The invention of the headphone revolutionized audio entertainment dramatically although it was first created for telephony and radio purposes in its early days. A device that allows individuals to listen to their favorite songs almost anytime, anywhere, and without worrying about bothering the people around them, headphones certainly changed the way we enjoyed music.
#10 Audio-Technica ATH-W5000 ($1,200)
The Audio-Technica ATH-W5000 is everything you want in high end headphones and more. On top of the outstanding audio qualities and trendy, modern aesthetics, this expensive gadget’s value also stems from its magnesium-alloy frame and 8N-OFC (oxygen free copper) voice coils. Most people won’t know what that means but they sound good, both figuratively and literally.
#9 Hifiman HE 6 ($1,299)
A lot of audio junkies would fall for the Hifiman HE 6 at the first glance. For the common people, this headphone is nothing more than just another audio device. But for those who know their instruments and devices, they would easily spot the headphone’s two distinguishable features. The Hifiman HE 6 showcases and open-back design and uses a planar magnetic structure, which makes the headset spew sounds naturally. As gadget reviewer Steve Guttenberg of CNet.com pointed out, “It’s as close to “being there” as I’ve heard from headphones.”
#8 JH Audio JH16 Pro ($1,149+Custom Ear Molds)
While the base price of the JH Audio JH16 Pro is considerably lower compared to the lowest-priced headphone on this list, the required customizations for this device makes it a pricey gadget. The JH Audio JH16 Pro is built to fit your ears, which would require ear molds. Owning this headphone is like having something that is truly designed for you. Another thing that makes this headphone expensive? Each piece has 8 internal drivers.
#7 Beyerdynamic T1 ($1,399)
Open-back headphones that use traditional drivers, the Beyerdynamic T1 boasts a technologically advanced construct inside. Each earpiece is rigged with Tesla-based technology, which Beyer describes as “Completely re-engineered transducers (drivers) based on a neodymium ring magnet with optimized magnetic field characteristics.” That may sound geeky and too technical but the end result is something all people could understand. This headphone, together with other models with similar technology, can produce crisp, clear, sound and powerful dynamics.
#6 Sennheiser HD800 ($1,500)
It’s quite hard to imagine a list of expensive headphones without Sennheiser making an entry. It seems the company is making its move on every niche and producing quality headphones even at the high end level. And they did just that with the Sennheiser HD800. This particular model is massive and the sound it makes also generates the same description. Boasting the biggest transducers ever used in headphones, one simply can expect nothing but loud, clear sound from those speakers.
#5 Grado PS1000 ($1,695)
While most expensive headphones today flaunt distinctive and edgy designs to make them more visually appealing, the Grado PS1000 intends to shy away from being flashy by implementing an old school look. And it works perfectly. This model has no flash but throws an all-business, straight up attitude that you want in a headphone. And unsurprisingly, the Grado PS1000 delivers the goods.
#4 Audeze LCD-3 ($1,945)
Audeze produces top quality headphones and has been consistent with what they bring to the table. And nothing represents Audeze better than the LCD-3 model. The open-back headphone can perform at par with its contemporaries, thanks to its internal construction that includes planar magnetic drivers. Overall, this product offers a unique audio experience that makes you want to just lie down and listen to your playlist all day long.
#3 Stax SR-009 ($4,450)
While the Stax SR-009 does not parade a very appealing design from a visual standpoint, it is nonetheless one of the best high end headphones produced ever. Remember an old saying about books and their covers? That adage applies aptly to this specific model. If you care to go past beyond what you see, you will know that the SR-009 from Stax is a solid performer. Inside, one will find that the SR-009 utilizes electrostatic drivers. While they function similarly to planar magnetic drivers, the construction of the SR-009 is much more intricate as the diaphragm is suspended in electrostatic field instead of being embedded in thin film. This structure allows the SR-009 to produce sounds that experts described as “deep”, “pure”, and “beautiful”.
#2 Ultrasone Edition 5 ($4,999)
Another popular name in the audiophiles’ circles, Ultrasone could easily occupy three or four spots on this list as the company is known for high end as well as ultra expensive headphones. The new Edition 5 are slated for release next month but the clamor for the model has been very high. Priced at nearly $5,000, this model boasts titanium-coated 40 mm drivers, bog oak with a seven-layer varnish finish, and plush Ethiopian sheep leather. More than just top quality sound, you get a piece of luxury as well.
#1 Abyss AB-1266 ($5,495)
Crafted using solid aluminum and implementing planar magnetic technology, the Abyss AB-1266 is the top resident of the Mt. Olympus of high end and pricey headphones. Aside from high grade aluminum, this device also made excellent use of carbon steel for its front baffle and lambskin pads for cushion. But going past these premium elements, the Abyss AB-1266 produces headphone sound no other brands can parallel. As CNET tester Steve Guttenberg points out, “it outruns the competition in every way I evaluate headphone sound.”