Wireless Headphones Under $100
If you’re looking to either replace or add a set of Bluetooth headphones to your collection without breaking the bank, you’re in the right place. There are plenty of options ranging from truly wireless earbuds all the way up to over-ear headphones. If you’re looking for the best overall headphones, look no further than the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2, which offer the best balance of portability and quality.
Best Overall: OnePlus Bullets 2 Wireless
The OnePlus Bullets 2 Wireless are the pinnacle of great wireless earbuds. They’re not too ambitious and don’t pack features such as being truly wireless with a wireless charging case. But they do offer handy features such as pausing when the two buds magnetically attach, and warp charging, getting you an impressive 10 hours of listening in a 10 minute charge.
In terms of sound, the Bullets 2 are great for their size. They have a small bump in bass with a rather neutral midrange and treble. The soundstage and dynamic range is decent. The Bullets 2 support all the major Bluetooth audio codecs such as SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX-HD to ensure the highest quality wireless sound.
Unfortunately, they don’t offer any sort of active noise cancelation (ANC) so you’ll still get quite a bit of noise leaking in when jamming out to Taylor Swift.
However, you will get support for hands-free Google Assistant, though. Simply say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” and summon the Assistant. In addition, you’ll get in-line audio controls including volume. Which, is becoming harder and harder to come by in Bluetooth earbuds.
When not paired to a OnePlus device such as a computer or tablet, the Bullets 2 function as standard Bluetooth earbuds. You don’t get the fast pairing or hands-free Assistant.
- Warp charging
- aptX-HD Bluetooth codec support
- Hands-free Google Assistant
- In-line audio controls
- Not great with non-OnePlus devices
- Active noise cancelation (ANC)
Great, non-gimmicky features
Excellent sound, ridiculously long battery life and fast charging, and high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs.
Best Over Ear: Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT
The Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT is the only set of over-ear headphones on our list, and for good reason. Sennheiser is a reputable high-end headphone brand known for making some of the best headphones in the business. The HD 4.40 BT are no exceptions to this rule.
While they don’t do any nifty features, they focus on the fundamentals. The HD 4.40 BT offer up to 25 hours of battery life on a single charge. Unfortunately they charge via microUSB instead of USB-C.
They feature a warm sound signature which equates to thumpy, boosted bass, with a neutral mid-range and a recessed treble. It’s a warm sound signature but not a Beats-style blow-your-head-off-with-bass type sound. In addition, you’ll get SBC, AAC, and aptX as your audio codecs. While it’s nothing crazy like aptX-HD, or LDAC, which offer even higher wireless fidelity. But this also guarantees support wether you’re using a $1,000 iPhone, or $400 Pixel 3a that you’ll get great sound.
Other connections include NFC pairing on capable Android headsets. This lets you quickly pair your headset to an Android device without having to fire up your Bluetooth settings or enter pairing mode.
In terms of portability, they’re able to be folded up and stowed away. While slightly heavy, the HD 4.40 BT are super comfortable on the head and shouldn’t cause any issues with ear fatigue or pain on the crown of your head.
- NFC pairing
- aptX Bluetooth codec
- Foldable design
- Bass boosted, warmer sound
Best Over Ear
Solid over ear tunes
The HD 4.40 BT from Sennheiser brings great audio to a ridiculously low price. They don’t include any fancy features such as ANC, auto-play/pause, or touch controls but they get the job done.
Best Truly Wireless: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air
Looking for great truly wireless earbuds without breaking the bank? Look no further than the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air. They offer exceptional sound with a relatively flat sound signature. It may have a slight overemphasis in the upper treble region which equates to slight sibilance and harsher vocals and instruments such as the hi-hat in a drum kit.
As is typical with most Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, the soundstage is pretty narrow and the dynamic range is missing quite a bit due to Bluetooth compression. And while they don’t have volume control on the earbuds whatsoever, these Bluetooth 5.0-enabled have basic media controls such as play/pause and skipping forward and back. In terms Bluetooth codecs, these only support SBC and AAC.
They feature an in-ear design which helps not only seal your ears but with overall stability. The Soundcore Liberty Air comes with the standard small, medium, and large ear tips. In terms of battery life, they’ll afford you 5 hours on a single charge, with up to 20 hours of total battery life with the charging case. Speaking of the case, it’s nothing special. There’s no wireless charging and it uses microUSB to charge.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- AAC BT codec
- Long battery life
- Media controls on buds
- microUSB charging
- Lack of aptX/HD/LL BT codecs
- Volume control
Best Truly Wireless
Truly wire-free with great battery life, sound, and future-proofed with Bluetooth 5.0.
Best Workout Earbuds: JLab JBuds Air
Truly wireless earbuds are fantastic for working out and the JBuds Air from JLab are no exception. They feature almost all of the basics that truly wireless earbuds typically come with: auto on/off and play/pause, and earbud independent audio playback. This means you can go early 2000s headset style and just have one earbud in your ear.
In terms of sound quality, these are as expected for workout/sports earbuds. A V-shaped sound signature which equates to thumping bass and slightly elevated treble.
Being a set of truly wireless earbuds, this also means they come with a charging case. On its own, the earbuds will last up to 4 hours on a single charge, with the charging case netting you an additional 14 hours. The only real downside of the charging case is that it has an integrated charging cable. This means that if the cable frays or completely stops working, you’ll need to replace the case entirely. Overall battery life is decent for truly wireless earbuds.
The JBuds Air are IP55 water and dust resistance rated. This means you’ll be able to take them on a run or long workout session. If they fall into a puddle of water, you should be fine. In terms of actually sealing your ears, they come with 3 sets of ear tips in the standard small, medium, and large sizes as well as one set of ear hooks to provide better stability.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- IP55 water & dust resistance
- Truly wireless
- Fun sound optimized for working out
- Non-detachable cable
- Battery life
Best Workout Earbuds
Truly wireless earbuds built for working out. They offer stellar sound quality, a great seal, and are super comfortable for long periods of time.
For buyers that want to stretch their dollars, it’s hard to do much better than LETSCOM’s headphones. You’ll find deep bass, clear treble, and a seriously impressive battery that lasts up to eight hours on one charge.
There’s IPX7 water resistance rating which is good for sweat resistance. Unfortunately, they aren’t dust resistant at all, but that isn’t a huge issue for most users. The LETSCOM feature a wire between the two earbuds which makes them convenient to stow around your neck when not in use. A slight annoyance with these is that they have an LED indicator to let you know when they’re on. That’s fine during the day because you can hardly see it, but at night, everyone will know you’re using Bluetooth earbuds.
One of the biggest downsides to the LETSCOM is that they use microUSB instead of USB-C for charging. In 2019 that is a complete abomination however, for the price you can’t complain much. Same goes with Bluetooth 4.1. It’s not 5.0, but 5.0 doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of actual audio quality anyways. They also only support the SBC Bluetooth audio codec.
In terms of comfort and stability, these hold you ears pretty well due to the hook design. And of course, they come with the 3 standard sizes of ear tips on top of the pair that come pre-installed.
- IPX7 water resistance
- Battery life
- Passive isolation
- Proper volume buttons
- microUSB for charging
- Bluetooth 4.1
- LED indicator
Best Cost Savings
The important thing is that these play wireless audio and sound exceptional. They last a long time and are IPX7 rated, which is perfect for working out.
There are plenty of headphones out there that won’t break the bank. As you can see from our list above, wireless headphones come in several different shapes and sizes from the smallest like the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air, to large over-cans like the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT, there’s something for everyone.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters, either. With wireless, you have the sometimes complex decisions between Bluetooth audio codecs, battery life, whether or not it comes with a charging case, what connector it uses to charge, etc. It can be overwhelming and sometimes downright irritating knowing that you’ve found something but it’s missing X, Y, or Z features.
Personally, I’d recommend the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 if this is your first entry into the wireless headphone game. They’re great not only on OnePlus devices, but everything else from a full on PC down to competing devices such as the Pixel or iPhone.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Peter Cao is a consumer audio enthusiast. He spends a lot of time wearing, trying, and testing headphones and earbuds.
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