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 have tested so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They’re well-built wireless over-ears with active noise cancelling. They're comfortable, have an efficient tactile control scheme, and are all-around versatile headphones.
They have a bass-rich sound that is deep and thumpy without drowning out the clarity of lead instruments or vocals. They’re particularly well-suited for bass-heavy hip-hop, EDM, or dubstep, and are balanced enough to be suitable for a wide range of music genres, including rock or pop music. They also have an outstanding battery that lasts for 30 hours and only takes about 2 hours to charge.
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. They're a little difficult to find as they can only be purchased through the Drop website, but they have great bass, especially for open-back headphones, and an overall well-balanced sound. They aren't great for casual use like commuting to work, however, as they are open-back and leak quite a bit of sound and don't isolate any background noise. 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, but they still aren’t as good for commuting as the Plantronics.
Get the BackBeat Pro 2 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 HD 58X Jubilee.
If you want great gaming headphones under $200, then get the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition. They don’t support Bluetooth, so you can’t use them wirelessly on-the-go like you can with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016, but they’re great for gaming. They sound very good and have a great microphone for multiplayer games. You can customize them with the SteelSeries Engine on PC and their wireless USB dongle is compatible with the PS4 and most home theatre systems. They provide channel mixing control right at your fingertips, but if you prefer even more controls, consider the Logitech G933. They have 3 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 are well-built and have a comfortable light-weight 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 wireless earbuds sound decent out of the box, but what sets them apart from the competition is their great compatibility with the Jaybird MySound app, which features an impressive parametric EQ that lets you fine-tune your sound your way. Their 13-hour battery life is pretty good, especially for wireless in-ears, and they have magnetic earbuds that snap together when not in use, triggering an auto-off timer that helps save power too.
On the downside, they use a proprietary charging cradle that is a bit inconvenient. The cable of the charger is rather short, and you have to make sure to keep the charger on you if you intend on charging the headphones throughout the day. The JBL Reflect Mini 2 perform similarly and use a regular micro-USB cable, but they don’t feel as well-built. Overall, these are some of the best wireless headphones under $200 that are likely to please not only fitness enthusiasts but most people who like in-ear headphones.
If you prefer the ultra portability of truly wireless earbuds, then get the Samsung Galaxy Buds. Their control scheme isn't as comprehensive as the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless and they don't feel quite as well-built, but they are even more comfortable and charge using micro-USB instead of a proprietary charger. They are well-designed truly wireless headphones that are very lightweight with small tips that don't enter too deeply in the ear canal, making them quite comfortable for most people. They are compatible with the Samsung Wearable app which allows you to choose from several equalizer presets, though those with Apple devices will be stuck with the default sound profile, as the app isn't available on iOS. Luckily, they sound fairly well-balanced out-of-the-box with a versatile sound that is well-suited for a variety of genres, though they are a little bass-light which may not be great for fans of EDM or hip-hop.
Get the Jaybird Tarah 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 Galaxy Buds.
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.
10/29/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.