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The 6 Best Headphones under $200
Reviews

Best Headphones under $200

241 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 56 headphones under $200 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy today.  

Best Over-Ear Headphones under $200: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
5.9
Mixed 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:
7.9
Critical 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:
4.8
Commute/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:
5.7
Sports/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:
5.2
Office
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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:
5.9
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.8
Gaming
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Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

If sound quality is your main priority, then the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the best over ear headphones you can get under $200. They have an excellently balanced and open-sounding 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, their sound quality can be a bit sharp on already bright tracks. They also have a tight fit which may be a bit uncomfortable for some listeners. If this could be an issue for you, we recommend the Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear II as an alternative. They do not have the benefit of an open sound but they are well-balanced with a good amount of bass, and since they're closed back you can also use them outdoors. 

See our review

Alternative for Everyday Use: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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. They have a great battery life, a reliable and fast wireless connection with multiple codec options, and better noise canceling than the original BackBeat Pro. They may be a bit too bass-heavy for some critical listeners, but for their price, they have a good amount of active features, and they are suitable for most use cases. They even come with an audio cable so you can use them passively when the battery dies or to watch movies without any latency.

See our review

Alternative for Gaming and Home Theater: SteelSeries Arctis 7

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you want a great headset for more indoor uses like watching movies and gaming, then the Steelseries Arctis 7 are the best choice below 200$. They have incredibly low latency which makes them an excellent option for watching video content and gaming. They're sturdy and well-built with a comfortable and breathable design that you can wear for hours.

They also have multiple ports and connection options, including a wired mode to use with your phone or mobile devices that do not support the USB transmitter dongle. However, this makes them a bit less practical to use outdoors than the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $200: Bose SoundLink On-Ear

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.0
Mixed 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:
7.5
Critical 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:
7.0
Commute/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:
7.1
Sports/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:
7.1
Office
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:
6.2
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.9
Gaming
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Score components:
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you find the first options a little too bulky, then we recommend the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They're incredibly comfortable headphones, especially for an on-ear design and they're compact enough to fit into some larger pockets.

They have a better sound quality and a more comfortable design than the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless and the Beats Solo 3, which are a lot more expensive. They don't sound as balanced as the Beats EP, but they're wireless, and not as tight on the head which makes them a better on-ear headset overall.

See our review

Best In-Ear / Earbuds Headphones under $200: Samsung Gear IconX

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.1
Mixed 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:
7.3
Critical 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:
7.5
Commute/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:
8.2
Sports/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:
7.3
Office
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:
5.5
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
4.9
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Gear IconX are a great choice if you want to make the switch to a truly wireless headphone. They're one of the best priced and most feature-packed truly wireless designs we've tested so far, and they are below 200$.

They have a compact and premium build quality that puts them on par with headphones like the Apple AirPods and the Beoplay E8. They also sound decently balanced and you can EQ their sound profile thanks to the latest firmware update. Unfortunately, their truly wireless design still has a few syncing issues and relatively high latency. They also won't be as optimized for iOS devices. If you're an iOS user and don't care much for truly wireless designs, then the BeatsX may be a better sounding option.

See our review

Alternative for iOS users: Beats BeatsX

Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you 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 options 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 designs, 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 pair of wireless in-ear headphones.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Beats EP On-Ear. A well-built on-ear with a balanced sound. The wired design is a bit limiting and they do not block a lot of noise which is not ideal for loud environments. 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
  • Fitbit Flyer. Good for most use cases. A decent alternative to the BeatsX and Jaybird X3 but lacks 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 BeatsX. 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 Beyerdynamic DT 990. See our review
  • Logitech G533.  A good alternative to the SteelSeries Arctis 7 for gaming and watching movies. No wired or Bluetooth option for more casual use. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 598 Cs. A comfortable and good sounding closed back variant of the HD598. Mediocre isolation and not as versatile as the recommend options. See our review
  • JBL E55BT. A decent-sounding wireless alternative to the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. Not as packed with features. 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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