If you have a budget of $200 or less, there are some very high-quality pairs of headphones available in the market today to take a look at. As always with our guides, we have difficulty choosing “the absolute best” (especially when it comes to headphones since they’re such a versatile product — as we even saw in our best headphones super guide) because a few different factors need to be taken into consideration depending on who we’re talking to. Since we’ve gotten many requests and questions about headphones within specific price-points, today we take a look at the best headphones under $200. If you’re looking for top-notch quality, comfort and overall build, you’re in luck — this price range really gets into the higher-end models that won’t disappoint.
Selecting the best headphones under $200
- Headphone type: Since we’ve already got our budgets in mind, the most important factor when shopping for a pair of headphones is what type. There are numerous shapes and sizes out there so it’s all going to depend on your needs and comfort. We included as many types in here as possible to try to cover all bases for you. Here are the types explained:
- Closed-back: Some of the most popular pairs of headphones are closed-back, while help to isolate sound and eliminate that pesky ambient noise, especially if you’re out and about around a busy environment. Although not only these but the following two are considered over-ear and on-ear, these have a design to enclose your ears entirely. They’re great for not leisurely listening but recording and producing applications as well.
- Semi-open: These are still over-ear but have a bit of an opening when it comes to the surrounding of your ears. The purpose? To let some sound leak out.
- Open-back: These are over-ear yet allow even more sound to flow outside of the headphones. This is of course for a reason, and mainly concerns mixing and mastering pros to prevent buildup of certain frequencies that may skew the raw distribution of the song.
- In-ear: Also known lately as earbuds as time goes on, these fit inside of your ear as opposed to on-ear designs. The applications for these are endless, and we’d say grab them if you wanted some more convenience, versatility, travel a lot, exercise and more. Stick to the previous three however if you plan on DJ’ing, making, recording, producing or mixing music.
- On-ear: These are pretty similar to all “over ear” types of headphones however they sit just on your canales and lobes as opposed to surrounded them like a pillow.
- Connectivity: Right up after headphone type now comes connectivity, a factor that wasn’t always important to keep in mind. Are you a wired headphone head? Wireless Bluetooth? Both? If you’re planning on DJ’ing, recording, producing, mixing or mastering, we highly recommend grabbing a wired model. You don’t want latency, ever. However, if you’re looking for some leisure listening and want some convenience, exercising, or any other type of application you feel wireless connection will better your life, you should definitely keep a wireless model in mind. We include both types in here.
- Additive features: Here’s our last but not least important factor to keep in mind when choosing a model from our list — how about some extra features built-in to your pair? Some popular additive features we’ve seen in this price-point include: swiveling earcups and foldable headbands, wide frequency response, high vs. low impedance, velvet or leather earcups\headbands, tangle-free cords (typically with earbuds), control-center or with a microphone, interchangeable cables (along with different sized cables in the box), adapters (typically 3.5 to 6.3mm for studio equipment) and more. We’ll list the important features for each in their respective paragraphs.
You can always check out our other guides from the budget-friendly series we’ve recently written (best headphones under $100 and best headphones under $50) in case you wanted to check out some models in lower price-points to save some money. Otherwise, let’s get down to business.
The best headphones under $200
Sennheiser HD 598
First we have the aesthetically pleasing-to-the-eye Sennheiser HD 598, which offer sophisticated features that make them one of the best headphones under $200 for people who want luxury and comfort. These headphones have a high-end open circumaural design with Sennheiser’s innovative “Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement” (E.A.R.) technology which project channels audio signals directly into your ears. They also come equipped with advanced Duofol diaphragms that minimize intermodulation distortion while delivering a very solid frequency response range (12 – 38,500 Hz), plus a constantly compressed cellulose fleece that reduces total harmonic distortion to less than .01% – play your music as loud as you want without any effect! To enhance the listening experience even more, they are made with a high-grade leatherette headband and velour earpads that provide long-lasting comfort so you can listen to your music at hours at a time – perfect for your applications or long study sessions. If you have deeper pockets and you’re looking for luxury, then you will not be disappointed with the Sennheiser HD 598.
“Active Headphones for the Modern Audiophile” – Here we look at one of the best headphones under $200 that offer an in-ear, active listening experience for you hi-fi enthusiasts. The V-MODA Zn’s are crafted with Zinc metal alloy housing, and feature 8mm dynamic drivers that are tuned for concrete accuracy and a wide frequency band along with a very low distortion (<0.5dB). These headphones offer a 3D, real-life listening experience via the V-PORT airflow system mechanics that blocks out nuances providing a high-definition, isolation sound. They also come equipped with a Diamond-Black Tangle-Free Cable that diminishes any tangling mess and is up to 20x stronger than the industry average cables. The four-sized BLISS (Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone) 3.0 fittings enhances noise-isolation and enables vibrate bass for optimal fit, stability and sound. The ZN take in account when you are on-the-go and come with a high sensitivity microphone with a 3-button SpeakEasy Remote/Mic for Apple devices (or 1-Button for Android and Universal devices) and control which allows calls anywhere and everywhere – convenience at its finest. These V-MODA’s are made for your modern-day audiophile, and should be considered if you have a pretty large budget — they’re definitely fancy.
Up next in our guide, we examine a model featured in the M-Series line by one of our favorite brands, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, which is praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers for its professional design that sits at the moderate-to-high price-point of this guide. We can’t tell you how many times these things have made it into our of our guides. The M50x feature proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils that provide relatively stable clarity and a wide frequency range (15 – 28,000 Hz) that supplies good bass response for the price. The 90° swiveling earcups design outline the ears for proper sound isolation in the loudest of environment – making these one of the top options for studio tracking, monitoring and DJing. The earcups and headband are also composed of pro-grade material, so they are durable and comfortable in your long studio sessions or live shows. They are collapsible for easy storing when touring/traveling, and come with detachable cables (1.2m-3.0m coiled cable, 3.0m straight cable and 1.2m straight cable) to ensure you have the right cable for any setting. The M50x offer a lot of key studio features for a rational price which is why they are considered to be one of the best headphones under 200 bucks for you DJs and producers. You can check out our ATH-M50x review for some more info.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO
Now we take a look at a pair in the lower price-point of this guide, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, which have a studio design and might be the best headphones under $200 for you DJs, music makers or merely leisure listeners who are serious about their headphones. The DT 770 PRO is a closed, dynamic headphone – crafted for applications, tracking, mixing, critical listening, or even gaming. They deliver high-quality sound for the price, backed with Bass reflex technology for an improved bass response which other headphones in this guide may not touch. They are also built with Velour Ear Pads and a soft headband cushion to give pretty good support and comfort for long listening or studio sessions. The rugged build and relatively reliability of the DT 770 PRO make these a versatile choice for you at a rather affordable price for studio headphones. These are offered in multiple impedance (32, 80, 250) to match your need (you may need a headphone amplifier if you go the high route), so grab this pair if you want some great reliability for the price.
The Klipsch X6i are in-ear headphones that have an ultra-thin design, very solid housing, and in-line remote/mic which makes them one of the best headphones under $200 bucks for people on-the-go. The minimal design combines sturdy die-cast Zinc for the front housing, weighted to stay in your ear canal during activity – suitable for workouts. The thin design follows the contours of your ears and sit naturally inside your ear canal, and the minimal size design proves to be comfortable for hours of listening. The X6i are packed with a KG-723 Full-Range Balanced Armature that delivers clean, natural sounding vocals and refined upper frequencies for a more balanced listening experience. The patented oval eartips come in a 4-sized kit help for a custom fit to create a very good acoustic seal for superior noise isolation at such a price. You can also have control of your calls and music with the advanced 3-button remote/mic that allows this model to be a true hands-free microphone for people on-the-go. If you have a moderate budget and you’re looking for some low-profile in-ear headphones (in black or white) for your busy lifestyle, then grab the Klipsch Reference X6i. Wired rated them well in their X6i review.
The JBL Synchros E50BT are a pair of Bluetooth, around-ear headphones with JBL Signature Sound features which makes them one of the best headphones under $200. The JBL’s are crafted with 50mm drivers with PureBass Perfomance that deliver a wide-range frequency response (10 – 24,000 Hz) for full, undistorted bass – good for all types of music and applications. The Bluetooth technology permits wireless connecting to phones, tablets, DVD players, sound systems and music players, while also giving you the option to using the telephone with the echo-cancellation technology. There is also a built-in ShareMe technology that lets you stream music wireless from another ShareMe-equipped headphone – no more outdated splitters needed for your long trips with friends. The built-in Li-ion battery powers the headphones for 18 hours playtime per charge, also coming with an AUX cable when the battery is dead. This pair is also built-on long-lasting comfort with relatively soft, leatherette earcups which engulf your ears for the ultimate noise isolation experience. These headphones are located on the middle price-point of this guide, and are a reasonably a great buy for the price.
Bose SoundTrue II
The around-ear Bose SoundTrue II offer the beloved reputation this brand has for technology that can be used in every lifestyle, on-the-go or kickin’ back at home. These headphones are compatible with all Apple devices, and deliver music with clarity and depth that many competitors cannot match. They are equipped with a soft-padded headband and memory-foam cushions for long-term comfort – great for your business trips. The SoundTrue II’s are relatively easy to travel with, as the earcups fold flat, also coming with a matching carrying case so you can travel in style. The inline microphone allows to switch between calls and music when you have an incoming call from a client or friend. Some people shop for brand (like myself if i’m in need of some confidence regarding reputation) and when you see Bose, it catches your eye because they have such knack for making solid products. These are located on the middle-to-high price-point of this guide, but if you want a proven brand, then let loose on the Bose Soundtrue II.
If you’re really trying to feel the bass in your tunes, then Pioneer’s SE-CX8-K will be one of the best in-ear headphones under two-hundred dollars for you. These headies feature an inner ear fit with a detailed, high-quality aluminum housing that is very solid for the priced. These Pioneer’s feature a 9.4mm dynamic speaker unit which spits out a wide frequency range of 4 – 30,000 Hz, and have a sensitivity response of 102dB – great for this model at this price. They also come crafted with a “Bass Exciter” vibration element which makes you feel as if you were boogying in middle of the club. Each pair also of these Superior Club Sound headphones come with a 3-sized soft silicone eartip kit for optimal fit and ultimate sound isolation experience. The in-line microphone and integrated remote allow you to control your calls and music at your own convenience, thanks to a detachable cord – for your on-the-go lifestyles. If you bassheads have some flexibility in your budget, then you should definitely cop the Pioneer SE-CX-8Ks earbuds.
AKG K271 MkII
The K271 MkII by AKG are reference studio headphones that are crafted for precision listening, mixing and mastering – perfect for you sound engineers or producers. They present an open, over-ear studio design, made with advanced technology and built-on comfort. The advanced open technology provides a relatively spacious and airy sound without any compromise. They are engineered with some higher-end wire coils and diaphragm – which produce a wide frequency range (16 Hz – 28 kHz) and quality sensitivity response. Remember when I said built-on comfort? The headphones are crafted with leatherette and velvet earpads to ensure a perfect fit for your long listening or recording sessions. They also come with a high-performance stereo plug (3.5mm), with a 6.3mm screw-on adapter, as well as interchangeable cables (10′ straight and 16′ coiled) to complete the studio experience. These also sit at the higher price-point of this guide, and should be considered if you want to be serious about your listening, recording or producing.
These things are legendary (they were in our top 10 studio headphones for a reason). Sitting on the lower price-point, we have some more closed, around-the-ear headphones that are the best headphones under $200 for your MIDI workstations, camcorders, or other equipment with not as much powerful amplification. The Sony MDR7506 have a swiveled earcup design which make it easy to store or transport, and a coiled cable that allows for more mobility and reach – preventing snags from ripping the headphones off your head. They are crafted with 40mm diameter drive units delivering deeper bass, lower distortion (104dB) and a wider dynamic range (10 – 24,000 Hz). The neodymium magnets also provide maximum energy (up to 1000 mW) and minimum size. These headphones can be of great use for recording, film and live arenas due to the low impedance and circumaural, closed design which blocks out ambient noise. Make sure to grab a couple of these for your Sound Prep crew, if you’re looking some quality sound and durability.