11 Best High-End Headphones: Your Ultimate List

best high-end headphones

The right headphones make all the difference, that’s why we’re taking a look at the best high-end headphones to give you the cleanest listening experience possible.

What Are the Best High-End Headphones?

Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphone Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Stylish, durable design
  • Arguably the best closed-back headphones around
  • Comfortable
Price: $1,899.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Sony MDRZ1R Signature Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Some of the best headphones on the market
  • Stunning design
  • Incredible tech under the hood
Price: $1,798.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Focal Clear Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent quality
  • Premium style
  • Surprisingly comfortable
Price: $1,490.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Copper Hi-Res Bluetooth Headphones Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Hi-res audio is a certificate of pure undiluted sound
  • The crisp sound quality is worth mentioning twice
  • It's got the comfort factor
Price: $537.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Ticks all the boxes
  • Alexa/Google Support
  • Great noise cancelation
Price: $279.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Grado SR325e Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Ultra stylish
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Surprisingly comfortable
Price: $295.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Somny WH1000MX3 Headphones Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Best noise-canceling headphones around
  • Upscales compressed audio
  • User-friendly design
Price: $348.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Bowers & Wilkins PX Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Solid noise-cancelation
  • Stunning design
  • Excellent audio quality
Price: $148.49 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Sennheiser Momentum Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Serious style
  • Great quality
  • You can't go wrong with Sennheiser
Price: $194.49 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent battery life
  • Brilliant quality in this price bracket
  • Fold down easily
Price: $177.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
AKG Bluetooth Headphone Black (Y50BTBLK) Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super affordable
  • Great sound
  • Stylish
Price: $269.80 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphones

    Pros:
    • Stylish, durable design
    • Arguably the best closed-back headphones around
    • Comfortable
    Cons:
    • Pricey
    • No other color options
    • Some will turn their noses up at closed-back

    While some audiophiles will turn their noses up at closed-back headphones, the Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphones are the exception. 

    The Sennheiser Ring Radiator transducers are fitted with gorilla glass enclosures. Not only does this offer a peek at the tech inside, the concave glass is designed to reflect sound waves from the transducer to the absorber, meaning even though these are closed-back headphones, you’ll receive minimal resonance. 

    In terms of sound, this beast is slick. 

    On the comfort side of things, we’ve got handcrafted ear pads designed to reduce ambient noise as well as an inner damping element on the metal headband. 

    The headphones also come with a 4.4mm stereo jack (balanced) and a conventional 6.3mm jack (unbalanced). 

    As WhatHiFi notes in the site’s review, these are ideal home headphones, and although you may want to plug them directly into your phone, for the best listening quality we’d recommend checking out the Sennheiser HDV 820 Digital Headphones Amplifier

  2. 2. Sony MDRZ1R Signature

    Pros:
    • Some of the best headphones on the market
    • Stunning design
    • Incredible tech under the hood
    Cons:
    • Pricey
    • The best audio quality ideally requires an amp
    • Again, pricey

    The Sony MDRZ1R Signature Headphones are your new favorite headphones. 

    I can never understate the importance of hi-res audio if you want to listen to music in the clearest way possible, and these headphones offer superior clarity.

    The 70mm HD driver married to the diaphragm with Magnesium dome and Liquid Crystal Polymer edge allows for up to 120kHz playback. To say this behemoth sounds great would be an understatement. 

    Sony also implemented an acoustic filter which alters air resistance to remove reverberations made by driver moment. 

    One thing I will note, to get the most out of these headphones, you’re going to need a good amp. Your phone will sound great, but for the best experience possible, we recommend the TAZH1ES amp. 

  3. 3. Focal Clear

    Pros:
    • Excellent quality
    • Premium style
    • Surprisingly comfortable
    Cons:
    • Pricey
    • Bass could be deeper
    • Looks like a (super-stylish) tank

    The Focal Clear may not be a name you’ve heard of, but if it’s pure quality you’re after, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with. 

    When The Verge reviewed the Clear, the site loved the quality but felt the bass could be somewhat deeper. 

    What’s crazy about this headset is while it looks like a tank, it’s deceptively comfortable. 

    Although I jest about it looking like a tank, these things just ooze premium. The grating effect is stylish and the bright silver pops. 

    Just keep in mind with the super-premium headphones, you are going to need a solid music setup to get the most out of them. Sure, your phone will never sound better, but for the best audio experience possible, you’ll be needing a good amp. 

  4. 4. Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Copper Hi-Res Bluetooth Headphones

    Pros:
    • Hi-res audio is a certificate of pure undiluted sound
    • The crisp sound quality is worth mentioning twice
    • It's got the comfort factor
    Cons:
    • Doesn't fold down
    • Pricier than the Grado SR325e (but a lot more affordable than the Sennheiser HD 820)
    • No other color options

    Do not underestimate the quality of hi-res audio. Once you’ve tried hi-res, you won’t go back. You don’t realize how much you’re missing until you try a pair of hi-res headphones with a hi-res album.

    It’s worth noting here, if the idea of replacing your entire collection with hi-res versions is off-putting, Tidal offers hi-res streaming, and you can sign up to a 30-day free trial to test out your new favorite headphones. Trust me, you won’t regret it. 

    I blasted through Panic at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor in hi-res and the howling vocals and popping beats were unreal. 

    If it’s pure audio quality you’re after, the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Headphones are some of the best high-end headphones around. Maybe even the best wireless headphones around. 

    With a hardy 30-hour battery life and a control touchpad on the ear armor, you won’t find a clearer headphone. You can even adjust the sound quality and tailor it to your liking through the Beyerdynamic MIY app. 

    Sure, it’s pricey – not Sennheiser HD 820 pricey, but it’s still pricey. That said, given the sheer depth of sound on display here, it’s definitely a worthwhile investment in the longterm. 

  5. 5. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

    Pros:
    • Ticks all the boxes
    • Alexa/Google Support
    • Great noise cancelation
    Cons:
    • Somewhat 'safe' look
    • Pricey (but not super-premium pricey)
    • Some won't like the chunky buttons (I do!)

    The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a great set of headphones that ticks all the boxes. 

    It’s got Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support, great noise cancelation, superb audio depth, and there’s app integration. It’s just a solid all-rounder. 

    The 20-hour battery life isn’t the longest charge in the world, but 20 hours is very manageable. And given most of us need to plug our phones into the wall every night, adding another piece of tech isn’t a huge sacrifice. 

    The ridged buttons are a great addition, too. Nothing’s worse than fiddling with your headphones trying to find the right buttons, am I right?

  6. 6. Grado SR325e Headphones

    Pros:
    • Ultra stylish
    • Excellent sound quality
    • Surprisingly comfortable
    Cons:
    • Not everyone will like the look
    • Some people don't like black?
    • There really isn't much else to grumble about here

    The Grado SR325e headphones are a love/hate scenario. Either you see these 60’s style headphones and it’s love at first sight or you carry on scrolling. 

    If you’re reading this, you’ve made the right choice. 

    While these headphones lack deep bass, Grado is all about the subtle details you wouldn’t normally hear. Blast something classical and the sounds will pop like never before. 

    The powder-coated housing is designed to offer smoother transitions between frequency ranges, and while we’re talking housing, these are open-back headphones, so if closed-back isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. 

    Grado knows sounds, and the Brooklyn company has mastered the art of crisp beats.

    If you’re after something in a more affordable price bracket that, in all fairness, should cost a lot more than it does, you won’t go wrong with these stylish Grado headphones. They really are one of the best high-end headphones money can buy. 

  7. 7. Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

    Pros:
    • Best noise-canceling headphones around
    • Upscales compressed audio
    • User-friendly design
    Cons:
    • Pricey (but worth it)
    • Sleek but very safe design
    • No other color options

    Thanks to the HD Noise Cancelling Processor, the Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are the best noise-destroying headphones on the market. 

    Having a dedicated noise-canceling processor means your music won’t be affected due to performance, making for a set of headphones you can truly lose yourself in. 

    If you’re into heavy, thumping beats, the 40mm drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragm offer up ranges of up to 40kHz. Nice!

    These beasts also come with Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX, meaning your MP3s will be upscaled to bring them as close to hi-res as possible. Also nice!

    The Sony WH1000MX3 also comes with Alexa built-in, so if you want to answer phone calls while on the go, the option’s there. 

    In short, if you want to delete the sounds of the world around you and engross yourself in this music you love, the Sony WH1000XM3 is worthy of your consideration. 

  8. 8. Bowers & Wilkins PX Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

    Pros:
    • Solid noise-cancelation
    • Stunning design
    • Excellent audio quality
    Cons:
    • Noise-cancelation isn't as hardy as the Sony offering
    • Pricey
    • Low-res music will still sound low-res

    The Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones are the most intuitive headphones on this list. 

    We’ve all been in this situation. Someone talks to you so you lift an ear pad. You need to take your headphones off to talk so you wrap them around your neck. The PX Headphones know how you operate and work in tandem. 

    Put the headphones on and they’ll turn on. Take them off, they turn off. Lift an ear pad or hang them around your neck and they’ll pause the song. As I say, they are seriously intuitive. 

    While the noise-canceling present in the PX Headphones won’t be able to rival the Sony WH-1000XM2, it’s still a solid addition nonetheless. Where the PX excels, however, is in the sound quality. 

    The angled headphones offer a more frontal way of listening (as oppose to side-on). You will need to factor in the quality of the song you’re playing as there’s no upscaling present, but if you’re an audiophile chances are that won’t be an issue. 

  9. 9. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

    Pros:
    • Serious style
    • Great quality
    • You can't go wrong with Sennheiser
    Cons:
    • Some heathens don't care about style
    • Brown leather isn't for everyone
    • That's it, really

    Sennheiser makes the best headphones, period. But if you’re after a more affordable option, check out the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

    So, as it’s Sennheiser we know these things are going to sound great. So where does this pair of headphones excel? It’s all in the style. 

    The leather band around the top is striking, and the ear pads are designed for comfort. In a similar vein, the ear cups are attached to high-end ball joints, meaning you can adjust the placement of the cups to get them in the exact right position. 

    Style, clear audio, and a much lower price point than the super-premium headphones on this list make the Momentum 2.0 headphones easy to recommend. 

  10. 10. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

    Pros:
    • Excellent battery life
    • Brilliant quality in this price bracket
    • Fold down easily
    Cons:
    • Your ears will be quite warm after a long session
    • Some don't like the chunky design (I do!)
    • Mic is reported to not be great

    Finding a high-quality set of wireless headphones isn’t easy. Thankfully, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT is the real deal. 

    Equipped with 45mm drivers with a frequency response of 15 to 28,000 Hz, these headphones are lush. 

    If you’re after headphones for commuting, the frankly ridiculous 40-hour continuous use time is going to keep you going for some time. One hour to work, one hour back and you’ll still have plenty of charge left by the weekend. Nice!

    Adding further to the travel-friendly nature of these headphones, they fold down easily, meaning slipping them into a bag when you’re finished is a breeze. 

    If you’re after crisp headphones for travelling, you won’t go wrong with the ATH-M50xBT. 

  11. 11. AKG Bluetooth Headphone Black (Y50BTBLK)

    Pros:
    • Super affordable
    • Great sound
    • Stylish
    Cons:
    • Not as good as the pricer options
    • 20 hour battery life isn't great (but isn't awful either)
    • No other color options

    Given the low price of the AKG Bluetooth Headphones, there’s very little to complain about. 

    When it comes to headphones, everything is relative, right? Of course the AKG headphones won’t hold a candle to a set of Sennheisers, but then at this price, they’re not meant to. 

    As a set of entry-level headphones, these AKG headphones offer excellent quality, a sturdy and comfortable design, and the frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz is sure to excite. The battery life of 20 hours may be offputting to some, but again, it’s all relative. At this price 20 hours is more than enough. 

    Whether you’re new to high-quality headphones or just after a quality back up, these AKG headphones are well worth checking out. 

Open-Back vs Closed-Back: What's the Difference?

At the risk of delving into nonsensical jargon, the best way to look at the difference between open-back and closed-back headphones is noise disturbance. 

Open-back headphones allow the air to get in, which in turn creates a richer audio environment. This is great when you're at home with nothing to bother you, but head outside and you'll be able to hear birds chirp and cars speed past. 

Closed-back, on the other hand, lacks the same depth as open-back headphones but provides a much cleaner listening experience free from background noise (and that's before you factor in noise-canceling technology). 

As for which is better, it all comes down to how you're going to be using your headphones. If it's for commuting, then closed-back is the way to go. But if it's sitting around the house and rocking to beats by yourself, open-back is well worth considering. 

Best Audiophile Wireless Headphones

If you're after the best audiophile headphones, then I'd suggest checking out our 10 Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones guide. 

In it you'll find all the slickest options when it comes to wireless headphones that offer nothing but the cleanest audio. 

Best Budget Audiophile Headphones

Everyone has their own definition of budget when it comes to headphones. If we're talking sub $200, then the Sennheiser HD 569 is worth looking at. 

While these headphones lack the quality and crispness of the more high-end headphones, they are the perfect entry-level headphones. 

What is Frequency Response?

Anyone who's into high-quality music will have heard the term frequency response at some point. But what does it even mean and how does it work? Keep on reading. 

Without jamming your head full of nonsensical jargon, the easiest way to understand frequency response is how well a device can handle the frequencies being applied to it and whether a device makes any changes to the frequency. 

Still with us? Cool.

Ideally, what we want is what's called a flat frequency. Think of a straight line where an output device (phone, amp, laptop, etc) produces frequencies to the external device (headphones or speakers). A straight line would mean all the frequencies are being transferred to the external device, resulting in the near-perfect audio experience. 

That, however, is rarely possible. When you factor in headphone drivers, vibrations from the internal components, differing sound cards on PCs - the list could go on forever - getting frequencies without any interruptions from point A to B isn't straightforward. 

Again, I don't want to bog you down with too much tech-speak (we're not getting into differing decibels right now), but the short version is some headphones do a better job of transferring the frequencies, resulting in a far greater sound. 

It's also worth keeping in mind, the average person has a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Hearing is complicated, though. Some say 40kHz headphones are the best and they can hear the difference, others say the extra range isn't worthwhile. It all comes down to personal experience. 

One final point - I'll make it quick so you don't' scream at me! - frequency range doesn't equal quality. It just means the headphones are capable of permeating frequencies within that range. Whether the tech in the headphones does a good job of getting those frequencies to your ears without making any changes, is a whole other thing, which is why we've been so selective with this list and only cover the good while ignoring the bad. 

See Also:

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