Noise cancelling headphones are a must-have for people that take public transit and want to reduce the noise from outside. Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive at times. However, breaking the bank isn't always necessary to ensure great overall performance. While some may lack certain higher-end features, it's still possible to find good products that will suit your needs at an affordable price point.
We’ve tested over 400 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 to buy. If you’re looking for our top picks in general or for different price brackets, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best headphones under $200, and the best noise cancelling headphones under $100.
The best over-ear noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested so far are the Razer Opus. These powerful and versatile headphones have an outstanding ANC that's able to block out a significant amount of noise in all ranges. Their ANC performance even rivals more high-end headphones, landing them among the best noise cancelling headphones we've tested to date.
Thanks to their well-balanced and accurate sound profile, they're suited for a variety of audio content. While some users may find them a bit light on the bass, they have a good companion app that offers a graphic EQ plus presets to help you get the best sound for your preferences. They're also very comfortable and feel very well-built. They also have a nearly 33-hour battery life, even with the ANC on, so you can easily wear them for a long flight and not have to worry about charging them mid-way through.
On the downside, their integrated microphone struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise, especially in loud environments. They also lack more advanced features like multi-device and NFC pairing, which can be a pain if you like to use your headphones with your laptop one moment, and your phone, the next. However, these headphones have an outstanding cost-to-performance ratio and their well-balanced out-of-the-box, but customizable sound is extra icing on the cake.
If you like to use your headphones on different devices without having to constantly pair them, check out the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones. While their ANC isn't as good at reducing bass-range noise as the Razer Opus Wireless, the Microsoft can be paired with up to two devices at the same time, making it easy to switch between your phone and computer. Although their regular price is much higher, they can currently be found within this price range since the release of the Microsoft Surface 2 Wireless. That said, if you can get a deal on them, their ANC is adjustable via their companion app, and they have a warm, bass-heavy sound that fans of EDM and hip-hop may especially enjoy. They've also got excellent controls that are easy-to-use, and they come with an in-line mic, which is handy if you make a lot of calls.
Go for the Razer if you want the best ANC performance for their price point. However, if you're looking for something that you can easily use with up to two different devices, get the Microsoft.
The Marshall MID ANC are the best ANC headphones under $200 that are on-ears that we've tested to date. If you love the look of an on-ear option, these stylish Bluetooth headphones have a retro leather look that feels well-built and comfortable.
Although they have a slightly excited V-shaped sound profile, they're very well-balanced and suitable for a variety of audio content. Fans of EDM and hip-hop can particularly enjoy the extra bass, which brings thump, rumble, and punch into the mix. They also have a 17-hour battery life, which is great for long days at the office or multi-hour commutes. When their battery dies, you can even keep using them passively via their audio cable.
On the downside, their noise isolation performance is lacking, especially when compared to over-ears, and their on-ear fit doesn't completely seal around your ears, allowing some background noise to seep into your audio. That being said, they still do a good job at cutting down mid and treble range noise, which is more useful when trying to block out people chatting or the hum of an A/C unit.
If you like the on-ear design of the Marshall MID ANC Wireless but would like something that's a bit more affordable, check out the AKG N60NC. They might not be as comfortable or as well-balanced, but their noise cancelling feature is better. They feel well-built but seem a bit cheaper due to the material used. Their audio reproduction sounds a bit muddy and cluttered, although it's fairly subtle. On the upside, they're a good option to reduce bass frequencies like plane or bus engine rumbles and isolate against outside noise well. You can also connect to two devices simultaneously and change easily between both sources.
If comfort and well-balanced sound are what you're looking for, grab the Marshall, but if you want better noise isolation at a more affordable price, go with the AKG, which are still some of the best wireless noise cancelling headphones that we've tested so far.
The best noise cancelling headphones with an in-ear design that we've reviewed so far are the Amazon Echo Buds. These Alexa-enabled truly wireless earbuds have excellent battery life and are comfortable enough to wear for long periods. They have touch-sensitive controls, but lack volume up and down, which might be a deal-breaker for some.
They're nicely built, and their sound profile should please most people. They can be used for a wide variety of music genres, but some may notice a small lack of bass kick. These in-ears genuinely shine when it comes to noise isolation: their tips passively block a lot of noise, but you can also enable their active noise cancellation for a little extra help. They're a good option if you often commute and need headphones that can easily fit in your pockets.
Unfortunately, they do have very high latency, which won't be ideal for watching video content during your commute, and they strongly rely on their Echo app, even for pairing. Hence, it becomes pretty much mandatory to download it if you want to use them. If you don't mind having the app, which also allows for customization via a Graphic EQ, then these are some of the best noise cancelling headphones under $200.
08/21/2020: Added Razer Opus Wireless to 'Best Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $200' and moved Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016 to 'Notable Mentions'. Replaced Bose QuietControl 25/QC 25 with Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones as 'Multi-Device Pairing Alternative'.
06/02/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
12/04/2019: Replaced Jabra Elite 65e with Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling 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 or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our ANC headphones reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones and the level at which you play your music will naturally drown the ambient noise of lower amplitudes.