In this information era, there a are gadgets that define our define us. It could be your laptop, tablet or smartphone. with the use of accessories such as headphones, these devices will serve you much better. In this article we have the best headphones below 100$ in 2017 to guide you in finding one.
Headphones can be defined in two ways, the computing terms and the layman’s terms. If you use deep knowledge of computers you’ll find that most computing accessories are divided into the output and input devices. Output devices are used to transfer information or data from the computer whereas input devices are used to transfer information from an outside device into the computer.
In computing, headphones are output devices since they are used to amplify and transmit audio. In layman’s language, a headphone is a head-mounted speaker that is placed over the ears. Headphones are a plenty and they come in various shapes, sizes and designs. Some headphones come with a mouthpiece that is, the projecting microphone while others just have the head mount and ear pads/cushion/tips. Due to the many types of headphones in the market, its best to choose one that suits your needs. Before we look into each of the 10 best headphones under100 it’s prudent to understand the categories of headphones and their detailed specifications.
Categories of headphones
From each type of headphone you can easily categorize them. There are 6 major categories of earphones/ headphones. Below is a list after which we shall look at each category into detail.
- Ear buds headphones
- In-ear headphones
- On-ear headphones
- Over-the-ear headphones
- In ear canal head phones
- Wireless headphones
Table of Contents
- 0.1 Ear buds headphones/ intra concha headphones
- 0.2 On-ear headphones/ supra aural headphones
- 0.3 Over the ear headphones/ circumaural headphones
- 0.4 In-ear canal headphones/ in- ear monitors
- 0.5 Wireless headphones
- 1 Top 10 Best Headphones Under 100
- 2 1. Grado Prestige Series SR80e
- 3 2 Bose Sound True 2
- 4 3 Beat EP
- 5 4 Koss Plug
- 6 5 RHA S500
- 7 6 Bose SoundSport
- 8 7 Sony MDR-ZX110NC
- 9 8. MEE Audio M6 PRO
- 10 9. Status Audio CB-1
- 11 10 LG HBS-900 Tone Infinim
- 12 2017 Headphone buying guide
- 13 Conclusion
Ear buds headphones/ intra concha headphones
Remember the 80’s when huge headphones rocked? The then hippie crowd wore these headphones while they grooved to the 80’s jams. It was common to see these headphones carefully placed over a fro or the Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley hairdo. They are what we now call vintage headphones and although the over the ear head phones are totally inspired by their design we really needed something less bulky. Since their invention, ear bud headphones were close to salvation to most millennials. They are light, with tiny ear buds that can fit inside the external auditory canal of the ear. They were a game changer and a transitory step from the huge earphones but with time, these headphones have shown some good and poor qualities, let’s look.
In-ear headphones/ inter concha headphones
These are the most recent headphones and smartphone manufactures are taking advantage of this demand curve by packaging them as part of the product accessory line. In-ear headphones are very small, on average they can weigh 1-1.6 ounces. The general build is much like the ear bud headphone but the design differs with the additional silicone or memory foam tips and flanges/removable tips designed to keep off any external noise.
On-ear headphones/ supra aural headphones
On-ear headphones are those types of earphones that sit right over the outer ear. The flanges are big enough to cover your ear canals but not the entire ear. The closed back make them a perfect fit for both indoor and outdoor use. Maintaining the sound quality is a bit of a challenge with these earphones since the flanges are not efficient enough in providing proper seal. If not placed properly they can allow some ambient noise to penetrate. Although bigger in size, they are very light and give less strain on the head and neck. Due to their mixed indoor and outdoor usage, some on-ear headphones are designed with a collapsible design which makes them very portable once folded.
Over the ear headphones/ circumaural headphones
Compared to the first three types of headphones, over the ear headphones are very huge. They have ear cups that tend to cover the entire ear and the head support is heavily padded to give more comfort. They cover the entire outer ear for 100% noise isolation. Their build and noise isolation makes them perfect for indoor use. Their weight causes heavy strain on the neck and portability is more of an issue. The diaphragm is placed away from the ear and this feature makes them very comfortable to use over long periods. The design is almost similar to on-ear headphones but the only difference is the weight and ear padding which sits behind the ear rather than on the ear. The behind the ear padding allows some marvelous soundstage whereby space is created to allow sound to echo naturally. Newer models consume less power and can be used with smartphones. The bulkier and power hungry models require an amplifier for them to sound natural. This category has two types of headphones:
Open back headphone: Open back headphones have a design that is totally open on the back. The back of the earphone is opened with a preventive grilled mesh and you can easily see the internal circuitry. These types of headphones are designed to allow some outside ambient noise to penetrate the flanges. In an ordinary room setup with TV speakers and fan propellers, having these headphones on is an unbearable fit, however, in a quiet and enclosed setup, the sound quality emanating from them is exceptional. They are perfect for use during indoor sound recording and editing. The open back in grilled mesh allows some optimum airflow in and out the ear and you really need not worry about sweat accumulating due to prolonged use.
Closed back headphones: Closed back headphones are most popular amongst new age consumers and are less expensive compared to the open back design. The back of these headphones is closed in order to maintain less sound leakage and keep off any ambient noise. They give excellent noise isolation by dampening the outside noise. The only problem arises when airflow into the ears is restricted thus causing some moistness on the ear.
In-ear canal headphones/ in- ear monitors
Lingering in equal surprise, we were shocked to know that these types of earphones actually exist. As the name suggests the earphones have a small ear cup designed fit inside the inner ear almost to the canal. It’s a disturbing design but its conception does have a favorable following so we can’t be very skeptical about them. These earphones give the best noise isolation since they tend to sit deep inside the ear. The fact that they shoot sound straight into the ear is a health caution, overly amplified sounds transmitted via these earphones can cause some distinct problems with the eardrums. The ear caps are designed using sound proof material that doesn’t allow any stray sounds or air to penetrate the outer and inner ear, this allows the earphone to serve its cause but the ear sweats due to prolonged use. The pros and cons of using these earphones are as follows:
Wireless headphones are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. Earlier makes were good on sound quality but poor on sound clarity however, today’s technology has seen wireless headphone manufactures strive to create wireless headphones that are excellent on both sound divides. The design does not have the wired part common with the previously discussed headphone categories. These headphones are available in various shapes and sizes, you can choose the smaller designs or the bigger ones however they are very portable. Some of their pros and cons are:
10 commonly used terms used on headphones
- In-ear: This term implies that the headphone tip sits directly inside the ear
- Over-ear: This means that the earphone flanges and big enough to cover the entire outer ear
- On-ear: The earphone flanges sit directly on top of the ear but are not big enough to cover the entire outer ear
- Drivers: This is the single component in a headphone that turns electrical signals into sound. Drivers may differ but they all have these 3 components, voice coils, diaphragm and magnet.
- Sensitivity and sound pleasure level: while going through a headphone spec sheet, there are high chances that you will come across these 2 terms. They are used to give an indication of how loud the earphones are.
- Impedance: Measured in Ohms, impedance is the measure of a headphone’s electrical resistance.
- Frequency response: Measured in Hertz, frequency response is the range of audio responses produced by a particular headphone.
- Total harmonic distortion: The THD indicates the level of sound distortion that may occur while using a headphone at high volume levels.
- Noise cancellation: This is a feature common with most noise cancellation headphones. It is achieved when the microphone in the headphone records ambient noise and creates a reverse sound wave which is later fed back into the earphone to effectively cancel the noise.
- Noise isolation: Noise isolation means that the headphone has features that block out any ambient noise and external sounds.
These terms can easily pass as headphone specs. Understanding what they are all about can be tricky if you have little or no understanding of sound, physics and electronics.
Top 10 Best Headphones Under 100
Now that you have some better understanding of earphones/headphones, we shall move on to the 2017 Top 10 headphones under100 list. The list was compiled after careful research and we also considered the 6 categories while selecting the good makes under 100 that do not compromise quality. Without further ado, let’s look at each headphone, its specs, pros and cons.
1. Grado Prestige Series SR80e
These on-ear headphones by Grado are best in the market with exceptional sound quality and clarity at an affordable value. They floss a lightweight and lithe swivel design with an impressive 165gms. The earpads and head band are made of soft memory foam plus they also come with a smartphone detachable cable. The frequency response is 5-40,000Hz and the 45mm driver diameter delivers top sound quality.
• Very quality sound
• They have high-resolution
• Are lightweight, portable and very comfortable to use
• The MIDS is very poor
2 Bose Sound True 2
Bose, an all American brand is famously known for its prowess in creating top notch audio devices. The company describes this particular headphone as a “plan revive” of the company’s Sound True series. Bose Sound True 2 tops our list as the best over-ear headphone known for effective noise cancellation. The headphone is sturdy, big and strong while its overall weight is 181gms. The cup shapes are amazing and the general build features a foldable design for portability. The cord is detachable and it also has an integrated 3 button remote complete with microphone. This headphone comes in two variants and you can choose from one that is compatible with android devices or one compatible with Apple iOS.
• Delivers smooth sound
• Works with active noise cancellation at its best
• Sealed ear cups also give good noise isolation
• Compared to its predecessors in the Sound True series, these headphones are more durable with an appealing design
• The Apple iOS and android compatibility are a plus for smartphone users
• The soft, fluffy ear cups are very comfortable
• Although the build appears sturdy, handling these headphones may feel somewhat flimsy and may break at any point if mishandled
• The cable is equally flimsy
• Although its build is for noise cancellation, it is not very effective
3 Beat EP
Beats EP is an on-ear headphone produced under the Beats By Dre trademark. Beats By Dre is an all American company famous for manufacturing sound devices especially speakers and headphones. These headphones and earphones are often designed to penetrate the millennial demand ruled by technology and the smartphone craze. These wired headphones are available in white and red shades built for comfort, style and efficiency. Its lightweight and tough frame is admirably durable whilst the foldable design makes it easy to package and store. Sound remitted via these headphones is superb and users will only hear each beat the way it’s expected to sound. The cushioned headband is reinforced with stainless steel and the vertical adjustment slides are a posh add-on for personalized comfort. The headphones feature an inline volume control and inline call/music controls.
• Very stylish design as usual
• Lightweight and equally portable
• Headband is designed for head and neck comfort
• Superb sound
• Tough and durable frame
• Foldable design for easy storage
• Comes with a warranty
• Perfect for noise isolation
• The vertical adjustment on the headband has a flimsy appearance and can break at any point if mishandled.
4 Koss Plug
Commonly known as Koss “the plug” is a 4 foot cord, deep bass performance in-ear headphone with 16 to 23,000Hz frequency response. These earphones are lightweight with soft foam cups for comfortable in-ear use. Koss Plug in-ear headphones are a revolutionary step in this category and its release stiffened the competition between likened manufacturers.
• Stylish and lightweight design
• Delivers clear bass
• Great on noise isolation
• Warrant cover provided by the Koss Stereophones Limited Lifetime Warranty
• The soft memory foam cups give a comfortable in-ear feeling
• Since the cups sit inside the ear, the sweat and wetness factor is unavoidable
5 RHA S500
Fifth in place but second in line under the in-ear headphones category is RHA S500 an earphone model from the RHA Scottish brand. This earphone is ideally designed for compact noise isolation which is achieved by the silicon cups. The headphones feature a (140.1model) micro dynamic driver that delivers full range detailed, immersive and vibrant sound. The double flange silicon tips are a cup design that offers a dual density selection. Its 2 part material connection cable is 1.35m with gold plated tips.
• Has an elegant and classy design
• Silicone tips are perfect for noise isolation
• Has 3 year warranty
• Gives a good balance between low and high frequencies
• Delivers some top notch robust bass
• Comes in an elegant carrying pouch for storage purposes
• Silicon tips do not allow airflow into the inner ear thus the area tends to sweat if used for long hours
6 Bose SoundSport
Bose SoundSport is one of the best wireless headphones under 100. These in-ear headphones are built with compatibility to Apple, Samsung and android devices. They produce deep and clear sound which is enhanced by the all exclusive Triport technology. The inline technology used is ideal for switching in between call plus user comfort is assured through the headphone’s sweat and weather resistant silicone cups. Its features are: 1.06m connection cable, tips: 1.9cm W, 2.5cm H, 0.95cm D and weight of 17.86gms.
• Sweat and weather resistance assure users of 100% comfort
• Has various device compatibility
• Comes in matching protective case
• Delivers deep and clear sound
• Easy Bluetooth device pairing
• Available in 5 color variants
• Perfect for outdoor use
• Can be used with the Bose app for more personalized settings
• Very pricey
• Too general in appearance and design
• Noise cancellation is not very effective
7 Sony MDR-ZX110NC
Sony is a universal brand best known for producing quality electronic products. The brand is a multi-million franchise with famed products such as TV sets, fridges, smartphones, kitchen gadgets and we can’t really forget the deluxe Sony headphones. The Sony MDR-ZX110NC over the ear noise cancellation headphones are what you’d ideally choose for premium comfort and quality sound. The headphones are wireless, but the 80hrs battery life is equally effective. Other additional features are: 1.8 diameter 30mm neodymium driver, 3.94ft y shaped cord and 10-20,000Hz frequency response.
• Combined noise cancellation technology produces good sound frequencies
• Wireless headphones with long battery life
• Efficient drivers
• Superb sound frequencies
• Very bulky with no foldable design feature
• Headband lacks a cushion for comfort
8. MEE Audio M6 PRO
MEElectronics Audio is a brand famous for its sports headphones line. Sporting involves a lot of vigorous activity and so you need headphones that are designed with tough grip in and around the ear. Owing to the design and general build, the M6 PRO earphones are better categorized as in-ear headphones. The product produces soothing sounds due to it noise isolation technique. It also has smartphone, IPods, iPhones and mp3 player compatibility. The headphones are packaged together with armband and carry case for its compatible devices.
• Has a memory wire that locks the earphone over the earlobe for a locked fit
• The modular case system eases its use
• The general ear cup design is delivers enhanced sweat resistance during workout
• Comes with noise free cable with tangle resistance
• Powerful and tight bass for superior sound frequencies
• Very affordable
• The design is limiting to sporting activities
9. Status Audio CB-1
Status Audio CB-1 are a pair of closed back headphones built for indoor use especially studios. Audio professionals will love its design and features which work together for premium and accurate noise cancellation. Its 50mm drivers are effective enough in reproducing mid-range audio with non-additive bass. The sound is supple, professional and neutral. The ear pads are ergonomic and big enough to relieve the inward pressure common with most studio headphones. The headphones also have a wireless feature plus a 2X detachable cables, the foldable design makes it portable and equally easy to store. Other additional features are: 15 KHz-30 KHz audio frequencies, 32ohm, 3m cable, 13.2oz and ¼ inch adapter.
• Produces quality studio sound
• Foldable design is efficient for portability
• Efficient drivers
• Accurate noise cancellation
• Ergonomic ear pads for more comfort
• Extra cushion on headband for deluxe comfort
• Mixed build, very bulky design and the weight is equally restricting for outside mobile use
• muddying warmth can be very uncomfortable
10 LG HBS-900 Tone Infinim
The LG HBS-900 Tone Infinim wireless headphone is the next big design in as far as in-ear category is concerned. The headphone features fitting ear tips, round the neck band and an additional scarf for use in cold harsh weather. The Tone Infinim can be likened to the Tone Ultra both in look and feel the only difference is the logos. The tone Ultra has a JBL logo wheras the Tone Infinim has a Harman Kardon logo, HK is the brainchild behind these in-ear technology. The weight is 1.90Oz with a 3.0 Bluetooth version. The supported Bluetooth profiles are: A2DP, HFP, AVRCP and HSP.
• Produces clean, clear and crisp sound
• Comfortable in-ear fit
• Round the neck headband holds the earphones firmly in place
• Retractable cables eliminate the extra tangle weight
• Very light and stylish design
• Delivers top volumes without distortion
• Come in a foldable design for portability
• Gives quick and simple smartphone pairing
• Very pricey
• Limited battery life
2017 Headphone buying guide
How you want your headphone depends on your personal tastes and preferences however, there is a universal buying guide that ought to be followed while purchasing any headphone. This buying guide was compiled with relation to the standard headphone features, specifications and technical build. Here’s a detailed look at what to consider while purchasing a headphone.
- Buy that easily suits your liking and falls under your estimated budget.
- Do you base your headphone need on noise cancellation or noise isolation? All these are features that work with different settings. Noise cancellation is for indoor purposes whereas noise isolation is applicable in an outdoor setting.
- Purchase a headphone with regards to the period you intend to use it. As discussed earlier on, ear flanges (big or small) can be effective in blocking air or allowing air into the ear. For long periods, it’s wise to buy an earphone with flanges that allow some air to circulate in an out of your ear whilst warding off any noises.
- Choose a headphone with a frequency response that doesn’t exceed the sound levels allowed for human hearing.
- Buy an earphone with ear cups that fit perfectly into your ear and are comfortable to use both in an outdoor or indoor setting.
- Headphones with flanges should be made of material that can be cleaned for hygiene purposes.
- Headphone portability is a factor for mobile users.
- Buy a pair of headphones that are durable both in design and material.
The best Headphones under 100 2017 is a list that is carefully drawn with much research and consideration on various customer reviews. We looked at what features customers demanded for in headphones verses which manufacturers went out of their way to deliver quality headphones with relation to the demand curve. We hope that this article is resourceful and that it adds onto your knowledge on earphones/headphones.