Headphones can range in price from a few bucks to several thousands of dollars. The difference between a decent pair of headphones and a high-end one can be huge, and although you might need to break the bank to buy them, the investment can be absolutely worth it if you choose the right pair. Finding the right value-for-money deal can be a little tricky when your budget may range from $500 to up to $5,000, though, and you need to make your choice very carefully.
After all, if after reading so many reviews of Astell & Kern audio players, you finally decided to buy the most expensive model, you cannot enjoy the high-res audio quality it provides if both your headphones and audio cables aren’t on par. Let’s take a look at some of the best high-end headphones currently available on the market.
- Image HiFiMan HE-400i Headphones
A great pair of open back cans that comes at a quite affordable price (about $500), the HiFiMan HE400i is probably the best among the “low-cost” high-end ones. With an engaging midrange and superior detail thanks to the planer magnetic design, the HiFiMan is able to deliver a quality which is vastly superior than its price tag suggests. Additional features include multiple Earpad accessory options to slightly alter the sound presentation and a detachable cable to quickly switch connections. However, be sure to replace the stock cable provided with this headphone to fully enjoy its full sounds range.
- Shure SRH1540 Headphones
Similarly to the HE-400i, the Shure SRH1540 Headphones are great “budget” cans that come at a reasonable price while offering top-level audio quality. Although they are closed back cans, the Shure have not been designed to offer 100% isolation, as the felt ear-pads cause some sound to leak in and out of them. Although this aspect can be somewhat detrimental to those around you, the overall audio quality of these headphones is ten times better because of it. This minuscule amount of loss creates a much larger sound stage, which is all but common among closed back cans. Add in a detachable cable to provide you a lot of flexibility, and you got some of the best deals available.
- Focal Utopia
Much more expensive than the two pairs described above (almost $4,000), the Focal Utopia are considered by many the best headphones on the planet. The rich and open sound has no equivalent, and the absurdly high sensitivity means they can be driven by all types of amps. Simply put, they sound better than anything else and, after all, that’s all that matters when we talk about audio equipment, right? With a clarity that is superior even to the famed LCD-4, and a comfort that will make you feel like you laid your head on a pillow, these headphones have almost no flaws. If you’re, like, really nitpicking, well, maybe their sci-fi design isn’t exactly the best out there, actually.
- Mr. Speakers Ether Headphones
A fantastic $1,500 open back headphone, the newest full production Ether headphone from Mr. Speakers is a pair of smooth and wonderfully accurate cans. Mr. Speakers got its reputation for modifying Fostex TR50Ps, and is now storming the market with a built in-house headphone that is definitely going to be a revelation in the foreseeable future. Crafted with top-notch materials built for comfort, the Ether is circumaural open acoustic, planar magnetic headphone with a superbly fine classic design. The V-Planar knurled diaphragm technology vastly contributes to provide an exceptional sound quality that knows no rivals for its price tag.
- Audeze LCD-4
You cannot talk about high-end headphones without mentioning the Audeze LCD-4. Definitely the best model among the LCD-X catalogue, the LCD-4 is a giant among its peers. The price tag is rather high (almost $4,000), but everything about this pair of cans is just as big. Take for example its massive 106mm drivers – just put these comfortable earcups on your head and you will be enveloped by a potent sound and huge deep basses that will truly give you the shivers. The only con is the 200Ω impedance that will force you to connect them to a serious amp to drive them. But who’s going to plug a pair of LCD-4 to a cheap amp anyways?
Sometimes spending more money means getting the chance to make your entire world sound better. And having the chance to listen to music with real-life quality is definitely worth any price you can afford to pay.