While most companies' flagship headphones can cost upwards of $300, you can still get a great, well-rounded pair for less. For under $200, you can get a wide range of headphones, from Bluetooth over-ears to truly wireless in-ears, and an assortment of features like active noise cancelling (ANC), IP ratings for water resistance, or dedicated companion apps with EQ adjustments. The headphones in this list are well-built, have good audio reproduction, and provide good value for their price.
We've tested over 725 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones and earbuds under $200 you can buy. See our picks for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, and the best headphones.
The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are the best headphones under $200 that we've tested. Anker dominates the mid-range headphones market, and these are the pinnacle of premium performance without the price tag. Their adaptive noise cancellation (ANC) system performs nearly as well as pricier headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and can easily block out a wide range of background noise. They have a continuous battery life of nearly 28 hours with ANC on, meaning they'll last through a couple of workdays without recharging.
These over-ears have an excited V-shaped sound profile with extra bass and treble that make the mix feel thumpy and bright. Vocals and lead instruments aren't as detailed, so they're better suited for modern rock and pop music. Their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets if you want to change the sound profile to fit a different genre better. Unfortunately, these headphones have a high noise floor while the ANC is on, meaning you may hear an audible hiss or impurities in the audio. It may not be as noticeable for everyone, but it's worth considering if you have sensitive ears.
If you don't want to worry about battery life or want high sound quality, check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, the best casual wired headphones under $200 we've tested. These headphones are popular in the music recording community thanks to their comfortable and well-built frame. While they don't have a mic, they make up for it by focusing on a well-balanced and versatile sound. Their bass has a touch of warmth, while vocals and lead instruments reproduce clearly, making them a solid choice for most kinds of content. They deliver audio consistently, but it's slightly sensitive to fit and position on your head.
These over-ears have a great build quality that feels sturdy. Since their audio cable is detachable, you can easily replace it if it gets damaged. Audio-Technica includes three different audio cables, including a coiled one that can stretch up to 10 feet. Unfortunately, even though they're closed-back headphones, they struggle to block out background noise and won't block out almost any of the low rumble of bus engines. They also have difficulty tackling ambient chatter and only come with a soft pouch that won't protect the headphones from impact damage if you drop or bump them.
If you don't want to break the bank on a pair of audiophile headphones, consider the Philips Fidelio X2HR. Unlike the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, they have an open-back design, which helps them create an open, spacious, and natural passive soundstage, making for a more immersive audio experience. Although they lack a bit of low-bass due to this design, these well-built over-ears have a very neutral sound profile, so vocals and lead instruments are accurately reproduced. Once you achieve a good fit, you'll also receive consistent audio delivery.
The headphones are comfortable for most people, with an automatically-adjusting headband and large, well-padded ear cups. However, their open-back design makes them less versatile than closed-back wired headphones like the Audio-Technica. They're meant for listening in relatively quiet areas and aren't designed to block out background noise. They're also not ideal for use in a shared space like an office since they leak a lot of audio that can be audible to people nearby.
If you want a pair of over-ear headphones that you can use for workouts, consider the JBL Live 660NC Wireless. These over-ears have a versatile overall performance and good stability to stay on your head during activities like runs or bike rides. They're sturdy and have a decently comfortable fit for most people, although they clamp onto your ears a bit hard during long listening sessions. Their ANC feature will help reduce noise like background chit-chat or workout machines at the gym, and if you're working out outside, you can use 'Ambient Aware' mode, which lets you hear your surroundings without removing the headphones.
They have a well-balanced sound profile with a bit of extra bass to help keep you pumped up during long workouts. If you prefer a different sound, you can customize them with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app. However, unlike most sports earbuds, they don't have an IP rating for dust or water resistance. That's normal for over-ears, but if you want headphones rated for water resistance, you might prefer the TREBLAB Z7 Pro Wireless. These slightly cheaper headphones are rated IPX4 for resistance against minor water exposure, like splashes or very light rain. They're stable enough to stay in place during workouts, but they have a much more bass-heavy sound profile that muddies mixes and makes some sounds piercing. However, they don't work with an app or have sound customization features.
Most headphones recommended in our best over-ears for working out article are also available for under $200.
The best wireless headphones under $200 with an on-ear design that we've tested are the JBL Live 460NC Wireless. If over-ear headphones make your ears feel hot, you might prefer on-ears, which sit on top instead of around your ears. These comfortable, well-built headphones have a well-balanced sound profile suitable for various genres. They also have an in-app parametric EQ for sound customization if you prefer a different sound. They last around 30 hours of continuous use; you can even use them wired in a pinch.
They have an ANC feature, and while it's not the best, it can block out a fair amount of noise, so it helps reduce engine noise during your commute and background conversations at work. There's also an 'Ambient Aware' mode to let noise in, so you can hear what's happening around you without removing your headphones. While they have a lightweight design and a well-padded headband, they clamp onto your ears a bit hard, which can be uncomfortable during long listening sessions.
You have plenty of options if you're looking for great casual-use earbuds for under $200. Earbuds are usually cheaper than over-ears, so the $200 price point offers many choices. The best earbuds under $200 we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, usually available for well under $200. They offer a comfortable fit and a warm default sound profile that, while not as thumpy and rumbly as more powerful over-ear headphones, is still well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. You may feel that vocals and lead instruments don't sound as clear and detailed, but you can adjust the sound with the companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
These headphones come with Anker's powerful adaptive ANC system, which automatically adjusts their noise cancellation based on background noise levels. It's great at cutting out the low rumble of subway cars and bus engines, chatter from commuters, and the loud clicks and clacks from a coworker's keyboard. They have over eight hours of continuous battery with four extra charges in their case, meaning they'll last throughout the workday without issue. Despite their versatility, they don't have a great mic. Your voice sounds distant and piercing, and our unit suffered feedback issues in one of the buds, making them difficult to recommend for calls.
If you want more variety, our list of the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds includes many buds for less than $200.
May 30, 2023: Removed the MOONDROP Aria and the Jabra Elite 7 Pro True Wireless to focus the recommendations on over-ear and on-ear models. Added the JBL Live 460NC Wireless and the JBL Live 660NC Wireless.
Mar 15, 2023: Text revisions for better clarity and accuracy.
Jan 16, 2023: Replaced our pick for the 'Best Earbuds' with the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless and added the MOONDROP Aria as our pick for the 'Best In-Ear Monitors'. Moved the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Nov 03, 2022: We've replaced the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless with the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless as the Apple are no longer available at this price point.
Jun 30, 2022: Complete article overhaul to better meet user expectations. All categories have been changed, and adjusted the Notable Mentions to keep them relevant.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wired and best wireless headphones under 200 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find in the US or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones. 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.