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Best headphones under $200

A budget sweet spot for wired or wireless headphones.
By

Published onFebruary 29, 2024

The Best
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
MSRP: $179.95
8.3
Check price
Positives
Price
Weight
Comfort
aptX, aptX HD support
USB-C audio
Negatives
Will not get LE Audio
No TRS jack
Best battery
Anker Soundcore Space Q45
MSRP: $149.00
7.9
Check price
Positives
Bluetooth 5.3; SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs
Multipoint connectivity
Wired connection
Comfort
Battery life and efficient fast charging
Good ANC for the price
Negatives
Finicky app experience
Average sound quality
Best studio
AKG K371
MSRP: $157.97
8.1
Check price
Positives
Excellent sound quality
Comfortable with or without glasses
Plenty of accessories
Replaceable ear pads
Articulating ear cups
Negatives
Isolation just ok
Sound leaks
Best comfort
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
MSRP: $179.00
7.6
Check price
Positives
Comfortable
Great sound
Price
Negatives
250Ω requires an external amp
Can't replace the cable
Bang for your buck
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
MSRP: $79.99
8.2
Check price
Positives
USB-C audio
Sound quality
Comfort
Value
App
Negatives
Limited options
No IP rating

Okay, so you’re in the market for a solid pair of headphones but don’t want to spend your monthly grocery allowance. Fortunately, there are plenty of sub-$200 cans out there. Initially, the investment may be difficult to justify, but these picks will satisfy your ears for years to come. Rather than sending you off on a wild goose chase, we’ve saved you from the grunt work and compiled a list of the best headphones currently on offer for under $200.

  • This list was updated on May 28, 2024, to add new top picks and notable mentions.
  • If you are looking to save more money, see our list of the best headphones under $100.

For the best sound under $200, get the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless

The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless held above wood.
The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless is one of the best values in the ANC headphone world.

If you are looking for a pair of ANC headphones, the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless costs roughly half of what the top-end competitors are asking for. And with stellar sound quality to boot, these cans are easily one of the best value buys on the market right now.

There’s no carrying case, but these headphones have a solid construction and are very lightweight, with adequate padding for longer listening sessions. There’s no headphone jack either, but they support USB-C audio for lossless listening. For wireless use, they can connect to your Bluetooth source devices using SBC, mSBC (for voice), AAC, aptX, and aptX HD.

While the ANC capabilities may lag behind top brands like Bose, Sony, and Apple, the ACCENTUM Wireless does reduce the loudness of outside noise by up to 75%, which is pretty good for the price. You also get really good sound quality out of the box and the ability to tinker with the 5-band equalizer in the Sennheiser Smart Control app. With up to 50 hours of battery life, these headphones are a fantastic choice for both at-home enjoyment and on-the-go use.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM WirelessSennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
SG recommended
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
Comfortable • Impressive battery life • Effective ANC
MSRP: $179.95
An affordable set of ANC headphones with excellent sound quality.
The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless headphones are a great choice for immersive, comfortable, and extended listening experiences. With up to 50 hours of battery life, they offer high-definition sound and effective ANC. These headphones deliver comfort and audio quality, making them a fantastic choice for both at-home enjoyment and on-the-go use.

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The sub-bass is relatively intense, and there’s a narrow under-emphasis where our ears naturally boost. It doesn’t make music unlistenable, but it’s still worth noting that there’s no EQ preset or adjustment in the app that will alleviate it.

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Our lab tests found that the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless could physically block out 30-40dB of noise above 1kHz, which is about a 90% drop in loudness. Under 1kHz, the ANC can cancel about 15-20dB of noise.

The 2-microphone array of the headset uses beamforming to pick up your voice over the din of the outside world and cuts off pickup at 8kHz — it wouldn’t make it over a mobile network anyway.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

1422 votes
A photo of the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus sitting atop a carbon fiber surface.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus is a very decent bang-for-buck option.

For a set of headphones that are meant to be a better option than the original Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless, there’s not a whole lot of “Plus” about the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus outside of the fact that you can fold flat the headphones, get audio over USB, and the ANC has more user options. Though the sound quality is better, is that enough to justify calling these a higher-end entry into a product line? Maybe. We were hoping for a little bit more, but $230 isn’t exactly break-the-bank expensive if you have the money to spare.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM PlusSennheiser ACCENTUM Plus
SG recommended
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Plus
Touch controls • Battery life • Decent sound quality
MSRP: $229.95

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 has beefy battery life and fast charging

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 sitting in its case.
The battery life on the headset is certainly admirable, and the addition of fast charging means you’ll likely never be entirely unable to use the headset.

Anker is known for its affordable, high-value headphones and earbuds, and the Space Q45 are some of the best budget cans around. With active noise canceling and multipoint connectivity, most listeners will find something to love here. They sport a 3.5mm headphone jack and are compatible with different Bluetooth codecs, including AAC, SBC, as well as LDAC, if you enable them through the Soundcore app.

In our testing, we found the headset to have 55 hours and 48 minutes of battery life, which exceeded even Anker’s claims. The headset also supports fast charging via USB-C, with just five minutes of charging yielding four hours of playback.

The Soundcore Space Q45 has fairly solid noise isolation and respectable noise cancelation for its class. However, the frequency response curve deviates noticeably from our headphone preference curve across all areas of the frequency spectrum, which will require you to do a bit of EQ legwork. However, if you primarily listen to podcasts instead of music, that won’t really be a problem.

Anker Soundcore Space Q45Anker Soundcore Space Q45
Anker Soundcore Space Q45
Full-bodied audio • Good ANC • Customizable EQ
MSRP: $149.00
Have it all on a low budget.

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The frequency response curve deviates noticeably from our headphone preference curve across all areas of the frequency spectrum. The sub-bass is slightly exaggerated, the midrange depressed slightly, and the higher frequencies are besieged by an undulating change in response that causes high-end elements in music to sound hissy, betraying the accuracy of the playback.

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The SPace Q45 offers solid noise isolation, and the ANC does an adequate job of blocking out low frequencies, such as the noise of the trains, as well as traffic while on the bus.

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone system is surprisingly good, although it doesn’t stand out under ideal conditions. Instead, the dual microphone array shines under sub-optimal conditions. It effectively rejects background noise, particularly on city streets and in windy environments. Listen to our demonstrations, and let us know your thoughts by voting on the poll below!

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

5311 votes

The AKG K371 has excellent frequency response

The AKG K371 wired over-ear headphones' ear cup rotated back 45 degrees while being worn by a woman in profile.
If you’re looking for a pair of studio headphones, the AKG K371 is a great alternative.

The AKG K371 features a modern design with an accurate frequency response that bodes well for studio use. Harman’s tuning follows the contours of our house curve. If you want some of the best over-ear headphones that can make nearly any genre of music sound good, the AKG K371 is for you.

These modest headphones don’t rely on gimmicks to sell. Instead, they have useful features like ear cups that rotate upwards so that you can hear your surroundings and mini-XLR input on the left ear cup. AKG provides three cables for you to choose from depending on your intended use.

The K371 is our favorite pick for listeners interested in a high-quality, portable headset. We awarded these headphones over the Sony MDR-7506 because of their more comfortable design and detachable cable, which extends the life of the K371 over the MDR-7506.

AKG K371AKG K371
AKG K371
Excellent sound • Replaceable parts • Great sound
MSRP: $157.97
One of the best wired headphones on the market
The AKG K371 is one of the best over-ear headphones combining sound quality, comfort, functionality, and portability. The ear pads are rotatable and replaceable.

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The AKG K371 frequency response closely follows our headphone preference curve. Sub-bass notes below 80Hz are slightly louder than the midrange, resulting in a frequency response we’re confident most people will like. The headphones reproduce all genres well, from heavy metal to rap and acoustic music.

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There is no ANC, and the isolation is only okay as the ear pads aren’t very dense, and the clamping force is light. However, the return on this shortcoming are uncommonly comfortable headphones you can wear all day. You may hear external noise, which could degrade sound quality unless you’re in a quiet place.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are super comfortable

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro being worn by Adam Molina.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones are ridiculously comfortable.

These are the most comfortable headphones under $200. As if that isn’t convincing enough, enthusiasts and producers love the DT 990 PRO. Concerning low-end reproduction, the DT 990 PRO keeps it clean without entering eardrum-shaking territory. Some may consider the bass lacking, but it benefits audio engineers when it comes to hearing and remedying overemphasized vocals and sibilant treble reproduction.

Keeping the headphones comfortable is an (almost) entirely plastic build and velour-wrapped memory foam ear pads. Adding to the comfort is the coiled cable (1m) that allows for travel within a studio space without having to do the constant on-again, off-again headphone tango. Of course, all this plastic compromises durability. They aren’t going to withstand a shove into a bag, and the steel-reinforced headband is flimsier than others. Also, remember that cable? It’s not removable. If it breaks, you’re out of luck.

That said, the DT 990 PRO aren’t travel cans, and Beyerdynamic doesn’t advertise them as such. Instead, they are for extended listening and editing sessions, making them some of the best headphones for under $200.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PROBeyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
Comfortable • Great sound • Price
MSRP: $179.00
Like good-sounding pillows for your ears.
For less than $200, it's not hard to understand why the DT 990 PRO is considered to be a classic pair of cans for audio producers and music lovers alike. If you don't want to splurge on Beyerdynamic's updated line of DT PRO X headsets, then this is an absolute steal.

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The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO X has a somewhat odd flavor of studio frequency response with how it emphasizes the 50-300Hz and 2kHz-20kHz ranges. However, this kind of response is really appealing to two demographics: gamers and mixers. The former because footsteps and little sounds that are easy to miss are much easier to hear with these ranges of emphasis, and the latter because mixing with these ranges boosted will lead to less-grating mixes if left unequalized. For both use cases, this is a decent entry-level set of headphones.

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The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO doesn’t really block out noise due to its open-back design. If you want headphones that block out noise, then you’ll need a pair of closed-back headphones or noise canceling headphones.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC is excellent bang for the buck

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
These are a compelling buy under $80.

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC delivers outstanding value for those seeking affordable noise canceling headphones under $100. Despite their budget pricing, these over-ear headphones offer a surprising level of quality and features typically found in pricier models.

Comfort is a strong suit, with deep padding on the earcups and headband, providing a breathable fit suitable for extended listening sessions. The durable plastic construction allows the headphones to fold compactly for easy portability.

While noise cancelation performance can’t match premium options, the JBuds Lux ANC provides decent noise reduction, especially for blocking out higher-frequency sounds encountered during commutes and travel. The 44-hour battery life is also impressive at this price point.

Sound quality punches above its weight, with an impactful bass response and crisp trebles that help audio details cut through environmental noise. The accompanying app provides EQ customization to tweak the sound signature to your preferences.

For $80, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC nails the fundamentals—noise cancelation, lengthy battery life, stable Bluetooth connection, and solid sound. It’s an exceptional value that makes noise cancelation achievable for those on a tight budget.

JLab JBuds Lux ANCJLab JBuds Lux ANC
SG recommended
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
USB-C audio • Sound quality • Comfort
MSRP: $79.99
For under $100, these are crazy good value.
As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.

Should you buy the Sony WH-CH720N?

The Sony WH-CH720N with the ear cups rotated flat, showing the exterior plastic housing, resting on a wood surface with a grid in the background.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
At under $150, these are a good choice for most people if you don’t expect perfection.

If you’re looking for a decent set of noise canceling cans but don’t want to shell out the top-tier headphones, the Sony WH-CH720N is a good in-between option. They feel a bit plasticky, but they have a tight clamping force to stay in place without being uncomfortable. One of the benefits of getting a product from a top brand like Sony is that you get access to the Sony Headphones Connect, which unlocked features like listening modes, DSEE (Sony’s digital signal processing), Sony 360 Reality Audio analysis of your ears, equalizer, codec selection, and adaptive listening mode.

The ANC’s performance is respectable and could have easily been considered top-tier a couple of years ago. However, we did find the frequency response to be a bit wonky, which you can read more about in our full review. Overall, you also get a solid battery life of around 40 hours, a perfectly usable microphone, and wired to Bluetooth listening for less than $150.

Sony WH-CH720NSony WH-CH720N
Sony WH-CH720N
ANC • Value • Comfortable
MSRP: $148.00
Light-weight noise cancelling headphones
A light-weight design, active noise cancelling, and up to 35 hours of battery life make the Sony WH-CH720N serious contenders for the best portable wireless headphones. Alexa is built-in, and the ambient sound mode offers twenty levels of control.

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In their default state without introducing an equalizer, the Sony WH-CH720N overamplify bass compared to our headphone preference curve. In particular, between roughly 100Hz and 400Hz, the frequency response sees a boost. Between 5kHz and 10kHz, the treble is also exaggerated.

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The ANC hovers around 20dB of reduction for most lower-pitched noise frequencies, peaking at about 28dB of attenuation at 80Hz, removing those low rumbling noises. It’s enough to make most environments more pleasant, and most noise frequencies are either blocked or canceled reasonably well between the isolation and ANC.

The mic performance of the Sony WH-CH720N is quite good for an embedded mic. You can hear the speaker’s voice perfectly well in an office, with some background noise attenuation. Some keystrokes will make it through. With the introduction of wind, the WH-CH720N filters out wind noise particularly well, and speech remains intelligible.

Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sony WH-CH720N microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

2567 votes

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 offers a bit of everything

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with one ear cup rotated laying flat on leaves.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
All the buttons sit on the left side.

If you can’t decide what you want, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 doesn’t make you choose. For the person who wants Bluetooth and a headphone jack and the person who wants consumer-friendly sound and studio-style tuning, these do it all. The only reason not to try these cans is if you want ANC; if so, you’re out of luck. Otherwise, the battery lasts an epic 64 hours and 51 minutes. They also use LDAC, which is nice for Android users, and AAC for Apple. Heck, you can even come in fun colors sometimes.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
High-quality sound • Fast pairing • Long-life battery
MSRP: $199.00
An excellent-sounding and straightforward headset.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headset offers excellent sound and the long battery life with an optional headphone jack promotes an uncomplicated music experience.

Best headphones under $200: Notable mentions

A man smiles while wearing the Anker Soundcore Space One.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
Most people will enjoy the sound of the Anker Soundcore Space One.
  • 1MORE SonoFlow ($99.99 at Amazon): The 1MORE SonoFlow are good-sounding, feature-rich headphones that won’t break the bank. Commuters and travelers will enjoy the ANC, long battery life, and plush ear pads. Experienced listeners will enjoy decent sound and EQ options.
  • Anker Soundcore Space One ($99.99 at Amazon): If you are in the market for noise canceling headphones, the Anker Soundcore Space One is worth considering. These headphones bring most of the same features of flagship competitors for a fraction of the price.
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q35 ($99 at Amazon.): While they may not look or feel as premium as others on this list, the Life Q35 are nearly unmatched when it comes to features and customization.
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q30 ($79.99 at Amazon): With good sound, active noise canceling, and battery life, these are some of the best sub-$100 headphones on the market.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M40x ($99 at Amazon): These are the unsung hero of the budget studio category, and the M40x frequently pop up as a best list choice because they combine value and function at a reasonable price.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 ($169 at Amazon): These are a well-constructed pair of cans that cater to the casual listener or a studio musician looking for an inexpensive set of mixing headphones.
  • Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro ($209 at Amazon): These semi-closed-back studio headphones prevent sound leakage similar to closed-back headphones, whilst retaining the wide stereo image commonly found on open-back cans. These qualities make the DT 880 Pro ideal for music professionals who need a workhorse pair of studio headphones.
  • Edifier W820NB Plus (on the product’s website): While the Edifier W820NB Plus offers a comfortable fit, decent sound, and plenty of features to the casual listener on a budget, the lack of a foldable design is a big downside for commuters and travelers.
  • Jabra Elite 45h ($99 at Amazon): The Jabra Elite 45h are great on-ear headphones for casual listeners who prioritize compactness and microphone quality above everything else.
  • Sennheiser HD 560S These headphones are great because they transition listeners from consumer audio to hi-fi audio. The open-back design means they won’t block out much noise, but fewer resonances get trapped in the ear cups, which leads to a more “natural” reproduction of your favorite tunes.
  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro ($87 at Amazon): Coming in well under budget, these over-ear studio cans are great for mixing music and listening in high quality.
  • Sony MDR-7506 ($79 at Sweetwater): These are another great pair of studio cans and are arguably some of the most prolific pairs of mixing cans to rest on the heads of audio engineers everywhere. The build is no-frills and repairable.
  • Sony WH-CH710N ($748 at Amazon): These aren’t as comfortable as some of the newer, premium Sony headsets, nor do the ear cups rotate up (only flat), but the microphone is excellent for telecommuters.

What you should know about the best headphones under $200

A $200 budget has a lot of purchase power within the consumer audio market because it gives you enough financial flexibility to choose a specialized headset or prioritize sound quality. For those who prioritize sound quality, it’s important to take into account that a neutral-leaning, or “flat,” frequency response will provide the most versatile sound profile across a variety of musical genres.

A photo of the Bluetooth toggle on the Android dropdown menu.
The main reason to un-toggle Bluetooth is battery savings, not safety.

If you intend to buy Bluetooth headphones, you should pay attention to Bluetooth codecs for high-quality streaming and reduced lag. Android smartphones work reliably well with the aptX codec, and though it supports AAC, too, the performance is highly variable across devices. iPhone owners are left with the choice of AAC or SBC (universal on all Bluetooth audio devices) and can’t even reap the benefits of aptX streaming. Note: Bluetooth headphones don’t support lossless audio playback; for that, you need a set of wired headphones.

Who should buy $200 headphones?

A woman wears the Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture true wireless earbuds in profile to illustrate the stemmed design.
Whether you already own earbuds or a set of hi-fi headphones, $200 is a great budget for a solid pair of wired or wireless headphones.

Anyone who’s interested in upgrading their current headphones without having it cost an arm and a leg. The headphones that appear are all the valedictorians of their classes. If you find yourself thinking that you want to further explore and experience what the audio world has to offer, any of these will be an excellent starting point, depending on your needs. You should check out some of our hot tips as well.

What’s cool about this variety of headphones is that they represent the next significant step into learning what you favor in a product. From soundstage to active noise canceling, comfort, or whatever else, investing in headphones under $200 weeds out the generalities that accompany lower-caliber products.

How we pick the best headphones under $200

Although we’ve directly reviewed many products here at SoundGuys, we haven’t gotten around to all of them. After all, we’re only human and are inherently subjective. To counteract our unavoidable bias, we do quite a bit of research by perusing online forums, reading other reviews, conducting our own Twitter polls, and more.

Unlike some of our more niche best lists, we’re able to draw upon the full experiences of our entire staff—including some who have moved on—for input in populating our list of candidates. This list isn’t simply what one of us likes; it’s an accurate representation of our experiences as an entire staff. This is a very crowded segment of headphones, with countless models that are really, really good. However, this is what we feel is the best when you consider the diverse needs of many listeners.

In short, this list is the running conclusions of thousands of hours of use from a growing list of contributors over many years. This is a living document, and it’s updated every time a new model knocks an existing one off its pedestal.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A picture of a man rotating the noise canceling ring on the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 in front of trees
We give each headset that comes our way a listen in the real world and test it in the lab.

Not only is this site our nine-to-five, but each of us has multiple years of reviewing consumer audio products. We’ve kept tabs on the ever-changing world of audio, allowing us to parse apart the gimmicks from the gems.

We want you to be happy with your purchasenone of our writers see a dime from partnership deals or referral purchases—and nobody here can benefit from steering you towards one product or another. While this site does make money from referrals, the individual writers are paid based on their work, regardless of whether or not people click that “buy” icon. They will never know if anyone did, though the site going under might be a good hint.


Top questions and answers about the best headphones under $200

Some people prefer to workout with over-ear headphones because of their improved isolation over a pair of earbuds. For intense training sessions, however, you’d be better served by IP-rated workout earbuds guaranteed to last. Although if you’re adamant about working out with over-ears, there are a variety of headphones that are perfect for the gym.

$200 is hitting the sweet spot in the audio market and isn’t as steep as you might think when it comes to getting a quality pair of headphones.

Look no further than the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless. Offering solid noise canceling and stellar sound quality, they’re a steal for less than $180. They also support aptX, aptX HD, and USB-C audio for lossless listening.

Yes, JBL headphones are generally considered to be good quality, especially for their affordable price points. You can read many JBL reviews on our site.

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