Top 6 Studio Headphones Under $200 – Moving Into Mid Range Segment

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The type of headphones you can get for $200 usually bring the best combination of price and performance. They are better than the ones found in the $100 price range, but not too far behind headphones that cost around $300. Today we are going to show you six of the best studio headphones you can get for around $200.

Our picks were based purely on performance while we favored models with a proven track record. Once we’re done with going over our short list, we will talk a bit about what to expect in this price range. Let’s get started.

6 Best Studio Headphones Under $200

ImageStudio Headphones / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - AKG K271 MKII AKG K271 MKII

Total of 4.57/5  

Bringing what is probably the best balance of performance, comfort and design.

+ - AKG K553 PRO AKG K553 PRO

Total of 4.42/5  

Elegant set that is perfect for both studio use and road use.

+ - Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250

Total of 4.40/5  

Velour ear pads, impressive performance across the range and plenty of definition.

+ - Shure SRH840 Shure SRH840

Total of 4.17/5  

Simple yet versatile set that is backed up with plenty of accessories.

+ - Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Total of 4.38/5  

Ultimate bang for the buck champion in this segment of the market.

+ - Fostex T50RP Mk3 Fostex T50RP Mk3

Total of 4.30/5  

One of the most interesting models that is also extremely DIY friendly.

AKG K271 MKII

AKG K271 MKII

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AKG offers a wide array of studio headphones that have been proven to work. What makes AKG K271 MkII stand out from the rest of their cousins, is the combination of performance and features they offer. To start things off, we have a simple yet effective design that makes adjusting the headphones super easy. On top of that, the sliding headband makes them extremely comfortable out of the box. Then there is the auto-mute feature and a compliment of cables that are the longest you will find in this price range. Last but not least, there's the performance. The amount of transparency, clinical accuracy and refinement in the tone is impressive to say the least. AKG K271 MkII simply rock.

AKG K553 PRO

AKG K553 PRO

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AKG K553 PRO are by far some of the most stylish and best performing studio headphones you can grab in the lower mid range segment. Aside from their performance, AKG has managed to make K553 PRO extremely stylish in a price range which is still full of black plastic headphones. For that alone they deserve some extra points. Speaking of performance, things are looking great. Great response, plenty of transparency and an abundance of definition is what you can look forward to. Since the nominal impedance is set at a pretty low value, AKG K553 PRO can easily be used with mobile devices. Overall, if you're looking for something that hits a bit above its weight class, this is it.

Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250

Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250

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What Beyeredynamic DT-990 PRO offers is a compromise that optimizes performance and comfort on the account of aesthetics. Build quality, as questionable is it may seem at times, is actually pretty good. We are extremely happy that Beyerdynamics has decided to include velour ear pads with DT-990 PRO. This is the type of decision you won't see very often in this, nor higher segments of the market. The performance is balanced, somewhat biased, but ultimately transparent enough for proper studio use. Open back headphones are a little different in a sense that you have that spatial component, which is why we are letting that bias slide. If you are looking for proper studio headphones, Beyerdynamics DT-990 are most definitely it.

Shure SRH840

Shure SRH840

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Shure's stake in the audio recording industry has been steadily growing over time. Aside from their microphones, studio headphones are one of the main culprits. Shure SRH840 belong to the lower mid range of that segment. As such, they have brought a somewhat different set of values to the market. Their performance is really up there when it comes to volume, clarity and transparency. The only thing lacking is a more engaging design. With that said, we can only be glad that Shure has decided to abandon aesthetics as a topic of interest. It doesn't take much to know that every producer out there will choose performance over aesthetics in a hear beat. Because of that, these deserve more recognition.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

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Audio Technica ATH M50x is definitely one of the best known studio headphones at the very edge of mid range segment. Not only did this entire series answer the need for an affordable product that works, but it really pushed other brands to start catching up. The defining characteristic of M50x is their performance. It is silky smooth, tight and fairly consistent across the frequency response range. The increased versatility made possible due to Audio Technica's pretty smart design, expands the type of applications you can use these for. Additionally, due to low nominal impedance, M50x has no issues working with mobile devices. This kind of performance, in a versatile package, at this price is just too good to ignore.

Fostex T50RP Mk3

Fostex T50RP Mk3

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Fostex T50RP Mk3 are the latest iteration of a very successful model. They've fixed some issues previous models had, but also introduced a new character to the series. The end result are headphones which are unmistakeably meant for heavy use. Everything about them is fully utilitarian in nature, including the way the cable is plugged into them. When it comes to performance, Fostex could've ironed out the response a little in the highs. Even so, there is plenty potential left, making these ultimately a great choice for mixing. Finally, there is the modding aspect. Fostex T50RP Mk3 are very DIY friendly, just like its predecessors. Those interested in tinkering with their headphones can gain quite a bit by doing so.

Improved Comfort

Comfort, along with performance, is by far the most important aspect of good studio headphones. Unlike commercial models, studio headphones are used for much longer periods of time and more frequently. Because of that, user fatigue needs to be at the bare minimum. The models listed above are all meeting that requirement. Even though in the grand scheme of things, $200 is still considered to be somewhat affordable, we start seeing some advanced design solutions which impact comfort. First thing that comes to mind are velour ear pads. Anyone who has ever had to wear vinyl ear pads for any prolonged period of time, probably know how bad these can get. When you introduce velour, everything changes. Without exaggeration, just adding velour pads can make mediocre headphones into awesome ones.

Headbands are often times better as well. The main reason being that many manufacturers use an external metallic rail instead of internal plastic inserts. This way, the actual headband slides along these rails, and is usually soft. Using this design greatly improves the chances that you can find a perfect headband setting for your head shape and size.

Additional Features

Once we put performance and comfort to the side, there is an obvious improvement in this price range that has to do with the type of features these headphones bring to the table. The most obvious one are cables. Detachable cables are the standard in 99% of the cases. On top of that, the quality of cables is better with some brands using mini XLR connectors instead of your standard 1/8″ stereo jacks. Of course, this applies to the portion of the cable that goes into the headphones. Additionally, the length of the cables is more versatile as well. Not only will you see the standard 10 foot cables, but some brands offer 16 foot ones as well. Depending on the size of your studio and how you setup your gear, this may or may not be a key feature. While we are on the subject of cables, locking mechanisms are probably the most important addition. There’s an argument to be made against locking the cable in your headphones, but this is a matter of preference. Having the ability to do so is definitely a good thing.

Then we have other features such as the auto-mute function some headphones come with. What really makes this segment awesome is the fact that most of these headphones come with great range of aftermarket parts. We are mainly referring to aftermarket ear pads and cables. When you think about it, what works for one user won’t always work for someone else. Having the ability to swap out components in order to boost the comfort of your new headphones can only be a good thing.

Build Quality

Last but not least, there is the matter of build quality. Affordable headphones are often times lacking in this regard due to a simple fact that brands are trying to keep them as cheap as possible. That isn’t the case when you are paying $200 for a pair, which is only logical. Different manufacturers go with different materials and designs, but most of them are fairly rigid and durable enough. Even when you run into plastics, it won’t be that cheap brittle kind but rather a type of ABS that can withstand constant use.

Conclusion

Going with a $200 set of studio headphones is a great way to get started in the world of music production. You pretty much get awesome performance, proper comfort and durable designs at a price that isn’t prohibitive. The models we have shown you above are in our opinion the best you can get for this kind of money. The important thing to keep in mind is that some of these headphones might require additional equipment in order to achieve best results. This mostly means amplifiers DACs and similar. At the end of the day, it is definitely worth it.


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