Best Headphones Under 100

best headphones under 100Last week, I decided that I wanted something a little better than the Apple earbuds that came with my iPhone to listen to music. I made it my goal to find the best headphones under 100 Dollars. Why $100? Well, years ago, I paid right around $100 for a pair of over-the-ear Sony Headphones. Even though they still work, they were collecting dust for a number of years until my son decided he could use them for some of his computer and music programming. Even my son was surprised when I told him I paid $100 for these Sony headphones. He has been planning on getting a good pair of headphones for himself, too. These particular Sony headphones were only average.  Problems? Well, for starters, they had a rather weak bass and a tinny narrow-sounding mid-range and treble. They just didn’t sound live enough. I thought I could do better for under $100 bucks and I was proven right. I bought these headphones before the internet age when I didn’t have the privilege of doing a Google search for the best Headphones under 100. Finally,  I decided to do something about it and find something that would actually improve my music listening experience at home.

Best Headphones under $100 for $21.59

Monoprice Headphones Model # 8323

The best headphones for under 100 Dollars ended up costing me only $21.59 (nearly only 20% of my projected budget). Now, I can’t say with absolute certainty that there are not better headphones which might cost $70, $80 or $90, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them. I would also venture to guess that there are sets that cost over $100 that don’t sound quite as good as these Monoprice Headphones. The Monoprice Headphones were $21.59 plus about $6.50 for shipping and arrived at my door in two days.

Monoprice Headphones User Ratings

monoprice headphonesAt, there were 40 ratings from happy music listeners on the 8323 Model Monoprice headphones.  What really pushed me over the top, was a very favorable expert review on the CNET website. The majority opinion on these headphones was that they are astoundingly good for the price. Some users of $100 and $150 headphones went so far to say that the monoprice headphones were actually better. My search for the best headphones over $100 ended quicker and much cheaply than I expected. I bought a pair. I was anxious to see if 40 people could be wrong about the Model # 8323 Monoprice Headphones.

Monoprice Headphones # 8323 Sound Notes

I received the monoprice headphones only two days after ordering them. I was immediately impressed with the two detachable cords that came with the set: One long, thick cord and one short cord. The monoprice headphones seem well-made; are light weight and very comfortably fit over the ears. They do an outstanding job of blocking out surrounding noise. I have a wide variety of music on my iPhone from classical, pop vocals to rock, jazz, soul and some hip hop. These headphones have a very balanced sound. Good, solid, well directed bass; very tight mid-range and crisp highs that don’t get tinny or out of range. These sound great on the iPhone, but even better playing direct WAV Tracks from a CD and external amplifier. The stereo separation from ear to ear is very good. If I have a complaint, it might be that they could use a bit more bass and that the mid-range seems a little too harsh at times. I am being real picky, though – these headphones are a treat and they certainly blow the $100  Sony headphones out of the water. These are the best Cheap Headphones you can buy.  After listening to them for the past couple of days, I have no problem believing others who claim that these $21.59 Monoprice headphones were better than the ones that cost them 5 to 8-times more.

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White Noise App and Sleep Sounds

What is a White Noise App?

white noise appA White Noise App provides Smart Phone users with sounds to fall asleep to. If you’re like me, and have trouble falling asleep and/or happen to be a very light sleeper, you are likely to agree with me that a White Noise App is the most useful and healthiest utility you ever owned for your iPhone, Droid, iPad or any other mobile device. It was by no accident that I discovered how useful it would be to download sleep sounds for my iPhone. While staying at a couple of Hotels this past summer and fall I noted how easily I could be woken up by the slightest noise. One Hotel I stayed at in New Mexico this fall had a particularly noisy room heater. The fan drowned out those subtle, but startling noises like doors closing down the hall, footsteps, running water, etc. I slept like a rock that night and then it dawned on me:  I needed a white noise app for my iPhone! Finding sounds to fall sleep to at night would be the easiest thing in the world for my iPhone and stereo dock. I browsed the online Apple applications and found everything I needed and more.  In fact, there are so many apps that provide sleep sounds that it would be impossible to try them all. Under the category of white noise app there are tons of things: Sleep Noises, Sleep Sounds, Relaxing Ocean Sounds, music for sleeping, rain storms. Thunder, oscillating fans, chimes, airplane travel, pet noises, birds, crickets, trains, car traffic, city sounds, beaches, waves, wind, waterfalls, vacuums; and on and on – there is even a white noise sound for your white noise app. You would be hard-pressed to name the number one sleep sounds application because they all have slightly different advantages. The good news is that there are many excellent white noise apps and you don’t need to pay much if any for them. Let me explain my experience with a few of the more highly rated ones from the Apple application Store.

Sleep Sounds to Fall Asleep To…


music sleep soundsThis one is a sentimental favorite of mine because it is the first white noise app. Naturespace comes with 6 sleep sounds themes: Song Birds, Summer Valley, Infinite Shoreline, Riverwind, Rain Into Water and Night at Lake. All of the sleep sounds are very high quality and effective, but if you want more you have to buy them. Also, there is no possibility of customizing these sounds or changing the mixture, balance and volume. One other huge drawback that I discovered through personal experience: My first couple of times using Naturespace, I noticed that I would always seem to wake up right around the time the music or sleep sounds were timed to turn off. Hmmm, I wondered if there were any other types of white noise apps that addressed this. The limitations of Naturespace could have something to do with the fact it is a free version, but I was unable to find any upgrades for it other than additional sleep sounds. Obviously, a good white noise app should provide more than just sounds to fall asleep to. I was pleased to find a great number of apps that addressed these limitations.

Sleep Machine

sounds to fall asleep toI downloaded Sleep Machine by SleepSoft LLC because it was very highly recommended. The free version is very impressive. My number one issue with waking up abruptly when the sounds stopped is addressed with a programmable sleep timer that actually fades the sleep sounds out gradually over time. Problem solved – on my first use with Sleep Machine, I didn’t wake up when the sleep music or sleep sounds stopped. Sleep Machine is far more powerful and customizable than NatureSpace. You have 13 different sounds with the free version and you are able to mix these sounds, 3 at a time. Also, you can save your favorite combinations of sounds. Sleep Machine comes with 7 pre-mixed favorites: Beach House, Sci-Fi Movie, Stormy Beach, Summer Porch, White Noise Blast, Spring Rain, Train Ride. For $1.99, you can add dozens of more sounds and a full featured alarm clock. Sleep Sound apps don’t get much better than this – or do they?

Nature Sound

Nature Sound comes with 35 Sleep Sounds and a Mixer that allows you to combine a dozen or more sounds at once. The free version is limited to just 11 mixer settings, but for 99 cents you can add 100 Soundtracks on to your sound board as well as 30 photos and 6 lullabies. You can assign a picture to each of the sounds in your soundboard. Additionally, you can  mix sounds from your own iPod Library. Nature Sound is an impressive product. Sound quality is probably not quite up to par with Naturespace, but you would never know it on a small, iPhone Dock. Once you add, combine and balance the sounds the way you want them, you can save them onto an icon for quick play back. Even the free version of Nature Sound is flexible and powerful. If I have one minor complain it is that the interface is a bit confusing. Between Sounds and Soundboards, it took me a little while to figure out the system.


The WhiteNoise white noise app seems to be the most configurable of them all as far as tweaking sleep sounds. Functionally, WhiteNoise by TMSOFT is very similar to Nature Sound, without the photos and icons. The difference with WhiteNoise is that you can do more with the actual sound. In addition to volume and balance you can also change the pitch. Like Nature Sound, it seems that you can mix an endless number of songs with White Noise. Without having the chance to spend a few nights with each of these sleeping sound programs, it’s hard to say which one is my favorite between this one and Nature Sound. Perhaps, the difference will be in the quality of the sounds.

The bottom line is that you cannot go wrong with Sleep Machine, Nature Sound or White Noise for helping you get to sleep and stay asleep. Having programmable sounds to fall asleep to is a luxury that I didn’t know existed prior to the iPhone and its endless opportunities. It is important to choose one that has the fade, sleep timer. If you need a better night’s sleep, the answer is a white noise app. Wait..not so fast!

Relax Melodies

relax melodiesI spoke way too soon before I found yet another white noise app yesterday evening that I like better than them all. Relax Melodies (Premium Version) was priced a little steep for an iPhone application ($2.99), but after using the free version of Relax Melodies I instantly appreciated the user interface which is extremely intuitive and much more enjoyable to use than the rest of the sleep sounds apps. I have never been so eager to spend $2.99 in all of my life to get all 82 sounds that come with the premium version. As much as I love both WhiteNoise and Nature Sound, the interface for mixing sounds, setting the timer and other settings are a bit confusing and just not as pleasant and fun to use as Relax Melodies. With Relax Melodies, it is not only possible to choose from an unlimited number of sound combinations, but choosing them, using them and saving them to your Favorites is actually easy and fun. All 82 sounds are visually grouped on pages which you can scroll through by swiping left or right with your finger. You select and preview each sound by simply pressing it once with your finger. You can adjust the volume balance of each individual sound by sliding the top volume bar to the left or right. Once you’ve selected the combination of sounds and balance you like, you simply press the favorites button at the bottom of your screen; select the “Add Selection” icon on the top right of your screen, type in your name and press the “Save” Icon – Very Intuitive!
Go go back to the sounds, simply press the “Home” button the bottom left of your screen. Each page, includes between 9-12 sounds and there is great depth and variety. I believe the variety, depth and quality of the sounds on Relax Melodies is better than all of the others. The basics are all there: Rain, Waterfalls, Sprinklers, Thunder Storms, wind chimes, birds, crickets, flutes, oceans, etc., etc., but there are also some very beautiful melodies that blend quite well with them all. My favorites are Orchestra and Drama. There are also some meat and potatoes white noise sounds: Pink Noise, Brown Noise and White Noise. If you want to get scientific about sleep sounds, Relax Melodies also includes something called, binaurals beats which are produced using a beating tone between the ears. This is meant for headphone use only and includes 6 different sleep levels: Deep Meditation, Dreams, Dreamless Sleep, Concentration, Relaxation, Pre-Sleep. I plan on experimenting with some of these at certain times of the day/night.

Supports Air Play

Monoprice Headphones is Air Play ready, so you can stream it on your television and/or high quality stereo system. Streaming to a really good stereo is a great way to experiment with Mixings and Save new Favorite Sleep Sound combos.

Timer and Alarm

Relax Melodies, by Ipnos Soft, also has that ever-so-important fade-out alarm which can be adjusted from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. If I’m asleep, I’m going to always use the maximum fade-out of two minutes. Why not? Relax Melodies also has a full featured Alarm Clock, Timer and a digital clock display for night. What’s not to like about Relax Melodies. If I had to think of one complaint it might be that the name is a little misleading. It was not easy to find this app, because I was searching for things like Sleep Sounds, Sounds to Fall Asleep To, and White Noise Apps. Though Relax Melodies certainly does make melodies to sleep to, the name is a bit misleading. It’s a full fledged Sleep Sounds Machine – and a darn good one at that. For my 2 Cents, or $2.99, Relax Melodies is the best Sleep sounds app available.

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Discount K Cups

k cup couponsIn one word I can explain why so many keurig coffee maker owners are looking for discount k cups and k cup coupons: Guilt. Let’s face it, nobody can drink just one cup of their favorite Keurig brewed coffee. I’m no different than the rest of the Keurig Single Cup coffee brewer owners out there. It is way too easy and convenient to pop in a new k cup every time I desire another freshly brewed Pikes Place Roast by Starbucks. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy on the wallet. The typical Starbucks brand costs around 86 cents a k cup if you but it in the 16-Pack boxes at the grocery store. The other brands like Caribou, Coffee People, Green Mountain, etc., are a little cheaper at 66 cents a cup. 66 or even 88 cents may sound cheap for an 8 ounce cup of coffee at your local Barista, but it’s an expensive habit for your every day coffee drinking at home. Between my wife and I, we require about 5 Cups of coffee a day. Even at 66 cents each, that’s $102.30 a month on coffee – a pretty expensive ritual, indeed. On the contrary, a traditional pot or two of coffee each day adds up to no more than $25.00 a month – or 17 cents a cup. While most of us might be willing to pay a little more for the quality and convenience of Keurig K cups, the guilt comes in when we recognize we’re paying over 5 times as much to enjoy our coffee habit..Now, if we could get our price of K Cups down to .50 cents each or less, I think we could justify the difference. This is where my search for Discount K Cups and K Cup Coupons begins.

Where to find K Cup Coupons

The best K Cup Coupons I’ve ever found was the offer that was included with my most recent purchase of a Keurig Classic Single Cup Brewer. The offer allowed me to select two, 24-Pack boxes and get two free directly from Keurig directly. I was skeptical that becauseGreenMountain is the original partner of the Keurig Coffee brewer that the selection of coffee k cups would be limited to just theGreenMountain brand itself. I was glad to see that this was not the case. In fact, the Online Keurig Coffee store has the largest selection anywhere and even includes my favorite, best tasting brands like Caribou, Starbucks and Barista Prima. With these K Cups Coupons, you are able to get them for half off. I bought 4ea, 24-Pack boxes of K Cups for $30.00, including shipment. Because there was no tax, my net cost was only about 31 cents per, guilt-free cup. Obviously, those coupons cannot be used all the time unless you plan on buying a new Keurig brewer every month. The other way is to buy bulk packages of K Cup Coupons online. One example is that for $3.00, online you can buy a 20-pack of $1.50 per box of Starbucks 16-Pack K cups. This may not sound like much of a discount, but if it saves you a $1.50 off of $13.88 everytime you buy a box of Starbucks K Cups at your store, it can really add up.

Where to Find Discount K Cups

discount k cupsIf you’re looking for discount k cups, your best bet is to buy in large quantities. This is not a big deal if you find one you like to drink regularly, because in the long run, it will save you money. You can find the popular Coffee People Donut Shop Coffee for about 60 cents a cup in 200-Pack Cup boxes. You can also get the 50 and 100 packs of Coffee People Jet fuel for about the same price: 60 cents a package. Depending on your location, there is no tax and shipping is always free. Green Mountain sells online their 96-Pack boxes of Breakfast Blend and/or any other flavor for $62.95. (That’s 66 cents a cup).

The best in-store deals I’ve found is at Costco. You can buy 80-Packs of various brands of K Cups at Costco for $38.00 (That’s only 48 cents a cup.) They also sell the Starbucks in any variety in 54-Packs for $38.00. (That’s 70 cents a cup.) Various online store deals for discount k cups are below.
If you can offer any other places to find discount k cups or k cup coupons, please leave us comments and information below.

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Russian Standard Vodka

What do you think of Russian Standard Vodka: 

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russian standard vodkaRussian Standard Vodka (Original) is one of three different vodkas made by the same company. Russian Standard Platinum and Russian Standard Imperia Vodka are the two upper-end, pricier vodka choices from the same distillery which I have not yet tried. Russian Standard, like any premium Russian vodka is distilled from Wheat. While the original Russian Vodka maybe the cheapest of the three, it is still priced in the range of premium and popular vodkas like Stoli and Monopolowa. I paid $25.95 for a 1.75 Liter bottle of original Russian Standard. You can expect to see it priced between $23.00 and $32.00 at your favorite, local liquor store. I’ll confess to two things prior to buying this: One, I was attracted by the interesting looking bottle, with Russian Calligraphy; supposedly named for Peter the Great. The bottle alone makes for good, drink conversation. Two, I didn’t actually pay $25.95. The liquor store was closing and I happened to be shopping at a most opportune time with liquor being sold at 50% off of shelf price. I paid about $13.00 for my first, 1.75 Liter bottle of Original Russian Standard . As someone who enjoys $20.00-and-under vodkas like Svedka and Ruskova, I was anxious to try an original Russian Standard Vodka at a most unoriginal price.

Russian Standard Vodka Tasting Notes

I expected good things from such a tasty looking bottle, and my first sip of original, Russian Standard Vodka, did not disappoint. When sampling new, vodka I like to pour a couple of sips worth at room temperature directly into my martini glass. The Russian Standard Website recommends that you drink their vodka at a temperature between 41 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Sampling at a slightly warmer, room temperature in my opinion, makes the aromas and taste more noticeable. Russian Standard original has a very light, crisp and almost transparent nose. There is very little of that ‘natural-gas’ spirit aroma of other vodkas. First sip is thin, high and what the New Amsterdam Vodka wishes it was: Crisp, yet not overly thin-pitched and bitter. Russian Standard Vodka does have a bite, and a mild burn going down, but finishes very smoothly. I took a couple of shots and poured it into my stainless steal shaker with 4 ice cubes. I plopped an olive in my martini glass and did the usual ritual: Shook the vodka vigorously until my fingers were on the verge of frost-bite from the freezing stainless steel and my right arm was about to fall off. I poured the ice-cold, frothy vodka into a martini glass enjoying the way the shadowy olives formed steam inside the icy, transparent liquid. The colder temperature tamed the frontal bitterness of the vodka significantly. As a martini, Russian Standard is crisp, clean and sugar-like with very light overtones of vanilla and almond. Russian Standard vodka has very little caramel or other darker, earthy tones.  Russian Standard is not a complex vodka, but it is infinitely enjoyable and drinkable as a martini and would go very much unnoticed in a desirable way as a mixer. The entire, first martini went down smoother than any other vodka I have ever had. I have to score this one a little bit higher than my previous favorite; Svedka.

Final Rating: 91

Delicious, thin, clean vodka with a light first bite, but a sugary, crisp vanilla finish which makes you crave your second martini.  Russian Standard is the best I’ve had for under $26.00.

  • Taste: 91
  • Smoothness: 91
  • Character: 80
  • After Taste: 91
  • Mixer: 95


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New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam VodkaHow do you rate New Amsterdam Vodka?  

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It’s not because I like Cheap Vodka that I couldn’t wait to try New Amsterdam Vodka. For me, really cheap Vodka is Taaka. There are better vodka brands that are still considered cheap by vodka drinkers, where-as Taaka is considered downright undrinkable by some. So how does New Amsterdam Compare? I thought very highly of New Amsterdam Gin and numerous friends agreed that it is a great gin for the price, so this is one I looked forward to trying and because it is priced about 50% higher than Taaka, I anxiously expected it to be notably better than what I would personally consider a, cheap vodka. So, how does New Amsterdam Stand up to a  cheap vodka and for that matter, a better one?

Ringing out the New Year with New Amsterdam Vodka

New Amsterdam Tasting Notes

To me, tasting Vodka is often like hearing musical notes on a staff. Each flavor has its own pitch. The darker, heavier ones are lower on the staff and the crisper, light and thin ones, are higher up on the staff. I Must say that New Amsterdam is a very high-pitched Vodka. It has a very crisp, thin bite to its nose and rings crisper and more bitter on the very first sip. If this does not sound like a ringing endorsement, it is not a bad one either. New Amsterdam has an adjustment period where you have to convince yourself that the thin bitter front isn’t going to go down too harshly. This Vodka is not overly harsh going down, but it does have a very shallow, thin bite that burns the top-end of your palate. It is crisp, thin and sweet, yet not much in the way of complexity or character. I believe that some people rate vodka on how little flavor it has. While Taaka is a truly cheap vodka I think it actually has more character and flavor than the New Amsterdam vodka at nearly half the price. I won’t mistake character and complexity for being an un-smooth vodka. I’ve come to appreciate the darker nose; vanilla, butter, rum and caramel in vodkas like Pearl or even the bargain-based bottom end Taaka. If Taaka and Pearl Vodka are a low A, then the New Amsterdam vodka is a high C above the treble-cleff staff. New Amsterdam is tinny, thin and crisp; not overly smooth, but not overly harsh. New Amsterdam doesn’t make a great martini because its front-end is just too darn bitter for sipping. New Amsterdam Vodka, I project, would make a very good mixer with any type of juice or sweetener because it is too light in flavor to overpower anything that you put in it. Cranberry juice would very easily mask its bitter front end. I also think that New Amsterdam Vodka would make a very good Cosmo when used with Leopold Bros Cranberry Liquer.

New Amsterdam Vodka Rating: 73

  • As a Martini: 68
  • As Shots: 72
  • As Mixer: 78
  • As a Cheap Vodka: 74
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