Updated

Best Headphones under $200 - Winter 2017
Reviews

This price range is for listeners who want to invest in a pair of above-average headphones that deliver a good and reliable listening experience. This means the headphones in this list are versatile, well-built and deliver a good sound quality. They also typically provide additional features like wireless Bluetooth and active noise canceling. Below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $200 we have tested so far.

Best Open Over-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
4.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
7.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
3.3Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
4.5Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
3.9Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
4.8Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The AKG K701 deliver a great audio reproduction that's balanced, open and immersive. They're not as well-built as the DT 990 Pro, but they deliver a better sound quality that's less bass oriented and a bit more detailed with instruments and vocals. However, like most open-back headphones they're a bit bulky and not meant to be a versatile headset you can use in loud environments or outdoors. Also, unlike the K702 the audio cable is not detachable.

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Alternative

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO deliver an incredible critical listening experience at an affordable price. Their sound quality is well balanced, open and spacious. They're sturdy, durable and well-padded headphones, but they're a bit tight on your head. Their open design is also not meant for outdoors or for use in moderately loud environments. Sadly, the audio cable is not detachable or replaceable if damaged.

See our review

Best Closed Over-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
7.0Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.8Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
6.8Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
6.8Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.6Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Harman/Kardon NC are sturdy, well-crafted and versatile headphones. They have a good sound quality, if a little bass-heavy, and barely leak, which makes them great headphones to use in a recording studio. They're sufficiently comfortable to wear for hours and stable enough to use at the gym. They don't have the best isolation, but it should be sufficient for regular commutes.

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Alternative

The ATH-M50x have a surprisingly even and detailed audio reproduction, on par with headphones in a higher price range. Their bass packs enough punch and low-end rumble to please any fans of bass. They have a simple, comfortable and durable design that's great for studio recording use but also blocks enough noise to be well-rounded, everyday headphones. However, they're a bit cumbersome and have no audio controls.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
7.2Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.5Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.0Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.0Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
6.8Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

For under $200, the Bose SoundLink On-Ear are comfortable and compact headphones with a decent audio reproduction. They have an efficient control scheme, and they're stable enough to jog with. Unfortunately, they don't block a lot of noise and leak quite a bit. They won't be ideal for traveling or for use in noisy environments, but they're versatile enough to be casual everyday headphones.

See our review

Alternative

The Samsung Level On Wireless offer a well-balanced audio reproduction in a sleek and lightweight design. They're comfortable and fold into a more compact format. The touch sensitive control scheme is also a nice feature but can be a bit inefficient and frustrating at times. Their build quality also feels flimsy for their asking price and the active noise canceling is weak. They won't block ambient noise very well and leak quite a bit at high volumes.

See our review

Best In-Ear/Earbuds Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
7.3Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.4Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.4Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
8.0Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.6Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.2Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Jaybird X2 are above-average in-ear headphones with a good audio reproduction and a stable wireless design for sports. They don't leak much and block ambient noise surprisingly well for a passively isolating model. This means they fair well in loud environments like being at the gym, as long as you can achieve a comfortable and tight seal. The in-ear fit, however, may not be comfortable for everyone.

See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $200 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

A few examples of headphones under $200 that didn't make the cut:

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones under $200. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no ideal headphones under $200. Personal tastes, preferences, and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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