The Best Open-Back Headphone Under 200 [2020!]

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Here’s a secret:

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get the right open-back headphones or fight the hurdle of pairing your headphones together with an amplifier just to get the best out of your headphones.

I have seen some of the best open-back headphones that are great under 150 bucks and they do fine without an amp. The thing is, you need to know why you are selecting a particular headphone, and what you prefer.

For example:

Are you going to be using your open-back headphone along with an amp?

If so, the first thing to note is that a headphone that has a higher impedance (say 100 ohms) would be difficult to drive to its full potential if used on portable devices. e.g. smartphone, digital audio players, because they have lower audio output voltage.

So, in this case, you need an amplifier to deliver enough power for the headphone, to prevent clipping or distortion at a higher peak.

If you aren’t able to play at a louder volume when using your portable devices, that is a sign your device doesn’t have enough power to drive the headphone, so, an amp would help in this case, and on top of that you would have a cleaner and more controlled sound.

Do you prefer open-back headphones that work directly with your smartphone or laptop without going through the pressure of getting an amp?

Using an amp doesn’t translate to a better quality sound if your headphone itself isn’t built with high sound quality in mind.

If you don’t want to go with the hassle of using an amp, you need an headphone that has a lower impedance (say 32 ohms) with at least a sensitivity rating of at least 100 dB/mW, this way you would be able to enjoy your headphone at a much higher volume levels with a lower voltage devices, e.g smartphone, digital audio player and laptops.

A higher impedance headphone is mostly used in the studio where there may be multiple headphones wired in parallel to receive an input from one source.

Say you hook 10 headphones with 300 ohms impedance, then their combined impedance will be 1/10 of the impedance of each one, which means they will represent a load of 30 ohms, so basically you need an amp lower than that.

Now, let’s say you are running 5 identical headphones with a lower impedance of say 32 ohms in parallel, then their combine impedance would be 1/5, which in this case it is 6.4 ohms, you can see where I am going, this would really give you problem when finding a suitable amp to match the headphones, which is why you might find higher impedance headphones in some studio or perhaps in the case you need to do this kind of parallel connection.

Going back to the bone of this guide, let see some of the best quality open-back headphones under 200 bucks in the market right now, I would also be detailing the impedance and sensitivity of each where applicable because why not 😉

Let’s ride on.

Quick Overview: Our Best 3 Picks

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Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • 3D Wing Support
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 40 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 117.76 dB/V SPL / 103.74 dB/mW SPL
Check ATH-AD700X Price at Amazon

Beyerdynamic Dt 990 Pro

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Lightweight and an adjustable ear cup
  • One-sided cable
  • Includes a mini-jack plug (3.5mm) and 1/4" adapter (6.35mm)
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 80 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB SPL
Check Dt 990 Pro Price at Amazon

GRADO SR125e

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Ultra High Purity, Long Crystal copper voice coil wire
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB SPL
Check GRADO SR125e Price at Amazon

1) Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

The first on our list is the Audio Technica ATH-AD700X that is powered by a newly designed 53mm driver which helps in reproducing a clear treble and midrange sound.

With a Self-adjusting 3D Wing support, you can rest assured a comfortable listening experience, and on top of that, it’s a total ear-fit design that helps in minimizing pressure.

The ATH-AD700X isn’t only lightweight but supports a flexible raised-fabric earpad that offers a great soothing and comfortable experience.

The disadvantage of using wired headphones is it tangles a lot when moving around, fortunately, this headphone features a highly conductive OFC single-sided cord with elastic TPE sheath to eliminate tangles.

We shouldn’t ignore the connectivity aspect of the ATH-AD700X, it includes a Gold-plated stereo mini-jack (3.5mm) connector with a quarter-inch (6.3mm) adapter for easy connectivity.

The ATH-AD700X has a sensitivity of 17.76 dB/V SPL by the voltage and 103.74 dB/mW SPL by power, where dB means decibels, decibels is measurement of how powerful a sound is, the dB/V or dB/mW is just a standard used in measuring decibels, the international standard used the mW, while newer method uses dB/V.

It has a nominal impedance of 40 ohms, which is easy driven by low voltage devices, what this means is that you are fine to connect with your smartphone or laptop without the need of using a dedicated amp, so enjoy!

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • 3D Wing Support
  • Great comfort with the aid of the flexible raised-fabric earpads
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 40 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 117.76 dB/V SPL / 103.74 dB/mW SPL

Check ATH-AD700X Price at Amazon

2) AKG K 702

The AKG K 702 is ideal for anyone looking for a reference-quality open-back headphone or anyone that is interested in high fidelity sound., they sound natural, precise and have a transparent sound.

Powered by high-performance neodymium drivers which uses a patented Varimotion dual-layer diaphragms for a clear or perhaps an accurate sound response that provides a wide frequency response and an unobtrusive distortion.

Comfort is a must if you would be using a headphone for a long listening session, the K 702 is built with comfort in mind, and on top of that, it features an adjustable headband and heavy-duty replaceable 3D cut earpads, which eliminates fatigue.

One special feature I dig about this headphone is the Clamp-On Headphone Holder or the COHH-2 which is useful for attaching your headphone to microphone stands that are up to 1.2″ (30mm) in diameter.

It includes a 25′ Stereo Mini Male plug to Stereo Mini Female Jack Extension Cable.

Lastly, the sensitivity of the AKG K 702 is 103.60 dB/V SPL by the voltage and 91.63 dB/mW SPL by power, the sensitivity reflects the efficiency of a headphone, the higher the sensitivity the less power from your device, I generally recommend sensitivity of 95 above but if you are the type that doesn’t listen at louder volume, then this should be enough. It has a nominal impedance of 63.50 ohms.

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • High-performance neodymium drivers
  • Color: Black
  • Includes stereo Mini Male plug to Stereo Mini Female Jack Extension Cable
  • Clamp-On Headphone Holder
  • Nominal Impedance: 63.50 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 103.60 dB/V SPL / 91.63 dB/mW SPL

Check AKG K 702 Price at Amazon

3) Beyerdynamic Dt 990 Pro

The Beyerdynamic Dt 990 Pro was recommended on our list of the best studio mixing and mastering headphone because of its wide stereo image and transparent sound, which makes them one of the best for audiophiles, music producer, mixing & mastering engineers, and even casual music enthusiast that doesn’t joke with hi-fi sound.

There are two types of the DT 990 Pro:

The first one has an impedance of 80 ohms, which is ideal for general usage, which means you can go without an amplifier if plugged directly to your laptop or smartphone with no problem, if you feel you aren’t satisfied with the volume level (not loud enough), you can pair with a source/DAC that supports this impedance.

The second type comes with an impedance of 250 ohms, which is suitable for professional end devices, the one I linked to is the 80 ohms impedance, which is useful for general uses.

It comes built with a sturdy steel headband and a soft adjustable ear cups. The sturdy steel ensures you have a secure fit and the adjustable ear cups help to listen with comfort for extended periods.

One of the distinct features of this headphone is the one-sided cable, it accommodates frequent adjustment and prevents tangles, and on top of that, it is super lightweight, which makes them easy to wear.

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Lightweight and an adjustable ear cup
  • One-sided cable
  • Soft, replaceable velour ear pads for exceptional wearing comfort
  • Includes a mini-jack plug (3.5mm) and 1/4″ adapter (6.35mm)
  • Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 80 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB SPL

Check Dt 990 Pro Price at Amazon

4) HIFIMAN HE-400I

Next on our list is the HIFIMAN HE-400I. This is a full size planar magnetic headphone that can either be used professionally in your studio or at home.

The HIFIMAN HE-400I features a polymer ear cups in a gloss charcoal finish, which makes it a beautiful design.

That said, the ear pads are made of leatherette and velour, which not only increase the sound quality but an increase in comfort even if worn for a longer period.

With a sensitivity of 93db coupled with a nominal impedance of 32 ohms, you can rest assured that it can be easily driven by low voltage devices (smartphones or audio players), if you feel the volume isn’t loud enough, you can always pair with a modest size amplifier for increment in the efficiency of the headphone.

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Dual 3.5mm connections with 1.5m removable cable
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 35,000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB SPL

Check HIFIMAN HE-400I Price at Amazon

5) GRADO SR125e

The finale on our list is the GRADO SR125e, which is designed to be clear, tight and light. It utilizes the Ultra High Purity, Long Crystal copper voice coil wire, which helps in a clearer lower and higher frequency range.

One of the main SR125e standpoints is the way the driver is designed, the driver and plastic housing move air in a way it is totally unaffected by transient distortion.

The sensitivity of the SR125e is 99.8 dB/mW SPL by power coupled with a nominal impedance of 32 ohms means your device wouldn’t put too much power driving the headphone and on top of that, you can enjoy at a louder volume without using a dedicated amp.

Features:

  • Open-Back, Over-ear
  • Color: Black
  • Ultra High Purity, Long Crystal copper voice coil wire
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99.8 dB SPL

Check GRADO SR125e Price at Amazon

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