We’re not sure if you’ve ever heard (pun intended) about the wild world of high-end audiophile gear before. If you haven’t, you’re in for a revelation. Dedicated music enthusiasts all over the world are plugged into the latest developments in audio technology – and now you can be, too. With every passing year, incredible new advancements are made in the ways music is stored, digitized, and enjoyed – and few tools are as definitive of modern musical consumption as headphones.
From earbuds to massive over-ear pads, headphones come in an array of shapes, sizes, and prices. Though we’ve all heard of well-reviewed mid-tier headphones like Beats and Sony MDRs, an entire (lesser known) universe of luxury gear exists – and it is redefining the contemporary musical experience. Whether it’s bringing otherwise inaudible instruments to the forefront or cancelling outside noise almost a little too effectively, the world’s leading luxury headphones have a wide range of qualities, and they all have one important thing in common. Each of the headphones on this list carries an extravagant price tag – not to mention its own set of jaw-dropping features. Curious about these game-changing musical marvels? Keep on reading.
Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors
Ringing in at $1,999.00, the Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors have – believe it or not – one of the lowest price points on our list. That being said, they’re more than capable of holding their own. With customizable design to suit the ears of each and every music lover who invests in them, these headphones are individualized in more ways than one: when purchasing these bad boys, you get to choose your design, whether it’s a glossy wood finish or impressive transparent acrylic. What’s more: the PRMs’ customizability begins right off the bat, allowing owners to choose their sound preferences with an experienced audiologist. These in-ear headphones deliver high-quality sound while allowing you to call the shots.
MrSpeakers Ether 2
One of the most widely praised features that the MrSpeakers Ether 2 model boasts is its lightness and portability for a pair of over-ear headphones. With a $1,999 price point, this pair weighs in at just 10 ounces – but doesn’t compromise spaciousness or headroom. Recognized for the crisp sound they produce without any harshness, these headphones strike a great balance between reproducing the well-known sounds you love in a song while bringing new, more difficult to discern sounds to the forefront.
64 Audio U12t
A fan favorite due to their high portability without compromising sound, the 64 Audio U12t headphones are a popular option. Retailing for $2,000, this model can occasionally be found for resale in the mid $1,000s. With their compact size and frequency range between 3 and 20,000Hz, these headphones boast versatility as their middle name. Brightness and depth are both done tremendously well by this top-tier model, with sounds resonating in extraordinary detail without ever getting overly shrill or piercing.
Ultrasone Edition 5
If you’re a stickler for tonality (and have a spare $2,099 to shell out), the Ultrasone Edition 5 headphones pair may be the perfect fit for you. Designed to offer listeners a natural sound with balanced tone for even the most dynamic music, these headphones are lauded for their extraordinary midrange. Though this is generally on the lower end of the “priorities” scale for true audiophiles, this over-ear pair has a lot to offer aesthetically: gleaming metal exteriors and comfortable Ethiopian leather interiors make for a listening experience that’s as comfortable as it is stylish.
Audeze LCD i-4
Fasten your seatbelts, folks: known as the most advanced in-ear headphones in the world, the Audeze LCD i-4s are priced at $2,499. You may ask yourself, “What justifies this world-renowned title – and this price point?” Though it may seem unimaginable to those of us outside audiophile circles, these are considered a reasonably priced option for the performance they promise. Featuring a slim, sleek design and a less than 0.1% sound distortion at even the highest volumes, this model offers an incredibly wide soundstage (ranging between 5 and 900Hz) and beautiful performance. Trust yourself not to lose your earbuds? We definitely recommend giving these a shot.
Empire Ear Zeus-R Universal
With a retail price of $2,499, the Empire Ear Zeus-R Universal headphones have been taking the audiophile world by storm. Described by reviewers as delivering smooth, warm high-register sounds and robust mids, these headphones also boast a subtle, solid bass. This model has been positively received by experts in the audio gear industry, particularly due to their ability to deliver a detailed and sophisticated array of sounds. This sophistication extends to the way these headphones layer sound, providing a three-dimensional sound effect that enhances the listening experience.
HiFiMan HE1000 V2
For $2,999, you could be the owner of a pair of HiHiMan HE1000 V2s, easily recognizable for their sophisticated wooden finish and flexible headband. With an extremely well-reviewed bass and tight sound signature, this set of headphones is well-suited to producing a wide variety of beautiful sounds. This model is designed with the music elitist in mind, since it’s not well-suited to low-quality tracks and compressed files.
Final Sonorous X
Ushering us into the high(er) end of this list at $4,999 is the Final Sonorous X model, whose luxuriousness is evident from the outside in: with stainless steel and gold leaf exteriors, these headphones prioritize aesthetic appeal right alongside sonic performance. Featuring a 50mm Titanium driver and a maximum SPL of 105dB, this pair is, simply put, not messing around. These are particularly noticeable for the power they lend to bass sounds, as well as their ability to deliver clear, elegant sounds for even the most complicated music. Between its powerful delivery, hefty price tag, and inspired design, these headphones are helping to take this next-level list to the next level.
Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC Complete
Speaking of taking auditory experiences to the next level, say hello to the Abyss AB-1266. Known among industry experts as one of the very best options on the market, this model rings in at a more than substantial price tag of $7,995. With a frequency range between 5Hz and 30kHz and a distortion of less than 0.2%, this model delivers nothing short of exceptional sound. Weighing in at 640 grams, these headphones are nothing if not substantial – and they deliver a world-renowned sound quality to match.
Sennheiser HE 1
Ready or not, here they come: the Sennheiser HE model isn’t just a simple set of headphones. Coming with its own sleek marble amplifier, less than 300 units of this model exist in the world. Legend has it that developing these headphones took approximately a decade, but audio experts generally agree that those ten years were well-spent: with a frequency range of 8Hz to 100kHz (which is greater than the human ear’s range of hearing, by the way), this model is aptly nicknamed Orpheus after the Greek mythological figure who played music so beautifully, the gods took special notice of him. Aptly named and masterfully designed, these headphones changed the landscape of audio gear forever. The price tag? $50,000.