An audiophile’s dream – the most expensive headphones in the world
If you simply take a quick walk down the streets of your city, you’ll notice how almost everybody is locked into their headphones – completely oblivious to the rest of the world. While the audio revolution took place a few years ago, there are now hundreds of different headphones available on the market for you to choose from. However, there are a few that are the crème-de-la-crème, the very best of the luxury headphones in the world. While these are also some of the most expensive headphones in the world, they definitely have good reason to be.
Headphones now are more than a simple device that helps generate music directly into your ears; they are the most valuable link between your music playing device and your experience in listening to your favorite songs. It is important to realize that all headphones are not made equal. Those that are built with the best of technology and years of development are the ones that will deliver the best sound quality and the most fulfilling listening experience. These are the headphones that are therefore used professionally for instance in the music industry, in studios or for those dedicated audiophiles who are obsessed with the best.
15 of the Most Expensive Headphones in the World
|1. Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System||$$,$$$||4.9|
|2. Ultrasone Edition 5||$$,$$$||4.8|
|3. Abyss AB-1266||$,$$$||4.8|
|4. Grado PS1000||$,$$$||4.6|
|5. Ultrasone Edition 10||$,$$$||4.5|
|6. Stax SR-009 “Earspeaker”||$,$$$||4.5|
|7. Audeze LCD-3||$,$$$||4.5|
|8. JH Audio JH16 Pro||$,$$$||4.5|
|9. Sennheiser HD800||$,$$$||4.3|
|10. Beyerdynamic T1||$,$$$||4.3|
|11. Hifiman HE 6||$,$$$||4.2|
|12. Audio-Technica ATH-W5000||$,$$$||4.1|
|13. Sennheiser HD700||$$$||3.9|
|14. Beyerdynamic T90||$$$||3.9|
|15. Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic||$$$||3.8|
Priced just below $55,000 the Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1060 is probably the ultimate headphones. The best part about owning this pair of headphones is that it comes as an electrostatic pair; this means that upon purchase you get the headphones along with a unit that consists of the pre-amp and the poweramp. In fact, steeped in luxury the amp unit is actually made of marble. And if that isn’t enough, the valves and knobs are all motorized, so they rise in tandem as you turn the unit on. As far as the audio quality goes, it is enough to say that listening with these would be a flawless experience. Sennheiser themselves claim that this model can reproduce frequencies that are beyond the threshold of human hearing, which in realistic terms means that the most expensive headphones have an audio precision that does not distort regardless of what volume you bring it up to.
Other than the fact that the headset is probably the most expensive one ever to be made, it is not easily portable either. The entire unit weighs in at about thirty kilograms, which ensures that you either have a relatively comfortable setup in your house if you purchase it for personal use – and on a more practical level it is best suited for professional use. However, even though the headphones themselves are quiteheavy, the leather padding that has been created specifically for this model will mold your head and ensure that the weight is not an issue.
The Ultrasone Edition 5is priced between $5,000 and $4,700 for a good reason; it creates a spatial effect for the listening experience that is almost unparalleled in any other headphone. Audiophiles and critics especially have praised its funnel-shaped sound transducer that successfully creates this spatial quality for the unit. Among the myriad other technical details that go into hand crafting each of these pieces, the bog oak wood that is used is unique to this model. Bog Oaks are exquisite ancient trees which means that each of the most expensive headphones that have been crafted and are limited in number are practically unique and one of a kind. In the Ultrasone Edition 5 too, the ear pads are covered in fine quality leather that ensures that the comfort level of wearing the headsets is high.
As far as the sound quality goes, customers have been most satisfied with the all-important isolation that the listening experience provides. The sound that these headphones generate is considered to be detailed and transparent. The effect that is created is one of hearing the music being performed Live rather than in the comforts of your own home – the primary reason for this is because with these headphones the sound quality being generated is light and yet intense; the spatial effect. Sound being processed through an electronic medium can almost be forgotten when listening through these headphones – which are ultimately the entire purpose of purchasing an expensive headphone. This model is a limited edition with only five hundred and fifty-five units having been crafted.
The Abyss AB-1266, which is priced around $4,500,is unique magnetic headphones; one of their biggest selling features is that they have a magnetic structure that creates the most desirable listening experience. Without going into too much technical detail, customers have unanimously agreed that these are one of the noblest headphones that they have ever purchased – which basically means that the music bounces, an effect created by the precision in dynamics and the accurate bass punches that the system can create. In fact, experts recommend these headphones to enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Another reason the Abyss AB-1266 is such a hit among serious audiophiles is because it is unapologetically playing in the league with the “big boys”. It does not have the elegant design and structure as a Sennheiser, it is more than one pound in total weight and comes in a heavy-metal look – however, it is surprisingly not heavy to wear and with its genuine lambskin ear pads, the fit is perfect. The heavy look and the weight of the headphones are owed to the stable and stiff mounting platform that is designed for its platforms – which is unlike most other flexible ones in other brands. The model took more than five years to design, based on ideas of magnetic structure and a diaphragm material that would all work together to create the perfect most expensive headphones. With its ingenious sound technology and practical design, the Abyss AB-1266 is well worth the $4,300 that a serious audiophile might spend on it.
With a whopping $4,000 price tag, the Grado PS1000 truly makes its mark as the introduction model to Grado’s ‘Professional Series’. With a combination of wood and metal alloy for its ear cups, the final listening experience that these headphones generate is unusually original and natural. This is, however, probably one of the few headphones on this list that is intended for home use only since it has an open-back design which means that it does not eliminate external sound and should ideally be used as headphones for indoor purposes. Foam padding is used for the inside of the ear cups which allows for a comfortable and molded listening experience against the ear. Despite its bulky structure, oddly enough due to mainly its foam padding, the open back design and an ingenious metal rod that self-adjusts and can swivel to 360 degrees depending on your movement – ensures that this unit can be worn for hours on end without experiencing any discomfort.
According to customers, the sound quality on this piece is fantastic mostly due to the open back design that works so well to create an airy, atmospheric listening experience. The low-end sounds too can be played on a strong volume while the bass runs very deep. It almost appears that each frequency band being generated through the most expensive headphones can stretch out without encroaching into any other frequency and ruining the overall experience. With barely any drawbacks and the sheer quality of its bass, design and an ingenious self-adjusting metal rod – the price tag is well justified.
If you can spend around $3,500 and get your hands on the Ultrasone Edition 10, you will be signing up for hands-down one of the most aesthetically beautiful pieces of technology that exist. The first thing that is striking about this headphone is the elegant wood sculpted inlay that is designed on to the ear pieces. The design is claimed to be inspired by butterfly wings, and this piece looks far from a new-age modern metal design, although it does look even more expensive than it is!
Surprisingly, its looks are deceiving, the unit is actually very light and with the leather padding on the ear pieces – they fit perfectly and have not caused any users discomfort even after having worn them for hours together. In this piece as well, Ultrasone utilizes its leading S technology to place the driver in a position that is more forward and down (about the hearer’s ear) rather than on the center. Experts will agree that this trick improves the audio image and thus the listening experience, even more, crisp. Audiophiles will also agree that this headphone is specifically designed for those listeners who prefer high-resolution listening – the biggest example of this would be classical music. There is practically no grain in the sound that is generated by the most expensive headphones which means that the music being listened to is clear and natural. To top it all off, the experience is completed by the luxurious sheepskin leather pads on the ear pieces thatensure that the listener has a comfortable experience overall.
If you’re willing to shell out around $3,400 for the Stax SR-009 “Earspeaker”; you will be paying for a headphone thatis beautifully engineered, has a fine midrange quality and remarkable clarity. The Stax SR-009 “Earspeaker” isn’t your ordinary headphone and can indeed not be used with the conventionalamplifier;instead, it will require an electrostatic amplifier or an “energizer” if you wish to use it well. Just like other planar-magnetic drivers; in this headphone as well you can expect the entire moving surface of the driver – which also happens to be the only moving part of the unit – works on the audio signals on all times. Another striking feature about the Stax SR-009 “Earspeaker” is that it consists of a diaphragm that is barely two microns thick which is made using a special Stax film material – in simple terms it is even thinner than the traditional plastic materials that we expect in headphones. The result of using this material is that the headphone can generate a tone quality and frequencies that cover an immense range providing the listener with a submerging listening experience.
Critics also love the open-back design and the sliding mechanism on the headband that allows the user to adjust the headphone to optimal wearing comfort. Like some of the previous high-end headphones on this list; the Stax SR-009 “Earspeaker” also uses lambskin leather for its ear pads. The final verdict on overall comfort, design, and technical precision is that this unit is definitely a milestone of the most expensive headphones of our generation.
Around $3,000 is how much you might have to pay if you want the Audeze LCD-3 in your hands; however the design and engineering are both enough to speak for the price tag. Creating an analog and deep soundstage quality to the music being generated – are the top sonic features of this headphone that set it apart. From the moment of putting these headphones on, audiophiles have experienced a complete absence of resonance or any disturbance to peaks in the audio generation as far as the upper midrange is concerned – the selling qualities of a high-end dynamic headphone. Users have said of the Audeze LCD-3 that it produces music that they have heard only in concert halls with sophisticated acoustics. In fact, they unanimously agree that for the price this headphone is probably a much better investment than the thousands of dollars that people spend on installing sophisticated acoustics and surround sound systems in their homes. However, this doesn’t mean that this unit is ideal for professional use; it comes with the handy 1/4 inch jacks that are required for studio use.
The Audeze LCD-3 like most others on this list are also planar-magnetic; which means that the benefit of using an electrostatic headphone are similar to this without also having to invest in special amplifiers. As far as the design and look of the Audeze LCD-3are concerned, it sounds like the amount of money you pay for the purchase. With its Zebrano wood ear cups and leather padding on the inside, the headphone is handcrafted to perfection, and you can most definitely tell!
Priced around $2,000, the JH Audio JH16 Pro stands out from the crowd. Why, you ask? Well, it is only the world’s first eight driver – 3 ways-in-ear headphone and the sound that it generates will completely change your perspective on listening to music. The biggest qualifying factor that sets this headphone apart from the rest is the tricks it plays with the bass. Relying on fourlow-frequency drivers and twohigh-frequency ones and the final 2 in the midrange, the JH Audio JH16 Pro, therefore, accomplishes its promised eight drivers. This in a nutshell means that the headphone can generate asoundthat is much louder than the usual levels you are used to hearing, even when you can easily use it on any MP3 music playing device as usual.
To top it all of – if this engineering ingenuity wasn’t good enough – the company actually uses the help of specialized audiologists who can custom build the headphone for a customer depending on their ear mold specifications. This will cost you an extra $100 but a bespoke JH Audio JH16 Pro headphone to fit your ear perfectly is exactly what all audio experts will recommend. These are the features that make the JH Audio JH16 Pro more than just a high-end headphone to be used by professionals in the music industry. The headphone was technically designed for musicians, which is why the bass quality is so precise so as to provide them with the concert-stage experience. While it might be a little heavy on the pocket, the listening experience it provides is exactly what every audiophile needs on a busy commute on a daily basis.
For around $1,600 you can lay your hands on the Sennheiser HD800 and secure for yourself a listening experience that is based on the best of sonic engineering and striking design that will literally turn heads. The price tag on the Sennheiser HD800, therefore, guarantees opulent luxury that is immediately obvious from its microfiber ear cushions, the metalwork and the overall look of the headphone. The first thing to check off the list of high-end luxury and on of the most expensive headphones must-haves is acomfort and the Sennheiser HD800 definitely delivers.
This model is actually designed with a patented donut shaped transducer that is considered to be the largest one to be used in a headphone. In fact, the vibrations that are producedwith the generation of music are on the outer ring of the diaphragm as opposed to the standard interior. This switch is considered by users to allow less distortion to be produced than the usual drivers on other headphones. The consensus on the performance of the Sennheiser HD800 as far as sound quality is concerned is that it provides an experience that is most like listening to sophisticated speakers in a soundproof room rather than listening to headphones in your ears. This is probably because the sound appears to hit your ears from the front rather than from the side – which is what sets it apart from other speakers. Finally, even though the headphones appear bulky, they are a mere three hundred and thirty-one grams as a unit.
If you’re willing the price for the Beyerdynamic T1 – which is around $1,500; you will be purchasing a headphone that produces one of the lushest listening experiences available; especially for this price. As far as professional headphones go, this model is considered by critics and users alike to be one of the best dynamic headphones that are available at the moment. The winning factor about the Beyerdynamic T1 the detail in treble levels that it can produce; which basically means that if you want to catch every little nuance of the song that you are listening to – there is no better headphone that you can purchase other than this one. Not to mention that the aesthetic appeal of this unit is gorgeous as well. The ear pads come in luxurious leather and have a woven metal grill work. Incidentally, the pads barely even touch the ears of the wearer as they come covered with fuzzthat rises around the ears rather than sitting on them.
The overall performance of the unit is one that is airy, and the quality of sound produced doesn’t depend on the type of amplifier that is being usedwith it. It does have a lighter bass when compared to some of the other headphones on this list that are high on bass levels. Having said that, the biggest reason the Beyerdynamic T1 is the perfect professional headphone is because of how precisely it can be used to mix and master music.
The Hifiman HE 6 comes with a price tag around $1,300. While this headphone is still way beyond the mid-level range; just one use has justified the price to the experts. The model indeed packs a punch;in fact, most regular headphone amplifiers won’t even have the energy to drive it accurately to what it is capable of achieving. That is perhaps the reason Hifiman has come up with their own amplifier that can be bought and used with these headphones to enjoy a truly astounding listening experience.
It comes with a gold coated diaphragm, which somehow still manages not to add any additional weight to the overall unit. The Hifiman HE 6 is a planar-magnetic unit and operates on an ultra-wide frequency range and cops on to every sonic detail even at the very low levels. The Hifiman HE 6 is again on the collection of headphones on this list that does not provide complete isolation due to its open-back design. Also, while the headphone is overall a comfortable to wear and use piece, it is rather heavy which is something that plays a factor for those planning on purchasing it for daily home use. However, the ear pads are well padded and cancel out the heavy weight of the unit. The reason for its great popularity amongst critics and audiophiles alike is the quality in performance, especially for professionals, that it can provide for its $1300 price tag.
For around $1,200, you can get yourself Audio Technica’s flagship headphone that is the Audio-Technica ATH-W5000. As far as the aesthetics go, this unit with its ebony ear cups and the leather padding gives it a luxurious flair. While on the other hand it has a closed design, which makes it more isolating in design as compared to some of the other open-back designs that have been discussed on this list. The transducer works on a high sensitivity scale, which means that a user will notice the rich treble balances. On the other hand, the bass and the mid-range are equally strong – which adds energy and life to almost all kinds of music that are played through these headphones. This is perhaps largely due to the neodymium magnet that is present in the diaphragms which Audio-Technica refers to as “Double Air Damping System’ – this is supposed to make the bass sound more natural and deep. It also creates a fair amount of separation in the various instruments being played in the music that gives it an airiness – which adds to the incredible clarity in the sound that is finally generated.
So even though the headphone uses some serious heavy metal in the making of its units, the thin saucer-shaped cans keep them overall as quite light and comfortable to wear. Another point that a lot of users have responded positively to is its attractive packaging and the striking storage unit that it comes with. All of which indiscriminately adds up to the price tag.
While most of us might consider $1,000 beyond our budget for a new set of headphones, paying that price for the Sennheiser HD700 for professional use is not uncommon. The first thing you notice about the Sennheiser HD700 is how extremely stylish they are. Surprisingly, they are super comfortable to wear and use for long periods of time as well. The headband is coated with a silicone material while the ear cups are padded with plush velour that cradles the head and ears luxuriously. The unit is also very easy to maneuver to the right size and shape of the head and is extremely light, which makes them one of the most comfortable high-end headphones to wear.
As far as the technology used in the Sennheiser HD700 is concerned, they work on pretty much the same principles that the, even more, sophisticated HD800 models are built on; only with a smaller driver. However, what is different about this unit is that the driver is built with a unique magnetic system that works as a means of minimizing air turbulence that ultimately has a major impact on the quality of the sound being generated. In the Sennheiser HD700, the drivers are again placed away from the ear of the listener, which ensures that the listening experience is atmospheric and open – the effect is that of listening to music in a room with sophisticated surround sound units. The most expensive headphones are ultimately built especially for those audiophiles or professionals who deal with Live Music or classical ones, music with punchy bass lines are not ideal for this set.
Around $700 is not a huge amount of money to spend on a pair of headphones that is an essential for a professional in the music industry. The Beyerdynamic T90 falls in this category and for good reason. The most striking feature about this model is the fact that it works on a Tesla Magnetic flux technology that is the reason it can generate crystal clear sound. This headphone also has an open-back design like some of the others on the list which means that the listening experience is spatial. This handcrafted model comes with comfortable ear pads that are covered in a textured fabric, making it extremely comfortable to wear; in fact, some users find this, even more,comfortable than the paddings that are made of leather since those can make ears sweaty.
Performance wise, one can expect the Beyerdynamic T90 to deliver high definition and clear sound, this is mainly because the sound that is delivered by this headphone as compared to some others in a lower price range – is refined and covers a larger range. This means that a listener can hear the minute details in every song, right from the breathing of the singer to instruments in the background that they had not noticed before. The Beyerdynamic T90 can achieve the “speakers” effect that is always a bonus when listening through headphones. The combination of comfort, sound quality, and sophisticated designs are the reasons why audiophiles and professionals alike don’t mind the expensive price tag.
Priced around $600 the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic has been specifically designed for professional studio use. One of the features that stand out for these headphones is the low end sounds that it can generate with ease. With punchy bass, what truly puts this headphone in the same category as all the other high-end ones is that even though it can deliver a solid bass, it doesn’t bloat up the sound. This means that all the little details in the listening experience that an audiophile looks forward to can be recognized through these headphones. This holds true even at the lower frequencies.
Besides, the design and durability of the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logicare unmatched in this price range. The material used to make the headphones is a tough plastic while all the joints are crafted with heavy duty gear that a user can be surenot easily to wear off. However, just because it is made of plastic does not mean that it is light. It weighs just a little less than three hundred grams, which might be heavy for some while it is still quite a light and comfortable weight for professionals using them in the studio. With the achievement that the headphones have made in crafting a listening experience that is intense and yet not overpowering, along with the powerful bass that it can deliver – the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic is perhaps the best way to conclude the list of the most expensive headphones in the world.