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 BackBeat Pro 2.
If you’re serious about sound quality but need to stay under $200, then go for the Sennheiser HD 58x Jubilee. They’re not as practical as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 since they’re wired open-back headphones, but they’re a better option for critical listening. They have outstanding bass, especially for open-back headphones, and a very balanced sound. They’re best for use at home since they leak a lot of sound and don’t isolate any noise. If you’re looking for critical listening headphones that are a bit more versatile, 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 headphones to wear during your day-to-day activities – since they’re wireless and have active noise cancelling, they’re a much better option for everyday casual use. That said, if you care more about sound quality and just want something for listening to music at home, you’ll want to go for the HD 58x.
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, 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 design and fit of on-ears but can find then a bit uncomfortable at times, then get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They’re not noise cancelling like the Marshall MID ANC, so they struggle a bit more in noisy conditions, but they’re the most comfortable wireless on-ears we’ve tested so far. They sound very good and are on par with, if not better than, the Beats Solo3 Wireless, which can be quite a bit more expensive. They have a great 21-hour battery life that will easily keep up with you all day, and an auto-off timer so they can last even longer.
Get the Marshalls if you’re looking for on-ears that’ll help isolate noise on the bus to work or while travelling; however, if you care more about comfort, then the Bose are a better option.
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 portability of a truly wireless design, then get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They’re less comfortable than the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but they come with a great portable charging case that can provide two additional charges up to 15 totals hours of playback if you take breaks to charge them every now and then. They're a great option for sports, thanks to their IP56 rating, and they provide enough passive isolation with their in-ear fit to be good travel headphones too.
Unfortunately, they have a rather bulky earbud design, which can be uncomfortable for some. You also can’t hang them around your neck if you’re taking a quick breather. If you like being able to adjust the way your earbuds fit and don’t like having to carry around a charging case, get the Jaybirds; however, if you prefer the more discreet look of truly wireless earbuds, you’ll want to go for the Jabra.
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.