Finding a budget-friendly headset is a bit tricky, especially that we’ve all tried using thrifty headphones to save some money and it just doesn’t work. There’s no way to enjoy the music if you’re disappointed with the sound quality, and what makes things even more challenging is the wide variety of headsets on the market, but don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
On this list, you’ll find 7 of the best headphones under $150 that will blow your mind with their performance. All you have to do is to go through the reviews and the help section to find out which of these headphones is suitable for you.
So, without any further ado, let’s jump right into it!
|Audio Technica ATH-M50X||CLICK FOR PRICE||Closed-back||15 Hz – 28 kHz||38 Ohms||99 dB|
|GRADO SR80e||CLICK FOR PRICE||Open-back||20 Hz – 20 kHz||32 Ohms||99.8 dB|
|Sennheiser HD280 Pro||CLICK FOR PRICE||Closed-back||8 Hz – 25 kHz||64 Ohms||102 dB|
|Audio Technica – ATH AD900X||CLICK FOR PRICE||Open-back||5 Hz – 35 kHz||38 Ohms||100 dB|
|Skullcandy Crusher Wireless||CLICK FOR PRICE||Closed-back||20 Hz – 20 kHz||32 Ohms||90 dB|
|Mpow H5||CLICK FOR PRICE||Closed-back||20 Hz – 20 kHz||32 Ohms||105 dB|
|Sony MDR7506||CLICK FOR PRICE||Closed-back||10 Hz – 20 kHz||63 Ohms||106 dB|
The 7 Best Headphones Under $150 in 2020
1. Audio Technica ATH-M50X – Editor’s Choice
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X is a bit bulky, but it combines some of the features of professional studio headsets, as well as some standard features. Although its design isn’t attractive, it’s built to withstand rough handling without being damaged or broken. Also, it’s quite comfortable with ear cups that you can swivel up to 90 degrees to get a better fit.
It’s a basic headset, so it doesn’t feature Bluetooth or USB connectivity. Instead, it comes with three interchangeable cables; a 1.2m straight cable, a 1.2m – 3.0m coiled cable, and a longer 3m straight cable. Frankly, I wasn’t frustrated by the lack of modern connectivity options, but lacking active noise-cancellation was a bit disappointing. However, the closed-back design contributes to passive noise reduction as a compromise.
The 45mm drives provide excellent sound amplification with a sensitivity of 99 dB. That said, you should expect a bright and powerful sound, especially when it comes to bass. I don’t recommend this headset for those who prefer a neutral sound, but it’s perfect for those looking for energetic tones with a deep soundstage. Fortunately, the treble isn’t over-pronounced, so you don’t need to worry about any sibilance or echoes.
- Comes with multiple cables
- Extended frequency range (15Hz – 28 kHz)
- No wireless or USB connectivity
- Lacks neutrality
The sound quality of the Audio Technica ATH-TM50X makes it a perfect choice for electronic dance music (EDM) as well as studio tracking and mixing. It’s convenient for both professionals and amateurs, and this is why it’s at the top of the list.
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2. GRADO SR80e – Best Value for Money
The GRADO SR80 series is currently available for less than $100, yet offers high-end sound quality. It has enhanced performance with higher frequency response and a sufficiently-high sensitivity of 99.8 dB.
In terms of design, the headset has on-ear earcups, 40mm drivers, and a 2m non-removable cable. It might be a bit weaker around the Y-splitter, but the casting of the wires is quite durable. Additionally, this model is the lightest in the series, which is in favor of comfort, although I wish it had thicker padding.
As for looks, it has a vintage appearance that makes it look authentic, and you can see the drivers through the metal cover on the earcups.
As I tested the model, I was impressed with how clean the highs come off. On the other hand, the lows and mids weren’t that satisfactory, yet that’s pretty expected with an open-back headset. Noise-cancellation is off the list, especially that it comes with an open-back design. This makes it a better choice for indoor use. To sum up, the sound neutrality is amazing, and you’ll definitely enjoy the clear dynamics.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Authentic design
- Excellent sound quality
- The cable isn’t detachable
- Doesn’t support noise cancellation
The GRADO SR80e series is a treat for those who like to enjoy some quiet music time. Of course, the newer GRADO Prestige models can offer a deeper soundstage with more details, but it comes at a price.
3. Sennheiser HD280 Pro – Best Headset for Professional Users
As the name implies, the Sennheiser HD280 is made for professional purposes; whether it’s recording or mixing, you can do all it at an affordable price thanks to this masterpiece.
There isn’t much to say about the design of the headset; it’s pretty straightforward. The closed-back style was intended for a more immersive experience. It comes with a 1.5m – 3m coiled cable with no other accessory except for a 0.25-inch adaptor.
The drivers are 50mm with a sensitivity of 102 dB. This helps with sound amplification; however, with an impedance of 64 ohms, it won’t be too loud for the user’s ears. You’ll absolutely appreciate the driver’s quality that delivers a deep soundstage with a wide signature.
With the Sennheiser HD280 Pro, it all adds up so that distortion is rarely an issue – something that every performer struggles with when using a budget headset in a studio. Additionally, with an extended frequency range from 8Hz to 25 kHz, you can rest assured that you’ll capture more details and highly accurate tones.
As mentioned earlier, this headset is perfect for studios, yet when I tested it on my smartphone, an iPhone X, I wasn’t disappointed at all. To be honest, I expected some crackling, but apparently, it can handle deep bass without distortion. Regardless, some songs would sound more capturing with other standard options.
- High sensitivity
- Large drives with excellent quality
- Durable and comfort
- Doesn’t distort with different devices
- The cable isn’t detachable
- Better performance in studios
The Sennheiser HD280 Pro can more or less compete with some of the more expensive headsets that are used in the studios. Even if such expensive models kill on various levels, this headset deserves some credit for what it offers at this price range.
4. Audio Technica – ATH AD900X – Best Soundstage
The ATH-AD900X is different from the AHT-TM50x reviewed earlier in various aspects. To begin with, it features an open-air design with much larger drivers that are 53mm each. Also, the frequency response is wider, from 5 Hz to 35 kHz, so the details are better on this model.
I didn’t expect much from the design, but the headset didn’t’ fit my head well because it was too big. Moreover, the earcups hardly rotate, which makes things even harder. The 3m cable isn’t detachable, but it’s durable.
Moving on to the sound, it was very soft with the lower frequencies, and the bass is a bit lighter than expected. The mid-range, on the other hand, is loud and balanced. The highs are bright as well, but what will truly blow your mind is the soundstage. It’s one of the widest on the market and not just among the budget headsets, but also when compared to more expensive models.
Because the sensitivity is as high as 100 dB, whereas the impedance is as low as 38 ohms, the headset is compatible with a wide variety of audio devices. Besides, you can use this headset for both listening to music and gaming. The airy sound presentation is an advantage to those who prefer natural sound quality.
- Large drives
- Clean and accurate tonality
- Compatible with different audio devices
- Non-removable cable
- Stiff earcups
- Not suitable for small heads
If you’re looking for an affordable, yet versatile headset that you can use with different devices, you’ll appreciate the performance of the Audio Technica – ATH AD900X. Anyhow, if you’re all about the bass, you won’t be satisfied with this model.
5. Skullcandy Crusher Wireless – Best Affordable Wireless Headset
The Skullcandy Crusher headset doesn’t dazzle much when it comes to the design. I think they went with the matte black finish in an attempt to make the headset look more sophisticated, yet it still looks cheap. This, however, has nothing to do with its durability. It feels pretty sturdy to the extent that you might find them stiffer than they should be.
All that aside, the company did an outstanding job with the battery life, especially that you can get the headset for less than $100. It can last for up to 40 hours when fully charged, and with the implemented “fast charge” technology, charging the battery for 10 minutes gets the headset up and running for 3 hours.
In terms of performance, the bass is like no other on our list. The company promised to use haptic feedback that makes the user feel the music, and they sure did. Even if you keep the bass slider down, you’ll still enjoy a rich sound. It would have been great if they threw noise-cancellation into the mix, but I guess that’s quite alright because the over-ear design reduces the noise anyways.
The Bluetooth connectivity is stable and consistent at a reasonable distance from various devices. Also, there’s a 3.5mm jack that you can use whenever you’re low on battery. All in all, the headset is comfortable to use for prolonged hours and can offer a personalized experience.
- Excellent battery life
- Strong bass
- Bright sound
- Doesn’t feature noise-cancellation
Clearly, the Skullcandy Crusher is made for bass lovers. It’s a user-friendly headset with easy controls and simple design. The drivers are only 40mm, and the sensitivity is only 90 dB, but these are minor compromises when you think about the bigger picture.
6. Mpow H5 – Best Active Noise-Cancellation
The Mpow H5 is one of the headsets no one expects to find at such an affordable price, particularly when you go through the specs. As for the design, it’s quite standard, featuring a plastic body with large earcups and 40mm drivers. Also, it’s lightweight, so the majority will find it comfortable to wear. However, the padding doesn’t add much to its comfort.
The key feature is the Active Noise Cancelling (ANC), but it can be a little tricky to use. While it does an amazing job with ambient noises like fans, machines, and cars, it doesn’t do much for people’s voices. This is Simply because the ANC chip isn’t that advanced, but it still gets the job done, especially with bass tones.
Jumping to audio quality, there’s nothing extraordinary. The impedance is 32 ohms, and the frequency range goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz with an excellent sensitivity of 105 dB. That said, you can use the equalizer to customize different profiles according to your preferences.
In addition to noise-cancellation, the headset features wireless connectivity with a 15-hour battery life, which is slightly lower than average. However, if you think about it, no one can handle 15 hours of continuous play, so if you make sure to recharge the battery after each session, you’ll always be ready to go.
Meanwhile, you can connect the headset with any audio device, regardless of the make, but my concern here is that you only get 33-feet of connectivity, which is lower than expected, but again understandable considering that it costs less than $50.
- Lightweight and portable
- Features Active Noise Cancellation
- Supports wireless connectivity
- Battery life is lower than average
- Restricted connectivity field
Users who travel a lot or spend a couple of hours to get to their work will benefit from the Mpow H5 the most. It’s made for outdoor use, yet you can use it indoors if you live in a noisy environment.
7. Sony MDR7506 – Most Portable
The Sony MDR7506 comes in a foldable design that makes it easy to carry around. It features 40mm drivers with a 1.8 m coiled cord that goes up to 3m when fully extended. The headset is pretty strong despite looking otherwise. Furthermore, the headband is adjustable, and the earcups are reasonably sized so that the headset fits most head sizes.
You shouldn’t expect any modern features with this headset because things are as simple as can be. The only two things included in the package are a 0.25-inch adaptor and a soft carrying case. There are no controls, so increasing or reducing the volume can only be done from the device that you connect the headset to.
Surprisingly, this headset sounds amazing that it’s one of the most popular headsets that are used in studios by musicians who’re starting out their music career. The neutrality of the sound produced by the headset is certainly an advantage, especially when compared to other models that over-emphasize some tones and cover the original mix of the songs.
Although it might sound like the Sony MDR7506 was built for studio use, they’re actually good for general use as well. True, they won’t do anything special, but with a sensitivity of 106 dB and a frequency range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz, you can certainly enjoy clear and loud sound.
- Comes with a carrying case
- Outstanding sound with clear tones
- Doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity
- Doesn’t feature any controls
Although there’s nothing too special about the Sony MDR7506, not having to compromise functionality in order to pay less is actually special. In other words, this headset can cover your different basic needs. It won’t excel, but it won’t disappoint either.
How to Pick Affordable Headphones
Open-Back vs. Closed-Back
Open-back headphones allow the air to pass into and out of the earcups. They’re initially designed to prevent the pressure from building up inside and, thus, impacting the sound quality. You might have noticed throughout the previous reviews that all the open-back headsets offer a natural sound, and now you understand why.
Nonetheless, there’s a downside to using such headphones, which is allowing the ambient noise to get to your ears. As far as I’m concerned, these headsets are better to use in quiet places while listening to high-quality audio.
On the other hand, closed-back headsets are entirely sealed to prevent any sound leakage. This makes them great for passive noise-cancellation, so you can use them outdoors or in crowded places without being disturbed by any background noise. Still, the tones will be more or less artificial; besides, I don’t recommend using these headphones if you have sensitive skin because the pressure can make your ears a bit itchy and sweaty.
The frequency response refers to the frequency ranges that the headset can capture when it comes to bass, mids, and treble. You’ll frequently see two numbers, for example, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, which is the standard frequency response for most headphones. The first number denotes the bass, and the second implies the treble with the mid-range in between.
If the headphones you choose have a wider range, it means that it can catch more tones. This doesn’t necessarily mean a better sound quality. Also, keep in mind that the bass is felt rather than heard under 20 Hz, whereas a treble over 20 kHz is usually hard to detect.
The impedance is the resistance of the device to the electric current. I know this sounds like jargon, but I’ll simplify things so that it’s easier to understand. When you connect your headphones to a device, this device pushes some power into the wires. The headset, then, converts this power into the audio you hear.
If the impedance of the headset is high, it won’t be compatible with certain devices. Meanwhile, if the impedance is low, then you can use the headphones with a wider range of devices. Be mindful that a very low impedance may lead to blowouts while using the headset with powerful amplifiers like DJ mixers and recording devices. In this case, a headset of 60 to 70 ohms would be a better choice.
Comfort is so essential, so every audiophile should think about it, whether they’re amateurs or professionals. It might sound like something that you can compromise if you’re on a tight budget, but trust me, it’s not. It actually implies more if you’re on a tight budget, because investing in a new headset won’t be on the table for a while.
Headphones with adjustable headbands and ear cups that can be swiveled are generally more comfortable and better-fitting than their stiff counterparts. Also, the thick padding contributes to a pain-free listening experience.
The type of connectivity the headphones support is another thing that you’ll have to think about. For most headsets, a wired connection offers a more stable sound. However, as technology advances, some wireless headsets become more capable of delivering steady performance as well. It’s still a matter of personal preference, but unless you’re a casual listener, going with a wired option will give you more advantages, especially when it comes to accuracy and sound fidelity.
As challenging as it might be, finding the best headphones under $150 is a piece of cake once you get a better understanding of the specifications of the available models and match these specifications to your personal needs.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X is an outstanding headset to use at home or in a studio. Its closed-back design is ideal for noise isolation, and it offers balanced sound across an extended frequency range.
If you ask me about the best open-back alternative to the ATH-M50X, I would recommend the GRADO SR80e owing to its durability and comfortable design. Bear in mind that both headsets I just mentioned are wired with no Bluetooth or USB connectivity, so you might want to consider Skullcandy Crusher Wireless if you’re looking for an affordable wireless headset for everyday use. It has an amazing battery life and it supports fast charging.
At the end of the day, the decision is yours, but having read the important specs to consider, we trust you’ll make the right one.