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The 6 Best Headphones Under $200 - Summer 2019
Reviews

Best Headphones Under $200
371 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 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 326 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 so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They’re well-built wireless over-ear with active noise cancelling. They're comfortable, have an efficient tactile control scheme, and are all-around versatile headphones.

    The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 have a bass-rich sound that is deep and thumpy without drowning out the clarity of lead instruments or vocals. They’re balanced enough to be satisfactory for a wide range of music genres, but are particularly well-suited for bass-heavy hip-hop, EDM, or dubstep. The BackBeat Pro 2 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 or ambient chatter of a busy bus ride. However, the Venue don’t isolate very much in the treble range and don’t feel as durable as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2.

    See our review

  2. Alternative For Critical Listening: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

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

    If you’re serious about sound quality but need to stay under $200, then go for the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They’re not as practical as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 for casual use since they’re wired open-back headphones, but they’re a better option for critical listening. They have outstanding bass for open-back headphones and have a very balanced sound.

    Unfortunately, the DT 990 PRO can sound a bit too bright on some tracks. They also fit a bit tight on the head and get a bit uncomfortable after a while. On the upside, their build quality is solid, and they’re well-padded. Overall, if you want critical listening headphones under $200, then the Beyerdynamic are a great choice.

    See our review

  3. Alternative For Gaming And Home Theater: SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless

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

    If you want a great gaming headset under $200, then get the SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition. They’re not as practical to use on-the-go as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 since they don’t support Bluetooth, but they’re great for gaming. The Arctis 7 are well-built and comfortable to wear for hours. They have very low latency, sound very good, and have a great microphone, perfect for multiplayer games. They also have multiple ports and connection options and their wireless USB dongle is compatible with the PS4, most PCs, and even some home theatre systems.

    Unfortunately, the Arctis 7 don’t isolate well enough for commute or travel. They also don’t sound as balanced or as spacious as the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. Although they can be used wired with mobile devices, they need to be in range of their USB transmitter to be used wirelessly, and they’re a bit bulky. They’re impressive gaming headphones and are best used as such.

    See our review

  4. Best On-Ear Headphones Under $200: Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless

    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 don’t like the fit of in-ears, then get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They’re not noise cancelling like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, so they struggle a bit more in noisy conditions, but they’re considerably more portable. They're also one of the most comfortable on-ears we've tested so far.

    The Bose SoundLink On-Ear sound very good and are on-par with, with if not better than, the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless and the Beats Solo3 Wireless, which are a lot more expensive. They have a great 21-hour battery life that will easily keep up with you all day, and have power-saving features to last even longer.

    They don’t fit as tightly as other on-ear headphones, which is a bonus comfort-wise but also means they’re less stable to wear while running or working out. Otherwise, they deliver a fair wireless experience that's easy to recommend, especially for on-ear headphones under $200.

    See our review

  5. Best Earbuds Under $200: Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.2
    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:
    7.1
    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:
    8.2
    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:
    7.3
    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:
    5.9
    TV
    Score components:
    5.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer the portability and convenience of earbuds or in-ear headphones, get the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose SoundLink On-Ear, but they’re well-designed, wireless in-ears that are easy-to-use and have a secure, stable earbud-like fit. 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 use cases.

    The Jaybird Tarah Pro sound decent out of the box, but what sets them apart from other wireless earbuds is their great compatibility with the Jaybird MySound app. This program features an impressive parametric EQ that lets you fine-tune your sound your way. The Tarah Pro also have good battery life for wireless in-ears, lasting slightly over 13 hours on a charge. They have magnetic earbuds that snap together when not in use, triggering an auto-off timer that helps save battery life too.

    On the downside, these headphones 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. Besides that, these are well-rounded earbuds that are likely to please not only fitness enthusiasts but most people who like in-ear headphones.

    See our review

  6. Truly Wireless Alternative: Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless

    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 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 provides two additional charges for a total of 15 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 sweat-resistant design, and they provide enough passive isolation with their in-ear fit to be a good choice for travel in noisy conditions. 

    Unfortunately, The Jabra Elite Active 65t have larger-than-average earbuds that can be uncomfortable for people with smaller ears. 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. Overall, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are a versatile truly wireless design to use as your daily drivers.

    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 Wireless Gaming Headset: 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 Truly Wireless: 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
  • Beats EP: 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 BTNC:  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
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: Excellent sound quality and durable design. A great closed-back alternative to the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. See our review
  • JBL E55BT Wireless: A decent-sounding wireless alternative to the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. Not as packed with features. See our review
  • Skullcandy Venue Wireless: Decent noise cancelling wireless over-ears but don’t perform as well as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 overall. 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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