Top 5 Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $200


Practically all the best headphones in the world are circumaural in design. From the top-end electrostatic and planar magnetic headphones to the popular and plentiful moving-coil headphones, the over-ear design reigns supreme.

There’s a huge variety of circumaural headphones under $200 worth mentioning. In this article, we’ll discuss what I believe to be the top 5.

The top 5 best circumaural headphones under $200 are:

$200 USD is a good chunk of change to spend on headphones. Sure, the models above are not the absolute best but for the budget-conscious, these are perhaps the best headphones around, let alone the best circumaural headphones.

Since we’re having a discussion within the context of a price cap, I figure I should leave a link to a related My New Microphone article: Are Expensive Headphones (Or Cheap Headphones) Worth It?


What Makes A Great Circumaural Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list out the criteria used for determining what makes a great pair of circumaural headphones.

  • Comfort: this is perhaps the simplest yet most important criterion of any headphone. Though highly subjective, specifications such as weight; contact pressure; earpad shape/material; stiffness, and the overall dimension play a role in comfort. We should also consider the amount of heat that could get trapped around the ears if we were to be using closed-back circumaural headphones.
  • Impedance/device compatibility: compatibility with different audio devices is important. Choose a pair of high-end circumaural headphones that will be easily incorporated into your set up whether that’s a mobile device or a professional studio. Impedance and sensitivity ratings come into play when determining compatibility.
  • Frequency response: a great pair of headphones should be able to reproduce the full audible spectrum from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with clarity.

Wireless (especially Bluetooth) capabilities are also seen as a benefit since they further improve the functionality and general comfort of the headphones.

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best circumaural (over-ear) headphones under $200!


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Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The popular Audio-Technica ATH-M50x (link to check the price on Amazon) gets this list started.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

The ATH-M50x is the most critically acclaimed model in Audio-Technica’s M-Series headphone line, which is saying a lot since the series is among the most popular in the world.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $200
Top Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

This over-ear headphone delivers exceptional sound across the entire audible frequency range (and beyond). The ATH-M50x has a frequency response of 15 Hz – 28,000 Hz with a deep, accurate bass response, articulate mids and non-fatiguing highs.

Built for professional studio applications, the M50x sound fantastic on speech and vocals as well as with other instruments.

This is made possible with expertly tuned closed-back earcups and proprietary 45mm moving-coil drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils.

Circumaural earcups have professional-grade earpads for comfort and contouring around the ears. The headphone offers a good deal of passive noise isolation due to its well-crafted earcups.

Taking a look at the specifications sheet, we see that the ATH-M50x has a relatively low nominal impedance of 38 ohms. Therefore, the headphone can easily be driven by mobile and consumer-grade audio devices. Of course, we can also use a dedicated headphone amplifier if we so choose, which may result in a better sound.

To learn more about headphones and headphone amps, check out my article What Is A Headphone Amplifier & Are Headphone Amps Worth It?

This headphone comes with 3 detachable cables, each with 3.5mm connectors at each end: a 1.2m – 3.0m coiled cable, 3.0m straight cable and 1.2m straight cable. Use the included 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter when necessary to plug into 6.35mm (1/4″) jacks.

Find the perfect fit with 90-degree-swivelling earcups and adjustable headband. Fold the earcups inward for easy storage and portability.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 45 mm with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils
  • Impedance: 38 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 28,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 99 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 285 g (10 oz), without cable and connector
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

To learn more about headphone specifications, be sure to read my article Full List: Headphone/Earphone Specifications w/ Examples.

Audio-Technica is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

I’d also recommend checking out the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X (link to check the price on Amazon) for a great over-ear headphone under $200.


Sennheiser HD 559

The second circumaural headphone we’ll be discussing is the Sennheiser HD 559 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Sennheiser HD 559

The HD 559 is part of Sennheiser HD 5 range of high quality/value headphones. This open-back circumaural model is an perfect choice for those of looking for an versatile performer for great home entertainment sound.

The over-ear headphone is designed around Sennheiser’s proprietary transducer technology, developed into 38mm dynamic drivers. E.A.R (“Ergonomic acoustic refinement”) tech channels the audio signal directly into your ears for improved clarity and sonic accuracy. Expect a deep and contoured bass along with well-defined mids and airy highs.

To learn more about dynamic drivers and driver size, check out my articles The Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones and What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones? respectively.

The headphone has a nominal impedance of 50 Ω. It’s fully compatible with mobile and consumer-grade devices but will likely benefit from a dedicated headphone amplifier.

Included with the HD 599 is a 3m cable with 6.35mm straight plug for 1/4″ (6.35mm) headphone jacks. You’ll have to get yourself a 6.35mm to 3.5mm adapter to use it with most mobile devices and auxiliary outputs.

Get comfortable with big, soft detachable ear pads and a broad padded headband. Extra-long listening sessions are made easy with the ergonomics and sonic performance of the HD 599 (just don’t listen too loud for too long)!

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 38 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 50 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 14 Hz – 26,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 108 dBSPL (1kHz/1Vrms)
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 9.9 oz.
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Sennheiser is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World and Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World.


AKG K612

Third on the list is the AKG K612 (link to check the price on Amazon).

AKG K612

The AKG K612 is a great over-ear model with dynamic transducers and an open-back earcup design. These reference studio headphones are well worth the money, coming in at under $200.

The AKG K612 is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Open-Back Headphones Under $200
Top Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

The K612 offers a natural reproduction of audio with a natural soundstage, wide stereo image, detailed dynamics and extended frequency response (12 Hz – 39,500 Hz).

For more info on frequency response, check out my article What Is Headphone Frequency Response & What Is A Good Range?

Its expertly-crafted dynamic drivers and sophisticated open technology make it a fantastic reference headphone.

With an impedance of 120 Ω, the AKG K612’s will certainly gain from being connected to a dedicated headphone amplifier. Of course, it can also be connected directly to a mobile or consumer-grade device or but its full potential will be unlocked with something a bit more powerful.

The fixed 3-metre cable of the K612 ends with a stereo 3.5mm plug. The headphones come with a 3.5mm to 6.35mm screw-on adapter to accommodate the two most common headphone jack types.

To learn more about 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone plugs/jacks, check out my article The Differences Between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm Headphone Jacks.

The K612 feature a self-adjusting headband made of genuine leather for an automatic best fit. Breathable velour ear pads cradle the ears while enhancing bass response. In addition to these factors, the open-back design keeps the ears cool during longer listening sessions, which can be an issue with closed-back designs.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 120 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz – 39,500 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB SPL/V @ 1 kHz
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 8.4 oz (238g)
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

The AKG K 240 Studio MKII (link to check the price on Amazon) is another great circumaural headphone under $200 that’s worth checking out.


Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

The second last headphone on this list is the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (link to check the price on Amazon).

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is a comfortable over-ear headphone with a closed-back design and dynamic transducers. This headphone has four variants when it comes to impedance. Regardless of your setup, there’s a superb DT 770 Pro option for you.

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Headphones For Podcasting Under $200
Top Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200
Top Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

These headphones reproduce the entire frequency range (the published frequency response is 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz) with incredible precision.

To achieve this accuracy, the DT 770 Pro utilizes 45mm dynamic drivers with neodymium magnets. The bass sounds incredible with help from the innovative bass reflex system. Mid-frequencies are well-articulated and the highs are surprisingly airy and present without being fatiguing.

These closed-back headphones have exceptional passive noise isolation to reduce bleed.

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro comes in 4 different impedance variants:

  • 16 Ω nominal (Mobile Devices)
  • 32 Ω nominal (Mobile Devices)
  • 80 Ω nominal (Universal Studio)
  • 250 Ω nominal (Professional Devices)

For most people, I would recommend the 32-ohm version since it will work well with most devices. For those of us who either have studio equipment or are planning on acquiring some pro equipment, the 80-ohm version is a great in-between option.

The 16-ohm set is great for mobile and regular computer cards while the 250-ohm pair will deliver the best results so long as it’s connected to a studio/audiophile-grade amplifier.

To learn more about headphone impedance, check out my article The Complete Guide To Understanding Headphone Impedance.

Each new purchase of a DT 770 Pro headphone will come with a detachable cable and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter. The cable will be different depending on the model:

  • 16 Ω version: 3m straight cable
  • 32 Ω version: 1.6m straight cable
  • 80 Ω version: 3m straight cable
  • 250 Ω version: 3m coiled cable

To learn more about headphone cables, check out my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

The headband and circumaural earcups are designed to be super-comfortable and the steel spring headband offers impressive durability. With such great sound and an excellent fit, these headphones are a perfect choice for long sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance:
    • 16 Ω (Mobile Devices)
    • 32 Ω (Mobile Devices)
    • 80 Ω (Universal Studio)
    • 250 Ω (Professional Devices)
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB nominal SPL
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 270 g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Beyerdynamic is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (link to check the price on Amazon) is an open-back circumaural headphone from the same headphone line that’s worth checking out as well.


Philips SHP9600

To wrap up the best circumaural headphones under $200, we have the Philips SHP9600 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Philips SHP9600

The Philips SHP9600 is another fantastic over-ear headphone for under $200. It features dynamic drivers and a terrific open-back design.

The Philips SHP9600 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Open-Back Headphones Under $200.

Described by Philips as the perfect blend of performance, comfort and quality, the SHP delivers an impressive sound with crisp bass, balanced midrange, and pristine high frequencies. The stereo field is natural and the dynamic range is deep.

Perfectly-tuned 50mm dynamic drivers are built into a carefully-crafted open-back design in order to achieve such a great sonic performance. Great detail is maintained across all frequencies.

To learn more about open-back (and closed-back) headphones, check out my article The Complete Guide To Open-Back & Closed-Back Headphones.

Connect these headphones with confidence to any 3.5mm or 6.35mm headphone jack. The SHP9600 comes with a detachable 3.0 m cable (with 3.5mm plug) and includes a 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter.

The 32 Ω headphone impedance means that mobile and consumer-grade audio devices won’t have any trouble driving the headphones while audiophile-grade headphone amps will only enhance the sound.

The steel-reinforced headband is adjustable to add just the right amount of tension for a secure fit. Its double-layered cushion adds real comfort and the breathable ear-cup cushions are ideal for long listening sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 50 mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnets
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz – 35,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 1.455 lb (0.66 kg)
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Honourable Mentions

With so many circumaural headphones under $200, it’s tough to pick just 5. Here are another 5 “honourable mentions” that are worth checking out before you go:

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