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Best Headphones under $200 - Spring 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 Over-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
5.6Mixed 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:
8.3Critical 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:
4.5Commute/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.
Score components:
5.3Sports/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.
Score components:
4.5Office
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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:

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the best over ear headphones under $200 if sound quality is your main priority. They have 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

Runner-Up

The 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. They’re an amazingly versatile headset with great battery life and a reliable wireless connection. They’re also noise-canceling and do not leak much so they’re suitable for most environments. However, they’re pretty bulky headphones so they won’t be ideal for running and exercising.

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
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:
7.0Critical 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:
7.4Commute/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.
Score components:
7.1Sports/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.
Score components:
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 the Samsung Level On Wireless may be a better alternative for you. They’re decently portable headphones that have an excellent set of active features. Their build quality feels a little flimsy, and the touch sensitive control scheme can be a bit frustrating at times. However, they have a long-lasting battery life and a reliably fast wireless connection. They’re also quite comfortable for an on-ear design.

See our review

Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $200

Usage Ratings
7.8Mixed 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:
7.0Critical 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:
7.9Commute/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.
Score components:
8.2Sports/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.
Score components:
8.1Office
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 earbuds/in-ear headphones, go for the Jaybird X2. They are not only great sports headphones, they’re also quite versatile if you want to use them as your everyday headphones. They have a simple and stable wireless design that will easily fit into your pockets. They have a decently well-balanced sound, but they lack the ambiance of full sized over-ear headphones which might not be ideal for critical listeners. They also isolate better than some noise canceling headphones despite only blocking noise passively. This makes them useful if you're often in noisy environments or commuting via public transit. 

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:

  • 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
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Excellent sound quality and durable, comfortable design. Not the best for all environments. See our review
  • Parrot Zik 3.0. The newer model of the ZIk 2.0 with great active features and a customizable sound.However, they're a little pricey. 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. Personal tastes, preferences, and listening habits will matter more in your selection. 

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