I’m a terrible gift giver. I’ve made the mistake of buying my partner an old cookbook for using soy in recipes. That was a mistake. I also once made my father a hat that turned out being way too itchy to wear. Which I why I envy all of you out here reading this post. The holiday season is approaching and headphones–especially bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones– are the perfect gift for just about anyone with a smartphone. But which one is the best for your sibling who loves bass, your partner who loves sound but doesn’t like bulk, or your parent who needs something simple? Today I’ll share the best Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones under $200.
Best Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $200
The JBL E65BTNC is a visually pleasing headphone. Its ear cups aren’t too bulky, but it still feels durable overall. It has a cloth headband that doesn’t have much padding which may bother some with sensitive heads but it feels comfortable to me. The earpads are a good size for most ear sizes.
The battery for these headphones lasts for 24 hours in Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is turned off. If ANC is turned on, they last for 15 hours. The headphones play via Bluetooth 4.2– an overall good sounding codec so long as you aren’t listening to files that are super hi-res like FLAC or WAV.
I love the noise cancellation on the E65BTNC. It is a strong noise cancellation, but doesn’t make me nauseous.
The JBL E65BTNC has a nice and thick low end and low-midrange. There is a broad boost at around 100Hz. There is another boost around 10kHz. As a result, these headphones sound good with hip-hop, pop, rock, and pretty much anything that doesn’t rely on a super clear bass response like jazz or bluegrass.
Recommended for folks who want a good sound, good look, and strong noise cancellation. Not recommended if you plan on listening to big files like FLAC or WAV.
For a more in-depth review of the JBL E65BTNC, see our full review.
Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC
The Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC has bulkier ear cups than the JBL E65BTNC. Additionally, it fits best with folks with smaller heads, as it fits just fine on me but I’ve heard reports that the headband and ear pads are just too small for some folks. The headband pads are coated with a pleather material that is easy to clean.
The Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC has the best battery life of the three I’m mentioning here today with up to 25 hours of playback. Unlike the JBL E65BTNC, it also can connect via aptX, the best sounding Bluetooth codec out there right now. It will perform well with bigger files like FLAC or WAV files.
The Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC purposely lets in ambient noise which allows it to have better sound quality.
The Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC has a nice balanced sound but also has a thick low end. It has a boost at around 30Hz. Additionally, it has a boost at 2kHz. As a result, the vocals and the mid-range overall feel more present and lively. The high frequencies are nice and balanced. These headphones are good for all genres and have the best soundstage of all the others.
Recommended for folks who don’t mind a lighter noise cancellation and who want higher quality sound, without minding the bulk.
For a more in-depth review of the Sennheiser 4.50 BTNC, see our full review.
Price: Sometimes $199.99 but just was bumped back up to $249.00
The Sony MDR-XB950N1 has a very durable feel with a flexible headband and rotating earcups. While it is a little bit bulky, it is the best for folks with larger heads. In fact, the earcups are a little too big for my ears and as a result my ears touch the space in between the ear pads.
The playback on these headphones lasts for 22 hours. It connects via aptX and NFC–for those who want to play higher quality audio.
The Sony MDR-XB950N1 are good at cancelling out ambient noise. There is app available to connect to the headphones where you can turn on or off the ANC, as well as the “Bass Effect” and the Surround VPT which makes the music sound like it is in difference spaces (for example an arena, club, outdoor stage, music hall, etc).
Even before “Bass Effect” is put into effect, the bass is heavy on these headphones. The sound is a little boxy sounding on genres with guitars. It sounds good though with hip-hop, pop, and EDM. When the “Bass Effect” is engaged, the bass becomes super over-the-top which some folks will like although I don’t like it so much.
Recommended for folks that LOVE bass and want a strongish noise cancellation. As for its fit, it is especially good for folks with bigger heads.
There you have it, the three best Bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones under $200 dollars. My favorite overall are the JBL E65BTNC headphones because they look good, the feel good, and the sound good for most applications. I will suggest, though, if you like to listen to higher quality files to check out one of the other too which supports the aptX Codec.
All three headphones are available for the best price here: