Yes, it’s a lot to ask for in-ear headphones that do not seem bigger or smarter than lower-end gear. But serious listeners care for their favorite music to be conveyed with clarity and balance. If you want that extra margin of clarity and presence, you’ll need gear designed for audiophiles who aren’t into apologizing for their stuff.
It’s why we’ve reviewed high fidelity in-ear headphones that can make your favorites play not just smoothly but with great musicality. So long as these small wonders aren’t handled carelessly, they’ll bring you sound to lift your spirits.
Before we go over the technical details, allow us to present our handpicked collection of the best earbuds under 200 USD.
|Sennheiser Momentum In Ear||Wired||Volume/play +mic||iOS/Android versions||6|
|Focal Sphear||Wired||Play + mic||Airline adapter||6|
|Sony XBAH1 Hybrid||Wired||None||Hybrid drivers||7|
|Audio-Technica ATH-CKR9 SonicPro||Wired||None||Dual drivers||6|
|Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10 SonicPro||Wired||None||Dual drivers||6|
|MEE Audio Pinnacle P1||Wired||Volume/play +mic||Universal fit||9|
|RHA T10i||Wired||Volume/play +mic||Sound filters||10|
|Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless||Wireless||Volume/play +mic||Anti-Sweat||4|
|Bose QuietComfort 20i||Wired||Volume/play +mic||Noise Cancelling||3|
We hope the list of the top earbuds under 200 dollars above was of any help to you in picking your next high-quality earbuds.
We hope that we have selected in-ear headphones that many believe to be among finest available. These will meet various needs for active or quiet use and should please anyone who desires the best sound quality and comfort.
Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Among the more efficient and powerful in-ear designs, this slickly themed pair offers a balanced sound that blends punchy lows ad clear highs with a lively mid-range presentation. This is a potent pair of in-ear headphones that has the audio quality to go with its appealing looks.
The sloping earpieces differ from most others in that the tips do not need to be deeply emplaced to attain good sound isolation. This means this set may be a more comfortable pick for users who don’t like having things pushed into their ear openings.
Since the earpieces enter the ears at a slight angle, they can be prone to drop out when the user gets active. But for stationary listening with broad variety of genres, this among the best performing value models available. The iOS version allows owners to control their iPhones using easy in-line controls integrated into the long cable. The Android-compatible model also has similar playback and volume controls.
These remain the favorite earbuds of many music enthusiasts, as they offer great sound for the money. Their balanced tonal range renders clean bass and crispy highs that work with the good noise isolation to make music come alive with presence. These earbuds will play almost any kind of music very well with hardly any distortion. From classical and rock to acoustic and techno, this model does it all.
The drivers do somewhat emphasize high and low notes, but everything balances nicely within a spacious soundstage, producing pleasing sound regardless of track or production quality. We think that users will appreciate this model’s flatter dynamic response and pleasing bass section.
You’ll have a hard time finding better in-ear designs at this price, which is why we ‘ve chosen Sennheiser’s Momentum In-Ear headphones as the top earbuds under 200 for users on a budget.
The designers of this new audio classic have gotten certain things right. First of all, this is a comfortably lightweight but sturdy pair of earpieces that stay in place, with stainless steel trims that accentuate small grills enclosing 10.8 mm drivers. With its efficient 16 ohm impedance that assists in produces in effortlessly powerful sound, this model performed fantastically with just about every source we had.
Although the earpieces seal into the outer ear with correctly sized tips, they do not fully isolate against intruding noises like more advanced active noise-cancelling designs. Audio quality remains superb, though, with good call quality in headset mode. Lows were deep and rich, highs were crisply detailed, and the mid-range was presented well within an exceptionally smooth and balanced soundstage overall.
With these qualities, its great audio performance with acoustic and classical tracks revived and bowled us over. Strings played with nice detail and body while vocals were clearly imaged, and it’s clear that this model sounds more natural than most of its in-ear rivals. Nevertheless, the heightened transparency can also magnify sonic issues in badly produced tracks, particularly with highly compressed recordings.
The substantial cable features an L-shaped jack, whereas the microphone is situated on the left bank of the Y so to speak (it’s a French brand) which is good for handling calls. The in-line remote is integrated further down near the middle junction, where the left/right cables join.
Playback and call functions using the single button worked fine with our iPhones, although users will have to adjust volumes with their device screens. Other designs have their microphones integrated into one or other earpiece, which normally works less well at handling calls or recording voices. The microphone’s in-line location along the long cable is great at picking up the user’s voice.
A zippered carrying case is included, which is convenient for keeping dust and stuff from entering the earpieces and transferring muck to your ears. A convenient airline plug adapter plus two sets of ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes (in silicone and foam varieties) round out a thoughtful package.
Focal’s Sphear is an accurate-sounding design that is among the best in-ear headphones under 200. It’s worth consideration as a comfortable in-ear model that will please careful audiophiles with its transparent quality and full bass sound.
Sony XBAH1 Hybrid
This model’s advanced design somehow merges different driver technologies into a hybrid driver that excels. In tandem with the excellent noise isolation, the scheme delivers crisp and responsive sound profile that’s loaded with excellent bass. Sound performance is excellent, with a powerfully nuanced presentation that brings out sharp and detailed highs and rich middle notes in tandem with well-controlled yet ample bass.
In-ear models vary in their drivers’ designs, of which there two that are in widespread use, which are balanced armature and dynamic. Dynamic drivers tend to rule when it comes to rich bass and mid-range sections. Balanced armature types can deliver more detailed and livelier mids, but usually lack the aggressive efficiency of dynamic designs. These qualities combine efficiently in this unique model, which results in superb reproduction of musical genres that are usually loaded with bass and intimate vocals, such as pop and fusion tracks.
Both earpieces are well made and should last long, although that may depend on how well you protect the non-detachable cables over time. Each housing is coated with rubber and constructed of lightweight yet sturdy plastics. The designs are sharply angled to keep the earpieces from protruding too deeply into the ears and will seal correctly with the proper tip.
Once a comfortable fit is achieved with the supplied ear tips, the good seal results in excellent noise isolation. Seven pairs of ear tips comprising three foam and four silicone types are included the package along with a carrying case. The flat cables are designed to drop downwards while resisting tangling and come in multiply colored schemes for easier handling. There are no in-line controls, but at least the cable is of a flat design that’s better for resisting tangles and for taking out of your pocket.
Sony’s XBA-H1 excels with its in-ear hybrid operation that produces a great soundscape. If you’re seeking powerful yet smoothly balanced sound in an edgy design and don’t mind the absence of controls, you can’t go wrong with Sony’s XBA-H1, which we consider to be among the top 5 earbuds under 200.
Audio-Technica ATH-CKR9 SonicPro – Best Wired In-Ear Headphones Under 200 Dollars
Similar to the higher-end ATH-CKR10, this pair is among the first in-ear headphones to apply push-pull dual-phase drivers. Dual 13 mm drivers in each earpiece fire at each other in opposing polarity, minimizing distortions while enhancing accuracy in general. The sound that ensues is considerably balanced, even lifelike, with textured and taut bass that punches powerfully in heavy tracks.
Once burned-in, this pair’s tonal balance becomes relatively natural and with no particular range emphasized over the others. Instruments sound rather realistic and detailed, with gentle treble that’s slightly more detailed than that of the CKR10, and great dynamic properties of the dual-phase drivers really enhance the midrange.
The sound stage is spacious for an in-ear design as well, with voices that are accurately imaged, and the sound is extraordinarily detailed and forceful. The highs and deep lows blend with a rich midrange into a smooth and well-defined musical experience, the mark of the best high fidelity in-ear headphones. These qualities bring about enjoyable sessions with the broadest range of recordings, from classical to pop to rock and most anything else.
The earpieces are made of aluminum and tough plastics, with Titanium caps covering their sides. The cables drop down rather than end up and around the ears, which won’t be great for active users. With the correct size of tip installed, listening experiences are isolated very well.
A set of four ear tips in extra-small, small, medium, and large sizes is included. The non-detachable cables are durably made with long cable sleeves to relieve wire stress, which will a problem if ever they are damaged. There are no in-line controls, which will discomfit some users.
Overall, Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKR9 sounds livelier and slightly more realistic-sounding than its pricier sibling. With its more natural tonality and spacious qualities, these sell as some of the best earbuds under 200 dollars, and for many good reasons.
Audio-Technica ATH-CKR10 SonicPro
Like the similar ATH-CKR10 model, this are among the first in-ear models to employ in-out phased-driver technologies, with 13 mm drivers across each other. Push and pull movements are simultaneously controlled, with which they achieve remarkable things in terms of powerful yet taut bass. Listeners will get to experience their music inside a wide-open and surrounding soundstage.
The sound is remarkably powerful and quite detailed in the higher frequencies. Crisp highs and deep lows all combine together with the rich mids for great overall musical presence, the signature of good headphone designs. These qualities make for excellent listening in different genres, from classical to rock to synth, and most anything else.
This model delivers among the best, most intense bass available in any in-ear design, with a focused and somewhat balanced presence. The highs are excellently detailed too, with the great lows rounding out the rich midrange in a smooth and even range. However, while mid-range has excellent texture and tone, the mid to lows can be a bit too thick.
The earpiece housings are constructed of mostly high-grade Titanium housings instead of Aluminum as with the ATH-CKR9, and metal pieces cap the rear side of each. These must be placed in your ears with the cables pointing downwards, rather than up and around the lobes. We found that these isolate well from external noises if properly sized, although they cannot be expected to be as quiet as dedicated noise-cancelling designs.
Two sets of ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes are included. However, the cables are not detachable, which will be a problem if they were to suffer damage later on. Importantly for some, in-line controls are absent.
If you’re looking for big and expansive sound, then you’ll find that Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKR10 is among the best earbuds under 200 dollars in the market. It offers better bass expression than competing in-ear models. If not for overly accentuated mid-low notes, its sound performance would be ideal.
We found that the cable sleeves could make rubbing noises if you move around a bit, so these are more appropriate for listening while you’re immobile.
If you’re searching for a great warm-sounding pair with the best bass performance among its rivals, Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKR10 SonicPro are some of the best earbuds you can find.
Mee Audio Pinnacle P1
This model offers one of the best-balanced audio performances in its class. Worn on the go or while seated, you can listen to a good range of genres, from acoustic to classical and to rock. The drivers bring out clear and smoothly detailed highs as well as mid-range notes that are only a little warm, but even if the drivers aren’t the most efficient, they will surround you with a spacious and well-imaged sound stage with the right tracks.
The construction of the earpieces and their specs may not appear that amazing, but this set is capable of remarkably good, natural-sounding audio quality due in no small part to the acoustic design of the metal earpieces. These are made of a strong zinc alloys for reduced distortion and better durability over the long run. The detachable braided cable with MMCX connectors and in-line playback and call controls is resilient enough to resist tangles, and it helps that you can wear the earpieces however, you want.
The drivers don’t sound too bright or deep at any point, as their musical output is properly balanced. Highs are nicely detailed and mids and lows are articulated cleanly and with a richness that makes vocal passages stand out clearly and intimately. The relatively flat bass response won’t flatter every type of modern recording, but the natural presentation means you won’t be worn down too quickly, either.
The package includes MEE’s usual full accessory package. Included are six pairs of silicone tips, three pairs of memory foam tips, a hard-shell carrying case, and a spare cable with in-line controls. With their good ergonomic shape, the earpieces can be placed in the ears with their cables looping up and around the top of the lobes, or else hanging downwards. Their design may not be too sensational but the earpieces can be arranged to achieve a very comfortable universal fitting. They stayed on mostly while active, which will suit listeners with active lifestyles.
Mee Audio’s Pinnacle P1 is capable of delivering great natural-sounding performances in great comfort, along with a complete set of in-line controls. Bass lovers may not be impressed with its highly controlled bass response, but otherwise these are some of the best earbuds under 200 for audiophiles.
This pair is pricier than most but offers a remarkable audio quality with comfort and style. Highs were rendered with great detail without a sibilant whisper, even with percussive cymbals that would challenge lesser headphone designs. Mids are excellently presented, with clear vocals that provide a lot of depth and intimacy, and bass is well controlled.
The drivers output the kind of naturally nuanced and balanced sound that musical enthusiasts like. Tonality was pleasantly flat across the range, which is great for a broad variety of music. We think this model is unlikely to be very popular with bass heads, though.
RHA’s audio filters are a pair of tiny tuning modules screwed onto the ends of earpieces that can be switched to shape audio signals according to the user’s preferences. You can choose one that alters the sound to fit the kind of music, and one is optimized for the rock while another appears to be good for less heavy tracks. This idea of swappable sound profiles is something we’d like to see implemented in more headphone models.
The smooth stainless-steel housings of the earpieces look refreshingly cool. A good number of ear tips are included for customizing the fit, although in practice we found the range of tip diameters to tend to the small side. A proper fit can take time to find, but once achieved, the seal provides excellent noise-isolation for a quieter listening.
The earpieces are slightly heavier than usual and as a result, they have springy stems that loop up and around the ear for a more stable as well as comfortable fit. The good thing is that microphonic noises from the very long cable are much reduced with this kind of looping design.
Aside from the two additional sets of sound filters used for tweaking the output tone, inside the box is a matching metal plate that holds an unexpectedly large number of tips of various sizes, including six regular silicone tips and two pairs each of double-flanged and foam types. Also included is a clothing clip and a carrying case.
RHA’s T10 comes in two versions, the T10 without mic or controls, and the T10i that has an integrated mic and in-line controls that’s compatible with iPhones. This is a well-equipped set of in-ear headphones that makes no apologies for audio performance and is among the best 200 dollar earbuds available.
Powerbeats2 Wireless – Best Wireless In-Ear Headphones Under 200 USD
The Powerbeats2 Wireless is a sporty wireless in-ear headphone with lightweight earpieces that connect via Bluetooth 4.0 and perform well in active situations. Included in the box are a few different-sized pairs of silicone rubber tips, which you can swap in and out to get a closer seal for more quiet or else a looser fit to let in more ambient sound. The last is great for situational awareness and safety, as many owners would want to hear oncoming vehicles and other dangers when they’re outside.
The efficient drivers play powerfully, with clean and detailed highs and mids along with rich bass that’s a bit more emphasized than most. It’s quite good for rock, synth, and other bass-heavy tracks. A balanced pair this isn’t, but buyers of Beats headgear tend to buy their stuff for bassy reasons. Still, if you’ll be using it outdoors in noisy environments where you won’t be found in perfect listening situations, this model will provide a comfortable and stable stage for aggressive sound.
Designed to resist sweat, the earpieces are integrated into big ear hooks that that can be flexed a little around your ears for greater comfort as well as stability. These are made of rubber and will adapt to most ear sizes without too much awkward fitting, making them a smart pick for vigorous users.
Included in the box are a few different-sized pairs of silicone rubber tips. You are supposed to swap these in and out to get a closer seal for more quiet, or else a looser fit to let in more ambient sound. The last is important for situational awareness and safety, as many owners want to be able to hear and spot oncoming vehicles and other dangers when they’re outside.
An in-line microphone and controls with a 3-button cluster are integrated into the cable. These work well for taking calls and controlling music selection, playback, and volume on iPhones. Then again, owners of Android and Windows phones will find that they can only control the volume and take calls with the center button.
Bluetooth connectivity can be really convenient as the in-line mic works to reduce ambient noises from intruding, although really noisy areas will still impact your listening. It’s a good thing that the echo cancelling operation results in clear calls in most cases and is effective enough to recommend for commuting use.
The wireless firmware can be upgraded and the unit is charged with an included Micro-USB cable. Most users should be able to get at least five hours of playback out of the unit when fully charged. What’s more concerning is that the earpieces do not automatically power down upon disconnection, which won’t help much given the already average battery life.
Beats has done wireless design right with their Powerbeats2 Wireless, which is a safe enough choice in a category that has too few. It blends powerful sound with a comfortable design that’s good for users into active lifestyles, and sells as the best Bluetooth earbuds under 200.
Bose QuietComfort 20i
These highly advanced in-ear headphones are designed for listeners who need its noise-cancelling capabilities for undisrupted listening experiences, especially while travelling or in terribly noisy settings. Although this model lists for higher than two hundred Dollars, it occasionally sells for much less. We believe that most buyers in need of noise-cancelling operation will this well worth considering.
Bose has achieved a great advance in noise-cancelling technology with this in-ear design; it’s simply the best of its type we’ve tried to date. Unlike prior versions, the system can distinguish broad variety of nearby voices and most other ambient noise and partly mute these on the fly. The system actively isolates users from traffic, chatter, and other environmental noise by continually cancelling intrusive sound patterns.
As a result of its powerful signal-processing abilities, its output can sound somewhat overly processed. But it still conveys pleasantly rich mid-low bass and mid-highs that are clear and detailed. As with other noise-cancelling models, an insignificant amount of hiss always remains present. This is more perceptible in quieter passages such as in highly dynamic classical recordings, which has been known to bother some.
Many listeners do like to relax during their travels with the noise-cancelling system running in the background, for the steady murmuring of the system masks the far more irritating drone of airline and train cabins. The Aware Mode is particularly good for cycling the noise-cancelling system on and off for whenever you need to listen to others or else be safely aware of your surroundings.
Included are three pairs of ear tips with stabilizing hooks, a clothing clip, a USB charging cable, and a nice carrying case. Two different versions are made for various mobile OS, and the 20i model that’s optimized for Apple gear features complete volume, playback, and call controls. The control interface is easy to figure out, although the battery and control module built into the extra-long cable was slightly bulky and thus more awkward to manipulate compared to other designs.
Bose’s QuietComfort 20i/20 model will be good for those who want to enjoy their music in near-silence, and these are the best in-ear headphones with active noise-cancelling features.
Best Earbuds Under 200 USD – Buyer’s Guide
Here are some things to consider when choosing one of the top earbuds under 200.
As earbud-style headphones are lighter and small than full-size models, you only have place them in your ears without the need of frames to fasten them. Their earpieces partly fit within your outer ear, forming a noise-isolating seal against intrusive sounds. Many have ear tips made of cushy silicone rubber or foam and feature flanges for the purpose. A few have springy wire loops or pliable hooks to keep them fastened during overly vigorous activities.
Good earbuds should always feel comfortable whether you’re moving around or seated. Their earpieces should seat into your outer ears while pressing on the fleshy parts for better stability. Most have slim ear tips at their ends that slide into the outer canals in order to isolate and channel soundwaves more effectively. The best designs seal well enough to stop your music from being easily heard by others close to you or just passing by.
Wired or Wireless
One thing you need to determine right off is whether you can take advantage of Bluetooth audio streams. Should you get a wired or wireless pair of earbuds? If you will be mostly listening to your favorite music while you’re seated or standing, then you’re a likely candidate for conventional wired designs, as these normally offer more value in terms of pure sound quality.
But if you’re always active in the gym or outdoors, you’ll probably find a good wireless model to be more applicable to your mobile needs. With Bluetooth earbuds, you won’t have to manage messy cables or poor connections while you’re busy doing you rounds. You’ll also be able to access your favorites from other Bluetooth sources besides your phone, such as PC or car wireless connections.
In-ear designs usually feature one of two sound-driver technologies, dynamic and balanced-armature. Dynamic drivers are great at producing bass and normally render a slightly warmer musical tone in most recordings. The majority of driver designs reviewed here exemplify the Dynamic type of driver. In contrast, balanced-armature designs can render more detail in mid-range sections but are rarely capable of the intense bass response that dynamic drivers are known for producing.
Buying a pair of earbuds isn’t such a straightforward exercise, as normally you cannot try on a set without working through the hygiene concerns involved with such a personal items. But if you’re willing to clean things on the fly as you test display units, you’ll eventually realize that it makes sense to look at models that sell for not much more than two hundred Dollars.
These tiny designs are rarely as robust as full-size versions, the latter of which are more sensible alternatives for stationary use. So if you’ll be using headphones mostly at home, you should consider budgeting more for a full-sized pair instead of spending so much on earbuds that you may wind up using infrequently.
You can always reduce your chances of buying models that don’t meet your standards by researching high fidelity in-ear headphones at sites like YouTube, as in this video review of some of the best earbuds from Audio-Technica.
Various earpieces are designed to meet the requirements of different users, with most benefiting from features such as ear tips that improve noise isolation. Other designs are made for active users who move around a lot, with many featuring in-ear fins or around-the-ear hooks that press in or hang around the ear for more stability.
Most have lightweight plastic or metal housings that bend away as their stems and attached wires drop down, or wires that loop up and around the ear lobe and to the rear for greater stability. Typical designs feature drop-down arrangements, but there are some benefits for loop-around schemes for mobile listeners. Bluetooth in-ear models normally sport bigger and bulkier earpieces and controls in order to house their batteries.
We do not recommend models with headset functions that integrate their microphones into one earpiece or other. Their heft may still be sensed, which can distract from your enjoyment. Besides, in-ear designs that are balanced in both their weight as well as tonal range are more likely to remain pleasing over time. The tiny mics embedded in earbud controls do not usually deliver spectacular call quality, except for some advanced noise-cancelling models.
Call and music playback remote controls can be very convenient to use. You can make and take calls, adjust music volumes, as well as select and play tracks using the remote. It’s a fact that the majority of buyers usually ignore in-ear headphones that lack built-in headset functions.
Big headphone models might get a lot of attention, but small earbud can be easier and less troublesome to operate in certain settings. Apart from their lightweight and compact designs, in-ear designs tend to be more resistant to moisture and heavy sweating.
Full-size headphones can develop a murky sound once their drivers get stained and dirty in such settings, for most aren’t designed for the amount of wear and abuse that’s found in the gym or out in the field. In-ear designs on the other hand are easier to optimize for harsh handling. Many have features that shed moisture and hold the earpieces in place when you’re sweaty and moving about.
In the beginning, we went with a selection that we handpicked based on our criteria and in here, you learned how to find the best earbuds under 200 USD that meet your criteria.
Enthusiasts hunting for a reliable pair to replace their iPhone’s stock earbuds should find Sennheiser’s Momentum In-Ear a great choice. There are other options, including the brand’s own upmarket models. But these offer the sweetest spot in this category in terms of audio quality, style, and value for money.
The Bose QuietComfort 20i is a pair that travels well and performs nearly as good as many audiophile models. It’s among the most pleasing we’ve ever used, and is simply the best noise-canceling in-ear headphones available. The cost matches its earful of abilities, but it is the price you pay for leading-edge technology that lets you enjoy blissfully quiet listening almost anywhere.
Owing to the QuietComfort’s forceful sound shaping , these earbuds probably won’t be found on most audiophiles’ buying lists. To fill that quest, the Audio-Technica ATH-CKR9 SonicPro provides the kind of audio qualities that serious listeners can really appreciate. It’s expensive, but offers comfort second to none and category-leading performance in every respect. It’s our choice for the best earbuds under 200 for audiophiles.
The Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless brings a great mix of wireless operation, great audio quality, good stability and build, and easy-to-use controls. These will suit users who value hands-free convenience as much as great performance, and sell as the best wireless earbuds under 200. If you have a lower budget or perhaps even higher, be sure to check our other guides on the best earbuds.
We advise you to just try any headphone that interests you and have great fun while you’re at it. Let your ears then decide as to whichever model sounds best, using your favorite genres and recordings for testing. You may well find yourself enjoying models that you would not have seriously considered otherwise.
If you liked what you have read here, do leave some comments to let us know what you think of this review of the best earbuds under 200 USD.