Once we start edging over closer towards the major milestone that is the $100 price point, you’ll notice a sharp uptick in the sheer variety of earbuds that are on offer. It’s now that we really begin to specialize, and now that we can talk seriously about things like bass response and the clarity of the overall audio performance.
In short, $100 is a pretty solid budget, and if you keep all buying considerations in mind, you should be able to walk away with an extremely sound purchase that fits your precise needs and requirements.
Reasons to Increase Your Price Budget
Better Fit And Comfort
One of the factors that most people tend to forget about is the fit and comfort higher-end earbuds bring to the table. Most of the models on our list are a result of a comprehensive design process during which someone sat down and invested a lot of effort into making the end product a comfortable piece of tech to use. The issue is that you can’t really see that by simply looking at the earbuds in question. Either way, higher-end earbuds are much more likely to meet your fit and comfort needs than a cheaper set.
By far, one of the most popular reasons to sink this kind of money into a set of earbuds is niche designs created for a very specific purpose. This is where you will find most of your wireless models that have a proper water resistance rating.
Designing a wireless set that stays in your ear during a jog, doesn’t get damaged from sweating and performs consistently is harder than it seems. Spending a bit more money on a set will ensure that you get all of these features and then some. When fitness is a way of life for you, the last thing you want to endure on your daily run are earbuds that keeps falling out of your ears. It is situations like that when you really have to ask yourself what consistent and reliable performance is worth it to you?
Better hardware is what defines how good any earbud is going to be. With headphones, you can always use larger drivers and other means of enhancing the quality of sound. However, when you are dealing with something as small as earbuds, you don’t have that luxury. Instead, most brands are forced to develop complex driver solutions in order to squeeze in more juice in the same sized chassis.
Ease of Use
The best earbuds for your money will be user-friendly and uncomplicated to use. You’ll need a pair of headphones that are quick and easy to set up and require zero effort to function. Ideally, you’ll connect them to your device the first time and they’ll recognize your phone, laptop or tablet every other time after that. No matter what you intend to use the earbuds for, you want to have a choice of the device you connect them to.
When looking at the best earbuds under $100, you’ll find that many come with a variety of additional features. Many high-quality earbuds feature noise canceling so any background talking, the TV, people walking around etc. is blocked out so you can focus on what you’re listening to. This is a great feature should you want to switch off from the outside world if you’re on an airplane or have a noisy neighbor and wish you get some shut-eye.
Another popular feature is voice assistant access. As the name suggests, this is great if you have no hands free and want to pause or switch a track without having to touch your device. This is also a handy feature if you’re at the gym and want to avoid touching your phone with sweaty hands.
What to Look For in The Best Earbuds
Or, rather, what to listen for. This price point is all about that bass. Or those mids. Or those highs. Basically, whichever flavor of sound signature and customization options you have in mind, that should be your main priority when purchasing at around this range.
Compare the ~$100 bracket to the offerings directly above and below it, and you’ll find that the general distinction is that they have more in common aesthetically with ~$200 models, more in common features-wise with ~$50 models, and a sound quality that, while variable, tends towards the former.
The Top Earbuds Under $100
Where most other brands are perfectly happy with a single driver per earbud, 1MORE had to go with three. In practice, that decision has proven to be a great step. The sound is impressive, to say the least, with plenty of definition, clarity, and girth all throughout the frequency response range.
If you’re searching for the best earbuds under $100 that offer an incredible low bass, these are an ideal purchase for you. No matter your favorite music genre, these earbuds remain within the range and deliver an exceptional thump, making them ideal for working out or dancing in your room. Turn the earbuds up to the maximum volume and you’ll be impressed that the bass doesn’t become distorted. However, one factor to consider is that some instruments can become distorted if they’re all playing at the same time. However, high notes are easy on the ears at the maximum volume.
1MORE has done a great job of bringing aesthetics to a whole new level as well. All that aside, the most impressive aspect of these earbuds hides under the hood. By featuring an angled tip, these are one of the best earbuds under $100 to remain snug in your ears while providing a comfortable fit. With an array of design options, you can choose memory foam comfort to enhance your fit even further.
The cables on these earbuds feature two different textures to provide the overall earbud’s durability. However, be aware that the rubber materials on these cables can pull on your clothing so be careful during intense activities. Finally, the remote control is made from plastic, which, unfortunately, makes these feel like cheap earbuds even though they’re not.
Plantronics BackBeat 100 is comfortable, compact, and pretty impressive. On top of that, they really add a layer of functionality and style that most wireless solutions are missing these days. With that said, these will work great for active users.
These are one of the best earbuds under $100 on our list as they’re equipped with so many useful features. For example, by reducing noise and echo sounds while you’re taking important phone calls, the audio is massively improved. This feature makes these earbuds great for noise insulation and beyond merely listening to music. Also, designed with a built-in microphone, you’ll never miss an important phone call again, and your music will stop playing when you answer the call, and resume when you’re finished.
Plantronics has made it their goal to design a comfortable set of wireless earbuds that won’t move or fall out during use. The way they have done that is by designing a compact but functional driver chassis and pairing with a good earpiece selection. With a semi-rigid neck brace, you are looking at a fairly secure setup that won’t let you down.
We’re a huge fan that these earbuds comfortably last up to eight hours of listening to music and being on the phone. They’re also designed with a three-button control system so you can easily operate music and calls each time you’re wearing them. When you receive a phone call, there’s an integrated vibration alert that notifies you. One of our favorite features of these earbuds is that they’re lightweight, weighing less than 30 grams. As a result, you can wear them while running or walking long routes without them literally weighing you down. This also eliminates any pressure in your ears so you can enjoy wearing them. Finally, these earbuds are designed with a magnetic component to keep them suspended when they’re not in your ears and prevent the cord from getting tangled.
Beats by Dre have been extremely popular in recent years. Because of that, it was only a matter of time before a compact, earbud version under the same name would be released. In terms of performance, the chances are that you know what to expect already. Beats have been notorious for their heavy low-end response. That definitely applies to urBeats. If you are after heavy bass and wide soundstage, these will work great for you.
These in-ear headphones are great for noise cancelation as you can block out a huge portion of ambient noise without having your volume turned up excessively high. If you’re a fan of low notes in songs, the Urbeats by Dr. Dre won’t let you down. However, mid and high notes aren’t neglected, as these earbuds cater for an array of notes and music genres. As a result, they accentuate details and textures in all audio, as well as guitars, flutes, and drums. One factor to consider is that audio might become slightly distorted as you increase the volume. Finally, we love that other people won’t hear the music blaring from your earbuds, like even some of the best earbuds do.
Much like regular Beats by Dre, the urBeats Wired In-Ear Headphone feature a luxurious design with plenty of clean surfaces and a straightforward color scheme. You can recognize Beats headphones from afar, thanks to their sleek and original look. Aside from looks, these earbuds also have a user-friendly and portable design that makes them easy and convenient to carry around; they fold up to a tiny size so they can fit into a compact pouch.
While you’re wearing the earbuds, they’ll remain firmly in your ears, making them ideal for running. We’re also pleased that these high-quality earbuds come with a variety of in-ear bud sizes so you can find the perfect fit for your ears.
Shure has used a set of Dynamic MicroDrivers for this particular build. This is a completely different architecture compared to the standard balanced armature. When you combine that with a super efficient noise-canceling performance, Shure SE215-K starts looking more and more impressive. Whether you are looking for good sound or good noise cancellation, Shure SE215-K won’t let you down.
Perhaps the best feature about the audio quality is that treble notes aren’t too brashy and the bass is rich. Dynamic MicroDrivers can block out up to 37 dB of ambient noise, making these earbuds great to use on public transportation or in a quiet office. You can also drown out noisy traffic or people talking on the bus while you’re trying to capture a moment’s peace.
Although they aren’t necessarily a speaker-oriented brand, Shure has proven that they have what it takes to build an impressive balanced sound. With that said, Shure SE215-K is much more than just your regular earbuds. What we have here are over the ear, advanced drivers packed in a rather comfortable chassis. The end result is a package that delivers in comfort and performance.
By gliding into the ear farther and easily, these Shure earbuds help to block out any ambient noise and prevent them from falling out. One reason why these are one of the best earbuds under $100 is that they feature a detachable cord. This is an uncommon trait within this budget and helps to improve usability. However, these earbuds don’t feature a remote control like some of the best earbuds on the market, meaning you’ll have to reach for your phone to answer calls or skip a track. This doesn’t affect how the earbuds operate but it isn’t ideal for certain situations, such as exercising.
Seeing Marshall logo on a pair of earbuds can be quite confusing, especially if you are familiar with their amps. However, Marshall Mode EQ has proven to be one of the most interesting earbuds you can find at the moment. On the outside, we have that unmistakable Marshall look that lets you know what you are dealing with right away.
On the inside, things are much more interesting. Marshall went with a set of great drivers which really deliver a refined experience out of the box. However, there is more. Marshall Mode EQ comes with an adjustable equalizer. What they did was offer two types of EQ curves. One is more bass heavy while the other is all about those mids.
Marshall Mode EQ earbuds enhance a song without creating any unnatural tones. For example, drums remain with a booming sound but the pitch is never at a point that becomes unbearable to the listener. These earbuds don’t distort at any volume, which makes them ideal if you love your music loud.
These earbuds are comfortable to grip and won’t slip out of your ear. The plastic keeps them intact and usable, although some additional features, such as aluminum or gold embellishments, would accentuate the earbuds even further. Our favorite feature of these earbuds is the gold control that features a search, pause, play, and even call functions. Consequently, you can keep your phone in your pocket and adjust the settings accordingly via this built-in control system.
These Marshall Mode EQ earbuds come with a microphone so you can receive phone calls while you’re on the go. Getting used to the control system might take some patience, but once you’re familiar with how their functions, you’ll find that these earbuds are easy to use. They are also equipped with a durable connection to your chosen device, which improves the connection and enhances the overall design.
Although wireless earbuds are a very competitive field at the moment, JayBird has managed to retain their status as one of the authorities in the industry. It is models such as the bluebird X that allow them to stay on top. If you’re searching for the best earbuds under $100 that are small and easy to carry around, look no further than the incredible JayBird earbuds. Offering around eight hours of play time, they’ll get you through your working day or last over a week if you use them at the gym.
Using Bluetooth, these headphones are equipped with high-quality technology that even some of the best earbuds on this list don’t feature. This makes it convenient and useful to connect the earbuds to your phone, laptop, tablet, and other devices.
The thing that makes JayBird BlueBuds X so attractive is their functionality. You have a set of impressive drivers packed into a chassis system that is hard to top in terms of comfort and retention. JayBird had thought about everything when they designed these earbuds, which is very much apparent the moment you put them on. These are capable of meeting all of your needs.
If you’re searching for the best earbuds under $100 to use at the gym, you’ll love that JayBird offers numerous ways to wear them. For example, you can lift the cord over your neck to provide you with more freedom when working out. Alternatively, switch to the under-ear style for listening to music or answering calls around the house. These Bluetooth headphones come with three sizes of silicone buds so you can choose the right size and shape for your ear canal. It’s also a great way to experiment with which design works best for you. We love that you can shorten and reposition the cord to suit your activity and preferences.
What comes across as a super simple set of basic earbuds actually hides an impressive character. Etymotic Research earbuds are somewhat legendary by now. The HF5 we have here are following that tradition. With earbuds such as these, it is all about performance, comfort, and fit. Everything else, including aesthetics, takes a back seat. For some, that is a flaw.
For us, this simple design is a benefit. The performance is easily one of the best you’ll find in this particular segment of the market. Every portion of the frequency range is equally impressive with plenty of girth4 but also clarity involved. In short, these are the type of earbuds that are hard to max push to the limit as their limit is quite high.
At a first glance, the cable might look fragile but is designed to last a long time. You don’t have all of the customization options that some of the best earbuds on this list offer, such as receiving phone calls, but you can easily adjust the song you’re listening to and volume to suit your surroundings. Etymotic earbuds come with multiple ear tips to help you find the most comfortable fit for your ear shape and size. All of which are equipped with a noise-insulation feature thanks to the foam ends.
These earbuds sleek and slim shape prevents them from bulging out of your ears to look unfriendly and inconvenience you. But more of the time and effort of these earbuds has gone into the usability. For example, the detachable clip means you can safely store the cord without them getting tangled when not in use. The padded pouch also keeps them safe should you accidentally drop them.
Discovering The Best Earbuds Under $100
If you’re serious about your listening experience, dropping $100 on a new pair of quality earbuds is something of a no-brainer. As far as bang for your buck goes, this is pretty much the sweet spot for the kind of audio quality you’re likely to find for the money you spend.
Even if the features are lackluster, even if the design leaves you a little cold, head out to your nearest store, listen to some of our recommendations, and you’re sure to find something that does the trick for you.
What are your thoughts on our best earbuds under $100? Or if you know of some other products we should’ve featured, share your recommendations in the comments to keep this conversation going.