If you want some of the best sounding headphones available, then you’re probably expecting to spend a bit more for that enhanced musical experience. Past a certain price range the additional benefit you will attain begins to dwindle regarding the price:benefit ratio. In fact, unless you just need the best of the best and money is not an issue, I would personally not recommend spending anything more than $200 – $300. For less than two-hundred dollars, you can find some excellent quality headphones that will be durable, lightweight, and will sound great.
If you are going to invest your hard earned cash, you may as well spend a few minutes of your time and find the best headphones for your money. Information is power, but the fact that you have found this site means that you already know this. Even in this price range, there are many products that will not provide you with your money’s worth, and it is easy to become overwhelmed when making your decision. We went ahead and tested and reviewed over a hundred pairs of headphones, narrowed it down into a list of our Top 10 Best Headphones Under $200, and then organized it into an easy to understand format to aid you in your decision. We designed this page for you as a your own personal one-stop shop for headphone information and reviews.
Our Top 5
What are the Best Headphones Under $200?
1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review
Everything else considered, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones are simply the best choice you can make for under $200. With excellent sound quality, a light-weight portable design, and the durability that is needed to ensure you don’t have to worry about buying another pair of headphones in a matter of months, its hard to find a reason not to buy these.
“The sound quality is superb, with a wide sound stage, deep bass, and some crystal-clear mids and highs…”
For those who want some stylish headphones these should definitely do the trick. With a simple, but sleek design, they happen to look very cool in person.
Additionally, these headphones make up for their size with a collapsible design. You simply just need to fold and rotate the ear cups into any desired position, and wallah – throw it in your bag or your purse.
The sound quality is superb, with a wide sound stage, deep bass, and some crystal-clear mids and highs. The heavy bass flows in the background and does not overwhelm, but at the same time provides just enough thump for those bass heads out there. All genres of music sound equally fantastic, unlike some other headphones we have reviewed which sound nice when listening to certain genres of music, and not so great in others. Whether you listen to hip-hop, dubstep, rock, country, classical, or jazz, these headphones will blow you away.
Oh, did we mention the fact that these headphones are very comfortable? Unfortunately, everyone has had to experience that uncomfortable earache after extended use of a pair of crappy earbuds or headphones. This is not the case with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x’s. In fact, one of our staff members went ahead and used these headphones throughout an entire 9-hour international flight, without the slightest hint of discomfort. Even when the music was off and with some help from the sound isolation that these headphones provide, he “slept like a baby”. This demonstrates just how comfortable these cushioned ear-cups are.
If you’re looking for the best headphones for under 200 bucks, you found them! Not surprisingly, most other experts agree, and rate these headphones as being superior to the other products within the same price range. These easily compete with some of the more expensive headsets.
2. Sennheiser HD 598 Review
The HD 598’s securely fit to your ears, and comfortably rests without any unnecessary pressure or tension on the sides of your head. The headphones may look a bit bulky, but are actually very lightweight, which is nice.
“..they sound great with a wide sound stage and an overall balanced sound…”
Sennheiser consistently manufactures great earbuds and headphones in all price ranges. The Sennheiser HD 598 headphones are no exception. With sound quality comparable to the ATH-M50x’s we reviewed above, it is not surprising that these are highly recommended by our PricenFees review team, other experts in the field, and through user reviews across the web. Overall sound quality is great, but may be a little bit lax more when it comes to the edgy bass that other headphones are able to provide. This is not to say that these headphones are lacking at all in sound quality, in fact they sound great with a wide sound stage and an overall balanced sound. The bass, mids, and highs are all delivered to your ears with precision, and do not drown each other out.
The only downside (or in some cases a positive feature) is the eye-catching cream color that envelops a large part of the design; this is paired with brown earcup pads and some high-gloss brown finish on a portion of the headband. If you tend to gravitate towards the more “all black” design when it comes to headphones, these may not be for you. If you happen to be open to other colors, this classy design may be just what you are looking for. The soft cream-colored design matches the dark brown nicely, and makes for an expensive-looking product. If you’re looking for some crystal clear and balanced audio, and a classic design, these may be the best headphones for you for under $200.
3. RHA T10i Review
If you’re looking for a smaller design, some earbuds (technically in-ear headphones) such as these should be your top pick. The RHA T10i in-ear headphones sound fantastic and easily take first place when it comes to the best earbuds under $200. It is hard to compare the sound quality of in-ear headphones to a pair of classic design headphones; it is like comparing apples with oranges. Due to the small design, most earbuds are inherently at a disadvantage when it comes to the sound quality that they can produce.
“The mids and highs are precise. The bass is deep. And they all flow together seamlessly… these earbuds show-off a little bit too much – they make it look too easy…”
A nice perk – these earbuds are designed with stainless steel, which is very easy on the eye and ensures that you will not be shopping for another pair of earphones for quite some time. The lightweight design and a choice between 10 different ear tips, you can be sure these will fit securely and will not shake loose.
The RHA T10i’s truly sound exceptional, even when compared to their larger counterparts. All genres of music sound equally great. Even with an overall smaller bass response, the in-ear design makes it seem like they thump just as much if not more than the other headphones we have reviewed. The mids and highs are precise. The bass is deep. And they all flow together seamlessly. In fact, these earbuds show-off a little bit too much – they make it look too easy.
4. Beyerdynamic DT-880 Review
With a semi-open ear cup design, these headphones provide an open sound experience, whilst still maintaining some degree of ambient noise filtration. If you are unclear as to what the differences are between open-back, semi-open, or closed-back headphones are, feel free to scroll back up for a detailed explanation.
“The mids and highs flow nicely, and never crackle or hiss at high volumes…”
The overall design seems very solid, and the build quality of these premium headphones can be felt as soon as they are on. The Beyerdynamic DT-880s are slightly heavier than some other headphones we have reviewed, but is nothing dramatic and should not turn you away if you are set on buying this product.
The sound is great, an overall balanced frequency response; nothing too extreme when it comes to bass, which may be appealing to some. The mids and highs flow nicely, and never crackle or hiss at high volumes (and they shouldn’t with the 250 Ohms!). The cushioned ear cup pads are comfortable and fit snugly over the ears.
5. AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Review
Quincy Jones, the music producer, vouched for these, and so do we. Although it is hard to compete with the our first 4 choices above, these put up a good fight and have their own place when it comes to a decent pair of headphones. They sound great. They look pretty cool too. With a wide sound stage and some crisp mids and highs, it is no surprise that these tend to be the recipient of great reviews. The materials that are used to make these headphones are high-quality and durable.
“With a wide sound stage and some crisp mids and highs…”
The ear cups have soft foam padding and feel soft to the touch. The AKG’s are a tad heavier than the other headphones we favored above, but nothing too bad. If you like the Quincy Jones’ style and are looking to invest in some flashy headphones, these may be just for you. If you can do without the Quincy Jones Signature, our other top picks seem to have more bang for the buck when it comes to sound quality and comfort.
6. Vsonic GR07 Classic (2017 Edition) Review
They may be small, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook them. The 2017 edition of the Vsonic GR07 Classic is a staple in the audiophile world. Their 11mm drive units with bio-cellulose diaphragms provide a one of a kind experience.
“If you want a discrete pair of headphones that pick out every subtle note in a song, these are the pair for you.”
The latest edition comes with MMCX detachable cables, making repairs and travel a breeze for these headphones. Earlier editions often had issues with the cables, so it’s a great update to be able to replace them if they ever fail.
Also, even with their updated design, the 2017 Vsonic GR07 Classic still maintains the excellent clarity of their predecessors. They provide an ample amount of bass while hitting the mark with treble. They do all right with mids, but there are other headphones that handle mids better.
The headphones come with three silicone tip pairs and a pair of foam tips, allowing you to customize your experience. The foam tips provide wonderful isolation while the silicone tips provide a comfortable fit. They can also be worn around your ears due to the earguide that comes with the headphones. This allows you to choose whether you want to wear the headphones in a traditional manner, or in a more secure way for activities such as working out.
The 2017 Vsonic GR07 is one of the top in-ear headphones on the market. While some in-ear headphones have a beefed-up price due to brand recognition, these headphones provide one of a kind quality for a reasonable price. The one thing to look out for is that there are reports on Amazon of the headphones dying within a year of use. Some reviewers were able to get a replacement though, so it could just be a few flukes. We all know how folks often don’t leave a review unless something bad happened to them. It is an issue worth being aware of though.
With their sleek design and their stylish squared form, the 2017 Vsonic GR07 Classics are perfect for the audiophile on the go. They’re light, low profile, and their music is wonderfully clear, letting you jam out wherever you’re traveling.
7. Sony MDR10RNC Review
Today’s headphone market is saturated with a variety of headphones, each having their own gimmick to set themselves apart. Then there are the no-nonsense headphones that focus only on the fundamentals – great sound quality, comfort, a premium design, and sturdy build quality. The Sony MDR10RNC headphones succeed in just that. Why are they some of the best headphones to buy for under $200?
“The headphones offer deep, soul-pounding bass at little to no distortion even at loud volumes. The mids and the highs are present and sound great…”
First is the design, which is absolutely Sony. The Sony MDR10RNC headphones has a design reminiscent of Sony’s line of headphones, which is characterized by simple, nondescript looks coupled with a particular emphasis on the cans. Indeed, the industrial look of the MDR10RNC is very nondescript, dominated by black with a few silver metal and red accents. The left earcup features most of the headphones’ controls. It houses the 3.5mm audio cable input, the power button, and the noise cancellation controls. The right earcup, on the other hand, houses the compartment slot for the removable AAA battery used to power the noise-cancellation technology. The Sony MDR10RNC headphones also ship with two audio cables with one featuring inline playback controls and a microphone.
Comfort is one of the MDR10RNC’s strengths as it can be worn for long periods of time. The headband has foams and is not too tight. The Sony MDR10RNC headphones are very light and do not feel overbearing when worn. The earcups swivel for additional comfort and provide a gentle but steady cushion to the ears. The build quality is also fantastic with a solid, premium feel that is nice to the touch.
Sound quality is also a strong point of the Sony MDR10RNC headphones especially considering other offerings at its price range. The headphones offer deep, soul-pounding bass at little to no distortion even at loud volumes. The mids and the highs are present and sound great – but sometimes seem to be overpowered by the hard-hitting bass. The headphones have one additional perk albeit a very useful one – the noise cancellation capabilities of the MDR10RNC are really standout and block most outside noise for a wonderful listening experience.
Overall, the elegant but discreet design, the comfortable fit of the headphones, the fantastic build quality, and the strong sound output make the Sony MDR10RNC headphones one of the best headphones available under $200.
8. Beats Solo 2.0 Review
In recent years, Beats has established itself as a strong player in the world of sound engineering. After the release of the popular Dr. Dre line, the company’s output has had its ups and downs, but its sleek style has never gone out of fashion. With some of its latest on-ear headphones — the Solo 2.0 — Beats could just manage to erase its previous version’s less than stellar performance.
“Keep the bass thumpin…an overall sound signature geared towards the hip-hop, rap, and dubstep genres…”
Speaking of style, the Solo 2.0 is no exception. It comes in black, gray, blue, red, pink, and white, with a glossy finish that the company described as an automobile finish. With a conservative price tag, it is well-worth the expense, if only for the fashion statement one will be making toting the Beats Solo 2.0 headphones around.
However, early users decried the lack of matte-finished sets available, since the aforementioned glossy finish makes the headphones vulnerable to fingerprint marks. A common problem in previous versions was the headband breaking in the middle. This issue is less likely to occur with the Solo 2.0, as it was engineered to be more durable than its predecessors. The overall design is also sleeker, and while it feels heavier, it is not in any way clunkier. If anything, the slight weight increase was due to the improvements made by Beats’ engineers, which means these headphones are better and stronger compared to the company’s older outputs.
As with previous versions, they are foldable, but with no visible screws this time around. The cables are likewise flexible and tangle-free, and can be removed if one prefers a wireless experience. Taking calls and controlling music is also made easier by Beats’ signature cable technology.
The sound quality has also improved, with the company’s signature strong bass undertones, some clear mids and highs, and an overall sound signature geared towards the hip-hop, rap, and dubstep genres. It is well-equipped to improve your listening experience with better noise isolation features, making it perfect for noisy environments, such as gyms, airports, and city streets.
The Solo 2.0 is also equipped with soft on-ear pads to ensure a custom fit. Some users might be put off by the snug fit, but the memory foam feature ensures that the longer one wears them, the more comfortable it gets. The Solo 2.0 is also compatible with a variety of devices, including iOS-run products.
If you want some durable and stylish headphones, look no further. Beats Solo 2.0 can offer this, as well as an improved audio experience overall. Keep the bass thumpin with the Beats Solo 2.0’s.
9. Jabra Move Review
Expensive headphones normally assure quality. However, some headphones like the Jabra REVO headphones offer similar quality even though they are less than $200. This product offers unparalleled durability. The compact headphones are made of high quality aluminum and steel framework, ensuring that the product is safe even it accidentally falls on the ground. It is shatterproof with the main earpieces protected by cushion, ensuring they won’t get damaged in cases of shock.
“high-caliber sound quality for both bass and midrange sounds. Its full-spectrum sound can compete with other expensive headphones, leaving a lot of users satisfied”
Aside from the main earpieces, the Jabra REVO headphones also have flexible headbands that can withstand pressure and bending. Its earphone jack can also be detached and stored away. This feature prevents the cord from twisting and damages, which is a common problem among headphones.
Each part has undergone durability testing. The headband is bent thousands of times while the cable can withstand 15 kilograms of pressure. Drop testing has also been conducted. Results show that the headphones are fine even after falling off from a height of 2 meters.
The Jabra REVO receives a thumbs-up as it offers high-caliber sound quality for both bass and midrange sounds. Its full-spectrum sound can compete with other expensive headphones, leaving a lot of users satisfied with its quality. It delivers solid bass sounds leaving you appreciative of each beat.
Jabra REVO offers utmost comfort and convenience. Its earpieces fit comfortably and securely. Additional features for comfort are the soft, supple cushions that guarantee ease when worn.
Its volume button helps in convenient sound adjustment. Unlike other headphones, this product has a built-in microphone and in-line remote compatible with mobile phones’ calling features. Also, earpieces are labeled with “right” and “left” to make sure users will wear them properly – something you probably wouldn’t think of as a problem, but mixing the sides up is a relatively common issue among headphones users.
This headphone has a small form factor that will match everyone’s personal style. It will complement each phone, music device, and portable device’s designs. It comes in a clean color combination of white and light gray.
Overall, the Jabra REVO headphones possess all the great qualities that people want from other expensive headphones. High-end sound quality paired with its Bluetooth connectivity, this product is ideal for those who love to comfortably listen to music with expensive-quality sound on a budget.
10. Monster DNA Review
The Monster DNA On-ear headphones are one of the best audio accessories that you can get below $200. It is customizable and music can be shared with someone using the handy dual ports built into the design. When it comes to audio quality, the bass is pretty great but on higher volumes, it almost feels as if it creeps into the mids and highs, which become a bit harsh-sounding.
“..great choice if you are a fan of deep bass…wide variety of colors for customization and the funky design make it a great choice for audiophiles on a budget…”
When it comes to its design, the DNA looks innovative with its triangular earpieces and pads. There are a variety of customizations you can choose from (a total of 14 color schemes). In addition, the DNA has a rubberized support cushion on the underside of the headband. The earpads are soft, but it can get a bit uncomfortable after extended use (4+ hours). The DNA has two flat removable cables (one cable has a mic for phone calls) which is a good thing since you don’t need to replace the whole kit and caboodle if the wires fray.
Concerning performance, Monster DNA functions well with moderate/mid-level volume. However, at this price range, the volume concern shouldn’t be existent. With the Pure Monster Sound technology, the DNA headphones deliver amazing audio and great bass. The headphones are a great choice if you are a fan of deep bass, you just need to avoid listening to music at elevated volume for extended periods. Overall, the Monster DNA’s have some good sound quality for under $200.
Music sharing is one of the nice features of Monster DNA. The dual audio ports allow you to have an instant “listening party” and share your music with another person. The good thing about the sharing feature is that it doesn’t distort the sound when sharing it with a friend.
One downside of the Monster DNA is it does not have noise-cancelling technology when placing calls; however, the headphones deliver clear reception. If you are making a call on a busy street, the receiver of the call will notice the background noise but it doesn’t appear to overly disrupt the call from what we’ve seen.
All-in-all, Monster surely delivered with these headphones. With a wide variety of colors for customization and the funky yet stable design, it’s worth having if you’re an audiophile on a budget.
Types of Headphones: An Overview
What sets apart headphones from a loudspeaker is the ability for an individual user to listen to a source of music or other audio, privately. Over the years, headphones have evolved from a pair of small loudspeakers that were simply held closely to the person’s ear, to a sophisticated technology used for various purposes, including products that are now able to produce high-clarity sounds mainly for the listening of music. Headphones usually have a 3.5mm jack to plug into a source of audio; the more expensive models may utilize wireless Bluetooth technology, which is gaining popularity.
Headphones now come in many shapes and sizes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. A pair of circumaural headphones for example, usually tends to produce higher-quality sound than a pair of earbuds, while sacrificing some portability with a larger weight and size. Before we get into the detailed explanations of the different types of headphones, we should discuss some important sub variations of each:
These types of headphones have an opening in a portion of the back of the earcups; allowing sound produced by the headphones to go out, while also leaking ambient noise in. The advantage of this is that it tends to give a natural or studio-like sound experience for the user. A disadvantage of this characteristic is that music quality may be hindered when used in a noisy environment; for example if you find yourself using headphones in a crowded gym while working out, closed-back headphones may be a better choice for you.
Within this category also exists a ‘subcategory’ if you can call it that, which still has some sort of opening in the back of the earcup, but is designed in such a way to block most of the external noise from passing through, while still maintaining its original purpose of allowing sound waves to exit. Some like to completely differentiate this design with open-back headphones, but the way I see it, these should just be seen as a slight advancement in the same technology.
The name is pretty self-explanatory; closed-back headphones are sealed by design, meaning there is no opening in the back of the earcups. Although the perception of distance between the sound source and the user is negatively affected due to this design, it allows a stronger bass response to be produced, and has some passive noise-cancellation properties as well.
What are Supra-Aural Headphones?
This design consists of headphones with pads that press directly against the ears. An advantage of these is that they usually can be made smaller in size. The downside is that depending on the individual differences in the size and shape of the ear, they may be uncomfortable after long periods of use.
Personally, I found supra-aural headphones to me the most uncomfortable with earbuds following closely second, and tend to avoid them (although some people love them!). The comfort factor is largely reliant on the size of the earcup as well as the material that is used to press against the ear; unless you can afford some high-end headphones, the quality of this material tends to be mediocre when used in relation with its intended purpose.
What are Circumaural Headphones?
These consist of headphones with pads that go around the ears, rather then press directly against them. The pads are three-dimensional and usually circular, oval, or rounded squares, allowing ears to rest comfortably between. The nature of this design permits a design that allows a full seal from ambient noise; the more expensive products utilize active-noise cancellation technology and often produce exceptional sounding bass, mids, and highs.
The only potentially limiting factor with circumaural headphones is the overall weight and size of the headset. It is essential to pick a brand that uses decent materials in the production of its product, because it is easy to find yourself stuck with a heavy pair of headphones that you find very uncomfortable after long periods of use. It is always recommended not to blindly purchase a pair of headphones simply on sound quality alone, as comfort is also an important factor.
Modern technology allows the design of high-quality circumaural headphones that are also significantly lighter than what was seen as recently as ten years ago, which often weighed in excess of over one pound. Lightweight but durable, metals and plastics are now cheaper to use, and have helped make serious improvements in this regard, as the majority of these types of headphones now weigh between one-quarter and one-half a pound.
What are Earbuds?
Another name for earphones, earbuds are much smaller than both circumaural or supra-aural headphones in that they do not sit on or around the ear, rather they are placed directly into the outside of the ear canal. As technology has continued to improve, a good pair of earbuds can now deliver some very decent sounding music to the user, comparable to even some of the larger headsets; this comes with the advantage of being much smaller and easier to carry. One example of earbuds that nearly everyone has seen before are the standard Apple earbuds; a decent set of stock earbud headphones, but cannot compete with the other categories.
Earbuds are also notorious for hearing loss associated with loud music; unfortunately, most earbuds do not provide the user with any noise-cancellation capabilities, and so people often turn the music up much louder than normally necessary to compensate for a noisy environment.
What are In-Ear Monitors?
Another name for in-ear headphones, in-ear-monitors are often confused with earbuds due to the comparable size and shape. IEM’s are often regarded as being a much higher quality pair of headphones compared to earbuds. This is due to the fact that they actually go into the ear canal with plugs made of silicone, rubber, or a variety of materials, rather than sitting on the outside, which provides a barrier from external noise in the environment. The soft material that the IEM’s use to rest in the ear also tends to be much more comfortable compared with the hard plastic shell of earbuds. Today, earphones, earbuds, in-ear-monitors, and in-ear-headphones are all terms that are used interchangeably; even here on ExtensivelyReviewed, you will see us comparing high quality earbuds and in-ear-headphones all within the same article.