The Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $200
When we set out to find the best over-ear headphones under $200 we were bombarded with options. Reliable brands like Audio-Technica, Sony, Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, AKG, Grado etc. all had cans in the running. Choosing amongst them was like picking crème de la crème. All the spots were contended for ruthlessly. We had to nitpick to compare several closely-matched cans to populate this list. There are a number of lesser known brands too which could have featured here. The upside to well-known manufacturers is that they are more likely to have good warranty terms, durably constructed products and pro-customer service. Since you are going to invest up to $200 on these headphones, you should not be forced to worry about the support around your headphones.
There are many different types of headphones in the consumer electronics market today. Some are small and have been designed for portability, such as earbuds and in-ear headphones. Others were made with more than that in mind, such as on-ear headphones, which are typically padded for comfort and have better audio quality. But perhaps the most popular type of headphones today are the over-ear style headphones. Unlike the on-ear types that are simply worn over the ear lobes, the best over-ear headphones are large enough to cover the entire ear. This gives them the ability to deliver superior comfort and audio quality.
On-Ear vs. Over-Ear Headphones
While most on-ear type headphones are foldable and have the benefit of being more portable than over-ear headphones, the advantage seems to stop there. Compared to the smaller on-ear headphones that have a piece of foam or rubber that pushes against your ears, over-ear headphones have a cushioned padding that is large enough to cover the whole ear. Because of the difference in size and materials used in their design, the best over-ear headphones tend to have a more comfortable fit than on-ear type headphones.
Another advantage that over-ear type headphones have over the on-ear types is the noticeable difference in the audio quality. Because your entire ear is covered when you wear over-ear type headphones, there isn’t much room for ambient noise, or sounds you hear in the background, to get through. This gives you much clearer audio from the headphones. On-ear type headphones, on the other hand, can sometimes let just as much ambient noise in as in-ear headphones and earbuds.
The key features of high-quality over-ear headphones
- Audio Quality – Not all over-ear type headphones are built the same. Some are better at cancelling ambient noise than others, while others still simply have a better audio output than the rest. Try out several pairs of over-ears and find out for yourself which brand gives you the best audio quality for your money.
- Design and Comfort – To say that something is comfortable is relative. There are times when a pair of headphones has more comfortable fit but it lets in more ambient noise, resulting in a less than ideal sound quality. What you want are a pair of over-ear headphones that offer the most comfort without sacrificing audio quality too much. If you enjoy listening to music, playing video games, or watching movies with your headphones on for extended periods of time, you will definitely want a pair of cans that fit your ears well.
- Features – While just about every pair of the best over-ear headphones have the same general design, some could have a number of extra features that other pairs do not. There are wired and wireless Bluetooth over-ears, and some have hands-free, speakerphone capabilities. Because these added features add to the overall manufacturing cost of the headphones, as much as possible, look for a pair that can do exactly what you want. You wouldn’t want to end up buying a really expensive pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones when you don’t even own a Bluetooth enabled device.
- Cost – As good as a pair of headphones sound, or as comfortable as they may be on the ears, you could still end up walking away and not buying them if they cost you a leg and an arm. Know how much you would be willing to spend on your new pair of headphones, and try not to go over budget. Sure, there are plenty of high end professional studio headphones that you can save up for, but if you look hard enough, you can find a few budget-friendly gems that might even surprise you.
Why isn’t my favorite headphone on this list?
Audio quality is a subjective topic. Some people tend to prefer the accurate clinical sound of HD800 headphones. Some others prefer the bass overload by headphones like V-Moda M100. There are a few who like the middle ground. As there are people, as many opinions there will be about ‘the perfect sound’. We have chosen headphones for the best over-ear headphones under $200 list by picking the best cans that were accepted by a wide audience. This way, the probability that you would be in that majority is higher.
Which company makes the best headphones within this (under 200 dollars) price range?
Not one particular brand. Every brand has their products spread over a wide price-range. They experiment with the low-end cans and then use that experience to create the masterpiece. Unless it’s V-Moda, where Val Kolton spends eons researching each headphone. You need to check whether your sonic tastes match any of the audio signatures detailed in this post.
THE TOP 7 BEST OVER EAR HEADPHONES UNDER 200 – COMPLETE GUIDE
|1. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones||Closed-back||$$$||4.7|
|2. Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones||Open-back||$$$||4.6|
|3. Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones with CCAW Voice Coil||Closed-back||$$||4.6|
|4. Sennheiser Momentum Over-ear headphones||Closed-back||$$$||4.5|
|5. Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO, 250 ohms||Semi-open||$$$||4.5|
|6. AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones||Open-back||$$$||4.3|
|7. Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones||Closed-back||$$$||4.3|
The top spot on this best over-ear headphones under $200 list was a close contest between the adored Audio-Technica M50x and the respected Sennheiser HD 598. We finally chose M50x based on its portability and the fact that it appeals to a wider variety of folks. Audio-Technica headphones remind us of the decadent delights of music. These are imprecise for mixing music in the studio, but the life-affirming qualities of music are not lost on us with M50x on. If you want to listen to heavenly audio, then M50x are the cans for you. If you are looking for the best monitoring cans, then move down the list.
Audio-Technica M50x headphones have the luscious sound that can get anybody crooning, from audiophiles to the commonfolk.They have powerful bass which would even seem a little bumped up. But M50x sets tight reins on the bass in a wide open soundstage so that it never spills into the mids. Their stereo imaging also benefits from the spaciousness of their soundstage, which is surprisingly deep and wide for an closed-back headphone.
Mids and highs sound crisp and clean. They match the vigor of bass. Treble is smooth and detailed.They partner up with the bass to create a nice balance. M50x is more lively compared to M40x headphones which have a more neutral response.
Design and Features
Audio-Technica M50x headphones have their bulk sheathed in plastic. They are on the larger side, compared to Beats headphones. But they fit very comfortably on your head. Prolonged listening will not cause you any fatigue, physical or sonic. Both the earcups and headband are lavishly cushioned with pleather. The material can heat up your ears after long use as the racetrack-oval pads cover even the jumbo ears completely.
These excellent sub-$200 headphones come with 3 tough detachable cables: one 1.2m straight cable, a straight 3m cable and a coiled 3m cable. They connect through a proprietary twist-and-lock connector to the headphone.
The Audio-Technica M50x headphones can be folded at the arms into a compact package. Their earcups swivel 90 degree to adapt to your head shape.
- Amazingly, lively audio
- Powerful bass
- No bass bloating
- Rich and detailed mids and highs
- Detailed, smith treble
- Deep and wide soundstage
- Highly durable and comfortable
- Comes with 3 detachable cable
- Collapsing structure
- Ears get warm with the pleather earpads
- Response is not completely neutral for studio mixing.
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones>>
Sennheiser HD 598 would be the true winner of the best over-ear headphones under 200 bucks list if purists had been the judge. These headphones have a flatter response than the Audio-Technica M50x. But not everyone dabbles in amps and DAC and M50x is accepted by a wider audience because HD 598s are open-back headphones. HD 598 headphones are gorgeous-looking cans that focus on a highly nuanced and energetic sound.
The balanced sound of Sennheiser HD 598 headphones set a gigantic soundstage for the audio. Bass has enough punch without being overdone even the tiniest bit. On the downside, bass rolls off and may seem almost lacking to a casual listener. And amplifier and DAC can get you the required kick in the low-end of the frequency spectrum and also add definition to the highs.
Mids are warm and riddled with the intricacies of music. Although, they cannot match the HD650s and other higher-end Sennheiser cans, the HD 598 headphones bring you as much texture as you can get at their price. Any more details and they would end up sounding cold and audiophile-grade practical. Highs have the sparkle to them with a nice treble extension.
Design and features
Most of the Sennheiser headphones look similar in their metal-affected, plastic design with oblong ear pieces. However, the Ivory-colored HD 598 headphones are an artist’s dream. Done up in a milky cream color, they sport burl wood ring on the speaker plate and a metal grille on the back of the drivers. Earcups are covered in contrasting brown Velour pads. Headband is opulently cushioned for comfort. Their weight disappears from your head with extended listening situations.
Emphasizing their professional nature, these under-200 bucks headphones come with a 10-foot detachable cable terminating in 6.3mm studio plug.
A 6.3mm-to-3.5mm converter is provided separately with the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones.
- Beautiful architecture
- Detachable cable ending in studio jack
- 3mm-to-3.5mm adapter provided
- Durable and comfortable
- Wide open soundstage
- Detailed and lively sound
- Sparkling highs with good bass extension
- Forgiving on bad formats
- Bass could have better extension and power
Sony MDRV6 has been around the market for more than two decades. At the threshold of claiming a third decade under their belt, wild horses could not have kept them out of the best over-ear headphones under $200 list. The boon of professional music-producers, they provide you with a neutral and pleasantly warm sound. They are not as agile as the more expensive peers like M50x but they are the best a studio on tight budget can afford.
The tonal balance of the Sony MDR V6 headphones is hard to achieve at their price. They focus on a well-refined sound. Right from the bass up, the clarity of audio plays a huge role in their success. Bass is meaty on the V6. But it is not quick to respond to the fast drops and climbs like M50x.
Soundstage is more intimate on these Sony headphones. Although the stereo image projects out of your head, it is a close experience. Bass is controlled from bloating and overpowering the mids. Midrange maintains a smooth texture with most songs. Treble is not as laid back and may get a tad harsh at very high volume. V6 sounds slightly more agreeable than its successor, the Sony MDR 7506 headphones. Their treble is brighter than the V6.
Design and Features
Since the Sony MDR V6 headphones are professional cans, their architecture is centered on comfort, not appearance. They have a closed back design afforded by oval over-ear earcups. Earcups are swaddled in soft pleather pads which can be swapped out for gentler velour ear pads. These cans are lighter than the average and rest that much easier on the head.
The cable is fixed to the left earcup of these Sony headphones. So if the cable gets damaged, you will be robbed of a fantastic headphone. It ends in a threaded 3.5mm jack.
Sony MDR V6 headphones make themselves portable through a collapsible design. They also come with a screw-on 6.3m studio adapter.
- Tonally balanced audio
- Flat, neutral audio for studio monitoring
- Meaty bass
- Rich mids and highs
- Collapsible design
- Good noise isolation
- Durable, lightweight and comfortable
- 10 -feet coiled cable
- Replaceable earpads
- Studio adapter included
- Treble gets sibilant with some tracks
Sennheiser Momentum headphones are known to be talented all-rounders, playing all kinds of music and recordings with fun. These over-ear headphones are like a warm, sunny friend who exudes positivity. They do not have the analytical sound that their HD brothers are credited with. Rather they are refined enough to bring more clarity to music but not enough to be pristine. Consequently, everybody loves them for their harmless pleasure, hence their place in our best over-ear headphones under $200 list.
The Momentum headphones from Sennheiser see oodles of bass. They are a smack in the face of designer everyday-headphones that play into user appeal by bumping their bass. Momentum does nothing of the kind and yet the meaty bass reaches deep into the 16-22,000Hz realm and thumps cohesively. They are wonderfully controlled. Midrange remains ignorant of bass’ proximity.
Midrange is clean and smooth. They are not given any special attention either. Treble has good detail and reach without sibilance. The lack of attention to any particular element means these Sennheiser headphones have ballerina-like balance.Soundstage is wide for their closed design although stereo imaging could benefit from a sliver more spacing.
Design and Features
Sennheiser Momentum headphones follow a less chunky design that is finished with great details. They sport a stainless steel headband covered in real leather at the cranial arch. Earcups are also padded with foam and coated in leather. The meticulous stitch-work will scoot any doubts you have about the quality of these cans. The opinion on comfort is divided. Since the Momentum 2.0 headphones manage to be more comfortable, the original Momentums seem lacking in comparison. However, they do not have any serious issues like clamping or pressure points.
The cable of these less-than-200-dollar headphones is detachable. There are two variants of these cans: one with Android-friendly mic and inline remote and another for Android. They end in an angled 3.5mm jack.
Sennheiser Momentum do not fold, but they come with a handy carry case.
- Sleek, premium-finish design
- Real leather headband and earcup cover
- Lightweight and durable
- Comes with mic and inline remote
- Carry Case included
- Meaty bass with good extension
- Good bass-treble-mid balance
- Open Soundstage
- Fun, warm sound
- Arms do not fold for portability
Buying a Beyerdynamic DT headphone is a confusing affair because they have the equally well-behaved 770, 880 and 990 headphones, each with 3 different Impedance ratings and a Pro version. That’s a total of 12 headphones with marginally different sound signatures. We found the middle ground in the DT 880 Pro headphones with 250Ohm impedance for our best over-ear headphones under $200 list. They are all-purpose headphones.
The bass beats with a definitive rumble in the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones. It is more airy because of the semi-open design. The Pro version has better bass than the other models of DT 880.All variants of Beyerdynamic DT 880 have a neutral response with slightly emphasized treble. You notice the treble here because it is lean and may annoy some people.
The soundstage wins these Beyerdynamic headphones a lot of appreciation. Stereo imaging is also exceptional compared to 770 or lower impedance 880 models. It creates the audio close to you head, but all instruments are discerned really well.
Design and Features
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro, 250 Ohms, headphones try to maintain a balance between the airiness of their audio and noise isolation. That’s why they settled on a semi-open design. They seem to believe in graceful appearance, because all the DT 880 Pro headphone models combine black with either gray or blue. Earcups are over-large oval type and are sheathed in Velour ear pads. Headband also has adequate padding, which is why these come across as cozy and comfy.
Cable is permanently fixed to the left earcup and ends in a 3.5mm plug. A threaded 6.3mm studio adapter is included in the pack. These Beyerdynamic cans have to be driven by a powerful source or routed through an amplifier, like a basic FiiO or SMSL amp.
Adding value to their below-200 bucks price, the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro, 250 Ohm headphones come with an extension cable to use inside the home.
- Neutral, natural response
- Good bass, rich mids
- Open soundstage and spacious stereo imaging
- Good noise isolation
- Comfortable and durable
- Elegant looks
- Studio adapter, extension cable provided in the pack
- Needs to be amped
- Brittle treble
The AKG Q701 with Quincy Jones’ blessing is a superlative headphone. They channel the same capacity for mindblowing audio and balance the equation with comfort. These are open back cans that excel with details and are a shrine to the accuracy of audio reproduction. They are not temperamental in their performance with different types of audio. These cans can come in handy with music that has less bass presence.
Since AKG Q701 headphones persevere to bring you highly refined and accurate sound, the bass may sound subdued to somebody who is used to, say, Audio-Technica M50x headphones. However, purists will agree that bass booms only as much as it is required to. Bass packs enough punch but AKG does not overdo it.
Mids and highs are delightfully intricate. When you listen to music as it was intended, you find warmth and sparkle automatically. And that’s what happens with these AKG headphones. Since they are open-back, soundstage is huge and stereo imaging transports you to the concert hall. They do not flatter bad formats like MP3.
Design and Features
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so we will let be judge of whether the AKG Q701 headphones suit your style statement. They feature large circular earpads and a suspension headband design. The headband aligns itself to your head size. They sit very comfortably with only their necessary bulk on your head.
The cable of these sub-$200 headphones is detachable. They come with 2 single -sided cables- a 3m and a 6m cable. These AKG headphones cannot be driven by small portable devices. They need add-ons like amps and DAC to complete the equation. They sound okay at the maximum volume from your iPod.
The AKG Q701 headphones come with a 6.3 mm adapter and a storage cradle.
- Highly refined audio
- Neutral Sonic response
- Good bass-mid-treble balance
- Huge soundstage and spot-on stereo imaging
- Immersive sound
- Comfortable fitment and reliable
- Suspended headband design
- Detachable cable: 3m and 6m
- Studio adapter and storage cradle provided
- Porous to outside noise
- Sound leakage
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones>>
Shure has long been acclaimed for their IEMs. Their headphones proved their mettle with the SRH line, especially the SRH840 headphones. These cans balance audio and architecture to fare much better than the SRH440 in both aspects. Although they are monitoring headphones, they are not as a flat as the AKG Q701s. Their slight transgression leaves them sounding fun and definitely worth the best over-ear headphones under $200 list.
Shure SRH840 headphones are all for details. They scout for nuances even in the bad recordings and show them off in their delectable audio. They require a short stint of burn-in to get to their maximum potential. Bass has a powerful presence in these headphones. It descends deep into the low-end and thumps hard. Some might even perceive it as slightly enhanced.
Midrange is detailed to an extent where it still sounds warm. The overt brightness of highly precise headphones is not brought here. Highs are much more refined with plentiful details. They have a great soundstage for their closed-back design. These Shure headphones can do well with all genres of music.
Design and Features
The Shure SRH840 headphones look a bit like the Bose Around-Ear headphones. They are built tough, owing to their professional studio use requirements. Headband is padded with moisture-wicking material. The earpads are cushioned in memory foam which eases any hint of clamping pressure. Pleather coating adds sheen to their looks. They are slightly heavy and look the part.
A 10-foot detachable cable comes with these Shure headphones. Unlike Sony MDR 7506, the cable can be replaced if they get damaged.
The Shure 840 headphones come with a set of replacement ear pads and a studio adapter. Convenient, we say.
- Detailed, smooth sound
- Good bass and bass depth
- Huge soundstage and good stereo imaging.
- Durable with moisture-wicking headband
- Memory foam earpads
- Detachable cable
- Replacement earpads and studio adapter included.
- Bulky headphones