Finding the best noise-cancelling headphones under $200 can be a challenging task. When you’re on a tight budget, it can be even more difficult to find high-quality headphones that fall within your price range.
Fortunately, noise-cancelling technologies are improving every day, and prices are dropping as such headphones become more mainstream. We’ve compiled this easy-to-read guide to help you discover premium-quality noise-cancelling headphones at the most affordable prices.
Top 10 Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under 200 Bucks
Choosing the Right Pair
In selecting a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, it is important to consider a variety of factors pertaining to the headphones’ functionality and style. Consider asking yourself the following questions when deciding between different pairs of headphones.
What style of headphone is right for me?
There are a number of different headphone styles on the market. If you’re considering active noise-cancelling headphones, you will most likely want to opt for an over-ear headphone style. Over-ear headphones are generally best for housing the technology required to make noise-cancellation work. Most noise-cancelling headphones on the market are offered in an over-ear headphone style.
If headphone style is more important to you than active noise-cancelling features, you may have more flexibility in headphone selection. In-ear headphones, often colloquially referred to as “earbuds,” can sometimes offer active noise-cancellation technology, but often do not. In-ear earbuds, however, do provide the advantage of providing a seal between your ear canal and the sounds of the outside world, reducing the audible background noise you may hear while using them.
Though it is still relatively uncommon, the on-ear headphone is also growing in popularity. These headphones provide the comfort and sound quality of over-ear headphones while offering the direct, pure sound provided by in-ear earbuds.
Active Noise-Cancellation or Passive Noise Isolation
Even audiophiles occasionally confuse active noise-cancelling headphones with passive noise-isolation headphones. Individuals must be careful, as many headphones described as “noise-cancelling” are merely noise-isolating, and have been wrongly listed due to retailer confusion.
- Noise-Isolating headphones work passively. These headphones or earbuds prevent outside noise from entering the ear via cushioning and a physical barrier, sealing the ear (in over-ear headphones) or ear canal (in in-ear headphones) off from outside noise and commotion. Most headphones provide listeners with noise isolation, though those advertised as such generally do a far better job of it than standard headphones or earbuds.
- Noise-Cancelling headphones work actively. These headphones use microphones to detect noises and sounds in a listener’s environment, working to electronically counter the sounds occurring in the outside world. Inverse waves are used to counter ambient noises in the outside environment. Note, however, that noise-cancelling headphones are far from perfect. They are good for muting monotonous background noise, but are generally not equipped to fully block out the sounds of crying, screaming, or loud conversation. They are, however, ideal for neutralizing low-pitched, rumbling noises such as engines and furnaces. Noise-cancelling headphones usually require charging or battery operation, as they need energy to sustain their noise-cancellation properties.
Depending on your situation, you may choose to opt for either type of noise reduction. There are many noise-isolating headphones on the market, but you may need to look more closely to find true noise-cancelling headphones. If this is what you seek, this list will suit you well, as we’ve highlighted the best noise-cancelling headphones under 200 bucks, just for you.
Closed, Open or Semi-Open Backs
Some headphones are described as “close-backed” while others are described as “open” or “open-backed.” These terms describe the amount of noise that may leak out of your headphones and into the outside world.
- If you cannot allow for others within earshot of you to hear what is playing on your headphones, you will want to opt for a “closed” set of headphones. These headphones are ideal at sealing off sound from the outside world, preventing ambient noise from getting in and music from getting out.
- If you’re looking for richer, fuller sound and aren’t concerned about your music “leaking out” into your surrounding environment, you may want to consider “open” or “semi-open” headphones. These headphones function much like closed headphones, but are not as reliable at sealing in sound.
In short, the type of headphone you opt for should be suited to your listening environment. If you require greater privacy, opt for closed headphones. If others hearing your music is a non-issue, you may want to consider open headphones as well.
How much am I willing (and able) to spend on my headphones?
The quality of your headphones will correlate roughly with the price you pay for them. That being said, there are many great headphones and earbuds available for under $200. For upwards of $100 you can generally secure a very nice set of noise-cancelling headphones.
For $200 or $300 you can get some of the best active noise-cancellation headphones on the market. If you’re on a tighter budget, there are a number of excellent options available for under $100 as well. Our most affordable top picks are the Solitude XCS and the NoiseHush I7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones.
Reviews: Top 5 Pairs of Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Sony’s MDR10RNCIP Noice-Cancelling Headphones are at the top of our list for a reason! Though these headphones are among the most expensive options on our list, they offer the very best active noise-cancelling options by far. With the click of a button, these headphones will select the optimal noise-blocking mode for you, with noise-cancellation specifically designed for planes, buses, trains, and office environments. Customers rave that these headphones reduce external noise to “almost absolute silence.” If your headphones’ charge runs out, these Sony headphones are equipped for optimal noise isolation as well.
Sony’s headphones are among the most portable listening devices out there, too; these headphones’ over-ear speakers can be rotated to allow for simplified travel and storage. If you’re looking for the perfect pair of over-ear headphones and can spare a little extra cash, these are the best tried-and-true headphones for you.
PICK THESE HEADPHONES IF…
- You’re looking for optimal noise-cancellation in a variety of environments
- You require a device that’s top in both portability and functionality
- You can spare a few dollars for the quality of a Sony product
If Bose headphones are the gold standard for noise-cancellation headphones, Ludacris’ SOUL Headphones might rank silver. Customers who have owned expensive, high-end Bose headphones were shocked to find that these SOUL headphones had equal, if not better, noise-cancelling abilities.
The SOUL headphones, though pricey, provide a great return on one’s investment. The speakers work well regardless of whether or not the noise-cancellation feature is turned on. Perhaps the most stylish headphones on our list, Ludacris’ SOUL comes in a variety of colors, ranging from classic black and white to exotic blue.
PICK THESE HEADPHONES IF…
- You’re looking for a versatile device that can be used both with and without noise-cancellation functionality
- You’re looking for colorful, stylish headphones
- You’re interested in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones with the powerful bass and visual appeal of Beats by Dr. Dre
Though Audio Technica is a lesser-known brand than Sony or Bose, the brand boasts some of the top noise-cancelling headphones on the market. These headphones are roughly as expensive as Sony’s noise-cancelling headphones, and offer roughly the same technical specs, including 40 mm drivers and three distinct noise-cancelling settings (for airplanes, offices, and quiet study).
These over-ear headphones are some of the most comfortable on the market, including thick memory foam support for ideal sound isolation. Customers compliment the headphones on their ability to mute a number of sounds, from dishwasher rumblings to plane engines. For frequent travelers in particular, these headphones are a must.
PICK THESE HEADPHONES IF…
- You’re looking for high-quality noise-cancelling headphones that can keep up with your hectic life
- You’re looking for full, rich sound quality and top-notch sound-cancelling abilities in a single set of headphones
- You’re seeking truly comfortable over-ear headphones
Monoprice’s Noise Cancelling Headphones are a great mid-range over-ear headphone. According to customers, these headphones’ noise-cancelling abilities are so great that playing a little quiet music on them is enough to drown out a window-rattling action movie!
With an incredibly battery life of up to 50 hours, these headphones are perfect for long trips as well as daily use. Most consumers state that the headphones are comparable to similar Bose noise-cancelling headphones, at a price that is less than half of Bose’s product. If you’re looking for a high-quality over-ear headphone without breaking the bank, these Monophone headphones may be for you.
PICK THESE HEADPHONES IF…
- You’re looking for an affordable “Bose-esque” noise-cancelling headphone
- Battery life is a top priority for you
- Your primary goal is reduction of ambient noise
The Solitude XCS is a surprisingly strong set of headphones considering the price on them. In fact, they manage to pack high end sound into a low-mid to mid-range price.
Beyond that, they are also comfortable, designed to allow the ear to breathe and still block out both sporadic sounds and consistent white noise. They’re especially good for airline travel where they can reduce the effect of engine noise and make the trip easier overall.
The three different modes — regular, noise canceling, and amp boost — all provide a unique audio profile and are ideal for people with a wide range of musical genres they like to listen to or the need to hear a number of different types of sound for work.
PICK THESE HEADPHONES IF…
- You want high quality headphones for a the price of mid-quality ones
- You have a wide variety of musical tastes and want to easily change modes to exemplify the best traits of all of them
- You’ll be taking long trips on loud vehicles