When it comes to cheap headphones, the first thing that comes to mind for most of us is earbuds. However, the truth is that good earbuds can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. It’s only the bad or mediocre ones that are cheap.
So, it goes without saying that finding a pair of in-ear headphones that are both relatively cheap and also good-sounding is a challenging task, to say the least. That’s why we decided to help you out with it by sharing all of our knowledge and experience.
Here are our best earbud picks under 100!
Things to Keep in Mind
You can skip this part and start checking out our picks. But, we’d recommend reading about those things as knowing about them will make it easier for you to pick whatever best suits your needs.
So, here are a few things to keep an eye on with earbuds:
- IP rating: One of the best things about earbuds is that you can use them in any situation. In some cases, such as working out, this may include waterdrops and sweat. That’s where water resistance and waterproofing can come in handy
- Wired or wireless: Good wireless headphones are no longer only a premium option. However, you do still need to pay more to get the same level of audio wirelessly and don’t forget that you’ll also have to worry about the batteries
- Controls: Nobody likes having to pull out their phone every time they want to change tracks. So, look out for onboard controls if you need them
- Sound signature: This applies to all kinds of headphones. Each pair is optimized for a different kind of sound. Some are bassy, sharp, while the minority tries to stay neutral
- Build quality: Nobody likes having to buy new headphones every month just because the old ones broke. That’s why you need to look for the ones that are sturdily built
- Comfort: Earbuds are generally rather comfortable. But, some of them do go a bit too deep inside the ear canal. Having multiple sizes of ear tips to choose from is something that helps a lot in cases like these
- Noise isolation: Those who like using their earbuds outside generally don’t want external sounds disturbing them. That’s where noise isolation and noise cancelation can come in handy
Our Best 5 Earbuds Under 100
These are some of the most important things to keep in mind while buying earbuds. There are also some other minor details such as weight, portability, looks, microphones, and more. But, for the vast majority of earbuds, you won’t have to worry about such things.
So, with all that out of the way, let us check out some headphones!
1: TOZO T10
Best Waterproof Earbuds Under 100
If you’re on the lookout for a pair of decent-sounding waterproof earbuds, we’d say that these are quite possibly your best option.
- Connectivity: True wireless – Bluetooth 5.0
- Features: IPX8 waterproof rating, microphone, and wireless charging case
First of all, these are true wireless earbuds. This means that there are absolutely zero cables involved – unless you don’t already have a wireless charger for your phone. In which case, you’ll obviously have to rely on a USB charger for charging the charging case.
These kinds of earbuds come with their own pros and cons. One of the best things about them is that they are extremely portable and lightweight. The bad thing about them, though, is that they can be extremely easy to lose if you’re not careful.
As far as sound is concerned, they are admittedly a bit bassy and boomy. That’s great if you love that kind of sound. But, those who want something a bit more neutral are better off looking elsewhere.
The IPX8 waterproofing, by definition, means that you can submerge these earbuds underwater at a depth of at least 1 meter. We obviously wouldn’t recommend doing such a thing but all we’re saying is that these can definitely get wet without an issue.
That’s mainly why we picked these as the best waterproof pick. In fact, it’s also our top value pick amongst the best waterproof headphones as well.
Other than that, you also get a charging case for charging the earbuds on the move. One cool thing about it is that it also supports wireless charging which is one more step towards completely eradicating the need for cables.
Speaking of battery life, you can expect to get about 4 hours of usage with these.
- Strong base
- Charging case that also supports wireless charging
- Great value
- True wireless with Bluetooth 5.0
- Mediocre battery life
2: KZ AS10
As we mentioned above, some headphones are tuned for delivering a specific sound signature. The TOZO T10s are clearly tuned for base – which is great for those who love genres that rely a lot on it.
However, if you want something a bit more neutral, you’re better off looking at in-ear monitors. And as far as monitors go for under $100, we’d say that the KZ AS10 is the best that you can get!
- Connectivity: 3.5mm cable
- Features: Removable cables and an in-line microphone (Optional)
First of all, you can choose between two variants. The first one is just the monitors without anything else while the other one includes an in-line microphone for just a few extra dollars.
As we mentioned above, its sound is much more balanced compared to the TOZO T10 or most of our picks on this list. This is good if you prefer something that’s closer to neutral but not so much for those who prefer more “colorful” or bassy headphones.
One thing that we love about them is the removable cable – even though it’s a proprietary connection on one side. That’s very useful in case you end up damaging it or it gets worn out over the long run. And that’s something that happens more often than we’d like to admit with earbuds.
Build quality is also amazing for the money and the same goes for noise isolation. In fact, this is one of the best picks on this list in terms of handling external noises and audio leakage. However, keep in mind that the variant that doesn’t have a microphone also doesn’t offer anything in terms of onboard controls.
- Balanced sound
- Great build quality
- Removable cables are a welcome addition
- The sound is a bit too warm for monitors (Which is to be expected at this price point)
Best for Gaming
As far as gaming is concerned, you’ll usually prefer over-ear headphones instead of earbuds. But, if you don’t like the clamping force of gaming headsets, earbuds may be the superior choice.
And as far as gaming-oriented earbuds are concerned, we have to say that the Razer Hammerhead is quite possibly your best pick.
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Features: Low-latency wireless connectivity, microphone, touch controls, and charging case
The first you notice with these is how many features they offer. There is a microphone, low-latency wireless connectivity, onboard controls, and even a charging case. All for just a tad under $100.
The determining factor here, though, is latency. Especially for competitive gaming. And while we probably still wouldn’t trust these enough for competitive gaming or latency-driven titles like OSU, they are more than adequate enough for any other type of game. In fact, some people even use them for titles like CS: GO – but your mileage may vary.
As per usual with Razer, the sound of these is noticeably boomy and very focused on the base. This can make them feel a bit muddy for people who have trained ears. But, in the end, that’s also a matter of personal preference.
Comfort is a step up from your average earbuds. After all, these don’t rest inside the ear canal. The only problem is that you also don’t get any options for ear tips. So, if they are too small or too large out of the box, that’s going to be a problem.
The charging case and included microphone are welcome additions. And if there’s one downside, that’s going to be the overall quality of the microphone. It’s probably one of the worst and most muddy mics we’ve ever heard.
- True wireless
- Low-latency connection (Low-latency mode needs to be activated manually, though)
- Very warm and strong base if you’re into that
- The charging case is always a welcome addition
- The base can often be a bit too warm and strong to the point of drowning out other frequencies
- Microphone quality is not good
- Mediocre battery life
- Arguably not the best value
Our Budget Pick
In the audiophile world, anything under $100 is considered a budget option. And when you have earbuds that can easily surpass the $800 mark, sure, $100 is nothing. Still, some people just want something to get them through the day for as cheap as possible.
If that’s what you’re after, we’d recommend taking a look at one of Sony’s budget options, the MDREX15AP (Yes, they could work a bit on their naming scheme).
- Connectivity: Wired (3.5mm)
- Features: In-line microphone (Optional)
The variant that doesn’t include a microphone costs less than $10. So, that’s pretty much as cheap as you can go without completely butchering quality.
That said, do keep in mind that these are all-around mediocre earbuds at best – which is to be expected at this price point.
Sound, build quality, noise isolation, microphone; all just acceptable. We’d only recommend these for basic use.
- Extremely cheap
- Gets the job done for basically nothing
- All-around mediocre earbuds (Which is to be expected at this price point)
- A few quality control issues
If you don’t care too much about waterproofing or gaming, we’d say that these are by far the best-sounding earbuds on this list. In fact, they are one of the best-sounding earbuds we’ve ever generally used. If you take soundstage out of the picture, they compete with some pretty decent over-ear headphones as well.
- Connectivity: Wireless – Bluetooth 5.0
- Features: 3 sensors, microphone, IPX2 splash-proof, customizable with software, touch controls, and portable charging case
First of all, keep in mind that the IP certification doesn’t mean that you can trust these with water. IPX2 is one of the lowest water resistance ratings and means that your device can handle tiny splashes but that’s about it. We’d recommend keeping these completely dry if you can.
According to Samsung, these earbuds offer pleasant, neutral sound. And that’s kind of true. They are a tiny bit too sharp and at times boomy for neutral headphones. But, for sub-100 dollar earbuds, they sound absolutely amazing. You’ll have a rough time finding anything better even at higher price points.
One thing that the Galaxy Buds offer that we don’t often see with other earbuds is extreme customization. You can use their app to locate them if you lose them, you can adjust how much external noise “passes” through them when you’re outdoors, there are various equalizer presets, and more.
Also, another thing to keep in mind is that you can charge the battery case through your phone (If the phone itself supports that feature). This is an enormous plus for portability as the earbuds have relatively tiny batteries when compared to smartphones.
Speaking of batteries, the Galaxy Buds can give you up to 6 hours when you use them for music and up to 5 for talking.
- Great sound
- Comfortable as far as in-ears go
- Tons of features with the use of the app
- The portable case is always a welcome addition
- Decent battery life for earbuds
- One of the most expensive picks on this list
- No waterproofing despite the relatively high price tag
These are our top picks for earbuds under 100. Here is all you need to know about them as quickly as possible:
- TOZO T10: Our top waterproof pick. This is what you want if protection against water and dust takes priority over everything else for you. The only downside is the somewhat short battery life and boomy sound
- KZ AS10: One of the best choices for those who want monitors on a budget. But if you don’t like neutral sound tuning, you’re probably going to hate them
- Razer Hammerhead True Wireless: Good choice if you need wireless earbuds for gaming thanks to their low latency mode. Just keep in mind that they are not the best pick for competitive titles
- Sony MDREX15AP: The cheapest pick on this list. It doesn’t offer the same sound, comfort, or build that the other earbuds do. But, that’s to be expected at this price point
- Samsung Galaxy Buds (2019): These are the best-sounding earbuds here and also the ones that offer the most customization apps through the app. Our only complaint is that they don’t offer waterproofing (Though there is a low level of water resistance)
That’s all for now. If you want to ask any questions or make any other recommendations, feel free to let us know about them in the comments section.