Home / Headphones / 15 Best Headphones Under $200 in 2022 – An Audiophile’s Guide
15 Best Headphones Under $200 in 2022 – An Audiophile’s Guide
The tricky thing about shopping for headphones is that the market is simply too full of options. You probably ran into this little conundrum, which led you to this guide.
Headphones are a serious investment, and some are quite pricey, too. Naturally, before you spend you hard earned cash on a listening device, you want to make sure you thoroughly understand the options.
In this guide, we will help you understand what to look for as you shop, provide you with detailed reviews of the top 15 products, and that is all without spending a penny over $200.
Join us as we introduce you to some of the best headphones under $200 currently available on the market.
Before we go into our in-depth descriptions of each product, let’s go over a few pointers first.
Shopping with zero knowledge of the products is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you understand these pointers as they will assist you greatly in the decision-making process.
Headphones vs. Headsets vs. Earphones
People often generalize audio cans as “headphones,” but the term is broad as there are actually three different types of headphones. The first of the three is, well, headphones.
Headphones –Typically don’t come with built-in mics. Headsets, on the other hand, strictly come with built-in mics. Both headphones and headsets come in over-ear and on-ear variations.
Earphones – Are in-ear headphones. Earphones are headphones that use small buds as speakers instead of circular disks that go on top of ears (on-ear headphones) or around ears (over-ear headphones). These bud-like speakers go inside ear holes, hence the term “in-ear headphones.”
Headsets –And headphones obviously come with larger sound drivers than earphones, which directly affects the sound performance. Earphones don’t stand a chance against full-fledged headphones when it comes to sound quality. On the flip side, earphones are way more portable. They can be easily stored inside a jean pocket or a shirt pocket. They are generally less expensive, too.
Choosing which type of headphones to buy depends on how you will use them. If you play lots of video games but have zero interest in online multiplayer, headphones should suffice. However, if you actually enjoy trading insults with teammates and opponents, headsets with a great mic are recommended. If you need something really portable for travel, earphones are great choices.
Wired vs. Wireless
Shopping for the best headphones under 200 USD often comes down to one question: Wired or wireless? And unless wired headphones become totally obsolete courtesy of wireless technology, this question will persist and stay on buyers’ mind until the final purchase. Both wired and wireless headphones have advantages and disadvantages. You need to carefully weigh in each of them before making the ultimate decision.
Wired Headphones –Are typically cheaper because they don’t use wireless technology, which is housed inside the ear cups. They are more reliable when it comes to connection because they’re not prone to signal interruptions. They also don’t rely on batteries to run, making them great for travel purposes. The bad news is that wired headphones obviously come with cables, which can be really nasty things to deal with, especially the really long ones.
Wireless Headphones –Are the opposite of wired headphones. They are significantly more expensive than their wired siblings due to the technology used for wireless functionality. Most wireless headphones come with prices north of $100, with some even hitting more than $200. The biggest thing about wireless headphones is that they don’t need cables to function, which is really Most still come with optional audio cables, though.
When it comes to performance, the debate on which headphones offer better sound quality is still ongoing. Many audiophiles consider wired headphones superior to wireless headphones regarding sound performance mainly because they rely on a physical connection, which is true because, as mentioned, they are not prone to signal interruptions. The result is a more consistent listening experience.
However, it really comes down to specific models as there are also wireless headphones that sound better than wired headphones. Choosing whether to buy wired or wireless headphones comes down to personal preferences.
Audiophiles who want nothing but the best sound experience will go for wired almost by default. People who prioritize movement freedom will most likely choose wireless.
Sound Isolation – Over-Ear vs. On-Ear
Over-ear headphones have large ear cups that go around or completely cover the ears. They provide passive noise cancellation by default, which helps in muffling unwanted background noises. Some headphones come with active noise cancellation, which can totally block out background noises, but they are expensive.
Over-ear headphones also prevent sound from leaking out, but only to a certain degree; this is great for office use (or school use, if you’re brave enough) because it allows you to listen to music without disturbing other people within close proximity. For home use, it depends on the people you live with. For example, if you love death metal music but your family totally hates it, you might want over-ear headphones that are great at preventing too much sound leakage.
Over-ear headphones also add to the sound quality by making it more immersive. However, they typically accumulate heat faster than on-ear headphones due to the lack of ventilation. On-ear headphones have smaller ear cups. They stay on top of ears instead of around them. They have great ventilation but typically don’t sound great when out in the open. They are best used for home use, preferably in a quiet home.
Listening Experience – Closed-Back vs. Open-Back
This is sort of similar to the above point. Closed-back headphones, which make up most of this list, are headphones that have covered ear cups, “shielding” the sound drivers inside. Closed-back headphones are typically over-ear headphones, meaning that they help block out background noises and preventing sound from totally leaking. The sound quality of closed-back headphones feels like the sounds are inside your head and isolated from everyone else. You can think of it as listening to a band perform in a closed-off studio.
Closed-back headphones also accumulate heat faster than open-back headphones. Though there are many available models designed to provide better ventilation. Open-back headphones have no problem with ventilation. The back of the ear cups of open-back headphones isn’t covered, exposing the sound drivers inside; this also means that they have zero noise cancellation and zero sound leak prevention.
Open-back headphones sound more natural than their closed-back counterparts, which is why many audiophiles prefer them over the latter. The sound quality is like listening to a band perform live, which is the opposite of closed-back headphones. Choosing which kind of headphones depends on where you will use them.
For exclusive home use, you can go for either. For outside use, closed-back headphones are better unless you absolutely love listening to other people while enjoying your music.
Don’t Forget About Build Quality
Headphones are usually made of plastic, metal, or a combination of the two. The materials used affect the weight and the price of headphones. Headphones built using plastic are more lightweight; this means they are more comfortable to wear and easier to carry around. They are also less expensive than headphones with metal frames. The trade-off is that they feel rather cheap and flimsy and have less durability.
Headphones with metal frames are the opposite. They are a bit heavier but feel sturdier. They don’t feel cheap at all unless the manufacturer deliberately and inexplicably went for a cheap-looking design. You can count on them to survive a few nose-dives to the floor without immediately falling apart, though we suggest that you refrain from testing that out.
Metal-framed headphones are more expensive, but not too much. Many manufacturers often choose to eschew a metal frame to cut on costs, allowing them to put out a friendlier price tag. If you want the best of both worlds, you can check out headphones made with both metal and plastic.
Choosing headphones with excellent build quality is a big deal. You will be paying hard-earned money on these audio accessories, and they should last for at least several years.
If you really, really, REALLY want headphones that feel super-light on the head, we suggest going for plastic headphones, but if you want true durability and sturdiness, definitely don’t hesitate on picking up metal-framed headphones.
Operating since 1962, Audio-Technica is one of the most recognized brands when it comes to audio equipment. Naturally, a list of the best headphones currently out in the market, regardless of price range, wouldn’t be complete without a contender from the Japan-based company. For us, the model that best represents Audio-Technica in the below $200 category is the ATH-M50x.
The ATH-M50x is designed specifically for professionals, featuring an all-black or all-white look that is both minimalistic and elegant. The overall build has a noticeable premium quality feel to it, which isn’t really surprising considering the reputation of the manufacturer.
It has large ear cups that help in keeping background noises to a minimum, though it won’t completely shut them out like headphones with active noise canceling technology. The pads on the ear cups are really comfortable on the head. They are tight enough to prevent sound from leaking out too much, but they are loose enough to allow good ventilation, which helps in keeping a cool head for extended sessions.
The ear cups can also swivel up to 90 degrees, making it easier to use only one ear cup during studio recordings. For storage purposes, both ear cups can fold into the headband; this also makes it portable enough to be carried around for travel, though we recommended buying a separate travel pouch for it, preferably a hard case. (The included pouch isn’t exactly fortified.)
The sound quality of the ATH-M50x is incredible. Featuring large 45 mm drivers, this pair of studio headphones serve nothing but honest sound quality. It allows you to hear sounds with delightful clarity, bringing out all the “hidden” sounds that cheap headphones could only dream of producing. This also means it will expose badly recorded music, which should be good news if you make a living out of criticizing music.
The ATH-M50x comes with the right amount of bass to give the necessary punch to sounds. It isn’t booming like in other high-end headphones. Just enough to keep all the smaller details from being drowned out. Though these headphones are designed for professional sound recording and monitoring, they also work great on regular activities like watching movies and listening to music on Spotify.
With its combination of premium build quality, amazing sound, and comfortable design, it’s hard to believe that the ATH-M50x comes with an accessible price tag. It doesn’t really have any serious flaws that are worth pointing out, and the detachable cable serves as the icing on an already excellent pair of headphones that is suitable not only for professionals but also for regular users.
We recommend checking out the ATH-M50x first before looking into all the other options in the market.
Excellent sound quality that brings out the finer details
Simple design built with high-quality materials
Has great passive noise isolation
Flexible ear cups for storage and one-ear monitoring
The headphones market is full of deceptions. There are many products that claim to have top-notch durability and premium build quality, but the majority of them don’t deliver on the promise, frustrating buyers who spent good money on the product. If you’re looking for headphones that take durability seriously, look no further than the V-Moda Crossfade LP2.
The Crossfade LP2 was built using nothing but the best materials, featuring a build quality that can survive up to 60 drops from 1.5-meter nose-dives onto solid concrete. Accidentally dropping it on the floor won’t immediately snuff its life out, which is something most headphones can only hope to achieve. The keyword here is “accidentally.” Because deliberately and repeatedly throwing it to the floor is obviously another story.
The headband is made of a super-flexible material, making it extremely bendable to the point that it looks like it’s going to break; this means even if you have an unusually large head, the Crossfade LP2 will still fit without being stressed too much. The detachable cable is reinforced with Kevlar, making it incredibly resistant to bending.
Featuring replaceable outer metal “shields,” the ear cups also feel well-made. However, the default ear pads are a little tight, requiring removal of the headphones every three or four hours. The good news is that you can easily replace them with a pair of XL ear pads, which are bought separately. With the XL ear pads, the comfort level gets a tremendous boost. You can go eight hours straight without removing the headphones due to discomfort.
The Crossfade LP2 comes with large 50 mm drivers, capable of producing detailed lows and punchy highs. The bass is never overpowering and is suitable for all kinds of music. Yes, including Justin Bieber. The passive noise cancellation that comes with having large ear cups also helps in tuning out unwanted background noise.
What sets the Crossfade LP2 from many others is that it comes with a number of extra goodies. It has two audio cables: a long one for primary use and a short one that has a built-in mic. It comes with a cool-looking exoskeleton hard case that is perfect for travel, and a carabiner for backpacks is also included, which is awesome.
The bottom line is that you really get more than what you paid for with the Crossfade LP2. Durability is its main attraction, but it also checks other boxes to make it all-around headphones best for everyday use. The after-sales support is also top-notch, with V-Moda offering a two-year warranty and a 50 percent discount on replacements.
We recommended buying the separate XL ear pads, though, as the default pair isn’t ideal for extended use.
Superior durability that makes other headphones look like cheap toys
Outstanding after-sales support
Ear cup metal shields are customizable
Sound quality is excellent and has right amount of bass
The included hard case is really cool
Ear cup metal shields need to be unscrewed during replacement
Comfort is a key criterion when judging the overall quality of headphones. You can’t really enjoy a pair of cans if you need to constantly take them off every 30 minutes. Superb sound quality needs to be matched with top-notch comfort, and there’s not many in the market that do it better than the Sennheiser HD280 Pro, which aces comfort.
The HD 280 Pro is a premium quality product that boasts extra-large ear cups. The marketing materials already hint at the largeness of the ear cups, but trust us; they are way bigger in person and easily capable of completely covering even the largest of ears.
The ear cups fit snuggly around the ears and do a great job at keeping background noise at bay. They also help in keeping the sound from leaking out. You can use the HD 280 Pro inside a library with the volume turned to near-max without summoning the wrath of the librarian.
The ear pads feel luxurious on the head. They don’t accumulate heat too quickly, which is just what the doctor ordered for extended use. You can go for hours without feeling the slightest discomfort. Actually, with the HD 280 Pro, it feels like you’re not wearing any headphones at all, which is also thanks to its lightweight frame.
In the sound department, these do not disappoint. The sound quality is clean and crisp with just the right amount of bass to keep everything honest. We listened to Within Temptation, a Dutch symphonic metal band, with these headphones on and we were amazed by the incredibly rich sounds. Every instrument is well represented.
We tried other kinds of music, too, from Coldplay to Adele to Marilyn Manson to Matchbox 20, and every time, we were impressed by how phenomenal the sounds came out. All in all, music-lovers will definitely dig the HD 280 Pro. We guarantee that. Okay, except maybe enthusiasts of music genres that heavily feature double drums.
These headphones is also great for travel thanks to the included travel case. The ear cups fold into the headband, allowing you to store it inside a large pocket in case you don’t like carrying the travel case. However, we do recommend using the travel case to avoid accidental damages while on-the-go.
Sennheiser did a great job with the HD 280 Pro. They managed to create a pair of great-sounding headphones with the comfort level of a pillow while keeping the price reasonable.
There are other more expensive headphones on the market that don’t even come close to the overall quality of these. It’s great for music, movies, and even gaming, making it an all-around pair of cans for everyday use.
Exceptionally comfortable thanks to the plush ear pads
Sound quality is everything most music-lovers could ask for
The included travel case is really useful
Feels light on the head despite its bulky look
The bass feels inadequate for certain metal subgenres like speed metal and death metal
Philips is one of the world leaders when it comes to electronics and electrical products, which includes home appliances, televisions, and lighting systems. The Dutch company also makes audio equipment, though people sometimes overlook them in that category in favor of other brands like Bose and Audio-Technica.
Philips has a nice selection of headphones. The Fidelio L2BO is one of the more high-end models in the roster, originally selling for more than $200. Thankfully, the price has since gone down to a friendlier range, making it more accessible.
The Fidelio L2BO has one of the most head-turning designs in this list courtesy of the mesh design at the back of the ear cups. The overall build is sturdy yet lightweight at the same time. The flexible headband is wrapped in leather with orange stitches that give it a neat look. However, the headband feels a bit too thin for our taste.
The ear cups have memory foam padding similarly wrapped in leather. The padding feels comfortable on the head, and the large ear cups fit nicely around the ears. The clamp feels a little bit tight, though not enough to make us immediately uncomfortable. We only noticed a slight discomfort after around five hours of continuous use. A minor downside is that the ear pads aren’t replaceable, which hurts the overall lifespan of the headphones.
The Fidelio L2BO has a semi-open design, which means the back of the ear cups isn’t fully closed, but the drivers are still sealed within. Despite being semi-open, the large ear cups do a great job at keeping unwanted noise out. The sound doesn’t leak out too much as well. However, if you’re looking for headphones dedicated for outside use, we recommend going for a full closed-back model instead.
The sound quality is well-balanced. We played a diverse playlist with the Fidelio L2BO on, which includes songs by Taylor Swift, Lacuna Coil, Dream Theater, and Switchfoot. All the instruments are easily discernible individually, and the vocals are clear. The semi-open design helps in giving the sound a natural feel. We did find the bass slightly lacking. It’s not exactly flat. It’s just that we prefer it to have more oomph. However, overall, the sound quality is excellent.
The Fidelio L2BO is a great pickup if you’re looking a sturdy pair of cans that is great for both outdoor and indoor use. The sound performance is well-balanced, making it suitable for all-around media use.
We also tested it on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, an action-heavy video game, and found the output surprisingly good as well. We were able to accurately identify silent footsteps and distant gunfire with the Fidelio L2BO. A great pair of headphones overall.
Sturdy overall build
Comfortable to wear for several hours without removal
People with large ears or wear glasses often have trouble finding headphones that fit perfectly with zero discomfort; this is where headphones with extra-large ear cups like the AKG K550 come in.
A closed-back pair of cans, the AKG K550 features huge ear cups that can easily cover large ears. Honestly, the design is a bit weird compared to the other headphones in this list, but as the cliché goes, you shouldn’t judge something by how it looks. The ear cups look like large discs from the outside and donuts from the inside. If you were impressed by the large ear cups on the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, these headphones will totally blow you away. Seriously, they are that large.
The leather-wrapped ear cups feel luxurious and comfortable. They don’t press too hard on the head and have enough wiggle room to keep ears from accumulating too much heat during extended sessions. Having these headphones on feels like wearing two mini-pillows. However, despite the largeness of the ear cups, the whole thing doesn’t feel heavy at all. We certainly didn’t feel any discomfort while wearing it for five hours straight.
The closed ear cups do an excellent job at sealing the sound. You don’t have to worry about the sound leaking out when using it indoors. Feel free to rev up the volume to maximum when listening to your favorite tunes with other people in close proximity. The ear cups also help in keeping unwanted noises down to a minimum, which makes it great for outdoor use, too.
Performance-wise, the K550 lacks a punchy bass. If you’re looking for headphones with a rich and full bass, we suggest checking out other models in this list. Bass enthusiasts will be disappointed with these headphones, that’s for sure, but aside from the bass issue, everything else sounds great. The K550 has little trouble producing well-detailed sounds in movies and bringing out all the instruments in music.
We also tested it on video games to check out its versatility, and the results were impressive. Everything feels alive and vibrant in Horizon Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but the performance could have been better if the bass had a little more juice.
The K550 is one of the most comfortable headphones out right now, thanks to the extra-large ear cups. It has excellent build quality, and though the bass is lacking, the overall sound performance is excellent. Another minor issue is the audio cable, which is not detachable and is too long for portable use.
Overall, the K550 is a really solid choice if you’re looking for the best headphones under $200 that come with large and comfortable ear cups.
Huge ear cups that can easily accommodate large ears
Comfort level is superb for extended use
Great at passive noise cancellation and sound leakage prevention
High-quality, lightweight build
Audio cable is non-removable and is awkward for portable use
Next up, we have another model from Audio-Technica. The ATH-MSR7 is proof that Audio-Technica has its flaws. More specifically, when it comes to design choices. Headphone ear cups typically have subtle labels to tell users which are left and right. They are usually placed in inconspicuous locations such the inside of the ear cups.
Audio-Technica, however, went with a questionable decision with the ATH-MSR7. The LEFT and RIGHT labels are oddly placed on the outside, near the headband support, and they aren’t subtle, either. The complete words are written in a comically generic font atop a silver plating. Yes, this is just nitpicking, but the design choice was a bizarre one for Audio-Technica.
Now that we have that minor issue out of the way let’s go over the other stuff. The overall design of the ATH-MSR7 has a very professional look. The chrome touches match well with the almost all-black finish. You will definitely look good while wearing these headphones out in public. (Just hope nobody notices the oddly placed LEFT and RIGHT labels.)
It has large, padded ear cups that fit comfortably around the ears. Though the ear pads aren’t soft enough like the ear pads on the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, they are comfortable enough for several hours of continuous use. However, if you’re looking for ear cups with lots of breathing room, these headphones aren’t for you.
Despite the closed-back design and the large ear cups, the ATH-MSR7 doesn’t do a good enough job of blocking out unwanted noise. We understand that it’s not really a dedicated pair of noise-canceling cans, but the ear cups could use some improvement when it comes to keeping background noises to a minimum. Suspiciously, the ATH-MSR7 is also available in a noise-canceling variant, which is way more expensive.
These headphones shine when it comes to sound performance. Everything sounds incredibly well-detailed. It blows away the ATH-M50x when it comes to sound clarity. However, the bass isn’t as strong. It is more neutral-sounding with less fullness; this makes it more suitable for studio recordings when picking out all the tiny sound details is very important. If you’re looking for an all-around model, we suggest going for the ATH-M50x instead.
The ATH-MSR7 has a few flaws that hold them back from being truly top-tier headphones. It also doesn’t help that the headband creaks a lot when being adjusted, which sort of betrays the otherwise excellent and study overall build. However, the well-detailed sound quality balances out the negatives.
Seriously, the details that these headphones produce will blow you away. So if you’re all about detailed sounds, the ATH-MSR7 is definitely for you.
Sound performance is incredibly well-detailed
The ear cups are soft and comfortable for long use
The clamp is tight enough for use while moving around
Build quality is great
The oddly placed LEFT and RIGHT labels
Headband creaks a lot when being adjusted
Noise cancellation isn’t good enough for closed-back headphones
It is essential for artists to be able to hear natural, uncolored sounds when recording and mixing music in a studio. They need to hear sounds exactly as they are without any enhancements; this is why headphones that produce a neutral sound is the preferred choice for recording and monitoring music. The DT770 Pro by Beyerdynamic is hands down one of the best in the business.
The DT770 Pro is available in three variants: 32 ohms, 80 ohms, and 250 ohms. For this article, we tried out the 250 ohms version, which is the cheapest of the three. It is one of the most affordable high-end headphones on the market. Don’t let the friendly price tag fool you, however. The 250 ohms version is still a solid pair of headphones.
Featuring a closed-back design, the DT770 Pro has a very detailed sound performance. You can easily identify each instrument with these headphones. The bass is neutral and accurate. It is neither boosted nor trimmed, which means you will be able to hear the bass in its natural form. The overall sound quality is close to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, though the bass in the latter has a more noticeable punch.
Bass enthusiasts won’t fall in love with the DT770 Pro due to the bass not being powerful enough for their taste, but for studio recording and sound monitoring, these headphones are spot on.
Like many other headphones, the DT770 Pro needs a bit of time before the “real” sound quality kicks in; this means it won’t sound as good straight out of the box. You will need to use them for several hours to sort of break them in like a newly purchased car. We suggest pairing them with a music player and then have it run continuously overnight. That’s what we did. The difference in sound quality afterward was very noticeable.
The DT770 Pro has large ear cups equipped with velour pads. The only thing we can say about the padding is that it’s extremely comfortable. The ear cups don’t accumulate too much heat, making these headphones an excellent choice for extra-long recording sessions. Perhaps the only issue we noticed about the ear cups is that they don’t completely seal off the sound. The sound noticeably leaks when the volume is cranked up.
We recommend checking out the DT770 Pro if you’re in the market for headphones tailored for studio recordings and sound monitoring. You won’t be disappointed by its well-detailed and accurate sound quality.
The bass issue can be simply remedied with an amplifier, so don’t worry too much about the neutral-sounding bass. We recommend going for the bundle that comes with a sweet travel case. The price of that bundle is still well below $200.
Sound performance is pure and accurate
The velour-equipped ear cups are super-comfortable
The third and last appearance of Audio-Technica in this list comes in the form of the ATH-AD900X, a pair of open-back headphones. In case you haven’t been paying attention to the first seven products above, the ATH-AD900X also marks the first appearance of open-back cans in this list.
Before we talk about anything else, let us first appreciate the handsomeness of the ATH-AD900X. There is no way we can ignore its really cool design, which can blow away even the most stylish gaming headphones. The large ear cups feature a honeycomb design at the back, exposing the equally large 53 mm drivers within.
The ATH-AD900X comes with the wing suspension system, an Audio-Technica staple, instead of a padded headband. The wing system is built to accommodate all head sizes without any manual adjustment. After getting some people with different head sizes to try it on, we can confirm that the wing system is indeed very flexible.
However, the clamp is a little mixed. On larger heads, it feels too tight, though not uncomfortable enough to warrant removal every 30 minutes or so. On smaller heads, the clamp is slightly loose, but not loose enough to cause the headphones to slide down. People with medium-sized heads, however, will find the ATH-AD900X fit perfectly on their domes.
The sound quality is excellent for an open-back, with detailed lows and accurate highs. The bass is tight but noticeably weak. It doesn’t have the right amount of punch that will excite bass enthusiasts. There are other options out there if you’re looking for a more powerful bass. The ATH-AD900X, however, redeems itself by featuring a very impressive soundstage.
We played a couple of rounds in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and came out more than impressed. These headphones had little trouble picking out distant gunfire and silent footsteps, which is a huge advantage in online multiplayer FPS titles. We can definitely recommend these cans for gaming, especially for FPS.
Like all other open-back headphones, the ATH-AD900X does a sucky job at containing the sound it produces; this means everyone near you will be able to hear the sound leaking out, and don’t bank on it to keep out unwanted noise, either. You will hear everything in the background, which means these headphones aren’t great for outdoor use.
The ATH-AD900X is a solid choice if you are looking for an entry-level pair of open-back headphones. The overall sound quality is great, though the weak bass is a turn-off.
The comfort level, however, depends on the head size. People with larger heads probably won’t like these cans. As mentioned, the ATH-AD900X isn’t meant for outdoor use. Another testament to that is the excessively long cable, which isn’t really suitable for on-the-go.
Affordable price for open-back headphones
The design is really cool, mostly due to the honeycomb mesh
Very impressive soundstage
Sound quality is well-balanced
Terrible at noise isolation and sound leak prevention, obviously
The best way to enjoy workouts is to listen to music throughout the painful ordeal. For one, it totally beats having to listen to all the groaning inside gyms in full force. Over-ear headphones are not really suitable for activities that require constant movement such as running and lifting weights. Smaller, in-ear headphones are much better options.
Some of the best in-ear headphones on our list are the Bose SoundSport. These earphones are totally wireless, which means you will never have to deal with annoying audio cables while working out. The lithium-ion battery lasts up to six hours and only needs two hours to fully recharge. Unless your workout routine includes more than six hours straight of non-stop activity, that six-hour charge is more than sufficient.
The SoundSport has very large ear buds. Since it is wireless, the ear buds contain the battery and all the other mechanics that make it run, which explains the size of the ear buds. However, despite that, they fit comfortably inside ears, thanks to the specially designed tip that adds more grip. Don’t worry about it sliding out during intense workouts – it will stay in place. Just be sure to pick the right ear bud size.
The sound performance is excellent for earphones. Vocals are clear, and the instruments don’t sound muddy. The bass is a bit heavy with less accuracy, especially when the music volume is pumped up. Obviously, the sound quality isn’t comparable to that of over-ear headphones, but for earphones, the SoundSport nails it in the sound department.
These earphones don’t offer noise isolation; this is both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on your perspective or preference. It’s a good thing because it will make running outside safer. You will still be able to hear cars and people calling out to you. It’s a bad thing because it won’t totally drown out all the groaning noises inside gyms.
Cranking the volume to the maximum all the time in an attempt to block out unwanted noise is bad for the ears. So if you want real noise-canceling earphones, we suggest looking for other models, but be prepared to cough up more money for them. They don’t come cheap.
The SoundSport is one of the best earphones for working out and other physically demanding activities both indoors and outdoors. It has arguably the most comfortable ear buds out there, despite the unusual size of the ear buds.
The sound quality is great, and the battery is good enough for regular workout routines. The ability to choose the size of the ear buds is also a big plus. If you can stomach the hefty price tag, we definitely recommend going for these workout earphones.
Supremely comfortable and fits nicely inside the ears
Sound quality is really good for in-ear headphones
Battery life is great
Available in different colors
Companion Bose app is actually useful
Bad noise isolation
Weird and bulky design
Inline buttons don’t feel very receptive to presses
It’s not always about having a well-known brand name when it comes to standing out in a crowded market. Sometimes it’s just about getting the job done. Take the Bluedio U (UFO), for example. It doesn’t come from an extremely popular manufacturer in the headphones market. It just gets the job done with flying colors and little fanfare.
The UFOs – no, not the unidentified flying object kind – are closed-backed wireless headphones that feature an eight-driver system not usually seen in other headphones. It features a very sleek and smooth design and looks unmistakably high-end. It is available in four different colors: Black, White, Black-Silver, and Gold. If you want a very stylish look, we suggest going for the Black-Silver variant, which is slightly pricier than the other three.
The large ear cups are equipped with faux-leather padding. The cushions feel luxurious and comfortable on the ears; this makes the UFO ideal for long sessions, especially with its lightweight frame barely registering even after five hours of continuous use. The right ear cup houses a number of controls, easily accessible with minimal fumbling even in complete darkness.
The UFO has a sturdy aluminum-titanium build, giving it durability and lasting power. It doesn’t feel flimsy at all, unlike other high-end headphones made with cheap plastic materials. Barring any excessive external punishment, these headphones are guaranteed to last several years. The battery is also long-lasting, capable of handling up to 25 hours of continuous playback, which is very impressive.
Performance-wise, the UFO is well-balanced. We tried watching Fate of the Furious with it, and the results more than exceeded our expectations. Everything sounded well-detailed and crisp. Of course, we still couldn’t understand what Vin Diesel was mumbling the entire movie, but everything else, from the action-packed sequences to the dramatic turns, sounded great.
The added 3D sound feature also gives a noticeable boost to the overall sound quality. However, like most of the headphones in this list, the UFO doesn’t come with a powerful bass. The bass is still well-represented, but if you are looking for a dynamic-sounding bass, you will be disappointed with these headphones. You can partner the UFO with an amplifier if you want to give the sound quality more juice.
In summary, the UFO is a really solid pickup if you’re in the market for wireless headphones under $200. It has a great build quality, a well-balanced sound performance with a detailed output, an amazing battery life, and an excellent Bluetooth range (up to 30 feet).
It can also function as wired headphones thanks to the included audio cable. It comes with a travel case and a carabiner, too, further sweetening the already attractive package.
Very comfortable on the head
Well-balanced sound quality for all kinds of media
Excellent battery life
Impressive Bluetooth range
Bass isn’t boosted and will disappoint most audiophiles
Over-ear headphones are often advertised with noise canceling capabilities, but in truth, the majority of them only offer passive noise canceling by default, courtesy of the large ear cups that cover ears entirely. If you are looking to buy headphones with real noise isolation, we recommend checking out models with an Active Noise Canceling (ANC) feature.
Unfortunately, headphones with ANC are quite expensive. In spite of this, we found one that won’t require you to break the bank: the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. The BackBeat Pro 2 are wireless headphones that come with real noise canceling technology.
It can easily block out low to moderate sounds such as annoying voices and noisy electric fans. However, it has trouble effectively keeping out really loud background noises like moving cars and trains. You can help its case by cranking the volume to maximum or near-max, but that could damage your ears.
The ANC feature also functions as a standalone. Meaning, you don’t necessarily need to play any media to activate the feature. Just turn on the headphones, flick the ANC switch located on the ear cup, and feel the world immediately become quieter. Well, unless you’re in the middle of a busy street or train station.
The BackBeat Pro 2 has a very dull-looking design. Much of it has to do with the boring color. You might stand out in the crowd with these headphones on, but most likely only because it looks different, not because it’s attractive.
It may not look like a premium quality set of headphones, but it certainly feels like a high-end product thanks to the very sturdy build.
The ear cups are large and comfortable with the right amount of tightness. We didn’t feel any significant discomfort while wearing these headphones for seven hours straight. We could, however, feel the faux-leather ear pads starting to get sticky due to the sweat from the accumulated heat.
The sound quality is great, though the bass is a bit flat, but the host of other features more than makes up for that. Two devices can connect with the BackBeat Pro 2. You can seamlessly switch between the two. The battery life per charge caps out at 24 hours, though our first few runs broke through the advertised limit. Another really cool function is the auto-pause when the headphones are removed. Cool, eh?
Though the ANC feature isn’t truly reliable for all occasions, the BackBeat Pro 2 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for noise isolating headphones with a budget price. It has a premium quality build, which is sadly betrayed by the boring design, and comes with a number of useful features.
The Bluetooth range is also really awesome, making the switch between two different devices fast and easy. The sound quality could use a little boost from an amplifier, though, especially the weak bass.
Great at isolating low to moderate background sounds
Beats is a brand often associated with the word “overpriced.” You always get the feeling that Beats is getting you to pay more than necessary; this is pretty common in the headphones market where people often pay for the brand name more than the actual products, especially gaming headphones. BeatsX doesn’t change this perception, however.
The BeatsX are wireless in-ear headphones specifically designed for Apple devic, but like the Bose SoundSport, it still features a short wire that connects the two ear buds and acts as an additional support to keep them in place. So in the most technical sense, these “wireless” earphones aren’t completely wire-free compared to the similarly expensive AirPods.
The wire houses an inline remote, which is a huge thing as it keeps Siri out of the picture. Two other small pieces are connected to the wire. The power button is located on one piece, while the lightning port is on the other piece. The inline controls are very easy to reach, though it might take some time getting used to them being located on the left side.
The ear buds are smaller compared to the SoundSport ear buds. They stay in place when plugged in. They don’t easily come off when moving around, a common problem with other in-ear headphones. The ear buds have a great grip, which can be further enhanced by the optional wingtips. The package also includes four ear bud sizes, allowing you to get the right fit.
The BeatsX has a solid sound performance. It isn’t anywhere comparable to over-ear headphones, of course, but they are good for in-ear headphones, which have way smaller sound drivers. The sound is balanced, with enough bass to keep things from being flat-sounding. It does a better job at isolating noise than the SoundSport, however. With the music turned to around 70 percent volume, low-frequency sounds are completely blocked out while loud noises are subdued.
The battery life is slightly better than the SoundSport. It can run up to eight hours straight with continuous playback. It features fast-charging capabilities, which gives the battery enough juice to run for a couple of hours even with just a 10-minute charge. In a fast-paced world where many people are always on-the-move, the fast-charging feature is a big plus.
The BeatsX is a great pair of in-ear headphones, especially for Apple devices. The inline controls are big for Apple owners who are angry at the AirPods for being too reliant on Siri. The ear buds feel comfortable and have excellent grip, allowing them to stay in place while running or working out.
Though their ability to stay plugged in relies heavily on which ear bud size you are using. Our only gripe with the BeatsX is that it comes with a really hefty price tag.
Ear buds don’t slide out easily
Inline controls are extremely handy for Apple owners
The Bose SoundTrue II is one of the best and most affordable headphones out in the market. Yes, we used the word “Bose” and “affordable” in the same sentence, which we normally don’t do. Back in 2015, the SoundTrue II launched with an outrageous price tag. Now, the over-ear headphones are much more affordable.
The SoundTrue II is a pair of headphones designed specifically for Apple and Android devices. It is made of plastic, which makes it extremely lightweight. Perfect for on-the-go use. The overall build quality is good and flexible, though it feels cheap due to the weight and material used.
The design is both classy and simple. There are no flashy details that can instantly turn heads out in public. Well, unless you count the brand name written on both ear cups as flashy. Compared to the original SoundTrue headphones, the SoundTrue II is slimmer and undeniably more portable. It is available in two colors: Charcoal Black and Navy Blue. We recommend picking up the Navy Blue variant since it looks more handsome.
It features large oval ear cups specifically shaped to wrap around ears for more comfort. The padding on both ear cups and headband is really soft. We tested the SoundTrue II for about six hours straight by watching the extended editions of the first two The Lord of the Rings movies. We didn’t feel any discomfort while wearing it. Actually, it felt like we didn’t even have headphones on.
The sound quality is top-notch, a given for Bose headphones. We had little trouble understanding all the dialogues in the movies above. All frequencies are clear and well-represented, and let’s just say watching that epic battle at Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers was absolute heaven.
The SoundTrue II shines even more when used for listening to music. The vocals and instruments are all super-clear, though we noticed the bass lacks the necessary punch to keep up with drums-heavy music. Bass enthusiasts will surely be disappointed with these cans.
As mentioned, the SoundTrue II is perfect for on-the-go use. The package includes a handy travel case and the audio cable, which houses standard audio controls, is detachable. The clamp is also tight enough to keep it from sliding down while moving. Simply put, you will never feel inconvenienced when bringing these headphones outdoors.
The SoundTrue II are excellent headphones overall. The comfort level is phenomenal, and the sound quality is top-notch, though the bass might be lacking for some. The price tag is very friendly, making it a total steal for a Bose product, which is saying a lot.
Just a reminder, though: Be sure to double-check which model you’re getting. You won’t be able to enjoy the full features if you hook up the Apple version with an Android device and vice versa.
Extremely comfortable to wear even for more than five hours straight
Ear cups provide adequate passive noise cancellation
JBL is another well-established name in the audio equipment space, manufacturing products both for consumer use and professional use. Born in 1946, the California-based company has had hits and misses with headphones throughout the years. The JBL E50BT, however, is definitely one of their hits.
The E50BT is a pair of Bluetooth-powered wireless headphones that can also function as wired headphones. The package includes an extra audio cable, which you can easily plug in when the battery is in critical status. You probably won’t use the audio cable a lot considering the E50BT comes with an impressive battery life. The advertised battery life is 18 hours, but it was able to run up to around 22 hours during our test.
The overall build is good, with large ear cups that can easily cover most ears and a headband that feels good on the head. The comfort level wasn’t totally great at first, though. We didn’t feel truly comfortable wearing it until after around 10 hours of use. In short, it needs a bit of time to settle in, which is actually pretty common for new headphones. The padding on the ear cups is soft, though not on the same level as the padding on the Bose SoundTrue II or Sennheiser HD 280 Pro.
The media controls are on the left ear cup, easily accessible even when moving around. Due to the largeness of the ear cups, the E50BT also provides decent noise isolation, and you can safely use it in the office with the volume turned to around 60 percent before the sound leaks become significantly noticeable.
The Bluetooth range is excellent. You will be able to listen to music uninterrupted while walking around a fairly large house. If the signal cuts off, it will easily reconnect once back in range. The setup is hassle-free, too, and the ability to share sound sources with another compatible pair of headphones is really neat.
The sound quality is where the E50BT falters a bit. It has large 50 mm drivers capable of delivering a full and rich bass that can keep up with music genres like death metal and thrash metal. The low and middle frequencies are exceptionally clear and detailed as well. However, we noticed that the sound quality takes a hit when the volume is turned to maximum.
Aside from the sound quality taking a hit when at maximum volume, we didn’t really have much issue with the E50BT. The build quality is sturdy and doesn’t feel cheap. The Bluetooth range is great for household use and the battery life is excellent, requiring only a couple of hours of charge time. The built-in mic is clear and reliable, too.
Overall, the E50BT is a solid pair of wireless headphones worthy of being on this list.
Excellent build quality
Large ear cups that provide decent noise isolation
Well-detailed sound with great-sounding bass
Impressive battery life
The share feature is pretty much useless without compatible partners
Most of the headphones in this list don’t offer enough bass to keep audiophiles happy without using an amplifier. So let’s wrap things up with the Sony MDR-XB950B1, a pair of headphones that features a truly excellent bass.
The MDR-XB950B1 are Bluetooth-powered wireless headphones similar to the JBL E50BT above. It has large ear cups with thick padding and supported by a flexible headband. The padding feels great on the head. Despite the closed-back design and the thick-looking padding, the ear cups have really good ventilation. Meaning, they don’t accumulate too much heat, which is perfect for long sessions. We were able to wear the MDR-XB950B1 for 12 hours straight without feeling any discomfort.
The onboard controls are located on the underside of the ear cups. They are responsive to input and are easy to reach. The charging port and the audio port are also located on the ear cup. Both ports are essential to making the MDR-XB950B1 run. The battery can run up to 20 hours, though Sony advertises the battery life at 18 hours. When the battery is low on juice, you can simply plug in the included audio cable and use the MDR-XB950B1 as standard wired headphones.
The sound quality is well-balanced, with detailed lows and crisp highs. We played a few tunes by Green Day, Ed Sheeran, and Adele and came away genuinely impressed. All the instruments can be easily identified and the vocals don’t get drowned out by the instruments. Obviously, these headphones aren’t meant for professional studio recordings and sound mixing, but for casual use, they are great.
The performance gets even better with the Extra Bass feature turned on. The bass, which is balanced by default, becomes richer and fuller. Bass enthusiasts will definitely love the added bass boost, which makes everything sound more dynamic. The bass boost can’t be customized, though. You can only turn it on or off. It’s not really an issue because the default bass boost is more than enough.
The mic also surprised us with its performance. Built-in mics tend to be poor in quality, but the mic on the MDR-XB950B1 delivers a clean sound that greatly lessens the need to repeat everything when talking to someone. The built-in mic also means you can take calls completely wirelessly, which is very convenient.
We definitely recommend checking out the MDR-XB950B1 if you’re in the market for wireless headphones. The sound quality is outstanding by default, with the Extra Bass adding the necessary boost to give it enough punch to impress audiophiles.
The battery life is excellent as well. You can use it the entire day with the Extra Bass on without fear of draining the battery too quickly. Perhaps our only gripe with the MDR-XB950B1 is that it doesn’t come with a travel case.
Phenomenal sound performance, with or without the Extra Bass
Battery life is well-suited for everyday use
Large and comfortable ear cups
Built-in mic is surprisingly good
Bluetooth range is great
No travel case included, a bummer considering the price
Sound leaks significantly at higher volumes
It’s All About Preferences
When choosing which headphones to buy, it all comes down to personal preferences. Not everyone looks for the same features on headphones. So before shopping for the best cans to invest your hard-earned money on, we recommend making a list of features to prioritize. Trust us; it will help greatly when the choice comes down to just three or four products.
Do I seriously need wireless headphones with 18 hours of battery life? Do I need more compact earphones or bulky headphones? Should I sacrifice build quality for portability?
Use all of the tips and information that we have provided you in this guide, and you should have no problem answering those questions as you shop.