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 344 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, the best over-ear headphones under $200 for critical listening are 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. They can sound a bit too bright on some tracks, but this may not be as bothersome for everyone.
Due to their open-back design, they’re best for use at home since they leak a lot and don’t isolate any noise. They also don’t fold into a more compact format and, depending on the variant you get, you may need access to a fairly powerful amp to drive them. If you’re looking for critical listening headphones that you can bring with you on-the-go, consider the more portable, closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. The DT 990 feel better-built, though, and sound more open, which makes them slightly better audiophile headphones, and they're often under $150.
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. They are well-built and comfortable to wear for hours. They have low wireless latency, sound very good, and have a great microphone, perfect for multiplayer games. They’re compatible with the SteelSeries Engine for added customization on PC, and their wireless USB dongle is compatible with the PS4 and most home theatre systems.
Although they can be used wired with mobile devices, they need to be in range of their USB transmitter to be used wirelessly. They’re also rather bulky and they don’t isolate well enough for commute or travel. That said, they’re great for gaming, especially since they provide channel mixing control right at your fingertips. If you prefer even more controls, though, consider the Logitech G933. They’re not as well-built as the SteelSeries, but they have 3 programmable buttons on the ear cups that you can map to trigger virtually any function you desire on PC with the Logitech G Hub software.
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 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 satisfactory wireless experience that's easy to recommend, especially for on-ear headphones under $200.
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 use cases.
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 one 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 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, they have larger-than-average earbuds that can be uncomfortable for people with smaller ears. The Samsung Galaxy Buds are a much more comfortable option, but their companion app is only compatible on Android, unlike the Jabra Sound+ app which works on iOS as well. Overall, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are a versatile truly wireless design to use as your daily drivers.
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.