The Best Headphones Under $200 For 2013

The Best Headphones Under $200: Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250

The Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 is the highest fidelity headphone you can buy for under $200. I own this one, and it’s amazing. I’ve spent a lot of time examining headphone lists created by audiophiles, and this headphone was recommended many times. It’s an open headphone — this mean others around will be able to hear your music. I recommend using a mini-amplifier with these headphones, you intend to use them with a portable MP3 player. I have a Fiio E10 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier and it works well.

The only other headphones that can compete at this price level are the Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones.

The 20 Highest Rated Earbuds & Headphones For 2012

In this post, I’ve compiled an updated list of the best rated earphones and headphones for 2012. This list has evolved over a couple of years — I’ve tried to include the most vetted headphones and earphones available, as well as a couple of new headphones that are getting great reviews.

I’ve tried to cover all the basic types of headphones available today: earbuds, wireless earphones, sport earphones, noise-cancelling headphones, full-sized headphones and wireless headphones.

LG Tone HBS-700 Bluetooth Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 264+ reviewers)

Despite selling for under $50, the LG Tone HBS-700 is the highest rated bluetooth headphone currently available. It received an 8 out of 10 rating from CNET, which makes it their Editor’s Choice for a bluetooth earphone. Reviewers at CNET say it is  one of the most comfortable earphones they’ve tried, and that the audio reproduction was impressive. PC Magazine liked the long battery life, but said that the bass reproduction was “thin”, but gave it an overall rating of “Good”.

The LG Tone HBS-700 is available from Amazon for about $45.

 

Klipsch Image S4 Earbuds

Klipsch image s4

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 1211+ reviewers)

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is the highest-rated wired earbuds under $100. Reviewers like the audio clarity of the earphones, and its comfortable fit. Reviewers say these earphones provide audio quality equivalent to earphones that cost hundreds of dollars more. The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone received an Editors’ Choice award from PC Magazine, and an “Excellent” rating from CNET.

If you carry your earphones in your pocket a lot, or are generally rough with them, you might want to consider the more durable Shure SE215-K Earphones — these come with detachable cables (see details below).

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is available from Amazon for about $76.

 

Klipsch Image S4i Earbuds

Klipsch Image S4 1

Average Amazon Rating: 3.7 out of 5 (from 500+ reviewers)

If you will be using earphones with a iPhone or iPod, you should consider getting the Klipsch Image S4i, which provides the same comfortable fit and sound quality as the Image S4, but also incorporates an integrated mic and call answer button, as well as volume controls and remote playback for the iPod.

The Klipsch Image S4 sells for about $99 at Amazon.

 

MEElectronics M6 Earbuds

MEElectronics M6 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (from 329+ reviewers)

These M6 Earbuds by MEElectronics are more durable and provide better sound than comparable earphones in their price range. CNET rated them 3.5 out of 4 stars saying “A great value for bass addicts”. These earphones incorporate a “memory wire” and an angled ear tip, making them good earphones wear while  engaged in sports.

You can get the MEElectronics M6 at Amazon for about $20.

 

Shure SE215-K Earphones

Shure SE215 K

Average Amazon Rating: 4.0 out of 5 (from 115+ reviewers)

The SE215-K Earphones by Shure produces some of the best audio you’ll hear from earbuds prince under $100. A solid design, which includes detachable cables, makes these earphones quite durable. Six pairs of tips – small, medium and large in foam and silicone – ensure a nice snug fit no matter what your ear canal’s shape or size. Head-Fi.org recommends the SE215s as their budget pick in Lifehacker’s recent headphone buying guide. The Head-Fi community, a discerning bunch of listeners, have rated these earphones five stars in a couple of interviews.

Buy the Shure SE215-K Earphones at Amazon for about $100.

 

Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 50+ reviewers)

Klipsch has released a ruggedized headphone, the Image S5i. The earphones are weather resistant and feature extra large buttons which can be operated while wearing gloves. So far, they are getting good reviews on Amazon.

The Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds are available on Amazon for about $100.

 

Etymotic HF5 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 52+ reviewers)

One of the best sports earphones available. Etymotic succeeds in creating a balanced realistic sound. Bass-enthusiasts may be disappointed with the thin reproduction of low-frequencies. CNET rates them “Very Good” and iLounge gave them a “A-” rating.

The Etymotic hf5 earphones are sold on Amazon — they are available in RedBlue, and Black. They sell for about $95.

If you are looking for an Etymotic with iPod/iPhone/iPad controls included, consider the Etymotic ER23-HF3.

 

Monster iSport Immersion Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.3 out of 5 (from 131+ reviewers)

The iSport Immersion Headphone by Monster is designed to be used while engaged in activities like snowboarding, running and working out at the gym. They are durably built and completely sweatproof. In fact, they can even be put in the wash for cleaning.

Available at Amazon for about $150.

 

Klipsch Image x10i Earbuds

Klipsche earbuds x10i

Average Amazon Rating: 4.1 out of 5 (from 168+ reviewers)

 

The Klipsch Image X10 earbud headphones are tiny, but powerful. They feature contour ear gels that are intended to slip right into the ear canal comfortably. Five different sized ear tips come with these earbud headphones, and a 50-inch vinyl cable is included.

The Klipsch Image X10 are available at Amazon for $137.

 

Gradio SR80i Headphones

Grado sr80

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 330+ reviewers)

The Grado SR60 headphones are made in Brooklyn. Their black-plastic design doesn’t exactly exude high tech, but as soon as doubters hear the SR80, their objections usually melt away. Converts gush about the headset’s rock-solid bass, extraordinary detail, and clarity. The SRS0 has been on the market for more than 10 years, perennially garnering raves in audiophile magazines around the world.

The SRS0′s earpieces have large cushions, but we’re not about to claim that these headphones set a new standard for wearability. After spending a few hours with all that foam clamped over your ears, you’ll need a break.

Buy the Grado SR60 Amazon for around $100.

 

Grado SR125i Headphones

Grado headphones 125i

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 64+ reviewers)

Basically, the Grado SR125 is a slight upgrade to the SR80i — the SR125 is tweaked for slightly better sound. The improved detail can be difficult for some to hear. Grado makes use of the larger sized 1/4 inch plug on this headphone and a very thick cord. Grado doesn’t really intend this headphone for use with a portable MP3 player, but if you want to connect to a portable player or an inexpensive home stereo with the smaller 1/8th inch connection, you’ll need to get an adapter. Whether the sound quality is any better than the SR80i might depend on the quality of the recording and the quality of your music player.

It’s available from Amazon for about $200.

 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Headphones

ATH M50 headphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (from 2037+ reviewers)

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 is the highest rated headphone on Amazon — many enthusiastic reviewers say this the best headphone you can buy for under $150. I haven’t seen any formal reviews of this headphone yet.

The ATH-M50  is available at Amazon for about $137.

 

AiAiAi TMA-1 Headphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (from 26+ reviewers)

AIAIAI is a new headphone company from Denmark, and they’ve recently released their first set of DJ headphones, dubbed the TMA-1, which stands for “Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1″ — the name of the monolith in 2001 A Space Odyssey. The monochromatic design was conceived by Danish design studio KiBiSi. The sound reproduction of the phones is apparently very good — the bass, in particular, being quite impressive.

The AIAIAI TMA-1 gets an “Excellent” rating from CNET and an average of 4.7 out of 5 reviewers from 26 reviewers on Amazon.

The headphones are available from Amazon for about $200.

 

Ultrasone HFI-580 Headphones

HFI 580+Foldable+Closed Back+Headphones+ +NEW+2008+MODEL 1

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 28+ reviewers)

If you are looking for a pair of portable headphones that won’t disturb your fellow travelers, you might consider the Ultrasone HFI-580. Unlike many closed-style headphones, the HFI-580 performs very well connected to portable players like the iPod. The headphones have Ultrasone’s patented S-Logic technology, which creates a wide soundstage, making for an incredibly open and clear sonic presentation. PC Magazine rated it 4 out 5 stars, as did “What Hi Fi?” Magazine. CNET gave it a rated of “Very Good” or 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Ultrasone HFI-580 is available at Amazon for about  $180.

 

Bowers And Wilkins P5 Headphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 175+ reviewers)

Bowers & Wilkins is a legendary name in British Hi-Fi. Recently, they have been attempting to appeal to a more mainstream audience. Thier P5 Headphone is made for listening with a portable player. These headphones block out a lot of external noise, but they contain no active noise-cancellation circuitry. The P5s feature a detachable cord with an integrated volume control that will work with some iPods and iPhones.

Consumer Reports rated this headphone the highest in their portable category. CNET rated it “Excellent” and Trusted Reviews gave it 9 out of 10 stars (their 2010 “Best Headphone Gear” Runner Up).

Many reviewers note that these headphones are extremely comfortable. They have sheep leather ear pads, which are soft, but they may become sticky in hot weather.

The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Headphone is available at Amazon for about $295.

 

Sennheiser RS-170 Wireless Headphone

Sennheiser RS 170

Average Amazon Rating: 4.4 out of 5 (from 172+ reviewers)

This is the highest rated wireless headphone on Amazon. The Sennheiser RS-170 makes use of the high-fidelity Kleer technology, thus give you CD-quality audio over its wireless connection (superior to Bluetooth in this respect).

You can buy the Sennheiser RS-170 Wireless Headphone at Amazon for about $280.

 

Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose quietcomfort 15

Average Amazon Rating: 4.4 out of 5 (from 222+ reviewers)

The Bose QuietComfort 15 received a rating of 74/100 from Consumer Reports (the 2nd highest for noise-canceling headphones, just behind the Sony MDR-NC500D). CNET rates the Bose QuietComfort 15  as their number one noise-canceling headphone, giving it an “Excellent” score.

The Bose QuietComfort 15  is available for $300 from Amazon.

 

Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Audio Technica ATH ANC7b Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 355+ reviewers)

The ATH-ANC7B headphone by Audio Technica is the best rated noise-cancelling headphone under $200. However, CNET only gives them a “Good” rating, saying that they just sound “OK” and that the headphone’s noise-cancellation feature was not impressive. Still, the ATH-ANC7B  gets an impressive Amazon rating of 3.9 of 5 stars from 355+ reviewers.

Another positive note — these headphones do work when the noise-canceling function is turned off, or when their battery is dead. In contrast, Bose noise-cancelling headphones do not operate without a charged battery.

The ATH-ANC7B is available from Amazon for about $121.

 

Jabra Halo 2 Stereo Headset

Jabra HALO2

Average Amazon Rating: 4.2 out of 5 (from 30+ reviewers)

Jabra Halo 2 is a highly rated wireless stereo headset. Reviews like its reliable wireless connectivity, and its minimalist design.

The speakers fold up like sunglasses when you’re not using them, and immediately switch on, without the need of a button, when you open them back up again. But reviewers did some reservations about the overall durability of the joins on the headphone.

You can pair two wireless devices at once with the Jabra Halo 2, including your mobile, with the added functionality of answering calls.

The Jabra Halo 2 Stereo Headset is available from Amazon for about $77.

The Top Rated Waterproof Headphones

Today, water lovers can bring their tunes with them and still get quality sound. Not just for swimmers, waterproof headphones are beneficial for all sports enthusiasts since they are also sweatproof and can be rinsed off after use. By reading reviews across the web (iLounge and CrunchGear are good sources), we’ve come up with a list of the top rated waterproof headphones.

H2O Audio Surge 2G Waterproof Headphones

H2O Audio Surge 2G Waterproof Sport Headphones

H2O Audio Surge 2G Waterproof Sport Headphones

H2o Audio, an innovator in developing underwater accessories, has recently released their improved Surge 2G waterproof headphones that come highly recommended by iLounge. These are the headphones used and endorsed by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. They are 100% waterproof for underwater submersion up to 12 feet and can be rinsed after a strenuous workout. Five sets of varying sized rubber tips are provided to find the right fit. According to iLounge, these earbuds form a more complete seal in the ear than other headphones they’ve tested. Also compared to other underwater options, the H2o Audio Surge 2G offers an unparalleled sound with a sound-isolating fit and bass amplified neodymium drivers to provide a balanced quality both above and below the water.

The plug is designed to fit into H2O Audio’s waterproof armbands and cases so is only compatible with the iPhone 3G and all iPod models. For other Mp3s or the original iPhone you’ll need a case with a pass-through port or an adapter.

The H2o Audio Surge 2G waterproof headphones retail for $49.99, but are currently on sale at Amazon for $25.59. Comes with a waterproof carrying case. Also offered is a model with a built-in waterproof microphone for around $50.00 here.

Aquapac Waterproof Headphones

Aquapac Waterproof Headphones

Aquapac Waterproof Headphones

The Aquapac waterproof headphones that operate at an underwater depth of 30 feet, but are not advised for use beyond 10 feet due to pressure on the ear. Underwater headphone testers at iLounge gave the Aquapacs a B rating. They were impressed by the sound quality both above and below the water. The silicone tips create a seal in the ear to prevent water from getting in, though the one downside to the Aquapacs are that they only come with one size tips that will fit average sized ears.

The Aquapac waterproof headphones come with a buoy and keychain cord keeper.

You can get them on Amazon for about $24.

Audio Bone Waterproof Headphones

Audio Bone Waterproof Headphones

Audio Bone Waterproof Headphones

The Audio Bone headphones use bone conduction technology which allow the user to wear the headphones on the outside of their ears. Since we hear differently while submerged in water, this technology completely bypasses the ear drum by converting sound waves into vibrations. There are pros and cons to this type of headphone and after reading reviews by those who have tried them, people either love them or hate them.

Bone Conduction Technology

Bone Conduction Technology

One of the cons is the price. The audio bone headphones retail for $189.00. However, these headphones do transfer well to all activities, such as cycling or even listening at work, since it allows you to still be able to hear other things going on around you. Another con is that bone conduction is a less efficient way for us to hear, therefore your iPod or Mp3 will generally need to be on the highest volume setting which can cause the battery to drain faster. Some users report a muffled sound quality, while others like that they can still hear outside noise. Your personal preference would depend upon the intended use. Also, many people don’t like the feel of earbuds so the Audio Bones are a perfect match for them. You can read a full review at the Gadgeteer and CrunchGear.

The Audio Bone Waterproof Headphones are currently on sale at Amazon for $141.82.

Budget Pick: H2O Audio Flex Underwater Headphones

H2O Audio Flex Underwater Headphones

H2O Audio Flex Underwater Headphones

These Flex headphones are the newest entry from H2O Audio and our budget pick for a waterproof headphone. These would be a good option for someone who needs waterproof headphones from time to time, perhaps for sweaty workouts, occasional laps in the pool, or just lying in the bath. They are submersible up to 3 feet underwater. Amazon reviewers complained about the fit with these headphones, though they do come with 3 bud sizes. As one reviewer pointed out, be sure to wipe out your ear so that it’s dry before inserting the buds. This will help create a stronger seal and they won’t slip out as easily. Also, wear the wires on your back and insert the headphones from behind your neck. The sound is of good quality and is well-balanced. Those who prefer a strong bass won’t get it here, but again, the price is key. For a full review on the H2O Audio Flex click here.

The H2O Audio Flex underwater headphones come in a choice of 5 cool colors and are on sale at Amazon for $19.41.

Waterproof iPods Cases

H20Friendly 100% Waterproof iPod Shuffle

H20Friendly 100% Waterproof iPod Shuffle Case

If you spend a lot of time in the water, you may want to consider investing in a fully waterproof system. Companies such as H2oFriendly and Swimman will waterproof an iPod shuffle from the inside out so you can take it right into the water without use of a bulky case. User reviews for both of these systems are excellent both for quality and for ease of use. H2OFriendly offers a 1 year waterproof warranty and you can purchase just the 4th generation 2 GB iPod shuffle or a complete system which includes Velcro securing straps that clip onto goggles and underwater headphones, as well as the original iPod shuffle packaging.

The H2OFriendly Swim System sells for $169.95 on Amazon. Or just the silver waterproof iPod goes for $143.95 on Amazon. You can also order straight from the company’s website if you’d like a choice of iPod colors: green, orange, blue, silver, or pink.

Swimman Underwater Music System

Swimman Underwater Music System

Swimman has an excellent reputation among swimmers and they are currently waterproofing 3rd generation iPod shuffles. At $250.00, their system is more than the H2oFriendly, but they do include a waterproof control adapter and their underwater headphone set boasts superior sound quality similar to top-of-the-line non-waterproof headphones. To purchase Swimman order directly from their website. You can also purchase their headphone set separately for $100.00 here.

Cheatsheet: The Top Rated Portable Electronics Of 2011

Here is our list of the top rated portable electronics of 2011. The review sources we consulted were: CNET, PC Magazine, Trusted Reviews, Consumer Reports, Digital Photography Review and Amazon reviewers.

The Top Rated Portable Electronics Of 2011

Earbuds / Earphones

Headphones

MP3 Players and Video Players

Speakers

Digital Cameras and Video Cameras

Chargers and Batteries

Flashlights

E-Readers and Tablet Computers

Portable Computer Gear

Bike Gear

The Top Rated Earbuds Of 2012

Here are the top rated earphones of 2012:

 

MEElectronics M6 Earbuds

MEElectronics M6 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (from 329+ reviewers)

 

These M6 Earbuds by MEElectronics are more durable and provide better sound that comparable earphones in their price range. CNET rated them 3.5 out of 4 stars saying “A great value for bass addicts”. These earphones incorporate a “memory wire” and an angled ear tip, making them good earphones wear while  engaged in sports.

You can get the MEElectronics M6 at Amazon for about $20.

 

LG Tone HBS-700 Wireless Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (from 264+ reviewers)

Despite selling for under $50, the LG Tone HBS-700 is the highest rated bluetooth headphone currently available. It received an 8 out of 10 rating from CNET, which makes it their Editor’s Choice for a bluetooth earphone. Reviewers CNET say it is  one of the most comfortable earphones they’ve tried, and that the audio reproduction was impressive. PC Magazine liked the long battery life on the headphone, but said that the bass reproduction was “thin”, but gave it an overall rating of “Good”.

The LG Tone HBS-700 is available from Amazon for about $45.

 

Klipsch Image S4 Earbuds

Klipsch image s4

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 1211+ reviewers)

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is the highest-rated earphones under $100. Reviewers like the audio clarity of the earphones, and its comfortable fit. Reviewers say these earphones provide audio quality equivalent to earphones that cost hundreds of dollars more. The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone received an Editors’ Choice award from PC Magazine, and an “Excellent” rating from CNET.

If you carry your earphones in your pocket a lot, or are generally rough with them, you might want to consider the more durable Shure SE215-K Earphones — these come with detachable cables (see details below).

The Klipsch Image S4 Earphone is available from Amazon for about $76.

 

Klipsch Image S4i Earbuds

Klipsch Image S4 1

Average Amazon Rating: 3.7 out of 5 (from 500+ reviewers)

If you will be using earphones with a iPhone or iPod, you should consider getting the Klipsch Image S4i, which provides the same comfortable fit and sound quality as the Image S4, but also incorporates an integrated mic and call answer button, as well as volume controls and remote playback for the iPod.

The Klipsch Image S4 sells for about $99 at Amazon.

 

Shure SE215-K Earphones

Shure SE215 K

Average Amazon Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (from 7+ reviewers)

The SE215-K Earphones by Shure produces some of the best audio you’ll hear from earbuds prince under $100. A solid design, which includes detachable cables, makes these earphones quite durable. Six pairs of tips – small, medium and large in foam and silicone – ensure a nice snug fit no matter what your ear canal’s shape or size. Head-Fi.org recommends the SE215s as their budget pick in Lifehacker’s recent headphone buying guide. The Head-Fi community, a discerning bunch of listeners, have rated these earphones five stars in a couple of interviews.

Buy the Shure SE215-K Earphones at Amazon for about $100.

 

Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 50+ reviewers)

Klipsch has released a ruggedized headphone, the Image S5i. The earphones are weather resistant and feature extra large buttons which can be operated while wearing gloves. So far, they are getting good reviews on Amazon.

The Klipsch Image S5i Rugged Earbuds are available on Amazon for about $100.

 

Etymotic HF5 Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 3.9 out of 5 (from 52+ reviewers)

One of the best sports earphones available. Etymotic succeeds in creating a balanced realistic sound. Bass-enthusiasts may be disappointed with the thin reproduction of low-frequencies. CNET rates them “Very Good” and iLounge gave them a “A-” rating.

The Etymotic hf5 earphones are sold on Amazon — they are available in RedBlue, and Black. They sell for about $95.

If you looking for an Etymotic with iPod/iPhone/iPad controls included, consider the Etymotic ER23-HF3.

 

Monster iSport Immersion Earphones

Average Amazon Rating: 4.3 out of 5 (from 131+ reviewers)

The iSport Immersion Headphone by Monster is designed to be used while engaged in activities like snowboarding, running and working out at the gym. They are durably built and completely sweatproof. In fact, they can even be put in the wash for cleaning.

Available at Amazon for about $150.

 

Klipsch Image x10i Earbuds

Klipsche earbuds x10i

Average Amazon Rating: 4.1 out of 5 (from 168+ reviewers)

 

The Klipsch Image X10 earbud headphones are tiny, but powerful. They feature contour ear gels that are intended to slip right into the ear canal comfortably. Five different sized ear tips come with these earbud headphones, and a 50-inch vinyl cable is included.

The Klipsch Image X10 are available at Amazon for $137.