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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. All styles of headphones (including wireless, noise-cancelling and over-ear) 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: Klipsch T5 M Wired

(Image credit: Klipsch)

1. Klipsch T5 M Wired

Want to upgrade your in-ears? Check out these budget earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: 3.5mm | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: No

Reasons to Buy

Impressive, comfortable fit
Detailed, dynamic sound
Even tonal balance

Reasons to Avoid

Can generate cable noise
No volume control

Klipsch's budget buds picked up a What Hi-Fi? Award in 2019, and the two years since have not dulled their appeal.

Their oval silicone tips are some of the most comfortable out there. Underneath them, the 5mm dynamic drivers kick out powerful and punchy bass with exquisite precision. They give a good sense of space no matter whether you're using them for streaming Spotify or watching Netflix and their dynamic quality reveals a host of sonic subtleties you wouldn't expect from such budget headphones.

Even the cable is a little bit special, with Klipsch's trademark specks of copper embedded within it. They're sweat- and water-resistant too, so should bear up fine during most workouts. Though remember they're not specifically a sports pair of headphones – if you're running an Ironman, you'll want something built for the task.

But anyone looking to upgrade their headphones without breaking the bank needs to give these great musical performers a try. They are quite simply the best headphones under £100.

Read the full Klipsch T5 M Wired review

Best headphones under £100: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

A new, lower price makes these some of the best headphones under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: Up to 45 hours | Charging: USB-C | In-line mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Extra ounce of dynamic expression
Great clarity for the level
Slick app support

Reasons to Avoid

No noise-cancelling

Cambridge’s compact, fuss-free and affordable design in its original Melomania 1 true wireless earbuds was a hit with us the first time around in 2019. The addition of a slicker paint-job, app support for EQ customisation and the step-up in sonic detail and refinement – without the anticipated price hike – only makes us want to heap extra praise upon the new Melomania 1 Plus.

They recently had their price slashed to under £100, which qualifies them for this list.

While the original Melomania 1 can now be had for a significant discount – where available, as they have been discontinued – we’d still point you towards this updated model. There’s no noise-cancelling onboard, but those who don’t need shouldn't hesitate to add these latest Melomanias to their shortlist. For an engaging, detailed, expansive listen, the Melomania 1 Plus are very much in the running for best at this level.

Read the full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

Best headphones under £100: SoundMagic E11C

(Image credit: SoundMagic)

3. 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 relatively short time, it's built a reputation for some of the best headphones under £100. 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: Panasonic RZ-S500W

(Image credit: Panasonic)

4. Panasonic RZ-S500W

A hugely talented and affordable pair of earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth version: 5.0 | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6.5 hours (+ 13 hours from charging case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Expansive detailed presentation
Excellent noise cancelling
Superb touch controls

Reasons to Avoid

Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of the best headphones under £100. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into wireless noise-cancelling earbuds and they're sensational performers for the price.

Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss. 

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we'd definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic earbuds are superb for the money. A great buy, even if you're not trying to keep the cost below £100.

Read the full Panasonic RZ-S500W review

Best headphones under £100: Earfun Air Pro

(Image credit: EarFun)

5. Earfun Air Pro

Earfun adds noise-cancelling to its five-star wireless earbuds recipe and keeps the price under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 7hr (+18hr from case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Solid, accurate bass weight
Effective noise cancelling
Classy build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Harsh upper midrange

This Pro variant takes the standard – and excellent – Earfun Air and adds active noise cancelling (ANC), more mics and larger drivers. That all adds up to a better sonic performance as well as clearer voice calls – very handy if you're out and about in noisy environments.

And considering the spec sheet, the price remains jaw-droppingly low – a staple of Earfun's approach.

The headphones pair easily, and they're comfortable enough for even the longest of conference calls. The controls are a doddle to use, too. Two taps on the right bud pauses or resumes playback; three skips to the next track. Double tapping the left earpiece accesses Siri on your iPhone and also answers or ends a call. The crucial function you’ll want to practise is a triple-tap of that left earpiece, as this scrolls between the Earfun’s noise-cancelling, ‘normal’ and ‘ambient sound’ modes.

They're built to survive a downpour, too. All in all, it’s a lot of tech and durability, especially for headphones under £100.

Read the full Earfun Air Pro review

Best headphones under £100: Sennheiser CX 400BT

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

6. Sennheiser CX 400BT

Sennheiser throws its hat in the ring with these excellent headphones under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7hr (+13hr from case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Lively, detailed sound
Lightweight fit
Excellent value for money

Reasons to Avoid

Battery life below the best
Not waterproof

The CX 400BT are more sonically gifted than most at this price (a price that fluctuates above and below £100, so do keep an eye out).

They're not water- or sweat-resistant but they do boast Bluetooth 5.1 support and a mobile app, neither of which is a given at this level. The former promises high-quality, far-reaching Bluetooth transmission, while the latter opens doors to EQ adjustment and control customisation.

The controls are simple for voice calls, too. Just tap the right earbud once to activate your phone’s voice assistant or accept incoming calls, twice to jump forward a track or rejects calls, or hold it down to increase volume. Battery life is seven hours, which is decent but can be bettered in this company.

Sound quality is where the Sennheisers excel, though. They produce a detailed and lively sound with bags of energy and enthusiasm. For the money, it's hugely appealing and earbuds of this standard aren't to be sniffed at.

Read the full Sennheiser CX 400BT review

Best headphones under £100: Earfun Air

(Image credit: EarFun)

7. Earfun Air

Comfortable. Feature-packed. What more could you want from headphones 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: 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 true wireless model 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 sound good without breaking the bank, the Earfun Air buds could just be the ideal proposition.

Read the full Earfun Air review

Best headphones under £100: AKG Y400

(Image credit: AKG)

8. AKG Y400

A fantastic addition to the world of headphones under £100.

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 Y400 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: Google Pixel Buds A-Series

(Image credit: Google)

9. Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Google's buds deliver impressive sound for under £100.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5hr (+20hr from case) | Charging: USB-C | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Well-rounded, clean sound
Comfortable
Reliable connection

Reasons to Avoid

No volume touch control on buds
No noise-cancelling

iPhone users have got multiple models of AirPods to consider, but what about Android smartphone owners? We'd point them in the direction of the Pixel Buds A-Series, the latest headphones to be launched by the search giant and their best effort to date.

They're light and comfortable, and while noise cancelling is off the menu, they do a good job of isolating you. Your colour choices are either white or 'Dark Olive' and the earbuds also boast IPX4 water resistance so you can use them for general exercise and running.

The five-hour battery life isn't exactly class-leading but should be enough for most people. You also get another 20 or so from the carry case. Pairing Pixel Buds A-Series is extremely simple, especially if you're using an Android smartphone or tablet that boasts the Fast Pair feature.

Come music time, there's a lot to like about the Pixel Buds thanks to their approachable, balanced sound. It doesn't favour any part of the sonic spectrum which can't always be said for true wireless earbuds at this level. They're well-rounded performers and available at a great price.

Read the full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review

Best headphones under £100: JBL Reflect Flow

(Image credit: JBL)

10. 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 Flow are for you. They're wireless, 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: Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

11. 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 for headphones under £100. Highly recommended.

Read the full Beyerdynamic Soul Byrd review

Best headphones under £100: Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEi

(Image credit: Future)

12. 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

Best headphones under £100: Sony WF-XB700

(Image credit: Sony)

13. 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
Reasonably 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, and the Bluetooth connection remains stable. And their IPX4 water resistance rating protects them against ‘water splashing’, so if you work up a sweat or get 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: Beats Flex

(Image credit: Beats)

14. 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 AirPods headphones (provided you have an iPhone 8 or later running iOS 14). They're very affordable, too.

Four ear tip options give 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: Final E500

(Image credit: Final)

15. 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: AKG K72

(Image credit: AKG)

16. 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 K72 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: Sony WH-CH700N

(Image credit: Sony)

17. Sony WH-CH700N

Very capable headphones 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 of juice 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: Lindy BNX-60

(Image credit: Lindy)

18. 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.

Want to step up without breaking the bank? Check out the slightly upgraded Lindy BNX-80, which cost about £90, so still under £100.

Read the full Lindy BNX-60 review

Best headphones under £100: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

19. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

Solid sound and a comfortable fit make these great headphones under £100.

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

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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