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Best Audiophile Headphones

Last updated: 6 months ago, Apr. 6. 2020
Article Contents

    These are the best audiophile headphones you should consider in 2019.

    Sure there are plenty of choices in the super high-quality headphones but if you want to maximize your enjoyment of music, consider these first.

    Many would consider these a luxury. But for an audiophile, these are a necessity.

    The highest quality materials and drivers with often fancy design can end up costing quite a lot.

    But don’t despair, we found value for money options too.

    Table of Contents


      Best studio headphones

      Best headphones for mixing

       Best Audiophile Headphones

      1. Sennheiser HD 800 S

      Sennheiser HD 800 S

      Comfort, durability, and an extremely precise sound are qualities that make Sennheiser HD 800 S on the top of our list.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Open-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired 6.3mm

      Why Buy These?

      The go-to headphones for any serious audiophile. They have a status of headphones all need to compare to.

      The cans are super comfortable with their large spacious ear cups. Long listening sessions won’t hurt your ears.

      Sennheiser made sure to use the best, premium materials and sturdy design that will last for years, possibly forever (with good care).

      The Bad

      Some people might be bothered by their bulky design. Also, don’t expect to enjoy your music in noisy places fully. But that is reasonable since they are open-back headphones.

      The Sound

      The sound they produce is well balanced. Bass is well defined with amazing clarity. Mid-range is fantastic. Slightly artificial highs with some pronounced sibilance mix all together in an overall extraordinary sound.

      These sound exceptional with every music genre.

      Sennheiser HD 800 S and their truly sensational sound are a must-have pair of headphones for all serious audiophiles.

      2. OPPO PM-3

      OPPO PM-3

      Oppo PM-3 are closed-back planar magnetic headphones you can listen to for hours and never get tired of their sound.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Planar magnetic
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm/6.3 mm

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for above-average audio reproduction and stylish design, then you should definitely check these out.

      The Good

      The first thing you can notice about these over-ear headphones is their stylish yet sturdy design.

      Large spacious ear cups make them extra comfy. Metal and overall premium materials make them durable.

      They also have an in-line remote control to manage your tracks. And a decent microphone that can make your phone calls easier.

      The Bad

      Although they can block some of the sound around you, passive noise isolation isn’t the best. And closed design means their soundstage isn’t as great as with open cans.

      The Sound

      OPPO PM-3 are one of the best sounding headphones in their price range. Many audio purists agree with the statement.

      Their sound quality is well balanced. Bass can extend, you can hear big kicks while not overpowering other ranges.

      Midrange is flawless and mixes with highs very well. Though the soundstage isn’t the biggest, it’s hard to expect more from closed-back design.

      Overall, their sound is suitable for the most demanding users that expect sonic fidelity above everything else.

      Oppo PM-3 are great for critical listening—clear and balanced sound plus great comfort make them one of the best options for an audiophile.

      3. Shure SE535

      Shure SE535 Transparent

      Shure SE535 are arguably the best in-ear monitors for audiophiles on the market.

      Type: In-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Balanced armature
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm

      Why Buy These?

      Well, because these are fantastic monitoring in-ear headphones used by many professional musicians across the globe.

      Shure is known worldwide for creating high-end musical equipment, including in-ear monitors.

      The SE535 aren’t their highest tier (or most expensive) model, but they’re probably most popular among audiophiles.

      Their advantage is that with the right ear tips, you get amazing comfort and good sound isolation.

      Although they are made out of plastic, they are extremely durable. Due to low weight, you can wear them for hours and never complain about discomfort.

      Add detachable cables and the option to turn them wireless with Bluetooth wires, and you’ll understand why these are so versatile.

      The Bad

      Their high price for in-ear monitors is actually the only really bad thing. For the same money, you can get proper circumaural headphones.

      The Sound

      Overall, the sound is extraordinary.

      You get well-extended bass, although it lacks deep punches. Mids are lush and full forward. That comes handy, especially while listening to vocal-centric songs.

      Highs are clear and detailed, but not the best in the world. Especially if you’re listening to classical music.

      Superb sound quality, good noise isolation, and high comfort are what makes Shure SE535 stand out among other in-ear headphones.

      4. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

      Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

      The best wireless audiophile headphones

      Bower & Wilkins P7 Wireless will surprise you with their sound performance despite being wireless.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wireless: Bluetooth

      Why Buy These?

      If you want a great sounding pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones, check these out.

      The classic leather (sheep) look makes their design evergreen and classy.

      Soft ear cups padded with memory foam provide great comfort. And, closed ear cups better noise isolation, so you can listen to your music in noisy places.

      Their battery can last up to 17 hours. On top of that, you can use them in wired mode too.

      And, for when you want to take them around, fold them in a smaller package for simple storage.

      The Bad

      Because of their tight fit, they might get uncomfortable after long-hour use. Since Bluetooth takes away from audio quality, these aren’t fit for purists.

      The Sound

      These over-ear headphones have a rock-solid audio performance.

      Bass lovers will be thrilled because of their heavy emphasized bass.

      Bright mids harmonize the bass well, so do the highs. All ranges mix together in a warm pleasing V-shaped sound.

      But people who prefer flat sound won’t like that the lows sometimes overpower other ranges.

      If you’re looking for wireless headphones that are the closest to audiophile standards, then take a look at Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless.

      5. Sennheiser HD 600

      Sennheiser HD 600

      Fantastic value for money

      Sennheiser HD 600 are the more affordable audiophile option (compared to HD 800)

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Open-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm/6.3 mm

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for high-quality sound without a premium price, these are for you.

      The HD 800 are priced at an unattractive high price for many audiophiles.

      So, if you want something similar but less “fancy” then the HD 600s are a fantastic option.

      Over-ear velour-padded ear cups fit nicely and make them comfortable for hours.

      Though lightweight, these headphones are made to last. With quality materials and a removable cord, you can be confident in your purchase.

      The Bad

      There’s nothing specific to complain about. Except that open-back design makes for poor noise isolation.

      But you probably won’t be listening to these in a loud place.

      The Sound

      The sound is balanced like audiophiles prefer it. Bass is consistent and punchy. Mids and highs are well balanced.

      There’s minimal distortion at low or high volumes. Great soundstage creates a surreal feeling of spatial sound.

      You have to hear to know how these are better than your average headphones.

      Overall, the sound is suitable for all music genres, from jazz to rock.

      Sennheiser HD 600 are worth getting, because of their well-balanced and open sound that can compare to the best, while costing less money.

      6. Philips Fidelio X2HR

      Philips X2HR Fidelio

      Philips Fidelio X2HR are one of the best open headphones under $200.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Open-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for balanced open-back headphones that don’t compromise bass, then check these.

      Lovely design and strong build quality will make you forget you’re dealing with sub-$200 headphones.

      Plus, well-padded ear cups and comfy headband provide a fantastic level of comfort, which can be compared to 300$+ headphones.

      The Bad

      Due to their open-back design, they tend to leak sound and provide poor noise isolation.

      The Sound

      The sound they give is spacious and smooth. It is also detailed and clear.

      You’ll hear a lot more details than with your average headphones.

      At the same time, the bass is still strong and present without bleeding into mids or highs.

      Their sound signature is balanced. This kind of sound is suitable for all music genres and even for “bassier” types.

      Although Philips Fidelio X2HR aren’t one of the leading high-end models, they still produce amazing sound and comfort worthy of even a seasoned audiophile.

      7. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

      Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

      Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are closed-back headphones with V-shaped sound and great build quality.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for a V-shaped sound combined with amazing durability, then read on.

      The solid metal frame makes these headphones sturdy and durable.

      Their velour ear pads give good comfort for hours, plus they’re replaceable.

      Moreover, the noise around you won’t bother you, because their tight fit provides amazing noise isolation.

      Their price is also a good thing at under $200, you get a lot for a relatively “low” price.

      The Bad

      Although their design is nice, they are bulky to carry around with you. Their fit can get too tight and uncomfortable after long listening sessions.

      The Sound

      The v-shaped sound signature will make you dance to your favorite pop songs.

      The bass and treble are extended and overall excellent. V-shaped sound is great for popular music and monitoring.

      That’s why they’re heavily used with DJs and radio hosts. But if you want cans for mixing, these aren’t the best due to closed design.

      Overall, the DT 770 PRO are popular among bass-loving audiophiles who aren’t persuaded by flat frequency response.

      The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO might not be typical audiophile headphones at first sight, but their extraordinary built quality and fun sound will prove you wrong.

      8. HiFiMAN HE-400I

      HIFIMAN HE-400i

      HiFiMAN HE-400I are massive planar magnetic headphones under $200.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Open-back
      Drivers: Planar magnetic
      Connection: Wired

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for planar magnetic headphones that don’t break the bank, then you should get yourself these.

      The Good

      These full-size headphones are massive, and no self-respecting audiophile would be ashamed to own them.

      And the sleek design comes with decent built quality, as long as you treat them right.

      Lightweight metallic frame and soft padded ear cups make them enjoyable to wear, even for hours.

      The Bad

      A bit heavy and poor noise isolation (high leakage).

      The Sound

      The sound is balanced with consistent punchy bass, lovely mids, and great treble. Imaging is exceptional.

      Also, their soundstage can outperform a lot of other headphones. You’ll get a great sense of spatial sound.

      Their sound is suitable for more vocal-centric music and producing, but not for bass lovers.

      HiFiMAN HE-400I are great open over-ear headphones for daily indoor use, provide extraordinary comfort, and offer amazing soundstage that will satisfy an audiophile.

      9. Audio Technica ATH-M50x

      Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

      Audio Technica ATH-M50x are famous closed-back headphones popular among studio workers and audiophiles.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for balanced sound and design that can last a long time, check these beauties out.

      Large cups make for an extremely comfortable fit. Classic design made out of dense plastic is sturdy and durable.

      Plus, they’re foldable, for easier transportation and come with replaceable ear pads and detachable cable.

      You can get them for a reasonably low price (under $200), they can compete with high-end studio headphones.

      The Bad

      There’s not much to complain about. These are the go-to headphones for closed-backs under $200.

      The Sound

      Their sound is overall balanced with deep, punchy bass, neutral midrange, and distortion-free treble.

      It can easily be compared to many headphones costing more than these. It’s the reason why many level audiophiles swear by them.

      The versatile sound makes them for different music genres, as well as monitoring during production.

      Audio Technica ATH-M50x are the leading budget audiophile headphones in their price range, and are massively popular due to their fantastic value-for-money proposition.

      10. Sennheiser HD25 Professional

      Sennheiser HD25 Professional DJ Headphones

      Sennheiser HD25 Professional are used by many DJs and producers due to their accurate sound and portability.

      Type: On-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wired 3.5mm

      Why Buy These?

      If you’re looking for portable on-ear headphones that can accurately represent all ranges, then check these out.

      The lightweight on-ear design makes it easier to carry them around than bulky over-ears.

      And, although they are made out of plastic, durability isn’t an issue. They can survive even a couple drops.

      Also, their noise isolation is pretty great, so they’re the first choice of many DJs who mix music in noisy places.

      The Bad

      Feel a bit cheap. If you’re using them for DJing, you might find their cord too short to move around carefree.

      The Sound

      Their sound is balanced. Bass is well defined, just right without being exaggerated. Just enough to know how much you can boost it (if monitoring).

      Mids are neutral, and vocals come out clear and vibrant.

      Also, the highs are crisp, full of details, and without distortion.

      These headphones can do justice to just about every music genre and sound much better than the price would suggest.

      Sennheiser HD25 Professional are one of the best on-ear headphones to date, and it’s no wonder they’re still popular today (even though it’s an old model).

      11. Bowers & Wilkins PX

      Bower & Wilkins PX

      Bowers & Wilkins PX are the closest thing to wireless audiophile headphones with noise-cancellation.

      Type: Over-ear
      Back design: Closed-back
      Drivers: Dynamic
      Connection: Wireless, Bluetooth

      Why Buy These?

      You probably already know noise-cancelling headphones don’t sound the best. But Bowers & Wilkins PX are the best cans that sound great and also come with ANC today.

      As well as a premium look, they also have premium durability. They’re made out of high-end plastic and aluminum.

      Well-padded earcups are fairly deep and spacious and provide long-term comfort.

      There are 3 buttons for control. You can manage the connection, your music or calls, and noise cancelling modes.

      Adaptive noise cancelation is above average. It’s useful if you’re traveling on an airplane or working in an office (there’s a mode specifically for office).

      Battery life is pretty good too. It can last up to 22 hours per full charge, and they support USB-C charging.

      The Bad

      Some people might find these wireless headphones uncomfortable. They tend to be too heavy and too tight. Audio quality diminishes with ANC on.

      The Sound

      Somewhat balanced sound consists of deep, powerful bass, decent mids, and bright highs.

      Bass is warm and punchy, but not as strong as bassheads would like. Previous B&W models had an even stronger V-shaped sound.

      Vocals are clear and nicely complement lower ranges. While the treble is slightly emphasized but without distortion.

      Bowers & Wilkins PX are worth taking a look at. Their soundstage, enjoyable sound, sleek design, and superb battery performance surely make up for comfort issues.

      Honorable mentions:

      The Fostex TH900 – a good option for bassheads who want deep, powerful bass, but not for purists.

      The Definition of an Audiophile

      An audiophile is a person who loves experiencing the high-quality sound and is willing to pay more for (usually expensive) equipment and tools. Their hobby usually involves a lot of equipment testing (headphones and speakers), visiting audio tech shows and spending a lot of time finding the next best audio high.

      There’s no fixed amount of money you’re supposed to spend to qualify for the name.

      You can buy a quality pair of headphones and an amplifier for around $200-$400 and enjoy the high-end sound. That’s entry-level audiophile headphones.

      Sure, some audiophiles spend 5-figure amounts (some even 6) for all their gear, but that’s over long years and due to emotionally attaching to old purchases.

      On the other hand, spending 300 bucks on Bose headphones doesn’t exactly make you an audiophile.

      There’s no definitive sound signature that’s considered audiophile-like, but generally balanced, accurate sound reproduction is preferred.

      Nonetheless, those who like attenuated audio like V-shaped and bass-emphasized sound can also be audiophiles (though some may disagree).

      In the end, the love for the sound and emotions we experience make us equal.

      What are the Best Audiophile Headphones under $200?

      It’s hard to come up with a specific winner because you have many options at this relatively low price (for audiophiles). In our opinion, you should consider:

      Philips Fidelio X2HR – open-back headphones with strong bass and lots of details

      Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO – closed-back headphones with V-shaped sound signature and tank-like structure

      HIFIMAN HE-400I – fantastic planar magnetic over-ears with a warmer sound

      Audio Technica ATH M50x – affordable closed-backs with balanced sound, perfect entry level audiophile headphones

      What audiophile model you choose should be based on your preferences, regardless of the price range.

      Do you want open-back or closed-back headphones?

      • Open headphones have better soundstage and thus audio quality, but they leak a lot of sound, so they’re only suitable for listening at home.
      • Closed headphones have better noise isolation and keep the music inside but come with smaller spatial sound (soundstage), which negatively impact the musical experience.

      What’s the main purpose of buying them?

      Will you listen to music and movies exclusively at home? Then get open-back headphones that can be big and bulky.

      But if you want to take them with you on your commute, or office or elsewhere, then get closed-back cans that block ambient noise and have minimal sound leakage.

      Is it Really Worth Paying More Money for Headphones?

      If you’re a vetted audiophile, you probably know the answer. But if you’re just thinking about buying yourself a truly high-end pair of headphones, then you should consider a few things.

      How much do you value better sound quality?

      Is it worth spending $300 more for a 10% improvement in audio for you?

      We all have different budgets and desires to work with. There’s nothing wrong if you’re unwilling to pay over $500 for headphones.

      Choose from what’s available in your price range. But do expect to pay at least around $200.

      $100 headphones are usually pretty good, but when you reach the prices over 200 dollars, diminishing returns become apparent.

      You can spend $500 for a pair, but it won’t double in quality because of it. It’s usually a small improvement.

      The same is true for $1000-headphones. Test them in real life before making a decision like that.

      But they have better frequency range…

      Sure many high-quality headphones produce more frequencies than the average cans, but humans can actually hear only 20-20,000 Hz.

      And, that’s exactly the frequency range most common in headphones. You can’t hear the difference (unless you’re a freak of nature).

      Plus, the older you get, the worse your hearing gets. It’s not a technical limitation, but a biological one.

      Make sure that you combine your cans with a quality headphone amplifier as most of these require more power (they have higher impedance).

      What are the Best Headphones That an Audiophile Must Have?

      Instead of a specific model, choose them based on use.

      You need headphones for:

      • Home listening, where you can relax and focus on sonic fidelity without distractions
      • Work listening (if possible), it’s a different environment that needs to consider the presence of other people
      • Portable, on-the-go use where you value convenience together with high-end audio

      Over the years, you’ll probably end up with many more headphones.

      Can Wireless Headphones Be Considered Audiophile?

      While purists will disagree, some Bluetooth headphones are considered worthy of an audiophile. Their sound quality might not compare to wired headphones technically, but most people can’t hear the difference anyway.

      Check here if you can hear the difference in different sound quality.

      Many entry-level audiophiles don’t want to go too extreme with spending money on all parts of a perfect high-end setup.

      Some just want to enjoy high-res audio quality in comfort. Using uncompressed or lossless song file types with efficient Bluetooth codecs can go a long way.