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The 7 Best Headphones Under $200 - Winter 2019
Reviews

Best Headphones Under $200
309 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 canceling.

So far, we've tested 289 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.  

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones under $200: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    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:
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    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:
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    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
    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:
    7.5
    Office
    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
    TV
    Score components:
    5.9
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over ear headphones under $200 we have tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They're a well-built and versatile, wireless over-ear with noise cancellation, a great, bass-rich sound quality, and excellent battery life and wireless range. They're also decently comfortable and have a tactile and efficient control scheme.

    Unfortunately, they do not have the customization options of some of the other wireless headphones we've tested in their price range, like the Sennheiser HD 4.50. Their noise cancellation feature is also not as strong so they won't be the best option for very noisy conditions. 

    Overall, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are the best wireless headphones under $200 and the most versatile over-ears you can get at this price. 

    See our review

  2. Better active noise cancellation: Skullcandy Venue

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

    If you need better active noise cancellation for your busy commutes than the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 can provide, get the Skullcandy Venue. They are not as well built or as durable as the Plantronics. They also have slightly worse passive isolation in the treble ranges, but less so if you can achieve a proper seal and fit around your ears. On the upside, their active noise canceling feature attenuates more noise in the lower to mid-frequency regions, which make them a good choice for canceling out the rumbling engine or ambient chatter of a busy bus ride. 

    The ANC feature is a little prone to self-noise (which is why they are getting a slightly lower score than the Plantronics), but with a bit of music playing in the background, you barely hear it. They pack a good amount of bass that will surely please fans of more bass heavy genres, and despite their powerful low-end they do not completely drown or overshadow instruments and vocals or sound too boomy. They have a great battery life of 24hrs with a fast charge time, great wireless range, and Bluetooth 5.0 support.

    The Skullcandy Crusher have a better, sturdier build quality which some may prefer. They also have an adjustable bass slider but since they are not noise canceling they do not isolate as well in noisy conditions as the Venue.

    See our review

  3. Alternative for critical listening: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

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

    If sound quality is the most important aspect in your headphone selection, then go for the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro instead of the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They are wired, open-back headphones that will not be as practical for every day casual use as the Plantronics. They also sound a bit too bright on some tracks and aren't the most comfortable over-ears since they're a bit tight on the head.

    On the upside, the 990 Pro have a solid metal build quality, a good and exciting bass for an open back design, and sound a lot more balanced in the mid-range than the Plantronics. They're also better padded and deliver a more spacious soundstage even if their open-back design is not as open as other similarly designed headphones. Overall, if you want a good critical listening headphone under $200, then the Beyerdynamic are a great choice.

    See our review

  4. 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 option below 200$. They won't be as practical to use on the go as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 since they will not work wirelessly with your phone and do not isolate well enough for commute or travel. They also do not sound as balanced or as spacious as the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO.

    However, for gaming and mostly indoor use, the Arctis 7 are one of the best headphones we've tested. They have incredibly low latency, they're sturdy and well-built, and they're comfortable to wear for hours. They also have multiple ports and connection options, so they will work with your phone when wired and wirelessly with your PS4, PC, and even your TV once you get the right set up with their USB dongle.

    See our review

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

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    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
    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:
    6.9
    Commute/Travel
    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
    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
    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
    TV
    Score components:
    5.9
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you find the over-ear recommendations a little too bulky and do not like the fit of in-ears, then get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. Unlike, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, the Sounlink On-Ear are not noise-canceling headphones, so they struggle a bit more in noisy conditions. They also do not have the tight fit of other on-ears so they won't be as stable for all activities like running or working out.

    On the upside, they are considerably more portable. They're also one of the most comfortable on-ears we've tested so far with above-average sound quality on par if not better than the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless and the Beats Solo3 Wireless, which are a lot more expensive. They have a great battery life that will easily last you all day and even a weekend of heavy use thanks to their great power saving feature.

    Overall, they deliver a good wireless experience that's easy to recommend especially for an on-ear under $200.  

    See our review

  6. Best Earbuds under $200: Jabra Elite Active 65t

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    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:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    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
    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:
    8.0
    Sports/Fitness
    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:
    7.2
    Office
    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
    TV
    Score components:
    5.0
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer the portability of a truly wireless design, then the Jabra Elite Active 65t are a great, versatile choice under $200. They are not the most comfortable headphones, having a somewhat typical in-ear fit with larger than average earbuds that won't be for everyone. They also do not have the best default sound, but on the upside, they come with a pretty complete companion app that gives you access to a good EQ so you can adjust their sound profile to sound the way you like.

    They have a compact case that will easily fit into your pockets and provides two additional charges for a total of 15 hours of playback if you take breaks during your listening sessions. They're a decent option for sports, thanks to their IP56 sweat-resistant design, and they provide enough passive isolation with their in-ear fit to be a good choice for travel in noisy conditions. 

    Overall, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are a versatile truly wireless design that you can use as your daily drivers. However, if you do not need the more sports-oriented features of the Active variant, then you can also get the regular Elite 65t. However, the price difference is not that big and the Active are the better option of the two. They look a little more premium, too.

    See our review

  7. More customizable sound: Jaybird X4

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

    If you prefer a more traditional wireless in-ear over a truly wireless design, then the Jaybird X4 are your best option under $200. They're not as compact and portable as the Jabra Elite Active 65t and their battery life does not last as long overall. They do have a slightly longer continuous playtime, but no additional recharges. On the upside, they also have a customizable app that gives you access to a great EQ so you can really tune their sound profile to best suit what you listen to. They have a good durable design and are slightly more sweatproof than the Jaybird X3 although we do not yet have a test for sweat and water resistance.

    Unfortunately, their proprietary charging cradle is somewhat limiting. Like most Jaybird models, if you lose this charging accessory or forget to take it with you, then you won't be able to charge your headset. On the upside, if you don't mind this inconvenience, they're well balanced, good sounding headphones with enough isolation for most use cases. They're also compact enough to fit into any pocket and they're a great option for sports.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • HyperX Cloud Flight. A versatile gaming headset with a casual over-ear design for outdoor use. They are not as customizable as the SteelSeries Arctis 7. See our review
  • Logitech G933. A good gaming headset with a lot of customization options and programmable buttons. Slightly bulky and not practical to use outdoors. See our review
  • JBL Free. A simple and easy to use truly wireless design with a decent build quality and a long battery life. Frequent connection issue may be a deal breaker for some. See our review
  • Jabra Elite Active 65t. A versatile and well built truly wireless in-ear and a great alternative to the Gear IconX. But the bulky earbuds won't be as comfortable for everyone. See our review
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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