The sound quality may not quite measure up, but when you’re out and about nothing quite beats the convenience of wireless headphones. The best wireless headphones work with everything, sound great, and are comfortable to wear for hours on end. However, while spending a decent chunk of change on a pair of headphones can definitely pay off, you don’t need to absolutely break the bank to find some that check all the boxes you want. Here are some of the best Bluetooth headphones under $200 on the market right now.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on June 8, 2021, to add the Sennheiser PXC 550-II and the Razer Opus to the Best list. The Jabra Elite 85h, Monoprice BT-600ANC, and Philips 8000 Series Wireless Headphones were added to Notable mentions.
The Audio Technica ATH M50xBT are the best Bluetooth headphones under $200
Audiophiles and audio enthusiasts know Audio-Technica as a premium audio company that puts out high-quality affordable headphones time and again. Audio-Technica hit it out of the park with its wireless headphone debut.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBTFull Review
If you liked the ATH-M50x, you’ll love the M50xBT—this headset is almost identical to the wired version, for better and worse. The company added playback controls, but retain the same synthetic padding, which is a bit thin. However, the headband has a sturdy metal frame, and folding the ear cups in and up results in a compact, travel-friendly form.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT isn’t a flashy pair of headphones, instead of focusing on nailing the audio quality the company is known for. It includes the necessities to keep pace with the best of them including Bluetooth 5 and aptX support. Battery life is also excellent; these lasted 31.2 hours on a single charge. If you’re looking for Bluetooth headphones under $200 that can do it all, the ATH-M50xBT is absolutely your best bet.
What you should know about Bluetooth headphones
There are all sorts of features to be on the lookout for when you’re shopping for Bluetooth headphones under $200. One of the most meaningful is active noise cancelling, but what is it? You can dive deeper if you really want to learn the science behind it, but if you don’t feel like dusting off your old textbook and want the TL;DR version, here it is.
Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide
Tiny microphones built into the headphones pick up what’s going on around you and then play the opposite sound wave into your ear along with your music. Because the sound wave that’s produced by the headphones is basically the exact opposite of the one that’s outside of the headphones, it cancels out. Leaving you with just the blissful sound of your music. See? That wasn’t so bad. Science can be cool.
LDAC is supposed to be better is because it has a higher bitrate than the standard SBC codec, but our testing revealed that LDAC falls short of hi-quality claims. We’re still waiting to see if aptX Adaptive is going to be as good as it seems, but luckily any issues are increasingly hard to hear as we age because, sorry to break it to you, our ears aren’t that great when we’re old.
Even if your phone doesn’t currently support it, you should still get Bluetooth headphones that support these codecs anyway. Android 8.0 brings support for these wireless standards to lots of phones in the near future and assuming your headphones last longer than your smartphone does: your headphones will only sound better as the tech in your phone catches up. Additionally, the AAC codec performs far better when paired with an iPhone than an Android phone, so if you’re in the market for headphones to use with your Samsung Galaxy phone, maybe avoid the AirPods.
For a great workout experience, check out the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 checks all requirements for a great pair Bluetooth headphones for working out. This headset is comfortable, lightweight, and water-resistant (IPX5 rating). The memory foam earpads evenly distribute weight, and they’re plush enough to be comfortable with glasses.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100Full Review
Other great features include Bluetooth multipoint support, which lets you connect two devices to the headphones simultaneously, and it may remember up to eight devices for fast switching. Standalone battery life is great, too; you get ~27 hours of listening on a single charge. Once the battery dies, you only need to charge for 15 minutes to get six hours of playback. One of the greater annoyances is the microUSB, but it’s forgivable considering how much these headphones offer.
Sound quality isn’t the best because auditory masking rears its ugly head into nearly all media playback, but since the BackBeat Fit 6100 are explicitly billed as Bluetooth workout headphones, the emphatic bass response makes sense. In fact, many athletes prefer this type of sound to keep them pumped during their routines.
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On the whole, Plantronics’ Bluetooth headphones and earbuds are no stranger to success and the same goes for its latest over-ear model. Plus, the tension headband is a neat, yet functional trick for adjusting the headset according to your workout intensity. For ~$130, you’ll have a hard time finding a better pair of workout cans.
The best EQ is the Sennheiser PXC 550-II
Sennheiser dropped the price of the PXC 550-II to just shy of $200 USD, which is great news for anyone looking for ANC and a great-sounding headset. The frequency response is fairly neutral and will reproduce audio with minimal low and midrange frequency exaggeration. Youl have to live with microUSB to charge, which can be annoying if you want one cable to rule them all.
Sennheiser PXC 550-IIFull Review
The PXC 550-II supports a great number of Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency. While the ANC is not on the same level as the venerated Sony WH-1000XM4, it’s at least $100 cheaper, and blocks out low droning noises competently. You get Bluetooth multipoint for easy device switching and the Sennheiser app lets you create custom EQ settings, making this a versatile companion.
The Sony WH-CH710N brings virtual assistant integration and noise cancelling for a low price
While Sony flagship headphones the WH-1000XM4 may be the current king of the audio market, you don’t need to spend so much to get a solid pair of noise cancelling headphones. The Sony WH-CH710N offers slightly stepped-down performance for a reduced price.
Sony WH-CH710NFull Review
These over-ear Bluetooth headphones feature a lightweight plastic build, which brings some durability concerns, but makes for a solid travel companion when paired with the rotating ear cups. The ANC feature isn’t as proficient at filtering out low-end noise as these headphones’ flagship sibling, but it still works reasonably well. And on top of that, the WH-CH710N features a very accurate audio output.
These headphones come with virtual assistant integration, so you’ll be able to get Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant reading your texts to you and answering your questions on the fly. These headphones also offer absolutely fantastic battery, clocking in at 41 hours, 35 minutes of playback on a single charge. When you finally do run the battery down, you’ll be able to get an hour of playback time after only 10 minutes of charging.
The best for commuters and movie buffs is the Razer Opus
Color us surprised when Razer’s foray into audio headphones was subdued compared to their other products. While the microphone is not our favorite, and the headphones are not recommended for those with glasses due to discomfort, it has a decently neutral frequency response. Razer teamed with THX—the film sound experts, owned by Razer—to create EQ settings, which likely will appease the movie and music fan. These are accessible through the companion app.
Razer OpusFull Review
The noise cancellation is okay, not industry-leading, but it’ll still help most people’s hearing by keeping the volume low on the bus or train. In our tests, the Opus lasted 27 hours, 41 minutes with ANC on, which is middling, but Razer thoughtfully provides a headphone jack should you need it. You get aptX and AAC which satisfies the majority of users out there. The Opus has a lot of good features, but one gets the sense it’s a product resulting from compromises and a lack of defined vision—could that be because you can’t wear glasses with it? Does that mean you should skip it? No, it’s a good all-around option worth your time.
Best Bluetooth headphones under $200: Notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Life Q35: With better battery life than pretty much any headphone on this list, the Life Q35 makes for a great travel companion.
- Anker Soundcore Life Q30: These wireless headphones are under $80 and have good active noise cancelling and sound quality for their price point.
- House of Marley Exodus: Tree huggers everywhere will appreciate these headphones because the company supports global reforestation through the sourcing and manufacturing of its products. The Exodus headphones are handsome and very bass-heavy which is good if you’re into that.
- Jabra Elite 45h: These on-ear headphones have stellar battery life, and a compact design. You can EQ the sound profile in Jabra’s mobile app, and it supports Bluetooth multipoint for increased productivity.
- Jabra Elite 85h: This headset fluctuates around the $200 price, at the moment it is a bit dear, but it’s extremely comfortable with good ANC, around 34 hours battery power, great microphones, but surprisingly only AAC and SBC codec support.
- Monoprice BT-600ANC: For only $100 these headphones have some of the best ANC out there and high-quality codec support. You’ll have to live with the inaccurate frequency response, however.
- Philips 8000 Series Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones: The build quality seems a little dubious, which is a shame because owners seem happy with this sub-$150 headset’s ANC.
- Sennheiser HD 350BT: Sennheiser’s over-ear headphones prove more comfortable than their noise cancelling counterpart, the HD 450BT. Sound quality is excellent, in typical Sennheiser fashion, as is the minimal design.
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