If you want to invest in decent headphones that deliver a satisfactory listening experience, you have 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 have 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 they do have 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 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 a 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 Jubilee.
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, 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. 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. They sport Marshall’s signature black and gold color scheme and have a stylish design that not only looks and feels great but is also very practical. They have one of the easiest to use control schemes we’ve tested and can fold up into a more compact format that fits in their provided carrying case.
These headphones sound very good and have a balanced frequency response that caters well to music of nearly all genres. They have a good 17-hour battery life and can be used while charging or even passively with their provided audio cable when the battery runs out. The cable is coiled and even comes with an in-line microphone, which is great if you need to take calls on-the-go without using the integrated Bluetooth mic.
These are noise cancelling headphones that isolate a decent amount of noise, but their ANC feature doesn’t perform as well as that of the AKG N60NC. However, the AKG sound more boomy and cluttered, so fans of a more neutral sound will likely prefer the Marshall. Their treble is noticeably bright, though, so fans of classical or jazz may find they sound a bit sharp at times. The wired Beats EP sound less bright, but they don’t feel as well-built and don’t support Bluetooth like the Marshall.
If you like the compact design of on-ear headphones but find them uncomfortable, get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless. They don't have ANC like the Marshall MID ANC, 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 Marshalls, 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. They’re well-designed, wireless in-ears that are easy-to-use and have a secure, stable earbud-like fit. Although we don’t test for waterproofing, they’re rated IPX7 for advanced water and sweat resistance, which is great for sports, and are versatile enough to be a decent choice for most uses.
These Bluetooth earbuds have a great audio reproduction and you can even tune them to your preference inside their app. You have access to an amazing parametric EQ that lets you play around with the sound signature until you find your desired sound. They also have pretty good battery life for small wireless earbuds. With 13 hours of continuous playback, you'll be able to use them during a full workday or they'll last you a few workouts without needing recharging. They even magnetic earbuds that trigger their auto-off timer to help save power. Unfortunately, they have a proprietary charging cradle. This means that you'll always need to bring it around when you're on-the-go, if you ever need to charge the headphones. If that sounds like something you wouldn't want to always think about, check out the JBL Reflect Mini 2, which charge via micro-USB and have fairly similar performance.
Overall, the Jaybird are one of the best wireless headphones under $200 and will please active people just like they'll be a great option for anyone looking for wireless earbuds.
If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds under $200, then get the Samsung Galaxy Buds. They're very small and lightweight earbuds, but they have a touch-sensitive control scheme, which might not be as easy to use and responsive as the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless. They also don't feel as premium as the Jaybird and their IPX2 rating is slightly disappointing. On the upside, they're quite comfortable and should fit most people. You can map some controls to the ones that you find the most useful inside their app, which also gives you a few EQ presets. Unfortunately, the app is only available on Android, so iOS users might want to look elsewhere. Their default audio reproduction is still great and is quite suitable for a wide variety of music genres, although some may find them to be a bit light on bass. Nevertheless, they're one of the best true wireless headphones we've reviewed so far.
Get the Jaybird if you want well-built all-around wireless earbuds with an excellent companion app, but if you want the freedom of 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.
01/06/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.