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

AKG K701
AKG K701 Design
Usage Ratings
5.1Mixed 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.
8.3Critical 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:
3.4Commute/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.
4.6Sports/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.
4.1Office
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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.
5.0Studio 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.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Design
Usage Ratings
5.3Mixed 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.
8.0Critical 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:
3.6Commute/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.
5.0Sports/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.
4.2Office
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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.
5.5Studio 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 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.

Best Closed Over-Ear Headphones under $200

Harman/Kardon NC
Harman/Kardon NC Design
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.
6.7Critical 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
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.
6.8Office
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.
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.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Design
Usage Ratings
6.0Mixed 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.
7.9Critical 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:
4.5Commute/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.
5.3Sports/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.
5.3Office
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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.
7.0Studio 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 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.

Best On-Ear Headphones under $200

Bose SoundLink On-Ear
Bose SoundLink On-Ear Design
Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed 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.
7.1Critical 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:
6.5Commute/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.
7.0Sports/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.
7.0Office
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
Show Help
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 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.

Samsung Level On Wireless
Samsung Level On Wireless Design
Usage Ratings
6.7Mixed 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
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:
6.9Commute/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.
6.9Sports/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.
7.0Office
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.
6.2Studio Recording
Show Help
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 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.

Best In-Ear/Earbuds Headphones under $200

Jaybird X2
Jaybird X2 Design
Usage Ratings
7.3Mixed 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.
6.3Critical 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.
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.
7.5Office
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.
7.1Studio Recording
Show Help
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.

Bose SoundSport Wireless
Bose SoundSport Wireless Design
Usage Ratings
6.5Mixed 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.
7.3Critical 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:
5.7Commute/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.
7.4Sports/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.
6.4Office
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.
5.7Studio Recording
Show Help
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 Bose SoundSport Wireless are stable sports headphones with a decent sound quality. They're comfortable and won't fall out of your ears if you use them while jogging. Additionally, the slightly open tips, lets runners monitor their environment for traffic and cars but this also means they don't block a lot of ambient noise. Unfortunately, some models are not as sweatproof as expected so they may not be ideal for very intense exercise.

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:

  • Sennheiser HD 598.  Very comfortable and great, open sound quality. A little weak at the hinges and not the most stable design.  See our review
  • Plantronics Backbeat Pro. Sturdy, wireless design and excellent audio controls. But overhyped bass and ANC produces a lot of self-noise. See our review
  • Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000. Great-sounding, comfortable headphones. A good substitute for the HarmanKardon NC. See our review
  • Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear.  Lightweight, sturdy design and good sound. Poor isolation and leaky headphones. See our review
  • Parrot Zik 2.0. The older Zik model still has great active features and a customizable sound. The ZIk 3.0 are better but more expensive. See our review

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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