Need a new pair headphones but don’t have a whole lot of cash to splash? Fear not. Whether you hanker after True Wireless, desire deep bass, want wireless Bluetooth beauties or simply need some budget noise cancelling headphones, we’ve got you covered with this guide to the best headphones under £100.
Our top five cheap(er) headphones tick all the above boxes. All you need do is decide which pair suits you best.
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Best headphones under £100: The Louder Choice
Our selection proves you really don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get great sound on the move. From Bluetooth models with great battery life, to general purpose head-fi that knows how to rock, we’ve found some badass bargains for less than a ton.
Our budget headliner comes from Cambridge Audio. The astonishing Melomania 1 earbuds outperform their price tag by a country mile, offering exceptional spatial imaging and a disproportionate level of mosh-pit slam.
If you fancy no fuss over-ears that can handle the best Rammstein riffs, then JBL's Tune 700BT should be considered a top choice. They’re enormous fun to listen to, and won’t break the bank.
Finally, for noise-cancelling that’s as cheap as chips, you won’t go far wrong with a pair of Lindy NC-60’s.
Best headphones under £100: buying advice
If you’re after the freedom offered by True Wireless earbuds, you can’t reasonably expect to find models with Active Noise Cancelling for £100 or less. The trick is to ensure you get maximum isolation from ambient noise from the buds themselves. Experiment with the memory foam and silicon tips supplied, in order to find the best fit.
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Comfort isn’t always a given at the cheaper end of the market. If you’re buying on- or over-ear headphones take a good look at the headphone band itself. Is it padded and/or lightweight? You’ll want to listen to hard rock, not wear one.
Wireless headphones top most people’s wants list these days, but if you’re also expecting to take your headphones on holiday, check that they come with a 3.5mm cable too, so you can plug them into any in-flight entertainment system.
The best headphones under £100 right now
Available in stone grey or black, Cambridge Audio’s Melomania buds may look like they belong on Lemmy’s bullet belt, but when it comes to bang for buck, they can’t be beat.
They’re light at 4.6g and boast best in class battery life, with nigh on nine hours playtime. This can be attributed to the fact that they use highly efficient Bluetooth 5.0. The latest Qualcomm chipset offers aptX and AAC support.
They ship with a diminutive charging case which has enough juice for 36 more hours playtime. The catch, of course, is that these earbuds don’t offer noise cancellation, a standard fixture higher up the True Wireless price chain.
A pair of 5.8mm graphene enhanced drivers provide a surprising amount of musical muscle, with dynamics to spare.
These Melomania’s are not sports-grade, but they are IPX5 rated for sweat and water resistance. They’ll also work with Google and Siri voice assistants
The physical interface takes a little practice to get the hang of, but persevere and you’ll soon be tapping to navigate taps and alter volume like a pro. Highly recommended.
Based on its wireless BNX-60 model, Lindy’s NC-60 noise cancelling cans are a cracking option if you’re on a tight budget. Wired for sound, they’re ideal if you're rocking a mobile with a 3.5mm stereo audio jack. A couple of AAAs will keep you entertained for around 72 hours.
Noise cancelling at this price point clearly isn’t going to be market leading (Lindy ambitiously claims an 85% reduction in ambient noise), but it is beneficial. A blue LED flashes when NC is turned on; they can be used without NC engaged, obviously.
Inside, 40mm drivers offer clarity, and spatial imaging is good (a benefit of traditional wired headphones). They also boast soft, comfortable earpads with simple on-body controls.
Shipping with a flight adapter and a hard shell carry case, for just sixty quid, they’re worth buying for travel use alone.
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These AKG’s have been around longer than the Scorpions (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration), but they still warrant a solid recommendation for budget buyers.
Unpretentious performers, they’re easy to fold or wear around your neck (thanks to a 3D-axis hinge), look cool (provided you’re down with the oversized AKG branding), and have a great battery life.
Controls on the right hand cup are straightforward to adjust volume, play/pause, skip tracks and answer/drop calls all from the earpiece control pad.
There’s no noise cancelling, obviously, but with a good fit, you’ll still enjoy a decent amount of isolation. In addition to basic Bluetooth, there’s a fallback 3.5mm wired option when you exhaust the battery.
These smart looking JBL Bluetooth over-ears also come with an optional 3.5mm audio lead, to conserve power or use when travelling.
Available in orange or white, they may lack noise cancelling (for that you’ll need to step up to the Tune 750BTNC) but they will work with Siri and Google voice assistants. A multi-point connection also allows you to share a Bluetooth connection with two devices.
The biggest value add is the stupendous battery life. 27 hours wireless playback in fact. A five minute recharge is all you need to get two additional hours of playback.
The presentation is unapologetically punchy, thanks to a pair of 40mm drivers, and weighing in at 220g, they feel pleasingly lightweight. The right-hand cup houses the usual control buttons.
Consider them good all-purpose headphones, suitable for music, gaming and late night TV binging.
The sheer pose value of these Sennheiser’s is off the chart. While they sell for sensible money. The look is cool, and they sound good too.
Bluetooth is of the highly efficient v5.0 persuasion, with support for AAC, higher-quality AptX and AptX low latency. There’s a dedicated Voice Assistant button, for speedy interaction with Siri or Google Assistant. They also boast USB-C fast charging.
There’s no noise cancelling, unsurprising given the price, but significantly there’s no option for wired 3.5mm connectivity either, which could prove a limitation for some.
Performance wise, the 350BT’s tread a careful middle ground. Sennheiser keeps everything on a tight rein, guaranteeing a smooth performance, but they’re probably not the best fit if you have a predilection for Cradle Of Filth.
We rate the over-the-ear design as comfortable, although they are a little on the small side, and some extra headband padding would have been nice.
Ultra light at just 12g, this Bluetooth neckband offers much the same wireless functionality as their over-ear siblings, the HD350BT – they support aptX Low Latency and AAC, courtesy of Bluetooth 5.0, helping them achieve a healthy 10 hours of playtime.
The four-button on-band remote control offers simple volume and pairing, plus calls and access to Siri or Google voice assistants. Multi-point connection also allows them to be paired with two devices simultaneously.
The idea of a necklet may seem a little quaint, given the charge to True Wireless, but it makes for a better sports experience (so you don’t feel you’re going to lose an ear bud).
And Sennheiser certainly knows how to deliver a big soundstage, from tiny drivers. They’re remarkably lucid and musical.
Additional features come via the brand’s Smart Control app, which allows for sound customisation via an equaliser. This includes a speech orientated podcast mode (give it a whirl with Wind Of Change – did the CIA really write the world’s most famous power ballad?)
If you’re looking for headphones in something other than regular black or white, Sony has an offer for you. Its MDR-XB650BT over ears also come in raunchy red or a metallic blue. The XB650BT’s are part of its Extra Bass line, and boast distinctive swivel ear cups which makes them easy to wear off-ear.
The cups themselves house a 30mm neodymium driver coupled to Sony Bass Booster technology; the headband has been optimised to reduce vibration, while the cushioned ear pads are designed to sit tight. NFC allows easy pairing with an NFC mobile.
Ergonomics are good. If you get a call, there’s a built-in button and mic on the headband itself. However, there’s no wired jack option, which will limit their appeal.
Not very metal, admittedly, but when the glam rock revival starts, these should be first on your list.
If you want to show your love for the likes of Arcturus and Kvelertak, then these on-ears from Norwegian audio specialist X by Kygo are well worth a shufty.
Kygo, FYI, is a Norwegian DJ, and record producer who has worked with the likes of U and Imagine Dragons. But we won’t hold that against him.
Fashionable looks and a lightweight design belie the entry-level price tag, making them an intriguing alternative choice to some of the more recognisable Hi-Fi brands.
Bluetooth is basic v4.2, but that 23 hour battery life isn’t to be sniffed at.
A foldable design makes for easy storage in the supplied carry pouch, and the ear cups use forgiving memory foam cushions. Available in white, black or grey finishes, the A3/600 ship with an audio cable colour matched to the headphones. Attention to detail is everything.