These days it’s easy to find low-cost headphones in a broad range of styles and colors. But what distinguishes the models on our list of the best headphones for less than $100 is that they also deliver very good sound.
And that makes all the difference when you’re ready to part with the mediocre earbuds that came with your phone or the stereo headphones you bought way back when Foghat was a thing.
The models here not only rank among the best headphones in our ratings, but they also earn our CR Best Buy designation thanks to prices that start as low as $20 and peak at $80.
Can you really get very good sound for $20? Yes. In fact, you can sometimes find these Panasonic headphones on sale online for even less. And the price includes three sets of ear tips to help you find the most comfortable fit.
The headphones also include a built-in microphone for fielding phone calls, and integrated controls for volume adjustments and other music player functions. Be forewarned, though, these controls don’t work on all mobile devices.
It’s also worth noting that the headphones come with only a three-month warranty. Sennheiser’s $30 CX 215 headphones deliver very good sound, too, for example, and they have a two-year warranty.
Scosche SportClip 3
The well-designed ear hooks on these $30 headphones keep the buds firmly in place as you lift and bend your way through that CrossFit class. Like the Panasonic headphones above, they also come with a carrying bag, which keeps the wires from getting tangled up in your backpack or purse when not in use.
Motorola Moto Surround
If it’s wireless headphones you want, take a look at this $40 Bluetooth model from Motorola. It features a contoured collar design to keep the device from moving around on your neck. When not in use, the earphones magnetically attach to the collar, which includes controls for changing tracks and adjusting the volume. Before you choose this model, though, you should know that it tended to work better in our testing with mobile devices from Android than those from Apple.
Skullcandy Grind Wireless
You can easily pay $200 to $300 for a pair of wireless home-style headphones with very good sound, but this one will set you back only $60. Because the closed design does not fully shut out the world, the user can still hear the doorbell or the phone. But, beware, that also means he or she can inadvertently share strains of heavy metal music with the innocent bystanders in the room.
Phiaton BT 100 NC
Ideal for the business traveler, this $60 wireless model brings true peace of mind. In addition to very good sound quality, it offers noise-canceling technology that walls you off from, say, that loud-mouthed passenger in seat 27B. And thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, it also frees you up from the dreaded headphone cord that invariably snares on your handbag, backpack, or seatback as you make your way down the aisle of the plane. You simply place the collar on your neck, stick the buds in your ears, link the headphones to your smartphone, and press play.
Grado Prestige SR60e
If you like to rock it old-school, look no further than this $80 pair of retro-looking, studio-style headphones from Grado. Once again, a comparable model could easily cost you $300. This one provides you with an 80-inch cord, which gives you plenty of freedom to dance about the room while you listen to your tunes. And the open-air design lets you hear what’s going on around you.
Copyright © 2005-2017 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.