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Best headphones for students

Looking for an affordable pair of headphones to take back with to school? Here are some of CNET's top current picks.

David Carnoy
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
David Carnoy
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1 of 21 CNET

Aiaiai Tracks

Their durability may be questionable, but the lightweight and comfortable Aiaiai Tracks deliver surprisingly rich sound for an affordable price.
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2 of 21 Audio-Technica

Audio-Technica ATH-M30

Audio-Technica's ATH-M30 headphones aren't on par with the step-up ATH-M50s, but they deliver very good sound for a low price.
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3 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Audio-Technica ATH-WS55 Solid Bass

The WS55s may not make a comfortable fit for everyone, but they do sound really good for the money.
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4 of 21 Bose

Bose IE2

For those who don't to like to have earbuds jammed in their ears, Bose's $99 IE2s are a good alternative. They sound decent but get their highest marks for their comfort level.
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5 of 21 Grado

Grado SR80i

A few years back, Grado tweaked its $99 SR80 made-in-Brooklyn headphones, adding an "i" to the end of the name without actually adding it to the product itself. We still like the older SR80, which remains on the market, but recommend going for the slightly upgraded SR80i.
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6 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Hifiman RE-400

We were impressed with how accurate the Hifiman RE-400 earphones are, as well as with their simple yet elegant design.
7 of 21 Klipsch

Klipsch Image S4 line

Klipsch Image S4 line has long been a CNET favorite in the in-ear category. The original S4 has dipped below the $50 mark, while the S4i, which has a microphone and in-line remote, can be had for about $10 more. In 2012, Klipsch released the newer and updated Image S4i II, which features a sturdier flat-cord design and costs $89. And you can also pick up the Image S4i Rugged ($99), an "all-weather" sports model. While the designs are each slightly different, they all sound the same.
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8 of 21 LG

LG Tone HBS-700 stereo Bluetooth headset

LG's Tone HBS-700 stereo Bluetooth headset is among the most comfortable we've tried, and it offers good audio quality.
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9 of 21 MEElectronics

MEElectronics A151

The MEElectronics A151 balanced-armature headphones are one of the best sets of earphones out there for around $50.

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10 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

MEElectronics Air-Fi AF32

The MEElectronics Air-Fi AF32 is a comfortable set of on-ear Bluetooth headphones that also sounds good -- for Bluetooth headphones, anyway.
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11 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum

They're pricey, but the natural, pure-sounding Sennheiser Momentum headphones will appeal to young audiophiles. There's also a less-expensive on-ear version this headphone that has just hit the market.
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12 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Monster iSport Intensity

The Monster iSport Intensity shares some similarities with the Bose SEI2i sports headphones, but these cost about $50 less. You can also get a good deal on the yellow Livestrong version of Monster's true in-ear model, the iSport Immersion -- it costs around $50 -- but that model will eventually be discontinued.
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13 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Noontec Zoro HD

We initially had the $75 Noontec Zoro on the list, calling it a "bargain audiophile headphone" thanks to its clear, balanced sound. The standard Zoro is still available, but Noontec has more recently released the Zoro HD, which looks identical but offers better sound. It lists for $149.95 but can be had online for $99.95.
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14 of 21 Sennheiser

Sennheiser HD280 Pro

The HD280 Pro headphones received an CNET Editors' Choice Award years ago, but they remain on the market and have dropped below $100.

Note: When we originally reviewed this model, it cost more and we said that it was pricey. No longer.

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15 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose AE2w Bluetoth headphones

Sure, for $50 more you can get the noise-canceling Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones. But those aren't wireless.
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16 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser PX 100-IIi

Sennheiser's lightweight on-ear PX 100-IIi headphones are available for less than $60 and offer surprisingly good sound.
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17 of 21 V-Moda

V-Moda Remix Remote

The Remix remote was released back in 2010, but it's come down in price and is one of the better earphone deals out there (and it features an Apple-friendly inline remote with microphone). Like all V-Moda earphones, it delivers a lot of bass.
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18 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Monster Inspiration

The Monster Inspiration comes in noise-canceling and non-canceling models. We prefer the sound of the non-NC model -- and it's a bit less expensive.
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19 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda Crossfade M-100

V-Moda's Crossfade M-100 is well built, comfortable, sounds great, and earned an Editors's Choice Award in 2012. Available in multiple colors.
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20 of 21 Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins P5

Bowers & Wilkins P5 and the less-expensive P3 have swanky, on-ear designs, and very good sound (though the P5 sounds better).
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21 of 21 Sarah Tew/CNET

Harman-Kardon BT

The design is a little funky, but the Harman-Kardon BT sounds great for a Bluetooth headphone. The headphone is also available in a noise-canceling version for more money -- but that model does not offer wireless streaming.

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