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 695 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 Life 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 needing a recharge.
These over-ears have an excited v-shaped sound profile, with extra bass and treble that makes the mix feel thumpy and bright, respectively. Vocals and lead instruments aren't as detailed, so they're better suited for modern rock and pop music. If you want to change the sound profile to better fit a different genre, their companion app comes with a graphic EQ and presets. 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 you're looking for high sound quality, check out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, the best casual wired headphones under $200 we've tested. These headphones are a popular choice in the music recording community thanks to their comfortable and well-built frame. However, even though they lack a mic, unlike other casual-use headphones like the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, they make up for their shortcomings by focusing on a well-balanced and versatile sound. Their bass has a touch of warmth, while vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly, making them a solid choice for most kinds of content. They also deliver audio fairly consistently, although they're a little sensitive to fit and positioning 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 a hard time 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 care about sound quality but 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 accurately reproduce. Once you achieve a good fit, you'll also receive consistent audio delivery. Thanks to their automatically-adjusting headband and large as well as well-padded ear cups, they're comfortable and won't cause fatigue if you're using them during long listening sessions.
However, their open-back design limits their versatility. They're not designed to block out background noise, so they're not an ideal choice for use outside of an enclosed space, and they leak a lot of audio, even at moderate volumes. If you prefer closed-back headphones to help isolate you from some ambient sound, it's worth considering the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO instead. These headphones have a better noise isolation performance and leak less audio at high volumes, which is good if you want to do live studio work. However, while their analytical sound can help bring out imperfections in your mixes, this extra treble can be fatiguing over time.
If you're looking for great casual-use earbuds for under $200, the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless are the best we've tested. These affordable in-ears are lightweight and comfortable with a warm default sound profile that, while not as thumpy and rumbly as more powerful over-ear headphones, they're still well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. You may feel like vocals and lead instruments don't sound as clear and detailed, but you can adjust the sound however you want using the companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
These headphones come with Anker's powerful adaptive ANC system, which automatically adjusts the 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 coworkers' keyboards. 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.
In the range of casual-use models we've tested, Jabra Elite 7 Pro True Wireless are the best wireless headphones under $200 for sound quality. Their sound profile is more flat and neutral than the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, making them versatile enough for most kinds of content. They have adequate bass, so mixes have solid thump, rumble, and boom. At the same time, vocals and instruments are clear, accurate, and natural-sounding. Their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound.
Beyond sound, they have a comfortable fit suitable for long listening sessions, and they last over eight hours continuously. Their carrying case also supplies an additional three charges if you need it. You can also pair them with up to two devices at a time, which is handy if you want to stay connected to your smartphone and PC simultaneously. They're well-built and are certified IP57 for resistance against dust and water immersion. That said, while they have ANC, it doesn't offer a substantial improvement over their passive isolation capabilities. They can still cut down a lot of mid-range sounds, like ambient chatter.
If you want a quality hi-fi listening experience at a sub-$200 price, look no further than the MOONDROP Aria. These are true audiophile in-ears, meaning you're sacrificing ANC and customization features usually found in casual-use earbuds for a balanced sound and better driver performance that will suit listening to high-fidelity and lossless audio. Out of the box, they have a neutral sound profile that's clear and detailed, with a touch of extra high-bass for added warmth. These don't have any built-in EQ options, so if you want to make any changes to their sound profile, you'll need to rely on third-party apps.
Their wired connection also means you won't have to worry about battery life, and you can buy a separately sold cable with an attached mic for calls. However, some users have reported build issues with the cable fraying, paint chipping, and loose connectors. They're also quite heavy, meaning that while their in-ear fit is deep and snug, you can feel discomfort after long listening sessions as they move and start to put pressure on the top of your ear canal.
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.
Apr 25, 2022: We've checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. However, there hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Mar 01, 2022: Full article overhaul to better align our picks with user expectations. Moved the Philips SHP9500, JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless, Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless, and JBL Live 460NC Wireless to Notable Mentions. Added the Jabra Elite 7 Pro True Wireless, Philips Fidelio X2HR, Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, Jaybird Vista 2 Truly Wireless, and Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless.
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.