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The Best Headphones Under $100

by Justin Thomas •

The Best Headphones Under $100

The Best Headphones Under $100

I’ve tested a lot of headphones in the Reactual Labs. I’ve discovered that there are, in fact, great quality headphones priced under $100. The three of the best rated headphones are: Sennheiser, Grado Labs and AKG. Other popular brands found in electronics stores tend to have inferior sound at this price level.

Here are the best headphone under $100:

The Best Value Headphone: The Grado SR80i

Grado SR80i Headphones: Best Rated

Grado SR80i Headphones: Best Rated

When I think of the Grado Headphones, I think of rich, warm sound. Music seems livelier and more up-front, when played through Grados. The budget-priced SR-80 is no exception. These headphones have a fidelity level that is usually only found in high-end headphones costing hundreds of dollars more. The designer, John Grado, said he strove to design the best sounding phones for the money, and I would say his focus on audio clarity paid off.

These headphones are open-air headphones, and very quite comfortable to wear. They cover the full frequency range from 20Hz to 20,000Hz. They are made in Brooklyn, and they sport a retro design. My only criticism is that they could be sturdier in their construction — my first pair fell apart after a six months — but I am rough with my gear.

The Grado SR80i is available from Amazon. You can also find the Grado SR60i which is $20 cheaper, and another good choice.

Best Rated Headphone: Sennheiser HD 555 Headphones

Sennhesier HD 555 Headphone

Best Rated Headphone: The Sennhesier HD 555

Sennheiser produces some of the best headphones for under $100. Unfortunately some of them are no longer available (like the great HD 280 ). Update: the amazing Sennheiser HD 280 is available again. The Sennheiser HD 555 is another fine choice for just under $100. They are sturdy and comfortable to wear for hours. But emphasis is on sound here — and the HD-555 produce wonderful sound. Though the bass isn’t as deep as the Grado headphones, they provide excellent quality sound. Sennhesier says they use internal surround reflector to generate an extended spatial sound field. For me, it sounds like there’s a miniature high-end stereo system with good speaker separation sitting next to my ears.

These headphones have an Open Dynamic design, so someone in the same room will be able to hear what you’re listening to. The HD 555 comes with a full-size 6.3mm jack, but the package includes a 3.5mm adapter.

The Sennhesier HD 555 is available from Amazon.

The Best Portable Headphone: Sennheiser HD 228

Sennheiser HD218 & HD228 Headphones

Sennheiser HD 228 Headphone

The Sennheiser HD 228 is by far my favorite to use outside my home. Previously, I recommended the less expensive Sennhesier PX-100 headphones. But I found they were much more fragile than the HD 228. These headphones have a great build quality, and they can be purchased for about $70. Their lightweight construction and individually-adjusting earpieces make them very comfortable to wear for extended periods. As far as sound goes, they are the best sounding portable headphones I’ve tried. While these headphones are marketed as “bass enhanced” headphones, realistically you’re not going to get the same level of bass response as Grado headphone mentioned above. Still, in terms of price and portability, this one is a winner.

Available from Amazon.

Comments 8

  1. The Koss Porta Pro are also a good choice and they can be folded. Really good sound and good level of bass for such a small pair of headphones! 50$

  2. I have a pair of Sennheiser 555 HD stereo headphones. I primarily use them for gaming and listening to music. These are a great set of cans for a reasonable price.

  3. I got the Sony MDR-V6 for around $100 and have been extremely pleased with their sound quality. They seem to be a standard for audio in different technical fields, which was enough for me to jump in and buy them. No regrets.

  4. I’ve had 2 pairs of Grado headphones. SR-60 and SR-80. Loved both of them. Used them a lot for a couple years each, wore then out eventually after getting the cord stuck on things. Put up with quite a beating thats for sure and until each finally gave up on me they put out absolutely excellent sound quality.

  5. I have a pair of these, and they are incredible. Great quality and great price. Going on 2 years now and no problems.

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