Take a deep breath; many of these headphones cost over $1000 and should be handled with the same respect you’d grant a Bald Eagle egg. High-end headphones like the ones listed below boast extraordinary sound, build quality, and comfort that justifies their lofty price tags for the most discerning audiophiles.
With impressively clear accuracy, their sound profile tones are hard to resist if you can afford them. If money is no object in your headphone shopping experience, follow the list below to aural gold.
1. Sennheiser HD800
There has always been a debate between electronic reproduction and natural sound. The Sennheiser HD-800 is the headphone that has been specifically engineered in replicating the basic acoustic conditions of natural hearing. This level of performance has yet to be matched by any competitor. The HD-800 is the ultimate headphone to deliver nature. More than 60 years of ingenious headphone engineering has been applied into the new HD 800.
Incorporating Sennheiser’s most advanced driver technology, these open, circum-aural dynamic stereo headphones redefine what reference-level audio is all about. You will form an altogether new height of sonic perspective as you experience a high-fidelity natural hearing experience. Premium parts have gone into their production – the transducer is encased by a precision material made of stainless steel; ear pads are made of special high-quality Japanese Alcantara; while the headband and headphone mounting utilizes the most advanced development from the aerospace industry.
In terms of connectivity, these headphones utilize specially designed, four-wire, high-performance connections with insulation. These headphones have been developed to provide the closest match to “being there” than any other available headphone. The Sennheiser HD-800 is for the discriminating audiophile seeking the best and most natural sound available. From rich bass lows to definitive highs, the Sennheiser HD-800 headphones deliver the exclusive sound that nature had intended.
2. Grado PS1000
Grado headphones can reproduce as natural a soundstage from stereo recordings and provide as much listening pleasure as a good pair of speakers do. Grado headphones are free of room effects and placement problems, and they minimize any interference from external noise. They also offer portability and the ability to listen without worrying about the neighbors. With Grado headphones, you will hear recordings with greater clarity and with deeper bass than others! Beyond Grado’s critically acclaimed Reference Series and the General Statement, the Professional Series PS1000 takes the best qualities of past Grado technology and merges it into one headphone that’s a vital affirmation of music’s presence in the present.
Grado’s Professional Series PS1000 is a hybrid of wood and metal extends the Grado sound to levels never before achieved. This is truly the best headphone Grado has ever produced. Throughout the audio spectrum, the Grado PS1000 delivers definitive highs, tight midrange, and rich bass. The concept of a hybrid metal/wooden headphone delivers that neutral tonality that no transducer could approach. This step up from the Grado GS1000 is so significant that audio enthusiasts are ready to sell all their headphones to own just the PS1000.
The Grado PS1000 features voice-coils that are wound from ultra-high purity, long crystal (UHPLC) oxygen free copper. The copper is slowly drawn through the die in extremely small increments and is annealed following each drawing operation. Ultra-high conductivity copper yields the clearest transmission and lowest coloration possible. The sound of UHPLC copper is smoother, cleaner and more dynamic. Each headphone driver is made to Grado’s high standards, then pair-matched for exact imaging. These headphones also utilize UHPLC copper in the connecting cable.
3. Ultrasone Signature Pro
Yes, they’re really expensive, but there’s a lot to love about the Ultrasone Signature Pro headphones. They’re comfortable to use over long listening sessions either at home or on the run, they’re ruggedly built to withstand the rigors of daily wear and tear, and Ultrasone has one of the longest warranties offered by any headphone manufacturer. The Ultrasone Signature Pros are a worthwhile investment if you’re shopping for full-size headphones that pair well with any genre of music.
4. Phonak Audeo PFE 232 Perfect fit
The Phonak Audeo PFE 232 is expensive, but the universal fit Shure SE535 runs $499, so the PFE 232 isn’t so far out of line with other flagship earphones. It’s an awesome-sounding universal fit earphone, and the Acoustic Filters offer buyers a degree of fine-tuning not available from the Shure and other headphones.
5. HiFiMan HE-400
The HiFiMan HE-400 looks, feels, and sounds like a much more expensive set of headphones. They’re sure to please audiophiles with sophisticated tastes, and they sound remarkably spacious, making the HE-400s ideal for home theater duty. The HE-400s’ only real limitation is their lack of synergy with on-the-go portable use. Other than that one caveat, they’re highly recommended.
6. Sony XBA-4
Step up to a revolution in audio with Sony Balanced Armature. A full range driver, added tweeter, plus two woofers, deliver rich profound bass, clear vocals, and bright, clear mids and high frequencies. Rediscover every note and all the emotion of your favorite music with the world’s only drivers optimized for music enjoyment.
7. Sennheiser HD 598
Not only are the HD 598 aesthetically pleasing to the eyes but they also provide an impeccable sound quality and unrivalled comfort. These beige-coloured open, circumaural headphones come with high-gloss burl wood parts and matching ear pads for a sophisiticated, premium finish. With Sennheiser‘s innovative E.A.R. technology, audio signals are directly channelled into your ears. These headphones also incorporate a special diaphragm geometry that minimizes inter-modulation distortion while delivering an impressive frequency response range, plus a highly constant compressed cellulose fleece to hold harmonic distortion to less than 0.1%. And to accentuate the already outstanding listening experience even further, their high-quality leatherette headband and velour ear pads provide outstanding wearing comfort, even for long listening sessions.
8. Grado SR225i
What does the i stand for in the new SR225i from Grado? Improved, that’s what! Features are the same as the SR125i, new driver, cable and housing designs, but this headphone has an increased rear air flow, utilizes Grado’s larger ear cushion and has closer matched drivers. Air flow is increased by 50% which is achieved through an improved rear metal screen. The use of closer matched drivers and the larger cushions results in an enlarged soundstage, while the improved rear screen frees the headphone from colorations.
9. Sennheiser HD 700
If the HD 700 headphones were a music group, it would be equally gifted in every style. Whether classic, jazz or rock, it would have sound mastery of each genre. Regardless of what song it’s currently playing, its timbre is always warm and emotional. With its exceptional and unique range, reproduction of the lowest and highest tones that the human ear cannot consciously perceive is now achievable. This is a true maestro and an unforgettable listening experience suited for every musical taste.
10. Shure SRH1840 Professional
The flagship headphone from Shure, the SRH1840 Professional Open Back Headphones feature individually matched drivers for unparalleled acoustic performance with smooth, extended highs and accurate bass. Developed with premium materials and precision engineering, the customcrafted design is extremely lightweight and durable. A replacement set of velour earpads, and an additional cable ensure years of uninterrupted listening enjoyment.