Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $100


If you landed on this article, you probably know that moving-coil/dynamic headphones are the typical headphones with transducers made of a magnetic motor; voice coil and diaphragm. This general design is very popular because it sounds pretty good (especially with proper tuning); it’s durable, and it’s affordable.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to find the best pair for your needs. It’s important to know that, although many of the lower-end dynamic headphones sound similar, they are not all designed the same. In this article, we’ll discuss the best dynamic headphones that fit within a $100 USD budget.

The top 5 best moving-coil/dynamic headphones under $100 are:

There are certainly better options at higher price points but $100 will surely get you a pair of headphones that will sound great and continue to perform as long as you take care of them. Let’s discuss the best under $100.

Since we’re having a discussion within the context of a price cap, I figure I should leave a link to a related My New Microphone article: Are Expensive Headphones (Or Cheap Headphones) Worth It?


What Makes A Great Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list out the criteria used for determining what makes a great pair of dynamic headphones.

  • Comfort: this is perhaps the simplest yet most important criterion of any headphone. Though highly subjective, specifications such as weight; contact pressure; earpad shape/material; stiffness, and the overall dimension play a role in comfort.
  • Impedance/device compatibility: at $100, we won’t be getting a pair of high-end studio headphones. So then, we should be more concerned with compatibility with mobile and consumer audio devices. This means that the impedance should be low to avoid required a portable headphone amplifier. The sensitivity rating should also be considered in this discussion.
  • Frequency response: a great pair of headphones should be able to reproduce the full audible spectrum from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with clarity.

Wireless (especially Bluetooth) capabilities are also seen as a benefit since they further improve the functionality and general comfort of the headphones. However, the cost of adding wireless technology will generally take away from the sound quality. The best moving-coil dynamic headphones at this price will likely be wired.

To learn more about moving-coil dynamic headphones, be sure to check out my article: The Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones.

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best moving-coil dynamic headphones under $100!


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AKG K240

To begin, let’s discuss the Austrian company AKG and the AKG K240 (link to check the price on Amazon).

AKG K240

The AKG K240 is a semi-open circumaural (over-ear) wired headphone marketed at professional studios.

The AKG 240 is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $100
Top Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100
Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $100

The patented Varimotion 30mm XXL transducers used in the K240 give the headphones the smallest drivers of any model on this list. These drivers reproduce audio with great accuracy and a superb dynamic range across the audible frequencies.

The K240 comes with its own detachable 3-meter-long cable with a professional mini XLR at one end (to connect to the headphone) and a typical 3-pin 3.5mm TRS at the other end. Its 55-ohm nominal impedance rating means that this headphone can easily connect to consumer-grade and mobile audio equipment without issue. A 3.5mm to 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter is included.

To learn more about headphone cables, check out my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

The over-ear design envelopes the ears nicely and the earpads maintain a comfortable fit. The overall fit is made better via the self-adjusting headband. These headphones are designed to keep listeners comfortable throughout long mixing, mastering and playback sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Patented Varimotion 30 mm XXL Transducer
  • Impedance: 55 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 25,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB SPL/V
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 240 g (8.47 oz)
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

To learn more about headphone specifications, be sure to read my article Full List: Headphone/Earphone Specifications w/ Examples.

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

The AKG K72 (link to check the price on Amazon) is another inexpensive option from AKG worth checking out.


Grado SR80e

Second up is a supra-aural headphone from the American company Grado. It’s the Grado SR80e (link to check the price on Amazon).

Grado SR80e

The Grado SR80e is a supra-aural (on-ear) open-back wired headphone that’s a great choice for on-the-go listeners that do not want to sacrifice audio quality.

The Grado SR80e is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Open-Back Headphones Under $100
Top Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under $100

The moving-coil drivers of the SR80e are matched to 0.1 dB for a superb stereo listening experience. Sound is reproduced with precision in the bass and top-end, and the entire range is heard with superb dynamics.

The transducers and the housing are designed to eliminate transient distortions, allowing the SR80e to excel in accurately reproducing the audio.

Each of the earcups is connected to a fixed audio cable. This 4-pin cable and gold-plated 3.5mm plug carry audio without any noticeable degradation, ensure the headphones receive and reproduce the audio that is being sent to the drivers. A 3.5mm to 6.35mm gold-plated adapter is included.

A rated impedance of 32 ohms means the Grado SR80e cans will work with any mobile device or studio-grade equipment without issue.

To learn more about headphone impedance, check out my article The Complete Guide To Understanding Headphone Impedance.

These headphones sit light on the listener’s head and, though they sit firmly, do not apply too much pressure on the ears. The S cushions soften the fit, improving comfort even further. Supra-aural headphones are somewhat notorious for being uncomfortable on the surface of the ear. Grado breaks that stereotype with the SR80e.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB SPL/1mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Supra-aural/Open-back
  • Weight: 8.3 oz./235 g
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Grado Labs is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

Third on the list, it’s the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x (link to check the price on Amazon) from the Japanese brand Audio-Technica.

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x is a closed-back circumaural dynamic headphone and is part of Audio-Technica’s popular M-Series line of headphones.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $100
Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $100

The 40mm dynamic drivers are designed with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. Their sound is further tuned by the earcup design for a flat and surprisingly accurate sound across the entire frequency range and beyond (the headphone has a published frequency response of 15 Hz – 24,000 Hz which surpasses the audible spectrum into both infrasound and ultrasound).

For more info on frequency response, check out my article What Is Headphone Frequency Response & What Is A Good Range?

With a low impedance of 35 ohms, the ATH-M40x will work well with consumer-grade recording hardware and playback devices.

The headphone comes with a detachable 1.2m – 3.0m coiled cable and a 3.0m straight cable with 3.5mm connections. A new purchase of this headphone also comes with a 3.5mm to 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter.

The circumaural design fits nicely around the ears, providing some amount of passive noise isolation. These headphones aren’t the most comfortable in the world but for under $100, they can be worn without issue even during longer listening sessions.

These headphones are also pretty durable, easily withstanding typical wear and tear. They’re also collapsible, with 90º-swivelling earcups for space-saving portability.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnet & CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire) Voice Coil
  • Impedance: 35 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 24,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 240 g (8.5 oz), without cable and connector
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Audio-Technica is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

Audio-Technica’s ATH-M20x (link to check the price on Amazon) and ATH-M30x (link to check the price on Amazon) are also options worth checking out for under $100.


Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Fourth up is the popular Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (link to check the price on Amazon) headphone from the world-renowned German brand Sennheiser.

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is a popular dynamic headphone option below $100. It has a closed-back over-ear design and a wired connection.

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $100
Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $100

The 40mm dynamic drivers in the HD 280 Pro, combined with the closed-back design, offer an extended and accurate bass response, clear mids and non-fatiguing highs. In fact, the extended lows (and highs) push the published frequency response beyond the audible range of hearing.

The rated impedance of these Sennheiser headphones is 64 ohms. In general, this impedance is the borderline between high-end professional headphones that require dedicated amplifiers and “regular” headphones that will work with typical mobile and consumer-grade audio devices. So then, the HD 280 Pro will work perfectly fine in both pro settings and with consumer-grade devices.

The HD 280 Pro comes with a detachable 1.3m|3m coiled cable (with typical 3.5mm jacks) and a 1/4″ (6.35mm) adapter for easy connecting to the vast majority of headphone outputs.

To learn more about 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone plugs/jacks, check out my article The Differences Between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm Headphone Jacks.

The robust construction of the HD 280 Pro is complemented by soft earpads and an adjustable headband for a comfortable fit. This fit provides a decent amount of passive noise isolation. The earcups are folding and rotating for compact transport and storage.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 64 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 25,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: no info
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 285 g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Sennheiser is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World and Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World.


Shure SRH440

Last but not least is the Shure SRH440 (link to check the price on Amazon) from the American audio manufacturer Shure.

Shure SRH440

Shure SRH440 is another closed-back circumaural dynamic headphone with wired connectivity.

The Shure SRH440 is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $100
Top Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $100
Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $100

The headphone’s 40mm dynamic drivers are designed for superb bass, clear mids and enjoyable highs. Its extended frequency response is tuned to accurately reproduce the audio being fed to it, whether it be music, movies or speech.

To learn more about what driver size can tell use about a headphone, check out my article What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones?

The nominal impedance of the SRH440 is rated at 44 ohms, which is low enough to work with any consumer or professional device. A detachable 3 m (10 ft.) coiled cable and threaded 1/4″ (6.35 mm) gold-plated adapter is included with any new purchase of this Shure headphone.

As would be expected, the closed-back, circumaural design offers a great deal of noise isolation in noisy environments. The adjustable and collapsible headband offers improved comfort and portability. Earpads are easily replaceable if and when they wear out.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 44 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 311 g
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Shure is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World and Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


Honourable Mentions

Here are a couple of headphones worth considering that didn’t make the top 5:

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