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Best headphones under £100

Best headphones under £100 Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best headphones you can buy under £100 in 2021.

Great headphones don't have to cost a fortune. While pricier models do generally sound and perform better, there are some brilliant cheap headphones under £100.

You don't have to sacrifice features, either. True wireless earbuds, standard wireless headphones and even noise-cancelling headphones are all available for less than £100. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Sure, even the best headphones under £100 won't challenge models higher up the product chain, but they will do what they set out to do: be excellent headphones for those on a budget. And we should know – we've tested all the headphones listed below. So what's on offer?

True wireless buds are the ultimate in convenience – there are no wires whatsoever, they're literally two buds you pop in your ears. If you're looking for no tangles, or don't like the idea of a neckband slapping your nape while you run, you should consider a true wireless pair.

Wireless headphones come in on-ear and over-ear designs – the latter usually have a neckband or cable joining the two earbuds. Some people really don't mind this, so they're still worth considering. And they're usually cheaper than a true wireless pair. On-ear wireless headphones usually come with a cable so you can plug them in if you don't want to drain the battery (while listening at home, for example).

Noise-cancellers block out background noise, which is handy for getting some shut-eye on a long plane journey, or just drowning out the office hubbub. They come in both on-ear and in-ear versions. That's what to look out for. Now let's get to our pick of the best headphones under £100.

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: SoundMagic)

1. SoundMagic E11C

A great pair of cheap in-ear headphones for less than £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: In-ear | Cable: 1.2m | Controls: In-line remote and mic | Compatible: Android/iOS | Connector: 3.5mm

Reasons to Buy

Entertaining listen
Have remote and mic
Easy to drive

Reasons to Avoid

Imperfect timing

One listen to these wallet-friendly in-ears, and you'll struggle to believe that SoundMagic was only formed as recently as 2005. In that short time it's built a reputation as a maker of some of the best budget headphones around. And these are some of its best. Sound quality is excellent, while there's also an in-line remote and mic for taking hands-free calls. And all for around £50. Incredible. 

Read the full SoundMagic E11C review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: EarFun)

2. Earfun Air

Affordable and feature-packed wireless earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7 hours (35 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Punchy, expansive sound
Great feature set
Classy build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Treble needs more refinement

From the spec sheet, the Earfun Air seem too good to be true. They have voice assistance, with two mics per earpiece, a wireless charging case that supports Qi wireless charging and Bluetooth 5.0 support. They're waterproof IPX7 rated, so they can be submerged in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes, and battery life is an impressive 35 hours. There are also touch controls and in-ear detection tech to pause playback when you remove them.

That kind of feature set usually commands a three-figure sum, but these cost around half that.

Thankfully, they deliver. They feel a lot more expensive than they are, they're a dream to use, and the Bluetooth connection remains stable. They even sound pretty great for the money, with a pleasant and spacious presentation and enthusiastic, energetic and accurate bass.

Until now, we’ve never awarded five stars to a set of true wireless headphones at this budget level – despite testing models from well-known and highly respected audio brands. This is the first. If you’re after something inexpensive that’ll sound good on the treadmill, the Earfun Air buds could just be the ideal proposition.

Read the full Earfun Air review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: AKG)

3. AKG Y400

A fantastic addition to the world of wireless headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: 3.5mm | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 20 hours

Reasons to Buy

Expansive, detailed presentation
Impeccable timing
Classy build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

These launched at just over £100, but don't pay full price – they're now available for around £80. Which is fantastic value.

Why? Because they're a superb pair of headphones. They're slightly smaller than the previous and rather splendid Y500, but feel reassuringly familiar. Despite this familiarity, plenty about them has changed. There’s a 36mm driver in each earpiece, which is smaller than the 40mm drivers in the previous model. The closed-back circular earcups are smaller too, and very much on-ear – they rest on, but do not entirely cover, your shell-likes.

The earcups rotate to lie flat and fold up inside the headband for transport, making them even more portable than the older model. They are well-cushioned and, because the extension point is situated lower on the new, thinner headband, the clamping force on the Y400s isn’t too tight and is easy to adjust.

They have advanced features like Ambient Aware and Wearer Detection, and the wireless connection is always reliable. Despite the smaller drivers and earcups, they still deliver an open, layered and zealous presentation. A top wireless buy for those on a budget.

Read the full AKG Y400 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: JBL)

4. JBL Reflect Flow

If you’re after in-ears for sport, these are among the best we've heard under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 10 hours (30 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Detailed
Deep bass
Marathon battery

Reasons to Avoid

Dynamics could be better
Large carry case

Sporty? Like music? Don't want to spend a fortune on headphones you're going to sweat all over? The JBL Reflect Flows are for you. They're true wireless earbuds, so you won't get tangled up in cables while you work out, and there's plenty of bass to spur you on. The battery will last a healthy 10 hours too, or 30 with the carry case. That's long enough to do an Ironman. 

Read the full JBL Reflect Flow review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

5. Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd

Chirpy-sounding and relatively cheap, these sub-£100 headphones are real high-flyers.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: In-ear | Cable: 1.2m | Controls: In-line remote and mic | Compatible: Android/iOS | Connector: 3.5mm

Reasons to Buy

Balanced audio
Clear and detailed
Great sense of rhythm

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

These Byrds are cheep as anything (sorry), and a superb option if you're looking to upgrade your in-ears. They're easy to listen to, yet still manage to be captivating, which is quite something at this price. Highly recommended.

Read the full Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Future)

6. Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEi

Sennheiser's superb in-ears are a steal at the money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Cable length: 130cm | Features: Closed back | In-line remote: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Comfy
Eye-catching design
Clear sound

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing at this price

Some cheap headphones look like they were plucked straight from the bargain bin. But these are way classier. Their red and black paint job is definitely eye catching, and they're full of little details that make them feel more premium. They fit securely without ever being uncomfortable, and the sound is as smooth and balanced as their more expensive stablemates. An excellent choice for those shopping at the cheaper end of the market.

Read the full Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEi review

Sony WF-XB700

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony WF-XB700

Sporty budget buds that are reliable across the board.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Clear, punchy sound
Decent battery life
Comfortable, lightweight build

Reasons to Avoid

Rivals offer more detail
easonably large earbud design

Sony's top-end headphones are some of the best money can buy, but its budget models are also some of the finest of their kind. Though the WF-XB700 are the cheapest model in Sony’s true wireless stable, they aren’t simply a watered-down version of the Award-winning WF-1000XM3. Instead, they're part of Sony's Extra Bass range, and are tuned to emphasise low-frequency response. Their design is also aimed at fitness fanatics who value sweat-resistance and an ergonomic fit.

They really are very good indeed. There's no noise-cancelling, but the 18-hour battery life is very healthy indeed, and the Bluetooth connection remains stable. And their IPX4 water resistance rating protects them against ‘water splashing’, so if your ears perspire during workouts or you’re caught in a rain shower, the XB700 have you covered.

The Extra Bass label does as promised, lending tracks a hefty low end which is complemented by decent punch and pleasing tautness and agility. While bass-heavy performances can often overshadow mid and high frequencies, that isn’t the case here. Fitness fans on a budget, look no further.

Read the full Sony WF-XB700 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Beats)

8. Beats Flex

Fun and fuss-free wireless Beats headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No

Reasons to Buy

Punchy lows
Durable build
Extra features for iOS users

Reasons to Avoid

Treble is rounded off
Fit may be an issue

The Beats Flex are a step up from Apple's bog-standard Lightning wired buds. They’re available in some fresh hues (including the Yuzu yellow sample before you), they charge via USB-C, have a 12-hour battery life, and courtesy of one-tap audio share you can split sounds with nearby Beats or AirPod headphones (provided you have an iPhone 8 or later running iOS 14). And they're very affordable, too.

Four ear tip options gives a good chance of finding a decent fit, and the cable is flat, like a strand of tagliatelle. Magnets keep the earbuds together when not in use.

Pairing is a doddle (even more so using an Apple device). They don't support some iOS 14 features, including automatic switching to another device or hands-free Siri‌ support. And there’s no noise-cancelling either, but with the correct seal you’ll still enjoy good levels of passive noise isolation.

Audio quality is good, but not great. There's just not the same impact that the best at this price manage to pull off. Still, the Flex offer a considered, smooth sound profile that’s preferable to one that is harsh or bright through the upper frequencies. A solid  bet at this end of the market.

Read the full Beats Flex review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Final)

9. Final E500

The price may be small, but the sound certainly isn’t.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: 3.5mm | Cable length: 1.2m | In-line remote and mic: No | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: No | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: N/A

Reasons to Buy

Clear and insightful
Agility through mids and treble
Light and comfortable

Reasons to Avoid

Bass needs more control
Cable is basic

Final (sometimes called S’NEXT Final) is a Japanese audio firm founded in 2007, noted for its wide range of headphones. At just £20, the E500 wired in-ears are the cheapest pair of headphones in Final’s extensive arsenal of listening gear.

They're light, at just 15g, while the cable is a robust but basic affair. There’s no in-line mic or volume control and the 3.5mm headphone jack means you’ll need a dongle for use with an iOS device. 

They fit well, and provide a decent level of sound isolation. Inside is the same driver as Final's models that cost 10 times as much. And it shows. Sound is bursting with energy and clarity, and there's plenty of separation between each musical note. They're a definite step up from many a smartphone-bundled pair of wired in-ears. And that's worth £20 of anyone's money.

Read the full Final E500 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: JVC)

10. JVC HA-ETR40

An affordable sports in-ear that nails both comfort and sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Cable length: 60-120cm | Features: Ambient ear plugs | Waterproof: IPX7 washable

Reasons to Buy

Balanced sound
Bags of detail
Stay put

Reasons to Avoid

Could be subtler
Mic lacks volume controls
No case

These in-ears are made for sports, though they're wired rather than wireless. They fit securely, stay put, and feel comfortable enough to forget about while you focus on your workout. They're waterproof enough to rinse under a tap after you're done exercising, and they sound good enough to listen to for hours.

Read the full JVC HA-ETR40 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: AKG)

11. AKG K72

Affordable over-ears for the home with a big, bold and balanced sound.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Closed-back | Headband: Self-adjusting | Cable: 3m

Reasons to Buy

Value for money
Comfy

Reasons to Avoid

Coloured, boxy mids

Home listening doesn't get more bargainous than this. The K72s offer an expansive soundscape, with plenty of width and scale, and enough bass to keep your head nodding without ever becoming overbearing. Altogether a more grown-up and detailed pair of headphones than most similarly-priced rivals.

Read the full AKG K72 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Sony)

12. Sony WH-CH700N

Very capable wireless noise-cancellers for under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 35hr | Charging: Micro USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Detailed, musical performance
Tight bass
Great battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Could sound more refined
Bettered for noise-cancelling

If you like going a long time between recharging, this is the pair for you. The 700N last a marathon 35 hours before needing juicing up, which should last most people a week of commuting and still leave plenty for the weekend. The noise-cancelling might not be as accomplished as in Sony's more expensive cans, but it's still a great addition at this price. And the Bluetooth connection is solid, providing a seamless wireless listening experience.

Read the full Sony WH-CH700N review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Lindy)

13. Lindy BNX-60

Bluetooth, noise-cancelling, very acceptable audio, and all for under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connectivity: Bluetooth | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 15hr | Adapter: 6.3mm | Charging: USB

Reasons to Buy

Detailed sound
Noise-cancelling and wireless

Reasons to Avoid

Muffled treble

Just having wireless and noise-cancelling at this price is a massive bonus, so the fact they work well is even more welcome. Pairing is simple, while the noise-cancelling blocks out the vast majority of unwanted noise. Some models around this price range are all bright treble or booming bass, but these deliver a balanced sound that's easy on the ear. And for £80, you can't really ask for more.

Read the full Lindy BNX-60 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: SoundMagic)

14. SoundMagic TWS50

Light, comfortable and impressively affordable true wireless earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Open, airy sound
Good detail
Light and comfy design

Reasons to Avoid

Dynamics and timing could be better
Fiddly case

SoundMagic has a reputation for producing good budget headphones and the TWS50s are worth investigating. They're the company's first pair of true wireless earbuds and they offer a comfy fit and full-bodied sound for the money.

Battery life is around six hours, while the charging case adds another four extra charges giving 30 hours in total. Touch-sensitive buttons on each bud control playback and volume through a series of taps.

 Read the full SoundMagic TWS50 review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

15. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

Solid sound and a comfortable fit make these a good budget buy.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to Buy

Fun
Full sound

Reasons to Avoid

No aptX Bluetooth
No NFC

Skullcandy's headphones can be a little... divisive, with their bass-heavy sound and brash branding. But this wireless take on its Smokin' Buds 2 in-ears is a welcome change. The branding is nice and subtle, and the neckband is removable, so you can take it off if you don't like it. As you would expect at this price, there's little in the way of extras – no NFC, aptX Bluetooth or fast charging. A three-button remote and fastener for keeping the headphones together when not in use is about all you get. Still, they're solid performers, and very attractively priced indeed. Well worth a look.

Read the full Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless review

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: JBL)

16. JBL Tune600BTNC

A punchy, powerful pair of budget, noise-cancelling and Bluetooth headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 22hr | Charging: Micro USB | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Punchy and powerful
Deep bass
Effective noise-cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Aggressive balance
Scratches easily

Proof noise-cancelling headphones need not cost the earth. These are comfortable, have a long (22-hour) battery life, and built-in volume and playback controls. They sound powerful and punchy, with lashings of bass and exciting dynamics. Problems? The bass can be a little too much at times, drowning out some detail in the recording, and the plastic scratches too easily. But if you can live with these minor quibbles, these will serve you well.

Read the full JBL Tune600BTNC review 

Best headphones under £100: great sound on a budget

(Image credit: Shure)

17. Shure SE215

Like bass? Then you'll like these affordable in-ear headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: In-ear | Features: Soft flex sleeves, foam sleeves | Cable: 3.5mm detachable cable

Reasons to Buy

Great build and features
Full sound
Excellent mids

Reasons to Avoid

Could be more exciting

Shure isn't known for its sub-£100 headphones, which makes these all the more noteworthy. They borrow features from the firm's pricier models, like a reinforced Kevlar cable, a vast array of bundled buds and the standard carry case. Sonically, they're warm and detailed, with an unexpected – but not unwelcome – weight and richness to the bass. You sacrifice some detail and excitement, but if it's a smooth, bassy delivery you're after, look no further.

Read the full Shure SE215 review