Technology is now at a point where we can get great sounding audiophile headphones under $200.
We've gathered the best headphones on the market within this price range. The under $200 price range is where the best value for money headphones are. Many of these headphones we recommend in the article we've recommended for other applications because of their high value for dollar.
We'll go through some of their features and have a discussion on what you should be looking for in an audiophile headphone. We'll introduce each headphone along the way, but feel free to head over to Amazon and take a look at the customer reviews if you need a second opinion.
I'm putting the sound quality at the top of the list for features on audiophile headphones. I'm guessing you expect a more refined listening experience than the average listener. You should also be aware that the best headphone will largely depend on the style of music you are listening to.
Listening to EDM? Hip-Hop? You'll need something weighted on the low-end with a fast bass response. Note if you're producing either genre of music you'll want to avoid bass heavy headphones and pick up something with a flat frequency response.
Classical or jazz? Look for something that is warm and incredibly detailed. Focus on finding a pair of headphones with smooth mids and tight bass. I personally think open-backed headphones are best suited for these genres. You'll be better of with a pair of headphones that has strong marks on clarity and accuracy. I recommend the Sennheiser HD 598 below. You can check out my comparison of the 598s and the ATH-M50x here.
Open-backed headphones allow the sound to escape out the back of the headphone. This provides an entirely unique listening experience that many of you may not be accustomed too. Because the sound is able to escape the back of the headphone, there is no interference within the headphone drivers.
This provides a spacey, wide-open listening experience. Perfect for classical or jazz music. Great for mixing tracks. Terrible for sound isolation and public use.
- At home use for detailed music? Get open-backed headphones!
- Modern EDM or hip-hop? Public use? Closed-backed is the way to go.
Style Of Headphone
The style of headphone is will also play a large factor. Again, it all depends on the listening case. Need something portable and detailed at the same time? There are a number of in-ear headphones that offer exceptional clarity.
The 1-More Triple drivers uses interesting technology to produce a unique soundstage for in-ear headphones. Have three separate drivers allows the frequency spectrum to be broken up into three separate bands. This prevents any bands from bleeding into each other and gives a very detailed listening experience.
These will be your best in-ear option if you are looking for a high level of detail and clarity. They are actually my highest-rated headphones under $100.
Planning on listening to EDM, hip-hop or pop music? Will you be using them in public? Luckily you're looking at one the best headphones on the market (one of my favorite headphones): Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.
Closed-backed and critically acclaimed, they provide exceptional clarity across all frequency bands. The circumaural design provides excellent comfort and sound isolation in loud environments. They have been one of the best selling headphones on Amazon since their introduction and have gained a notable reputation amongst audiophiles.
- Incredibly detailed.
- Critically acclaimed.
- Very durable.
This is something that isn't always talked about in audiophile circles.
If you're like me, these headphones will be a large investment. There is nothing worse than having the band snap after 3 months of use!
Unfortunately, the durability of the headphone is one of the first things to be compromised when a company is looking to lower the final sale price. Replacing durable metal components with plastic components can have a significant reducing in the final price of the headphones.
Ideally, most of the headphone will be made of metal. This, however, is not realistic. A lot of the headphones within this price range will use plastic for the band to driver connection.
There is a notable stand-out that is worth mentioning. This in-ear headphone is notoriously durable. Designed for in-ear stage monitoring, these headphones have been built to withstand the harsh stage conditions.
The Shure SE215-K have a sweat resistant casing and a replaceable cable. I don't know how many pairs of headphones I've gone through because the cable shorted out due to constant flexing.
Luckily, these headphones still offer audiophile sound quality and are one of my most recommended pairs of in-ear headphones.
- Looking for a pair of headphones that can take a beating? The Shure SE215-Ks are up to the challenge.
Hopefully, you know by now you need flat frequency response headphones for any studio use. They also need to be comfortable. My first pair of studio headphones were so tight I was only able to wear them for 30 minutes until I was clawing at my ears. It's safe to say that these headphones didn't last long and are now expensive paperweights.
There are a few notable candidates for the audiophile studio headphone on the market. I've recommended one of my favorites and highly acclaimed headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 ohm Studio Headphones.
Incredibly comfortable with velour earpads and a bass reflex technology for an improved bass response. Additionally, they are easily serviceable with replaceable parts - perfect for the overall lifespan of your investment.
The also come from a highly reputable company: Beyerdynamic. This company has been around since WWII and has a stellar reputation for audiophile headphones.
If you want to get the most out of these headphones I suggest getting the headphone amplifier bundle. This will ensure you are pumping enough juice to get these headphones playing well over the entire range.
It would highly recommend any of the above headphones. The exact headphone will depend on what you will be using it for. Once you have determined the genre of music you will be listening to as well as where you will be using the headphones it becomes very straightforward.
Focus on the basics: comfortable, durable, and sound quality. Then move on to the style of headphone - open-backed, closed-back, in-ear etc. A quick consideration of the factory settings in terms of EQ and you will be set!
If you have any questions please feel free to post in the comments below.
A quick reminder: headphones of this quality usually need to be broken in. This can be done using pink noise for extended periods of time (I'll save this for another post - just something to be aware of). This means these headphones will only get better with age!
I hope you've found this useful! Happy listening!