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    Table of Contents
  1. Intro
  2. Best Over-Ear
    1. Alternative
  3. Best On-Ear
    1. Alternative
  4. Best Earbuds
  5. All Reviews
  6. Q&A
Updated

Best Headphones under $200 - Fall 2017
Reviews

If you want to invest in a pair of above-average handphones that deliver a good and reliable listening experience, you have a lot of options at your disposal. The headphones in this list are versatile, well-built and deliver a good sound quality. They typically provide additional features like wireless Bluetooth and active noise cancelling.

So far, we've tested 46 headphones under $200 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy today.  

Best Over-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.1Mixed 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.
Score components:
8.2Critical 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:
5.1Commute/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.
5.5Sports/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.
5.2Office
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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.
Score components:

If sound quality is your main priority, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the best over ear headphones under $200 we've tested. They have an excellently balanced audio reproduction with a spacious soundstage that immerses you in whatever you’re listening to. They’re also sufficiently sturdy and durable that you won’t worry if they accidentally fall a couple of times. However, like most open headphones, they’re not practical to use outdoors, and they also feel a bit tight on the head which may be uncomfortable for some at first.

See our review

Alternative for Everyday Use

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 should be your first choice if you only care about sound quality and critical listening, but for almost everything else, get the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2.

They’re amazingly versatile and improve on the previous model, with a better build quality and a more ergonomic design, although the controls scheme is not as intuitive. They have a great battery life, a reliable and fast wireless connection and better noise canceling than the original BackBeat Pro. However, they’re still somewhat bulky headphones, so they won’t be ideal for running and sports.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.2Mixed 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.
Score components:
7.4Critical 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:
7.1Commute/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.
7.2Sports/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.
7.4Office
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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.
Score components:

If you find the first two options a little too bulky, then we recommend the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They're incredibly comfortable headphones, especially for an on-ear design. They're compact enough to fit in some larger pockets, and they have a slightly better sound and build quality than the Samsung Level On, although they do not have as many features. 

They also don't sound as balanced as the Beats EP, but they're wireless, comfortable and an overall good pair of portable on-ear headphones.

See our review

Alternative for Critical Listening

If you only care about sound quality and don't need a wireless design or a lot of active features, then get the Beats EP. They're one of the best sounding on-ear headphones in this price range with a surprisingly well balanced audio reproduction and an above-average build quality.

They're decently versatile but won't be the best headphones for all use cases. They don't block a lot of noise and they're not as portable as other on-ears but they deliver in the sound department.

See our review

Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings - Version 1.1
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Test Benches:

  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.5Mixed Usage
Show Help
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.
Score components:
7.0Critical 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:
7.6Commute/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.
7.9Sports/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.
7.8Office
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.
Score components:

If you prefer in-ear designs and have an iOS device, then we recommend the Beats X. They have a slightly better sound than the Jaybird X2 and X3, although they don't have any customization option like the X3.

They're stable enough for casual and sports use and thanks to their flexible design they're more portable than other around-the-neck design, like the Bose QuietControl 30. They're not ideal for Android users, but they isolate well against ambient noise despite only passively blocking noise, and they have a surprisingly good wireless range for a wireless in-ear headphone.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear. Good well-rounded earbuds with a comfortable fit and compact design. However they sound a bit dark. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 4.50. Versatile wireless headphones with decent noise cancelling. Great for office use but not as good as the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless. Decent mixed usage earbuds with a comfortable fit.  Poor isolation and relatively high latency. See our review
  • Jaybird X2. Great headphones but a bit outdated and doesn't have any app support. See our review
  • Jaybird X3. The upgrade to the Jaybird X2 with a more customizable sound. Slightly worse performance overall but a good alternative to the Jaybird Freedom. See our review
  • Samsung Level On Wireless. Good headphones but the Bose SoundLink On-Ear are better. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Excellent sound quality and durable design. A great closed-back alternative to the DT 990. 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).

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. Personal tastes, preferences, and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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