Top 15 Best Headphones Under 1000 in 2018

The leap in the awareness about audio quality has brought renewed enthusiasm into mid-fi headphones. People spend thousands ofBest High End Headphones Under 1000 dollars on home theaters and barely use them, only while watching movies. But they don’t spend a fraction of that money on their headphones that spend hours on their ears each day. It’s time to change the flow. True hi-fi headphones can be really costly. But with a budget of under $1000, you can get brilliant mid-fi headphones that allow you to take real advantage of the latest audio technology. So we selected the 15 best headphones under $1000 spanning all types of designs from full-size to in-ears. These range across features, price, audio response and type.

How do these best high end headphones under $1000 differ from the average headphones?   

Because of the abundance of headphones under $1000 range, we went hunting for the best headphones with some concrete requirements and some loosely held ones to cover all types of music lovers. These are quality headphones with build and audio that set them apart from the crowd. We delved into the basics of selecting the best headphones:

Type: This best headphones under $1000 list set out to include all types of headphones: full-size over ear headphones, on-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, sports earbuds, Bluetooth, noise-cancelling headphones, neckband headphones etc.. In the interest of the best audio quality, we gave diversity in type the second priority.

Over-ear headphones have large drivers, provide good isolation and are more comfortable than the on-ear type because their earcups sit around the ears. Their comfort is only trumped by earphones, which are smaller, isolating and more portable.  These two can deliver good audio quality without compromising on comfort. So these two types dominate the list more.

Audio: Audio makes or breaks the best headphones. Everyone’s taste in audio differs. The most popular audio signature amongst the casual listeners is one with a slight bass bump. Audiophiles prefer an almost flat audio response. While purist audiophiles prefer surgically clean audio. Through this variety of audio choices, certain qualities are necessary:

  • Sound signature: As audio tastes differ, we covered something for everyone. A hint of bump in bass is the most common requirement. However neutral audio can also sound engaging and is more responsive to EQ, so you wield the power of designing your own audio signature with neutral headphones. We preferred mostly neutral headphones in our list over bass-heavy or bright headphones. But only after ensuring they have an engaging audio because music is all about entertainment.
  • Detailing: The best headphones under $1000are all mid-fi gear that bring out a whole slew of details that amateur headphones miss. Without all the little notes that make up the song, you are only listening to it highlights. The intricacy with which the best headphones reveal the details make you want to revisit your collection with them.
  • Soundstage: Since over-ear headphones are also part of this conversation, the openness of the audio is in play. Usually open-back headphones give you a wide open soundstage where the sonic experience surrounds you rather than get stuck in your head. Some closed-back headphones also have huge soundstage that envelope your head. In-ear headphones usually have an intimate soundstage.
  • Clarity: The best headphones show clarity in presentation throughout the frequency response. No part of the audio sounds veiled or muffled. Usually it takes a mid-fi or a high-fi headphone to show you the clarity in its true sense.
  • Fidelity: Fidelity of a headphone is a matter of how accurately it represents the original audio. Mid- and hi-fi headphones make the audio sound as natural and original as possible with a neutral audio signature.

Design: With full-size headphones, design concerns span both comfort and looks. Over-ear headphones are usually comfortable if they have optimum clamp pressure such that the headphones stays put in its position but doesn’t hurt the head.   Looks are important too since you will be wearing the headphones out and about. With earphones, it’s a matter of how much they penetrate the ear and how the ear pieces sit in the ears. Large earbuds can weigh down the ears. In both cases there shouldn’t be any pressure point in the design that presses against the head or ears.

Cable: Wireless headphones are a boon. But Bluetooth is still catching up with the fidelity of wired audio. Headphones with detachable cable do us a favor. That way if the cable gets damaged, you can swap them out instead of the whole set.

Durability: A headphone is an important investment, especially in the $500-$1000 range. You need to check the build quality to ensure they offer a reliable product without raking up the weight too high.  If the cable is permanently attached, that should be the first place your check.

Open or closed: Full size headphones (and lately earphones) come in closed-back and open-back versions. Open-back headphones sound more transparent and spacious. But they allow ambient noise in. They are good for private listening and better for outdoor crusades where you need to be aware of your surroundings. Closed-back headphones afford more privacy but usually sound, well, closed.

Which are the best headphones under $1000?

These 15 best headphones under $1000 were selected based on:

Audio: As we mentioned, we looked for a variety of audio signatures. But the underlying theme is of clarity and detailing. Neutral to slightly warm, the audio of these headphones is engaging while being as natural as possible.

Design: We checked the build of the headphones for their comfort over long periods of wearing. With the earphones, we checked that the cable does not weigh the ears down. We also checked that these are presentable on your head while you are out and about.

Durability: These are premium headphones that should at least live out the worth of their price. So we checked their build quality for material, strength of joints, cable, cable connection, hinges for folding etc. for signs of weakness.

Features: High end headphones under $1000 boast of a variety of features like active-noise cancellation, wireless connectivity, detachable cable, variable bass etc..

Budget: We selected the best headphones under $1000 with a focus on quality headphones. They are in the affordable to premium segment, we have a separate post on inexpensive headphones.

TOP 15 BEST HEADPHONES UNDER 1000 DOLLARS

Picture Name Feature Price Rating

Picture

Name Feature Price

Rating

1. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature HiFi Over Ear Headphones  With a 22-hour battery $$$ 4.8
2. Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones Adjustable sound signatures available $$$ 4.8
3. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2 up to 30hrs with wireless NC and 10min quick charging $$$ 4.7
4. Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote Tesla In-ear  Universal 3-button remote and mic $$$ 4.6
5. Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic Stereophone  Frequency response: 8-35,000 Hz(98 dB SPL/1mW) $$$ 4.6
6. Sony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones  Sound Reproduction up to 100 kHz $$$ 4.5
7. Astell&Kern AK T8iE MkII Tesla Driver In-Ear Headphones by Beyerdynamic Impedance – 16 Ohm; Frequency response – 8 – 48,000 Hz $$$ 4.5
8. Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone  Wired/Wireless.Connectivity Technology $$$ 4.5
9. OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones 1.2 meter portable cable for iPhone $$$ 4.4
10. Sennheiser HD 630VB Headphone with Variable Bass and Call Control Weight w/o cable-400g $$$ 4.3
11. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio open Reference Headphones 250 ohms, 45 mm dynamic Tesla neodymium drivers $$$ 4.2
12. Hifiman HE-560 Full-Size Planar Magnetic Over-Ear Headphones  30% lighter than other full-size planar $$$ 4.1
13. Shure SE535 Earphones Triple High-Definition MicroDrivers $$$ 4.0
14. Sennheiser HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone ( 1 dB) left / right matching tolerance $$$ 4.0
15. Focal – Elear Headphones

3 hours of listening time

$$$ 3.9

1. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature HiFi Over Ear Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins might have jus soni-fied perfection in their brand new flagship headphones, the P9. Designed from the choicest Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature HiFi Over Ear Headphonesmaterials and borrowing technology from the life-size B&W speakers, these headphones come close to heavenly. They left no stone unturned to give these most premium touches, both physically and sonically. With a lightning cable promise, they are updated to latest technology too. If you have deep pockets, there’s no way to turn other than to these best headphones under $1000.

Type: Over-ear, Closed Back

Design and Features

The B&W P9 headphones follow from the already acclaimed P7 headphones. But they ditch tradition for better in everything except the rectangular earcups. The ear pieces and headband are sheathed in expensive Italian Saffiano leather with unique cross-hatch stamping that highlight their elite status. These are mounted on an aluminum framework with brushed finish across the backplates. The padding is memory foam and envelope the ears in divine comfort. The earcups have been decoupled from the headband to reduce vibrations.

Under the hood of these headphones, the 40mm drivers have been tilted 15° to point directly at the ears and emulate a speaker-like experience. B&W didn’t forget to add the folding mechanism at the arms for easy portability. The metal body adds up to 14.5 ounce weight but it’s hardly noticeable. You can wear these around comfortably for long hours with memory foam and distinctive leather keeping you company. They heat up the ears only a bit.

The P9 headphones come with 3 detachable cables. A 1.2m and a 5m audio cable with 3.5mm jacks and a 1.2m cable with 3-button inline control and mic. They never discriminate between audiophiles and everyday users. At the ear pieces end, the jack is a custom 2.5mm locking type. B&W has also promised a free lightning cable for latest iPhone users though we can’t confirm if it ships with the package now. These come with an Alcantara half-moon case with Italian leather highlights. Alcantara is a suede-like material. At 22 Ohms, they are powered easily by smartphones.

Audio

We gave the B&W P9 headphones a good burn in before ever putting them on. 50 hours in, we came to them to experience the widest open sound we have seen in a closed back headphone. Their soundstage is just grand. Only an open-back at this price can beat them. The midrange gets plenty of room to breathe and place the instruments. And so does the treble, creating a heightened sense of clarity that places P9 way above the P7s. The audio comes at you slight from the friend and the instruments surround you. The treble sparkles without any hint of harshness.

The bass is impressively fast and tight. But it’s also meaty and rich. Together, these qualities help them woo both purist audiophiles and casual listeners. The P9 headphones have great transparency throughout the spectrum and can handle everything you throw at them with intricate detailing. They can calm down with the rhythm and be energetic as the song picks pace.

Pros:

  • Audio is perfection
  • Highly detailed and clear
  • Easy to driver at 22Ohms impedance
  • Italian leather and memory foam design
  • 3 detachable cables
  • Foldable

Cons:

  • A tad heavy

2. Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones

Shure SE846 in-ear headphones are the most expensive are one of non-custom earphones in the market. But they live up to every bitShure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones of the hype over their price. Packing in not one, not two, but four drivers per ear piece, Shure works some patented magic to create a true subwoofer experience. Shure SE535   are known to be pretty much perfect, and SE846 are significantly better, so you can imagine why these earn a top spot in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: In-ear, worn with over-ear cable loop

Design and Features

In design, the Shure SE846 in-ear headphones are close to SE535. They look the same but SE846 is lighter and ultra-ergonomic. The size of the earbuds is surprising giving the bulk of drivers it packs. These are over-ear earphones, i.e. their cable has to loop over the ears for them to sit correctly. After fiddling with it the first time, you’ll find it easier to fit in every time. The ear pieces have a clear shell and are sweat-resistant. Their sound isolating technology, keeps the ambient noise out.

These earphones come with two detachable cables: a 46”one and a 64” one. Both are high quality straight silver-plated audio cables. The cables connect to the ear pieces via MMCX connectors which gives them room to rate without yanking off. They do supply a mic extension to make calls. The cords end in L-shaped plugs that fit smartphone cases. A set of three interchangeable nozzle filters is supplied to switch between various audio signatures: reference, bass-forward and treble-forward. In case of the SE846, these are actually useful and make a difference to the audio.

Shure markets some of the best eartips and they are included with SE846 earphones. 3 pairs of silicone and foam tips each, one double flanged eartips pair, and a pair of universal-fit foam tip are packed.  You also get a studio adapter, an airplane adapter, a small carry case and a display case.

Audio

Shure SE846 earphones are the in-ear equivalent of B&W P9s perfection. They pack four balanced armature driver per ear pieces in a three-way configuration with dual bass drivers.  A patented low pass filter gives them subwoofer-like bass without overwhelming the mids. The audio has a solid but transparent presentation across the board. With the neutral filter, these sound engaging while delivering details down to the last minutiae.

The bass performance of SE846 is ingenious for the size. Even the bass tuning filter brings a tight kick to the bass, it never bleeds into the mids. The treble is sparkly and detailed without any sibilance. They sound quite open for an IEM.SE846 shine with a DAC and need quality source material.

Pros:

  • Highly detailed and natural audio
  • Gorgeous subwoofer-like balanced bass
  • Tuning filters for bright, neutral and bassy sounds
  • High-end ergonomic design
  • 2 detachable cables
  • Accessories

Cons:

  • Need high quality source material

3. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2

Sony WH1000XM2 noise-cancelling headphones have done the undoable.  For the first time in decades since Active NoiseSony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2 Cancellation (ANC) headphones became a thing, they dethroned a Bose headphone from the top job. Sizzling at the same price, the WH1000MX2 come with some futuristic features at a very appealing price-tag. And they are no slob in audio quality either, at the excuse of ANC. These had to get a top spot on the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, Closed-back, ANC

Design and Features

Sony WH1000MX2 headphones came at the heels of Sony’s top headphones,the MDR1000X. They look pretty similar although there are number of changes under the hood. They have a moderately thick headed with racetrack oval earcups. The earcups are loaded with cushy padding. They are as comfortable as the MDR1000x which were famous for that aspect. The earcups swivel forward to hug the shape of your head. The backplate of the earcups has more friction for tactile advantage. These are touch-controlled by the right earcup. The touch controls are more responsive than the previous versions. These weigh only 9.5 ounces.

These headphones are equipped with ANC and wireless connectivity. Through the Sony Headphones Connect app you can take full advantage of numerous features. With atmospheric pressure optimizing, the audio is tailored to your environment. Noise optimizer changes the ANC based on the headphone position and wearing style i.e. with glasses or new hairstyle.  In the Quick attention mode, you can cover the right earcup and turn off ANC temporarily to talk to the plane crew. You get different EQ and surround modes.When you are on the move, the Smart Auto settings, the headphones detect your movements and change the audio intuitively. They last through 30 hours on battery and 40 hours on wired mode with ANC on. A quick charge of 10 mins gives you 70 min lifetime. These are available in Black and Gold models.

Audio

Sony WH1000MX2 headphones are clear and natural-sounding cans, a feat in itself given the DSP that goes into noise-cancelling headphones. It’s just a tad more musical than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II which tend to smoothen the audio. The detail and clarity of Sony comes from a long legacy of dealing with audio first and ANC second. The bass has an oomph which helps you hear the music better even with ANC off.  The smooth yet detailed treble makes the audio non-fatiguing and laidback. You can easily wear them through long flights.

These headphones present a detailed and bold midrange that doesn’t need to compete with bass. The quality of ANC is equal to that of QC35 II, a feat in itself.  It was able to suppress a broader range of frequency which is not an issue since a feature allows you to filter in voices only and keep an ear out for announcements.

Pros:

  • Excellent ANC and Bluetooth
  • Natural and balanced audio
  • Warm and laidback
  • Feature-packed for ANC customization
  • 30 hour battery life

Cons:

  • Mic could be better

4. Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote Tesla In-ear

Beyerdynamic is calling its flagship headphones, the Xelento Remote Tesla, their exquisite piece of jewelry. This expensive IEM isBeyerdynamic Xelento Remote Tesla In-ear taking the audio world by the storm with its crystal clear audio that appeals to both audiophiles and the casual listeners. The combination of luxury build, the Tesla drivers, sound that tends to perfect, Beyerdynamic’s customer support, these are a win-win choice. Their luxury get them a top spot in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: In-ear, over-ear fit with loop around the ears

Design and Features

Beyerdynamic XelentoRemote Tesla are definitely exquisite and quite jewel-like. Right as you open the silver package, you discover two stunning metallic-coated ear pieces like oases in a black desert. Beyerdynamic claims that the 3-layer metallic finish is scratch and liquid-resistant. The metal has a mirror-finish that remains status quo even with regular use. The ear pieces are very lightweight and contoured to fit in the small of the ears. They have a flat profile which allows them you to sleep on their sides with the IEMs on. They are worn over-ear fashion.

These earphones have two detachable cable. One is a straight audio cable, the other has a 3-button control and mic. The remote works with both Android and Apple phones. They don’t tangle and are sturdy for everyday use. They connect to the earpieces via MMCX connectors. They come with 7 sizes of silicone eartips in 7 sizes and foam eartips in 3 types. These specialized high-end foam tips are sweat-resistant and trump Comply tips anyday. They come with a padded leather case with space for eartips as well.

Audio

The Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote Tesla headphones miniaturized their famed Tesla driver to the IEM size in a genius accomplishment. It brings the energy of Tesla into the music. These are not clinical, as expected as their price. Instead they are rebelliously lively without being out of balance. A warmth creeps into the audio with deep and tight bass. It is fast on its feet and works with midrange to support it rather than overshadow it. The bass only adds body to the mids. The highs are detailed and sparkly but never overboard. High-end IEMs often push the treble a bit to appear clearer.

These earphones are natural on the basis of their upfront presentation and wide open soundstage. They are detailed without physical or sonic fatigue over long hours of use. There’s a sweetness in the audio which is more prominent amongst headphones this price. Xelento Remote requires a good source to really shine. It will reveal the shortcomings of a bad format or poor recording. These IEMs have the potential to sound like full-size Audeze headphones when the right material is played.

Pros:

  • Natural and detailed audio
  • Warm and balanced
  • Wide soundstage
  • Stunning design
  • Good tip selection

Cons:

  • A solid pelican travel case would be preferred

5. Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic Stereophone

Koss ESP-90 has been around for 25 odd years but it remains shy in the background. An old electrostatic headphone, this isKoss ESP-950 Electrostatic Stereophone behemoth that only the new Stax headphones can parallel. The fact that the come with their personal amplifier makes them stand out. The uber comfortable design and the seriously top-of-the-line sound deserve their unnerving price tag and then some. So straight they went into our best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, open-back

Design and Features

The Koss ESP-950 headphones belong to a different era and that reflect in their looks but not comfort. These are large over-ear cans with almost rectangular earpieces. They are large enough to encircle even the large ears. The backplate is open with a grille and some plastic slats. This means you don’t get much noise isolation and leakage is substantial. But it has a positive effect on the sound.   The earcups are padded moderately and covered in soft vinyl. They are extremely comfortable and lightweight enough to hang without any clamp pressure on the thick headband.  The earcups are very breathable.

These headphones come with their very own E/90 energizer or amp. This is a 4.3 x 7 x 2.5 inches box and the only possible input to these cans. With the ESP-950, you get a 47-inch double-sided permanently attached cable with a 6 extension. It has a 3.5mm input out front and RCA inputs in the rear for the source. These headphones come with a convenient carry case to pack themselves, the amp and a portable source.

Audio

The Koss ESP-950 headphones are an audiophile’s sacred gear. They offer the startling clarity that immediately speak for their price. With every note there are details that you might have never heard even with premium headphones. We aren’t surprised as the E/90 amplifier offer up to 63dB gain which can potentially blow out your ears. They remain transparent and open through bass, mids and treble. The higher frequencies are particularly detailed with no roll-off that would make the audio feel incomplete.

The midrange of these headphones offered a kind of natural tone that make others sound ordinary in competition. The vivid audio doesn’t leave us wanting.   The sweet, slightly warm sound is set in a massive soundstage which makes the audiophiles go weak in their knees.

Pros:

  • Astonishing sweet, natural audio
  • Ultra-detailed and warm
  • Bundled amp
  • Highly comfortable electrostatic cans
  • Lifetime Koss warranty

Cons:

  • Double-sided permanent cable

6. Sony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones

The Sony MDR1A headphones are one of their ‘premium’ cans although they are much more affordable than some products on thisSony MDR1A Premium Hi-Res Stereo Headphones list. These comfy cans lean toward hi-res but with a punch of fun and excitement in the audio. They retain the design quirks of their predecessor, the MDR-1Rwhich was highly regarded for its comfort. Sony has again managed to combine style with elegance in one of the best headphones under $1000.

Type: Over-ear, closed-back

Design and Features

The Sony MDR1A headphones look like the MDR1R on the surface. But some sneaky changes have made them even more comfortable to wear. They have large racetrack oval earcups with opulent padding. This cushioning is softer than that of MDR1R and is coated in quality protein leather which feels natural to the ears. The back of the ear pieces are done in cast aluminum although the frame itself is made of plastic. The earcups are low-profile in that they sit flat and compact on the ears. The headband is wide but padded from ear to ear. The whole thing weighs only 7.94 ounces.

These headphones have a relaxed clamp that keeps them secure up to jogging, but a more vigorous activity might dislodge them.  These come with 2 detachable cables: one straight audio cable and one cable with a 1-button remote. The button can be programmed through Android’s SmartKey app. The cords are thick, black and end in an L-shaped plug. These are available in black/red and black/silver models.

Audio

The Sony MDR1A headphones sound big in the true sense. They have slightly boosted bass mixed with otherwise clear and accurate audio. While this trumps their claims of ‘hi-res’ audio, they sound exciting and warm which audiophiles ad casual listeners alike with appreciate. These have fast and detailed bass with some extra meatiness which makes it appear a tad flabby. This adds some body to the mids and highs.

The midrange and treble are more detailed than the MDR1R but treble is smoothened to avoid any harshness. In comparison the Audio-Technica MSR7 are slightly clearer and more balanced and live up to the hi-res fame. But MDR1A make for a fun listen and are forgiving on the lower quality formats.

Pros:

  • Warm, flattering audio
  • Detailed and yet forgiving
  • Ultra comfortable
  • 2 detachable cables
  • Lightweight but reinforced with aluminum

Cons:

  • Not hi-res

7. Astell&Kern AK T8iE MkII Tesla Driver In-Ear Headphones by Beyerdynamic

Astell&Kern paired up with Beyerdynamic to harvest their Tesla drivers in to IEM size in the first T8iE. The MkII in-ear headphonesAstell&Kern AK T8iE MkII Tesla Driver In-Ear Headphones by Beyerdynamic take all minor faults of the original and present it as the flawless IEM as it was intended to be. There’s a pleasant warmth to the audio that sets it apart from another Tesla-carrier, the Xelento. The decadent sweetness of AKT8iE MkII’s audio favors the casual listeners, hence its place in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: In-ear, Over-ear loop design

Design and Features

The Astell&Kern AK T8iE MkII in-ear headphones will gives our readers a déjà vu. They have the same shiny metal ear pieces with small differences in the backplate of the ear pieces. The earbuds are quite lightweight. Like Xelento, they are the best universally-fitting IEMs we have seen. They almost fit like custom earbuds. They slip into the ear securely no matter the ears size. No fiddling, no fidgeting required. These are worn over-ear with the cable looped over the ears. The eartips project at an angle straight into the ears.

These earphonescome with two detachable cables: one for balanced use and one for unbalanced use. They connect to the ear pieces via MMCX locks. Both end in angled 3.5mm plugs. A shirt is also supplied though it’s superfluous as the cable has no microphonics. They come with 5 sizes of silicone eartips and 3 sizes of foam tips. These are specially designed to fit the elliptical sound tubes. A handy hard case is also supplied.

Audio

The Astell&Kern AKT8iE MkII earphonesdazzle with the warmth of Tesla drivers. If there are bass-head with deep pockets, these are the luxury earphones for them. The bass isn’t bloated here, it best characteristics have been heightened. The bass has excellent definition and depth which would entice the audiophiles and bass-enthusiasts alike. It is agile and meaty to the maximum extent without being sluggish. But right next door, the mids have this clarity and detailing that’s hard to combine with such impactful bass.

The treble is detailed, clear and slightly forward to meet the bass. There’s no harshness or sibilance. Compared to the Xelento remote, the soundstage of AKT8iE is intimate although accurate and large. It also sound much warmer and relatively laidback.

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Decadent, warm audio
  • Highly detailed and intimate sound
  • Detachable cable
  • Custom-like fitment

Cons:

  • Reveals hissing noise from audio source

8. Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone 

The Sennheiser HD700 headphones bridge the gap between the clinically clean HD800 and the ancient HD650 in the Sennheiser’sSennheiser HD 700 Headphone popular lineup. These are hi-end headphones which strong enough to stand abuse without making metal statements. They have seen a price-drop which makes them even more attractive to regular music enthusiasts and audiophiles. The audio chops of these cans combine with aesthetics to land them in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, Open-back

Design and Features

The HD700 headphones are from before the timeSennheiser decided to tame down their space-age aesthetics. But we think HD700s are cooler than the daintier HD800s. With a mix of silver and black and teardrop-shaped earcups, the HD700 stands out. The ear pieces are lavishly padded along with the headband. And the cushions are draped in breathable and soft velour. The back of the earpieces has a three-slot grille. These aren’t noise isolating and they leak sound a fair bit. At 9.6 ounces they weigh moderate but are highly comfortable with a reduced clamp.

These headphones have a detachable cable. It connects to both the earcups with 3.5mm jacks and terminates in 6.3mm jack to connect directly to amps. The cord is 10- foot long. It is flexible and sturdy but might be too long for some. Replacement cables are costly. The fabric-sheathed cable doesn’t come with a 3.5mm adapter though. At 150Ohm impedance the HD700 is harder to drive than most other headphones on this list. Along with the open-back and the hefty cable, these project themselves as true stay-at-home headphones.

Audio

If the design of the Sennheiser HD700 headphones is a hit-and-miss, the audio will redeem it. The cans sound wide open with soundstage much like that of a pair of speakers. You feel enveloped in the sound from outside. The open-back design also lends gobs of transparency to the audio.

The audio of these headphones is a revelation. They present with unsurmountable power but not part of the spectrum is loose or slow. The bass has a fast and energetic attack. Throughout the spectrum, you get high-resolution details set in a spacious imaging. The mids and treble are defined wit crispness and refinement. Fast or slow, loud or soft, the HD700 let the sound have their own character. They can handle any pace and any volume thrown at them. They are extremely clear and realistic, a fact you’ll appreciate while watching movies. These surpass the details of home theater.

Pros:

  • Wide open imaging
  • Highly detailed and energetic
  • Realistic and lively sound
  • Unique design
  • Detachable cable

Cons:

  • Sparse on accessories
  • Not portable

9. OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones

A pair of closed-back planar magnetic headphones that can be driven easily by a smartphone. Sounds like a dream? Oppo PM3OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones headphones have made a reality out of it. These cans take the latest technology and make it portable in every way. And that too at an affordable price. The bold sound is partnered by a bold build and a choice of smart colors. The sheer convenience of this device with the ingenuity of planar magnetic audio lands it in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, closed-back

Design and Features

The Oppo PM3 headphones have that impressive aura strength under a statement-making metal design. The earcups and the yoke are made of brushed metal. The earpieces are large racetrack oval. They have plush padding that goes around the ear. The headband remain similarly padded. The earcups can swivel forward a bit to hug your ears. The branding goes subtly on the hinges of the headband arms. The earcups can fold flat into a case or on your shoulders. Being closed-back and snug padded fit, they offer good noise isolation passively. They are slightly heavy at 11.6 ounces

These headphones come with 2 detachable cables.  One is 3m straight audio cable that ends in 3.5mm plug. Another cable is available on request with either Android or iOS-compatible inlinecontrol. At 25 Ohm impedance these can be easily sourced from portable gear like smartphones. A 6.3mm adapter is supplied to connect to audio gear. A zippered denim case is also provided.

These headphones are available in black and white models. More notable are red/ash grey and blue/ash grey models which look like work of art.

Audio

The Oppo PM3 headphones deliver solid sound for all their conveniences. These are the kind of headphones that catch hold of your attention and take you through the songs. You will pull out your old favorites just to listen to them on these.  The full bass and the smooth treble might not be completely neutral but they are balanced. The recordings sound fuller and richer with every detail jumping out at you. PM3 require a good source otherwise they will lay bare the faults of the audio.

The presentation is laidback and non-fatiguing. The treble is retrained from making them sound bright and edgy. You can listen to these headphones for hours on end. They are as open-sounding as the open-back planar magnetic cans, the HiFiMan HE400i. The soundstage is huge but the space in audio comes from the coherence of sound afforded by the low Total Harmonic Distortion.

Pros:

  • Graceful metallic design
  • Rich and full audio
  • Dynamic and open audio presentation
  • Detachable cable
  • Planar magnetic closed-back

Cons:

  • None

10. Sennheiser HD 630VB Headphone with Variable Bass and Call Control

The Sennheiser HD 630VB are distinctive headphones, a detour from the HD tradition of Sennheiser in every sense. With this model,Sennheiser HD 630VB Headphone with Variable Bass and Call Control they pander to the bassheads through a pair of serious headphones. We liked this little experiment of theirs which came with a variable bass boost. The comfortable design and the fancy touches differentiate them as quality cans .Sennheiser’s restraint and their first party with bass boostdefinitely deserves a place in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, closed-back

Design and Features

The Sennheiser HD630VB headphones look nothing like their previous HD brothers.They have the round earcups that use to be mainstay of Sony headphones. The design is mostly metal with bold silver parts set against some black. The earcups and the frame are made of aluminum. The weight is offset by opulent padding in the earcups with synthetic leather draping. The headband also has optimal padding.

These are wired headphones with cable permanently attached to the right earcup. At this price, we would have liked a detachable cable. Surprisingly in these wired headphones, there are call controls on the right earcup which stand embossed in a black rubber mat. The edge of this earcup is a rotary dial for variable bass with seven settings. On the cup itself you have a play/pause and volume navigation buttons which operate with both Apple and Android sources. These controls also double as call controls. A mic is provided inline the cable.  The left earcup is left blank silver is an unusual asymmetry with the right one.

The HD630VB provide good noise isolation. They sit comfy over ears even with glasses on. The arms of these headphones close one over the other to form a compact package. A zippered case comes with them.

Audio

Sennheiser HD630VB try to take the stigma of bass away from quality music. The variable bass boost goes from min to max by extending the lower cutoff with every setting. There’s no boost in the midbass even as you step up the bass. As a result, even with heavy bass setting, these remain relatively tight. The variable bass makes it versatile across genres. The high bass setting brings a full body to the older tinnier recordings. These are more detailed than the Sennheiser Momentums. . The midrange has a slightly recessed character but no more than you would expect of bassy headphones.

Even as closed-back headphones, the HD630V cast a wide image with spacious instrument placement. While the audio is engaging, it is never in your face like the HD700 or 800

Pros:

  • Variable bass
  • Good balance and detailing
  • Impressive audio imaging
  • Controls on earcups(Android and iOS)
  • Easy to drive at 22 Ohms

Cons:

  • Permanently attached cable
  • Could have been cheaper

11. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio open Reference Headphones

The Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Studio headphones are up for some serious audio production. These look and sound like somethingBeyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO Studio open Reference Headphones that you would find at music producer’s table. Built like a beast, they can probably withstand the frustrations of the process too. The audio is on-point, neutral while still catching your attention. These are a great addition to the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, Closed-back

Design and Features

The Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro headphones are built for some serious abuse. They are huge and comfortable. The black on black design means business. The earpieces are large and cylindrical.  They are loaded with lavish cushions that cover the ear in soft comfort. They are topped with velour. The headband is similarly padded. The pads on the earcups and headband are removable. As a matter of fact, the DT1990s come with two sets of earpads, one pair for enhanced bass and one pair for neutral listening. Yes, padding makes a difference.

These headphones come with two detachable cables: a 10 feet straight one and a 16-feet coiled cable. Both are audio only and connect to one earcup with mini-XLR connection. These cords terminate in 3.5mm connections and 6.3mm adapters are provided. A hard zippered case is provided with the pack. It can carry both cables and the headphones which works if you use them for studio purposes. At 13 ounces,              these are heavy but the weight is evenly distributed by the headband and ear pieces. At 250 Ohms, these are hard to drive without an amplifier.

Audio

The Beyerdynamic DT1990 headphones use Tesla drivers. It’s worth giving them a try with both the bass and neutral earpads. They are fit with the bass earpads by default. They make the audio sound fun without trampling the midrange. The bass has almost a subwoofer-like quality. It extends deep and beats with speed and grace. With the neutral pads, the audio is bright and clear. It is set in a wide soundstage with smooth bass, pleasant thickness to the mids and excellent detail retrieval.  The audio sounds natural top to bottom.

Pros:

  • Enhanced bass and neutral earpads
  • Clear and detailed audio
  • Punchy presentation in a wide soundstage
  • Professional design
  • Detachable cables

Cons:

  • None

12. Hifiman HE-560 Full-Size Planar Magnetic Over-Ear Headphones 

The Hifiman HE560 headphones are full-blown audiophile cans with the power of planar magnetic drivers behind them. These wideHifiman HE-560 Full-Size Planar Magnetic Over-Ear Headphones open cans take the edge off of bass and offer a neutral and natural sounding presentation. They have fantastic technical ability which will score brownie points with any audiophile. The casual listeners might not prefer these unless they like their jazz bass-light. The audiophiles win these a place in the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, open-back

Design and Features

The Hifiman HE560 headphones are gorgeous in their wooden sculpting. These are comfortable cans with round earpieces. The earcups are finished in dark wood grain. The back of the ear pieces is done entirely in metal grill. The earcups are heavily padded and sheathed in a velour/leather mix. They have a suspension headband design. There’s a broad leather band restricted by a metal band. This automatically adjusts to the shape and size of your head. The earcups rotate flat for easy storage but not foldable as such.

These headphones have a 10-feet detachable Y-cable.  This is a high quality cable with crystalline copper and silver. It is robust for regular use. The USP of these headphones is that they are almost 30% lighter than the usual planar magnetic headphones. HE560 have a single-sided driver design that reduces some components and makes it lighter than expected.At 45Ohms, they can be driven by portable phones at high volumes and music players although A DAC will make a marked improvement to their sound. A presentation box is supplied but it’s not portable.

Audio

The Hifiman HE560 headphones have all the hallmark qualities of planar magnetic headphones. They have a sharp attack and minimal distortion. The bass is excellent in its speed and quality and have that punch that comes with definition. They don’t have any boost in the bass which may throw off the casual listeners who are used to at least a small midbass hump. The midrange is clear and open. Both the bass and the treble are well-extended but also tight to keep the audio neutral.  Vocals and string instruments sound brilliant in this combination.

The treble is highly detailed and have that right amount of bite. These aren’t overtly bright in the interest of clarity though. Some users many find these headphones slightly sonically fatiguing. The soundstage could have been relatively larger but it’s massive, stand alone. They do sound every bit like the revelation a top-of-the-line headphone should be.  The detailing is musical rather than being clinical.

Pros:

  • Highly detailed and extended
  • Open, neutral audio
  • Dark wood grain design
  • Detachable cable

Cons:

  • Low on accessories

13. Shure SE535 Earphones

The Shure SE535 earphones have been dazzling the listeners since 2010. They have stayed at the top of their game for all theseShure SE535 Earphones years. They are so perfect that Shure had to launch a better product, SE846, at almost double the price. These have a stunning universal-fit design and highly revealing fun audio. These are undoubtedly the best headphones under $1000.

Type: In-ear, over-ear looped around the ears

Design and Features

The Shure SE535 headphoneslook their price through their clear shell. The ear pieces have a translucent shell in the copper model or a clear model. The ear pieces are designed for universal fit. The ear pieces are contoured to fit the small of the ear exactly. You can get it right instantly once you are in practice. The earbuds are flatter than those of SE530s but they sit flush in the ears. The cable has to be looped around the ears for a proper fitment.

These earphones have a detachable cable that extends 64 inches. This Kevlar-reinforced cord has a memory wire section near the ear pieces. It as MMCX connectors on one end and 3.5mm jack on the other. These earphone come with 3 pairs of Shure Olives and three pairs of silicone tips. A universal foam eartip and a triple-flanged eartip set is also included. Other accessories are a hard case, a mic extension, an airplane adapter and a studio adapter.

Audio

The Shure SE535 in-ear headphonespack triple drivers, a tweeter and dual woofers, per ear piece. Needless, the bass is phenomenal.   It might not be completely neutral, but it can definitely make you shake your body.   The bass has punch, definition and detail all packed together. It supports the midrange lending a full body to the sound. The treble is sparklywith slight restraint to keep it from being harsh. In spite of different drivers, the audio is cohesive with no gap at the crossover.

Pros:

  • Enjoyable and detailed sound
  • Solid and tight bass
  • Stunning clear design
  • Detachable cable
  • Good haul of accessories

Cons:

  • Spare cable should be provided

14. Sennheiser HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone

Although HD650 and HD600 are the all-time favorites and the flagships of the Sennheiser HD line. There was only one issue withSennheiser HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone them, if an audiophile nitpicks. The HD660 headphones have ironed out this kink while retaining all the best features of HD600 and HD650. These wide open headphones are neutral but have that big sound presentation that makes movies and music fun.

Type: Over-ear, open-back

Design and Features

The Sennheiser HD660 headphones look much like the HD650s in their basic style. The earcups are large and oval. The backplate is completely covered with a metal grille. The working parts are all plastic, but the sturdy kind that can handle daily abuse. The earcups are mounted with larger and fluffier velour earpads. The headband is broad and padded at the arch.  These have a snug fitment that doesn’t create any pressure points along the head.  The grille and the earpads are replaceable. The open-back prevent noise isolation and also encourage sound leakage.

These headphones come with 2 detachable cables. One cable is a standard audio cable which extends 10 feet and ends in a 6.3mm plug. A 6.3mm-3.5mm adapter is provided in the pack. The HD660 also come with a Pentaconn cable with a 4.4mm TRRRS balanced connector. Both the cords are thick and sturdy for use. These cans are built for at-home use and hence go easy on the accessories.

Audio

The Sennheiser HD660 finally attend to the ‘veil’ in the HD600 and HD650 audio. The slight midbass bump that invited the said veil has been flattened to neutrality.  So as smooth the presentation of HD650 was, the audio of HD660 has more edge and it presents in your face. That’s not to say that the audio is not laidback, but it doesn’t have the subtlety of HD650. Purists audiophile will like the detailing, the ‘straightened’ audio signature. The midrange is slightly forward and it shows in the attention that vocals and string instruments get. They are black as opposed to the dark grey of HD650.

The imaging of HD660 headphones is quite realistic. The HD650 although not quite as natural has a calmer, more refined imaging. The soundstage of HD660 is wide open but moderate compared to the more expensive HD800. Though neutral, HD660 aren’t as cold and analytical as the AKH Q701.  But they are simply not the successor to HD650 which was a whole different animal. There’s a noticeable difference between the two headphones. Whether this is an improvement or a degradation depends on your sonic taste.

Pros:

  • Neutral and detailed
  • Present vocals, impactful and dynamic
  • No veil on the audio
  • Detachable cables
  • Replaceable earpads and grilles

Cons:

  • Audio signature is a not a direct improvement of HD650s

15. Focal – Elear Headphones

The Focal Elear headphones debuted at the border price of our prescribed budget for this list. But it has since seen a price drop andFocal – Elear Headphones become even more irresistible. The design is fantastic and the audio matches it at every step. They try a neutral sound signature with a hint of warmth  that ropes in both casual and audiophile fans. Wild horses couldn’t have kept them out of the best headphones under $1000 list.

Type: Over-ear, open-back

Design and Features

The Focal Elear headphonesare ridiculously handsome but beefy cans. These weigh a mighty 15.8 ounces, not that you’ll feel the weight if you are stationary. They are crafted out of special aluminum/magnesiumalloy. The racetrack oval earpads are topped with thick earpads. The headband is similarly padded. Overall, you never feel the weight of these on your ears. The clamp pressure is just enough to keep them stable. The ear pieces lean forward to adapt to your head shape.

These headphones come with a detachable Y cable. These 13 feet beast can reach any audio gear and ends in a 3.5mm jack. This is a specialized low impedance cord made to deliver very low crosstalk. A magnetic case is included to safely tuck away the Elears.

Audio

The Focal Elear headphones present a highly transparent and balanced. The audio is slightly warm due to the forward nature of bass. It’s a very small difference but it relieves the audio of that analytical feel. The bass is deep and detailed. It is punchy and fast. The midrange plays with dynamic reach with support from the bass. The treble is detailed yet sees an unnatural peak which has to be EQ’d out. That being said, these have amazing dynamic punch set in a huge soundstage.

Pros:

  • Open, dynamic audio
  • Warm and detailed sound
  • Energetic, impactful sound
  • Excellent build quality
  • Detachable cable

Cons:

  • Peak in the upper mids-treble region

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