If you want to invest in decent headphones that deliver a satisfactory listening experience, you've got a lot of options at your disposal. Some of them are Bluetooth wireless, some have noise cancelling, some are designed for sports, and others for gaming. The headphones in this list are well-built, have good audio reproduction, and provide good value for their price.
So far, we've tested over 350 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones under $200 you can buy today. See also our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, and the best noise cancelling headphones.
The best over-ear headphones under $200 we've tested so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They’re well-built wireless over-ears with active noise cancelling. They've got a comfortable design with padding that feels plushy and large oval-like cups that should fit most ears. Their control scheme is simple and straightforward and they're fairly versatile headphones.
They have a very well-balanced sound profile, but with a slight overemphasis in the bass range. They're versatile for a wide variety of music genres and bass lovers will more than likely appreciate the extra thump and rumble. Their mid-range and vocal reproduction is outstanding and will satisfy most users. They also have a 30-hour battery and power-saving features, which means you'll rarely need to charge them.
Unfortunately, their active noise cancelling feature isn’t very strong, so they’re not the best option for very noisy conditions. Consider the Skullcandy Venue Wireless if you prefer stronger noise cancelling in the lower frequencies, like the rumbling engine of a long bus ride. However, the Skullcandy don’t isolate very much in the treble range and don’t feel as durable as the Plantronics.
If you want to stay under $200 but want something with more accurate sound reproduction, go with the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. They aren't as versatile as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016 since they're wired, open-back headphones, but they're a better choice for critical listening and a pretty good option for entry-level audiophile headphones. They're a bit harder to find than most typical headphones, as they're only available on the popular Drop website. They have amazing bass accuracy for open-back headphones and their audio reproduction is great, especially for their affordable price point. However, since they're open, they don't isolate and won't be great for casual use in your daily commute. If you’re looking for critical listening headphones that are a bit better for casual use as well, you may want to consider the closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.
Get the Plantronics if you're looking for something more casual as they're wireless and have ANC, but if you care about sound quality above all else and do your music listening at home, go with the Sennheiser.
If you want great gaming headphones under $200, then get the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition. You won't be able to use them with your phone via Bluetooth like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016, but they're noticeably better for gaming. They have an amazing boom microphone that records your voice accurately and people you're playing with won't have any trouble understanding you. You have access to a good amount of customization options inside their dedicated software and you can also use their wireless USB dongle with the PS4 and most home theater systems. If you prefer even more controls, consider the Logitech G933 Wireless Gaming Headset. They have three programmable buttons on the ear cups that you can map on PC to trigger virtually any function you desire, but they’re not as well-built.
Get the Plantronics if you want to be able to use your headphones wirelessly with your smartphone, but if you care more about gaming performance, then get the SteelSeries.
The best on-ear headphones under $200 that we’ve tested so far are the Marshall MID ANC. Their understated black leather design and gold detailing is not only retro-chic, but they feel great too.
These headphones have a fairly neutral sound profile that plays well with most genres of audio. Their control scheme is simple and efficient, making it easy to raise the volume or take a call. With a 17-hour battery life, they can be used even while charging - if you don't want to charge them, you can also use the provided audio cable to listen passively.
While they isolate a decent amount of noise, their ANC doesn't perform as well as other headphones like the Plantronics BackBeat 2 Pro Wireless. Their fairly well-balanced sound profile also has a slightly overemphasized treble, making notes in this range sound bright.
If you like the compact design of on-ear headphones but find them uncomfortable, get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They don't have ANC like the Marshall MID ANC Wireless, but they're the most comfortable wireless on-ears we’ve tested so far. They're well-built and have a comfortable lightweight design that doesn't feel too tight on the head. They have a well-balanced sound profile that should be well-suited to a variety of genres, though they aren't as consistent across multiple people as the Marshall, so different people may experience the sound profile differently. They have a great 21-hour battery life with an auto-off timer, meaning you should have no problem getting through a few full days without needing to charge them.
Get the Marshall if you want a pair of on-ears to help block out background noise during your noisy commutes, but if you generally don't like the feel of on-ears and want something extra comfortable, go for the Bose.
The best wireless earbuds under $200 that we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. Whether you're pacing around the water cooler at work or running a 5K, these earbuds are a great choice when you're on the move.
Light and portable, their stable, secure fit ensures that they'll stay in your ears or when not in use, fit into most pockets. While we don't test for waterproofing, these earbuds are also rated IPX7 for advanced water resistance. If you work in an office, rest assured that these earbuds are also suitable for more fixed activities. With up to 13 hours of continuous playback, you won't have to worry about frequently charging them, making them great for impromptu, late-night study sessions or 9-5s in your cubicle. Even if you're in a hurry, even 5 minutes of charging will give you 2 hours of battery life.
Unfortunately, if you make a lot of calls, your voice may sound muffled or thin due to their mediocre microphone recording quality. The mic also has problems separating speech from ambient noise, but you should still be understood. While their audio reproduction tends to be boomy and a bit sharp or bright, the Jaybird MySound app makes it easy to EQ your audio to your liking. Overall, these are one of the best wireless headphones under $200, pleasing both physically active and sedentary users.
If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds under $200, then get the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. Similarly small and lightweight to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, these earbuds have a touch-sensitive control scheme which may not be as easy to use or responsive as the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless. They also have an IPX2 rating, which makes them less than ideal for sports compared to the Jaybird. However, their sound reproduction is very well balanced and neutral, making them great for a variety of audio genres. They also have great battery life - just over 13 hours' worth, which is impressive for truly wireless in-ears.
Get the Jaybird if you want well-built, all-around wireless earbuds that keep sports in mind, but if you like the freedom from cords and cables offered by truly wireless earbuds, go with the Samsung.
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 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.
03/03/2020: Replaced Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless with Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Wireless. Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
01/06/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.