The Top 5 Best Earbuds Under $100 (For 2020)

Best Earbuds Under 100

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We were discussing the other day how spoiled we are with the modern day headphone technology. The sound being produced from the under 100 earbud price range is extremely impressive. You even find a few headphones punching way out their class (upwards to the $300-400 range).

If you don't consider yourself an audio expert that doesn't mean you should be subjected to listening to headphones that are one step up from tin cans on strings. As such, we've gathered the best headphones under 100 for your viewing pleasure. 

To ensure everyone is on the same page, we will discuss the considerations we use in selecting the best headphones. While there is some technical know-how required, we still believe it's possible to grasp a few basic considerations and come away with an amazing headphone.

We sincerely hope you are the person who is upgrading from their $20 high school headphones to something a little more mind-blowing. We only wish we could be there to share the moment you actually hear the music you've been listening to! Let's get started!

thinksound rain3 Wood In-ear Headphone with Passive Noise Isolation (Gunmetal Chocolate)
Best Choice
1MORE Triple Driver in-Ear Earphones Hi-Res Headphones with High Resolution, Bass Driven Sound, MEMS Mic, in-Line Remote, High Fidelity for Smartphones/PC/Tablet - Silver
Shure SE215-K Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver
Sony MDR-XB90EX in-Ear Extra Bass Headphones (Japanese Import)
Brainwavz M2 in-Ear Earbuds Noise Isolating Earphones Stereo Headphones
thinksound rain 2
1MORE Triple Driver
Shure SE215-K
Sony MDR-XB90EX
Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Noise Isolating IEM Headphones
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver
-
-
thinksound rain3 Wood In-ear Headphone with Passive Noise Isolation (Gunmetal Chocolate)
thinksound rain 2
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver
-
Best Choice
1MORE Triple Driver in-Ear Earphones Hi-Res Headphones with High Resolution, Bass Driven Sound, MEMS Mic, in-Line Remote, High Fidelity for Smartphones/PC/Tablet - Silver
1MORE Triple Driver
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver
Shure SE215-K Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver
Shure SE215-K
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver
Sony MDR-XB90EX in-Ear Extra Bass Headphones (Japanese Import)
Sony MDR-XB90EX
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver
-
Brainwavz M2 in-Ear Earbuds Noise Isolating Earphones Stereo Headphones
Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Noise Isolating IEM Headphones
Water Resistant
Extra Bass
Extra Durable
Triple Driver

Considerations For Selecting The Best Earbud Headphones 

While technical details like frequency range, the number of drivers, impedance, sensitivity, and driver diameter ultimately do make a difference in the headphone, we like to recommend that the average listener focus on three things when selecting their headphone: overall sound quality, durability, and sound isolation (also called attenuation).

This article was written for the average listener looking to upgrade into a better quality of sound. If you are just an average listener, you will likely not appreciate the subtleties of a $300 pair of earbuds. However, if you do consider yourself a bit of an audiophile, we'll be writing more guides in the future discussing the more technical details. 

  • Sound Quality
  • Durability
  • Sound Isolation
Best earbud headphone
  • Sound Quality​
    The most important factor. Without going into the technical details, the sound quality of your headphones will largely determine how much enjoyment you get out of your music (obviously).

    Each headphone will have a slightly different frequency signature, sometimes making them more suited to different genres of music. If you are going to be listening to modern music such as Electronica or Hip-Hop, look for a headphone that has a good low-end response.

    Other forms of music, such as Jazz and Classical, should be focused on an overall balanced sound with prominent mids. We'll rate the sound quality of each headphone we review. 
  • Durability 
    An important, although sometimes overlooked, factor in find the best earbuds. You need something that will handle everything you throw at it. Going to the gym or will be in the outdoors? Look for something that is sweat and weather resistant.

    You are also going to want to look for some type of reinforcement in your cables (usually Kevlar, but sometimes steel). Ideally, your cables will be replaceable. This prevents you from having to buy an entire set of headphones if one cable shorts out. 
  • Sound Isolation 
    Also called attenuation, sound isolation is another key factor in being able to enjoy your music when you are on the move. If you plan on listening primarily in your home, you can weight this factor a little lower. Although if you are planning on being in a gym, on public transit, or using them to study in a noisy library, this feature is very important.

    While some more expensive headphones will use active noise cancellation, all of the headphones on our list use what is called passive noise cancellation. Essentially, the relies on a good seal of the ear tip into your ear canal. It's important to mention here that some of the responsibility falls on your shoulders to select the best ear tip size from the available options.

    However, not all earbuds are equal in this realm. Some are designed to be in-ear monitors for on-stage and excel in any noise attenuation. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Look for a frequency spectrum that suited to your genre of music
  • Your headphones should have a reinforced, tangle-resistant cable. Ideally, your cable will be detachable.
  • Sweat resistance is essential for anyone looking to use their headphones in the gym
  • Looking to take the headphones outside of your home? Pay attention to the level our sound isolation. 


Our Top 5 Picks For Earbuds Under 100 

1. Thinksound rain2


85 %
Rating
thinksound rain2
  • Kevlar enforced cable
  • Wood housing 
  • Sweat resistant 
  • Non-removable cable 
  • No inline controls 

FEATURES:

  • Kevlar enforced cable 
  • Wood housing 
  • Sweat resistant 
  • 8 mm driver 
thinksound rain2

The latest headphone from Thinksound - rain2. The only headphone on our list with a wooden casing. It also happens to be the most budget friendly headphone we're considering. It boasts many features that make it a top contender: great sound quality, reinforced cable, sweat resistance, and a wooden housing. 

Let's first begin with the most important consideration - sound. Right off the bat, this is not a headphone for bass heads. If you need an earbud with thunderous lows, skip this one. For the rest of us, you will be pleased to know that it has a well-balanced frequency spectrum. While we're still not fully convinced, the wood housing may have some effect on the warm sound (we're open to the idea). The mid range does tend to be nice and warm, without bleeding into the highs. 

  • Warm and prominent midrange with balanced highs and lows. Not for bass heads.

What we do like about these headphones is their durability. We love that they are sweat resistant, making them perfect to wear to the gym. We also love that the cable is reinforced with kevlar. This is a must for us as they cable is non-replaceable. Therefore, A broken cable will require a new set of headphones. 

Now for the bad: no inline controls or mic. This can be a pain for some users who don't like taking their phone out of their pocket. 

Bottom Line: Overall, a great headphone. Sweat resistant and durable. No spectacular on the sound front, but a strong sound overall. Great for someone who likes to listen to music with a warm midrange feel (jazz or classical). 

thinksound rain3 Wood In-ear Headphone with Passive Noise Isolation (Gunmetal Chocolate)
  • Passive noise isolation minimizes ambient sounds
  • Wooden Housing for crisp, accurate music reproduction. 16 ohm impedance

2. 1MORE Triple Driver

98%
Rating
1MORE Triple Driver
  • Three drivers 
  • Tons of insert sizes
  • Kevlar woven tangle resistant cable 
  • Inline control with mic 
  • Amazing definition and balance


  • Not sweat resistant 

FEATURES:

  • Three drivers 
  • Inline control with mic 
  • 6 silicon and 3 foam ear tips 
  • Durable, anti-tangle cable 
1MORE Triple Driver

At number 2, we have my favorite earbuds on the market, the 1MORE - the Triple Driver E1001. The only in-ear headphone on our list that has three dedicated drivers (something usually found in headphones around the $400 range!) It contains two separate armatures and a dedicated dynamic driver to deliver a very precise and dynamic power. It was tuned by grammy award winning sound engineers to give a balanced sound. The overall frequency response and sound profile can't be touched by any other set of earbuds under $100.


The three dedicated drivers deliver a rich and balanced sound character. I was were surprised to find they sounded better than many brand name headphones double their price. After their break-in period, the mid-range is smooth and full with bright highs. The bass presence is strong without being too overwhelming to muddy the mix. An entirely rich listening experience. 

  • Smooth and warm midrange with bright highs. Well balanced bass. Good for listening to any genre of music. Great for listening for hours without ear fatigue. 

While the sound quality is fantastic, the durability is also there. The cable is kevlar reinforced and the housing is made out of aluminum. While we like to see detachable cables, we can live with something that is reinforced. I also appreciate the number of options you have with the ear tip selection. The problem of earbuds falling out is a huge problem. You're best bet to avoid this is to use the best silicon (or foam) ear tips for your ears. 


We also appreciate the in-line controls and mic. This feature is perfect for anyone who doesn't like taking their phone out of their pocket to adjust settings.


One thing to keep in mind if you're planning on using these as your primary gym headphones - while their sound isolation is good, they're not completely sweat resistant.


Bottom Line: The perfect headphone for anyone who is looking for the best sound quality on the market. No other headphone offers a triple driver at this price point! 

1MORE Triple Driver in-Ear Earphones Hi-Res Headphones with High Resolution, Bass Driven Sound, MEMS Mic, in-Line Remote, High Fidelity for Smartphones/PC/Tablet - Silver
  • THREE DRIVERS- These headphones have two balanced armatures and a separate dynamic driver. Together they deliver an extremely accurate listening experience with unsurpassed dynamic power and clarity from deep bass to sizzling highs.
  • TUNED BY A GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SOUND ENGINEER- 1MORE collaborated with internationally acclaimed producer, mixer, and sound engineer Luca Bignardi to perfect the final tuning to deliver a precise representation of your favorite artist's intended sound.

3. Shure SE215-K


95%
Rating
Shure SE215-K
  • Kevlar enforced cable
  • Detachable cable 
  • Sweat resistant 
  • Amazing sound isolation
  • Great sound quality 
  • Single driver only 
  • No inline controls (optional with m+ version)

FEATURES:

  • Very durable 
  • Sweat resistant 
  • Great sound quality 
  • Detachable cable 
Shure SE215-K

The Shure SE215-K is an amazing headphone. They excel in all of the three categories we look for in earbuds: sound quality, durability, and sound isolation. We've also named them the most durable headphone. 

They are the only headphone on our list with a detachable cable. This is huge for the lifetime of the earbuds. If one cable is damaged you are able to replace it without having the replace the entire headphone set. 

The overall durability of these headphones is outstanding. They were originally designed for onstage monitoring, where conditions require a headphone that can take a beating. First off, the sound isolation is really good for its class. This makes it perfect for the regular listener who wants to bring them on public transit or into a noisy gym. 

​The sweat resistance also makes them perfect gym headphones. As long as you can get over the around the ear design, these headphones are highly recommended.

While durability and sound isolation are important, it would all be for naught if the sound quality wasn't there. ​Fortunately, the sound quality of the Shure SE215-K is competitive in its class. While it may not be as rich as the triple driver 1001E from 1MORE, the overall sound quality will blow anyone's mind who is upgrading from the $20 special. Compared to the other headphones on our list, these tend to be a bit more bass heavy. So if you tend to listen to modern music (EDM, hip-hop) these will be a great fit. 

  • Extremely durable with sweat resistance and a replaceable cable. The sound isolation is fantastic and the sound quality is strong. Strong bass response, great for those looking to listen to modern music (EDM or Hip-Hop).

We should also mention the cable is reinforced and does a fantastic job of preventing any headphone static from rubbing the cable against your clothing. 


Bottom Line: If you're looking for the best overall headphone under 100, this is a fantastic option. They will be able to handle anything you throw at them and continue to provide you with a high-quality listening experience for years to come. Highly recommended!

Shure SE215-K Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver
  • “-K” designates the product's color variation (black).
  • Evolved from personal monitor technology that's been road-tested by pro musicians, the SE215 offers detailed sound with enhanced bass for personal listening or professional monitoring.

4. Sony MDR-XB90EX

79 %
Rating
Sony MDR-XB90EX
  • Bass heavy 
  • Tangle resistant 
  • Distinct highs
  • No inline controls
  • Leaks sound 

FEATURES:

  • Grooved tangle resistant cable 
  • Designed for bass 
  • Angle-duct to boost highs to fit with bass 
Sony MDR-XB90EX

Finally, if you are a bass head looking for earbuds under 100, here you go. These earbuds are designed specifically for a thunderous low-end response. While they are strong with the bass, they aren't exactly strong in the other areas we consider when rating earbuds. First off, they do not have a reinforced cable. As the cable is not detachable, this is the least we can ask for. Additionally, there is no mention of any sweat resistance. There have also been complaints of the sound isolation being poor. 

The overall sound quality is actually quite good considering the heavy low end. The angled duct actually seems to make a difference when it comes to accentuating the highs from the lows. If you are not specifically looking for bass headphones, we still recommend either going with the Shure215-K or the 1MORE 1001E. 

  • Bass head? These are for you. Anyone else, pick from above.

We should also mention these are imported from Japan, so you may have to wait some time for your order. 

Bottom Line: For the bass heads. Everyone else select from the headphones mentioned above. ​

Sony MDR-XB90EX in-Ear Extra Bass Headphones (Japanese Import)
  • The Advanced Direct Vibe Structure forms an acoustically-tight seal around your ears, maximizing sound isolation to directly deliver pure bass power.
  • With the angled-duct, you can hear clear high-range sound that complements your extra bass.

5. Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Noise Isolating IEM Headphones

83%
Rating
  • Great bass response 
  • Sturdy cables 
  • Balanced sound profile
  • No inline controls or mic

And finally, at number 5, we have the Brainwavz M2 In-Ear Noise Isolating IEM Headphones. The biggest draws here are the quality cables and overall sound quality. For what you're getting, the price tag is incredibly reasonable. The depth in which these deliver rich, expansive sound has been noted by a number of customers.  The bass is heavy, strong, and thumping in your ears, yet it's still controlled perfectly.


The foam eartips provide a lot more isolation than the standard rubber tips. This helps aid in the overall bass response. Suprisingly, the mids also find a way to punch through the mix. These two features are the reason these headphones made my top 5 list. 

  • Looking for musical clarity? These are your headphones. 


I'd recommend those who are buying headphones primarily for listening strongly consider these headphones. The lack of other features, such as an inline mic, result in some hesitation on my part for recommend these for anyone who will be using them for everyday use. While the foam tips do provide plenty sound isolation, they won't be as secure as other headphones that wrap around your ear.


Therefore, if you want a pair of headphones you can use at the gym, while also listening to music as home, I recommend you check out the other options on the list. 


Bottom Line: Great for anyone looking for anyone who wants detailed sound reproduction under $100.

Sale
Brainwavz M2 in-Ear Earbuds Noise Isolating Earphones Stereo Headphones
  • Acoustically engineered earbuds to produce exceptional frequency response for an enhanced listening experience. Silver plated oxygen-free copper cabling for superior audiophile experience.
  • Built with high performance audio speakers, these stereo earphones produce lower distortion, extended frequency response, bass response and the included noise isolating (not noise cancelling) ear tips eliminate ambient noise.
About the author

Glen

My name is Glen. I've been in the audio world for over 15 years. I love reviewing audio equipment and solving audio related problems.

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