Best Headphones Under $200

Here are the best headphones under $200, narrowed down to the ones with impressive features, sound quality, and comfort at a reasonable price.

good headphones
[Photo courtesy of Rick]

We have grouped the headphones under three categories - Open Back, Closed Back and DJ.

Open Back headphones are designed to give you a more speaker-like experience, ideal for studio monitoring or for simply listening to tracks. They allow for some of the sound to leak and some ambient noise to seep in, creating an illusion of distance from the sound source.

Closed Back headphones on the other hand have closed "cans" that operate quietly and block out ambient noise. They are ideal for recording because they prevent 'spill' from the headphones through microphones into the current track you're recording, but may not have as much soundscape as Open Back ones.

Finally, DJ headphones are workhorse headphones that are tuned for bass and treble response as well as providing good isolation. They generally have features like swivel earpiece for one ear listening, and a convenient folding structure for portability.

Another important factor that is sometimes neglected when buying headphones is to anticipate your cable length needs. You should know if you'll need a longer cable for moving around, or if you need a shorter clutter-free cable. Know what you need and take your pick.

Open-Back Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro gives you the best value headphones for your $200. It is one of the most well received, and versatile headphones in the market. Heck it could even match, if not beat, some of the more expensive models. Its main selling point is its weight reduced diaphragm and its open-back design which allows it to produce a natural and balanced sound, useful for studio monitoring or for simply enjoying music. You will be impressed with its tracking and distortion-free operation. Although it may look bulky or old school, the DT 990 Pro is comfortable, thanks to its spring steel headband and velour ear pads. The coiled cable is a bit short at 3m but it is conveniently flexible. Get the latest Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro reviews & price at Amazon.com

AKG K141 MKII

AKG K141 MKII

If you are looking for headphones that provide convenience without sacrificing much sound quality, the AKG K141 MKII is for you. Its supra-aural design allows the ear pads to sit on top of your ears rather than enclose them, which means less noise isolation, but greatly improves comfort, ideal for long listening sessions. It even comes with both leatherette and velvet ear pads allowing you to pick what you prefer. Having a frequency response of 18Hz to 24,000Hz, which is well beyond the hearing range of healthy adults (20Hz and 20,000Hz), ensures clean and distortion-free operation. As a nifty bonus, you also get two detachable cables, a detachable 10' straight cable and 16' coiled cable. Get the latest AKG K141 MKII reviews & price at Amazon.com.

Closed-Back Headphones

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro

Sennheiser HD 380 Pro

For its price, the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro provides impressive sound details and isolation. The combination of its closed-back and circumaural design provides attenuation of ambient noise of up to 32dB, making it ideal for recording. To achieve good quality audio, the HD380 Pro has an impressive frequency response of 8Hz to 27kHz, allowing you to hear details that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Sennheiser also redesigned the "cans" to reduce the audio bounce from within, which is a typical issue with closed-back design. To make it more comfortable, Sennheiser made this one lighter than its predecessors. Finally, the HD 380 Pro comes with a flexible 3.2 foot coiled cable. Check out the latest HD 380 Pro reviews & price at Amazon.com

Shure SRH840

Shure SRH840

Studio and recording work is what awaits the reasonably priced Shure SRH840. Its bulky appearance and tight 3m coiled cable may not be appealing to musicians on the go, but sound engineers will certainly appreciate its sturdy build and audio performance. Although bulky, its closed back and circumaural design isolates background noise very well. The SRH840 comes with 40mm neodymium drivers that can handle frequencies within 5Hz to 25kHz with ease. Unlike other headphones that provide flat over-all response, this one favors mid-range detail, which is ideal for critical listening and tracking. Get the latest Shure SRH840 reviews & price at Amazon.com

For many more options see The Best Closed-Back Headphones for Recording at Gearank.com

DJ Headphones

For a larger selection see our review of The Best DJ Headphones

Pioneer HDJ-1500 DJ Headphones

Pioneer HDJ-1500

Pioneer is known for their quality DJ gear and the HDJ-1500 follows the same principle. Even at under $200, you can expect to have full-range sound reproduction with enhanced bass response. It is equipped with large 50mm drivers that can handle low thump and high end sizzles within a frequency range of 5Hz to 30kHz. Aside from great sounds, it has redesigned sound chambers that help improve background noise reduction. To further isolate ambient noise, it comes with urethane memory foam ear pads that are also comfortable to wear. All these features are packed in a stylish design with 180 degree earpiece swivels, ideal for DJs. Finally, it has a 1.2m side mount coil cord and it folds nicely into a compact carrying pouch. See the latest HDJ-1500 DJ Pro reviews & price at Amazon.com

Ultrasone DJ1

Ultrasone DJ1

The Ultrasone may not be as well known as other DJ brands but they are quickly getting the recognition they deserve. The Ultrasone DJ1 is a testament to that, giving you a good balance of style, sound and build in a reasonable price range. Some DJ's have been using these headphones for years and are still happy with their purchase. The DJ1 is equipped with 50mm Mylar drivers that provide 3D-ish audio quality, and works within a frequency range of 10Hz and 22kHz. It also has a unique feature called S-Logic Surround Sound which gives you the same loudness sensation at safer lower volume levels. DJ's will find its stylish looks and portability appealing. Finally it comes with a 3m coiled cable for clutter free DJ performance. See the latest HDJ-1500 DJ Pro reviews & price at Amazon.com

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Surprised Vmoda missing from this list

I have no connection with the company other than owning a pair of Vmoda crossfade closed headphones. I might not buy them for a studio where they will get knocked around, but they should be considered by anyone wanting really good closed back headphones in this price range that also look very, very cool.