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10 best budget headphones under £100

The headphones market is booming as MP3 players and smartphones allow music on the move.

Unfortunately, the earphones bundled with a phone or music player don't tend to be very good – even the Apple EarPods. So if you really want to make the most of your tunes, we'd recommend upgrading.

The good news is you don't need to spend a fortune for good sound. The best headphones around cost hundreds of pounds, but there are plenty of earphones under £50 and £100 that represent brilliant sound-per-pound value.

We've rounded up 10 of our favourite pairs of budget headphones, from in-ear, to on-ear, to over-ear, all available for under £100.

Best budget headphones 2014

AKG K451

Tested at £130 - Now available for £50

We've mentioned these AKG headphones several times before in our best product round-ups, and there's a perfectly good reason: the K451s have won our Product of the Year title for the past two years (and the K450 predecessor won in 2011). We simply cannot fault them. They are light, comfortable and produce an excellent sound for the money. The new low price makes them a steal.

MORE: AKG K451 review

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Audio Technica ATH-M50

Tested at £130 – now available from £79

More suited for home listening due to the coiled cable and chunky design, the M50s deliver a sound packed full of detail.

They provide a healthy amount of bass without being overpowering and loudness is handled with ease. The Audio Technica ATH-M50s are well worth having on your shortlist.

MORE: Audio Technica ATH-M50 review

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Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE

Tested at £64

Prefer a pair of budget in-ear headphones? These Beyerdynamics were the 2013 Award-winner and offer fantastic performance-per-pound. They will happily handle any genre thrown at them, delivering a balanced and controlled performance.

MORE: Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE review

Philips Fidelio S1

Tested at £70

The S1s are a fantastic first venture for Philips into the Fidelio range of headphones. They give a clean and balanced presentation, with an impressive delivery of vocals.

They may not deliver the most dynamic sound, but for the price they still impress. The ergonomic design and black/red finish make them rather stylish too.

MORE: Philips Fidelio S1 review

RHA MA750i

Tested at £90

They may take an unusually long time to run in, but the MA750is offer a clean and balanced presentation once they're ready. There's plenty of bass if that's your bag, even if they can be a little over-bearing at times.

If you're used to getting through plenty of pairs of buds, then the impressive build and design quality make these built to last.

MORE: RHA MA750i review

Sennheiser MM70

Tested at £70

Sennheiser has once again delivered a well-rounded and capable pair of in-ears. Basic in the best sense of the word, the MM70s are an unfussy, utterly reliable upgrade to your smartphone sound quality.

MORE: Sennheiser MM70 review

Sennheiser X320

Tested at £70

This is the best gaming headset we've come across, with the X320s offering a detailed, spacious performance, ideally suited to assist with stealthy gaming missions. The microphone projects your voice rather well too.

MORE: Sennheiser X320 review

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Sony XBA-2iP

Okay, so these XBA 2iPs aren't under £100. They can be picked up for around £110 but also of interest are the XBA2 counterparts, which are under £100. The only difference on paper is the three button in-line microphone.

The mic-enabled headphones won an Award in 2012 for their spacious delivery, agility and precision. Splash out on those or take a punt on the non-mic version, which we're confident should deliver good performance.

MORE: Sony XBA-2iP review

SoundMagic E10

Tested at £35

No headphone recommendation list would be complete without the SoundMagic E10 earphones. The deserved winners of a What Hi-Fi? Award for the past three years, they produce a sound that belies their price.

An all-round performer, all aspects of audio recordings are handled with ease. If you're looking for a cheap but effective upgrade to your bundled buds, look no further.

MORE: SoundMagic E10 review

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Thinksound ts02+mic

Tested at £90

These 'eco-friendly' in-ears reproduce sound with impressive clarity and detail. They manage to stay composed when the volume is increased and display a good sense of timing. A renewable wood casing, PVC-free cable and cotton carry pouch make these ideal for the environmentally-conscious among us. Or if you just like the style...

MORE: Thinksound ts02+mic review

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MORE: Best in-ear headphones 2014

MORE: Best wireless headphones 2014

by Max Langridge

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