Best Headphones Under $200 Android Central 2020
Not all great headphones have to be super expensive, and not all cheap headphones have to be bad. Sometimes you have to find the middle ground. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are a perfect example of this with superb sound quality, long battery life, and are super comfortable to use for long periods.
- Best Overall: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
- Best True Wireless: Jabra Elite 75t
- Best Wired Buds: 1More Triple Driver
- Best On-Ear: Bose SoundLink On-Ear
- Best In-Ear: Jaybird Tarah Pro
- Best Open-Back (Wired): Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
- Best Over-Ear: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
- Best Neckbud: Jabra Elite 65e
Best Overall: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are by far the best value when it comes to headphones in this price range. They have physical media controls that are super solid, long battery life with up to 30 hours on a single charge, and are ultra-comfortable for long term use.
In terms of sound quality, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers a modest bass boost making them suitable for more bass-heavy genres such as EDM, hip-hop, or rap. However, the rest of the sound is fairly balanced making them versatile enough for most other genres.
For comfort, the BackBeat Pro 2 are decent. The ear cups and headband are super soft and comfy, not causing any discomfort or fatiguing, at least in the short term. For people who have bigger heads (like me), the BackBeat Pro 2 can cause some discomfort after several hours of usage, forcing you to take a short break.
The only real downside to these headphones is that they lack USB-C for charging, choosing to use Micro-USB instead. There's also no fast charging capability, which means you're looking at around three hours to charge them from 0 to 100%. This isn't great, especially if you need to charge up in a pinch.
- Great comfort
- Long battery life
- Great, bass-boosted sound
- Tactile and responsive media controls
- Micro-USB for charging
- Not fast-charging capable
Great for all genres
The BackBeat Pro 2 feature 30 hours of battery life and a solid sound signature, making them suitable for nearly all genres of music.
Best True Wireless: Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t's biggest advantage over other true wireless earbuds is their outstanding comfort. With the Elite 75t, it's unlikely you'll experience discomfort or ear fatigue, even after several hours of usage. The earbuds come with several ear tips in the box, and as long as you can find a size that fits your ears, you shouldn't experience any issues with comfort.
Sound quality can be excellent once you EQ the sound. The out of the box sound is rather bass-heavy and will sound overly bassy for most people. If you're a bass head, you'll absolutely love the sound. Otherwise, the rest of the sound is very natural and smooth. Fortunately, the earbud's EQ is rather straightforward and easy to understand.
Battery life is excellent for true wireless earbuds. The earbuds get up to 7.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. When you add the included charging case, you'll get an additional 20.5 hours, giving you a total of 28 hours of battery life. The case charges over USB-C, but it doesn't support wireless charging of any sort, which is a bummer considering their price point.
- USB-C for charging
- Great, bass-heavy sound
- Excellent comfort
- Can be overly bassy for some
- Lacks wireless charging case
Best True Wireless
Long-lasting true wireless
The Jabra Elite Active 75t offer great sound, long battery life, and superb comfort for long listening sessions.
Best Wired Buds: 1More Triple Driver
The 1More Triple Driver are the best wired earbuds around in this price range. One of their best characteristics is sound quality. The bass gets super low and will give you just the right amount of thump and rumble but still have a ton of detail and definition. The treble is slightly lacking making hi-hats from drums, some female vocals, and tambourines sound a bit muted.
Comfort-wise, they're excellent. No issues with ear fatigue or the earbuds feeling like they're adding too much weight to your ear. They come with several sizes in the box, which is great for those who need different sized tips. Being a wired set of earbuds, you'll also get standard in-line controls to control volume, play/pause, and manually summon the digital assistant of your choice. And the best part of all? You don't have to worry about battery life or charging since they're not wireless.
Their only real downside is that while the earbuds themselves feel premium, the cable leading up to the earbuds feels a bit flimsy and cheap. Unfortunately, the cable is non-detachable so if the cable breaks you're going to get a whole new set.
- Premium design
- Solid, warm sound signature
- Superb comfort and fit
- Non-detachable/flimsy cable
Best Wired Buds
No batteries required
The 1More Triple Driver are wired earbuds that are super comfortable, sound great, and don't require pairing or batteries.
Best On-Ear: Bose SoundLink On-Ear
If you're looking for comfortable on-ear headphones, look no further than the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. Due to their on-ear design, you won't suffer from warm ears like you normally would from over-ear headphones. Though, as with most on-ear headphones, you'll have a good amount of sound leakage. In louder environments, leakage probably won't be much of an issue, but, if you're in a quiet environment like a library, it's probably best to use them at lower volumes.
For sound quality, the SoundLink sound mostly natural, but the treble, where things sound strange, is where things start to fall apart. Don't let that distract you from their otherwise really great sound.
In terms of battery life, you'll get 15 hours of battery life, which is decent for a set of on-ear headphones. Fortunately, the SoundLink feature fast-charge capabilities, giving you two hours of listening time in a 15-minute charge. Overall charging will still take three hours, though. They annoyingly still use Micro-USB instead of USB-C for charging.
- Quick charging capable
- Superb comfort
- Excellent sound quality
- Micro-USB for charging
- Sound leakage at higher volumes
Comfortable on-ear tunes
The Soundlink On-Ear from Bose are super comfortable whether you're using them for 30 minutes at a time or several hours.
Best In-Ear: Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless
The Jaybird Tarah Pro are a solid all-around pair of in-ear earbuds. They're not true wireless, so you don't have to worry about a charging case or two separate sets of batteries (the buds and the case). And, with a wire in between, you can easily let them dangle around your neck without having to worry about losing them.
Sound quality-wise, the bass is balanced and the treble is only sightly boosted, giving you a fantastic, consumer-friendly sound. This type of sound signature is often found in sports/workout earbuds and is often described as "energetic" or "exciting".
In terms of battery life, the Tarah Pro last up to 13 hours on a single charge. Charging them from empty will take roughly two hours. Unfortunately, they use a proprietary charging cable, so you'll have to remember to bring the cable along if you plan on using them for longer. For comfort, they are excellent — no issues with ear fatigue or heaviness from the earbuds.
- Superb sound quality
- Solid battery life
- Great comfort
- Proprietary charging cable
Superb sound quality
The Jaybird Tarah Pro sound fantastic, have great battery life and are super comfortable for long listening sessions.
Best Open-Back (Wired): Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro
If you're looking for the best bang for your buck at-home listening headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro are the right pair of headphones for you. They are a set of over-ear open-back headphones, which means they're suited for home usage. This is because open-back headphones don't try to isolate sound and will leak sound like crazy. However, they make up for it by being super comfortable. Since they don't have to try to isolate sound, the ear cups are made out of very soft leather and are really breathable.
They also sound fantastic. The DT 990 Pro have a balanced sound. The bass response is perfect for an open-back headphone, although they don't get as deep as other closed-back headphones. The mid-range is also balanced and free from imperfections. The treble is also relatively balanced, with only an over-emphasis in the mid-treble region, which adds quite a bit of brightness on certain tracks. Some people won't be a fan of that. Of course, being open-back, they have excellent dynamic range and soundstage.
These are wired headphones, so you'll need to make sure you have a device with an audio jack. Fortunately, unlike some other open-back headphones, you won't need an amp for these. This means that most gadgets will be able to drive them without much issue.
- Open-back, natural sound
- Comfortable for long-term use
- No amp required
- Treble can be fatiguing
Best Open-Back (Wired)
Open back goodness
The DT 990 Pro from Beyerdynamic offers great dynamic range and soundstage. While you're restricted to at-home use, the sound quality is totally worth it.
Best Over-Ear: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have excellent sound quality. The bass and mid-range are superb and balanced all around. The treble is a bit recessed but is still balanced for the most part. This means the 4.50 BTNC feature a slightly bass-heavy sound. Their ANC performance is good but affects the sound massively. Unfortunately, we recommend leaving the ANC off if you'd rather have great sound quality.
Battery life on the HD 4.50 BTNC is excellent. With ANC enabled, you get 19 hours, and with ANC disabled, you'll get 25 hours. When it comes to recharging them, it'll take you a solid two hours to recharge them if they're completely dead as they aren't fast charging capable.
An important part of any set of (closed-back) headphones is how much sound they leak. Fortunately, the HD 4.50 BTNC don't leak too much sound and are perfect for an office environment, even if the guy in the next cubicle is only a few feet away.
- Great, treble forward sound
- Low sound leakage
- Long battery life
- ANC effects the sound tremendously
Excellent sounding wireless headphones
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC deliver an overall great sound that has minimal leakage, and excellent battery life.
Best Neckbud: Jabra Elite 65e
The Jabra Elite 65e offer a solid neckbud experience. They offer up to eight hours of battery life, which is plenty to get you through your day. It takes just under two hours to fully recharge them if you deplete their battery completely. Unfortunately, the earbuds charge over Micro-USB. At this point, everything Micro-USB should be USB-C.
The earbuds come with multiple (seven pairs in fact) ear tip sizes in the box, which should help with fit and overall comfort. Once you find the right ear tip size, they are relatively comfortable, even over long periods of time. The buds don't go too deep in your ear, which is great for those who aren't a fan of in-ear earbuds.
Sound is good, too. Bass is a bit elevated and so is the midrange, which means you'll experience a lot of bass and instruments such as pianos, violins, and guitars will sound closer to you. This might not sound appealing, but most earbuds and headphones nowadays boost the bass, so the Elite 65e will sound similar to many consumer headphones on the market.
The Elite 65e are IP54 dust and water-resistant, which means you'll be able to workout with the earbuds without much issue. They also feature ANC for when you need to tune out the rest of the world. The ANC won't blow you away when compared to high-end ANC headphones, but it's good enough to keep you listening during your commute.
- Long battery life
- Superb comfort
- Great sound
- IP54 dust and water-resistant
- Uses Micro-USB for charging
- ANC is just OK
The Jabra Elite 65e are super comfortable with great battery life. They enable you to always have earbuds on your person.
The best headphones don't have to be expensive, and cheap headphones don't have to sound awful. There are a ton of midrange options available that are really good and have solid features. If you're looking for a great pair of over-ear portable headphones, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are a no brainer.
They feature great battery life with up to 30 hours on a charge, meaning you can take a long haul flight with them and not worry about them dying on you. The Backbeat Pro 2 also feature great sound quality and excellent comfort for long listening sessions.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Peter Cao loves his headphones. Good luck trying to catch him without headphones on. His hobbies include listening to vinyl records and playing video games.
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