- 1 Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones
- 2 AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones
- 3 Ultrasone HFI-15G S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Semi Open-back Headphones
- 4 Audio Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Headphones
- 5 AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones
- 6 AKG 2015 M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones
- 7 Beyerdynamic DTX 910 Stereo Headphones for Portable and Home Usage
- 8 Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-ear Headphones
- 9 Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones
- 10 Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones
What are they?
Before we set off on the task of determining our list of top 10 best open back headphones in 2018 we should probably begin with explaining what they are and their intended purpose, for those who might not know.
A large majority of us love listening to music wherever it may be. It accompanies us in our everyday life and has a huge influence on our emotional state. It picks us up in times when we are down or just serves as a source of euphoria. Sometimes it’s just to break the monotony of some of our routines. For all these instances when we are on the go we want our favorite tracks by our side. For this we rely on headphones to perform the necessary task.
But what we are talking about are open back headphones. The reason that makes them different from your usual or more common, closed back headphones is that they are not noise cancelling. Closed back headphones serve to separate you from the outside world and allow you to completely isolate yourself in the experience of listening to your music. But open back headphones are open as at the back, as the name would already suggest. This is done to allow you to hear your surroundings somewhat so that you are not completely isolated from the sounds around you. So in other words they are not completely noise cancelling, although the surrounding sounds are obviously slightly more muffled than had they not been on your head, but do not entirely block out the noise. This has various applications in our lives as well as in our work environments. Sometimes it is wise to be able to pay attention to what is happening around you, for example when you are listening to music and walking on the street it may be advisable to have these such headphones that would allow you to hear any cars passing by or people calling out to you, where as this is a lot less important when you are at home. Maybe in some circumstances for those who like to sing or practice playing musical instruments they want to be able to sing and hear the instrumental in the background through the headphones. Perhaps someone might just prefer listening to their music in this way and has no particular need for them. Whichever the case may be, we have cleared the topic of what open back headphones are.
There are so many different types of headphones currently in the world today and so many to choose from that you could discover a new one every day for months on end. This is why we have come up with a list of top 10 best open back headphones, to update you on what is out there and what is worth looking into. We have gone through the hassle of analyzing the headphones in hopes that you can make a slightly more informed decision before you go out to get your pair.
What to look for?
With so many kinds and brands of headphones it is hard to determine which factors contribute to the decision making process most. In complete honesty, it will always come down to personal preference and our list can never be the list for everyone. Some might have their own taste and think that some things stand out more than others. But what we look for are things that we hope fit the criteria that we all look for when buying headphones. Now the most important criteria for us is whether the sound quality is good or not. After all we are buying headphones in the general hope to listen to music on them, more often than not and so this is a big contributing factor. But there is something that is tied to the this criteria quite closely and that is price. It is important to make sure that what you are paying for is represent able both in quality and in price. There are products out there that are overpriced and perform worse than some that are cheaper. We would like to find a way through this minefield of price tags and make sure what we find is the best and most affordable.
Our list is looking into only prices going up to 100 USD and not lower, but do not be discouraged. This does not mean to say that these headphones are terrible. On the contrary you will soon find out that some of these headphones are actually very good and can accommodate the taste of many music lovers.
Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100 In 2018 – Top 10
|Superlux HD668B||4.3||Read Review|
|AKG K 240||4.3||Read Review|
|Ultrasone HFI-15G||4.1||Read Review|
|Audio Technica ATH-AD700X||4.4||Read Review|
|AKG K 240 MK II||4.5||Read Review|
|AKG 2015 M220 Pro||4.3||Read Review|
|Beyerdynamic DTX 910||3.7||Read Review|
|Philips SHP9500||4.6||Read Review|
|Sennheiser HD 558||4.6||Read Review|
|Grado SR80e||4.4||Read Review|
Some of these headphones look very appealing and many people opt for headphones because it compliments their style of dressing, these are no different in that sense. They are very much like the classic closed back headphones and look absolutely stunning. If look is what you are going for rather than the sound quality, there is much to look forward to. These headphones look absolutely amazing and can fit into a variety of looks. There are lots of shapes, colors and brands to look forward to in picking out your favorite pair and hopefully this list will help you find exactly that.
Another aspect that should not be overlooked is comfort. Some headphones can cause some irritation after prolonged periods of usage and can be quite annoying to reposition constantly. So this is another thing we have taken into account. It is important that all of our needs are met and that we are satisfied with what we buy without having to spend all of our money on a single pair of headphones. For some this might not be as important as the sound quality but again, it is a thing of preference and it is completely up to the consumer to pick what suits him best.
Now that we have looked at what open back headphones are and what we think is important in deciding which are better we can begin looking at our list top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD in 2018.
Top 10 Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100 In 2018
Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones
Why these headphones? Good question. The main selling point of these headphones would mainly be their price. They are dirt cheap. Coming in at about 40.00 USD they are super affordable and few competitors can match a figure as low as this one. If you are someone who is on a budget but still want some all round headphones than this will be more than good enough, this is it. They are considered as the cheapest low budget ‘professional’ headphones.
There are other reasons why you are going to want the Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones besides the price. They really excel at voice reproduction and are great for editing purposes. They aren’t great for gaming but they can get the job done. They give you good awareness of where sound is being generated from when playing video games as well as in real, due to the fact that they are semi-open. Although still slightly muffled you can comfortably hear yourself speak. This is exactly the type of thing you would want if you were going for a semi-open build. You shouldn’t expect any amazing bass on these although this is not to say that there is no bass at all. They are still fairly decent, it’s just that bass is not something they stand out for. But nonetheless they are a sweat pair of headphones. They will definitely suit all your needs in terms of editing, listening to tunes and playing video games, just not in the best quality available. But then again looking at the price these are more than acceptable circumstances. The headphones range from 10 hertz to 30 kilo hertz and are at 56 ohms.
The build of the headphones is very light and they feel quite cheap in the hand, probably because they are. They also look quite cheap but this is not as bad as it is in regards to their feel. The material looks good though and feels smooth. The head straps are adjustable and can fit any head with two separate cushions for clamping in around your head. The pressure of the clamps goes by unnoticed which is great because this means they cause less interference and get the job done, making their weakness of being lightweight less of an annoyance.
The cups are comfortable and leave a lot of space for your ears with a soft piece of foam on the inner side of the headphone to further prevent irritation to the ear. The cups are adequately soft and are made of some sort of leather material. Although they are quite comfortable they look and feel quite cheap. The material does not look very durable and does not prevent the interference of sweat making a nuisance of itself when wearing them.
The headphones come with two detachable cords of varying lengths. One shorter around 3 feet and the other slightly longer. This gives you the option of extending the cord when necessary and keep the cord down to a minimum when you are walking around, when you don’t need the extra wiring hanging about. The novel difference in design with this pair of headphones is perhaps the most noticeable difference about them when comparing them to other products. On the headphones the cord is plugged into a 3.5mm head jack that extends from the headphones themselves. This is usually done in the opposite fashion with other headphones. An extra accessory that you get with this pair of headphones is a small clip that hold the detachable cable and the 3.5mm head jack locked together so that they don’t come loose easily while wearing them. A useful added commodity.
Although there are many thing to look down upon with this pair of headphones we remember that the price we are paying is in turn producing very reasonable results. We can achieve all of our basic needs with them and don’t have to spend a fortune to do so. They might not be the best quality but they are far from bad and they are more than satisfactory to fit in at 10th place on our list of top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Good voice reproduction
Decent at editing
They look and feel quite cheap
AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones
Let’s take a look at our second pair of best open back headphones in our list, featuring the AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones. The first thing we should take note of is the historical significance of these headphones. They’ve been around for a very long time. They have had a huge impact on the market and have never lost their appeal for being both good sounding and affordable. They have been around since the seventies and they are still in production. This is surely some indication as to their quality. Certainly headphones that were no good would have long ago fallen off the shelves. But they are sticking in strong.
This pair of headphones is one of the more affordable items on our list and as such you cannot expect the build quality or sound quality of some of the more expensive headphones out there. But there are circumstances where these headphones really shine through. The first being the comfort. They are exceptionally comfortable, their lightweight don’t put too much pressure on your ears although this does make them feel slightly fragile when you hold them but apart from that they sit well on your head. They have an auto adjusting strap that fits perfectly to the contour of your head for maximum comfort with little effort needed to set them up. They are mainly of plastic build but the material feels soft and smooth and they look very appealing and not at all as cheap as they are. The cups for your ears have good depth and often don’t catch your ear, so irritation in that area is minimized dramatically. The cups are nice and soft and fit around your ear entirely. Unfortunately the cups do feel a little cheap when touched and do tend to get a little warm from prolonged use. But not a major issue that should concern us.
The next thing that you should take into consideration when going for these headphones is their strengths and their weaknesses in terms of the audio reproduction and where they excel. Since they are semi-open headphones, for those who might not know, they muffle out the treble when you are trying to listen to someone or something in your vicinity. So as we mentioned open back headphones are not completely noise cancelling and for semi-open headphones this is the impact that they have on listening experience. The headphones generally don’t do well in areas where the sound is heavily influenced by bass. They are not as good as other headphones on the spectrum of bass tending to only really catch the low to mid bass. Although this may be their rather more significant flaw, they still have a very unique sound unlike one you will find using other headphones and this is not meant in a negative way at all. It is definitely a sound you will look forward to. The area where these headphones truly stand out is when listening to metal or acoustic music. The difference here is quite remarkable and the sound is fantastic. So by no means should they be disregarded for their low bass. If metal or listening to guitar is your thing then you have a low budget pair of headphones for your taking.
The headphones come with a 10 foot long cable, easily long enough to reach your PC or any other device comfortably, leaving you with lots of room to manoeuvre around the room as you use them. This could be a bit of a hassle when walking around as the cable length could be a bit too long and irritating.
All in all, this is a great budget pair of headphones that you can count on to provide you with the necessary enjoyment for a leisurely evening of listening to some soothing jazz or rocking out to some metal. They come in around 58.00 USD which is a laughable fee at best. In essence this pair of headphones was chosen for its affordability in conjunction with their good quality of sound despite some rather small quirks. For this price there are few headphones that can match the quality of this pair.
If you opt for a more expensive version later on we will take a look at the upgraded version of these headphones, the AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones. They solve some of the minor issues encountered with these headphones and provide a slightly superior listening experience.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Great for acoustic music
They don’t look cheap
They don’t look cheap but they feel cheap
Ultrasone HFI-15G S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Semi Open-back Headphones
The first thing you’ll probably notice about this pair of headphones is their notable difference in price. They are partially more expensive than the products thus far. But this is with good reason as you will soon find out. They have been around for more than nine years and this is more than enough proof of their quality and long term endurance. Although they might not be that common to find if you look well enough you can still find them on sale on the internet, with places like e-bay or Amazon still having great offers for these headphones.
These headphones as mentioned in their title are semi-open and thus don’t completely allow you to hear your surroundings unhindered, which is actually a good thing because it allows you to be in both places in a metaphoric sense. You can both focus on your music or if need be divert your attention and hearing to something else without the interference of the other getting in the way much.
The sound quality on this pair of headphones is quite the jump from the previous products in the list mentioned thus far. The bass is a lot better and sticks out a little more and the music sounds great. They are great for editing, listening to music and are even quite decent at gaming, although this is not their intended purpose.
The build quality looks pretty decent but feels rather fragile in the hand, although there have been claims of people owning such pairs for long durations of time without any serious detrimental problems to their integrity. This is more important than just the fact that they feel light as our main concern is will they pass the test of time. Apart from feeling fragile they are also very light in their weight and this is one of the contributing factors that makes them appear so fragile.
One of the main strengths of these headphones is their comfort. They are extremely comfortable and can be worn hours on end without significant irritation. The reason being for this is that they don’t come with the cups that go over your ears, rather they just have the foam of the earpiece which is better in this case as poorly made cups are worse than this. The foam covers can be removed for cleaning or rinsing out to get them looking nice and fresh again.
The design is simple yet effective. The head band is covered in a leather that sits comfortably over your head. The headphones are adjustable in length down the sides to make sure the fit is snug and tight. But not too tight. The headphones are almost completely black all round and the material feels rather smooth under the touch.
Another big thing with these headphones is the cable length. With previous models of this brand the cable length was obnoxiously long. Thankfully this is no longer the case. This time the cord is around 4 feet long and can be extended further to more than 8 feet. Again this is more than you will probably ever need but it does allow you to comfortably roll away from your desk on a wheeled chair with the assurance that you have some decent distance available.
So in summation the price of the headphones covers a variety of different topics that influence its price. It might be a step up in value but it’s also a step up in what it offers as well. It is a product that although seems fragile and on the cheaper side will pleasantly surprise you. The sound quality is good and the comfort is great, which is very important as someone who edits can find him or herself using them for hours at a time. So finally when we look at the 78.96 USD price value, we know what to expect and have a somewhat better evaluation of what we’re getting. Consider what is more important to you. If its comfort than this pair is for you but if its sound than wait for the some of the models to come, if you’re prepared for a higher price.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Fairly decent audio for the price
Good sound isolation
Audio Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Headphones
We should immediately start off with the look of these headphones. So far in our list of top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD this is the one that looks the best so far. The design is absolutely incredible and the moment when you pull them out of the box will leave you with a permanent smile. They look very expensive and are quite light. Not too light that they feel fragile but at 260 grams not very heavy either. The material of the headphones looks and feels very durable and the design is very well thought out and is a great improvement on another similar model for the same brand, the ATH-AD500X. They are mainly of plastic build with the head band being replaced with side skirts instead of one main head band along the entire length. This might complement the look but it proves to be very impractical as they are rather loose and don’t manage to hold the headphones tightly on your head. Though they do provide some breathing room for your head this is not such a good trade off. The wiring runs through the tubes of the headphone and so are conveniently concealed. But the thing that stands out most would be the aluminium plating on the side finished in a honey comb pattern. It gives you a look at what’s inside the ear-piece and look amazing with their silver tint drawing the eye.
Next up would be the audio or sound quality. It is in the area that they are somewhat lacking. Although they are not terrible at all, at 100 USD you would expect something slightly more. They offer decent mid to high tones and some bass but do not excel at low tones and good bass. They are well balanced though and are good for vocals and audio layering. This would be their Achilles Heel so to speak. Although some tampering with an equalizer could help we advise to stay clear of playing with the bass too much as putting it too high will completely ruin the experience. They are best for some classical or instrumental music. But apart from the music they are our first pair of headphones on the list thus far, that are great for gaming. Because this pair of headphones is completely open (i.e. not semi open) they create a great sound stage and leave little sound isolation and have a higher level of audio leak. This is great for creating a three dimensional environment and deducing from which direction sound is coming from. This is one of the major reasons why they stand out in gaming. They can help you in FPS ( First Person Shooters) in locating enemy positions based on their movements or sound. Great for games like Counter Strike or Call of Duty.
They are very comfortable even though they have cups. The cups on this pair of headphones is an example of cups done right and as such are far better than just the foam covering the earpiece as seen in the previous item on our list. They are soft and really deep. Deep enough that your ears do not touch the inside, this is great because it means you can wear them for a while before they become a nuisance. The only downfall of the headphones is their loose grip, because of this poor grip they basically are held up most of the time by your ears and this causes some tension after time. Except for this the material from which they are made is really smooth and soft.
The headphones have a frequency range of 5 to 30 000 hertz and an impedance of 38 ohms. The fact that their impedance is 38 ohms means that due to the lower electrical current running through them they can be used with smart phones or tablets. Although using amps or such devices will boost how loud they are. But at least you are getting some extra options. The drivers are 53mm and are great.
So in general the price for these headphones is at the peak of our limit for this list but it has certain features that make it stand out. It’s not the best pick in terms of bass and audio reproduction, but is a great headset for gaming. Apart from this it certainly looks expensive and feels as such. They are not too comfortable but are made of good material and are great for usage in shorter periods of time. So consider what is more important for you before buying them. Although they are not cheap they are a lot better in terms of audio and build material than any other headphones thus far, but there are still more to come with a similar price or even less, that offer better specs. These headphones could be a pick of preference in terms of look as they do look stunning, but in the end it’s up to you.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Great for gaming and classical music
Not the most comfortable
AKG K 240 MK II Stereo Studio Headphones
We’ve already looked at a pair of AKG headphones in our list. Well this is the upgrade and it’s amazing. We should remember the historical significance of this brand of headphones and take note that they have been around for a while. But from this family of headphones this pair truly stands out. Straight out of the box this pair of headphones comes with more things than its sibling. The contents of this package include a AKG sticker, a coiled cord of 10 feet and another normal cord of also 10 feet and two extra cups. These cups are of different material than the vinyl ones that come standard. The ones in the box are bit bigger and as such are a bit better for bass. Both provide great levels of comfort and suitably keep your ears from touching the inside of the headphone.
The coiled cord makes its first appearance in this product, making the hassle of having to keep the normal cord tidy a much smaller problem. A small addition and bonus but a bonus nonetheless. Everything that expands your options is good to have. The cord also comes with a quarter inch jack that can unscrew to uncover a 3.5mm head jack underneath. Again an expansion of options that is always welcomed with open arms.
The design is a big step up from the smaller sibling of these headphones and looks if not twice as expensive and more superior. The build quality is better although still mainly reliant on plastic. It has one metal bit around the earpiece but that is all. But this is not such a big concern as they still look amazing and feel rather durable. The head strap does not offer any padding which is sad to see, but does not cause to much of a problem as the headphones are still more than comfortable. They are light but not too light to make them feel cheap. The cups are great, they are soft and more than deep enough. Comfort should not be an issue when using them even for prolonged periods of time.
The only thing with these headphones is that it requires some level of experience to reach their maximum potential. So beginners might not want to deal with the hassle of these headphones. They are perhaps one of the best headphones that you can find under 100 USD for the best mid tones. Because they are professional headphones their audio reproduction is very accurate and does not sound tampered with. Although the experience comes in when having to tweak them when using amps and them in conjunction. Not all amps work the same with these headphones and on some the treble can get quite bad. It is important to widen your scope of options when looking for a suitable amp for this pair of headphones because some can really make it stand out while others would not do it much justice. So in this sense they can be quite a pain to manage. But once you figure this out, the experience is very rewarding. Although as with many of the headphones we have looked at in our top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD, the lower tones and bass struggle a bit. Thus these headphones are best suited for some classical music, rock or even some indie songs based on the instruments used. As well as this vocals really come out great with the voice sounding nice and crisp.
The semi open back allows for some audio leak but the soundstage is still very good and truly creates an immersive environment for listening to tracks. The headphones are not as good for gaming but are still decent. But they are better suited for editing and/or music.
So all in all for 78.00 USD you are certainly getting your monies worth, if you are a little more experienced and know what you are doing. The beginners might want to start elsewhere for this reason, but can still give them a try if they like a challenge. But nonetheless, for this price they are a huge upgrade on their cheaper sibling and boast a variety of features that outrank not only its sibling but many other headphones on this list.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Best headphones for mid tones
Look great and are comfortable
Come with a few extras out of the box
Still not that good in the low tones
Take some experience to master
AKG 2015 M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones
This is our final product in the chain of AKG headphones. In the category of the three AKG marked headphones the M220 has made top pick and with good reason. There aren’t a lot of things that make this one much different from the other two and even less so than the K 240 MK II, but the difference is significant enough to jump it up a space in our list.
First off, the design is a lot more appealing in our opinion. The headphones are a mix of white and black, mainly focusing on the white and notably stand out more than the other two counterparts which are in most part mainly black. Even though they are white and this could show them getting dirtier quicker, this isn’t the case here. They are quite resilient to dirt and are a lot less of a hassle than one would first imagine. The design is similar to the K 240 and follows a similar style with the addition of some colours this time round. The ear cups are made of a pleather and are soft and deep. The depth is suitable for longer periods of using the headphones with little discomfort over this time. The head band has no padding but is adjustable and fits well on the head and holds the headphones in place nicely.
The cord is about 10 feet long which is more than accommodating for one’s needs and perhaps even more than necessary. The cable is detachable and has a 3.5mm head jack lead. The cable is not of the best quality but that is not an issue of major concern at the moment.
The headphones feature 30mm drivers which although are smaller than some of the other counter parts are surprisingly good, regardless of their smaller size. The semi open headphones produce some audio leak which suffice to say is not completely negligible, but is not terrible either. A minor nuisance in the general run of things. The sound quality is the area where the headphones stand out the most amidst their other counterparts. They offer great mid tones but with slightly better higher tones and bass on top of that. Although the mid tones are not as good as with the MK II, they are just shy and with the extra bit of bass extension they really make that little difference that pushes them over the edge. They are good for gaming as well as for your usual mix of classical and jazz music. They create a good soundstage and offer an immersive environment for listening to some tunes or for some hardcore gaming.
All in all they are really comfortable, which allow for longer periods of usage, look better and have a similar build quality to the MK II, which is anyway already good. They have a better sound and take less experience to master. This is a big thing because we want something that beginners can also take full advantage of as well as those with some more experience. The headphones have an impedance of 55 ohms and are of a professional grade. You will not be disappointed with going for these headphones. Apart from all this they aren’t a great deal more expensive than the MK II either. Which is the reason amongst others why this pair comes on top on this lists hierarchy of AKG headphones.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
An upgrade for only a small price difference
The sound is better than that of their cheaper counterpart
Some audio leak is evident
Beyerdynamic DTX 910 Stereo Headphones for Portable and Home Usage
There is a reason why this pair of headphones has made it in the top five of our top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD and the reason is price. Price is the governing factor of a lot of things in life an generally the rule is get the best for the least. This is one such purchase. You are getting the most out of the product for the least amount of money.
The build quality is not the best with this product and as such looks rather cheap. It also feels pretty fragile. It has an adjustable head band and the ear pieces rotate on pivots at the sides. It is quite flexible though and rests well on the. The fit is comfortable and the cups aren’t as bad as they seem, the comfort is well in the domain of comfortable without much irritation to the ears over time. The colour of the headphones is a dark metallic grey.
The headphones are semi open and if we haven’t yet got the idea semi-open headphones are different from normal closed back headphones. The difference is quite significant and thus changes the situation in which you will depend on these types of headphones rather than the closed back alternative. The semi open back headphones are not noise cancelling and do not completely trap the music between the cups and your ears. They have small holes that lead out the other end of the headphones. This allows for what is called audio leak, meaning some of the audio passes into your surroundings. The nature and purpose of such an idea is to create a more three dimensional environment or a sound stage which makes the sound seem to come from around you rather than from the ear-pieces. Another thing with such headphones is that it gives a more honest sound, the bass is dampened somewhat and the mid tones and higher tones are the ones that are most heard. The lower tones and stronger bass does not come out as much. This is what makes these sort of headphones ideal for listening to rock, metal, some indie music or classical. In this regard the Beyerdynamic DTX 910 completely follows this principle and provides a great soundstage with a great audio backdrop for mid to high tone acoustics. The audio quality is what makes this pair stand out the most. That coupled with the price make this item a very appealing purchase.
The headphone comes with a 10 foot long cord, easily long enough to reach your PC at many lengths from your desk. Some of the features include a dynamic variant of the transducer with an open operating principle, a healthy frequency range of 15 to 23000 hertz, a 32 ohm impedance, a nominal SPL of 98 db, a power handling capacity of 100 mW and a 3.5 mm head jack. The lower impendence means that you can use the headphones with your smart phone or tablet, which is great because some headphones in this list aren’t really great for that.
So in a general summary the headphones are great for listening to music with an honest audio feedback, which brings out mid to higher tones more than the lower tones or bass. But the point is more bang for your buck and taking that into strong consideration and looking only at 50.00 USD these headphones are more than enough to serve as a starting platform for your open back headphone experience. In a case where you are a beginner you might not want to jump into this market with an ultra expensive set of headphones rather something a little more accommodating for your budget, in this sense this is the perfect set for. But not only is the price but the audio is still surprisingly good and the build quality is its only real major downfall.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Great for beginners
They look cheap
They feel fragile
Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-ear Headphones
This pair of headphones is not perfect, but it comes very close. There are so many things going for them that its shocking that at this price you can find a pair of headphones this good. It has landed a place in our top 3 in the top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD and was close to second position.
Let’s start of from the first impression and the thing you see right out of the box and that is the design. They look absolutely stunning. They look a lot smaller on pictures than they are in real life. They are actually quite massive. Don’t confuse this with a bad thing as their size makes them look more expensive and provides better comfort as you will soon find out. They are almost all black with a few minor exceptions like the ‘L’ and ‘R’ denoting the sides left and right found in large letters on the outside skirting of the earpieces. Another concept design that just makes an epic impact on the visual appearance. They are rather heavy and robust whilst hardly sacrificing elegancy. Somehow they have managed it all. They look very professional and perform as such.
The build quality is great and the material feels very durable. There is headband with a floating strap between that adds extra cushioning for your head and feels great when you wear it. The comfort of these headphones is something that really makes them stand out from the rest of the products in this line up. So far none of the products have even come close to how comfortable this pair is. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this. One of which is the thing we said we’d mention and that is the size of the headphones, because they are so large they allow for even bigger cups than usual and as such provide one of the most comfortable experiences so far. There is a mesh covering the fabric of the cups, and the cups themselves are very soft and tender. Yet still provide great resistance to pressure applied to them when wearing the headphones. They rotate on pivots located on the of the headphone and the pivots are re-secured with tape to make sure the paint doesn’t scratch off when you are rotating the cups. Truly Philips has paid particular attention to even the smallest details with this product.
Coming to the sound, the sound is fantastic. Yet again they fail to disappoint. The mid to high tones are excellent and the bass is present, but less so in the lower tones. The sound is honest and the vocals are really clear. The treble causes a bit of a problem when it comes out at the same time with some higher mid tones but other than that it’s just superb. The soundstage is another defining feature of the headphones. They make one of the best three dimensional spaces so far when jamming to your tunes. You can tell exactly where what sound is coming from and deduce the distance between them from the sound alone. Quite phenomenal. Although it is not without its faults and is not completely perfect unfortunately. The sound could still be improved upon and could be a bit better with the lower tones and bass, but so far they are amazing nonetheless. The voices are never muddy and don’t hide away behind the bass. After all these are open back headphones and will always offer a different sound to your more common closed back headphones.
The headphones feature 50mm vented neodymium drivers and a 10 foot long cord. Again the cord as with many headphones is rather long, but this issue should be addressed in that this is not at all a real issue. The headphones have a 3.5mm head jack and to find a cable that will replace the 10 foot long one that came with your headphones will cost close to nothing.
So in summation, these headphones are shockingly good, they are very cheap for the things that make them good, they are very comfortable if not the most comfortable they are very decent in terms of audio reproduction and look amazing. So think long and hard if you’re going for another pair because at 67.25 USD this pair of headphones is a steal.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
The sound quality could be worked on
Cord is a tad too long
Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones
Down to the last two on our list of top 10 best open back headphones under 100 USD and we’re looking at an amazing pair of Sennheiser HD558 headphones. It’s no surprise that Sennheiser makes an appearance on this list considering how accomplished the brand is in making headphones of all types. They definitely manage to maintain their amazing work as seen on these HD558 Sennheiser headphones. This brand makes amazing products and seldom fail to disappoint. It has been around for ages and has been one of the biggest competitors on the market both then and now. All with good reason though, they make absolutely fantastic headphones, both in terms of their visual appearance and more so in their quality of sound. So in regards to the HD558 they have held true to their potential and have produced an amazing pair of open back headphones.
Let’s begin with how they look because this is something that will capture your attention first. They look incredible. They stick with the grey black scheme of Sennheiser headphones which makes them easy to identify and recognize, which is probably what you want when wearing a nice pair of headsets like these. The build quality seems durable and the materials used to make it seem expensive and well crafted. The padding also looks very luxurious and is plentiful. It would seem the people working down at Sennheiser stress little over how much fabric they use on their cups and headbands as you are truly spoiled with how comfortable they are. The fabric is soft and feels very expensive with deep cups to accommodate for all sizes of ears. It is with an easy heart that we can proclaim these as one of the most comfortable pairs in our list. They are light but not too light to make them feel cheap and have a solid clamping force that keeps them firm on your head. The headphones are adjustable and rotate slightly on pivots to ensure a perfect fit. The cups are removable and are easy to wash.
The cord that comes in the box is a quarter inch gold plated jack, the usual and comes with an adapter to transform it into a 3.5mm head jack. Although the adapter for the 3.5mm head jack is rather big and heavy for use on smart phones, Sennheiser offers a wide range of cables and other such options that mean you won’t have to stress much over these little things. The cable is removable and Sennheiser has a wide range of cable lengths to offer, so you never have to worry about whether you’ll have to much or too little.
Now the thing we are looking forward to the most. The sound quality. The first thing that we should point out is that these headphones are after all open back and as such you should not expect the bass to be the determining factor of their quality. Open back headphones aren’t meant for crazy bass, they are meant to create great sound stages and give oneself the sense of having an out of body listening experience. This is exactly the thing that these headphones manage to achieve. The mid to high tones come out exceptionally well and every vocal can be heard in full clarity. The bass is present, it’s just not present in overwhelming quantity. Which some can take as being a negative, but it isn’t, like we mentioned these headphones aren’t built for mad bass. The tones and the sounds come out very well. The sound is a lot more colourful and vibrant than with other pairs of headphones and the mid tones create an awesome foundation for the rest of the tunes to settle in between. The only downside to these headphones is probably their obnoxious sound leak. They are very loud and as such let quite a considerable amount of sound out the back of the ear-pieces. This could be bothersome to others when travelling in public transport or on planes. So even though you might constantly be wondering whether your annoying someone or not, at least you’ll have one of the best sound experiences while doing so. Although this is the case, the sound stage is superb. It makes these headphones ideal for gaming or watching movies, enabling you to pick out the exact corner where the sound is originating from and at what distance. A truly fascinating feature of these headphones.
Now you’re probably thinking something like this is going to cost a fortune, but no. The headphones are only going to cost you around 57.00 USD plus a little extra for shipping. This is quite absurd considering that the headphones look and work way past the price range that they are offered at. It’s jaw dropping how good these headphones are and then ever more jaw dropping how affordable they are, at this point your jaw is basically dragging across the floor. But honestly past all joking these headphones are really quite remarkable and Sennheiser has done it again. They have impressed us beyond all uncertainty and have left us in awe. It would be advisable to give these headphones a try before any other pair, because you are not getting a better pair for this money.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Loud enough for anyone to be satisfied
Quite a bit of sound leak
Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones
There is a big reason why this pair of headphones is number one and it surpasses just the look and the quality. These headphones have a very powerful and rich history which is very enticing and really gives the headphones a certain extra appeal that no other pair on this list can match.
As you will probably notice straight off the bat, the headphones do not look very modern and rather go for a more retro, old school look. There is a reason behind this and it takes us on a trip through the past to the company Grado. The Grado company is a family owned business that has never really focused a lot of attention on advertising and because of this the headphones are widely uncommon and underrated. The company mainly focused their advertising on the basis of mouth to mouth advertising. Regardless of their choice of advertising though the company is still operating for more than 60 years and is still doing great. The headphones are all handmade and overlooked by the members of the Grado family or their employees. The headphones once complete are then each tested by the CEO of the company before the final decision to ship them out is made. There is a lot of care that goes into each of the headphones and they are made with a pure passion for the love of making headphones. This is the only such headphone brand in this list that still operates in this fashion and is a commodity in our age.
Apart from their history and although the look might be rather simple, they still look very good. They are bit more classical and almost make you wonder if they come with a cassette player. But this is what makes them in part wholly unique. They are different in many senses of the word and make for a fantastic edition to any music lovers headphone collection. The head band is stitched out of leather and does not come with any padding. This might seem a bit strange and uncomfortable but honestly it is anything but. They are very light and fit very well on the head and cause little to no irritation. The earpieces are covered with removable foam pads that feel really soft and work well to minimize and form of irritation from prolonged use. The ear pieces move around easily and rotate slightly to allow for a perfect fit.
The sound quality is probably something that makes them stand out the most apart from their historical background. They sound fantastic! They are managed and overlooked by the CEO just before the final verdict to ship them out is made and he uses reference points from several songs of his choice to determine their readiness for the market. This is an attention to detail that ensures the highest level of quality in a product that anyway speaks for itself. The sound stage is wide and sounds completely captivating, allowing a level of full immersion when listening to your music, watching your movies or playing your games. They hit the mid and high tones with an almost serene clarity and the bass sits in the background waiting for the right moment to jump into the mix. The bass again is not something to be expected to make a huge impact but it still makes its prescience known and gives the sound an extra bit of fluff. As their look would suggest they go really well with classical or jazz music or music with pronounced vocals. They do a great job of sound isolation and only have a small amount of audio leak. It’s not negligible but it little enough not to make a significant impact on the surroundings, unless someone is sitting right next to you and you have your volume way up.
All in all there are many reasons why this pair of headphones stands out from all the other, but it’s the dedication and time put into each hand made piece that really wins us over. The quality is exceptional but you want to know that your headphones have been approved first hand rather than just shipped out haphazardly by an automated packaging system. This is really a standalone pair of headphones in this regard and although they might not have as much padding as some others, they are still just as comfortable. The look also might be a little old school but some might enjoy this and it really makes them stand out as a time piece. The price for these headphones retails at about 99.00 USD which is a dollar under our limit and is more than a satisfactory figure to be paying for a pair of headphones crafted with this level of attention to detail and dedication. So if you are considering something that has a bit of a story behind it, a pair that captivates you past it’s obvious features and specs than this is definitely the go to pair of headphones for you.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Great historical background
Great sound quality
A little more pricey
So this brings us to the end of our list of top 10 best open back headphones under 100 and we have taken a look at a lot of headphones and considered many of the variables associated with their cost, quality and overall performance. It is important to summarize a few of the points that might be the most important as a reference for when you are picking out your pair of headphones:
A Thing of Preference
The decision in the end is always on you and each person is entitled to their own opinion. You might not agree with our list but that is completely normal, everyone can have their own preference or think that some characteristics are more important than others. In this sense if you are going for a pair of headphones based on their look and how they will compliment your outfit than it is a thing completely up to you. There are a lot of headphones here that look amazing and fit a wide range of looks with designs ranging from modern to simple or even retro or old school. If this is this case and you don’t care much for the quality of the sound than make sure you don’t spend too much money on a pair just for their look. You can get good looking headphones for cheaper. But if this is not the only determining factor and you just like the way they look then this is also an important variable. Either way the choice is yours and it’s what makes you happy at the end of the day that matters.
Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100 Top Picks
Sound quality is another varying factor in this list of headphones. There are many different sounds and mid tones and high tones that certain individual headphones reach and others don’t. Some require a little more skill to tweak and some not as much. It is important to therefore determine what it is you will be needing the headphones for. Is it for gaming, editing, watching movies, recording music or maybe just listening to tunes. Whatever the case some are better than others at these certain individual parts and so it would be advisable to go through our list and see which ones are better at what. Once you have done this consider the sound stage and whether or not you need a wider sound stage or not. For example maybe when you’re playing games it is more important where a certain sound is coming from than when listening to music. Another thing to keep in mind is the sound leak and how comfortable you are with other people hearing what you’re listening to. Some leak quite a bit and some less so. Whatever the case make sure you are first comfortable with the idea before going out and getting a pair that exudes a lot of noise to your surroundings.
The final thing to consider when looking at the list of top 10 best open back headphones in 2018 is whether or not you think that the headphones that you have picked out are going to be comfortable enough for you or not. Again it’s a thing of preference and fit. Some headphones have cups some don’t. Some people like the cups and some don’t. The cups are made of different materials and offer a wide selection of options to choose from so you certainly have a lot to play with. It’s just a matter of what you deem more important or otherwise comfortable. Maybe you prefer a leather headband over one covered with a mesh or perhaps you just find the foam covers enough. Whichever the case might be make sure you have taken this into consideration before finalizing your choice and getting your pair of headphones.
The prices are variable range of figures as we have seen. There are some that are more expensive than others for being either branded or better than others in certain aspects. Some are just more expensive because they cost more to produce. Whatever the case there are headphones that are more focused on certain aspects than others, like comfort, sound quality etc. So it is important to pick what is the most important to you and then look for the prices according to your most important criteria. It is essential that you don’t feel cheated out of your money and that you have gotten value for your money, so make sure you know what it is that you’re going for before buying the product.
Now that we have run through the things to look out for we can only hope that this has helped you somewhat to find a great product for you and that you take your headphones home with a smile on your face.
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Hello, my name is Danny Brown.
I am writer and editor at HeadphonesEncyclopedia, I’ve been reviewing all kinds of electronic devices, audio and video equipment for almost a decade. My specialty is audio equipment and I have a strong passion for headphones, speakers, and home theater systems. I spend hours and hours testing and evaluating audio equipment in order to offer you unbiased reviews. Since we all have different tastes when it comes to sound, don’t take my reviews for granted. They can offer you a lot of useful info but you should definitely test (hear) the headphones/speakers before making the purchase.