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 Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. These versatile Bluetooth over-ear headphones are comfortable and have a decent noise isolation performance that can help reduce background noise around you, wherever you go.
They have a very accurate and well-balanced sound profile that makes them great for virtually all audio genres. The ANC feature also helps to reduce a lot of mid-range noise like chatter, which can be useful for an office setting. With a continuous battery life of around 30 hours, you can easily make it through your work day or commute without having to recharge them. They also have an auto-off timer and when the battery finally does run out, you can use them passively with an audio cable if you can't charge them right away.
On the downside, when compared to more recent noise cancelling headphones, their ANC isn't the greatest and struggles to reduce bass-range noise like the rumbles of a bus or plane engine. Some may also find their unusual design to be less-than-stylish. Still, for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, these headphones deliver a well-balanced sound and decent noise isolation.
If the ANC is your most important criteria and you don't seem satisfied with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016's performance, check out the wired-only Bose QuietComfort 25. They might not offer the wireless freedom of the Plantronics, but their design is much more comfortable, and their noise cancelling performance is noticeably better. If you're traveling often for long periods at a time, like long flights for example, the Bose are probably the best option. Unfortunately, they use disposable AAA batteries, but you'll get around 33 hours of battery life, which is very good.
If you prefer wireless headphones, then the Plantronics are the better option. If you don't mind having a wire, and if comfort and noise isolation are your main concerns, get the Bose instead.
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 on-ear 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 you're 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 than the Marshall 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 we've tested.
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 a while. 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-ear headphones genuinely shine when it comes to noise isolation. Their in-ear tips passively block a lot of noise to begin with, 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.
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.