5 Best Headphones For Audiophiles (REVIEW)

Headphones are what makes or breaks an enjoyable solo listening experience. You can have the world’s best sound system and speakers, but without the best headphones for audiophiles, you’ll be limiting your auditory pleasure.

Top quality headphones are available at all price ranges, so if you’re on a budget there’s no need to despair.

But the most expensive headphones sound the best right? 

Wrong! ​

The higher end, most expensive headphones are more useful for sound engineers and other professional use. But many of the mid range headphones arguably give a more enjoyable listening experience to the average Joe (me or you) as the aim isn’t to give a perfect representation of the sounds being played, but to give you a better experience as a consumer of music.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Headphones For Audiophiles On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best headphones for audiophiles

  • Open backed headphones are better for long listening sessions as they place less pressure on your eardrums.
  • Open back designs also allow for a ‘soundstage’, which gives you the experience of being surrounded by the music rather than having it seemingly emerge from inside your head. This also allows you to pick out the placement of each instrument, even though they aren’t actually in the room.
  • Choose headphones that don’t place too much emphasis on any particular frequency range. For example, Beats by Dre are notorious for having ridiculously over the top Bass, and everything else is too weak.
  • High impedance headphones are best for use at home, as are open backs. This allows you to crank up the volume without risking blowing the speakers out.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Headphones For Audiophiles

1. HiFiMan HE400S

HiFiMan HE400S

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For a mid-range pair of headphones, the HiFiMan HE400S are a pretty epic set of headphones for audiophiles. They represent a sweet spot between quality and investment, giving you the best of both worlds.

  • Low frequencies are well adjusted, much better than most open-back designs
  • Easy to wear for long periods of time without discomfort
  • Provides high volume levels without being plugged into an amplifier first, allowing you to listen to music straight from your laptop, phone or MP3 player without losing anything
  • Cables are a weak spot and expensive to replace
  • The pads that come with the ear cups are slightly uncomfortable and prone to overheating your ears
  • Doesn’t provide any noise cancelling, but this is a feature of open back headphones, not a bug, and is integral to the unique listening experience

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser HD 600

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One of the best audiophile headphones out there, they are a 300 ohm set that will need an amplifier and best not to be used with an mp3 player due to the high impedance.

  • Speakers are resilient to damage
  • Excellent representation across most frequency ranges
  • Makes an excellent choice for use with silent practice for instruments if you’re also a musician or for mixing and mastering in a studio
  • Open backed design leaks sound and doesn’t isolate you from other noises, so are only suitable for use at home
  • High impedance
  • Sub-bass is underrepresented

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro

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One of the most popular professional grade open back headphones, the 250 ohm version is the most expensive, but also the highest quality sound with near reference EQ.

  • All frequencies have excellent representation, with no weak areas and no over-emphasis either
  • Very comfortable to wear even after a long day recording and editing
  • Extremely good value for money
  • For decent volume you’ll need the 250 ohm model, and this also means it’ll rapidly drain any battery powered device
  • Quite large, so they’re best for stationary use
  • Doesn’t have perfect audio reference, favouring a more slightly more stylized EQ for a better listening experience (although it is only a small departure)

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Sennheiser HD 700 (Editor's Choice)

 Sennheiser HD 700

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For a dedicated audiophile, these headphones get well into the high end of the price spectrum. They’re designed with professional requirements in mind, without running up to the point of costing thousands which makes them among the best headphones for audiophiles without a fortune to spend.

  • Open backed design provides a great sonic experience, although they won’t cancel out noise and will leak your sound, they have a great soundstage
  • Uses a ventilated magnet system that really minimizes any distortion
  • Powerful drivers deliver high sound pressure, giving you a very clear picture of what it might sound like to a crowd being blasted by giant speakers
  • More expensive than you might be willing to pay, but if you’re making your practice a priority (which is why you’re looking at this article, right?) then you’ll be making a good investment
  • Can be a little too bright, as the mids are a little understated
  • Although these are fairly comfortable, the top of the head can be a problem spot if you don’t get them adjusted just right

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Audio Technica ATH-AD700X

Audio Technica ATH-AD700X

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If you’re on a tight budget but can’t live with the way that cheap in-ear headphones alter the sound, the ATH-AD700X is an excellent choice for a higher quality listening experience.

  • Very lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods of time
  • Easily affordable
  • Decent soundstage that provides a nice differentiation between instruments
  • Cable is not detachable, so if it becomes damaged you’ll have a hard time fixing it without sending them off
  • Bass frequencies are underwhelming
  • Compared to high end, high impedance headphones such as the Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser models, the level of distortion to the sounds are greater

Let's take a look at this product...

So What Are The Best Headphones For Audiophiles? 

For the newbie looking for the best audiophile headphones, the HiFiMan HE400S presents an excellent starting point. They’re not so expensive as to be a huge concern to your monthly budget, and have exceptional sound quality.

On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned audiophile looking to get to the true high end of what the market has to offer, the Sennheiser HD 700s are the way to go, giving you the closest to being in a huge arena listening to your favourite band on a giant speaker array that you can get whilst still in the comfort of your own home.

But perhaps even the HiFiMan HE400S was a bit too much? The Audio Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are the most budget friendly option. They lack the pristine delivery of the others, but at the same time they’re still a huge upgrade from in-ear headphones.​

Featured image source: pugotukneneCC BY-SA 2.0

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