The Most Expensive Earphones In The World In 2019
Once you enter the audiophile territory, it’s like being caught in a quagmire. You sink deeper and deeper in the pursuit of the purest, most detailed, most balanced audio. Once your ears are trained to the travesties of sibilance, muddiness, distortion etc., you can’t settle for an imperfect headphone. As your ambition rises, so does the price of prodigious headphones. The meteoric ladder of such gear has stunned many. And for the budding music-enthusiast, we bring you the very elixir of headphone industry: the 10 most expensive in-ear headphones. The fact that something so tiny can wipe out such a huge portion of your bank balance is simply baffling. And they are too intriguing to go without an introduction.
Are expensive in-ear headphones worth it?
Depends on the earphones. There are some in-ear headphones that deserve every penny spend on them. And yet others that crumble when a complicated songs plays. Here’s how the expensive earphones usually differ from cheaper ones:
Audio Quality: Harman has gone into significant trouble studying audio to show that under optimal conditions people universally prefer neutral and accurate audio. We are so spoiled by stock earphones that pump unrelenting bass into our ears that we forget our true allegiance to neutral music. This is the type of music the most expensive in-ear headphones try to produce. In neutral music, there’s no boosting of bass, mids or highs in comparison to each other. The frequency response is flat.
For accurate representation of music, neutral sound signature is the key. Even if you like a hint of bass boost or treble, it’s easier to alter neutral headphones than colored ones. Think of the audio landscape of a neutral headphone as a white sheet.It’s easier to paint your own scenery here with an equalizer. If the audio response of the headphones is already colored with boosted bass or treble or midrange, it muddies the background. You can’t equalize well to change the nature to your taste.
Then there’s detailing. Expensive in-ear headphones reveal even the smallest notes in the track allowing to you to revel in its perfection and imperfections. The more expensive they get, they more details they reveal. Full-size headphones may have a more open soundstage and bring more power. The most expensive in-ear headphones try to simulate this quality without puffing the size of full-size headphones.
Build: The expensive in-ear headphones usually win the build quality game. Sennheiser IE800 is an example of technology gone futuristic. The earpieces of these headphones are lighter than air. We are exaggerating but on a scale of earphones, they are! But they play almost like full-size headphones, the same vigor and the same soundstage. These are the type of innovations that rake up the price of the earphones.
Features: How well do the features of an earphone work? The costlier they are, the better, in general. Most expensive in-ear headphones have detachable cables. The ear pieces don’t go shot that easily. The expensive earphones with active noise cancelling feature actually kill the buzz around your ears. The affordable ANC earphones are rarely so talented. We know this from the radio silence of Bose ANC gear as opposed to that of cheaper brands.
Research: The most expensive in-ear headphones cost so much not because of their premium parts and design. These alone cannot rake up prices above $1000. The price is for the years of research that went into fitting exceptional sound machines into micro-sized structures. The cost of research is redeemed from the price.
Design:Another engaging factor about expensive headphones is how they look. The most expensive in-ear headphones set themselves apart from the crowd with maverick styles. They ensure that they look nothing like the affordable headphones. Some go for see-through shells, others go for shades of colors that were difficult to imagine before you ever saw them. We also mentioned the detachable cables which set them apart.
Which are the most expensive headphones on the world?
We didn’t just throw in every earphone with a ridiculous price tag in here. There were some ground rules:
Price:We shined the light in the elite corners of audiophile gear glitterati and found these earphones. These are the ones with a price-tag that will set your hearts a-flutter but also guarantee all the perks of simply being the best. Somebody tied a subwoofer into a bib, we wanted to see it.
Availability: We checked that they are available on some common platform for buying. There’s no point in looking at the most expensive in-ear headphones if they are sold only in distant elected showrooms in only the top cities. Availability on e-commerce sites makes a lot of difference.
Audio chops: Needless of say, we checked if these expensive in-ear headphones had done anything stellar to demand these price-tags. Neutral audio with details ringing most eloquently was considered the benchmark here. The balance and musicality of the earphones was brought into question.
Design: The design of the headphones includes its style. We have to justify to the world that we spends thousands of dollars on them. There should not be any design glitch that renders one of the most expensive in-ear headphones unusable for us. The joke would be on us if there was.
TOP 10 MOST EXPENSIVE EARBUDS IN THE WORLD IN 2019 – CHART
The Shure KSE1500 in-ear headphone brings the daunting electrostatic system of music production down to a wearable size. This is not just an earphone, it’s a complete music-listening system that provides amplification, DAC, and effects for the audiophile’s library. The eye-popping price puts the real scope of these most expensive in-ear headphones out for the world to see.
Design and Features
The Shure KSE1500 in-ear headphones are the ultimate gear on this list. Their groundbreaking play with electrostatic technology involves having a thin diaphragm move between metal plates in response to electricity. A sound engineer will tell you infinitely difficult it is to establish in the size of an earphones. It comes with its own terms and conditions. A dedicated amplifier set-up is required to feed signals into them. The earpieces are built to fit into the small of the ears. They are attached to memory wire segment that runs around the back of the ear for a secure fit. There are Comply foam, silicone, double-flanged and sponge eartips in the pack.
The sturdy cable of these pricey earphones ends in a proprietary jack that connects the amplifier pack. This is a stylish robust device. It has a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm port to connect to the sources. Shure provides a bunch of USB cables to connect to laptop, smartphone etc.. It also packs a 24-bit/96kHz DAC. It has a small screen and a number of preset options for those who like their audio colored. The battery of the amp lasts for 10 hours per charge without DAC and 7 hour with DAC. Other accessories in the pack include a premium case custom-made for the amplifier, a carry case for the earphones, an extension cable with volume control, a 3.5mm male-male cable, and an assortment of plugs and adapters.
The unboxing of the Shure KSE1500 is quite the experience.
The electrostatic driver employed by the Shure KSE1500 in-ear earphones is so special because this diaphragm moves instantly. Each small note is picked up down to the last reverberation of a spring. That is the scale of electrostatic technology in breaking down details. The end-result is the most technically accurate sound you will ever hear. Is it the most pleasing to you? That depends on musical taste. That being said, with the amplifier unit, it’s very easy to alter the audio of KSE1500. You can get growling bass, to smoothened treble with the minimal tweaking.
Transparency is the key takeaway here. You might be underwhelmed by the music in the beginning but you will start to notice subtleties that you never imagined before. These earphones can make MP3s cough up details.
- Extra-precise audio
- Has own Amp ad DAC unit
- A number of preset option
- Great haul of accessories
- Needs to be used with accompanied amplifier unit only
The Astell and Kern Layla in-ear headphones pack 12 drivers each in channel, a feat which in itself demands big money. These are large earphones with so much circuitry to contain. But audio can be a true delight in spite of the neutral character, in spite of the run for accuracy. There’s a strange rawness in the music which appeals to your emotion than your mind. This makes Layla not just one of the most expensive in-ear headphones but also a popular one.
Design and Features
The Astell and Kern Layla in-ear headphones are immediately apparent as having large earbuds. Audiophiles with small ears may be erring on the wrong side of caution on buying these. The ear pieces fit in the small of the ear. There are memory cable extensions at the top end of the cable which connects to the ear pieces. You have to wind them around the ears for a safe positioning. 6 pairs of eartips come with the pack, 3 sizes of foam and 3 sizes of silicone tips. The body of the earphones is completely made of carbon fiber, a lightweight but strong material. The burnt titanium bezel on the ear pieces comes in other colors too.
These costly in-ear headphones have cables as thick as ropes and braided like one. There are two in the pack in case you lose the first. A mini screwdriver is provided with the pack. This is to increase the variable bass in steps. A carbon fiber box locks this set-up inside.
The JH Audio Layla in-ear headphones use a 4th order crossover circuit to anneal the 12 drivers per channel seamlessly. In spite of the heavy weight-lifting going on inside, they sound effortless switching from bass to mids to treble. They have been tuned to a flat frequency response. The audio extends deep into both sub-bass and post treble territory. The details are more intricate than anything we have seen yet in our moderately-priced headphones.
The thing that really blows you away is the soundstage. It is massive for such a tiny device. You feet enclosed in the largest, most airy concert hall for the performance. Even bass boost fails rattle Layla’s integrity. The bass pumping is introduced in a linear manner. So you get a balanced audio no matter what. Whether it’s exciting with its particular flavor of boosted bass is for you or not depends on your personal preferences.
- Multiple drivers seamlessly annealed in audio
- Monumental soundstage
- Variable bass boost
- Excellent detailing
- Detachable cables
- Large ear pieces
Campfire Audio has been busy with a lot of earphone releases in the past few months. The Vega came flanked with the releases of Lyra II and Dorado. The Vega banks on a single diamond dynamic driver to create a lot of magic and it succeeds. The design is also quite worthy of the large price-tag. This is a product which purist audiophiles and other music enthusiasts will like to see in the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The Campfire Audio Vega earphones use a liquid alloy housing. The material is not just robust, it helps with the acoustics of the set. The craftsmanship is so perfect that you will barely see the joints between the three pieces of the design. It has a silver grey PVD finish. This is durable and does not submit to chipping easily. The earphones go into the small recess of the ears. The cable has to go around the ears to hold the weight of the ear pieces properly. It also gives you an excellent fitment. They come with an army of memory foam and silicone eartips. The base of the ear pieces have Beryllium Copper MMCX connectors.
These expensive headphones sport an SPC Litz 1.35 cable. This is easy to ply to get proper movement with the earphones on. It is said to have better acoustic qualities than the usual SPC Tinsel cable that CA earphones use. It connects to the ear pieces using MMCX connectors. You get a cleaning pick and a zippered semi-hard carry case with them.
The Campfire Audio Vega in-ear headphones play all the strength of their diamond dynamic driver. The audio has more life than most surgically clean earphones. It plays powerfully without compromising on a flat audio response. It is set in a massive soundstage where the natural decay of the dynamic driver gets space and appropriate representation. The bass offered by Vega is simply ahead of the curve we see with regular headphones. It texture, impact, quantity and control are all spot-on. It is supported by the right quantum of sub-bass as well.
Vega has played nicely with sub-bass and upper bass for just enough punch and control. The mids are completely devoid of interference from bass. The clear and transparent mids is set against the forward bass without any dip. The highs are incredibly clean with calculated peaks.
- Exciting but neutral audio
- Powerful and delicious bass
- Excellent clarity and detailing
- Gorgeous liquid metal alloy design
- Detachable cable
The Ultimate Ears 18+ Pro in-ear monitors provide the exceptional fit that we have been looking for all our lives. Sonically you get the royal treatment that you would expect at this astronomical price. UE has invested in a robust design with thoughtful accessories focusing on the core needs of a stereophile. The bleeding edge technology is worth enough to make it one of the most expensive in-ear headphones in the market.
Design and Features
The Ultimate Ears 18+ Pro in-ear monitors start practising their celebrity status right from the design. The precision-cut 3D clear shell holds the delicate circuitry safely inside. It is imprinted with the UE logo on the back in the color you choose. The ear pieces fit completely in the niche of your ears. The memory cord connected to the ear pieces winds around the back of your ears.
The cable of these earphones is of the braided tangle-free type. There’s no inline control. It terminates in a 3.5mm plug. These are packed in a metal box with magnetic lock. 9 sets of eartips accompany the 18+ Pro. There are 6 color-coded sizes in silicone. Ever wished that you could get a size of eartips between Large and Medium? Well now you have it. Additionally you also get 3 pair of foam eartips and a ¼” adapter.
The Ultimate Ears 18+ Pro in-ear monitors understand the true needs of a music-lover. These are simply rich and dynamic-sounding headgear. The staggering amount of details and the musicality makes you want to revisit all you old favorites and listen for new nuances. The transient response is captured in the moment by the True Tone drivers. The 6 balanced armature drivers outfitted with 4-way crossover design keeps the bass midrange and treble well-separated until they pour out as one.
The audio is meant to be balanced but warm and UE succeeds here. The music is intimately presented which helps you feel like its playing live around you. 18+ Pro is one of those earphones that believe neutrality should not come at the expense of enjoyment. It is accurate without giving in to surgical tones.
- Rich, layered, warm and accurate audio
- Proper fitment of 3D-printed shell
- 6 sizes of eartips bound to give proper fit
- Expansive soundstage
- Timbre exposure
- Slight coloration that might not appeal to purists
5. Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad High Definition MicroDrivers and True Subwoofer
The SE846 earphones are one of Shure’s finest and they have been treading audiophile territory for ages. These high-definition in-ear headphones pack a horde of balanced armatures to bring you their best and remedy their worst. They allow you to customize the audio response by simply changing a nozzle insert. Their style and accessories round up the reasons why they are on the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The Shure SE846 in-ear headphones sport their classic clear shell. Inside you can see the circuitry including 4 balanced armature drivers per side. While these are large compared to normal earphones, in this list these are one of the smaller ear pieces. They have detachable cables. The connecting ends have memory cable that allows you to loop them around the ears for a comfortable fit. But the ear pieces are small enough to be worn the normal way.
These pricey earphones ship with 2 sets of braided cable that resist tangles. They include 3 pairs of foam tips, 3 pairs of silicone tips, and a pair of triple flanged tips. They also have a handy carry case for the earphones alone, a plastic case for the whole set, an extension wire with volume control and other adapters. An interesting accessory is the nozzle insert. You can change the nozzles protruding out of the ear pieces for different sound signatures.
The nozzle inserts of the Shure SE846 in-ear headphones allow balanced warm of bright sound signatures. With the balanced insert, we delved deep into the details of our favorites. These earphones have a way of delivering up to the last detail with effortless grace. You don’t see the drivers overworking or introducing details where there aren’t any. They sound very natural as a result. The bass is prolific and maybe a touch warmer than neutral headphones prefer. But Shure does call one of its drivers the subwoofer.
The standard and bass inserts are to our taste. The bright insert brought out some sibilance in bad recordings. The 846 focuses on bringing emotional satisfaction than purely technical one with their audio.
- Exception detailing
- Warm and accurate audio
- Excellent comfort
- Audio signature insert
- Very comfortable
- Bass gets more attention than other neutral high end headphones
The JH Audio JH13V2 in-ear headphones have the very essence of Jerry Harvey’s finest accomplishments in them. These earphones allow you to enter your own parallel world. The variable bass soothes the tastes of any music-lover, from people who like warm sound to accurate. The extensive research for design and audio landed these in the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The JH Audio JH13V2 Pro in-ear headphones were designed based on the results of measuring 30,000 ears closely. These are destined to fit most of the population correctly. The ear pieces are large with a mahogany backing. The rest of the body is designed by 3D printing. The eartips sit deeper in the ears compared to other IEMs. The stock foam or silicone eartips might not be comfortable for this. It’s best to experiment with them until you find the perfect fit.
The long braided cable of these earphones has a bass attenuator inline. A small screw driver is included to alter the variable bass up to 12dB.
The agile bass of JH Audio JH13V2 pro in-ear headphones was immediately apparent. Even when boosted, it never steps out of line with mids. This is a balanced sound that delivers every detail naturally. The mids are clean and transparent. The highs are smooth. They don’t have any bite or brightness to their audio.
- Universal fit based on research
- Punchy and accurate sound
- Bass attenuator on cable
- The eartips sit deep inside the ears
The Beyerdynamic Official Xelento in-ear headphones are their flagship fare. These come straight from Germany with the finest workmanship. Their audio is a balanced with a small inclination towards brightness. And they have an inline remote which makes them just as convenient as the usual earphones. Beyerdynamic’s best technology goes into making them the most expensive in-ear headphones.
Design and Features
The Beyerdynamic Xelento earphones have a 3-layer metallic finish on the ear pieces that shine like a mirror. These do not succumb easily to fingerprints or scratches. They sit in the recess of the ears with the wire wrapping around your ears. The detachable connects to the ear pieces via MMCX connectors. This makes them easier to replace if the cables go bust. The cords have an inline remote with 3 buttons and mic. The cable is virtually tangle-proof. A total of 10 eartips in foam and silicon accompany the earphones. A robust case us also provided for long-term travelling. We suggest using a more portable box for everyday use.
The Beyerdynamic Xelento earphones pack Tesla drivers for a talented performance. The bass is controlled and energetic. It beats with a punch that comes only at this price. The vocals and guitars show the real decadent side of these earphones. The mix of instruments is managed such that their individuality is preserved while their coordination is seamless. The highs have that open sparkle that enraptures listeners who lean towards treble.
- Exceptional tones
- Bright and energetic sound
- Detachable cables
- Gorgeous ear pieces
- Focuses on high frequencies
The Ultrasone IQ in-ear headphones look like they could have walked off the ramp at Milan. And it is the perfect pick for the privileged bass junkies. These earphonesmake a statement both with their audio and design. Without much a further ado, we raced them to the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The Ultrasone IQ in-ear headphones look like jewels for your ears. The ergonomic design of the ear pieces is also bold. The silver pieces are highlighted with gold strips. The eartips angle away from the ear pieces. The cables have a serrated touch that resists tangle. There’s a single-button inline remote on the cord which terminates in an L-shaped 3.5mm jack. The cord is detachable from the ear pieces. They come with two pairs of Comply foam eartips and 5 pairs of silicone eartips. A spare cable, a leather case, an airline cable and an OMTP cable are included in the pack.
The Ultrasone IQ in-ear headphones pack a balanced armature driver and a dynamic drive each for each ear piece. Together they serve a healthy portion of bass. In spite of the hybrid drivers, the audio range is pretty coherent top-to-bottom. The highs are energetic with a nice definition to them. The midrange is detailed and doesn’t need to vie for attention. The audio response is fast and can keep up with the most complex songs.
- Warm, exciting sound
- Gorgeous design
- Detachable cable
- Inline remote
- Not neutral
The Sennheiser IE800 in-ear headphones are a masterpiece from the popular brand known for stellar sound. At its current price, it’s actually a steal. How Sennheiser managed to pack astonishing details and balanced sound into a 7g earphone, we’ll never know. But it cost enough to put them on the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser IE800 in-ear headphones have a ceramic shell. This is scratch-resistant material. There back of ear pieces streamline into dampened two-chamber absorbers. The cable is modular although not completely detachable. The cable runs until half and ends in a jack. The rest of the cable runs as an extension. This allows you to connect to the studio equipment through a much longer wire. There are 5 pairs of oval eartips here. The inner well is made of hard plastic which allows them to sit deeper in the ears.
The Sennheiser IE800 in-ear headphones impress you in every domain. The audio is al—round perfection. The details are all there. The bass is thick and deliciously layered. It plays with control and extension deep into the sub-bass. The midrange has always been Sennheiser’s strength as it is in this case. The treble has a swift attack. The audio is articulate, rich and accurate.
- Almost perfect enjoyable audio
- Modular cable
- Extremely lightweight ear pieces
- The cable may weigh the ultra-lightweight pieces down
The AKG K3003i in-ear headphones are so ahead of their curve that people are scrambling for audio sources to match up to their capabilities. They are beautiful and daring in their design with the best of two traditional drivers. Their price drives them right into the most expensive in-ear headphones list.
Design and Features
The AKG K3003i in-ear headphones use a stainless steel shell. They come with three tuning filters that allow you customize the sound signature to be warm, flat or bright. The cable is done in silicon and fabric draping which avoids tangles. The cord runs 1.2m and terminates in straight plug. It has a 3-button remote of which all buttons are compatible with iOS devices.
The AKG K3003i in-ear headphones play with gusto with the neutral filter on. The bass beats with authority and control. Even the most complicated songs are handled effortlessly in the bass section. Bass is handled by the dynamic driver. The balanced drivers play their strength in midrange and the treble. Both are so well-resolved that we needed to run the best sources to it.
- Highly detailed
- Powerful bass
- Stainless steel design
- Inline remote
- Too detailed for normal sources