While most company's 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), IPX 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 540 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $200 you can buy. See also our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, and the best headphones overall.
The best headphones under $200 with an over-ear design that we've tested are the Razer Opus. They offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, with an audio profile that’s similar to more expensive models such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. Outwardly, they have fairly intuitive physical controls and an understated, premium design that feels quite durable. Due to their relatively lightweight design and generously sized ear cups, they’re also comfortable enough to wear all day.
They feature a very well-balanced sound profile, with outstanding bass and mid accuracy. While fans of EDM or hip-hop may find their bass lacking in punch and thump, this can easily be adjusted via a graphic EQ or presets within the dedicated Razer Opus app. They also have a very impressive ANC system that effectively blocks out everything from the low rumble of a bus engine to the high-pitched whine of an AC unit. Combined with their near 33-hour battery life from a single charge, they’re up for several long, loud commutes without having to worry about the hassle of plugging them in.
Unfortunately, they lack multi-device pairing, which is a handy feature if you tend to swap between using your phone and computer a lot. Their microphone doesn’t isolate your voice very well, meaning that they aren’t the best choice if you make a lot of phone calls in loud environments. Still, these are a good pair of headphones for a variety of uses thanks to their exceptionally well-balanced sound profile and surprisingly outstanding ANC, especially at this price point.
If audio quality is very important to you, consider the Philips SHP9500 instead. While these wired-only over-ears aren't as versatile as the Razer Opus Wireless, they have a very well-balanced and neutral audio reproduction that makes them ideal for critical listening. They're more comfortable than the Razer, and they also deliver more consistent performance across different listeners. As they're open-back headphones, they encourage acoustic interaction with the objects and walls in your environment, enhancing sound quality and making it seem like sound is coming from all around you instead of in your head. Unfortunately, their open-back design means that they don't do a great job isolating background noise or preventing leakage, so they aren't as practical for use as everyday headphones.
If you want a more versatile pair with lots of features, go with the Razer, but if you want a pair of open-back critical listening headphones, go with the Philips.
The best earbuds under $200 that we've tested are the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. These sleek, well-built earbuds have a comfortable fit, so they're ideal for long listening sessions. Their 13.5-hour continuous battery life is impressive, so you can wear them during your workday without needing to recharge them in their charging case.
Overall, they have a very neutral, well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. If you prefer a different sound, there are even a few EQ presets available in the Galaxy Wearable app to help you customize their sound. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can turn up the volume on your favorite music without annoying those around you.
Unfortunately, they have touch-sensitive controls that make it easy to accidentally press the wrong button, which can be annoying. It's also difficult to use the controls while wearing gloves, so they may not be the best choice if you live in a cold climate. That said, these headphones have a decently versatile overall performance that ranks them among the best truly wireless earbuds we've tested.
If you love listening to music during your workout, consider the Jaybird Tarah Pro instead. While they aren't as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless, these headphones have a portable design that makes them ideal for the gym. They have a stable in-ear fit, and their in-line remote makes it easy to adjust the volume during your workout. Their sound profile is neutral but with a little extra boom in the bass range to help you stay motivated during your workout. Using the Jaybird MySound app, you can even adjust their sound using the parametric EQ and presets. Also, they have an over 13-hour continuous battery life, so they should last you through your longest runs.
If you prefer a truly wireless design with a more comfortable fit, check out the Samsung, but if you prefer a pair of earbuds designed for the gym, consider the Jaybird instead.
The best headphones under $200 with an on-ear design that we've tested are the JBL Live 400BT. These wireless on-ears have a tight and stable fit on your head, making them suitable to wear while jogging. They last for over 30 hours off of a single charge, which is outstanding.
Out-of-the-box, they have a balanced, neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content. The JBL Headphones app offers a parametric EQ and presets so you can customize their sound to your liking, too. You can even pair them with up to two devices at the same time, making it easy to quickly switch your audio source from your phone to your laptop.
Unfortunately, they don't have a very consistent bass and treble delivery, so they may sound a bit different each time you use them. Also, they don't come with an ANC feature, and they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. On the upside, they can passively isolate against higher-frequency noises typically found in a noisy office, like the sound of coworkers talking nearby.
If you're looking for on-ear headphones under $200 with better noise isolation, consider the Beats Solo Pro Wireless instead. While they're a bit bulkier than the JBL Live 400BT Wireless and don't offer any sound customization features, they have an ANC feature that offers impressive noise isolation. They can reduce some bass-heavy background noises, making them suitable for your commute, and they do an even better job blocking out higher-frequency noises like people talking around you. These well-built headphones have a pretty neutral sound profile, though they pack a little extra bass and treble, which may sound a bit too excited for some listeners. They also have a more consistent audio delivery than the JBL, and their 20-hour continuous battery life is incredible. However, some color variants may cost a bit more than $200.
If you want on-ears with more sound customization options, a more portable design, and longer battery life, check out the JBL. However, if you want great noise isolation and a more consistent audio delivery, consider the Beats instead.
01/04/2021: Replaced the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless with the JBL Live 400BT Wireless as 'Best On-Ear Under $200'. Replaced the Marshall MID ANC Wireless with the Beats Solo Pro Wireless as 'On-Ear Noise Cancelling Alt'. Updated Notable Mentions.
08/28/2020: Replaced the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee with the Philips SHP9500. Added the Sony WF-1000XM3 as a Notable Mention.
06/30/2020: Changed 'Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $200' from Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 to Razer Opus Wireless.
04/30/2020: Moved Samsung Galaxy Buds+ to 'Best Earbuds Under $200' and made Jaybird Tarah Pro 'Alternative for Sports' for consistency. Removed 'Alternative for Gaming and Home Theater' category.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 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.