When it’s absolutely necessary for headphones to deliver the highest sound quality possible, true audiophiles will begin to look for the best audiophile headphones that they can buy. A pair that will not only reproduce their preferred source of music accurately but will deliver all of the depth and richness that can be found in their music. And there are plenty of headphones that can deliver this sound quality. All a person has to do is find them.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find the best audiophile headphones available among the hundreds of headphones that are available. We’ve decided to address this problem by finding the best headphones for audiophiles available and ranking them in descending order from number ten to number one. Hopefully, one of these models will deliver the clarity, richness, and depth that true audiophiles demand from their headphones.
Best Audiophile Headphones – Top List
10Ultrasone PRO 900 S Headphones
Using S-Logic Plus technology, these closed-back headphones can deliver a rich natural surround sound that other headphones can only dream about. While the wearer has these headphones are they are going to feel like the sound is coming from all around them, delivering an audio experience that has to be listened to in order to be believed. These headphones also have a frequency range of 6 to 42,000 HZ, an impedance of 40-ohm and an SPL of 96-decibels. It also has 40mm titanium-plated sound drivers that deliver accurate highs and deep bass lows. And it delivers this rich audio without being as expensive as some of the other professional headphones available.
9Shure SRH840 Monitoring Headphones
These professional monitoring headphones are designed to provide the listener with a high-end frequency response that enables it to deliver crisp high notes, extended middle notes, and deep bass. It has a closed-back design that helps to passively block out outside noises and has a collapsible design that makes it extremely portable. These headphones also have a gold-plated 1/4-inch adapter, a detachable cable, and they come with a carrying bag and replacement ear pads. And since these headphones are tailored exclusively for studio recording, just about any audiophile will appreciate how well they perform. These are professional headphones designed for professional use.
8Sony WH1000XM2 Wireless Headphones
These Sony headphones were redesigned in 2017 from the original WH1000XM2 model headphones and provide the user with a great listening experience. They are packed with versatile features which make them useful for anyone who enjoys a rich sound quality to enjoy. They have digital noise cancelation built right into them, are wireless and can provide up to 30-hours of music while being operated wirelessly. All while they deliver high-resolution audio. They can also be used in either wireless or wired mode, so they can be used just about anywhere. Equipped with 40mm sound drivers and S-Master HX technology built into them, these headphones are ready to reproduce music with precision.
7Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Headphones
Anyone who appreciated the Sony WH1000XM2 is going to love the WH1000XM3. This model was updated in 2018 and is one of the top wireless headphones currently available today. That’s because they have large 40mm audio drivers that deliver high-resolution sound and they can be worn for up to 30-hours when they’re in wireless mode. These headphones are also equipped with controls that allow the wearer to answer phone calls, control their volume level and play or skip tracks. Designed to be ergonomic, these headphones are also extremely comfortable to wear, even when they’re worn for long periods of time.
6Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Headphones
When performance is needed, these closed-back headphones are ready to deliver. Not only do they have an exceptional style to them, but they’re also very lightweight, so they can be taken anywhere. They only weigh 10-ounces, which makes them some of the lightest planar magnetic headphones currently available. They have a low ohm rating, so they can easily be used with smartphones, MP3 players or most home stereos without needing to buy a separate headphone amp. These headphone’s other specs include a sensitivity rating of 102-decibels, 55mm sound drivers, and a frequency response of 10 to 50,000 Hz. And since they come with a detachable cable with a 3.5mm jack and a 6.35mm adapter, they can be used on virtually any device.
5Sennheiser HD700 Headphones
These headphones are designed in Germany and contain some of the features that audiophiles look for when choosing a high-quality pair of headphones. They have an open circumaural design, have a low THD, and have a ventilated magnet system that minimizes some of the things that can go wrong with audio reproduction including air turbulence and harmonic distortion. They are also equipped with velour earpads and a silicone treated headband, that not only feels more comfortable than comparable headphones but really cuts down on the headband’s resonance. Simply put, these headphones are designed to deliver the sound experience that most people would want out of quality headphones.
4Sennheiser HD 800 S Headphones
Although these headphones cost more than the majority of other headphones available, it’s only because they are designed to deliver exceptional sound quality. They have an open-back design that allows for clear audio and use 56mm sound drivers to deliver a truly dynamic sound. They have an ear cup design that helps to focus sound waves right into the listener’s ear canals at just the right angle. Just how well these headphones deliver sound can be seen by just looking at their specs: These headphones have a frequency response of 4 to 51,000 Hz, a sound pressure level of 102-decibels, a THD of under 0.02% and they have an impedance level of 300-ohms.
3Audio Technica ATH-M50x Studio Headphones
Available in both wired and wireless versions, Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones are suitable for use either at the studio or on the road. They feature large 45mm drivers that are made with copper-clad aluminum voice coils and rare Earth magnets, so they’re capable of delivering exceptional sound quality. These headphones also have a circumaural design that provides passive sound isolation, so they’re suitable enough to be used in noisy environments. And since they use earcups which swivel at a full 90-degrees, these headphones can be worn on both ears or can be used for one-ear audio monitoring in the studio.
2Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium Headphones
These premium headphones have been designed from the earpads out to deliver some of the best audio reproduction possible. It has soft, velour earpads that are easy to wear and allow the audiophile to listen to music for hours on end without their ears become hot or sweaty. These headphones also have a frequency response of 5 Hz to 35,000 Hz, so it can reproduce the three-dimensional aspects of the music. The best thing about these headphones, however, is that they are available in three different styles, a 32-ohm version for use with tablets or smartphones, a 250-ohm version for use with home stereo systems, and a 600-ohm version that can be used on high-end Hi-Fi systems.
1Sennheiser HD 600 Open-Back Headphones
These incredible open-back headphones are a perfect combination of price and performance and make an ideal pair of headphones for just about anyone. They use dynamic open-transducers to deliver high-quality sound that has to be heard in order to be fully believed. These headphones have a frequency response of 12 to 39,000 Hz, an SPL of 97-decibels, a THD of .01%, and an impedance of 300-ohms. They’re equipped with open metal mesh grills that let its sound expand fully for the listener’s overall listening enjoyment. Overall, they’re the kind of headphones people expect to have a much more expensive price tag but fortunately for all of us is reasonably priced.
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High-End Headphones Buying Guide
It would appear that audiophiles have been right all along. A person can really tell the difference in sound quality when comparing budget headphones to high-end headphones. Although many people balk at the price of these headphones, the fact of the matter is that these headphones really do deliver the best sound quality. When you’re using a pair of these headphones, you truly can hear the peaks and valleys of the music traveling to your ears. And when you first listen to these high-quality headphones for the first time, it’s almost like a religious experience.
Of course, just because a pair of headphones has a higher price tag doesn’t mean that it’s going to deliver sound quality that is substantially better than some of the inexpensive headphones available. That’s why it’s important to do the homework and find out what makes these headphones work so well. That way, you can find a pair that suits your style and will deliver the high-quality stereo sound that you expect. Below are some tips to help you with this goal.
Since the headphones not only have to be large enough to contain the electronics to deliver exceptional sound quality but also to contain enough ear padding to make them comfortable to wear for extended periods, most of the higher quality models are over the ear models. This allows their padding to be nice and comfortable and leaves enough room for larger speakers. Although earbuds are becoming more sophisticated, electronics still aren’t small enough to deliver rich sound.
Impedance is often misunderstood by people, so we’d thought that we’d break it down to its most simple meaning. Impedance is basically the opposition to current flow, and this opposition is measured in ohms. When impedance rises, current will drop. Most headphones have an impedance of anywhere from 8-ohms to 32-ohms, which is well within the range of most stereo devices—if not under it. However, professional headphones can have an impedance of anywhere from 32-ohms all the way up to 600-ohms or higher.
Unfortunately, when you begin to get into higher impedance ranges, it becomes harder to drive the sound. In those instances, an additional headphone amp will be needed to drive the sound properly. It also means that the headphones won’t sound very good when used with smartphones or MP3 players. If your headphones are above 250-ohms, then you are going to need a powerful audio system to properly drive the audio. As a general rule, you’ll want a headphone impedance that’s below the impedance delivered by your audio source’s outputs.
It can be hard to determine if a particular headphone has the right impedance level because most headphone manufacturers don’t list the tolerance of the headphones. In a perfect world, the manufacturers would list the tolerance of the headphones along with their frequency response. Since they don’t do that, most users will just have to use the frequency response number alone to determine if they’ve found the best headphones. Keeping that in mind, audiophiles should look for headphones that are at least above 24,000 Hz. Although most people who are older than 23 can’t hear frequencies above 20,000 Hz, a high-frequency response is a good indication of whether a pair of headphones will deliver a great mid-range of notes.
The next thing that should be examined is the headphones driver size. Common wisdom dictates that most audiophiles should choose a pair of headphones with a larger sound driver, and that’s true up to a point. Sound drivers which are bigger can do a good job at presenting a nice bass sound, but they often distort higher frequencies. Therefore, the headphone shouldn’t have a sound driver that’s larger than 56mm in size. If it’s too large, then it will reproduce higher-end frequencies less accurately than a pair of headphones with a smaller driver. Ideally, the audiophile should aim for a sound driver size from 42mm up to 56mm.
Total Harmonic Distortion
Although the discussion of Total Harmonic Distortion, or THD, is too technical to get into detail in this article, we can give you an overview of what this rating refers to when it comes to headphones. THD represents how much the output signal deviates from the audio source. Since headphones never perfectly replicate the audio input, there’s always going to be some THD variances. However, all the consumer needs to know is that they should choose a pair of headphones with the lowest THD possible. Some of the best over-the-ear headphones have a THD of around .02% or less.
Sensitivity Or Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
Sensitivity levels, also known as sound pressure level or SPL, can be difficult to access from one manufacturer to the next because not all of them use this measurement in the same ray. Most of the time it’s expressed in milliwatts when it really should be expressed in volts. However, that’s another story altogether. All the consumer really has to consider when comparing the SPL of a pair of headphones is to make sure that the SPL is above 86 decibels, which is really a rather low sensitivity rating for high-end headphones. In fact, most of the high-end models have an SPL of around 110 to 120-decibels.
Whether or not a person needs their headphones to provide them with noise isolation or not is basically a personal preference every person needs to decide for themselves. If the audiophile does want noise isolation, then they are going to want to buy a pair of headphones with a closed back instead of an open back.
Headphone Jack Size
Making sure that the headphone has the proper jack for your preferred audio output is also extremely important. Although most people use an audio source that accommodates a 3.5mm jack, some stereo systems require a 6.35mm jack. Of course, some headphones offer adapters that enable them to be used with either 3.5mm or 6.35mm outputs. These headphones are extremely handy for anyone who needs the headphones to work on multiple audio sources.