If you want to get a pair of the unassailable universally acknowledged very best headphones available, you’re probably in for a disappointment, because there’s no clear consensus on which those would be. You’re also in for a moderately vicious attack on your wallet!
It is just as much a case with top end headphones as with bottom end headphones – you must let your own ears be your guide. Check out and follow through our recommended method for headphone evaluation, and don’t obsess over price, manufacturer statistics, or even third-party reviews.
However, to point you in possibly the right direction, the Sennheiser HD 800 headphones marked pretty much the start of mainstream super-headphones and are still today thought by many to be the absolutely best, even though there are esoteric headphones costing many times more. Remember – price has nothing to do with quality.
The HD800 headphones are truly lovely, and have a nice feature. Each pair has its own unique personally tested frequency response chart, so you can see just how level a response curve your exact headphones will give you (and it will be amazingly level). Yes, we know we regularly urge you to ignore things like frequency response statistics, but it is rather nice to have your own personal headphone response chart!
Most people consider there is at best only a slight improvement in sound between the HD 800 and the lesser HD 650 model, and there’s certainly an appreciable difference in cost ($1500 for the HD 800, $400 for the HD 650). You’d want to be sure you could hear the difference between the $400 and $1500 headphones before spending the extra $1100.
Other high-end headphones to consider might be the Beyerdynamic T1 ($950), and the HifiMan HE-6 ($1300).
When we win the lottery, we’ll be getting the HD 800 headphones ourselves.
If we can’t persuade you otherwise, and you really do want to buy on price rather than performance, you could consider the Stax SR-009 (about $5200) and the Abyss AB-1266 (about $5500). No, we’re not going to give you links. If you want to spend that sort of money on a pair of headphones, we refuse to be enablers – and plead with you to carefully evaluate them first!
Or you could buy an ultra exclusive pair of headphones direct from us – the Travel Insider XQ headphones, costing a guaranteed to be most expensive in the world price of $50,000 a set. Any resemblance they have to a pair of $85 Sony MDR 7506 headphones with the Sony brand scratched off is, we assure you, entirely coincidental!
This is a part of our buyers guide series on headphones. Please also visit :
How to Properly Compare Headphones
Five Headphone Recommendations – Introduction
2. Noise Cancelling Headphones
4. Under $200