Best Audiophile Headphones Under $200 in 2022 – Top 10 Affordable Audiophile Headphones Reviewed

Best Audiophile Headphones Under $200

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Let’s get real for a second here. Some of the best audiophile headphones can get outrageously overpriced.

If you’ve ever browsed for a new pair of headphones, you’ve probably come across a wide variety of price tags ranging from a mere $10 to dubious figures exceeding a few thousand.

You may have wondered to yourself what could possibly justify such an enormous difference in price. They must have better sound quality, but it isn’t like they’re adding an extra band member to your favorite song.

So what exactly does ‘sound quality’ mean?

If you’ve been in the audiophile game for a while now, you probably have your own ideas of what the best audiophile headphones are going to sound like. For those who are new to the scene, the best thing you could possibly do to get a handle on what good sound quality means would be to try on a few pairs of headphones yourself.

This can either mean borrowing from a friend or going to a tech store near you that has a few floor samples to try out. Sound quality is one of the most subjective metrics in any tech industry. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what that means.

With that being said, we’ll do our best here to break down what can be expected from what we think are the best audiophile headphones you can get for less than $200.

Something to note about this list before getting into it is that we’ll be largely avoiding any comments about frequency response (FR) and total harmonic distortion (THD). While it might seem like these would be the most important factors in determining sound quality, it often isn’t the case.

Those with experience buying multiple pairs of headphones might have noticed that despite product specifications listing extremely similar FR and THD, the actual performance will vary wildly.

The unfortunate truth is that these metrics are what sell a pair of headphones to inexperienced buyers. Because of that, and due to unreliable testing methods, manufacturers can get away with advertising numbers that ultimately don’t say much about the quality of the product.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that we’re being sold low-quality headphones. Most headphones today, especially ones in this $200 price range, are actually incredibly good.

Regrettably, in order to maintain competitive marketing, this tactic is something manufacturers realistically have to play along with. Once one brand decides to advertise >20kHz FR and <0.1% THD, all of the others are essentially forced to do so as well to avoid needlessly losing customers.

This is why we’re starting to see some truly extravagant claims like 40kHz.

Here are some interesting statistics to illustrate why this metric doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The highest orchestral instrument is the piccolo, the highest note it can play is the C8 which comes in at just under 4.2kHz. The highest frequency any human can hear is about 20kHz, with most adults experiencing that limit somewhere between 15kHz and 17kHz.

Best Audiophile Headphones Under $200 in 2022 Round-Up

The table below will give you a quick look at our selections for the 10 best audiophile headphones under $200 currently available on the market. To read a full review, simply click on ‘review>>’ in the respective row.

Product

Image

Rating

1. Sennheiser HD 560S

''Best Audiophile Headphones Under $200 Overall''

9.8

2. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

''Best Overall Runner-up''

9.7

3. SENNHEISER HD 599

''Quality Proven by Time''

9.6

4. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

''Best Closed-back Audiophile Headphones Under $200''

9.5

5. Meze 99 Neo

''Best Looking Pair of Cans''

9.4

6. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

''Best Portable Audiophile Headphones Under $200''

9.3

7. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

''Great Deal When on Sale''

9.2

8. Skullcandy Crusher Evo

''Bassheads' Dream''

9.1

9. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

''Honorable Mention''

9.0

10. GRADO SR80x Prestige Series

''Honorable Mention #2''

8.9



1. Sennheiser HD 560S

”Best Audiophile Headphones Under $200 Overall”

Frequency Response: 12 – 38.000 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 110 dB | Impedance: 120 Ohm | Connector: 6.3 mm with 3.5mm adapter | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable Length: 3 m | Weight: 240 g

Sennheiser HD 560SREASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent value for the money
  • Outstanding audio quality
  • Supreme comfort
  • Velour top pad
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent soundstage
  • Incredibly fast decay
  • Lightweight construction

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Sound isolation
  • Neutral/analytical sound
  • High detail
  • Tighter clamping

Our Rating:   9.8/10

If you consider yourself to be an audiophile, then it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Sennheiser is making an appearance on this list. As a company that started up in West Germany just after the end of World War II, Sennheiser has since firmly established itself as one of the top audio tech companies worldwide. Wherever you see that stylized ‘S’ logo, you can rest assured knowing you’re looking at a well-engineered piece of audio hardware.

Put simply, the sound of the HD 560S is extraordinarily precise. Audiophiles might describe these headphones as being very neutral and analytical in their audio reproduction. Without any EQ applied, it represents the range of audible frequencies pretty evenly across the board.

While playing songs through the HD 560S, you’ll be listening to music that sounds incredibly close to how it did while being recorded in the studio. For audio ‘purists’ who place a lot of value on the detail of their listening experience, this is going to be just about as good as it gets for under $200. It’s truly incredible how well Sennheiser was able to deliver on this design principle at this price point.

Because of how accurate these headphones are, they also work incredibly well as a pair of studio headphones. While either recording or mixing music with these, you’ll easily be able to tell how your music is going to sound as you’re creating it.

If an even frequency distribution doesn’t suit you particularly well, and you tend to prefer more powerful bass or punchier mids, then the flatness of the HD 560S also lends itself well to custom EQs. Since its sound out of the box is so even, you can safely tweak different ranges without having to worry about throwing the whole balance out of whack.

The HD 560S is also an open-back design. By placing these headphones at the top of our list, we’re assuming that the use case involves a relatively quiet and private listening environment. As with all open-back headphones, you’ll be able to more easily hear what’s going on in the room around you and anyone close by will also likely be able to hear a decent bit of what you’re listening to.

If you aren’t worried about sound isolation though, be prepared for an immaculate soundstage. None of the sounds produced by the HD 560S are going to seem very close or very far from your ears. The soundstage it produces exists in a very cozy middle distance. This, paired with the incredible level of detail, creates a listening experience akin to a front-row seat at a private and exclusive venue.

On top of the HD 560S’ incredible sound quality, it is also particularly lightweight. Lightweight that is, both in terms of physical mass and power requirements. It happens to be the lightest device on our list, at a meager 8.4 ounces. It also has an SPL of 101 dB/mW which is just above what would typically necessitate the use of a discrete amplifier.

It should be noted though that with 120 Ohms of impedance you’ll definitely be able to squeeze even more performance out of it if you have or plan to purchase an amp to pair it with.

Lastly, its clamping force right out of the box is probably going to be a little bit tighter than most people will be comfortable with. After breaking it in for a little while though, it’ll fit most heads quite snugly. That, combined with its soft velour ear pads and incredibly light weight, makes it out to be the kind of headphones you can end up wearing for hours on end without even noticing they’re there.

All in all, Sennheiser’s HD 560 S is an incredibly high-quality pair of headphones for their price. Whether you’ve been a self-certified audiophile for a long time, or are just getting into the world of good sounds, you’re sure to have your fancy suited by such an excellent pair of headphones as this.

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2. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

”Best Overall Runner-up”

Frequency Response: 5 – 40.000 Hz | Senstivity: 100 dB/mW | Impedance: 30 Ohm | Connector: 3.5mm | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable Length: 3 m | Weight: 380 g

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HRREASONS TO BUY

  • Great soundstage
  • Well-balanced audio
  • Comfortable
  • Excellent build quality (metal, real leather)
  • Thick memory foam pads
  • Good head grip
  • Removable ear pads

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Recessed mids
  • Blurry high/mids
  • Possible glued earpads if produced by Gibson
  • Noise isolation
  • Heavy

Our Rating:   9.7/10

Coming in second on our list is another open-back design by Philips Audio, the Fidelio X2HR. The first thing that comes to mind when exploring everything this model has to offer is ‘sturdy’.

If all of the headphones on this list were to start a fight club, the Fidelio X2HR would no doubt come out on top as the reigning king. This thing has the capacity to really take a beating. For the record, we wouldn’t recommend beating up your headphones under any circumstances. (or inducting them in any headphone fight clubs for that matter)

Made primarily of metal and real leather, this set of cans is built to last. If previous pairs of headphones have let you down by wearing out too fast, then the Fidelio X2HR’s reliability might be just what you need.

This premium build quality does incur a tradeoff in the form of weight. While it isn’t going to be breaking any backs, it is going to be the heaviest option we’re featuring on our list.

‘Sturdy’ is also a term that could easily be applied to the sound it produces. Its warm sound includes strong bass and accented vocals, with some slightly recessed mids.

If your go-to genres are in the realm of EDM, Hip-Hop, and/or R&B, these headphones are really going to be bringing out the best in your favorite music. The higher end of the mids can get a little bit blurry at louder volumes, but in most cases, it’s not going to be something that’s super noticeable.

Its soundstage is a bit broader than the HD 560S, so you’ll be able to enjoy an even more relaxed listening experience. It has a decent amount of head grip, but the plushness of its velour earpads makes up for that. It’ll stay in place without squeezing your brains out or causing too much discomfort. These headphones are perfect for queuing up some of your favorite songs and then just kicking back and vibing out.

At a sensitivity of 100 dB/mW, it’s right at the cutoff of what might bring a dedicated amplifier into the equation. For most comfortable listening volumes, there shouldn’t be a need for one.

However, if you really like to blast your tunes, it might not be quite loud enough for you without something a little extra to give it a boost. The impedance is a low enough 30 Ohms however that in terms of sound quality, a discrete amp isn’t going to offer you too much value.

One thing to potentially be wary of when buying these headphones is that some units might have glued-on ear pads. Apparently, the Fidelio X2HR was produced by Gibson for a short while, and during that time the choice was made to have them glued to the rest of the set.

Normally the earpads are removable, and there isn’t an especially high chance of running into this issue. The earpads it does come with are pretty great, so most buyers won’t even have much of a reason to try to take them off in the first place.

Overall, the Fidelio X2HR is a durable and dependable pair of audiophile headphones that delivers a warm sound with an added bit of fun. If you want a pair of headphones that will last you for years to come, what more could you ask for?

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3. SENNHEISER HD 599

”Quality Proven by Time”

Frequency Response: 12 – 38.500 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 106 dB | Impedance: 50 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm, 6.3 mm | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 250 g

SENNHEISER HD 599REASONS TO BUY

  • Great build quality
  • Easily removable pads
  • Unnoticeable clamping
  • Excellent soundstage
  • Accented high bass
  • Boosted mids
  • High detail
  • Better bass than most open-back cans
  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight

REASONS TO BUY

  • Little to no isolation

Our Rating:   9.6/10

Another quality Sennheiser model sits firmly at the middle of our list here. As another member of the 500 series, the HD 599 bears a close resemblance to the HD 560S. Its build quality certainly does too.

Aside from the padded faux leather headband, it’s made from the same materials and follows similar design principles. Not only does this mean that it’s quite a sturdy piece of hardware, but it’s also among the lightest audiophile headphones you can find at this price point.

Like its cousin the HD 560S, the HD 599 produces excellent sound. It does present a more niche representation of frequencies, so it isn’t quite as ubiquitously recommendable as the immaculately precise HD 560S.

While still highly detail-oriented, it is a bit more unique. It boosts the mid range a noticeable bit, along with accenting the higher frequencies in the base range surprisingly well. This makes it sound even better when playing back instrumentally focused music, especially Rock music. Open-backed ear cups also provide that satisfying live-performance-like soundstage.

One potential advantage you might consider it to have over the HD 560S is a slightly lower clamping force. Presumably due to differences in the manufacturing of the headband, it’s going to be a more comfortable fit the first time it’s worn.

While on smaller heads this could mean it doesn’t hold quite as firmly in place, it’s so lightweight that stronger clamping force is likely to be excessive anyway. With only as much clamping force as is absolutely necessary and some luxuriously comfortable velour ear pads, this is another pair of headphones that you aren’t going to be feeling even after the most extraneously lengthy listening sessions.

While the HD 599 is built to make good sound, it definitely isn’t built with noise isolation in mind. Like most open-back designs, these headphones are meant to be enjoyed in quiet, more private settings.

This particular model sits at a rather interesting spot when it comes to power needs. Neither its 50 Ohm impedance nor its 93 dB/mW sensitivity are at a level where one might say it’s absolutely necessary to pair it with a discrete amplifier in order to justify its price.

This is especially true considering how often it tends to go on sale. It definitely has a lot to gain from hooking it up to an amp with compatible output impedance. But at the same time, forgoing an amp and even just plugging it straight into a cell phone isn’t going to leave much to be desired.

The HD 599 is more than enough on its own to give audiophiles the high that comes with incredible audio equipment. However, should you ever be tempted to try it out with a proper amp, it might just introduce you to a world of amazing sounds beyond your very dreams.

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4. Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

”Best Closed-back Audiophile Headphones Under $200”

Frequency Response: 5 – 35.000 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 96 dB | Impedance: 80 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm (6.35 mm adapter) | Cup Style: Dynamic, Closed | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 270 g

Beyerdynamic DT 770 ProREASONS TO BUY

  • Descendant of longstanding headphone line
  • Excellent build quality (steel, leather)
  • Better soundstage than most closed-back
  • Premium look and feel
  • Very comfortable velour pads
  • Lightweight design
  • Transparent treble/vocals
  • Generous bass

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Better with amp
  • Recessed mids
  • Non-removable cable
  • Difficult to remove pads

Our Rating:   9.5/10

Beyerdynamic brings the first closed-back headphones to our list with the DT 770 Pro. Most audiophiles will tend to prefer the soundstage and analytical potential of an open-back set. However, what’s the point of having great sound quality if you can’t hear it over the noisy bus ride, next door construction, or droning AC unit?

Well, there’s no point really, especially when you could be canceling out all of that nonsense with a pair of closed-back headphones which can in many cases sound just as good.

Noise isolation goes both ways too. If you’re listening to music while getting work done at the library, or are jamming out in any other kind of public space, this closed-back design will keep what you’re listening to to your ears only.

Taking these cans with you to your various outings is also an endeavor that’s promoted by another model with impeccable build quality. Beyerdynamic has been producing models in this line for decades now, and the DT 770 Pro doesn’t disappoint.

Featuring genuine steel and leather assets, it’s meant to sustain you through all the hustle and bustle of a busy lifestyle. The clamping force isn’t the tightest, so you might want to avoid any overly enthusiastic head-banging, but under normal circumstances, it’ll stay right where you want it without creating too much pressure.

Despite having a closed-back design, these headphones still manage to produce a respectable soundstage. We would argue it boasts the best soundstage available in this price range. With slightly recessed mids, transparent vocals, and a generous amount of bass, it also strikes a comfortable balance between warmth and detail. You’ll be able to enjoy punchy highs and boisterous lows without sacrificing too much precision in the middle ranges.

Given that its sensitivity is 96 dB/mW, we’d usually end up recommending an amp pairing to get the volume up to acceptable levels. However, given the noise isolation capabilities it brings to the table, you should be able to get away without one when plugging into your home setup.

On the other hand, it does also have an impedance of 80 Ohms. To get the very most out of what the DT 770 Pro has to offer, you’ll probably want to support it with a slightly more robust sound system.

If you’re the type who might want to play around with mixing and matching your headphones with different styles of earpads, varying cable lengths/types, and some cushier headbands, you’re really only in luck when it comes to the headband.

It quite easily and conveniently snaps on and off. A worn headband can quickly be replaced with a brand new one or you can give your headset a bit of extra flair with something custom. Unfortunately, though, the earpads can be tricky to remove, and the cable can’t be removed at all.

As long as noise cancellation isn’t a top priority for you, then for less than $200 you really can’t go wrong with the DT 770 Pro by Beyerdynamic.

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5. Meze 99 Neo

”Best Looking Pair of Cans”

Frequency Response: 15 – 25.000 Hz | Sensitivity: 103 dB/mW | Impedance: 26 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm (6.35 mm adapter) | Cup Style: Dynamic, Closed | Cable length: 1.5 m | Weight: 260 g

Meze 99 NeoREASONS TO BUY

  • Sturdy build (steel, ABS plastic)
  • Universal elastic fit
  • Decent soundstage for closed-back
  • Punchy mids
  • Accentuated bass
  • Symmetrical design
  • Lightweight construction
  • Comfortable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Faux leather ear pads
  • Cables not clearly labeled
  • Subpar isolation

Our Rating:   9.4/10

Following the DT 770 Pro is the 99 Neo by Meze. This one just so happens to be another closed-back model. With the 99 Neo, we’re veering away from home setup and/or studio applications just a bit to look at something that’s going to be more in its element during your various outings.

In terms of aesthetic value, the 99 Neo has a bit of a leg up on the competition. While everyone, of course, is going to be subject to their own personal taste, it’s undeniable that the 99 Neo is quite striking to look at. With its minimalistic design and perfect symmetry across two planes, it carries an air of fashion that’s unique to its own look.

Fashion, as it often does, unfortunately, seems to come at a price. While it looks great, it does tend to stick towards the upper end of our price range. With that in mind, it also doesn’t quite offer the performance of the previous three headphones on our list.

For a closed-back design, it does actually have a somewhat decent soundstage. It can actually exceed the soundstage of the 770 Pro by a little bit. This might just be because it is a little bit lacking when it comes to noise isolation though. If you need some more absolute noise canceling, it might not quite do the trick in more hectic environments.

Along with its striking aesthetic design, the 99 Neo also produces quite striking, or ‘punchy’, mids. This is going to be especially noticeable with guitar-heavy music genres and genres which emphasize instrumentals. Bass frequencies are going to have a little more presence too, but not so much as to be a particularly noticeable feature of playback.

Faux leather earpads do a bit of a better job than velour does at sealing sound into the ear cups. However, after extended listening sessions, this material can trap in warmth to a point where it might start to get uncomfortable.

On top of that, the elastic headband’s ‘universal fit’ can serve as a double-edged sword. Users with head diameters on the larger end might find the pads to be pressing in a bit too firmly, exacerbating the buildup of heat over time.

As far as power needs are concerned, the 99 Neo is very well adjusted to be suitable for mobile devices. With an impedance of only 16 Ohms, even cell phones shouldn’t have any problems supplying these headphones with what they need to produce their maximum potential quality.

On top of that, 103 dB/mW sensitivity is in a safe enough range that no matter what you plug in to, you should be getting a plentiful amount of volume. As always, pairing your headphones with a discreet amp can provide some value, in this case, the value will be much lesser than it otherwise might be.

Turning heads while you’re bobbing your own to some excellently reproduced music. Does that sound good to you? Then look no further than Meze’s 99 Neo.

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6. Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

”Best Portable Audiophile Headphones Under $200”

Frequency Response: 15 – 28.000 Hz | Sensitivity: 99 dB | Impedance: 38 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm | Cup Style: Dynamic, Closed | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 285 g

Audio-Technica ATH-M50XREASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent build quality
  • Multiple folding configurations
  • Great soundstage for closed-back cans
  • 3 kinds of cables included, 10ft straight, 10ft coiled, 3ft straight
  • Lightweight
  • Recessed mids
  • Boosted bass and highs

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Uncomfortable after long sessions
  • Bass could be too much for some

Our Rating:   9.3/10

Another excellent choice of audiophile quality headphones is the ATH-M50X by Audio-Technica. While they don’t offer sound quality quite as good as the other five we’ve looked at so far, one interesting benefit they bring to the table is their extreme portability and versatility.

Even though the ATH-M50X’s axles and hinges allow you to twist and fold it into an innumerable amount of configurations, it doesn’t suffer from the same problem that many bendable headphones do. It doesn’t feel flimsy at all.

Whether you fold it up for low profile portability, wear it on your head, or turn the cups around backwards to hang it around your neck DJ-style, it’s going to maintain a feeling of robust solidity. Its components are primarily made of metal, with tough faux leather for comfortable padding.

Pack these things into your suitcase and unlike other headphones, you won’t be spending the whole flight worrying about whether or not they’re going to make it to your destination in one piece. Of course, with sturdier materials comes a bit of added weight. It isn’t nearly as heavy as something like the Fidelio X2HR, but it also isn’t quite as light as any of the other entries we’re listing here.

In order for it to stay on your head properly with so many moving parts, it does also have a tighter than average clamping force. This, along with the weight and the faux leather earpads, means that it’ll be great to wear for a couple of hours, but wearing them for much longer than that might get a bit uncomfortable.

As a classic noise-canceling-focused closed-back design, its soundstage isn’t going to be anything super impressive. It does recess the mids a bit, so some of those instrumental frequencies won’t feel like they’re being pressed too closely into your ears.

This leaves you with some more pronounced bass and treble, making it great for music that highlights beats and vocals. It does also do a great job of isolating. You won’t have to worry about bothering the people around you.

Likewise, if the people around are bothering you, or you just need a bit of an escape from your busy surroundings, the ATH-M50X has got you covered.

With 38 Ohms of impedance and a sensitivity of 99 dB/mW, it’s comfortably in the range where a discreet amp isn’t really going to be a concern. These headphones are built to be compatible with mobile devices, and practically any use case. If you end up wanting to pair them with an amp, it’ll probably be because you just really want to blast some tunes.

Practical listeners, professionals, and utilitarians alike are going to find just about everything they’re looking for in the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X.

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7. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

”Great Deal When on Sale”

Frequency Response: 5 – 30.000 Hz | Sensitivity: 100 dB | Impedance: 38 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm (6.3 adapter) | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 265 g

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700XREASONS TO BUY

  • Breathable open headband design
  • Don’t require an amp
  • Large soundstage
  • Great mids
  • Instrumental music
  • Velour pads
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Bland bass
  • Distanced vocals

Our Rating:   9.2/10

Up next is an alternative model presented by Audio-Technica. Along with following some different design principles, the ATH-AD700X is going to usually be a more budget-friendly option.

At full price, we would probably recommend looking elsewhere, but their tendency to drop to some pretty eye-catching sale prices can actually make them the least expensive headphones on our list.

It doesn’t boast the same kind of sturdiness as the ATH-M50X, but that’s because these headphones were designed to be more lightweight and breathable. These are also open-back headphones, so the use case will tend to be entirely different. Instead of using these while out and about, it’ll be much better to reserve them for at-home settings.

These are definitely going to be one of the most breathable pairs of headphones on the market. Even at just a glance, it’s fairly evident that there is plenty of room for airflow. If you’re tired of headphones trapping too much warmth, that issue is hardly going to even be within the realm of possibility. The tradeoff here is that with so little material to thoroughly connect one headphone to the other, they can feel a little loose and flimsy.

When it comes to sound quality, the ATH-AD700X does boast a noticeably wide soundstage. For some, it might be a little bit too wide. If you don’t mind somewhat distant and airy vocals and are ok with bass that’s present but not very distinguishable, the ATH-AD700X will make up for what it’s lacking with an excellent representation of the mid-range. Instrumental music is going to sound wonderful when coming through these headphones.

Almost identical to the ATH-M50X, the ATH-AD700X is going to have very modest power demands. A discrete amp is going to be neither a necessity nor a recommendation when it comes to these headphones. Instead, you’ll be able to reliably plug them into a desktop, laptop, or phone and know you won’t be missing out on too much potential.

Comfortable, budget-friendly, and lightweight, the ATH-AD700X is going to deliver near-audiophile quality sounds without demanding any outrageous expenditures.

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8. Skullcandy Crusher Evo

”Bassheads’ Dream”

Frequency Response: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 95 – 100 dB | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Connector: BlueTooth | Battery Life: 40 Hours | Weight: 312 g

Skullcandy Crusher EvoREASONS TO BUY

  • Foldable for portability
  • Excellent build quality
  • Built-in (low quality) microphone
  • Separate motor for “head rattling” bass
  • Bluetooth/wireless
  • Faux leather cups
  • Strong clamping
  • Incredibly strong bass

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Uncomfortable during long sessions
  • Bass can be overwhelming

Our Rating:   9.1/10

Skullcandy wasn’t messing around when they decided to name these headphones the “Crusher Evo”. When it comes to bass, this model absolutely crushes.

Audiophiles of the ‘basshead’ variety are going to find these headphones to be a dream come true. While in terms of audio detail, it isn’t outstanding, the Crusher Evo comes with a collection of features unique to itself within this list.

Most notably, the Crusher Evo is unlike anything else in the way it delivers bass. With independent motors dedicated purely to bass frequencies, it produces ‘skull rattling’ bass sounds in a very literal sense. When the Crusher Evo plays back low enough frequencies, the discrete motors vibrate at those frequencies to enhance the bass an incredible amount.

While this might sound like a whole lot of fun, it does give rise to the concern that it might get to be a bit much after a while. Fortunately, a slider control allows this feature to be adjusted on the fly.

These headphones are also wireless, connecting to your various devices via Bluetooth. On top of the slider control for its bass feature, the Crusher Evo also includes controls for all your basic playback functions. A low quality, but functional, microphone is built-in for hands-free calling.

These cans are highly optimized for being paired with a phone that’s tucked away in a pocket. They’re also advertised as having a maximum battery life of 40 hours of listening time. It’s important to note that while having the bass cranked all the way up, this lifespan is going to be somewhat abbreviated. Adding to their portability, the ear cups can be folded inwards.

In order to pack in all that bass-tech and battery life, the Crusher Evo is going to be a little bit heavier than most other headphones. It does also have a very strong clamping force to make up for that a bit.

Unfortunately, this means that it isn’t going to be the most comfortable thing to wear for extended listening sessions. Especially with the bass motors rattling away, these headphones are intended more so for a quick bit of fun than for longer, more analytical playback.

It isn’t really built to be your go-to pair of wired headphones, but if you want everything it has to offer except for Bluetooth, the Crusher Evo includes a cable and the compatibility for wired listening. When plugged in, the impedance is 32 Ohms, and the sensitivity can range from 95-100 dB/mW.

If you’re wondering, the bass motors will not be driven by a wired connection, so the headphones have to be charged and turned on for this feature to work.

Flashy and fun, the Crusher Evo is one of the most unique pieces of playback equipment that money can buy. When powerful bass is what you want, the Crusher Evo by Skullcandy is what you need.

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9. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

”Honorable Mention”

Frequency Response: 5 – 35.000 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 96 dB | Impedance: 250 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm (6.35 mm adapter) | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 250 g

Beyerdynamic DT 990 ProREASONS TO BUY

  • Fantastic entry-level studio headphones
  • Screw on ¼ inch adapter
  • Great build quality
  • Highly comfortable
  • Strong clamp
  • Bright trebly sound
  • Analytical/detail

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Limited headband padding
  • Non-removable cable
  • Audio leakage

Our Rating:   9.0/10

If you’re feeling a bit of deja-vu while looking at Beyerdynamic’s DT 990 Pro, that’s because its design is nearly identical to our previous entry, the DT 770 Pro. On the outside, the only visible difference between the two is the open backs of the DT 990 Pro’s ear cups, and of course, the labeling printed on them.

Otherwise, it adheres to the same classy aesthetic as its cousin the DT 770 Pro.

With its different drivers and open-back design, the DT 990 Pro is going to produce a distinctly brighter and more detailed sound than its closed-back counterpart. When it comes to studio mixing, vocals, and instrumentals, in particular, these headphones are going to have the precision to help you fine-tune your productions.

Another handy bonus it includes that lends itself to studio settings is a screw-on ¼ inch adapter. Instead of fumbling around with a loose adapter, you can just tighten this adapter on and leave it firmly connected until you’re ready to plug it back into a 3.5mm jack.

Like the other Beyerdynamic model, the other end of the cable isn’t quite as versatile. It’s connected to the headphones and can’t be removed without damaging them.

Along with having the same aesthetic as the DT 770 Pro, it also has similar build quality. It’s made from the same genuine steel and leather materials. One interesting difference is that the clamping force of the DT 990 Pro seems to be a decent bit tighter.

The best guess we can provide for why that might be the case is the subtle difference in the way the cups and wire are attached to the headband. It might seem like a small discrepancy, but it might be enough to make the DT 990 Pro just a bit more rigid.

One of the major reasons why this particular model is showing up lower on our list is that it has a substantial amount of impedance. At 250 Ohms, you’re really going to want to pair these with something that can help you squeeze all the value out of them.

With a discrete amplifier, you’ll really be able to make these headphones shine. If you don’t already have one, or if buying one isn’t currently of interest to you, then something with lower impedance might be better for you. In terms of volume, its sensitivity of 96 dB/mW will just barely be enough to produce acceptable levels when plugged into mobile devices.

Straight-up day-to-day music playback isn’t going to really be where these headphones are worth your money. If you’re more than just a consumer though, and you enjoy recording and mixing your own tunes on top of listening to them, then the DT 990 Pro will make for an excellent pair of studio headphones.

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10. GRADO SR80x Prestige Series

”Honorable Mention #2”

Frequency Response: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Sound Pressure Level: 100 dB | Impedance: 38 Ohm | Connector: 3.5 mm (6.35 mm adapter) | Cup Style: Dynamic, Open | Cable length: 3 m | Weight: 250 g

GRADO SR80x Prestige SeriesREASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent sound for the price
  • Impressively extended treble
  • Lightweight
  • Moderate soundstage

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Poor build quality
  • Limited padding in the headband
  • On-ear pads
  • Cable tangling
  • Grainy mids
  • Uncomfortable after long sessions

Our Rating:   8.9/10

Grado has made a name for itself with a very particular kind of sound that can be expected from its products. While the low price makes the SR80x Prestige Series a very accessible pair of entry-level audiophile headphones, the distinct way in which it represents frequencies might not be exactly what most people are looking for.

Before we get into the way it sounds, let’s talk about the build quality. It isn’t amazing. Part of why these headphones are accessible at such a low price is that the engineering that went into their design is very bare-bones. It essentially meets the minimum requirements for suspending a set of audio drivers in the space right outside a person’s ear canals.

The cups are held in place and adjusted by friction, which doesn’t tend to be the most reliable or accurate methodology. They also just spin in place, instead of having a more complex way to get them situated just right. If you aren’t careful, this means that the wires attached to either cup can get a bit twisted up.

The headband can be a bit tight, and there isn’t much padding in it. Instead of having over/around the ear cups like the other headphones on our list, the SR80x Prestige Series presses on your ears while wearing it. This can make them a bit uncomfortable if you plan to wear them for an extended amount of time.

So the build quality isn’t great, but that’s not all there is to be considered in a new pair of headphones. What about sound quality? When we compare it to the other headphones on our list, the sound quality also generally isn’t amazing.

However, when we compare it to what can typically be expected at its more moderate price point, the SR80x actually sounds pretty amazing.

Jazz music, classical music, or any kind of music that heavily features piano will sound particularly good when played through the SR80x Prestige Series. Its treble range is represented very well for a pair of headphones as inexpensive as these.

The mid range unfortunately suffers from a bit of graininess when you start to play them at higher volumes. Bass frequencies are going to come through well, being neither particularly strong nor particularly weak.

As it is a more entry-level pair of audiophile headphones, it’ll be nice to know that investing in an amp won’t really be a concern here. The SR80x Prestige series requires only a modest amount of power to drive. 38 Ohms of impedance and 100 dB/mW of sensitivity is just what we like to see for a decent pair of headphones to use with mobile devices.

If you came to this list looking to find an excellent pair of headphones, the SR80x Prestige Series by Grado might not be enough to satisfy you. If instead, you were hoping to find a good pair of headphones with a price tag that’ll keep some gas money in your pocket, then the SR80x Prestige Series is exactly where you’ll want to start.

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In Conclusion

There you go, these were the 10 best audiophile headphones available for less than $200 in 2022.

Again, when it comes to finding the perfect headphones, it can’t be stressed enough that the experience of using any given pair is ultimately going to be subjective. Hopefully, our reviews have helped to point you in the right direction.

After all, on top of all of that subjectivity, there are a lot of potentially deceptive measurements, specifications, and marketing tactics. The journey from where you are now to where you’ll be when you’ve got your hands on the best audiophile headphones for your budget might seem like a daunting one.

We’ve done our best to do the research for you and lay things out in the most objective framework possible. Thank you for reading, and we wish you the best in experiencing those blissful chills that only outstanding sound quality can procure.

About Richard Gamin 163 Articles
My name's Richard and over the years, I have personally built many PCs for myself and my friends. I love gaming, programming, graphics designing and basically anything that has to do with computers and technology. If you ever need a hand with anything, feel free to contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out.

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