The 7 Best Audiophile Headphones – Winter 2023 Reviews
A solid set of audiophile-level headphones are necessary if audio quality is your top priority. Due to their lack of active functions, these headphones aren’t the best choice for everyday use, but they’re great for at-home listening situations where you want to totally immerse yourself in your music. They accurately reproduce audio, and the majority of them can generate a roomy, open soundstage that simulates listening to music on tower speakers. Also, they often have a good build quality and are comfortable enough to wear all day without drawing attention to the fact that you are using headphones. This article mostly focuses on wired audiophile headphones due to Bluetooth’s limitations.
The best headphones for audiophiles that you can buy, based on our testing of over 705 pairs, are listed below. See our picks for the best studio headphones, best wired headphones, best bass headphones, and best headphones for music.
Best Audiophile Headphones
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the top audiophile headphones we’ve tested so far. These premium headphones aren’t for everyone because they’re expensive, out of reach for the majority of users, and you need a strong amplifier to drive them, which can add to the cost. Nonetheless, these open-back over-ears provide an exceptional soundstage that is big, realistic, and roomy if you’re searching for an immersive experience regardless of cost. Instead of coming from inside your skull, audio seems to be coming from the outside world. In comparison to planar magnetic headphones like the HiFiMan Arya, their dynamic transducers are less prone to stereo imaging problems. The trade-off is that they don’t have as much low bass.
They lack a little punch and rumble, but they do have a little extra high-bass that gives mixes some warmth. They are a good option for the majority of audio material types since their mids are very flat, which makes vocalists and lead instruments seem true and natural. Also, they fit quite well, preventing tiredness during extended listening sessions. In case your first cable is destroyed, they include a spare detachable audio cable.
Best Upper Mid-Range Audiophile Headphones
The HiFiMan Ayra are the top upper mid-range audiophile headphones we’ve tested. These over-ears have planar magnetic transducers rather than the more typical dynamic design, in contrast to the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They are able to provide a soundstage that is almost same in size, natural, and roomy, and they can reproduce more low-bass than the Sennheiser. Yet, because of how intricate their transducer is, there may be very tiny variations in audio reproduction between units. Although they are relatively heavy, the ski-band headband helps disperse the weight of the headphones.
They can still produce more bass than our top option, despite still having trouble reproducing thump and rumble. Vocals and instruments also seem bright but not jarring or piercing thanks to a hint of extra treble. You don’t have to worry about the headphones’ fit, location, or seal because they reproduce sounds pretty consistently and are adaptable enough for a variety of audio content.
These headphones, also referred to as the Arya V3, have been reissued by this maker. Stealth Magnets, which have been added to them, are intended to enhance their sound quality by lowering distortion and raising transparency. We tested the V2 model, which lacks this feature and is currently sold on the manufacturer’s website. Although we haven’t tested the V3, there might be a few minor differences in the overall sound quality between the two variants.
Best Mid-Range Audiophile Headphones
The top mid-range audiophile headphones we’ve evaluated are the HiFiMan Edition XS. Despite being less expensive than the HiFiMan Arya, these over-ears also contain planar magnetic transducers to help increase the bass and produce an immersive experience. They don’t feel as well-made or comfy, but they provide a neutral sound with a flat mid-range, making singers and lead instruments seem present and distinct. In order to balance their sound, they also lack some low-bass, but they do have a boost in high-bass that adds warmth to mixes. Their passive soundstage is exceptional; it is broad and roomy and gives the impression that the audio is emanating from somewhere other than your head.
These over-ear headphones fit well and are generally a large size. As a result, especially if you have a small head, they aren’t as comfortable as our top option. The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 give roughly equal performance to the Edition XS but have a ski-band headband to disperse their weight on your head for a better fit if you still like planar magnetic headphones at this price point. Unfortunately, its soundstage struggles to deliver an out-of-head audio experience, and they render less low-bass.
Best Lower Mid-Range Audiophile Headphones
The greatest lower mid-range headphones for audiophiles that we have tested are the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. They have a closed-back design, like many audiophile headphones on the more affordable end of the spectrum. These are comparable to similarly priced open-back headphones as the Philips Fidelio X2HR in terms of durability and balanced sound quality. The closed-back design has a few benefits, including the ability to block out certain background noise like background talk and leak less audio, which is useful for studio work.
Also, as closed-back headphones are superior at reproducing bass, your music will have appropriate rumble and boom while maintaining the presence and accuracy of vocals and lead instruments. The sharp treble response can get tiring after a while, but it can make it easier to discern mix flaws, which is useful for studio work. Despite the fact that they don’t produce a very broad or spacious soundstage, their sound seems to emanate from the room outside of your head as opposed to inside of it. Although they offer a sturdy, comfortable design, the audio wire cannot be removed, necessitating the purchase of new headphones in the event of a break. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x comes with three interchangeable audio cables if you want a removable cable. However, they are less effective at masking background noise.
Best Budget Audiophile Headphones
The greatest cheap audiophile headphones we’ve tested are the Philips SHP9500 if you’re looking for even more affordable options. In comparison to the more expensive options on this list, these budget-friendly headphones feel cheap and plasticky. Yet, they provide a fairly neutral sound profile with a flat mid-range response that guarantees the clarity, accuracy, and detail of vocals and lead instruments. They have an open-back design, unlike the Beyerdynamic, which contributes to the creation of a wide-appearing and immersive passive soundstage. Due to their poor low-bass reproduction due to their design, your audio lacks punch and rumble.
With large earcups that can comfortably fit over the ears of most individuals, they offer a highly comfortable fit and consistently provide audio from use to use. But, the Superlux HD 681 may be worth your consideration if you’re seeking for less expensive headphones. While not being as comfy as the Philips, they provide an analytical sound profile that can help highlight audio flaws. These don’t feel as well-built as the Philips, so bear that in mind if durability is a concern.
Best Audiophile In-Ear Monitors
The MOONDROP Aria is the best in-ear monitor (IEM) we’ve tested if you prefer an in-ear fit to over-ears. They are more effective at blocking out background noise than the majority of over-ear audiophile headphones, including the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, which is crucial while listening to live audio. If you move your head around, they won’t fall out of your ears because of their extremely secure, pleasant fit. For increased stability, their audio cords loop around your ear. In-ear headphones, on the other hand, produce a less immersive passive soundstage that seems smaller and as like it is coming from inside your skull.
They have a well-balanced sound profile that gives your audio a little bit more warmth and boom. Sibilants sound dull because, in contrast to the first choice, they have a little underemphasized treble response. In spite of this, the majority of the range is quite well balanced, making the instruments and vocals still audible and audible. The metal earbuds feel sturdy and are crafted well, but regrettably, some users have complained about connectors or cables tearing. The good news is that filters and wires can be changed if they are damaged.
Best Casual Audiophile Headphones
The HiFiMan ANANDA-BT Wireless headphones are the top casual audiophile models we’ve evaluated. Check out these over-ear headphones if you need to occasionally take a call or if you want wireless headphones. Their Bluetooth compatibility and removable mic distinguish them from the other over-ears on this list. They share a planar-magnetic design with the HiFiMan Arya, which contributes to the broad, natural, and open soundstage they produce. These sound quite neutral, however the low-bass is a little lacking. Although the vocals and lead instruments are a little muffled, they are still audible and noticeable.
They can transmit audio in a higher quality than the default codec while still having generally high latency thanks to their support for the aptX and aptX HD codecs. For wireless over-ears, their 11-hour battery life is not very noteworthy. The Apple AirPods Max Wireless are a good option if you’re seeking for adaptable headphones with better battery life. These premium over-ear headphones offer a playback time of more than 21 hours, and their adaptive EQ modifies the sound output based on how well they fit and seal. They have an active noise cancellation (ANC) mechanism that muffles background noise like traffic. Yet, their soundstage isn’t very immersive or natural-feeling because they’re made to cancel out background noise.
The headphones we’ve suggested above are what we believe are currently the best-sounding headphones available for the majority of consumers in each price category. We take into account availability, visitor comments, and price (cheaper headphones prevail over more expensive ones if the price difference isn’t significant) (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
Here is a collection of all of our reviews for headphones, arranged by how neutral they sound, in case you want to make your own decision. Avoid getting sucked into the details. There are no headphones that are ideal. Your choice will depend more on your own preferences, style, and environment where you’ll be using the headphones.