extension, complemented by deep and wide ear cups to accommodate even the biggest of ears. That combination makes longer listening periods a lot easier on your head and ears.
Anker claims the ANC blocks out “up to 90%” of ambient noise, but there’s a caveat to that. As has been the case in some of the company’s other headphones, they perform better at drowning out higher-frequency sounds while struggling with lower-frequency ones. Usually it’s the opposite, especially at this price range, which is what makes these so unique that way. If you live with screaming kids, you might appreciate the help. Because of how they fit, passive noise isolation helps seal out some of the low-end noise, but the ANC could’ve been better at taking that further.
It’s hardly surprising that they sound bass-heavy. If you’re into hip-hop and EDM, you will appreciate what Anker is offering here. You do get pretty balanced mids, and reasonably warm highs, so it’s not terribly skewed. It’s just obvious that the sound signature is there to partly offset the way the ANC works.
Ridiculously long battery life
Vibrant bass-boosted sound
ANC is best at higher frequencies
Micro-USB for charging
Bass might be too much for some
ANC struggles with low-end noise
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
They just keep playing and playing
Anker keeps the Soundcore Life Q20 going with up to 40 hours of battery life, making it easier to like the sound and comfort.
Best True Wireless: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
True wireless earbuds often get the most attention at the higher end of the pricing bracket, but good ones are getting easier to find on a budget, too. The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 stand firmly in that category thanks to an impressively balanced sound signature. You will hear bass punch through with a slight boost to the highs and fairly consistent mids for exceptional performance.
As is often the case with earbuds like these, getting a good seal in your ears is imperative to getting the most out of the sound. Your odds are good in finding something that suits you out of the small, medium, and large ear tips that come in the box. While stable, they may not always feel comfortable during longer listening sessions. These earbuds work best in shorter spurts, though it’s a subjective point. If they fit your ears perfectly, you may not experience the same thing.
The Liberty Air 2 can get loud, but you won’t be able to control volume from the earbuds themselves. You’ll have to pull out your phone for that. Battery life is up to seven hours per charge, along with an extra 21 hours in the case, for a total of 28. You also get USB-C for wired charging, and support for Qi-enabled wireless chargers. Set it down on a charging pad, and you can fill up the battery cord-free.
Excellent sound quality
Good battery life
Comes with multiple ear tips
USB-C and wireless charging
Can be uncomfortable
No onboard volume controls
Best True Wireless
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
No more cables
These affordable true wireless earbuds sound great, last long and include features, like USB-C and wireless charging.
Best Value: COWIN E7 Pro
COWIN gave its E7 Pro the extra boost over the regular E7 model, courtesy of larger drivers and better ANC performance — all for under $100. With the extra power, the bass is more noticeable off the bat, though there was already plenty where that came from. The drivers do push the mid-range, yet only do a marginal upgrade for the highs.
Improved ANC performance is always nice, though it’s admittedly not a dramatic shift. It does a slightly better job blocking out low-frequency noises. Still, to get ANC at all at this price is a bonus, so at least it’s useful. They do a decent job of passive noise isolation because of the overall size of the ear cups. Like the E7, the Pro version are a bit heavy, but they will fit comfortably in any case.
You won’t get a bigger or more efficient battery in the E7 Pro. Not that it’s easy to complain about going up to 30 hours per charge. It’s plenty of time to keep the music playing. You can also do it with some style, given the colors it comes in — some of which are really bright.
Plenty of bass
Good ANC performance for the price
Long battery life
Various color options
Treble is subdued
Heavier than most over-ears
COWIN E7 Pro
Excellent battery life at a low price
If battery life and cost savings are your primary concern, the E7 Pro from COWIN are great value for the money.
Best Workout Buds: Jaybird Tarah
Workout earbuds will take a beating if you routinely use them while breaking a sweat, and the Jaybird Tarah are built for the task. The IPX7 rating gives them the kind of ruggedness you would need in such scenarios. They can even stand submersion in water, but are definitely not made for swimming.
The combination of wings and ear tips make these comfortable and stable enough to stay in your ears. The cord between the two earbuds could be a nuisance, particularly if you’re running, but can otherwise stay out of the way by using the included cinch to shorten the slack. You probably won’t lose them because of that cord, either.
The default soundstage is mostly balanced, with a slight boost in both bass and treble, but if you’re not feeling that, you can always change it. Jaybird’s app is excellent for the sheer volume of choice in how you can customize the sound of its products. Not only can you come up with your own tweaks, but also choose from a huge number of available presets you can apply to the Tarah.
Battery life isn’t exceptional at up to six hours per charge. That will be lower if you usually listen to music above the default volume, which is likely if you’re out on a run or working out. There is fast charging to get you an hour of playback with a 10-minute charge. The only annoyance is that you need to use the proprietary charging connector to do it, as these earbuds came before Jaybird started using USB-C.
Superb, customizable sound
IPX7 water resistance
Excellent app support
Decent battery life for workouts
Don’t swim with them
Proprietary charging cable
Cinch is easy to lose
Best Workout Buds
Gonna make you sweat
The Jaybird Tarah bring a lot to the table with IPX7 water resistance, customizable sound, and comfortable fit.
Best On-Ear: Jabra Elite 45h
On-ear headphones aren’t as common or popular as over-ear cans, but they are lighter and easier to wear, in most cases. They won’t give you much in the way of passive noise isolation, letting you hear what’s happening around you. Jabra didn’t make the Elite 45h all that fancy on the outside, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Sound quality is superb, though Jabra does play it safe by default with a balanced and neutral soundstage. You can tweak that more to your liking through Jabra’s Sound+ app and its equalizer, which gives you existing presets or the ability to create your own. Phone call quality unfortunately doesn’t follow suit, and that might be because the two-mic array needed a third one to amplify your voice. It’s one of the trade-offs of being in this price range.
Battery life hits crazy levels if you listen at the default volume throughout. It’s the only way you’ll get to 50 hours, but even if you were to raise it, you’d still be north of 30 hours without blinking an eye. On top of that, Jabra adopted USB-C for these headphones, moving on from Micro-USB in its past on-ear models.
Great sound quality
Premium build materials
Outstanding battery life
Solid app support
Call quality isn’t good enough
Jabra Elite 45h
Playing on your ears for long
The Jabra Elite 45h can sound the way you want, and last a long time per charge doing it whenever you wear them.
Best Neckbuds: Creative Aurvana Trio Wireless
Neckbuds are something of an acquired taste, but they can be super convenient when you want the weight of the earbuds to fall on your neck rather than your ears. Creative scores a winner with the Aurvana Trio Wireless for a few reasons, not least of which is the excellent sound quality you get for the money. These are vibrant earbuds, with solid bass punctuating a surprisingly lively combination of mids and highs. Call quality is equally up to the task, with impressive clarity on both sides.
That shouldn’t be overly surprising, given these are successors to the superb wired earbuds the company launched back in 2017. The codec support is significant for something at this price, with aptX, aptX LL (Low Latency), aptX HD and AAC all on board. That not only makes them great for listening to higher-quality streams, like those from Tidal and Deezer, but also reduces lag when watching video or playing games. While Creative did throw in its amazing Super X-Fi (SXFI) technology, it only applies to media files you’ve downloaded to your device — not anything you’re streaming.
The fit is comfortable, and the company was nice enough to include both silicone and foam tips for the best possible seal. And when you’re not using them, the two earbuds connect with magnets. With battery life hitting up to 20 hours, that’s an important factor, though it would be nice if you didn’t have to charge them via Micro-USB.
Excellent sound quality
Solid codec support
Great battery life
Magnets hold earbuds together
Super X-Fi is too limited
Outdated Micro-USB charging
Creative Aurvana Trio Wireless
Clear, concise and on time
Creative gives the Aurvana Trio Wireless the right tools to stand out, and your ears benefit from the package these deliver.
Best Battery Life: Mixcder E9
For what you pay, the Mixcder E9 can play for up to 30 hours at their default volume, making them among the best you can get at this level. That’s enough to listen to music for days before having to charge them up again. The only downside with that is they use Micro-USB to do it, rather than the more efficient USB-C common now. At least you get some fast charging with two hours of playback when plugging in for five minutes.
The good news is they also sound good for all that time you’re listening to them. They have a balanced sound signature that sacrifices some of the highs to push more of the mids and lows. Not unusual for headphones in this range, and the intent seems made to appeal to a broader taste. ANC works well enough here, particularly with low-frequencies.
The E9 are also comfortable to wear. Mixcder made them with larger ear cups that run a little deeper, allowing for most ears to fit snuggly inside. The headband is made out of nice leather and reinforced with steel. They are a bit on the heavier side compared to others like them, but do have some durability to them, too.
Great, balanced sound
Long battery life
Micro-USB for charging
Best Battery Life
Comfy, with long battery life
The Mixcder E9 combine super long battery life, solid sound, and great comfort.
There are plenty of great headphones out there that won’t break the bank. As you can see from our list above, wireless headphones come in many different shapes and sizes. Our top pick is the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT for best wireless headphones under $100 because of its balance and performance. If you’re looking for wireless headphones that sound good, and don’t want to spend a fortune, they’re a good place to start.
The timing couldn’t be better, either. Headphones aren’t just on the premium side, especially when there’s plenty to like in the affordable category. They also come in different types, be they over-ear, on-ear, or wireless earbuds. With this list, you have a set of choices to go with.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
Read more: androidcentral.com