If you’re looking for great sound be prepared to dish out a ton of money. Right? Wrong. Sure there are some great and really expensive pairs of headphones, but there are also some great inexpensive pairs that give you a much better bang for your buck. If you’re willing to invest about $200 you can find yourself a pair of headphones that will keep your ears satisfied and your pockets happy. But where to start? There’s plenty of headphones in that price range, but we’ve narrowed it down to a few of the best in a few different categories. These are the best headphones under $200, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
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 SR60e headphones.
Two drivers housed in aluminum, attached to the minimal headband via two metal sticks, and retro foam padding. Also like the SR60e 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 great sound at a good value, these are as good as it gets.
V-MODA XSFull Review
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.
HiFiMan Edition SFull Review
HiFiMan makes some pretty great headphones, but they’re a brand that you usually encounter at much higher price points. That isn’t the case with the Edition S headphones. The company took what they’ve learned about audio over the last decade and made a relatively inexpensive pair of headphones. These retail for about $250 but they’ve recently been on sale for $149 which makes them a great option for this list.
When you’re talking about the best headphones under $200, chances are you’re not going to be buying a few pairs. These are cheap, but they’re not THAT cheap. And if you don’t want to choose between open or closed-back headphones than the Edition S headphones might be for you seeing as they’re both. These are open-back headphones at their core, but you can easily pop on a cover that turns them into closed-back headphones. That said, you’ll still get more leakage than a pair of headphones that are entirely closed-back, but it’s still nice to have the option.
These have plush leatherette earpods that make them insanely comfortable, so whether you’re listening to them during a quick commute or for hours at a time you shouldn’t have any issues with fit. The headphones require a 3.5mm to 3.5mm connection and come with a removable cable so if you happen to damage yours you can just get a new one instead of having to buy an entirely new pair of headphones. But build quality aside, people mention HiFiMan because of their good sound quality and these are no exception. As far as sound goes these run laps around competitors like Bose or Beats. They don’t have that audiophile-grade quality that some of their other more expensive offerings have instead opting for a more consumer-friendly sound, but that doesn’t make them bad. It just means more people will probably find their sound attractive to their ears.
If you want a unique pair of headphones with a good sound quality, these were worth the $250 price tag. But now that you can get them for $100 less, they’re almost a steal.
Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2Full Review
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.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40xFull Review
Everyone always talks about the M50x, and sure they’re a good pair of headphones too. But that doesn’t mean the ATH0-M40x headphones are obsolete. In fact they’re an even better option now because the price has dropped since there’s a newer version out. These have a little less bass then the newer versions so if you’re a basshead you might be disappointed, but if you like a more balanced sound these are for you.
As far as design goes these keep it pretty simple and has that signature style that lets you know these are a pair of Audio-Technica headphones. The headband and ear cups share the same kind of plush padding that make them comfortable to listen to for a decent amount of time, but after a really long listening session you’ll definitely have to let your ears breathe a bit as they tend to get warm. both ear cups can rotate a full 90 degrees to sit flat against your chest DJ-style when you’re not wearing them.
Speaking of which, the versatility of these headphones is what makes them a great buy. The rotating ear cups, closed-back design, and slight emphasis on the low end makes them a good option for DJ’s. But even though there is an emphasis on the low end it’s not overpowering, and is actually decently balanced making them a competent pair of monitoring headphones as well. DJ headphones and studio headphones are usually drastically different, but that speaks to the flexibility of the ATH-M40x that they can be used for both.
Throw in a price tag of less than $100 and they’re definitely a great bang for your buck pair of over-ear cans.
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.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:
- Best cheap headphones under $50
- Best earbuds (in ear headphones) of 2015
- Best noise cancelling headphones
- Best bluetooth headphones of 2015
- Best on ear headphones of 2015
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