Home Headphones 5 Best Audiophile Headphones under $500 in 2016 to Buy

5 Best Audiophile Headphones under $500 in 2016 to Buy


Audiophile headphones are custom-tailored for uncompromising performance and maximum fidelity. They’re the crème de la crème of all portable audio gear. As you’d expect, such high quality comes at an equally premium price. It’d be best to think of audiophile sound quality as a path you’re embarking upon, rather than the ultimate goal.

Choosing the Best Audiophile Headphones

Audiophile headphones 3As with any other kind of headphones, audiophile models come in varying types and construction variations.

Artists and musician who’re performing on a stage will have an entirely different set of requirements and preferences when compared to home listeners. For that reason, manufacturers are prompted to cater to a broad range of users and their individual preferences.

Which is the Best?

There’s an extensive range of options to choose from on the market. It can prove daunting to decide on the one you’d purchase. Luckily, for you, we review the best brands of audiophile headphones in this guide to make your decision-making process smooth, seamless, and appropriate. You need not break the bank to acquire a top-quality, durable set of audiophile headphones.

This guide will help you find an affordable model that will grant you the qualities you’d find in higher-end options. We’ll only include affordable models, which are priced at $500 and lower. We’re confident that these reviews will guide you to select the right model for your preferences and needs.

Our Best Pick: Beyerdynamic Tesla Audiophile High Headphone

Beyerdynamic T90 New Tesla Audiophile High End Headphone

[amazonprice id="268"] on Amazon

Beyerdynamic offers an extensive line of impressive models. Many users, including record industry pros, love this brand’s mid-price and high-end headphones. Most of their models are notably costly. The T90 is Beyerdynamic’s first Tesla model that bears an open design. All of the previous Tesla models have a closed back design.

The open back design enables you to hear outside sound, producing large-spaced stereo imaging when compared to closed back headphones. This model delivers incredible resolutions of fine details. It is pleasurable to wear this model for long hours as it’s unusually comfortable.

Key Features

  • Cable Length: 10 ft.
  • Driver Technology: Tesla
  • Impedance: 250-Ohm
  • Max. Sound Pressure Level: 125 dB
  • Earbuds: Velour
  • Fit: Over-Ear
  • Construction: Open
  • Make: Germany

Why to Buy Them?

  1. Design

These headphones are a full-size model featuring an over-ear design. The outer ear cups’ center section comes with a gray-brown textured fabric. That will allow you to hear even outside sounds. As with all other open back designs, someone near you might hear the T90’s sound. We’d mark its understated look superior to usual typical high gloss plastic sheen on most other famous headphones.

Tesla’s design strategy is not only about using more powerful or bigger neodymium magnets. Beyerdynamic optimizes Tesla systems to help reduce magnetic losses of power which would reduce their efficiency. A ring driver encircles these headphones’ driver. In many conventional models, the magnet’s smaller and often contained within their driver.

  1. Comfort

Simply put, the T90 headphones are commendably comfortable. They feel impressive and solidly built. Quality is first-rate. Their plush microfiber ear pads are comfy. Also, they’re unlikely to make your ears sweat in comparison with the usual leather and vinyl pads. This model weighs a little 12.3 ounces. That’s remarkably light for a full-size home headphone. We found this model’s comfort well above par.

  1. Performance

The Tesla T90 sounds pretty accurate, imparting less of its sound on music than most other audiophile models. The music’s purity and clarity are astonishing. It presents a clearer view. While some headphones with above-average clarity have a lean tonal balance, the T90’s sound is neutral, from top to bottom. In case your music has profound bass, the T90 won’t hold anything back.

  1. Usability

These headphones have high rated impedance. The 250-ohm impedance might hinder performance with phones and portable devices. However, it is specially crafted for use at home with headphone amplifiers and AV receivers. Such would easily drive headphones with high rated impedances.

However, its ten-foot cable isn’t user-removable. It’s included with a 3.5-mm plug. A large faux leather carry bag that’s heavily padded is the only accessory. The appealingly finished and luxurious feel is well commensurate with this model’s price. Still, it’ll perform a great job at protecting your headphones if you wish to squeeze them into a travel bag.

The Good

The Beyerdynamic T90 makes use of the advanced Tesla magnetic flux technology in producing remarkably accurate sound. The open back design provides for more spacious stereo imaging. Also, the T90 is quite comfortable to wear for considerably long periods. It measures pretty well against models, which cost $1,000.

The Bad

When compared to some models, the T90 might prove expensive. We wouldn’t consider it suitable for on-the-go use. That’s because the open back design might leak sound.

Our Review

Sure, the Beyerdynamic headphones might seem pricey. But, barely any other less expensive model can match these headphones’ combination of build quality, sound, and comfort. The T90 headphones match up well against most expensive headphones. For well-heeled audiophiles, its price will seem reasonable.

Perhaps, the most notable downside to the T90 is that it might not be well suited for portable use. But, very few full-size, audiophile headphones are suitable for portability. The T90 is best savored at home when plugged into a top-quality AV receiver or headphone amplifier.

Runner-Up: Technica Audiophile ATH AD1000X Open Air Headphones

Technica Audiophile ATH AD1000X Open Air Headphones

[amazonprice id="273"] on Amazon

Unpredictability is what keeps fans of this brand addicted. You never know what to expect. The ATH AD1000X boasts excellent build quality, an airy soundstage, and enhanced comfort. It’s not hard to come across popular celebrities wearing these headphones. They provide classy sound, which matches its price and a mature image.

Key Features

  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Technology: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 40-Ohm
  • Max. Sound Pressure Level: 102 dB
  • Construction: Open-Air
  • Make: Japan

Why to Buy Them

  1. Design

This model boasts fantastic build quality, which features a magnesium alloy frame. The AD1000X’s 3D wing design is pretty comfortable.

It comprises angled velour ear pads that are remarkably comfortable. That angle ensures that the headphones conform to anyone’s head shape. As well, this device has a double-entry cable. The ‘left’ and ‘right’ denominators on the headphones’ headband are written in a fancy Italic font.

  1. Comfort

Audio Technica implements several measures to ensure that you’ll feel comfy wearing this set. They’re commendably comfy! The large earpads will suck up most of the pressure this model exerts on your head.

Although they’re large, this model isn’t particularly heavyweight. The included synthetic leather of its pads is conveniently soft. The inner parts make use of the same synthetic material. The breathable fabric ensures that your ears won’t heat up.

  1. Performance

This set mainly emphasizes on two sections. An upper bass peak gives everything some sense of punch and solidity. The lower treble peak lays emphasis on the breathiness of female vocals, giving everything an exciting and emotive tone.

These headphones have an engaging and beautiful tuning. It sounds liquid and extended. Where this set excels the most is in its powerful and profound bass. It achieves that without detraction from the high-end sound notion. The bass depth and tone are simply excellent.

  1. Usability

The AD100X is clearly intended for home use where it’s less hot and muggy. But, in case you embrace your eccentricity, you can indeed make use of these headphones out and about. With the closed cups, they won’t leak much sound while providing for some isolation.

The Good

You’re certain to love this model’s reliable performance. It provides for amazing sound quality. They offer a truly high-end sound that you wouldn’t expect for such a price. The high-gloss American black cherry wood construction offers a unique blend of classiness that makes these headphones stand out among many other brands.

The Bad

The cable isn’t user-removable. Most people also claim that this model would have been even better if it had several admirable qualities of its open-design rivals. The bass might not seem linear. Some users assert that it lacks transparency.

Our Review

Overall, the AD1000X is clearly a fantastic package. Although the standard Audio Technica tuning might not appeal to everyone, it sounds appreciably clean without any disturbing elements.

That complements the excellent build quality to make for an affordable, yet reliable and durable set of headphones. We’d recommend this model to anyone who’s seeking an atmospheric, airy, and exciting listening experience.

Budget Pick: Grado Prestige Series SR80e Headphones

Grado SR80e Prestige Series Headphones

[amazonprice id="274"] on Amazon

The SR80e is the next generation of the popular SR80 open back headphones by Grado. We’ve no reason to doubt that this model will sound just as great as the previous one.

The main reason why most people love Grado headphones is how the brand remains firmly faithful to their roots. The SR80e bears a design that’s closely similar to that of its predecessors. It’s among the best-sounding models you’d get at such a price.

Key Features

  • Technology: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32-Ohm
  • Headband: Soft Vinyl
  • Color: Black
  • Fit: On-Ear
  • Design: Foldable
  • Construction: Semi-Open
  • Make: U.S.A

Why to Buy Them

  1. Design

Grado designs the exterior of the SR80e to be much similar to that of its predecessors. The plug is pretty sturdy and case-friendly. However, this plug might seem beefy. If your case recesses your smartphone’s headphone jack, you might have difficulties plugging the headphones in. You can purchase an adapter dongle to avoid that problem.

These on-ears help avoid high amounts of perceptible distortion, as well as the mechanical noise which would underpin your music during playback. Their open speaker backs enable sound waves to travel outwards as they’d in an open space. That prevents music from bouncing around in an enclosure, as it would with closed back models. While most headphones produce prominent, unwanted sounds which clutter a soundstage’s background, the SR80e doesn’t.

  1. Comfort

For an on-ear model, these headphones are relatively lightweight and quite comfortable. They feature foam pads, which are more comfortable than the ‘bowl’ pads. The latter tend to apply more pressure on the outer edges of one’s ears. Comfort-wise, this model is an excellent option.

  1. Performance

Grado hasn’t changed the sound for this new e-Series. But, the SR80e headphones are a definite upgrade from the previous i-Series’ sound. This model is more laid back. Its bass is much deeper and fuller. Such add up to a smoother tonal balance.

When compared with older and more expensive models, the SR80e’s sweeter sound features plenty of detail, along with more powerful and deeper bass. It’s worth noting that you can listen to these headphones at a relatively quiet volume level without losing much detail.

  1. Usability

Upon purchasing this model, you’ll get a 0.25-inch jack converter that you can use to plug into your home stereo system. Although there are no other accessories, Grado stays true to its no-frills roots.

These headphones would suit enthusiasts who’re seeking something they can use in private spaces. For an incredibly affordable price, these American-made headphones deliver detailed audio, tons of clarity, and elegant design.

The Good

The SR80e offers impressive sound at the modest price. They’re quite comfortable to wear for an on-ear model. These headphones feature an open back design. That allows for more spacious and natural stereo imaging. Gentle overtones and delicate musical details stand out with impressive clarity. You’ll certainly love the judicious balance across the audible spectrum. Every note is expertly emphasized to retain a high level of clarity and detail, from top to bottom.

The Bad

The open back design might let noise in. Also, the beefy plug won’t be compatible with some smartphone cases. It’d be wise to confirm whether the plug would be compatible with your smartphone case before purchasing this model.

Our Review

On the outside, these headphones haven’t changed, but the interior has. Yes, the open back design isn’t suitable for noisy environments. However, the Grado SR80e sounds excellent for the price. Also, they’re significantly comfortable to wear. The SR80e is assembled by hand in Grado’s Brooklyn, New York facility.

It’s worth noting that all Grado headphones, including higher-end ones, come in very simple, yet refreshing packaging. You’ll be impressed by their sound quality you’ll acquire from this affordable model. It’s a perfect headphone for the money, especially if you don’t require an inbuilt microphone for cell phone calls or the isolation provided by closed back designs.

Also Good: AKG Pro Audio K702 Headphones

AKG Pro Audio K702 Headphones

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The K702 is a set of over-the-ear headphones that has extra soft velour-covered cushions. A metal wire and real leather headband distribute the headphone’s weight evenly across your head. That implies that you can wear them for long hours at a time. They’ll remain comfy and beautiful.

You won’t make a mistake when donning them as the headband is clearly marked ‘R’ and ‘L’. The K702 is hand-assembled and tested in Austria. That’s clearly evident in their finish, fit, quality, and durability, which are all first-rate.

Key Features

  • Cable Length: 3 Meters
  • Technology: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 62-Ohm
  • Max. Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB
  • Design: Circumaural
  • Construction: Open
  • Make: Austria

Why to Buy Them

  1. Design

This model boasts an incredibly exceptional build quality. The K702, weighing just 235 grams, is among the most lightweight headphones available today. AKG achieves that by avoiding metal parts. The construction mainly entails top-quality fiber, which is light, but sturdy. The cable is solidly built and flexible. It won’t get tangled.

These headphones implement a suspended headband technique. There’s thus no need for manual adjusting for different head sizes. They’re auto-adjusting, hence avoiding any hassle. The headband features a foam-pleather base that’s accurately angled. It’s attached to an elastic thread that stretches the headband up and down.

  1. Comfort

We commend these headphones for comfortable they’re to wear, even for extended sessions. They feel extremely light when on the head. The high-quality velour ear pads don’t cause itching or irritations. The space within the ear pads has a handy amount of depth. They’ll provide good ventilation for your ears, even in hot tropical climatic conditions. The firm ear pads ensure durability and consistent delivery in sonic performance. You can quickly remove the K702’s ear pads to clean or replace.

  1. Performance

The K702 has flat-wire voice coils, which help maintain low distortion levels. That’s even during high-volume listening. They’ve got a notably neutral sonic character. The key terms, which would define the K702, are accuracy, transparency, and detail. Emphasis is given on highs and mid-ranges for optimal listening. Additionally, they’ll improve over time.

Playbacks will help provide audible improvements while softening the ear pads and relaxing the clamping force. The soundstage opens excellently, becoming airier with accurate instrument placements. Precise attention and focus are required on highs and mid-ranges.

  1. Usability

These headphones aren’t designed to be run by weak sources. You’ll require a dedicated headphone amplifier to achieve fantastic performance delivery. They’re greatly neutral. You’ll quickly figure out flaws in recordings with this model. The K702 will prove very useful for critical listening or mastering. Also, they’re an appreciable utility for musical pleasure.

The Good

The K702 lets you realize the right components of recordings, and thus the music itself. They’re technically far more superior to most other models available at such a price point. This responsive set boasts neutral sound presentation that will prove helpful for casual musical pleasure and critical listening alike. You’re definite to love their sheer amount of speed and transparency.

The Bad

The downside to this model is that its bass is a touch less in quantity. It’s relatively difficult to drive. Also, it needs a good headphone amplifier. The AKG doesn’t include a storage case.

Our Review

The K702 arrives packed inside a cardboard box. Essential accessories are included. Each and every part of the packaging has a premium quality feel to it. These headphones are a favorite among many qualified and experienced professionals. That alone vouchers for the K702’s highly appreciated performance.

Going by sonic performance, these headphones excel in accuracy, transparency, detail retrieval, imaging, resolving power, and soundstage terms. Overall, the K702 Headphones offer better technical sonic performance that’s well worth the price.

Also Good: Sennheiser HD 700 Headphones

Sennheiser HD 700 Headphones

[amazonprice id="276"] on Amazon

The Sennheiser HD 700 sound effortlessly without any harshness, strain, or aggressive edge. They boast a stereo soundstage that’s more open and spacious when compared to most other audiophile headphones.

The bass, mid-range, and treble balance are satisfyingly smooth without any overly exaggerated frequencies. Undeniably, they’re a considerably accurate set of headphones that’s designed for users who’re looking to listen to their music without anything added or taken away.

Key Features

  • Technology: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 150-Ohm
  • Frequency Response: 8 Hz.
  • Max. Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB
  • Color: Black
  • Fit: Over-Ear
  • Design: Circumaural
  • Construction: Open Back

Why to Buy Them

  • Design

The HD 700 feels pretty light like nothing is on your head. They weigh just 272 grams, which is nearly average for full-size models. Their open-frame earpiece supports the 40-mm driver within an open-air, tightly controlled acoustic chamber.

There are three ultrafine, stainless steel mesh grilles, which grace the ear cups’ exterior. They’re purely cosmetic and carefully designed to control air movement behind the driver.

  • Comfort

These headphones have plush microfiber-covered ear pads, which provide for air circulation. They’re much less probable to make your ears sweat than how leather pads would. We’d rate this model as above average when it comes down to comfort, even after long hours of use. The sound won’t be confined within your head. Rather, it’ll appear to come from further away.

You’ll love how light the ear pad pressure against your ears will be. That certainly contributes to this model’s exceptional comfort. Do you wear glasses? You need not worry as these headphones are among the few full-size models that won’t put pressure on your glasses’ frames.

  • Performance

The HD-700 features 150-ohm rated impedance. That’s even higher than that of most headphones, which are designed for use with phones and portable musical players. Such are typically rated at 50-ohm or less. This model is equally adept at playing music and movies, thanks to its sound. They feature resolutions of fine detail, often found in the top-tier of higher-end headphones.

The sound won’t be unpleasant or harsh in any way, and yet allows for top-quality recordings.  It’s quite hard to resist this model’s clarity. The open back design won’t isolate you from hearing environmental noises. Also, people near you might hear the sound that’s coming from the headphones. For those reasons, this model might not be suitable for listening in bed when you’re not alone. The cable is quite flexible. However, it doesn’t come with a 3.5-mm adapter plug.

  • Usability

These headphones come packed in sturdy, yet handsome padded storage case. They comprise a 9.8-feet long Y-cable that has 3.5-mm connectors which plug into the right and left ear cups. The 6.3-mm stereo connector on the other end can easily plug into a dedicated headphone amplifier or AV receiver.

The earpieces are free to move on vertical and lateral pivots. They’ll thus conform to anyone’s head shape with ease. The wide-open soundstage will float freely from the earpieces. You’ll forget that you’re wearing headphones after several minutes into listening.

The Good

The HD 700 is a full size, large audiophile headphone model. They boast a wide-open sound profile and transparency, which are great on all digital music players.

The Bad

The HD 700 can seem expensive when compared to some other models. Also, some users assert that they’re put off by the amount of plastic that’s incorporated into the design of these headphones.

Our Review On Top 11 Audiophile Brands

With such headphones, you won’t just hear the bass. You’ll also sense the very texture of the produced sound. The headphones almost disappear, letting the music come through without the addition of any coloration to the sound. Quiet details, like room ambiance and sound of the recording venue, are presented with unerring accuracy.

The Sennheiser HD 700 headphones aren’t just among the best-sounding models. Also, they’re remarkably comfortable to wear for long hours at a time. The HD 700 comes along with an exclusive 2-year warranty that assures you of their durability and reliability.

However, ensure that you don’t handle these headphones too roughly. That might make the steel mesh to dent. Still yet, small cuts wouldn’t affect the sound produced by this model. That doesn’t imply that these headphones aren’t durable. In fact, their sturdy construction enables them to last for amazingly long.

When treated with proper care, the parts won’t crack or deteriorate in any way. Their build quality, enhanced comfort, and extraordinary sound justify the price tag for demanding audiophiles. This model will appeal to those users who prize sonic precision and clarity

  1. Audeze

AudezeThis California-based audio manufacturer was founded back in 2008. Their primary goal is to eliminate the boundaries between artists and listeners. Their audiophile headphones exemplify high-end sound, superb engineering, and high attention to details.

They were the first brand ever to manufacture on-ear planar magnetic headphones (the SINE). You can’t go wrong with this brand, especially when we consider how excellent some of its headphone models are: the LCD-4 and the EL-8.

  1. AKG

AKGAKG, founded in 1947, is an Austrian audio equipment brand. Harman International Industries acquired AKG in 1994.

This brand has received multiple awards, including the Technical Grammy Award in 2010. They’re widely known for their headphones’ pleasant airy sound signature and exceptionally comfortable construction.

  1. Beyerdynamic

BeyerdynamicIt’s a German family-owned audio equipment manufacturer. It was founded back in 1924. They’re widely popular for their innovative and unique approach to the construction and design of audio devices.

Their audiophile headphones are designed to produce powerful, pure sound and perfect impulse fidelity. Their drivers excel at producing twice the volume of standard models. That gives listeners a high-performance reserve.

  1. HiFiMan

HiFiManHiFiMan is a Chinese manufacturer and designer of audio products, including amplifiers, portable audio players, and headphones.

They’re reputed for their Planar-Magnetic models, which boast advanced driver technology. Their headphones are among the world’s first models to incorporate a diaphragm that’s measured in Nanometers. The result is sound which offers exceptional detail and clarity.

  1. Grado

gradoHere’s an American firm that was founded in 1953 by Joseph Grado, a master watchmaker.

Their specialty is the production and design of open, supra-aural headphones. You can easily recognize their products, thanks to the unique retro look.

They offer supremely reliable, durable, and top-quality headphones.

  1. Sennheiser

SennheiserIt’d be an understatement to say that Sennheiser is among the best audio companies across the globe. Founded in 1945 in

Germany, this firm has offices and factory branches in multiple countries all over the world. They’re the brand behind top-notch headphone models like DH 800, DH595, and HD 25.

Their audiophile headphones offer incredible sound performance and excellent quality, all for attainable prices.

  1. OPPO

OPPOThis firm is based in the Silicon Valley. OPPO Digital manufactures enthusiast-focused audio equipment. They’re primarily known for their top-quality planar magnetic headphones.

The OPPO PM-1 is a quick example. Each of all their models features a natural sound which engages any listener right from the very first moment.

  1. Shure

ShureThey’re among the oldest audio manufacturers in the U.S. Shure was founded in 1925.

They’ve managed to expand its offices into numerous countries like Japan, Mexico, China, and Dubai. Among their high performing headphones is the SE846 that has four MicroDrivers and detachable cables.

  1. Etymotic Research

Etymotic ResearchThis brand is worth looking into if you’re seeking the best in-ear audiophile headphones.

Their products offer a level of passive noise isolation that’s unparalleled to others on the market.

It’s not a wonder that this firm has successfully generated more than 100 patents over its short existence.

  1. Audio Technica

Audio TechnicaAudio Technica deserves a nod. They’ve been breaking new grounds with the release of budget-conscious headphones, which offer an accessible audio perfection.

They’ve also been introducing some fantastic wireless models, which sound phenomenal. Their headphones deliver impressive sound and greater audio fidelity.

  1. Sony

sonySony is electronics giant when it comes to the availability of excellent headphones. They’re leaders when it comes down to providing value at affordable and high-end price ranges.

They offer a broad line of headphone models. You’d need to do intensive research to find one that suits you best. Of course, not all of their models will match your preferences. But, the chances are that most of them will meet your needs.


Audiophile models are more revealing than most standard headphones. The audiophile headphones we’ve reviewed above will provide discerning music devotees with extraordinary sound, high build quality, superior components, and extended wearing comfort.

Although some of those models might seem costly, a speaker setup that reaches equal sound quality would be incredibly more expensive. Reputable brands like Sennheiser, Audio Technica, and Grado produce audiophile headphones, which have wide dynamic ranges, less distortion, and extended frequency response. You ought to select a model, which will enable you to enjoy music the way it’s intended.

You’re definite to get impressive quality, durability, and reliability by following this guide. That’s this guide’s main aim. You’d want a model that guarantees you extreme satisfaction with its performance. Carefully analyze the options above to find one that matches your preferences and suits your needs. Good luck!


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