If you look around, it seems like wireless earbuds are everywhere. You see them on public transportation, the street, or cafes. What was once a niche product has become thoroughly mainstream in a way that few could have expected in such a short period of time.
Two big technical developments made wireless possible: The gradual removal of the headphone jack from smartphones (thanks Apple!), and improvements to Bluetooth, which made it possible to stream music from your device to the earbuds without a dramatic loss in quality. The ubiquity of wireless earbuds has driven down their price significantly in the past year or so, and it’s possible to get a great-sounding pair for under $100. Premium features — noise cancellation chief among them — have also started filtering down to these less expensive models.
If you’re shopping for your first pair of wireless earbuds, but aren’t sure whether they’re right for you, getting a pair that costs less than $100 is a smart decision. You’ll get a sense of whether you actually like this style of headphone without making a huge investment. The marketplace for the best wireless earbuds is changing constantly, with new models seemingly released every other day, but below you’ll find the best pairs available right now.
How We Picked the Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100
Our wireless earbud recommendations are based on a mix of hands-on testing and research.
True Wireless: Many of the most popular wireless earbuds available today fall into the “true wireless” category. This means each bud communicates to your device independently, without a cable connecting them. True wireless earbuds used to be very expensive and not very reliable (AirPods were a notable exception), but that’s changed recently.
While true wireless earbuds are all the rage, they’re not the only style of headphone in this category. There are still wireless earbuds that connect to one another with a cable, or use technology like bone conductivity (yes, really) to deliver sound to your ears. We’ve covered all of these bases in our guide.
Battery Life: Let’s be honest, wireless earbuds are small, which means they won’t last as long as on-ear or over-ear headphones. That said, the models we’re recommending offer at least five hours of playtime per charge. The amount of battery you actually get will depend on your listening volume, and whether you keep power-hungry features like active noise cancellation enabled all the time.
True wireless earbuds come with a battery case, which charges them when you’re not using them. This accessory can extend the life of your earbuds by up to 16 hours. If you have battery anxiety, but typically take breaks from listening to music throughout the day, that style of earbud may be your best bet.
Noise Cancellation: There are two types of noise cancellation where headphones are concerned: passive and active.
Passive noise cancellation means the seal your wireless earbud makes around your ear canal physically blocks out unwanted sounds. This type of noise cancellation requires you additional battery life, but is somewhat limited. Sure, you’ll hear less noise, but it’s basically the equivalent of sticking your finger in your ears, albeit with the added benefit of listening to music you like.
Active noise cancellation is what most people think of when they hear the term noise cancellation. Microphones built into the wireless earbud automatically filter out sounds that fall within a particular frequency range. Headphone manufacturers have become savvy enough to tune their earbuds to prevent common noises — think airplane engines or air conditioners — from reaching your ears. Enabling active noise cancellation will eat into your wireless earbuds’ battery life, but may allow you to listen to music at lower volumes, since you won’t have as much outside noise to block out.
Eartip Type: The end of a wireless earbud that fits inside your ear is referred to as its tip, and there are two types to consider: hardshell and gummy.
Hardshell eartips don’t create as much of a seal around your ear, which means their bass response will be a little weak, and their passive noise cancellation won’t be as good. That said, wireless earbuds with hardshell tips are almost guaranteed to fit and stay inside your ears.
Gummy eartips are common on most wireless earbuds these days because they’re required for active noise cancellation, and make the headphones sound better by creating a seal around your ear. The downside of gummy eartips is that their seal may eventually weaken, at which point the earbuds will pop out of your ears. To combat this, manufacturers of gummy tipped earbuds include multiple sizes of eartip with their headphone. We strongly recommend taking an hour or so to find the eartips that fit your ear best before walking outside and running the risk of losing your wireless earbuds.
Microphones: All of the wireless earbuds we’re recommending have microphones inside of them, which makes them convenient to use during conference calls if you’re working from a computer without a built-in mic. Wireless earbuds have microphones even if they don’t support active noise cancellation.
Multipoint Pairing: This is a luxury feature that enables your wireless earbuds to stay connected to multiple devices at the same time. This allows you to switch between playing music on a smartphone, then quickly switching over to your computer for a conference call. Maintaining simultaneous connections with multiple devices is tricky, so earbuds that have this feature can still be hit or miss.
Best Wireless Earbuds Under $100: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Edifier NeoBuds Pro
Why They Made The Cut: The NeoBuds Pro sound, fit, and feel like wireless earbuds that cost a lot more than $100.
— Style: True Wireless
— Eartip Style: Gummy
— Price: $104.99
— Customizable sound
— Solid connectivity
— Comes with six sizes of eartips
— Noise cancellation isn’t perfect
Edifier’s speakers have impressed us for years, but the company has outdone itself with the NeoBuds Pro, its latest pair of wireless earbuds. Their price fluctuates a bit around $100 (they’re now $129.99, but Amazon offers a free, $25 coupon on its site) but you’re getting a great-sounding pair of earbuds.
The NeoBuds Pro are a pair of true wireless earbuds, and they maintained a strong, consistent connection with all of the devices we tested them with. Their connection held firm even when our device was in our pocket, and we were walking around.
We have no noteworthy complaints about the NeoBuds Pro’s sound profile, which is a little bass heavy, but not distractingly so. If you want to tweak the way they sound, Edifier’s “Connect” app — available for both iOS and Android — lets you adjust a digital EQ. We didn’t end up futzing with the EQ settings, but it’s nice to have the option, especially if you want a little extra bass or treble when listening to music from a particular genre.
The NeoBuds Pro features a version of full active noise cancellation that Edifier calls hybrid noise cancellation. This allows the earbuds to filter all outside noises instead of targeting specific frequencies. This form of active noise cancellation wasn’t as good at isolating specific frequencies as higher-end wireless earbuds, but the results were impressive for a pair that costs around $100. The bottom line is that you may still end up hearing some airplane engine noise when using the NeoBuds Pro on a flight, but shouldn’t hear co-workers chatting near you in the office.
Our experience with gummy-tipped wireless earbuds under $100 (or otherwise) has been hit or miss. If your ear canal is a little larger or smaller than the manufacturer expected, wearing wireless earbuds can require constant fiddling to keep them secure in your ear. We didn’t have that problem with the NeoBuds Pro because Edifier included six sizes of eartips with its earbuds. For reference, many earbuds only come with three sizes (small, medium, large), so this is a big upgrade. We ended up choosing the largest size, and the NeoBuds Pro fit snugly without being too tight. If you’ve written off gummy-tipped earbuds because they just wouldn’t fit in your ears, the NeoBuds Pro may change your position.
Edifier’s NeoBuds Pro takes the top slot in our guide to the best wireless earbuds around $100, but we’re inclined to recommend them regardless of your budget. It’s hard to argue with a pair of wireless earbuds that sound good and fit well.
Best for Working Out: Soundcore Spirit X2
Why They Made The Cut: The Soundcore Spirit X2s were designed from the ground up to fit properly and sound great while you’re exercising.
— Style: True Wireless
— Eartip Style: Gummy
— Price: $79.99
— Secure fit
— Extra bass mode
— Earhooks may feel uncomfortable after a while
— No active noise cancellation
The fit of your earbuds is the last thing you want to worry about while running on a treadmill, planking, or lifting weights. Being distracted while working out can be very dangerous, which is why we recommend keeping a pair of Soundcore’s Spirit X2 earbuds in your gym bag.
The Spirit X2s are a pair of true wireless earbuds, but each bud is connected to a plastic hook that wraps around the outside of your ear, keeping it securely in place. The gummy eartips also feature a piece that fits into one of the inner ridges of your ear, which can prevent the bud from popping out of your ear canal. These design features are necessary, because performing rapid movements in quick succession can easily jostle the buds out. If you’ve ever jogged with a pair of earbuds — wireless or wired — you’ve probably experienced this problem. Soundcore includes four sizes of eartips with this pair of wireless earbuds, which should also make a difference when it comes to fit.
The whole point of exercising is to work up a sweat, so we’re happy Soundcore made the Spirit X2s waterproof. You’ll be able to fully submerge the earbuds underwater for short periods of time without them getting damaged. We don’t recommend wearing these wireless earbuds while swimming — please don’t — but they’ll be able to handle sweat or rain without flaking out.
We applaud Soundcore for making such an exercise-friendly pair of earbuds, but the features that make them great in the gym may irritate you if you’re wearing the earbuds for several hours at a time. Earbuds with ear hooks tend to feel a little awkward during extended use, and may even make the area behind your ear feel a little sweaty. This isn’t an issue that’s unique to the Spirit X2s, it’s something you’d have to deal with when wearing any wireless earbuds with this design.
The only feature missing from the Spirit X2s is active noise cancellation. This is unfortunate, but to be expected from earbuds designed for a singular purpose. You’re far more likely to want to crank the volume up higher at the gym to immerse yourself in the music you’re listening to. Still, this keeps the Spirit X2s from being considered a good all-around pair of wireless earbuds.
If you’re looking for the best pair of wireless earbuds under $100 to wear while you’re running, biking, or hitting the gym, Soundcore’s Spirit X2s are the clear choice.
Best Bone-Conduction: Shokz OpenMove
Why They Made The Cut: Shokz’s OpenMove earbuds are the only pair under $100 that use bone conduction technology, which is no small feat at any price.
— Style: Bone Conducting
— Eartip Style: Hardshell
— Price: $79.95
— Incredible technical achievement
— Allows you to remain aware of your surroundings
— Sleek look
— No active noise cancellation
— Not ideal for noisy or very quiet environments
Bone-conduction headphones don’t sound like they should work, but Shokz OpenMoves do. The buds, which are connected to one another with a protected cable designed to wrap around the back of your head, don’t go in your ears. Instead, they sit on the top of your cheekbone, sending music to your inner ear through vibrations.
We understand your skepticism here, but we’ve tried earbuds from Shokz before, and they’ve worked remarkably well. It’s possible to hear music clearly, though the complete lack of seal around your ear means bass is sorely lacking. That design choice is a feature, though, as having your ears open allows you to easily hear sounds around you. If you’re running, this means being able to hear the beep of a car or bike horn, or someone shouting for you to move. In that case, the Shokz design works.
The earbuds don’t work in extremely noisy or quiet environments, though. The OpenMoves’ lack of noise cancellation means using them on any form of transportation is going to be incredibly tough. The sounds around you will overpower your music, even on the highest volume level. Shokz does include earplugs, which you can use to create a seal in your ear, but the results can’t match the performance of traditional earbuds. In quiet environments, like a shared office space, people around you will also be able to hear the music you’re listening to. That’s because music does come out of the buds, it’s just sent up to your inner ear through the top of your cheekbone.
We can’t help but include the Shokz OpenMove in our guide to the best wireless earbuds under $100 because they have unique features not found in any other pair. You just need to be sure that its limitations won’t hamper your listening.
Best Budget: iFrogz Audio Impulse Duo
Why They Made The Cut: Everything about the Impulse Duos, from their current sub $20 price to their cool, clip-on design makes them well worth a look.
— Style: Standard
— Eartip Style: Gummy
— Price: $13.97
— Clever clip-on design
— Multi-driver audio system
— Wild price
— No active noise cancellation
— Older technology
You wouldn’t expect much from a pair of wireless earbuds that cost under $15 and have been available for almost five years, and yet we can’t help but recommend iFrogz Impulse Duos.
Despite the company’s funny name, these headphones have impressed us since they were originally released half a decade back. They lack premium features, like active noise cancellation and true wireless design, which have come into vogue over the past couple of years, but they’ve held up pretty well beyond that.
They still sound perfectly good for casual music or podcast listening, which is all you should expect to do with the Impulse Duos. iFrogz Audio says they’re sweat resistant, and we never had an issue with them during our testing period, but we still recommend using the Spirit X2s if you’re looking for earbuds designed for exercising.
The feature that distinguished the Impulse Duo earbuds upon release and continue to impress today is their unique design. The buds are attached to a small Bluetooth controller that comes with a magnetic clip that’s physically attached to the controller on one side. This feature allows you to clip the earbuds onto your clothing, or keep the earbuds’ cables organized when you’re not using them. We’ve seen dozens of wireless earbuds over the ears, and wish the Impulse Duo’s design took off. That’s especially true because the Bluetooth controller has a physical play / pause button, so you can control your music comfortably.
The Impulse Duo’s biggest downside is its Micro USB charging port. These wireless earbuds predate the ubiquity of the USB-C charging port, so you may need to keep an extra cable around if you use them. That said, it’s a literal small price to pay for this minor inconvenience. If you want an ultra-inexpensive pair of Bluetooth earbuds that don’t look, feel, or sound cheap, iFrogz Audio’s Impulse Duos are the only option to consider.
Best Design: Sony WF-C500
Why They Made The Cut: Sony’s WF-C500 are a premium pair of wireless earbuds that look and sound better than their price suggests.
— Style: Ture Wireless
— Eartip Style: Gummy
— Price: $68
— Small earbuds
— Excellent sound
— Water resistance
— Fluctuating Price
If Sony’s WF-C500s seem like they’re too good for earbuds priced under $100, you’re kind of right. Their price fluctuates quite a bit — they’re a particularly good deal as of this writing — but generally stay under $100, which is why we feel comfortable recommending them in this guide.
Sony makes a full line of true wireless earbuds, and it’s brought many features from its premium pairs down to this more budget-conscious set. That starts with their ultra-slim shape; these earbuds don’t have the downward descending “stem” that most true wireless earbuds do. Instead, they have a circular design that looks more discreet, which we tend to prefer.
We typically like the way Sony’s earbuds sound, and while we haven’t gotten a chance to test the WF-C500s (yet!), we’re confident in their level of audio fidelity. If they sound a little off to you, don’t worry, you can tweak their sound in Sony’s “Headphones Connect” app, which is available on iOS and Android.
There’s a lot to like about the WF-C500s, but their total lack of noise cancellation prevented them from taking the top slot in our guide. This is a feature we’ve come to expect from wireless earbuds that cost around $100 and from a company that knows its way around audio. It’s especially disappointing because Sony makes the best noise-cancelling earbuds we’ve ever tried. When Sony brings noise cancellation to its entry-level earbuds, they’ll almost certainly make big waves.
That said, the WF-C500s are still a wonderful choice if you’re looking for a pair of wireless earbuds under $100 that sound modern and look great.
Things to Consider Before Buying Wireless Earbuds Under $100
Spending a little more: This should be a consideration whenever deciding to purchase a piece of budget-friendly technology. In the case of wireless earbuds, there are options that cost $150 that may support more sophisticated noise cancellation or better multipoint pairing. If you’re shopping for your first pair of wireless earbuds, have a fixed budget, or just care about a convenient way to listen to music at work, while traveling, or during your commute, any of the pairs above will get the job done.
Q: Can I pair my wireless earbuds to smartphones, tablets, and computers from any manufacturer?
Yes. Wireless earbuds connect to devices via Bluetooth, which is a common wireless protocol supported by iOS, Android, ChromeOS, MacOS, and Windows.
Q: How long will wireless earbuds last?
You should expect to get two to three years of daily use from wireless earbuds before their battery starts to degrade significantly.
Q: How should I responsibly dispose of my old headphones?
Final Thoughts on Wireless Earbuds Under $100
It’s remarkable how far wireless earbuds have come in such a short time, and that the marketplace for models under $100 has become extremely competitive. Getting a pair of wireless earbuds for $100 no longer means settling for a sub-par pair, it’s a conscious choice you can make when searching for headphones that suit your particular needs. This category of headphone becomes even more interesting around deal events like Amazon’s Prime Day, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday, when the list of wireless earbuds under $100 balloons to include pairs that can cost double the price. Still, if you need a pair of wireless earbuds under $100, the options that are available right now are sure to satisfy.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.