Top 5+ Audiophile Headphones Should Buy
There are a wide variety of high-end headphones on the market, many of which are packed with tons of high-tech features. But what if you just want the purest listening experience?
Audiophile headphones, with a clear focus on sound quality, are an ode to great sound—not sensors or streaming technology.
Below we’ve rounded up the best audiophile headphones. And they don’t have to be prohibitively expensive – the sound quality is excellent, so don’t skimp on more affordable options. We’ve tested them thoroughly and each passed with flying colors, so you can rest assured they’ll all sound great.
1. HiFiMan Arya
The best mid-range and high-end audiophile headphones we’ve tested are the HiFiMan Ayra. Unlike the Sennheiser HD 800 S, these over-ear headphones feature planar magnetic transducers rather than the more common dynamic design. They can reproduce deeper bass than the Sennheiser and create an almost similarly natural, wide and spacious soundstage. However, your converter is more complex, so audio playback may vary slightly from unit to unit. They’re also a bit heavy, but their ski-strap headband helps distribute the weight of the headset.
While they still struggle to reproduce punch and rumble, they can still deliver more bass than our top picks. Vocals and instruments also sound bright without being shrill or harsh, thanks to a little extra treble. As such, they’re versatile enough to play a wide variety of audio content, and they play audio fairly consistently so you don’t have to worry about earphone fit, positioning, and sealing.
The manufacturer has relaunched these headphones, colloquially known as the Arya V3. They have updated invisible magnets designed to improve sound quality by reducing distortion and increasing transparency. We tested the V2 model, which is currently available through the manufacturer’s website, but lacks this feature. While we haven’t tested the V3, there may be slight differences in overall sound quality between the two models.
2. Goethe SR325x
It’s a small improvement over the SR325e, but considering those who have previously made it to the top of this list of best audiophile headphones, each improvement is an achievement in itself. Also successful, what kind of Hi-Fi did these record? Awarded for 2021 and 2022.
what’s new? Not much on the surface. There are flatter foam earpads, updated cables, and lighter stitching on the firmly padded headband. But the real work happens under the hood.
The 44mm drivers feature an improved motor system, new diaphragms and revised coils for increased efficiency and reduced distortion. The new 8-conductor cable uses “super” annealed copper to deliver a cleaner sound.
The result is smoother listening with more authoritative bass, and a cleaner, clearer overall sound. They take precision and insight to another level, while delivering rhythm with enthusiasm and plenty of punch. The best audiophile headphones just got better.
3. Sennheiser IE900
Ennheiser’s IE 900 will appeal to purists who want the best possible audio from a high-quality source. It’s a premium set to go with the best audiophile headphones, with six eartip options and three cables with a choice of regular 3.5mm and balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm connectors. The only thing they don’t have is an inline remote.
Sennheiser’s engineers have opted for a single driver rather than the sleeker multi-unit approach taken by many competitors, and it’s been designed with stiffness and low resonance in mind. It turned out great. They sound very clear and open, and can go deep into the production of the recording. They also sound confident and insightful, revealing low-level layers of information and organizing each track they encounter into a structured and cohesive whole.
Combine them with a high-quality external DAC like the Chord Mojo, and use high-quality files, and you’ll hear the IE 900 justify its premium price.
4. Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO is the best low-to-mid-range audiophile headphone we’ve tested. Like many lower-priced audiophile headphones, they have a closed-back design. Still, they’re solidly built and rival similarly expensive open-back speakers like the Philips Fidelio X2HR in terms of neutral sound. The closed-back design has some advantages: it allows them to block out ambient sound like background noise and transmit less audio, which is helpful for studio work.
Closed-back headphones also do a better job at reproducing bass, giving your audio just the right amount of rumble and boom, along with presence and precision for vocals and lead instruments. The bright high-frequency response can get tiring over time, but it helps you hear the imperfections in the mix that studio work might require. Unfortunately, they don’t produce a very wide or roomy soundstage, but their sound seems to come from the space around you rather than your head. They have a comfortable, well-designed design, but the audio cable isn’t detachable, which means you’ll have to replace the earphones if they break. If you want one interchangeable cable, you might prefer the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, which comes with three interchangeable audio cables. However, you can’t block out as much ambient noise as you can.
5. Philips SHP9500
If you’re looking for less expensive headphones, the Philips SHP9500 are the most affordable audiophile headphones we’ve tested. These wallet-friendly earphones are plastic, so they don’t feel as durable compared to the pricier options listed here. Still, they offer a very neutral sound profile with a flat midrange response, ensuring vocals and lead instruments are clear, accurate and detailed. Unlike Beyerdynamic, they have an open design that helps create a wide, immersive passive soundstage. This design also means they don’t reproduce deep bass very well, so your audio won’t be lacking in thump and rumble.
They deliver consistent audio quality and are very comfortable, with large earcups that fit most people’s ears with ease. However, if you’re looking for less expensive headphones, you might want to consider the Superlux HD 681. They’re not as comfortable as the Philips, but offer analytical sound profiles that can help spot imperfections in the audio. If durability is your concern, keep in mind that they are not as durable as the Philips.