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Top 10 Audiophile Headphones 2017

If regular earbuds just aren't giving you the dynamic sound profile you want from your music, then maybe you need to step up to a pair of these audiophile headphones. We've included models suitable for DJs, studio musicians, and dedicated music lovers who want to hear every note articulated through spacious, natural soundscapes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

Focal UTOPIA Open Back Circum-Aural Headphones - Bundle With iFi Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier, Astell&Kern AK100 II HD Sound System, 1/4Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone SystemFocal - Elear Headphonesbeyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Audiophile Stereo Headphones with Dynamic Semi-Open Design (Silver)Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back HeadphonesV-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphone with Qualcomm aptX - Rose GoldOPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones (Black)Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional HeadphoneBeyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 250 ohm HiFi headphonesAudio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Inside Audiophile Headphones

When you begin to look closely at the components that come together to form most audiophile headphones, you see that there aren't a whole lot of variables to adjust from brand to brand.

A signal is converted from its digital state by a dense magnetized coil of copper wire that vibrates a membrane, usually made of plastics, or fabrics, or a combination of the two, and that sound hits you in the ear along with the resonance of the ear cup itself. Pretty simple stuff.

What is it, then, that can make one pair of cans so much more expensive, or sound so much better, then another? At times, it can feel like distinguishing between two other cans: Pepsi and Coke. Sure they're different, but they're both just carbonated, flavored sugar water. Is either really better than the other (yes, one is better, and it's called Royal Crown)?

Well, since the primary point of signal conversion is that magnetized coil of wire, the quality of that magnetic field is about as vital as that of any other component.

Many nicer headphones will use neodymium magnets, which are touted as the strongest permanent magnet available on the market, though it's important to note that even these have their own grades to them.

Once it's all put together, things like the diameter of the main speaker, and the size and shape of the ear cup will all play a role in tonal quality and bass response. Generally speaking, the smaller these two things, the less likely you're going to get a deep bass.

To Tweak Or Not To Tweak


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I hope your taste in music is eclectic. I really do. What we listen to says a lot about who we are, and the more musical styles we expose ourselves to with an open mind, the more we'll find to like. This will do nothing but make you a more interesting, well-rounded person. I believe it's inevitable.

Eclectic musical tastes will also likely make you better versed in the equalizer settings in your car, on your phone and your computer. That Carter Family track is going to sound pretty strange if your EQ is set up to maximize your dubstep experience.

Each style of music thrives at its own equalization, and knowing what your new set of headphones is designed to play will tell you how you ought to tweak your EQ, for the best sound on your favorite tracks. You might find that a set with deeper bass is stifling the vital mid tones in your favorite classical pieces, so you can lower some of the bottom frequencies or boost the mids and highs as you see fit.

This is the case with a tremendous amount of headphones produced for audiophiles in the past decade. The advent of Beats by Dr. Dre has a lot to do with this trend, as those headphones came along and told the marketplace that it needed as much bass as humanly possible, whether it knew it or not.

It's taken a while for manufacturers to fight back against the empire of the lower case 'b', but companies like AKG and V-Moda are daring to reduce their bass output in favor of a clearer, more balanced sound.

If you only really listen to modern pop music, hip hop, and R&B, you might want to start out by sacrificing those mids for a booming bass and clear vocals. Most all other styles though will work best with something a little less artificially bass driven.

Communing In Private: On Headphones and Isolation


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I was on a road trip once with my childhood best friend and his family, some time around the fifth grade. We each had the same CD in our respective Discman players. We got the discs spinning on track one at the 0:00 mark, and simultaneously pressed play so that we could listen together without bothering with the music on the car radio. It was a great bonding experience to be a separated individual in sync with your friend right next to you.

That's because music is a communal art. We come together to make it and appreciate it. Of course, our tastes vary so wildly in today's endless musical expense that it's increasingly difficult to share music without the fear of offending another or embarrassing ourselves by openly displaying anything we like.

Now, headphones are neither the cause of our increasing social anxiety and alienation, nor are they necessarily an antidote for it.

When they first came around, headphones were a military device. Later, they entered the private sector through telephone and radio operations, but they didn't truly become a staple in our way of life until the advent of the Walkman in the late 1970s.

Now they're as ubiquitous as denim jeans, and the right pair can set you apart from the crowd in wondrous ways while you peacefully appreciate the finest nuances of your favorite music. Just don't forget to let someone else in the bubble every once in a while.


#10.Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones


As the most critically acclaimed model in the M-Series line, the ATH-M50 is praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers year after year. Now, the ATH-M50x professional monitor headphones feature the same coveted sonic signature, with the added feature of detachable cables. From the large aperture drivers, sound isolating earcups and robust construction, the M50x provides an unmatched experience for the most critical audio professionals.


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#9.Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 250 ohm HiFi headphones


Open or Closed Headphones refer to the ear cup. Typically headphones are closed and the ear cup is sealed. Sound does not get in or out of a closed headphone much. With our DT990 the ear cups are 'vented' or 'ported' allowing sound to escape and sound in the room to get in. This feature creates a very 'open' sound allowing sound energy to interact with the outside environment. We recommend to you try some for your critical listening, gaming or studio monitoring applications. It is a unique experience.


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#8.Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone


In the HD 650, audiophiles will experience truly unique natural sound. With sound this good, long concerts in the comfort of your home are a certainty, so the HD 650 also sets standards in comfort and convenience. The HD 650 is a genuine masterpiece, which will satisfy even the most demanding listener.


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#7.OPPO PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones (Black)


The OPPO PM-3 combines true audiophile performance, elegant styling, noise isolation and portability into a pair of sleek lightweight Planar Magnetic headphones. With the PM-3, users can easily recreate the experience of listening to a pair of flagship headphones on a flagship amplifier or a high-quality 2-channel speaker system in an optimized listening room, but in a portable form factor that can be taken anywhere. Tipping the scale at just slightly over 10 oz., the PM-3 is the world's lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones. This makes the PM-3 the ideal headphones for a person who is always on the go. Its elegant styling and exquisite workmanship make the headphones a pleasure to wear in public, and its light weight and exceptional comfort make it easy to listen for hours on end. The closed-back nature of the PM-3 provides isolation from the outside world, blocking out the surrounding noise while avoiding sound leakage from the headphones.


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#6.V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphone with Qualcomm aptX - Rose Gold


Won't go into too much depth as others (especially Dale) have accurately covered these and I agree with what's been said. The fantastic sound that almost lulls me to sleep on EDM tracks they're so good; very immersive and fun sound signature. I never tried the previous Crossfade or M100 but definitely love how these sound!


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#5.Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones


The SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones feature an expansive soundstage for clear, extended highs and warm bass. Developed with aluminum alloy and carbon fiber construction, the lightweight and durable design also features Alcantara ear pads for maximum sound isolation and comfort. An included storage case, replacement set of ear pads, and an additional dual-exit cable ensure years of uninterrupted listening enjoyment.


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#4.beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Audiophile Stereo Headphones with Dynamic Semi-Open Design (Silver)


Like its predecessor, the T1 second generation has a semi-open design, which features a spacious sound and detailed hi-fidelity. Furthermore, the T1 second generation has many optimized details. A highlight is the audiophile textile-coated, detachable connecting cable, which is shielded over its whole length and provides the best emission and radiation protection. Inside the cable, conductors are made of OCC 7N copper to ensure an excellent music transmission.


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#3.Focal - Elear Headphones


Trickle-Down Technology at Its Finest, Focal Elear Touts 1.75-Inch Wide-Range Loudspeaker Built Into the Headphones: Distortion-Free Design Plays With Stellar Transparency and Incredible Resolution Take advantage of cutting-edge trickle-down technology and experience personal listening like never before with the Focal Elear headphones. Featuring numerous innovations and technologies from Focal 's flagship Utopia model, the open-back circumaural Elear touts the world's first wide-range loudspeaker built into a pair of headphones.


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#2.Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System


A modern classic, Sennheiser's reference class HD 800 headphones deliver sound that is as natural as possible and true in every detail. Improving on a seemingly perfect formula is not a task undertaken lightly, but Sennheiser's engineers have succeeded in enhancing still further the sound reproduction in the open, circumaural HD 800 S. The striking industrial design combines form and function seamlessly, the layered metal and plastic headband construction attenuating vibrations to the ear cups while the handmade microfiber ear pads offer exceptional comfort for even long periods of listening enjoyment.


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#1.Focal UTOPIA Open Back Circum-Aural Headphones - Bundle With iFi Pro iCAN Headphone Amplifier, Astell&Kern AK100 II HD Sound System, 1/4" TRS Female to 3.5mm Male Stereo Adapter


Absolute Acoustic Purity Open-Backed Circum-Aural Headphones Utopia have already become the world reference high-fidelity headphones manufactured in France by Focal. They are the result of 35 years of innovation, development, and manufacturing of high-end speaker drivers and loudspeakers. Equipped with exclusive technology, they offer striking realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity, for sound with unrivaled purity.


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