10 Best Earbuds Under $100 of 2016

Sound quality is often one of the most important factors in choosing headphones, after all, good sound is the reason we listen to music and audiobooks in the first place. But for most consumers cost also plays a big role. We want decent sound, but can’t always drop a ton of cash to do so. That’s why searched for the best earbuds under 100 dollars then compiled this reference guide to help you decide which pair are right for you.

Here, we’ll share our favorites, explain their characteristics, and thoroughly review our top five. You’ll get excellent sound quality without putting a hole in your pocket.

The Guide to Best Earbuds Under 100 Bucks

PictureNameMicrophoneRating (1-5)
PictureNameMicrophoneRating (1-5)
1. A-Audio A41 High Definition Earphones, Black/ChromeYes4.7
2. Brainwavz S5 In Ear Noise Isolating HeadphonesNo4.5
3. Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones, BlackYes/No4.4
4. Thinksound ts02+mic 8mm Noise Isolating Wooden Headphone with universal 1 button microphone (Black/Chocolate)Yes4.3
5. Creative Aurvana 3 In-Ear Noise-Isolating HeadphonesNo4.2
6. Sony MDREX58V/BLK EX Series Earbud HeadphonesNo4.2
7. Shure SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriverNo4.1
8. Bose SIE2 Sport Headphones - GreenYes/No4.1
9. Pioneer SE-CX8-K Headphone, Indigo BlackYes4.0
10. AudioTechnica ATH-ANC33iS QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-ear Headphones (Black)Yes4.0

Styles of Headphones

Headphones come in a variety of styles. Each one offers a unique set of pros and cons depending on where you plan to use them.

Over-ear. Over-ear headphones, also called circum-aural, consist of large cans that fit around your entire ear with a cushion that rests against your head. They create a nearly complete seal that does a good job at keeping pretty much all sound separated. It keeps what you’re listening to from seeping outside, and outside noise from bothering what you’re listening to.

They’re the style of choice if you expect to be in noisy environments such as public transportation where you want to make sure no outside sound filters in. They’re also an excellent choice for use in quiet places like the library because your music won’t disturb your neighbors.

On-ear. On-ear headphones are sometimes called supra-aural, and similar to over-ear styles. Both have large cans with a thick cushion but these fit a bit differently. The pads of on-ear headphones rest atop your outer ear instead of enveloping your whole ear. It’s possible for some sound to leak past the headphones.

On-ear headphones are good to use when you need to stay aware of your surroundings, like when out for a run. They’re also suitable when it’s okay for sound to leak.

Earbuds. Unlike the other choices that fit outside of your ears, these small devices fit directly inside your ear. When fitted properly in-ear headphones keep sounds separated just as well as the over-ear style.

Everyone’s ear canals are shaped differently so brands offer several tips so that you can find the one that creates a good seal. Loose buds leak and alter sound while tight ones pinch and become painful.

The in-ear style is your first choice during traveling or whenever portability is important. Once you find the right size eartip they’re another option when you really need to keep noise outside.

Open-back versus Closed-back

Headphones are characterized by the housing of its earcups: open-back or closed-back. Each has a different effect on the way sound is heard through the unit.

Open-back earbuds have slits or holes in the outside of the cans. This allows sound and air to travel freely through the earbuds. They’re not appropriate for use near other people because ambient sound and music are not separated. Listening to open-back headphones is like having a stereo playing within a room you are located in. You can hear the music around you, but you also hear everything else.

Closed-back earbuds are opposite of open-back and have no slits to allow the transfer of sound. This makes them suitable for any environment. Because these block outside noise so well sounds feel like they are inside your head. Listening to music through closed-back earbuds sound like nothing exists except music.

Top 5 Best Earbuds Under 100 Bucks Reviews

1. A-Audio A41

A-Audio appeals to your desire for sophisticated aesthetics and extra options with its A41.

The design of the A41 is simple but definitely not subdued. The buds themselves are fairly small but feature a bright chrome and black finish. Its beveled edge adds an even more decisive touch.

A-Audio made sure to include a couple options on the A41 that will come in handy for the mobile user. The built-in microphone and remote make it easy to toggle between phone calls and music. Next to the microphone are the unit’s volume controls. We found the controls both easy to reach and easy to operate.

Listening to the A41 was an absolutely pleasant experience and satisfies your every need. It’s not audiophile grade sound, of course, but nonetheless well-balanced.

Your search for the best earbuds under $100 is over if you like the A41 by A-Audio.

2. Brainwavz S5 In Ear Noise Isolating Headphones

The S5 by Brainwavz is a powerful hitter within a small unit. Its light durable construction combined with awesome sound makes the S5 an easy contender for one of the best earbuds for under $100.

Instead of the usual cord that dangles under each ear of regular earbuds, the S5 fits a bit differently. Its cord wraps over the top and down the back of your ear. This arrangement seems weird at first but is actually quite comfortable because it distributes weight so evenly. The buds didn’t feel at all like they would fall out of our ears. Additionally, the cables are completely flat so they stay tangle free.

Brainwavz created a full soundstage that does justice to any genre of music. Its closed-back design accentuates bass without sacrificing quality high tones. The S5 even performs well during live and acoustic performances.

S5 by Brainwavz is a well-built affordable product.

3. Bose SoundTrue

Bose secured our third spot for the best earbuds under $100 with its economical SoundTrue. The SoundTrue upholds Bose’s high standards of build and sound quality.

The first things you notice about the SoundTrue are its prominent ear hook and bright colors. Most earhooks are thin pieces of plastic prone to pinching and moving. But Bose’s large surface sits comfortably; balancing the weight of the buds. Bose stepped out of its typical uniform scheme by making the SoundTrue available in a variety of colors.

Bose decided to keep the soundstage and signature they’re known for. And that’s by no means a bad thing. You’ll experience a clean balanced soundstage that doesn’t lack in low tones. High notes shine through without sounding canned. And there’s no distortion at high volume like some budget styles.

Bose continually hits the mark and the SoundTrue is no different. If you’re after clarity then this is your choice.

4. Thinksound ts02+mic

Thinksound’s ts02 features a minimalist real wood construction that is environmentally friendly as well as budget friendly.

The ts02 consists of a simple wood barrel and PVC-free eartips. Thinksound uses only easily renewable sources for its headphones and packaging. All parts of the ts02 are recyclable including the headphones themselves, the cardboard box and its plastic window are recyclable.

The ts02’s 50 inch cable is more than ample enough to be comfortable. It’s long enough to conceal under clothes and has enough extra so that your mobile device is maneuverable.

The sound signature of the ts02 is acceptable for its price-point. The wood design gives more resonance than plastic or metal units allowing for a natural bass sound. It also keeps the highs from sounding as harsh as expected. Some distortion is apparent at high volume but it was a volume that would be too high to listen to for long anyway.

Overall, Thinksound’s ts02 is an affordable alternative to traditional plastic headphones.

5. Creative Aurvana 3

The Aurvana 3 by Creative is reminiscent of professional monitors in both styling and sound.

Like professional in-ear buds, these are constructed of a rectangular housing and angled eartip. The plastic housing is glossy reflective plastic but somehow still maintains a subdued appearance. Smooth rubber cords dangle lightly from each side.

Aurvana 3 didn’t skimp on sound either. It features a robust range and acceptable bass. It emphasizes mid-range tones but not at a loss to other sounds.

Aurvana 3 easy styling and superb sound make this a great option for anyone.

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