Best headphones under $200

In an ideal world we’d all be working with a nice set of high-end studio monitors all day long, but the reality of modern life is that on many occasions we find ourselves working on a pair of headphones. In our perfect utopia we’d also have unlimited funds of course, but that pesky reality strikes with all its annoying budgetary restraints. With that we mind we have selected ten sets of headphones below $200 that the GS community likes, and here’s the (alphabetically ordered) list!


AKG K240 MKII

AKG K240 MKII

Our first entry comes from a legendary family of headphones and audio products. Dating back to the late 1970s, the K240 design legacy lives on through the K240 MKII, a very slick looking headphone featuring a semi-open design that combines the bass power of closed-back designs with the natural sound of open-back headphones. The K240 MKII features 30mm transducers, single-sided and detachable cable, the trademark AKG flexible headband/lightweight frame for great comfort, and a low impedance of 55 ohms which makes them easily amplified by any device. A worthy entry in AKG’s heritage-rich line of headphones. Click to read our user reviews.


Avantone Pro MP1 Mixphones

Avantone Pro MP1 Mixphones

An interesting piece from the expert speaker makers at Avantone, the open-back MP1 is a true mixing-oriented headphone that comes with a innovative “Vari-Voice” feature which sets the MP1 to work on regular stereo, mono or “Mixcube” modes, all accessible from a switch on the bottom of the right side of the cans. As some may suspect, the “Mixcube” mode emulates the sound character of the famous Mixcube single-driver speaker that’s proven to be so helpful to many engineers as a 'grotbox' since its introduction over 40 years ago. The MP1 also features a very low impedance of only 16 ohms, meaning you can amplify them with pretty much any device that has a headphone output regardless of power.


Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

An update to the highly successful ATH-M50, the new ATH-M50X introduces detachable cable and the same closed-back design with the big and powerful 45mm drivers that made their previous iteration so popular and widely recommended both for mixing due to its sound quality, and also for tracking due to their excellent isolation. They are also a convenient pick to take everywhere since the swivel ear cups can be folded in, they are built sturdy enough to 'endure the backpack' and they feature conveniently low 38 ohm impedance. Click to read our user reviews.


Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro - 250 Ohm

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro - 250 Ohm

A very well regarded headphone that is widely used and recommended across our forums - although it was initially geared towards tracking, performance and stage use with its closed-back design and single-sided cable, the DT770 ended up on many a studio head for monitoring and mixing duty as well. It’s important to note that Beyerdynamic offers three different impedance models for the DT770 with options for 32, 80 and 250 ohms and also a stronger-built “M” version for further isolation, so watch out for those details and pick the one that serves you best. Please read this article if you need further guidance. Click to read our user reviews (80 ohm - 250 ohm - 770M).


Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus

Beyerdynamic’s proposal for an all-round type of headphone, the Custom One Pro Plus features closed back design, low impedance, swivel ear cups, a soft headband and a single-sided detachable cable with microphone option and volume control options. One interesting feature here is the “Custom Sound Slider”, which controls bass-reflex vents with four options to tame the bass levels. An interesting option if you’re looking for a "one stop" system-wide solution.


Grado Labs SR125e

Grado Labs SR125e

Not usually associated with professional audio but a very respected name in the larger universe of sound, the family-run Grado Labs have been making fine audiophile headphones for over two decades. Professionals eventually took notice, and brought them over to their studio environments. The SR-125e is an open-back, low-impedance (32 ohm) headphone with a very lightweight design and Grado’s trademark headband with height adjuster that is present on all their headphones. The SR-125e sits at the middle of the brand’s Prestige Series, making them somewhat affordable - if your budget is tighter the SR60/80e models are interesting options and if price is not a issue then check out all Grado's options as there are some other very high end solutions. Click here to read our user reviews of Grado Headphones (SR-80i - PS1000).


KRK Systems KNS 8400

KRK Systems KNS 8400

Famous for their studio monitors, KRK also made its way into the headphone arena with the KNS 8400. This is a closed-back back headphone with 40mm drivers, a low impedance of 36 ohms and a very slick design with foldable swivel cups, a single-sided detachable cable, sturdy build, and NASA-grade memory foam on the headband and ear cups. The KNS 8400 is a good candidate for a studio all-arounder that is comfortable, durable and that delivers enough power and isolation for recording, and great accuracy for mixing. Click to read our user reviews.


Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Sennheiser’s HD280 PRO is a very popular choice and considered to be one of the best “bang for buck” headphones out there. A closed-back design with good environmental noise isolation, single-sided cable, a strong build that’s comfortable to use with its swiveling ear cups and most importantly, great sound quality for a rather modest investment. Easy to drive with its 64 ohms of impedance, the HD280 Pro is a familiar piece at many studios and has proven to be a reliable choice for studios of all levels. Click to read our user reviews.


Shure SRH840

Shure SRH840

Shure took the pro audio world by surprise a few years ago when they announced a new range of headphones, and their bet has proven to be very successful with the SRH840, a headphone with 40mm drivers, closed-back design, single-sided detachable cable, low impedance of 44 ohms, a very impressive build and excellent quality all around. Shure delivered a fine piece that rightfully earned a lot of praise and that will certainly do a great job on the studio. Click to read our users reviews.


Sony MDR-7506

Sony MDR-7506

Last but not least we have the ubiquitous Sony MDR 7506, that reliable workhorse from Japanese electronics titan Sony. This headphone features a closed-back design for high isolation, swiveling ear cups, single-sided cable, 40mm transducers and a low impedance of 63 ohms which makes it easily amplified by any device. They are light, built strong, affordable and they've been around for a while, so it’s safe to say that the MDR 7560 is a standard that’s easily spotted on many studios around the globe. Click to read our users reviews.


Ok, so there's our list - there are certainly other great headphones out there for all tastes, needs and wallet depths, so which headphones are you using in your studio? Are you using an external amp or controller or are you going directly from an audio interface? Please tell us about your setup below.

Also make sure to check out the long, lengthy and ongoing best mixing headphones thread
for even more chatter, argument and learned opinion!