Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best cheap headphones under $100 compared

Compare budget-friendly headphones from Sony, Anker, Jabra, and more.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Christina Darby

A quick trip down any physical or virtual tech store aisle makes one thing clear: there's not shortage of headphones. While not necessarily a "bad" problem to have, the big variety usually is usually accompanied by an equally large price tag. Luckily, this isn't always the case. 

While you may have to dig a little deeper to find, there's plenty of budget-conscious headphones from fan-favorite brands deliver fantastic quality without requiring you lay down half a paycheck. 

To see which headphones fit the bill -- and your budget --  I talked to the users and experts themselves, supplementing their experiences with consideration for factors like performance, design, and, of course, price. So, with that in mind, here are our picks for the best cheap headphones on the market right now. 

Also: The best headphones of 2023  

Pros & Cons
  • Booming bass
  • Impressive noise cancellation
  • Fantastic battery
  • Larger build
  • Bass may be overpowering for some users
More Details

Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones tech specs: Type: Over-ear | Wired/Wireless: Wireless | Battery: 40 hours| Dimensions: 7.68 x 7.09 x 3.07 inches | Weight: 9.6 ounces

The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones are not only the best cheap headphones, but they also earned a spot on ZDNET's lists for the best over-ear headphones and best headphones for music. And thanks to their powerful performance at a digestible price, it's not hard to see why. 

The 44mm drivers provide incredible clarity and strong bass with treble up to 40 kilohertz for a superior performance. To put it in perspective, Bowers and Wilkins' Px8 $699 over-ear model boasts only 40mm drivers. Advanced active noise cancellation filters out 95% of low-frequency ambient sound, giving you an easier listening experience without the distractions of the outside world. Users can choose between three modes, including Transport, Outdoor, and Indoor settings, to better filter out ambient sound. To further customize things, visit the app to easily tweak custom EQ settings. 

These headphones are surprisingly lightweight with a comfortable design made from soft protein leather. Rotating ear cups are an added bonus. The battery provides up to 40 hours of playtime with active noise cancellation or 60 hours without; either way, charging is a simple matter with just five minutes of charge providing up to four hours of battery.

Also: The 5 best headphones for music in 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Comfortable
  • Very affordable
  • Excellent sub-bass
  • Closed-back design is great for professional mixing
  • Subpar soundstaging
  • No detachable cable
More Details

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Headphones tech specs: Type: Over-ear | Wired/Wireless: Wired | Battery: 60 hours | Dimensions: 11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches | Weight: 6.7 ounces

If you prefer a traditional pair of wired headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Headphones are the best wired headphones you can buy at a less than $50 price-point. With their phenomenal sound, they also have my vote for best studio headphones

These over-ear headphones are made for the professional, excelling when it comes to mixing and tracking. It uses 40mm drivers with copper-clad aluminum wire (CCAW) voice coils, playing back sound at a bandwidth of up to 20 kilohertz. You also have the ability to change the settings based on your content, allowing for enhanced low frequency performance. These headphones also use a closed-back, circumaural design, giving you fantastic sound isolation from active noise cancellation. 

The 15-degree swiveling ear cups are stuffed with extra cushioning, giving a comfortable fit that you can enjoy during those long hours in the studio. Connectivity is great, too, offering a 3.5-millimeter mini plug with a quarter-inch snap-on adapter that gives you access to all of your devices, including your soundcard and mixer.

Also: These studio headphones are recommended by music producers

Pros & Cons
  • Powerful bass
  • Smart assistant support
  • Long battery life
  • Confusing controls
  • Lacks headphone port
More Details

Jabra Elite 45h Headphones tech specs: Type: Over-ear | Wired/Wireless: Wireless | Battery: 50 hours | Dimensions: 12.64 x 8.39 x 3.31 inches | Weight: 5.6 ounces

The Jabra Elite 45h Headphones are not only the best wireless cheap headphones you can buy, but they are also some of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy.

These On-ear headphones have 40-millimeter drivers that incorporate passive noise cancellation and signature Wind Noise protection. Use the Jabra Sound+ App, as well as Jabra's exclusive MySound technology, to create a custom hearing profile and tweak sound settings to your liking. Or, take advantage of the 2-microphone call technology. This means you can easily make and receive phone calls with concentrated voice amplification. If you hit a snag, you are also never alone with the help of Siri and Google Assistant built-in and available to assist when needed. 

The compact design is lightweight for extended wear and incorporates foldable ear cups, adding another level of convenience when you are on the go. Memory foam gives you extra comfort, and they are even rain-resistant if you happen to get caught in one of those summer storms. These headphones boast up to 50 hours of battery life, about 10 hours more than most competitors, including many on this list. Supporting fast-charging, after just 15 minutes connected to an outlet, the the headphones can last up to 10 hours.  

Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight design
  • User-friendly controls
  • Well-developed sound for price
  • Awkward charging case
  • Average mic
More Details

JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds tech specs: Type: In-ear | Wired/Wireless: Wireless | Battery: 32 hours | Dimensions: 2.48 x 1.26 x 5.51 inches | Weight: 2.08 ounces

The JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds take a different approach, ditching the over-ear design and instead serving as the best in-ear cheap headphones. 

These earbuds are all about custom control. Choose from three EQ3 Sound modes, including JLab Signature, Balanced and Bass Boost modes to help you find just the right sound for that favorite track, all without the use of an app. The convenient EQ3 touch controls are joined by extra controls for volume control, play/pause, and phone calls. There is even a button to activate your very own smart assistant. These earbuds offer a Bluetooth 5.1 connection for easy connectivity so you can stream to your heart's content. If you would rather make a phone call, there is a built-in MEMS microphone available in both earbuds for easy, clearer communication. 

These come with their own charging case, which is good because you only receive eight hours of playtime before requiring a charge. However, the case is powered with an additional 32 hours of battery, so you can easily charge them on the go. With a lightweight IPX4 Sweat Resistance rating, this pocketable pick is perfect to take with you on long runs. 

Pros & Cons
  • Superior clarity
  • Lightweight
  • Durable design
  • Leatherette
  • Short cable
More Details

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones tech specs: Type: Over-ear | Wired/Wireless: Wired | Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches | Weight: 8 ounces

The Sony MDR-7506 Headphones are a pick for the best studio headphones, and with their affordable price tag, they are also the best cheap headphones professionals and creators can buy. These headphones take an advanced approach to audio playback, offering a superior performance that professionals need each day. 

These dynamic wired headphones combine neodymium magnets with 40-millimeter drivers and gold connectors, operating at up to 20 kilohertz for fantastic audio. They deliver the type of high-quality audio that meets professional standards, whether you are working in the studio or shooting a live broadcast. There is an extra-long cord measuring almost ten feet to give you greater freedom of movement.

Closed-ear design to better offer noise cancellation with an extra-comfortable fit. Still, at around eight ounces, they remain lightweight. The foldable design gives added convenience. Still, these are durable and tough with a rugged build meant to withstand daily life.

What are the best cheap headphones?

Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones are the best cheap headphones you can buy. The active noise cancellation is a must-have when you live and work in busy environments, and it is a huge convenience to be able to tweak your settings based on your content and location. The battery life is impressive, too.

To see how they stack up against the competition, here is a look at the best cheap headphones. 

Best cheap headphones




Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones




Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Headphones




Jabra Elite 45h Headphones




JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds




Sony MDR-7506 Headphones




Which are the best cheap headphones for you?

Even the best cheap headphones can all start to blend together after a while. To help you find the best headphones for your needs, consider these gentle suggestions. 

Choose these best cheap headphones...

If you want...

Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones

On Over-ear model with excellent performance and value with built-in noise cancellation.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Headphones

The best wired cheap headphones with a generous battery life and design perfect for mixing music. 

Jabra Elite 45h Headphones

The best wireless cheap headphones with an excellent and clear call quality. 

JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds

The best cheap, in-ear headphones under $25. With a generous battery life, lightweight design, and IPX4 sweat and water resistance rating, these are great on-the-go. 

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones

The best cheap headphones for creators and professionals with more exacting standards. This wired option packs in Sony's staple sound features for less. 

How did I choose these best cheap headphones?

When searching for the best cheap headphones, consider these suggestions.

  • Wired vs. wireless: Consider how and where you will use your headphones. If you plan on remaining mostly stationary, a wired pair of headphones may work well for you. However, if you plan on taking your headphones with you when you are on the go, you will likely be better served by a more portable pair of wireless headphones.

  • Fit: When you shop for cheap headphones, consider where you would like in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear headphones. Over-ear headphones can provide greater noise cancellation, while in-ear headphones are more lightweight. Be sure to test your headphones for comfort, especially if you plan on wearing them for long periods of time. 

  • Sound: Look for headphones that deliver a superior audio experience. It is especially helpful to have a custom EQ equalizer so you can customize sound to your preference and surroundings. After all, what is the point of buying cheap headphones if the sound is terrible?

  • Battery life: Consider how long the battery will last for each pair of headphones. Many cheap headphones offer a battery life of up to 60 hours, but there are others that are far more limited. There are also some headphones, like the JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds, which come with a charging case so you can grab a quick charge when you are away from home.

Are cheap headphones worth it?

When buying cheap headphones, one major concern that shoppers have is whether these headphones are worth the money. Generally, cheap headphones skip some of the bells and whistles that you find with more expensive models, but it is still possible to find some of these advanced features with lower-priced models. For example, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Headphones feature active noise cancellation, which is the standard among pricier models.  

What are the best cheap headphones brands?

There are many, many manufacturers of cheap headphones, but not all of them operate at the highest level of manufacturing, leading to wasted dollars and much disappointment. Instead, stick to a reputable brand that has tried and true products you can count on. Users find that the best cheap headphones come from trusted brands like Anker, Jabra, and Sony. 

How much are the best cheap headphones?

When shopping for headphones, you will quickly find that they run the gamut in price. The best cheap headphones range in cost from just $25 for the JLab Go Air Pop Wireless Earbuds to $100 for the Jabra Elite 45h Headphones. No matter which ones you choose from our list, these are the best cheap headphones under $100 that you can buy. 

Are there alternative best cheap headphones worth considering?

These are not the only options available for you. These are some of the best cheap headphones that are also worthy of a second look.

Beats Flex Headphones


Beats Flex Headphones - Best cheap headphones for Apple users

Apple users will enjoy top performance, thanks to the Apple W1 headphone chip.

View at Amazon
Sennheiser HD350BT Headphones


Sennheiser HD350BT Headphones - Best over-ear headphones

If you prefer a snug over-ear fit, these comfortable cheap headphones from Sennheiser are a great option and offer top-tier performance. 

View at Amazon
Sony WH-CH520 Headphones


Sony WH-CH520 Headphones - Best cheap headphones for casual listening

The Sony WH-CH520 Headphones are a pair of cheap headphones that are packed with Sony's staple high-quality audio features. 

View at Amazon

For other options, check out our top picks for the best earbuds, the best noise-canceling headphones, and the best cheap wireless earbuds

Editorial standards