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Best wireless headphones under $200
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 December 9, 2022 to include formatting updates and more information about the Razer Barracuda’s connection options.
Why is the Audio Technica ATH M50xBT2 the best pair of wireless headphones under $200 USD?
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.
If you liked the ATH-M50x, you’ll love the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2—this headset is almost identical to the wired version, which brings the same pros and cons. The company adds playback controls and retains the same synthetic padding, which is a bit thin. A sturdy metal band reinforces the headband and you can twist it every way without breaking it. When you need to travel from one gig to the next, you can just compact the ear cups toward the band and place it in the carrying pouch. Listeners who want more assurance may want to invest in a separate headphone case.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 isn’t a flashy pair of headphones, instead the headset nails the audio quality the company is known for. It includes the necessities to keep pace with the best of them including Bluetooth 5.0 and LDAC support. Battery life is also excellent; this headset lasts a bit longer than 64 hours.
If you’re looking for Bluetooth headphones under $200 that can do it all, the ATH-M50xBT2 is your best bet.
The microphone system is okay here but it doesn’t do the best job of rejecting background noise. You do have the option to enable a sidetone effect, if you want to hear your own voice through the headset.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
For a great workout experience, check out the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 6100 checks all requirements for a great pair of 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.
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.
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.
Microphone quality is okay but it’s certainly not the selling point of this headset. Listen below to hear that some background noise is transmitted though the mic.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Sennheiser PXC 550-II sounds great and lets you EQ the sound
Sennheiser often drops the price of the PXC 550-II to just shy of $200 USD, which is great news for anyone who wants ANC bundled into a great-sounding headset. The frequency response is fairly neutral and will reproduce audio with minimal low and midrange frequency exaggeration. You’ll have to live with microUSB to charge, which can be annoying if you want one cable to rule them all.
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 or the Bose QuietComfort 45, 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 microphone quality is pretty good here, especially for a years-old headset. Some background noise still makes its way through the system and to the person on the other end of the call. You can here this in the demo below where I speak with a tower fan off and then power it on halfway through. It’s not that the fan noise is coming through, but you can hear when I click the buttons.
Sennheiser PXC 550-II microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sample sound to you?
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.
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 sound quality is fine but it declines with the introduction of background noise. You can hear the microphone quality change as Adam turns on a fan in the demo below.
Sony WH-CH710N microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How do these sound to you?
The best for commuters and movie buffs is the Razer Barracuda
Since the Opus noise cancelling wireless headphones, Razer has released an onslaught of subdued lifestyle headphones. While the microphone is not our favorite, and the ear pads are a bit shallow for our liking, the Razer Barracuda sounds great for most applications. This the headset to get if you’re a gamer who wants something that you can use just as easily on the train as you can from your at-home gaming setup, featuring a USB-C dongle for lag-free audio while gaming and Bluetooth when you’re on the go.
Unlike the more premium Razer Barracuda Pro, the Barracuda lacks active noise cancelling. Don’t let that scare you away though: the passive isolation is quite good and will quiet unpredictable sounds. What stands out about the Barracuda, though, is its long battery life. Razer’s official battery spec is 40 hours, but in our testing, it exceeded that at just shy of 60 hours.
With so many ways to connect the Barracuda to your smartphone or gaming console, this is a highly versatile headset. Bluetooth 5.2 keeps the Barracuda tethered to your phone and you can choose between the SBC and AAC codecs. The Razer Audio mobile app works on iOS and Android, and lets you customize the EQ, adjust the microphone noise cancelling, and enable low-latency mode for mobile gaming. This is a good all-around option worth your time.
The Barracuda uses an embedded microphone system, similar to what you see on consumer headsets. The result is very good, but it can’t compare to Razer’s other headsets with boom mics, including the cheaper Barracuda X (2022).
Razer Barracuda microphone sample (Ideal conditions):
Razer Barracuda microphone sample (Office conditions):
Razer Barracuda Microphone sample (Reverberant space):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The best wireless 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.
- Beats Solo3 Wireless: If you must get a pair of Beats headphones, the Solo3 Wireless is a pretty good pick with its portable design and W1 chip.
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II: Bose’s QC 35 II headset often goes on sale for less than $200 USD, and that’s currently the case. This headset performs very well against the newer QC 45 and pricier Apple AirPods Max.
- 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.
- Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee: This open-back headset costs just $170 USD and delivers great sound quality for desktop use.
- 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 Sennheiser HD 450BT. Sound quality is excellent, in typical Sennheiser fashion, as is the minimal design.
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 (ANC), 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.
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.
What is a Bluetooth codec? Which ones matter for your needs?
The next thing to really consider is Bluetooth codec support. Some of this depends on the device you use with your headphones, but what makes LDAC or aptX HD good? We’ve got a bit of technical jargon to go over, but we’ll try and keep it relatively short.
LDAC is supposed to be better is because it has a higher bitrate than the standard SBC codec, but our testing reveals that LDAC falls short of hi-quality claims. aptX Adaptive, while impressive, didn’t make the splash that many hi-fi wireless audio fans hoped, but it’s still around for those interested.
AAC is a pervasive high-quality codec that performs far better on iOS than it does on Android. AAC can be good and reliable on Android but its performance greatly depends on the hardware. If you’re in the market for headphones to use with your Google Pixel phone, maybe avoid the AirPods.
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