Help Me, Tom's Guide! What Are the Best Headphones Under $175?

Plantronics' BackBeat Pro

Plantronics' BackBeat Pro

Running, active noise cancelling, Bluetooth, high fidelity — I'm of the opinion that headphones are like shoes: You can't have just one pair.

But forum member Spankymcbob1 is on the search for that perfect pair of headphones to fit within his $175 budget, now that his 15-year-old, $2,000 cans have died. According to his post, Spanky isn't into any "crazy audio stuff," and just wants something for listening to music with decent audio quality. Fortunately, Spanky's budget provides a lot of options. But I'm going to narrow down the list to some of our favorites.

Active Noise Cancelling: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint Headphones - $149

In an effort to stay on budget, I'm recommending an oldie but goodie: the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint Headphones. The ANC70's active noise-cancelling technology can offer a sliver of quiet in some of the noisiest settings while delivering loud, crisp audio. We also have a few reviews in the works of active-noise-cancelling headphones closer to Spanky's $175 budget, so stay tuned.

Audio Technica ATH-ANC70 Headphones

MORE: Best Headphones - Top Rated Headphones and Earbuds

Bluetooth: Plantronics BackBeat Pro - $149

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro was one of my favorite pairs of headphones when it first came out. Not only do these headphones provide good active noise cancellation, but they also have great Bluetooth range and loud, balanced audio. The cans last a ridiculous 24 hours on a charge, and have smart sensors and controls built into the ear cups. If Spanky wants a more updated version of the BackBeat Pro, the newer Pro 2 has a refined design but keeps all the goodies I loved from the original. Unfortunately, he'll have to go a little over his budget, as the Pro 2 headphones cost $199.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Headphones

Truly Wireless: Bragi The Headphone - $149

Simply called The Headphone, Bragi's second bite at Apple's AirPods, ditches all the bells and whistles of the company's teched-out predecessor in favor of longer battery life, steady connectivity and easy usage. The result is one of the better, affordable and truly wireless sets of earphones on the market, offering more than enough for music lovers looking to cut the cord. They aren't audiophile-grade by any stretch of the imagination, but I still had a good time rocking out to some of my favorite jams.

Bragi the Headphone

In-Ear: BeatsX Wireless In-Ear Headphones - $139

Regardless of whether you're an Apple fan, the BeatsX Wireless are a great set of in-ear headphones. The flat, tangle-free balanced cable is more comfortable than that of similar models and quite functional, while the in-line remote and mic work well and offer clear sound for people on the go. The buds' lightweight design offers a good fit with decent noise isolation, and they are comfortable enough to be worn most of the day.

BeatsX Wireless Headphones

Smart: Even H1 Headphones - $199

I know, I know, Spankymcbob1 — the Even H1 Headphones are a little out of your budget. But hear me out. Made from walnut, steel and faux leather, the H1 headphones are not only gorgeous but smart, too. The cans feature an innovative app that lets you create a unique earprint for each ear by delivering a quick hearing test. From there, you have a pair of headphones that delivers warm, crisp audio that's tailored specifically to your ears.

Even H1 Headphones

If I had to pick just one pair, I'd go with the Plantronics BackBeat Pro. The $149 headphones pack a host of useful features into a comfortable set of cans that deliver loud and accurate sound. And active noise-cancelling technology creates a quiet bubble of peace.

Credit: Tom's Guide/Plantronics

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.