Audiophile headphones are a great way to get the most sonic enjoyment from your music. Here at Sonic we’ve come up with the ”Sonic Six” – a buyer’s guide to the top 6 audiophile headphones for beginners on a budget. Most people are satisfied with a $20 pair of headphones, but for those who want more from their music, audiophile grade is the only way to go.
Now, this can be a very subjective topic that can be argued until the cows come home. But, after extensive testing and critical listening sessions these are the picks that our portable audio specialists came up with. They range anywhere from $99 – 500 and come in a variety of configurations from on-ear, over-ear and in-ear, so there’s something for everyone.
The Sonic Six – Audiophile Headphones for Beginners
6. Grado SR80E Prestige Series On-ear Headphones
The Grado SR80e Prestige Series on-ear headphones are well known in the audiophile community as being one of the best bang-for-your-buck headphones on the market today. Grado specially designed these truly excellent headphones with new drivers and durable plastic housings. Combined, these features help to move air and react to sound vibrations in a way that all but eliminates distortions, ensuring vibrant, life-like sound quality. Their reproduction of music is clear, spacious, and very natural sounding, although the highs can be on the bright side. Also keep in mind that they are open-back so they do have noise bleed-through and works best in a quiet room or office.
5. Shure SE215 In-ear Dynamic Headphones
Shure is known in the industry as one of the leading in-ear headphones designers/manufactures. The SE215 has Shure’s legendary durability to withstand the rigors of everyday use. They come with a detachable cable with formable wire that enables easy replacement and a secure, comfortable fit onstage or on-the-go. Sound Isolating sleeves in multiple sizes provide up to 37 dB of isolation and a customized fit. The SE215 features specially tuned dynamic micro drivers that deliver great sound quality. Their sound signature never comes off as overly bassy or too bright, just neutral and natural. These would be a great entry-level audiophile headphone for the person that works in open spaces or travels a lot.
4. HIFIMAN HE400S Planar Magnetic Headphones
The HIFIMAN HE400S is one of the highest efficiency planar headphones in the world! HIFIMAN’s newest HE400S sounds terrific on your smartphone or most any portable audio device. HE400S delivers all the lifelike clarity, detail, extended bass and wide sound stage that audiophiles have come to expect from HIFIMAN. These are one of the headphones that truly impressed us by their ease of use and sound quality. They are open-back so they do have noise bleed though and should be used in a quite space to enjoy them properly.
3. Audeze SINE On-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones
Audeze SINE headphones are the next step up in sound quality for many listeners. Instead of using ordinary dynamic drivers, their planar technology gives you a sound that’s punchy, dynamic and detailed. In fact, it sounds like a much larger headphone. It’s lightweight, and folds flat for easy traveling and portability. Audeze called upon their strategic partner BMW DesignWorksUSA for the industrial design, and they manufacture SINE headphones in the USA at their Southern California factory. These on-ear headphones are closed-back and can be used almost anywhere and are very comfortable for long listening sessions.
2.NuForce HEM8 Reference class in ear headphones
The NuForce HEM8 In-Ear Headphones w/ Quad Balanced Armature Drivers Offer an Incredible Listening Experience. The Hi-Res Audio certified NuForce HEM earphones are an innovative audio series with cutting-edge designs. The four models are all engineered based on the latest Balanced Armature Driver technology and on the attention to the finest details. These luxury high-quality earphones are perfect for those who demand balanced sound with crystal clear highs and explosive bass. The HEM8s can be used for traveling or the person on-the-go.
1. Sennheiser HD 650 Audiophile-Grade Hi-Fi Professional Headphones
The HD650s are our top pick for 2016 audiophile headphones for beginners. The Sennheiser HD 650 Hi-Fi Professional Stereo Headphones will put you right in the middle of your favorite artist’s recording sessions. These premium audiophile-grade headphones were carefully designed to provide you with truly natural sound image. These superbly balanced headphones provide the classic Sennheiser sound quality you’re accustomed to. Hand-picked components, special acoustic materials and out-of-this-world engineering ensure the HD 650’s provide you with the absolute best sound possible. The HD 650 will captivate your senses and offers total immersion into a sea of music; letting you completely disregard your surroundings and be taken away into your imagination. Life truly is too short not to treat yourself to the phenomenal listening experience of the HD 650. These open-back over-ear headphones are truly magnificent, but should be used in a quiet room or office as they do have some noise bleed-through like most open-back headphones.
You really can’t wrong with any of these top audiophile headphone picks. They are all great in their own way. It really comes down to what style (i.e. open-back, on-ear, in-ear, etc.) that you prefer. Also what kind of environment you will be using them in. Remember to weigh all of your needs and options carefully. We’ve just made it easier for you to become an audiophile yourself. Now, Sit back , listen and enjoy.