Whether you want headphones to help you shut the noise out at work, listen to tunes while you jog, or make a crowded flight peaceful, you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a good, comfortable pair.
$200 seems to be a common price point for many people on many items, and headphones are no different. You can get good headphones and easily stay within your budget with our top picks for headphones under $200.
What Kinds of Headphones Are There?
Most of us are familiar with three types of headphones: On-ear, over-ear, and earbuds. However, there are actually six kinds of headphones, many of which are more than one type.
- Closed-back, which isolate sound with or without noise-canceling abilities
- Open-back, which allow ambient sound in and what you’re listening to out
- On-ear, which can be closed-back or open-back and sit on your ears
- Over-ear, which can be closed-back or open-back and completely cover your ears
- In-ear, which are wired earbuds with slightly different features
- Earbuds, which are wireless in-ear headphones
You can find many pairs of headphones with noise-canceling features, although some are better than others at blocking outside noise. There are several pairs out there without it, too.
The Best Headphones You Can Buy for Less Than $200
Below, we’ve compiled our favorite sets of headphones and earphones that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
1. Noise-Cancellation – COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
For a high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones not just under $200, but under $100, COWIN’s E7 Bluetooth headphones can give their more expensive counterparts a run for their money.
Their ear cups have soft, faux leather cushions and swivel 90 degrees, ensuring you get a comfortable, custom fit.
These phones’ noise-canceling feature is great for everything from studying to shutting out your annoying co-worker or just getting in a quiet walk that’s just you and your music.
They boast 30 hours of battery life, so while you should make sure they’re fully charged before any long stretches of use, you don’t have to worry they’ll suddenly shut down in the middle of your favorite song or podcast.
With the comfort of the ear pads, the swivel cups, and the flexible headband, you’ll get the most out of these headphones no matter where you are, what you’re doing, or for how long you’re doing it.
- Built-in mic for hands-free phone calls
- NFC technology makes pairing any Bluetooth-enabled device easy
- Ear cushions have a skin-like texture for extra softness and comfort
- Excellent bass sound without being overbearing
- Smooth volume control for clear sound at all levels
- Noise-canceling doesn’t filter out sounds like snoring
- Must remove them every couple of hours in hot weather
2. Memory Foam – Skullcandy Hesh 3 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones with Microphone
If you don’t want to shell out the money for something like Bose or Beats, Skullcandy’s Hesh 3 headphones are a great substitute. Don’t worry about the price tag. Skullcandy is an excellent brand with great pairs of headphones for people on a budget.
You get a microphone and remote control on the right-side ear cup with a multi-function button for things like answering the phone, pausing your music, and simply turning things on and off, which is pretty standard. The ear cups themselves have thick pads with memory foam ear cushions that can form to your head for added comfort.
Finally, you get a crisp sound with rich bass, the voices of people you talk to are clear and clean, and you can enjoy all of this without feeling like these headphones are trying to squeeze your brain out of your skull. What more can you expect from headphones under $200?
- Fantastic sound isolation
- Detachable cord included for wired applications
- Good longevity in battery life
- Rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity
- Ear pieces are quite large
3. Original Sound – BeyerDynamic DT 770 Pro 32 Ohm Studio Headphones
BeyerDynamic DT 770 Pro headphones have excellent sound quality for audiophiles, with a balanced, flat sound allowing you to hear every frequency range easily. Nothing is artificially filtered or enhanced, so if analyzing music (or mixing) is your thing, you’ll love these.
They’re quite comfortable when wearing them for long periods, including long flights, while gaming, and while doing things like all-night studying. You get thick, velour-covered ear pads for extra comfort and breathability, something many competitors don’t. They also have a spring-steel headband, fitting them snugly to your head without causing terrible headaches.
These aren’t wireless headphones. They have a cable from the left ear cup to whatever device you’re using for your music, podcasts, speeches, or anything else. While you don’t have the full level of versatility you see with Bluetooth headphones, you can still move about a bit with no worries about how much charge you have left.
- Easy to use even though portability is limited by the wire
- Excellent for use with electric instruments
- Ear cups are among the largest on the market
- Excellent value
- Works with most non-amplified devices even with the wire
- No active noise canceling features
- Noise isolation without noise canceling is mediocre at best
4. Lightweight – Jabra Elite 45h On-Ear Wireless Headphones
Jabra is well-known in the audio world and has something for virtually everyone and everything. Their 45h headphones are fairly new on the market and boast many modern features with quality that previous models may not have had.
These headphones are very lightweight and flexible, and are ideal for your morning commute, along with things like gaming, traveling, and just all-around listening to things in comfort and style.
These are on-ear headphones so you might think they’re uncomfortable, but the ear cushions use memory foam and faux leather, mitigating the discomfort most experience and expect from this type of headphone.
Bluetooth connectivity is strong and stable, removing any worries that your music will cut in and out even with your mobile device right next to you.
- Folds compact and flat for easy travel and storage
- A whopping 50 hours of battery life
- User-friendly Jabba sound app for customization on all your devices
- Two-microphone technology
- Warranty for damage from rain and dust
- Touch controls rather than buttons you can feel
- No active noise canceling so isolation isn’t great
5. Balanced Sound – Marshall Major III On-Ear Headphones
For a stylish, rock-musician-inspired look, you can’t beat Marshall’s Major III on-ear headphones. But its looks aren’t the only great thing about them. Marshall designed these headphones around their popular amp, giving you the superior and balanced sound quality you want in a pair of headphones under $200.
These are a slimmed-down version of their predecessor, the Marshall II, and use faux leather for coverings on the thick ear pads as well as the outer casing. The headband is straight, but also has a classic design that doesn’t create too much pressure on your head, helping you remain comfortable for hours at a time.
They’re foldable, too, so you can make them small and pack them up for easy carry or storage. The single-button control removes the need to develop muscle memory for button placement, and although these are wired, you can plug them into either the left or right ear cup depending on your preference.
- Extra jack for shareable audio
- Capable of drowning out white noise and some kinds of background noise
- Enhanced bass isn’t overpowering
- Lightweight at just over six ounces
- Excellent for gaming and other computer use
- Sound quality can include piercing treble
- On-ear design becomes uncomfortable after awhile
6. True Earbuds – Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
For good earbuds with a noise-canceling feature, look no further than Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live. These are true earbuds in that they’re wireless. They’re also small and unobtrusive, making them the most convenient earphones you’ll ever own.
These are interesting earbuds in that they’re kidney-shaped, rather than round with a stem (or round with wires to each bud). They fit inside the inner part of your outer ear. These earbuds don’t come with ear tips, but even without tips, they’re far more comfortable to wear than Apple’s Airpods.
Samsung created an app from which to control your earbuds and one of the best reasons to get it is for the firmware updates. Without that, eventually, your earbuds will not work properly, especially with your Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Their noise-canceling feature is good, although it leaves a little to be desired. These buds don’t seal against your ear, so you can still hear certain outside noises even with the active noise canceling turned on.
- Open design helps create a live experiment
- Ability to turn the active canceling feature on and off
- Come with a case that doubles as a charger
- Voice assistant is always on so you can use it whenever you like
- Easy pairing with your devices
- No true sound isolation
- Only 22 hours of battery life
7. Tight & Punchy – JBL TUNE 700BT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
People who want an emphasis on the bass will appreciate these headphones. It’s tight and punchy, enabling you to find and keep your beat whether you’re DJing or just walking out on the street. It also makes your music more danceable, though we wouldn’t recommend doing that on crowded public transit or a plane.
If you don’t like that some headphones work with Alexa and others work with Google, that worry goes away with these headphones because they communicate with both. Its ear cushions are covered in faux leather makes for a more comfortable fit, too.
Battery life is an amazing 50 hours and will charge from empty to full within two hours. The ear cups have easy-to-reach buttons on both sides, including volume control which turns into media control among other things when you hold it down for a few seconds.
These are quite lightweight, which means you can listen to them for hours on end without straining or knotting the muscles in your neck.
- Multiple microphones
- Power-save mode that powers down the headphones if the battery is close to dead
- No toggle or app to tell when certain modes are on or off
- Phone-call sound quality is clear
- Several colors available to suit your style
- Only 27 hours of battery life
- Uncomfortable for long-term listening
8. Waterproof – AKG Pro Audio K240 Over-Ear, Semi-Open Headphones
These headphones are waterproof, and while we won’t encourage you to wear them while swimming, it means you can wear them in the rain without worrying about damage. However, most of the people who use these might never take them outside as they’re best for musicians and podcasters.
They have an all-plastic build, reducing weight, decreasing their cost, and making them very affordable for you.
Since the ear cups have multiple vents, which makes them semi-open-sided, giving you the ability to hear a more realistic version of your music. However, anyone within range of you will easily be able to hear what you’re listening to.
- All-plastic construction also helps to increase comfort
- Lightweight enough to wear glasses
- Minimal clamping that helps prevent headaches
- Wired design means you don’t have to worry about charging
- Comes with a three-meter, detachable cord
- Cables are prone to early wear and tear
- Isolation is nearly impossible with these headphones
9. Fit Kit – Shure SE215-K Professional Sound-Isolating Earphones
For a pair of earbuds, these have an excellent sound quality and comfort inside your ear. Keep in mind that these aren’t true earbuds, though. They’re earphones or in-ear headphones so they fit into your ear better.
Oddly enough, the cables for these earphones are detachable. If you need to send these in for repairs, the detachable cables make it easy for you to do so.
Their customization package includes what the company calls a “fit kit,” and it has three sizes of foam ear tips so you can customize how they fit in your ear, which is much more difficult to do with earbuds due to their shape and configuration.
- Quite bass-heavy, but not overwhelming
- Tested with professional musicians
- Sound isolation technology blocks up to 37 decibels of sound
- Long cord enables you to move around
- Good build quality ensures long-lasting durability
- Lack of inline controls removes some usability
- Poor dynamic quality
Things To Consider When Shopping for Headphones
When you go shopping for headphones, you have several things to consider to ensure you get the pair that’s best for you.
Bluetooth vs. Wired
Bluetooth has made many things convenient, including how you listen to music with headphones. However, not everyone wants wireless headphones. You have to keep them charged lest they die in the middle of your workday, allowing the loudmouth in the next cubicle over to invade your world.
However, you might end up sacrificing sound quality for the convenience of having no wires. You also have to worry about their batteries’ lifespan, because when those batteries are gone, they’re gone.
Wired headphones have improved sound quality, but you have a wire to keep out of your way, and you have to be careful with it so it doesn’t fray or break before its time.
You can get the best of both worlds, which is a set of headphones with a detachable cable. Unless you buy a pair of professional-grade headphones, though, you might not be able to find this choice.
Comfort and Flexibility
What’s the point of having a good pair of headphones if they’re uncomfortable? You might not wear them for hours on end as recording artists and DJs do, but if they’re hard, inflexible plastic with lousy cushioning, you’re not going to want to use them and they’ll become a waste of money and space.
Regardless of whether you’re looking for over-ear or on-ear headphones, they should have thick cushioning on the ear cups that can form itself to your ears’ natural shape. If you’re looking for earbuds or in-ear phones, look for a pair that come with soft, flexible ear tips in multiple sizes, or buy some separately.
Another important consideration is how flexible the headband is. You want a pair that sits tightly on your head but doesn’t press so hard you get a headache. Also, you might want a pair with earcups that swivel so you can further “customize” the way your headphones fit.
The fact that you’re buying headphones for under $200 doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice durability. They’re still an investment and will still cost money to replace repeatedly, especially if you use them all the time.
You might find it challenging to test the endurance of headphones you haven’t bought yet, but each of the pairs we have on this list has some excellent durability.
If you’re an audiophile, you’re picky about the sound quality of any pair of headphones you buy. Even if you aren’t, headphones with lousy sound quality just get annoying over time. Tinny vocals, piercing treble, staticky mid-range tones, and faint bass are all things that just start grating on you after a certain point.
While you might not need, or even want, a pair of headphones that emphasizes bass or has the flat quality necessary for mixing, you still want excellent sound quality. Otherwise, your music is just no fun to listen to.
Sealed vs. Open
Most over-ear and on-ear headphones are sealed, open, or semi-open. Sealed, or closed-back headphones shut out ambient noise around you. At the same time, they also prevent everyone around you from hearing what you’re listening to.
Certainly, open-back and semi-open back headphones have their place, but don’t expect any privacy, and do expect to annoy everyone around you unless you’re in a place where open-back headphones are necessary.
We have answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about headphones.
Will I be able to hear the difference in sound quality between Bluetooth headphones and wired ones?
If they’re of similar quality, then unless you’re in a very quiet environment and listening for it, probably not. While Bluetooth headphones do tend to have lower sound quality, it shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re an audiophile, mixing or recording artist, or a DJ.
What kinds of tips can I get for my earphones or earbuds?
There are several kinds of ear tips, like rubber, silicone, foam, silicone-foam hybrids, and custom ear tips. Rubber is a hard material that can irritate your ears, so most people don’t like rubber ear tips.
Silicone ear tips are softer and more flexible, aren’t likely to irritate your ears, and are easy to sanitize. Some find them uncomfortable anyway because they don’t mold themselves to your ear the way memory foam does.
Foam ear tips can conform to your ear canal, possibly making them the most comfortable on the market. However, many people feel like they muffle sound, although if they seal properly, you shouldn’t notice too much. The hybrids are out there, but they’re rare and hard to find. Custom ear tips might fit you best, but they’re expensive.
What works best for exercise?
You’re probably best off with earbuds because they’re wireless and unobtrusive. You don’t have something bulky on your head that can bounce and shift, especially during a cardio workout, and you don’t have wires to worry about keeping tucked away.
However, like many things, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people do just fine with regular headphones and wired earphones during exercise.
Finding the perfect pair of headphones when you’re on a budget is, at best, a serious challenge. You have a lot to think about before buying a pair, including how long they might last. Some of these earphones require ear tips, and others require heavy cushioning to remain comfortable over your ears for a long time.
Check out our list before buying and see which pair of headphones is right for you.