by Adam MolinaNovember 4, 2016

best-headphones-under-200

There are a number of great headphones out there, but they all come at a price. Depending on what your budget is looking like sometimes the bang you get isn’t worth the buck you spent. That said, audio companies are quickly realizing that not everyone is a millionaire (shocker) and have taken to making some quality products that won’t leave you broke.

In an increasingly crowded market they have been forced to figure out a way to pack quality components into a lower price point, just to stand out from the crowd. For those of you were wondering which headphones have successfully done so, we made this list. These are our picks for the best headphones under $200.

Related: Best Headphones of 2015/Best headphones under $100

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

No surprises here, the ATH-M50X are still one of the best headphones you can get for your money. Theres a reason so many people consider these to be great, and thats because the quality on them is comparable to (if not better than) headphones that cost twice as much. Not only do they sound great, but they have a solid build quality as well. The ear cups can swivel 90 degrees but no squeaking can be heard when doing so. They're also covered in a soft leather that makes them very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. They come with three different kinds of audio cables out of the box, a 1/4” adapter, and a carrying pouch as well. In terms of sound quality the ATH-M50x have 45mm drivers with a frequency range of 15Hz - 28kHz and a fairly flat sound, though you can definitely expect a bump in the low end that you wont find on actual reference headphones. Still, for the most part there isn’t much emphasis on any particular part of the frequency range. This may not be preferred for some people, but if you prefer a more accurate sound then these are for you. Due to the success of the initial M50X’s, Audio-Technica has expanded the line to include multiple color options. They come in black with silver accents, blue with brown accents, white with silver accents, or the relatively new dark green with gold and brown accents. All of which look great and are stylish without being too flashy. On Amazon these are rated 4.7 stars out of 5, but if you’re interested in the ATH-M50x make sure to check out the full review as well.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
2.1 pounds
Size
11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches
Pros
Good soundSwiveling ear cups
Cons
Not entirely flat sound

Samsung Level On

If you happen to own a Samsung device, the Samsung Level On headphones will do you justice. If you dont own a Samsung product they still sound good, just don’t expect any functionality out of the buttons on the audio cable. They are the smaller sibling to the Level Overs, but what they lack in size they make up for in quality. They’re way less expensive than the Overs and even sound better in some areas. These on-ears have 40mm drivers and a fairly balanced sound. They’re not as accurate as the ATH-M50x’s so you probably won’t be using them for any mixing, but Samsung designed these for people with a “modern, active lifestyle” and the sound reflects that. It casts a large enough net that even though you probably won’t be blown away, you won’t have too many negative things to say about them regardless of what kind of music you listen to. If you do have a Samsung device the in-line controls will give you the ability to pause/play/answer calls, adjust the volume, and even activate S-Voice if you want. They weigh about 8 ounces and have an easy fold design enabling them to be packaged nicely into the included hard-shell carrying case. Besides that the Level On headphones are also very comfortable thanks to the plush, leathery ear cups. If you commute a lot you won’t have any qualms about bringing these along for the ride (unless you’re driving thats illegal). One other thing that’s great about these headphones is the soundstage. When it comes to closed-back on-ear headphones this isn’t exactly a common talking point, so the fact that we can even mention it shows how well these headphones actually perform. As these are designed for the modern lifestyle they come in two very modern colors: black on black or white with tan accents. The white model is more expensive and has been discontinued, but the black color option is still going strong. If youre interested you can check out the full review. These also did fairly well on Amazon getting a 4.0/5 star rating from customers.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
7.7 ounces
Size
7.5 x 3.5 x 7.2 inches
Pros
ComfortableGood sound
Cons
Build quality

Bose SoundTrue II

Bose is one of the more popular consumer friendly audio brands, and for good reason. Though some audiophiles have their problems with the company, Bose consistently delivers products with solid audio and multiple options catering to consumer preferences. Case in point, their Soundtrue II headphones headphones. In terms of sound quality, Bose seems to have found a happy meeting place for accurate representation and pleasing sound. Though they’re not great for studio use or if you want a powerful thumping bass, most people won’t have too many issues with the way these sound. Beyond sound quality these are insanely comfortable to wear. The padded ear cups and headbands work together to almost lift them off your ears so that most people will get a solid seal without feeling as if the headphones are clamped to their heads. If you’re like me you want your headphones to be so comfortable that you forget they’re there, and these can do that for you. The Soundtrue around-ears come with basic in-line volume and playback controls, though keep in mind that it’s meant to be used with iOS devices so some of the functionality might be cut off if you have a different phone (for more details check out the full review). They come in a couple of different colors so if you’re a fan of options you can choose from black, white, mint green, or mint green and black. All of which are solid choices for a sub-$200 pair of everyday headphones. Good enough to earn them 9 in our full review and a 4.0 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Microphone
Yes
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
1.2 lbs
Size
6.5 x 1.5 x 7.75 in
Pros
ComfortableBuild quality
Cons
Average sound

V-Moda XS

If you’re a little more rough on your headphones, you might want to take a look at the V-Moda XS. They feature a military grade construction that matches the industrial design, visible screws and all. The design also allows it to fold nicely with what the company calls Cliqfold for easy storage, meaning you hear a click when they close. It’s rocking 40mm dual-diaphragm drivers and each ear cup also has a replaceable metal plate on it called On-Ear Shields. You can even customize them with an image of your choice engraved on it if you want to. In my opinion, putting an image of your face on it would make a great gift. They also have a frequency range of 5Hz - 30kHz and feature a 24K gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack if you’re feeling fancy. The audio cable is completely wrapped in kevlar save for the two spots that have the mic and control buttons on it. V-Moda says that sound quality in other headphones were lost in the distance between the ear cup and you’re ear, so these fit a little more snug in a good way. The sound is fairly neutral, but with a slightly higher emphasis on bass. So if you like solid sound regardless of genre with a little more bass, these are for you. Due to the industrial design there were only two possible color choices: white or black. That said, you can add still add some personal flair via the customizable shields. They have a 4.3/5 rating on by customers on Amazon. If you’re interested be sure to check out our full review.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
1.1 pounds
Size
5.5 x 3.5 x 6.5 in
Pros
Build qualityReplaceable on-ear shields
Cons
No volume controlEar cups are slightly small

Sennheiser HD 598

One pair of headphones that are still worth their sub-$200 price point are the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones. Sennheiser is a name that somehow ends up on almost every best list, but there’s a reason for that. They’ve been doing this for a long time and have multiple options in basically every price range. The HD 598s make this list because it’s not easy to find a good pair of open-back headphones for under $200, and even harder to find some that are actually good. The first thing that you’ll notice is that these have a good amount of comfortable padding. For long listening sessions a little extra padding is always welcome, and the HD 598s have ample velour padding on both the ear cups and the headband. As previously mentioned, these are open-back so if you’re looking for a pair of headphones that won’t disturb the people around you there is a closed-back version you can pick up instead. The cable on the HD 598s is removable and comes with two standard options. There’s a 3 meter cable if you’re going to be using these at a desk or in a studio, and then there’s a 1.2m option for a more manageable cable. You’ll find a 1/4” plug at the end of both cables, but the headphones do come with an adapter to 3.5mm if you want to use these with your laptop, tablet, phone, etc. These can in two color options: black or ivory and can usually be found for around $150 on Amazon where they have a 4.6 out of 5 star rating.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
1.26 lbs
Size
8.1 x 4.1 x 9.4 in
Pros
Good soundComfortable
Cons
Ends in 1/4' plug

Philips Fidelio L2

Another pair of headphones that are fairly impressive are the Philips Fidelio L2 headphones. These have a more modern design than something like the HD 598s and are also a little more mobile friendly. These over-ears have memory foam ear pads wrapped in leather so they’ll feel as good as they look. Aluminum ear cups protect the drivers and orange stitching accents the all-black aesthetic. These are technically semi-open back headphones so sound leakage is still an issue, but they also have a small universal mic and remote that lets you answer phone calls. If you’re looking to get the most out of your headphones the Fidelio L2s are Hi-Res approved. So as long as you have the right source you can enjoy CD quality sound (16bit/44.1kHz). One interesting thing about these headphones is that there is a small vent in the middle of the drivers that Philips claims will add emphasis to low and mid-range frequencies. Though there is enough low end for most people, bass heads might want to look elsewhere. Philips got it right with the Fidelio L2s and that’s reflected in the 4.4 out of 5 star Amazon rating.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
0.57 lb
Size
6.77 x 7.68 x 7.68 in
Pros
Good buildSound quality
Cons
Slightly bass heavy

Plantronics PRO 2

A fairly new pair of headphones that took us by surprise are the Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2. The original model was good, but the sleeker build along with a lower price tag puts the Backbeat PRO 2 firmly on this list. One thing to note is that these are Bluetooth headphones, but if you’d rather hardwire them you can do so using a standard 3.5mm audio cable. These do have decent Active Noise Cancelling, but that isn’t what gives these headphones a spot on this list. For under $200, you get a 24 hour battery life, 100 foot range, and all the playback controls your heart can desire built into the headphones. It is a little confusing at first, but once you memorize where all of the controls are you’ll be able to do plenty. You can adjust volume, pause/play music, skip between tracks, answer phone calls, access Siri or Google Now/ Assistant, turn on or off ANC, and even enter “Open-Listening mode” by flicking a switch. This basically lowers the music and uses microphones to let you hear what’s happening around you so you won’t miss any more important announcements at airports. These aren’t even available yet on Amazon so if you’re interested in picking up a pair you can go to the official Plantronics website.
Microphone
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes
Noise Cancelling
Yes
Water-Resistance
No
Battery Life
24 hours
Pros
Great connectionLots of features
Cons
Weird designComfort

Grado SR225e

If you’re not really into audio you may not have heard of Grado before. If you have, you know why they’re here. They’re a small audio company based in Brooklyn, NY that makes their headphones by hand, and boy are they good. They have products ranging from sub-$100 to several thousand, and they’re always in the conversation of best headphones. If you’ve seen our list of best headphones under $100, these should look familiar. The SR225e share more or less the same design as the SR80e. Two drivers housed in aluminum, attached to the minimal headband via two metal sticks, and retro foam padding. Also like the SR80e headphones these have an open-back design. If you’re looking for headphones that sound good and have an even better sound stage, these might be for you. The audio cable is thick, durable, and comes out from the bottom of both ear cups. It also ends in a 1/4” plug so if you’re looking to use these with mobile devices you’re going to need an adapter to plug into a standard 3.5mm jack. These are the basically the best bang for your buck product Grado has to offer. Stepping up from here gives you a much higher price tag with a small improvement in sound. If you’re all about finding a good value, these are as good as it gets. These can be found for exactly $200 on Grados website or on Amazon, where they have a solid 4.4 out of 5 star rating.
Microphone
No
Bluetooth
No
Noise Cancelling
No
Water-Resistance
No
Weight
0.62 lb
Size
6.69 x 3.15 x 7.48 in
Pros
Great soundstageDurable cable
Cons
Not meant for mobile

 

 


What are your favorite sub-$200 pair of headphones? Let us know and they might it on to the list the next time we update it.

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