You could be running, gaming, calling someone, creating content, or consuming it, and you still want to have your headphones on as you do, but wired headphones may prove impractical or inconvenient. Wireless headphones, however, are on an entirely new level.
Typically, what would stop you from trading your wired headphones for wireless ones is budget, but what if we told you you didn’t need to worry about that anymore? Let us walk you through some of the best wireless headphones under $200.
|Bose SoundLink II||Over-ear||6.9 oz||15 hours|
|Sony WH-CH700N||On-ear||8.5 oz||35 hours|
|Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2||In-ear||10.2 oz||24 hours|
|Sony WH-XB700||On-ear||6.9 oz||30 hours|
|Sennheiser HD 450BT||Over-ear||18.4 oz||30 hours|
The 5 Best Wireless Headphones Under $200 in 2021
Let’s dive into the best wireless headphones under $200 and why you should consider them in the first place.
1. Bose SoundLink II – Best Overall
The Bose SoundLink II is impressive on almost all grounds. It’s lightweight and comfortable with plush synthetic leather padding and memory-foam earpads, and it’s got a good fit. It’s also sturdy enough to withstand drops, bumps, and grabs thanks to its impact-resistant materials, such as glass-filled nylon and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
As for controls, the remote control buttons are strategically situated on the right ear cup and easy to use so that you can answer calls and blast your tunes easily. And we can’t forget the multifunction button that you can either use to play/pause or shuffle through your playlist and the Bose app, where you can adjust EQ settings.
Moreover, these headphones offer marvelous sound for a Bluetooth headphone. And to further enhance the sound quality, the over-ear design makes for a good seal that automatically mutes out most of the background noises and reduces loud conversations to muffled sounds, which gives these headphones good passive noise cancellation.
These headphones also feature a two-way microphone system and adaptive audio adjustment technology, which alters volume according to speech level and ambient noises. And they can be paired with iPhones and Android devices. Of course, as a pair of wireless headphones, we can’t neglect to mention that it’s got a good 15 hours battery life.
Despite the many perks that the Bose SoundLink II headphones have to offer, their main downside is the lack of active noise cancellation, but they still do have great sound quality. And although the bass sound is slightly lacking, it still manages to be very powerful.
- Comfortable with a good fit
- Easy-to-use controls
- Good passive noise cancellation
- Two-way microphone
- Adaptive audio adjustment
- Good life battery
- No active noise cancellation
- Bass sound could be better
The Bose SoundLink II is a viable contender that checks almost all the boxes if you’re looking for excellent build quality, sound quality, controls, and more.
2. Sony WH-CH700N – Runner-Up
With the Sony WH-CH700N, you get to enjoy a detailed, balanced, and musical performance. The sound is weighty, intense, and energetic with a bass sound that’s emphasized but not overly emphasized, and the lows are concise with a good punch.
Besides, these headphones offer wireless playback via Bluetooth with NFC pairing and active noise cancellation, which is missing in the former SoundLink headphones. And you can access the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), different EQ settings, and sound field modes, too.
Not to mention, these wireless headphones can survive up to 35 hours on a single charge, which is impressive, and if it runs out of battery, a 10 mins recharge can keep it going for another hour.
Furthermore, they’re compatible with Siri and Google Assistant and feature a built-in microphone so that you can call hands-free. Another advantage this aesthetically pleasing design offers is a sturdy build and a comfortable and lightweight fit.
As for the disadvantages, the only issue we can think of is that the active noise canceling isn’t 100% effective, but it does significantly dull down any noises.
- Detailed, balanced, and energetic sound
- Wireless playback via Bluetooth with NFC pairing
- Active noise cancellation
- Various controls and customization option
- An extended battery life
- Compatible with Siri and Google Assistant
- A built-in microphone
- Attractive design
- Sturdy build
- Comfort and lightweight
- Noise-canceling isn’t entirely effective
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced wireless pair of headphones with impressive sound quality and active noise canceling, you should definitely consider the Sony WH-CH700N.
3. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 – Best for Travelling
Another best-selling pair of wireless headphones is the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, which addressed all its predecessors’ issues and comes at an even lower price. It’s also smaller, making it suitable for travelers who don’t want bulky headphones to weigh them down or occupy much space and can instead be folded flat.
Another aspect that ties into these wireless headphones’ eligibility for traveling is the excellent battery life of 24 hours.
Moving on to the controls, you can find ones for playback, volume, and a toggle for active noise-canceling, all on the left ear cup. Moreover, these headphones grant you multi-point Bluetooth, allowing you to pair them to two devices simultaneously.
As for sound capabilities, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 grants you top-notch sound quality with excellent active noise cancellation. The highs aren’t overly exaggerated, so they won’t be fatiguing to listen to, and the mids are good too.
Overall, the sound is slightly bass-heavy to help tone down external noises, so you get good sound blockage without reflecting poorly on the sound quality. However, that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps because it dulls down the mids, but you can use it in wired mode for a less bassy sound, and the active noise canceling may cause a faint hiss when no music is on.
Finally, the headphones’ brown color, fake zebrawood, and ear cups’ silver mesh can be divisive, but they’re very comfortable.
- Compact and lightweight
- Excellent battery life
- Accessible controls
- Multi-point Bluetooth
- Good sound quality
- Excellent active noise cancellation
- Somewhat inaudible mids
- Bass-heavy sound
- Faint hiss can be heard without music
For lovers of traveling, you need the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 to travel light, as it’s compact and lightweight, with long battery life.
4. Sony WH-XB700 – Most Lightweight
Because a portable pair of headphones without lightweight is nothing, Sony brings us the closed-back neat matte Sony WH-XB700 that weighs only 6.9 ounces. It’s also got one of the most extended battery lives on this list, 30 hours.
In terms of construction quality, these on-ear headphones feature a well-padded headband and leather-like coating, and the headband and cup’s padding enhances their comfort so that the headphones sit on your head lightly, securely, and tightly (but not too tightly). And they’re much more breathable than over-ears; therefore, they’re ideal for sports.
Besides, the sound quality is also impressive. Much like the Plantronics headphones, these embrace the bass, making it perfect for bass-heavy music, but there’s still a knob to increase or decrease its amount.
Another likable aspect is the user-friendly control options, starting with the play/pause and volume buttons to the Google Assistant/Alexa button. You can also use the Sony headphone app (iOS/Android) to adjust the audio. And finally, the NFC support allows you to pair your headphones to your smartphones for a quick connection.
On the downside, these headphones are borderline over-ears with such large cups that they may press against the top of your ears, causing you discomfort in the long run. But they’re still technically on-ears and don’t offer effective noise isolation. Also, they aren’t collapsible, and there’s some Bluetooth latency, so they’re not great for gaming or watching videos.
- Extremely lightweight
- Long battery life
- Satisfactory comfort
- Breathable, secure fit
- Impressive sound quality
- Numerous controls
- NFC support
- Slightly uncomfortable with extended use
- No noise isolation
- Not collapsible
- Some Bluetooth latency
The Sony WH-XB700 is our pick for lightweight headphones, but it’s also so much more with good battery life, comfort, fit, controls, and sound quality.
5. Sennheiser HD 450 BT – Best Noise Canceling
If you’re primarily looking for good noise canceling lessthan 200$, the Sennheiser HD 450 BT is undoubtedly an option you should consider. These headphones feature active noise isolation where low-frequency noises are only half as strong as they’d typically be.
Apart from that, their ear pads’ good seal is designed to provide a secure fit and good passive noise canceling, muting mid-range, and treble frequencies. Thus, the passive and active noise canceling together make for better isolation, which can be even better if the headphones surround your head in a snug fit.
And for this price range, we were impressed to learn about these headphones’ aptX low latency Bluetooth (which we dissect later on). Other features include the very long 30 hours battery life, sturdiness, and the collapsibility of these headphones to fit when packing.
Of course, we can’t talk about headphones without mentioning sound quality. These headphones bless our ears with a smooth and rich sound profile. Similar to the Sony WH-XB700, you can adjust the sound to be bass-heavy or treble-heavy.
Nonetheless, we would’ve liked a less busy button layout with touch gestures instead of the physical buttons used. Audiophiles should know that the mids can be inaudible at times and that the noise canceling is not 100% effective, but these are all more than tolerable problems considering the price range.
- Great noise canceling
- Secure fit
- AptX low latency Bluetooth
- Excellent battery life
- Sturdy material
- Can be folded
- Smooth, rich, and adjustable sound
- Busy button layout
- Somewhat unclear midrange
- Noise-canceling isn’t as good as high-range headphones
If you’re after good active and passive noise-canceling headphones, the Sennheiser HD 450 BT could be the one you’re looking for. It also doesn’t hurt that it has aptX low latency Bluetooth, premium battery life, and more.
What to Look for in Wireless Headphones
Down below are the main features to look out for in an excellent wireless pair of headphones.
Sound quality is heavily reliant on the audio codec used, which encodes the audio at one end and decodes it at the other. This audio codec influences the latency, which is the time discrepancy between sending audio signals and hearing them.
Latency is less noticeable when you’re listening to music and more apparent when you’re gaming or watching videos because it causes some lagging. And it’s dependent on the hardware and software setups.
Compared to other codecs, aptX HD has the least amount of latency, and AAC paired with AirPods has barely noticeable latency, but let’s unpack the different codecs in more detail.
SBC has a harsh, digital sound. However, this was changed thanks to incorporating an advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP), which has now become the standard so you can stream good-quality stereo audio. Still, there’s better quality to be found in other audio codecs.
This is a step ahead of the SBC with “CD-like” performance, and it uses compressed audio. Most wireless headphones support aptX, and of course, you need both headphones and a speaker, phone, or another audio device that supports aptX technology.
When aptX was upgraded to have high-definition, the product was the aptX HD. The only catch is only a limited number of devices support this codec, but that number is gradually increasing, so maybe there’s hope yet.
This is the Apple codec used on its iPhones and iPads, perhaps comparable to aptX, and some would argue it’s even better. When you use AAC-compatible headphones, this enhances sound quality.
If you’re going to wear a pair of headphones for hours on end, they have to be made of comfortable materials and fit you well. To exemplify, memory foam, leatherette, velour, and padded ear cups certainly make headphones more comfortable.
As you’re probably aware, earphones are either in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear. We’d say that on-ear headphones are the most comfortable, but over-ear headphones‘ comfort isn’t too bad either because their weight is distributed over their large size.
As for durability, it helps to have headphones with replaceable metal parts where breakage is likely to happen, such as ear pads, bands, and wiring. Furthermore, if they have swivel ear cups, it’ll be easier for you to pack them.
It only seems appropriate to touch on this since it’s very relevant here. With cheap headphones, you can get convenient headphones to listen to music or voice chat. Still, if you’re looking for excellent noise cancellation, sound quality, and overall features, you’re going to have to be willing to invest more money.
Since there aren’t any wires in wireless headphones to feature physical buttons for volume control or hitting play/pause, they may have controls on the earpieces, mostly touch. Some are even controlled by voice or external apps.
Note that sometimes the design/layout choices are made for aesthetic purposes rather than practical ones; therefore, check whether these controls are accessible to you because when you’re at the gym, for example, you want to be able to reach them easily.
One of the main reasons you might need wireless headphones in the first place is to work out in them, so they need to be sweat-resistant.
Here, you’re going to need headphones with an IPX4 rating, which dictates that they can resist sustained low-pressure water jet spray. However, if you’re going swimming, you need complete water resistance, which the IPX7 can promise you.
Usually, wireless headphones will run for a few hours on a single charge, but some headphones give you extended battery life if that’s essential for you. To illustrate, over-ear headphones offer a longer battery life than other types because they’re larger and consequently have space for a larger battery, giving you 20 to 30 hours of battery life.
Tip: Battery life varies according to the volume level. The louder you blast your music, the shorter the battery life. Also, the information you find regarding battery life from a spec sheet is based on optimal rather than natural use, so keep that in mind.
Hopefully, you’ve come across the best wireless headphones under $200 for you. Perhaps the Bose SoundLink was the one for you. How could it not have, with such top-notch build quality, sound quality, easy-to-use controls, passive noise canceling, a two-way microphone, and more? If that’s the case, just go for it and add some color to your day-to-day life!