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While $200 won't buy you super-premium headphones, it's still a great budget for a solid pair of headphones if you do the right research.
Since starting Headphone Critics, we've gotten the chance to test hundreds of different headphones ranging from super cheap $20 earbuds, all the way up to premium audiophile headphones that cost an arm and a leg. From those tests, we've compile a list of some of the best headphones priced somewhere in the middle.
In this article, we're going to break down our top picks for the best headphones under $200. These headphones are all great for their price, but each of them has different pros and cons.
According to our tests, the best headphones under $200 are the Beats Solo3. These premium-sounding wireless over-ear headphones are a great pick if you want deep bass, and clear mids.
Here's more info on those, and some of our other picks:
7 Best Headphones Under $200 of 2020
These Solo 3 on-ear headphones have an outstanding battery life of 40 hours. They’re so easy to use with simple Bluetooth connectivity and on-ear controls.
Bose Soundsport Free
These true wireless headphones give off sporty vibes. They’re sweat and water resistant, so neither your active lifestyle nor poor weather will make you pause your music.
The Cowin SE7 has some of the best wireless range that lets you enjoy more freedom. Comfortable ear cushions let you fully get lost in your bass heavy music.
Bose QuietComfort (Wired)
These wired Bose headphones are sleek in appearance and provide a well-rounded experience. Its noise cancellation feature works exquisitely well.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x
While these Audio Technica headphones cannot make phone calls, they still provide a balanced and clear listening experience. Its design is durable and its cushioned earcups are comfortable.
Sennheiser HD 4.50
These Sennheiser wireless headphones have a long battery life and steady Bluetooth connection. They are comfortable, but fit smaller than other brands.
The Cowin E8’s black matte design is classy and sleek. Although they are a bit bulky, these wireless headphones provide a wonderful listening experience with great noise isolation.
The Beats Solo 3 wireless headphones have drastically improved their quality of internal components over the previous Solo 2 series. One of the best features is hand’s down, the improved battery life. For either Apple or Android devices, the battery life of these headphones is about 40 hours.
40 hours of battery is almost unheard of for headphones that sound this good. They're super energy efficient, while still sounding great and stay connected without a problem.
The extra-cushy ear cups are comfortable to wear for a few hours at a time. The headphone fit itself is adjustable, so you don't really have to worry about whether or not these headphones will be great for things like long flights.
Beats headphones in general tend to appeal to people who value deep bass, and these are no different, however the overall sound is more balanced than you might expect. The controls are right on the side of the headphones themselves, so they're easy to use and sound great. These are an excellent pick in the $200 price range, and our Editor's choice top pick.
Bose’s Soundsport Free wireless earbuds offer clear sound in a compact size, and are one of the best wireless options out there. These are true wireless, classic in-ear headphones, minus the annoying tangled wires that we tend to think of with earbuds. These sporty looking buds come with a charging case, so they are easy to take with you on the go.
The battery life is short compared to other headphones – up to five hours. Fortunately, the carrying case provides two extra charges, so you won’t have to be attached to a wall every day to use your earbuds. Use them for your fitness routine as they are sweat and water resistant with an IPX4 rating. Whether you are taking a call in the rain or hitting the gym with your music, these earbuds will have you covered. Call audio is only available through the right earbud, so keep that in mind if you often find yourself using one bud at a time.
3. Cowin SE7
The Cowin SE7 are the best over-ear headphones for those seeking a budget friendly option. Color variety and wireless capabilities make these bluetooth headphones a great choice for the fashion conscious. Bluetooth headphones transmission distance is approximately fifteen meters, so you do not have to be glued to your device to use your headphones. To simplify your life even more, all controls for music and phone calls can be accessed via buttons installed in the earpiece.
Soft ear cushions provide tremendous comfort for extended listening periods. These are lightweight and do not add a lot of pressure to stay on your head. However, they do get quite warm and you will need to take breaks wearing them in hot temperatures. Likewise, these might not be the best headphones for exercise sessions.
The sound quality of these bluetooth headphones is decent for the price and wonderful for bass heavy music. However, take note that vocals and instruments can lose clarity, especially since these do not isolate much outside noise.
The Bose QuietComfort wired headphones bring you studio headphones performance, comfort and style – all in a great value package. These around-ear headphones provide excellent noise cancellation so you can fully immerse yourself into your music. They offer some of the best sound quality, which is balanced, rich, powerful and undisturbed by outside distractions.
Around-ear headphones are notorious for leaving a divot in hair after continuous use, and these are no different. However, these are made from a new cotton and felt combination material that will leave you more comfortable than other around-ear models. You won’t struggle as much with overheating and sweat buildup after long-term use. Earcups adjust and pivot for your comfort and allow for compact storage in the included neat case.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x is all about that impressive, deep bass. Designed to be versatile, you can easily take them from home to the studio, and are even suitable for home theater use. They are well-balanced and sound great, whether you are listening to music, or your favorite podcast.
These headphones include a case and two different types of wires: Detachable coiled cable (3.9’-9.8’) and detachable straight cable (3.9’). Neither cord type has a microphone or controller. Therefore, you will not be able to make or take phone calls with these headphones.
Cushioned ear cups make for a pleasant listening experience. Outside sounds are isolated, thanks to the special design that contours around your ears. Best of all, the ATH-M50x has been widely touted for its sonic sound performance by top reviewers and professional sound engineers.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 brings all the top features to the table at a reasonable price. This wireless headset has hassle-free Bluetooth connectivity so you can access your music in a snap. They have some of the best wireless response on the market.
Controls are intuitively placed on the ear-cup. Manage your incoming phone calls and cycling through music quickly without having to get up and use your phone.
For long flights or long work days, decent battery life is a must with bluetooth headphones. You can enjoy up to 19 hours of use with noise cancellation features engaged. If you turn off the noise cancellation feature, the battery life can last up to a stunning 25 hours. Its soft, padded ear pads are comfortable to wear for long periods. Tuck them away easily in the included canvas storage, thanks to their ear pads that swivel for easy storage.
7. Cowin E8
These Cowin E8 over-ear headphones have a sleek matte black appearance with a classy copper stripe on each side. With larger ear cups and a strong headband than normal over-ear bluetooth headphones, the E8 feels a lot more luxurious and sturdier than its predecessors. If tight fitting and uncomfortable headphones are the bane of your existence, you can lay that worry aside with the E8. Enjoy its luxuriously padded headphones that stay in place yet doesn’t feel too tight.
Its noise cancelling/noise isolation feature provides a smooth and adequate listening experience that won’t be tainted by outside noise. Clean bass and crisp vocals come through clearly while a balanced sound will enhance your overall audio experience.
What You Need to Know Before Buying
A pair of headphones with great sound, comfort while being within your price range is not impossible. We typically expect quality and cost to correlate. So we assume that the more expensive the headphones, the better the quality. However, when reviewing this list, you can see that this is not always the case. Sure, included features will often be limited or reduced. However, you can still get quality headphones at a great price point.
How to Choose Headphones Under $200
In-Ear, On-Ear, or Over-Ear
In-ear headphones are still popular due to their small size and convenience. These are ear buds that stick directly into the ear. Small in size and easy to store, these are great for the average user who just wants a well-rounded product.
On-ear headphones are much larger in size and not as discrete or easy to store. Nevertheless, these are a smaller, lighter, and easier to store than over-ear headphones. These are a great middle ground if you are looking for better sound quality at a cheaper price.
Over-ear headphones are large and fit over the ear. For comfort, these are your best bet. These are great from long plane rides or for those who often listen to music for hours while studying.
Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $200
When you're shopping for headphones in this price range, some may have noise cancellation, while others may not and it's important to know what you're getting. Noise ISOLATION and noise CANCELLATION are not the same thing.
Passive noise cancelling is also referred to as noise isolation. This feature works by means of external ear cups. Outside noise is reduced due to the perfect seal around your ears. These are great for the general user who still wants to be able to hear louder noises, like sirens or loud voices. If too much noise still seeps in, you can always check out how to make headphones louder.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) works by an internal audio processor that cancels out external sounds by replicating opposite noises. Check to make sure that the headphones you are interested in purchasing allow this feature to be turned off. Since ANC works so well at blocking out noises, you will want to turn it off in certain situations.
Active noise cancelling provides a fully immersive experience and is better for ear health since you will not have to crank up the volume to cancel out noise. Headphones with ANC are typically on the higher end of the $200 range.
Open-Back or Closed-Back Headphones
The closed- back headphones design simply means that the outside facing side of the ear cup is closed off with either plastic or metal. Sound stays within the cups and is less likely to leak. As you might imagine, this type of headphone often isolates background noise.
On the other hand, open-back headphones do not have the solid plastic or metal piece on the outside of the ear cup. These stereo-like speakers are often quite pricey and not included on our list.
Comfort is one of the most important features when purchasing headphones. This means considering the type of earpiece, material used, the weight of the whole set, and how you will be using them. Better materials will likely drive the cost up, so look at the high end of our $200 range. If you tend to use your headphones for long hours at a time, paying attention to comfort will greatly pay off.
Frequently Asked Questions
What quality level can I expect in this price range?
For most people, $200 is plenty for a pair of good headphones. At this price range, you can expect premium materials, attention to detail and decent audio quality. Most people find headphones in this price range sound great. The only exception would be audiophiles who obsess over the minutia of audio. If you're an audiophile, you may want to increase your budget to $500+.
What type of headphones have the best sound quality?
In most cases, over ear headphones sound the best. Over ear headphones can evenly disperse audio and allow your ears to pick up sounds more naturally.
Are wireless headphones good?
Some people may argue that audio quality is lessened when you use wireless headphones. This was true 10 years ago. Now, bluetooth technology has advanced to the point where audio quality between wired and wireless headphones are nearly identical.
For $200, there are so many headphone options available on the market. From noise cancelling headphones to comfortable, lounging types, there is something for you on this list. Consider the features that will benefit you the most and go from there. Your listening experience can be rich, dynamic and more immersive with the right headphones. Improving your audio experience at a bargain price is even better.