Top 5 Best Open Back Headphones Under $200 Of 2021


Many pros and audiophiles prefer open-back headphones for critical listening and maximum enjoyment. The perforated earcups offer a wider, more open and realistic response to the audio being played (at the expense of spilling noise into the environment). The open-back form factor can house several types of transducers, making open-back headphones very diverse.

In this article, we’ll go over the top 5 open-back headphones that cost under $200 USD. Yes, any list like this is subjective but I’m certain these are among the best on the market!

The top 5 best open-back headphones under $200 are:

The headphones listed above are at the top of their price range when it comes to performance and comfort. The best part is that these superb headphones are all under $200 USD.

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 Open-Back Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list out the criteria used for determining what makes a great pair of open-back 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 during longer listening sessions.
  • 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.

To learn more about open-back headphones, be sure to check out my article: The Complete Guide To Open-Back & Closed-Back Headphones.

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best open-back headphones under $200!


Related articles:

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700x

First on the list is the revered Audio-Technica ATH-AD700x (link to check the price on Amazon).

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700x

The Audio-Technica ATH-AD700x is an open-air headphone marketed as an excellent-sounding and affordable option for audiophiles.

The sound of these A-T headphones is best-defined as spacious and well-defined. The large 53mm dynamic drivers are built with bobbin-wound CCAW voice coils and reproduce audio with superb clarity and power. The low-end is well-represented and the mids and highs are super clean.

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 open-back design of the earcups is complemented with a lightweight honeycomb aluminum casing and improves the depth and space of the sound significantly.

The premium OFC cable measures 3 metres long and is designed to be tangle-free. It carries audio without degradation, ensuring the headphone plays what is being sent to it. The fixed cable attaches to the left earcup of the AD700x and terminates with a 3.5mm stereo plug. A 1/4″ adapter is included, making it easy to connect these headphones to the majority of headphone jacks.

With a nominal impedance of 38 ohms, the ATH-AD700x can be successfully driven by low-power mobile and consumer-grade headphone jack DACs and amplifiers.

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

The lightweight construction of these headphones produces no sense of pressure on the ears. Self-adjusting wing support will automatically adjust to the size of the listener’s head, helping to keep the focus on the audio and not the physical feeling of the headphones.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 53 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 38 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 265g
  • 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.


Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Second on the list is the open-back model in the DT Pro line from the German brand Beyerdynamic. It’s none other than the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (link to check the price at Sweetwater).

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO is a affordable open-back studio headphone option designed for mixing and mastering.

These headphones offer professionals (and all other listeners) a transparent and spacious sound reproduction across the entire audible frequency spectrum. The bass is remarkably powerful and the mids and highs are defined with precision.

The 45mm dynamic drivers are enhanced with an fantastic open-back design for a superb sound. The published frequency response is a wild 5 Hz to 35,000 Hz.

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

The headphone cable is coiled and fixed to the left earcup. It measures 3 metres in length and carries audio incredibly well. The cable ends with a 3.5mm stereo plug but the headphone comes with a 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter.

With a nominal impedance of 250 ohms, the DT 990 Pro should be used with a dedicated headphone amplifier for best results. Trying to drive the headphones with low-level mobile or consumer-grade headphone jack amps/DACs won’t sound nearly as good.

Soft, adjustable ear cups provide added comfort for the already ergonomic design. The robust spring steel headband ensures that these circumaural headphones also offer a secure fit.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 250 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB SPL
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 250g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

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


Sennheiser HD 599

Germany’s Sennheiser also gets a spot on the list with their superb Sennheiser HD 599 (link to check the price on Amazon) open-back headphone.

Sennheiser HD 599

The Sennheiser HD 599 is an excellent open-back headphone with a fantastic performance-to-price ratio.

These open-back headphones reproduce audio with impressively natural space and depth. Near-audiophile sound quality is achieved in a small fraction of the price of the high-end headphone models.

The superb sound of the HD 599 is made possible with Sennheiser’s proprietary transducer technology including the “Ergonomic acoustic refinement” (E.A.R.) design, which channels the audio signal directly into the listener’s ears.

With a nominal impedance of 50 ohms, the HD 599 can be successfully driven by low-power mobile and consumer-grade headphone jack DACs and amplifiers. That being said, the headphones could certainly be used with a dedicated amplifier in order to reach their full sonic potential.

The SD 599 comes with a 3-metre cable with a 6.35mm straight plug and a 1.2-metre cable with a straight 3.5mm straight plug. It also comes with a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter if need be. Basically, Sennheiser supplies us with everything we need to plug into the vast majority of headphone jacks in the world.

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.

In its price class, this headphone is hard to beat in terms of comfort as well. Its large circumaural ear cups feature soft replaceable ear pads and apply little to no pressure on the ears. These ergonomic headphones are a joy to wear, even after long listening sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 50 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 12 Hz – 38,500 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 106 dB (1 kHz / 1 Vrms)
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 250g
  • 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 Pro

This list wouldn’t be complete without the popular AKG K612 Pro (link to check the price on Amazon).

AKG K612 Pro

The AKG K612 is an over-ear open-back reference headphone that works with dynamic transducers.

The AKG K612 Pro is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $200
Top Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

These headphones deliver a natural and accurate reproduction of audio across an extended frequency response of 12 Hz to 39,500 Hz. Expect a neutral bass response with transparency in the mid and high ranges.

Expertly-crafted dynamic drivers are combined with an open design to offer a wide stereo image and detailed dynamic response.

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.

A dedicated headphone amplifier will help these headphones reach their full sonic potential. The nominal rated impedance of 120 ohms tells us that the headphone may sound lacklustre with mobile devices but will sound better than their competition when paired with a quality amp.

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

Of course, we can still use these headphones with consumer-grade devices. We just won’t likely get the best experience.

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.


Philips SHP9600

At the fifth and final spot, we have the sonically impressive Philips SHP9600 (link to check the price on Amazon) open-back headphones.

Philips SHP9600

The Philips SHP9600 is another fantastic open-back headphone for under $200. It features dynamic drivers and a comfortable circumaural earcup design.

The Philips SHP9600 is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Circumaural (Over-Ear) Headphones Under $200.

This headphone achieves an impressive sound with crisp bass, balanced midrange, and pristine high frequencies. Perfectly-tuned 50mm dynamic drivers reproduce the audio with power and the expertly-crafted open-back design opens the sound field up for fantastic audio transparency.

A notable amount of detail is maintained across the entire frequency response.

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.

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

The rated nominal impedance is listed as 32 ohms. The SHP9600 can be easily driven by mobile and consumer-grade audio devices 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. It’s no wonder why Philips described the SHP9600 as the perfect blend of performance, comfort and quality.

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

There are plenty of other superb open-back headphones on the market for under $200. Here is a couple of additional options that nearly made the top 5:

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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