Best Earbuds under $100 (May 2017) – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Advertisement

Best Earbuds under $100 in 2017

Earbuds under $100 are super cool, and there’s no second opinion on this statement so today we are going to reveal the best in-ear headphones under $100.

Great sound doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best earbuds money can buy that come just under the $100 price tag; but first, let’s brush up on what you should know before you push that buy button. If you’re interested in low budget in-ear monitors then do check out our best earbuds under $50 buyer’s guide.

Advertisement

Compared to headphones, earbuds offer a lot in terms of advantages.

They don’t look awkward when you wear a hat, you can avoid ruining your styled hair, in-ear headphones are comfortable and discreet, and they may be safer to use if you regularly visit the gym or hit the pavement for a quick jog around the block.

Advertisement

Just like anything else you purchase, there are some important considerations you want to keep in mind- and while seemingly unimportant, they can mean the difference between satisfied and disappointment with your purchase.

What are the best in ear Headphones under 100?

Brainwavz S3

Brainwavz S3

Brainwavz have managed to find a way to produce quality sound products at an affordable price.

The S3 earbuds feature an all metal housing, but the inline controls and jack are protected by rubber housing- which seems to be ideal for durability reasons.

The cables of this particular set are flat,which seems to make them immune to becoming a tangled mess after being shoved into a pocket.

With the inline controls, you have the ability to adjust the volume up or down as well as receive and end calls.

The plugs are slightly larger than what you would normally find on most earbud sets, but Brainwavz claims that this is to enhance the sound experience.

Considering these buds fit in just under the budget amount, we were surprised with all the included accessories.

Whereas some manufacturers will send you an extra pair of earbud tips and a carrying case; Brainwavz goes above and beyond by including a Velcro cable strap, a hard shell carrying case, six sets of earbud covers that are color coded according to size, a pair of dual and triple flange ear tips, and a pair of comply ear tips.

Specifications:

  • Impedance 16 Ω
  • Frequency Range 16 Hz ~ 22 kHz
  • Sensitivity 96 dB at 1 mW
  • Cable length 1.3 m Y-Cord, Copper
  • 3.5 mm Gold Plated jack.

That’s alot of extras for your money!

What we liked:

  • Premium sound and design at an affordable price.
  • The amount of accessories you get with these earbuds is above any other contender for this review.
  • The design seems sturdy and immune to everyday abuse- within reason of course.

What we didn’t like:

  • The extra large earplugs can cause some issues for people with smaller ear canals. We presume this is why this particular set comes with an extra set of covers that are color coded for size.
  • While the wires seem to resist tangling, they seem to have a bulky feel to them.
  • The max volume is iffy on some devices. On the computer, the volume is loud, but on certain phones or tablets, the volume leaves some wanting.

Shure SE215-K

Shure SE215-K

Starting on the lower end of the price totem pole, the Shure SE215-K comes in two basic colors (black and white), although a special edition featuring blue is available- but it will cost you a little more.

The sound is crisp and balanced, so regular users will enjoy these earbuds, but anyone who prefers bass or a more vivid experience will probably want to consider our other picks.

This particular pair of earbuds must be worn behind your ears, and this might be bothersome to some, but this also means they have less of a tendency to fall out.

Along with your earbuds, you’ll get a small padded carrying case, along with three extra pairs of silicon ear tips and three foam tips; which is nice, considering some people prefer foam over silicone or vice versa.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 22 – 17500 Hz
  • Sensitivity 107 dB
  • Impedance 20 Ohm
  • 3.5 mm jack
  • Cable length – 5 ft.

What we liked:

  • You get a decent sound quality that is balanced but not over the top in either direction.
  • Regular users will probably be okay with the noise output, as mentioned- anyone who is more of an audio lover may want to skip this pair and look for a more suitable pair.
  • The unique wire (Memory Wire) keeps the cable from getting tangled up as easily, as well as aids in keeping the earbuds where they belong- in your ears.
  • The noise isolation is decent- but don’t expect to block out regular commute noise with these budget earbuds.
  • The detachable cable is a plus, especially if you ever need to replace a cable. As you may know, replacing an entire pair of earbuds can be quite spendy, but replacing just a cable is a better and more affordable alternative.

What we don’t like:

  • Some users may have a hard time with the cable becoming disconnected during more strenuous activity. There doesn’t seem to be a fix for this other than avoiding activity altogether during use.
  • You won’t find any inline controls for these earbuds- that is unless you want to pay a little more, which can put you over the $100 threshold.
  • The L jack may not work for some phones due to the protective phone cases. This seems to vary though.

Etymotic Research MC5

Etymotic Research MC5

For an affordable price, the Etymotic Research earbuds offer a reasonable sound performance as well as good looks.

While they’re not the most attractive pair of earbuds that have been reviewed so far, they still offer a great deal of features for a reasonably affordable price of 100 Dollars.

The noise isolation perhaps owes all of its credit to the foam tri flange tips, which means they fit inside the ear and feel comfortable- even after long periods of wear.

The four foot long cord is also a feature that can’t be ignored- some earbud cords leave the user with a ball-and-chain effect, not so with these.

The sound is warm and crisp, so they would be a great consideration for someone who is looking for everyday use, but doesn’t want any extras (bass).

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 20 – 15000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 100 dB
  • Impedance 16 Ohm
  • Diaphragm 0.3 in
  • 3.5 mm Jack
  • Cable length 4 ft.

What we liked:

  • The attractive design is tied in nicely with a four foot long cord. The extra length is nice, without feeling like a hazard that could potentially get caught up on anything and everything.
  • The construction seems pretty solid and durable- but that’s completely dependent on the user. Using the provided black pouch will probably go a long ways towards extending the life of these in ear monitors.
  • These come with some additional accessories: extra filters and a filter removal tool, four extra earbud covers in different sizes, a black pouch and a shirt clip.

What we didn’t like:

  • No inline controls or mic, something that seems almost impossible to live without these days.
  • Some users may have a hard time adjusting to the tri-flange tip earbud covers, however, there’s an extra pair of foam covered tips in case the latter is uncomfortable or too weird for you.

Fiio EX1

Fiio EX1

The Fiio EX1 earbuds offer  a lot of bang for your buck. Coming in at under $100, the sound is high quality for what you would expect.

The appearances seem almost alien compared to some of the other choices we’ve reviewed.

The rounded design seems immune to breaking- yet the sound experience is to die for.

These earbuds seem to be pretty versatile; they offer decent bass levels, but on more mellow sounds, the earbuds are equally at home.

Complete with an L jack, the Fiio earbuds earn extra points for durability.

At the moment, you can pick from silver or black earbuds, there are no differences between the two colors- feature wise.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 20Hz-30kHz
  • Sensitivity 102dB/mW
  • Impedance 16Ω
  • Plug size 3.5mm Gold-plated
  • Cable length 1.2m

What we liked:

  • Bass lovers seem to prefer these earbuds over some of the similarly priced competitors. However, if you’re just looking for a pair of earbuds for everyday use, these will do the job just as well.
  • Quality design seems evident throughout. There is very little doubt about the quality of these earbuds.
  • The accessories, although minimal, offers extra ear bud covers for nearly all shapes and sizes of ear canals. In addition to extra covers, it comes with a small hard case to store your accessories in for later.

What we didn’t like:

  • While these are some of the top earbuds you can buy, were’ disappointed that there is no inline controls like some of the other competitors’ offer- still, for what you get with these, it’s a minor thing.
  • For something a little pricier, noise isolation could use some work, it’s literally nonexistent. You probably don’t want to use these in an otherwise quiet room.
  • The ear bud covers may have a tendency to hurt the ears after a while- our findings found that the ergonomics may be to blame. You could try experimenting with after market ear tip covers.
  • There is no inline controls or mic- something you would almost expect is a given for something of this price range.

Onkyo E700MB/27

Onkyo E700MB/27

Onkyo may not be as common outside of its home country (Japan), but they’re quickly building a reputation for producing some of the best luxury audio equipment.

Although they tend to focus their efforts more in the home theater systems, and a/v receivers, they’re not having trouble keeping up with audio equipment whatsoever.

Their familiarity with the luxury segment reflects in this particular set of earbuds.

To start out, the earbuds themselves are comprised of an aluminum housing that offers a high quality sound experience, just under the budget level.

In fact, their design closely resembles that of the Sony MDR-XB50 earbud, with its semi-closed feature, but they’re unique due to the miniature grill which enables proper air flow (so your ear can breathe).

Interestingly enough, the earbuds have a slight angle to them, which may work better for some.

Additional accessories include a few extra silicone ear tips, as well as Comply Foam (foam ear covers that mold to the shape of your ear)to ensure a proper fit.

What really makes these standout, however, is the unique cord design. The twisted cable is definitely eye catching.

Anyone who prefers inline controls will not be disappointed. This particular set offers the ability to play/pause your music as well as receive and end calls- all within reach.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 6 – 40000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 108 dB/mW
  • Impedance 16 Ohm
  • Diaphragm 0.5 in
  • Cable length – 4 ft
  • 3.5 mm jack.

What we liked:

  • The sound is dripping with quality, but bass lovers may be disappointed. Still, this is not a bad pair of earbuds to keep around for everyday use.
  • The solid design reflects the company’s reputation for quality and luxury products, we’re definitely not disappointed there.
  • The inline controls are not too heavy. This can cause the earbuds to hang on the ears which leads to soreness after a while.

What we didn’t like:

  • The cable, although interesting to look at, seems like it was an afterthought. We would like to see better cable design in the future, as it may be prone to fraying.
  • The bass is lacking, but other than that- the sound quality is right up there with what you would expect for a under 100 earbuds pair.
  • You may want to consider purchasing a set of aftermarket tips, as these ones have a tendency to bruise the ears after a while.

 Mixcder ANC-G5

Mixcder ANC-G5

Mixcder is a relatively new brand, but they’re quickly carving their own niche for producing quality premium products at an affordable price.

The Mixcder ANC- G5 enters the audio market with its attractive but so-so black (they’re actually an off black color) appearances.

Unique to this particular pair is the small inline feature that promises to block out any outside sounds.

It runs on its own battery and does come with its own USB cable to charge when it needs to be charged.

It turns out the inline controls are for more than just isolating outside noises though- users can comfortably make and receive phone calls-all without having to pull your phone out.

The indicator lights will enable you to see at a glance whether the earbuds are on, as well as if the mic function is running or not- Helpful so you know you’re not accidentally pocket dialing someone.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 20 – 10,000 Hz
  • Impedance 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity 96dB
  • 3.5mm straight audio jack

What we liked:

  • The appearances are bland compared to some of the other picks in this review, but these earbuds make up for it with its solid design.
  • While it’s not recommended to go dropping these or any pair of earbuds, accidents do happen- and when they do, you’ll be comforted knowing that these buds can stand up to some light abuse.
  • The inline controls not only make it easy to navigate phone calls, but it also enables you to block out any noises that could otherwise ruin a perfectly good audio experience.
  • The noise cancellation feature may be particularly useful to college students who need a high quality set of earbuds to listen to recorded lectures on their computer or phone.

What we don’t like:

  • The inline controls are fairly bulky, so we wouldn’t expect this particular set to fair well in active environments or anything else other than calm use.
  • The sound is smooth but bass junkies will be disappointed. Instead, expect an entry level bass experience, but not one that will rock your world- or you’ll be disappointed.
  • Overall, the sound is smooth and balanced- which is great for listening to podcasts or lectures.

Sony MDR-EX650 B

Sony MDR-EX650 B

Sony has built itself upon a reputation for producing quality sound products, the Sony MDR- EX650 B earbuds are no exception.

For an affordable price, you can enjoy a high quality set of earbuds, with decent bass levels to get most people by.

However, if you’re not a bass lover and just want a pair of earbuds to plug into your phone for the occasional video or song, you’ll be pleased to know that the earbuds can comply with their decent mids and high levels.

The ear tips that come with the earbuds offer a variety of options for people with varying ear sizes.

Inside the small zipper carrying case, you’ll find seven pairs of silicone and foam tip covers. Regardless of which one you pick, so long as you properly match the size to your ear, you’ll find that the air tight seal creates an excellent barrier from the outer world so you can properly enjoy your audio experience.

Although the fit is pretty comfy, these earbuds should probably be left out of the gym or your jogging routine- as they have a tendency to become dislodged during quick or regular movement.

Specifications:

  • Frequency 5-28000Hz
  • Impedance 16 ohms at 1kHz
  • Sensitivity 100dB/mW
  • Cable length 3.93ft
  • 3.5mm Four-conductor L-shaped gold-plated jack.

What we liked:

  • An entry level bass earbud set that provides decent bass and sound quality for those who are just dipping their feet into the bass sound realm. Yet, these earbuds can compete equally as well for an overall smooth sound experience.
  • The number of earbud covers you get for the price is above average. Not only will you get seven pairs of ear tips, you’ll also get a cool little carrying case to keep everything together. The shirt clip is standard for most earbud sets though.

What we didn’t like:

  • While the price tag may be up there, we half expected this earbud set to contain some kind of inline controls.
  • The large earbud case design may cause some ear soreness for certain people. Although the chances of this occurring may be reduced if you find the right pair of covers for the earbuds- with seven to pick from, you’ll more than likely find a comfy fit.
  • Not ideal for gym junkies or anyone who may think they’ve found the ideal pair of jogging earbuds.

ThinkSound MS01

ThinkSound MS01

Another runner up in the looks department, the ThinkSound MS01 have a unique yet attractive design, featuring real wood and aluminum metal.

The manufacturers of these particular earbuds have made it clear that they were paying attention to both looks and sound- and we have no reason to doubt them.

The sound quality will probably shock you considering these pair fall just under the budget range for this roundup review.

To add icing to the cake, the ear hooks are comfortable and light weight making it a great accessory for anyone who considers themselves active at home or elsewhere. The tangle free cables only confirm this.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 18 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity 96 ±3 dB @ 1KHz 1mW
  • Impedance 16 ohms
  • 3.5mm gold plated stereo jack
  • Kevlar-reinforced, tangle-resistant 4 foot long cable.

What we liked:

  • Probably the best of both worlds for both looks, sound quality, and durability.
  • A cotton carrying case is included to keep these earbuds in tip-top shape, and you’ll want to after sampling the audio quality for yourself.
  • In addition to the case, it comes with four extra ear tip covers to ensure a comfortable fit and reasonable noise blocking capabilities.
  • The ear hooks enable the user to take these earbuds into a gym like setting, without having to worry about them falling out constantly.

What we didn’t like:

  • There’s no inline controls or mic for this particular set- it would probably take this particular set over the budget maximum though.
  • Although the cord quality is amazing and seems to resist regular use (abuse), the earbuds itself may seem to feel cheaply designed after a while.
  • We’re not sure why the manufacturers decided to use a forty-five degree angled jack for this set- but they did. This means they’re more susceptible to getting snagged on things, possibly interrupting your music.

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear

The Momentum Earbuds is where it’s at when it comes to bass. Not only do these earbuds offer an above average bass experience for their price- they also come in a lightweight and attractive package!

Their particular design (the earbuds) is unique, and not copied elsewhere, but that also means these earbuds are limited in how you can use them.

For this particular set, the only option to wear seems to wear them down, and not up above the ear- something that seems to have an advantage for people who like to take their music to the gym.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 15 – 22000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 118 dB
  • Impedance 18 Ohm
  • 3.5 mm jack
  • Cable length 4.3 ft.

What we liked:

  • This pair of earbuds comes with a lightweight in-line remote.
  • The earbud covers that come with this pair seem to offer reasonable comfort with noise isolation capabilities, but you may want to pick up an aftermarket pair of covers, since this pair only comes with one set.
  • The Momentum earbuds are stylish and lightweight, which seems to resist the ear soreness that some earbuds are infamous for.

What we didn’t like:

  • No accessories like the other pairs we’ve reviewed.
  • You will need to pick up a set of aftermarket ear tips since this set only comes with one.
  • While not a huge issue for some, these earbuds can’t be worn over the ear.
  • These earbuds seem to have trouble with producing quality mid levels-which is surprising for their price tag.

Marshall Mode EQ

Marshall Mode EQ

Can we just say that these earbuds look incredible? The professional yet flashy design is definitely a head turner, but that’s not the only reason these earbuds turn so many heads.

If you’re not sure whether you like the bass setting or if you would prefer a regular balanced sound, you’ll love the EQ switch on the Marshall Mode EQ’s.

Alternatively, some audio listening experiences may call for a switch between the two settings, and this is where these earbuds shine!

Regardless of which setting you pick, the Marshall earbuds will not disappoint!

The single button mic control enables you to answer phone calls that come your way and control your music, all without having to fidget for your phone.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Range 20 – 20000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 98 dB
  • Impedance 30 Ohm
  • Diaphragm 0.4 in
  • 3.5 mm L shaped jack
  • anti tangle cord.

What we liked:

  • The L shaped jack is unique in the way that it’s reinforced by a small coiled spring. This is a genius feature!
  • As it seems to add some durability to the cord. Usually, when earbuds start failing, it’s because the wiring within the jack or just outside of it has become so frayed from regular use- the coil spring seems to prevent this common annoyance from happening.
  • The mic is clear and crisp when making or taking phone calls. The people on the other line can’t hear the distracting background noise- an annoyance in itself.
  • A switch that enables you to customize your sound experience. You probably will be hard pressed to find another pair of earbuds under this budget range that can offer the same thing.

What we don’t like:

  • While the price is still in the budget range, this particular set is surprisingly minimal when it comes to offering any additional accessories. There’s no carrying case or zippered bag, which is surprisingly considering the luxury feel and look of these earbuds.
  • It offers entry-level bass levels, but bass heads will want to keep reading.
  • Also, avoid using these in moist or damp environments, the bronze accents have a tendency to rust after minimal exposure.

Features and things you’ll want to look for in your next earbuds under $100

If you’re on the go and in a busy environment, you’re needs may be completely different from someone who just wants to listen to a few songs here and there, or watch a Netflix video on their phone.

Similarly, if you’re quite the socialite and find yourself making or receiving alot of phone calls, you may want to consider finding a pair that offers a mic and inline controls. Not only can these enhance your audio experience further, but they’re incredibly convenient to have.

Keep in mind, that as your list of expectations for your new earbuds expands, so will the price tag.

Noise Cancellation

If you want to completely tune out of the world around you, and enjoy the beats; then you won’t want to miss this feature. There’s nothing worse than trying to listen to your favorite song and being able to hear surrounding noises over your music.

Foam ear tips seem to offer the best in terms of noise cancellation, as the foam material readily forms to your unique ear canal. So if your particular pair of earbuds seems to be lacking in the noise isolation department, pick up a pair of foam earbud covers.

That’s not to say that silicone ear covers can’t do the same. It really comes down to personal preferences.

Over the ear or in the ear?

Over the ear has the advantage of hanging up and behind the ear so they don’t get caught up on things. Again, a great feature to have if you’re a gym junkie or otherwise active with your hands.

Microphone or no microphone

It completely depends on you and your phone habits. If you’re a phone junkie who is constantly making or taking phone calls, you may want to keep your eye out for a pair that comes with a microphone.

Materials- Plastic, Steel, Wood

Wood earbud housing offers a unique sound- the sound waves bounce or vibrate within the the wood housing creating a distinguishable audio experience you cant find elsewhere.

Plastic is more susceptible to damages, but can hold up to frequent use with proper care.

Steel may be pricier, but it offers the best in terms of durability and longevity.

Tangle free cord

We’ve all been there- you stuff your earbuds into a pocket and pull them out and you have a tangled mess that closely resembles a rubrics cube.

If this sounds like an everyday struggle for you, pay attention to earbuds that offer a tangle free cord.

Not only are they handy to have, but it can also increase the longevity of your earbud set.

Inline playback controls

While not essential, they are convenient to have. Instead of fumbling around for your phone, and toggling with controls, you can control your media experience from the inline playback controls.

In addition to controlling your sound experience, they also make it easy to answer any phone calls while you’re plugged in, but only if your particular set comes with a mic feature.

Advantages to not having any inline controls or a mic means less tugging on your ear, which can lead to soreness after a while.

Even with a shirt clip, some controls can become uncomfortable after extended use.

Ear compatibility

How many times have you purchased a pair of earbuds and were happy with everything, but the fit?

Maybe the earbuds are too large and don’t fit in your ears, or they’re too small and they barely hang on. While many manufacturers offer a small set of silicone or foam ear tip covers, you may find that even these wont fit in your ears. Some earbuds also offer earbuds that contour to the ear itself.

Plug or jack type

Some will swear on an Elbow style jack, while others don’t seem to have a preference.

The advantages of elbow jacks over others seems to be related to their immunity to the wire fraying that is common in straight jacks.

The elbow have as a reinforced design that doesn’t stick out unlike the straight jacks.

Active people may want to stick to elbow jacks to avoid having their earbuds get snagged up on things, which will eventually lead to fraying of the wires.

Detachachable cord

A seemingly in-important feature- that is until you need to replace a cord. You can save yourself a few dollars by replacing just the cord instead of the entire earbud set.

Durability

You don’t want to hand over your hard earned money to pay for a pair of earbuds only for them to fall apart, or for the wires to start shorting out within a first weeks worth of use- make sure the earbuds you pick are durable.

Durability is more than just how the earbuds are built- another factor is how you’ll treat your earbuds.

If you’re religious about putting them away in their case(if a case is included) or you’re careful about not letting them settle to the bottom of your book bag, you can extend your pair often by several months.

Intended Use

Some earbuds work better with certain devices. While the aim of this post was to find earbuds that are compatible for any device type (Apple or Android), make sure yours is compatible with your particular device.

Cleanliness

No one else will mention it, but you’ll start to notice how dirty the earbud covers get after extended use.

Especially if you find yourself stuffing your earphones in your pockets on a regular basis. Who knows what’s in your pockets!

Simply put, foam tips while more breathable and comfy, they can also be hard to clean. You also want to be mindful of using any cleaners with foam tips, as the chemicals may slowly “eat” away at the foam.

Plastic is easier to clean and a little more durable, although you’ll be sacrificing that made-to-fit style that foam covers seem to offer. Is it worth it? It’s worth pondering.

Comfort

Whether you intend to use your earbuds for short periods of time, or all day use, you’ll want to pay attention to comfort. They’ll be practically useless if they’re sitting in a desk drawer or the bottom of your backpack because they hurt your ears after using them for longer than 15 minutes.

Frequency ranges

Frequency what? Most audio manufacturers will mention a thing or two about the frequency range for a particular product, but if you’re completely new or just an everyday user of earbuds; frequency range may be meaningless.

You’re better off paying attention to the sound type/quality before you go trying to compare frequencies.

Now that we’ve covered what to look for, check out the products that passed our stringent quality standards while maintaining our under 100 budget price tag.

That concludes our round up post! We’ve taken ten products and compared them, as well as shared our personal caveats for each of them. Hopefully, with this guide and thorough review, you’ll be able to find the perfect earbud set for you- all under $100.

LEAVE A REPLY