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High Quality (and Expensive) Headphones for 2019

There's no question about it - if you are into high-quality audio, settling for fuzzy, dull-sounding, cheaper headphones isn't going to but it. Not to mention if you're wearing them for hours on end daily, you want the ultimate design in comfort. Here are the best of the best headphones we could find online for your needs.

You might ask yourself, luxury headphones, are they really worth it? There isn’t a one size fits all answer to that question, but for some of us, the answer is yes! Headphones are just not all created the same. It’s a simple truth. Because of that, luxury headphones are worth it for people who are looking for high quality sound, comfort, and durability in their headphones.

Spending a bit more can get you better sound quality, better build quality, and features that make your listening experience more enjoyable and superior to what you’ve had before.

How much should I expect to spend on a luxury headphones?

You should definitely expect to spend more for a pair of luxury headphones than you would for budget models, but there is still a broad range of prices to choose from so you can find something that fits your budget. Luxury headphones can be found for anywhere from above $100 all the way up to about $5,500! For our list, we are sticking to models that are within the $200 - $500 range. 

What features should I consider in a budget headphones?

  • Noise cancellation. Noise can be cancelled out by having a second noise introduced that basically nullifies the unwanted sound (for example, the sound of a plane's engines.) The speaker will emit another sound wave that has the same amplitude but an inverted phase, so it will counteract the other sound wave. That being said, budget noise-cancelling headphones are not going to make it so that you can't hear a screaming baby beside you, but they will reduce outside noise significantly.
  • Detachable cables. Cables that are detachable allow you to easily customize your fit or replace parts should the need arise. Also, if you get a wireless set of headphones and the battery dies, a detachable cable can be used to continue to play audio without needing the battery.
  • Wireless audio. Wireless audio is a feature of headphones that allows you to use them without having to physically connect your headphones to a device with a wire. You can connect via Bluetooth or WiFi rather than physically. It's important to note that wireless connections will compress the sound and make it lower quality than wired (though high quality headphones will reduce this compression as much as possible.
  • Foldable design. Headphones with a band can have a foldable design that allows for easier and safer storage. Considering the price tag of these models, you don't want them to crumple and break if you stash them in your knapsack.
Spending a bit more can get you better sound quality, better build quality, and features that make your listening experience more enjoyable and superior to what you’ve had before.

What are the more advanced features that I should consider in a high-end pair of headphones?

  • Frame material. The frame materials can be different. You’ll see metal, vinyl, foam, silicone, advanced plastics, artificial leather, textiles, and some others on the market. You should consider things like how and where you’ll be using them. Some materials are more resistant to impact and water than others, so you’ll want to choose a pair that fits your specific needs.
  • Frequency response. Frequency response in headphones has to do with the input signal being reproduced through the speaker with no distortion. That is the objective anyway. Some headphones will have a better frequency response than others, so you’ll get a better sound quality.
  • Magnetic drivers. The magnetic drivers are what convert the electrical signal in the sound wave that your ear understands. There are different sizes of drivers. Headphones drivers range from 20mm to 50mm. The size matters for the amount of sound you’ll get. But it’s also important to know how many different drivers are included in your headphones as some have more than one to control different sound frequencies.
  • Clarity. The clarity has to do with the macro-detail of the sound you’re hearing. Headphones that have good clarity will let you hear every distinct sound clearly and you’ll hear the stops and starts of each sound. 

1) Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Gen)

Key features
  • Tesla Technology Drivers
  • OCC 7N copper conductors
  • Protein-coated leatherette headband
  • Detachable textile-braided cable
  • Velours Ear Cushions with Memory Foam

The T1 2ndGeneration luxury headphones are the upgraded version of the Beyerdynamic T1 that was released in 2009. The company tweaked the sound to a higher quality level with some innovative changes to the design. The Tesla Technology Drivers are more efficient. There is a high level of impedance at 600 Ohms. 

And the cable is highly durable with a textile braid design. It’s also 3 meters long and detachable for convenience. You get powerful sound that is smooth and rich. These are high-end headphones that are priced at the upper end of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

The Beyerdynamic T1 (2ndGen.) stands out from the competition with the Tesla Technology Drivers they’ve integrated into their flagship headphones. The drivers give you sound that is crystal clear. 

You’ll hear details in your music that you may not have been able to distinguish before. The sound will be more transparent, so you can pick out the details in between. Compared to the original T1, the clarity produced by these headphones is way better. You also have the option to make these headphones digital, which is a convenient feature that you don’t find in all luxury headphones. 

What's not so good about it?

The sound isn’t as neutral as it’s said to be. There is a more colored sound with a lean towards bass. There are also reports of an airy sound to the tone. 

The price is a bit high and wouldn’t be in the range of many budget shoppers. 

  • Super comfortable
  • Long and detachable cable
  • Convertibility to digital headphones
  • Smooth and rich sound
  • Good bass
  • Very good build
  • A bit pricey
  • Bass is less punchy and too much overall for some
  • Sound isn’t neutral enough

2) Bose SoundLink II available for $199 on Amazon

Key features
  • Best-in-class performance wireless headphones
  • Wireless range up to 30 feet with latest Bluetooth technology
  • Lithium-ion battery with 15 hrs. of playtime
  • Connectivity for two Bluetooth devices at same time
  • Light, comfortable, impact-resistant materials

Bose has been in the business of sound innovation for over 50 years. The SoundLink II headphones are wireless around-ear speakers that immerse you in deep, rich sound at any volume you choose. The headphones are equipped with noise cancellation features like a dual microphone that counteracts the sounds around you and even the wind. 

The battery can last for up to 15 hours on one charge. You can control your sound with one simple touch and receive information about incoming calls or battery life through voice prompts. The price for these high-end headphones won’t break the bank coming in at the very bottom of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

The ability to connect to two Bluetooth devices at once isn’t something you’ll see in all luxury headphones. It’s a great feature that lets you continue listening to your music but still receive your phone calls. 

These headphones are also very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The battery life is a huge plus too. Users report only having to charge them about once a week. On top of it all, they do get excellent reports about the sound quality. And the price for these is lower than most other luxury headphones.

What's not so good about it?

There are some complaints about the headband material starting to flake off and ending up in users’ hair. Also, while reports are good about the sound quality for music, there are those who are saying they’re not as good for movies or TV watching. The sound clarity isn’t as high as it should be to fully distinguish all the detailed sounds in what you’re watching.

  • Very affordable
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Wireless
  • Double connectivity for Bluetooth devices
  • Quality sound for music
  • Sound clarity not the greatest for movie watching
  • Materials breaking down within a year
  • Volume not loud enough

3) Sony MDR-Z7

Key features
  • Aluminum-Coated Liquid Crystal Polymer driver units 70mm
  • Detachable Y-type cable
  • Upgradable cables
  • Beat Response Control
  • Silver coated OFC cable

Sony is one of the world’s leaders in entertainment technology. The MDR-Z7 headphones were designed with comfort and amazingly balanced sound in mind. The construction is made of aluminum that is covered in materials that add ergonomically enhanced comfort to this product. 

The sound produced is precise, pure, soothing, and natural. You can also upgrade these headphones even more with options of other cables that take your listening experience to another level. The price for these high-end headphones falls in the mid to high end of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

If you buy these at the stock level they come at, they already produce incredible sound. But having the option to change out cables for added quality features is a standout feature on this pair of headphones. 

Also, the comfort level of this set of luxury headphones is off the charts according to many users. People report that they feel the price point is well matched to the product they are getting and that the headphones live up to the quality of other Sony products they’ve purchased.

What's not so good about it?

The clarity level isn’t as high as you would like it to be. They also are reported to be dark and bass-y. 

The cable is very long, making it hard to use as a portable headphone set. One more complaint from some users was that the headphones start to get hot during use. 

  • Very comfortable
  • Lots of bass for those who like that
  • Extremely well made
  • Upgradable cables
  • Too much bass for neutral sound
  • Not enough clarity
  • Semi-open cans but lacks soundstage
  • A little pricey

4) Oppo PM-3 available for $559 on Amazon

Key features
  • 10 oz. weight
  • Closed-back cans
  • 1.2-meter portable cable for iPhone included
  • FEM-Optimized Magnet System
  • 7-layer magnetic driver diaphragm

The idea behind the PM-3s is to give listeners the same experience they would get from an optimized listening room but in a portable form. These headphones are lightweight and very sleek in their design. 

They weigh less than a pound, making them the lightest closed-back planar magnetic headphones in the world. The closed-back feature makes it to where you don’t get any noise from the world around you so that you can hear all of the details in what you are listening to. It also keeps your sound from leaking out to bother others in your vicinity. These are priced right in the middle of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

Some of the technology that makes these headphones standout from others are the use of double-sided spiraling coils on either side of the drivers. Because they are double-sided, there are twice as many conductors that are placed in the magnetic field. 

You also get a more balanced, unique sound from the planar magnetic drivers. The sound is natural and smooth but with lots of impact and emotion. The PM-3 has features that were derived from the PM-1 but with some tweaks and upgrades.

What's not so good about it?

The sound quality may suffer a little bit due to the closed-back design. The material used to cover the construction is faux leather. Some reports are that the material wears too quickly. The ear pads and the headband break down on some users and the replacements are not cheap or convenient to get. 

  • Good, quality sound
  • Super lightweight and portable
  • Comfortable
  • Noise isolation
  • No noise cancellation technology
  • Build quality not as good as could be
  • A little pricey

5) Ultrasone Signature Pro

Key features
  • Closed-back design
  • 40mm Titanium-plated driver
  • S-Logic Plus technology
  • 2 detachable cables with B-lock connections
  • 5-year warranty

The Ultrasone Signature Pro headphones are crafted with style and advanced sound technology. They’re designed in a minimalist fashion with details like hand sewn leather from the Ethiopian long-haired sheep. 

They’re made to be long-wear luxury headphones that keep you comfortable throughout your listening experience. The cable is removable, and you are given two lengths of cables, 1.5 m and 3 m, standard with the product. You’ll also get a nice case to store your headphones in. These closed-back headphones are on the upper end of our price range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

These headphones are designed well with a lot of attention paid to detail. The materials are high quality, and these are made by hand in Germany. In terms of sound, the audio is clear with a detailed mid-range and a concise low-range frequency, so your sound is at a quality not heard in many other headphones. Having your choice of cable length is an added bonus because then you can choose between stationary or portable designs.

What's not so good about it?

First off would be the price. The price for most, would be out of budget range. The other complaint from some people is that there was more attention paid to the construction and makeup of the headphones and not enough attention paid to the sound technology. 

  • High quality construction
  • 2 different lengths of detachable cables
  • 5-year warranty
  • Comfortable
  • Immersive sound from closed-back cans
  • Very pricey
  • Clarity is lost at lower volumes
  • Bass doesn’t pop enough for some music genres

6) Audeze EL-8 Open-back available for $545 on Amazon

Key features
  • Patented Uniforce voice-coil technology
  • SIRI-compatible microphone for voice calls
  • Aluminum frame with floating headband
  • Fluxor Magnet Arrays that double power driving diaphragm
  • Favor Elements for more accurate waveform

Audeze is not the oldest company in the business of sound, but the founders of this company made a revolutionary advancement with a flexible circuit material that they developed for NASA. They figured out how to integrate the material into planar magnetic technology that would prove beneficial in building headphones. 

The EL-8s are open-backed and very lightweight. They have won awards in the industry for the design, user friendliness, and signature sound of this pair of headphones. These are premium level headphones at a mid-range price.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

These headphones are made from space-age materials. The founders of the company used material they had developed previously for NASA to better the sound quality of headphones. There is a lot of patented technology built into these lightweight headphones to make the listening experience superior to competitors’ offerings. You also get the SIRI compatible microphone which is a pretty cool feature.

What's not so good about it?

One of the biggest complaints is that the soundstage isn’t broad enough. People expected more because of the upgrades and the open-backed design. The reports are that the sound quality is good but not broad enough. Some also say the design is too large to consider these as portable. They also don’t fold. 

  • Good quality build
  • Sophisticated style
  • Good clarity
  • 100mm driver
  • A little pricey
  • Soundstage needs expanding
  • Too large to be truly portable
  • Don't fold

7) Grado PS500e available for $595 on Amazon

Key features
  • Hidden mahogany core and powder-coated aluminum housing parts with dampening
  • 44mm speaker
  • 8 conductor cable design
  • Metal and wood hybrid air chamber
  • Foldable

Grado says these headphones are made for music connoisseurs. This is the sibling to the PS1000e. The speaker has been redesigned at 44mm and the cable has been upgraded to an 8-conductor design. 

For sound protection, there has been dampening added to the housing parts. You get a full-bodied and well-rounded listening experience with the PS500e and all for a mid-range price tag.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

These headphones are extremely lightweight and foldable, so they are great for on-the-go. The music is very well-balanced through these speakers. You get the same quality of sound that you would get from competitors’ headphones at much higher price points. 

Everything comes through clear and precisely. You can hear all of the detail of the music. These headphones outperform previous versions from Grado as well.

What's not so good about it?

The soundstage isn’t broad enough for some. The bass could be fuller. Some genres of music won’t sound great with these. 

The comfort level isn’t the greatest for long-term wear. And there are reports that the headband isn’t very durable.

  • Great sound quality
  • Increased dampening added to housing parts
  • Lightweight
  • Foldable
  • A bit pricey
  • Not enough bass
  • Not optimum for all genres

8) Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT

Key features
  • Pure Digital Drive technology
  • 45mm True Motion Driver with 4-core twisted OFC-7N voice coil
  • Bluetooth wireless technology with built-in mic and controls
  • 15 hours battery life
  • LED light indicators

These headphones are designed with Pure Digital Drive. This is a feature that makes it where they don’t need a D/A converter to operate, which degrades the sound you hear. This technology essentially takes out the middle man, so you get a more clear, transparent sound. 

You also get superior battery life and LED light indicators that tell you when you need to charge your headphones. These high-end headphones are priced right in the middle of the price range.

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How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

A big standout feature for these headphones is the Pure Digital Drive. This technology keeps the signal in its same form throughout the delivery process so that you don’t experience any loss of quality. The sound remains in digital form throughout the entire process. The battery life is awesome too. You get 15 hours of listening off of one charge. And the LED light indicators will let you know when you need to charge.

What's not so good about it?

The materials aren’t the most durable. Users are disappointed that they’re not made of metal instead of the plastic they’re crafted from. There are also complaints about the maximum volume level and the lack of sound isolation. 

One other major issue is the Micro USB charging port only fits the charging cable that comes with the product. This just isn’t the most convenient.

  • No loss of sound quality in signal delivery
  • Built-in mic and controls for Bluetooth
  • Long battery life
  • Useful LED light indicators
  • Inconvenient charging port
  • Low-quality build materials
  • No sound isolation

9) Sennheiser HD 660 S available for $499 on Amazon

Key features
  • Reference class open-backed
  • Hand-selected transducers
  • Detachable cables with high conductivity OFC copper
  • Two connection cables and adaptor included
  • Cushioned earcups and headband

This is Sennheiser’s successor to their already popular HD 650 headphones. For this version, they’ve improved on the performance. They’ve lowered the impedance to offer more versatility, so you can listen in different situations but still get the quality of sound you’re looking for. 

They’ve designed these to be comfortable as well. The earcups are fitted to follow the natural shape of the ear. These come with two connection cables, so you can choose which size you need for which kind of audio experience. These are priced well in the mid to low part of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

Sennheiser was already legendary in its field. So, this upgraded version to what was already on the market by this company stands out simply because of that. At a fairly low price compared to competitors’ versions of luxury headphones, you’ll get a well-crafted product from an expert in the business of personal sound. You’ll hear accurate sound with emotion and expressiveness that immerses you in a vivid sound experience. You also get versatile connectivity included with two different kinds of cable connections.

What's not so good about it?

The price is a little high for some people who say there is another maker offering something very similar for much less. Other reports are that they’re a little bit on the big, clunky side. They also clamp your head a bit hard, so they might be uncomfortable for someone with a larger head.

  • Detachable cables with two connections to choose from
  • Open-backed for airy, good flowing sound
  • Hand matched transducers
  • High conductivity
  • A little pricey
  • Tight clamping
  • Slightly clunky

10) Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II available for $299 on Amazon

Key features
  • Noise cancellation
  • Bose Connect app for control
  • Fully customizable features
  • 20 hours of battery life
  • Wireless

Bose made these headphones to be the most comfortable and powerful noise cancelling model they’ve made yet. You can control your headphones with the Bose Connect app. 

You’ll be able to make adjustments to the noise cancellation, get to your music sharing services, and make different customized settings to your headphones controls. These are premium, sophisticated headphones but at a very reasonable price that falls in the lower part of our range.

Image Source: Amazon

How does this item compare to other expensive headphones?

With these headphones, you get some cool features that you’ll get with much more expensive sets, but these are priced much lower. The ability to control your headphones through your phone app is highly convenient. 

For instance, you can set the level of noise cancellation you would like so it’s customized for you specific listening situation. 

What's not so good about it?

There seems to be a multi-connection glitch in the system that affects some users. When a call comes through, some reports are that the noise cancellation stops altogether, and you and the caller hear everything around you. Also, the volume is too low for some listeners and not enough bass for some genres of music.

  • Affordable
  • Noise cancellation feature
  • Convenient control app
  • Quality build
  • Bluetooth connectivity issues with multiple device connections
  • Not enough bass for some genres
  • Not enough volume

In conclusion...

Luxury headphones aren’t for everyone. That being said, for anyone who likes music, watches movies or videos on their devices, or creates music, investing some money into a good high-end level pair of headphones can take your listening experiences to a whole other level. 

You can walk down the street and drown out the world with noise cancelling features or sit in your office surrounded by your peers while blasting your favorite metal band but not disturb a soul if you have the right luxury pair of headphones. 

Are they expensive? Yes, to some degree. But like all consumer products, you can find a version of this product that will work for your budget and for your listening needs. Make sure to look at the features that will be best for the way you’ll be using your headphones and the places you’ll be using them, and then simply look at the prices so you get the best value you can. 

Luxury headphones are worth the money when you take the time to pick out the best fit for you. You can feel good that you’re getting something of high quality that will last you for a very long time. So, shop smart, invest into the right product, and start listening at a premium level.