One of the first things you’ll note while you’re on the market for new headphones is that the price of headphones will vary from $15, all the way up to $500 +.
We’re trying to evaluate a broad range of headphones, and one of the most popular questions we get is what makes premium headphones so pricey if they’re worth the extra money actually and why are headphones so expensive?
One thing is for sure; are high-end headphones worth it,.You pay for brand recognition in some situations, and not necessarily sound quality.
Finding an excellent pair of cheap headphones is not the rule, however, and there is certainly a clear gap between inexpensive headphones and professionally designed headphones of high quality.
Budget Headphones Always Aren’t Bad
Higher quality headphones generally sound better on average. They are usually crisper, have a greater response in frequency, and are typically made from higher quality material.
You should know one thing when you’re planning a budget for headphones — there are diminishing returns. Here is what we mean by this:
A $50 headphone pair will be significantly better than a $10 headphone pair. The extra $40 makes a big difference.
A $200 headphone pair is expected to be marginally better than a $50 pair. The extra $150 makes a significant difference, albeit relatively small in comparison to the example of $10 vs. $50.
Just slightly better than a $200 pair of headphones, a pair of $500 headphones. The extra $300 doesn’t make much of a difference, and most buyers wouldn’t be able to spot a blind test on the more expensive pair.
The higher you get at a price, the less qualitative difference you get from one level to the next.
High-end headphones (strictly talking about $500 + headphones) can sound great to a qualified ear and may have more features than headphones at the market level, but the average user won’t notice that much of a difference. And, if they do, they certainly won’t be able to justify the price tag that follows the diminishing returns.
It’s not all about costs
Although more expensive headphones give the manufacturer more room to add materials of higher quality which translate into a better product, not all manufacturers do that. Big name brands are investing a lot of money on ads.
If you buy a pair of your headphones you pay for that. It’s not unusual for the no-names to hold their own against more costly brands when we pit big-name brands against lesser-known brands. You need to be honest with yourself while shopping for headphones. What are you thinking about?
SENNHEISER HD 800 S Reference Headphone
The original HD 800 stood on the iron throne in the headphone world for several years. They had been admired for their neutrality and openness at the reference level.
They’ve been too much of a good thing for some people; hence the curiosity in the warmer sounding planar magnetic headphones that ripped off the crown.
The HD 800 S is a revamped version of the over-the-ear open-back Teutonic classics that features modern driver technology, even better construction efficiency, and a much cleaner, world-class presentation on several levels.
To justify their asking price, the HD 800 S needs a comparable headphone amplifier but get the combination right and these are sonic nirvana.
Focal Stellia Ear Headphones
|Focal Stellia Closed-Back Circum-Aural Over-Ear Headphones (Cognac)||CHECK PRICE|
Focal is one of the world’s largest loudspeaker producers, and some of the most popular loudspeakers that can purchase money from their patented beryllium drivers are used.
Their asking price of $3,000 is very expensive for a pair of closed-back dynamic headphones, but the build quality, comfort, accessories and reference-level sound quality are hard to disagree with.
The Stellia is for the listener who wants to hear everything; this may or may not be a positive thing depending on the source or music quality. The Stellia delivers deep bass but is cerebral rather than visceral. One huge plus-their low impedance makes them accessible to the smartphone.
Meze 99 Classics over-ear headphones
|Meze 99 Classics Walnut Silver | Wired Over-Ear Headphones with Mic and Self Adjustable Headband...||CHECK PRICE|
Meze Audio is a small manufacturer of headphones based in Romania but they have become an audiophile household name.
Having developed their reputation with their affordable and award-winning Classic 99 headphones, Meze has spent the last few years developing their planar magnetic Empyrean which at any price level takes a backseat to very few headphones.
Offering nearly hypnotic imagery and midrange clarity, the Empyrean is constrained only by the nature of the amplifier you attach to. Meze Audio realized they had to look at the component as well as their $3,000 comment and this is industrial design at its finest.
Audeze LCD-4z Open Back Headphone | Leather Earpads
|Audeze LCD-4z Over Ear | Open Back Headphone | Magnesium housing | Leather Earpads||CHECK PRICE|
Audeze was at the forefront of the planar magnetic revolution and was subjected to more praise and abuse than any other brand in the category; something which happens when you push the envelope with radical driver technology but also charges $4,000 for a pair of over-ear, open-back headphones.
Audeze headphones, like a few other items, energize the music, yet sometimes sound like you’re carrying a suitcase on your head and need a ton of strength.
The LCD-4z sounds better with a higher quality headphone amplifier but with a smartphone or DAP sound just fine and we approve of the lighter style. Have we mentioned they’re $4,000? That. That.
MrSpeakers Ether 2
MrSpeakers was one of the first planar magnetic headphone manufacturers to emerge from the Head-Fi world, with its updated versions of Japanese Fostex headphones, but after a decade of revolutionary design and perseverance showing that it wares at audio shows around the globe, this company has earned the right to call itself ‘A’ list.
The Ether 2 uses their proprietary planar magnetic drivers and delivers resolution, clarity, and transparency layers that lead by any standard category. Also for the group, the Ether 2 are very lightweight making them suitable for long listening sessions. Push them to really enjoy their sonic magic with a great sounding headphone amplifier.
Lucas is a freelance media designer for image and sound also works for various production companies as a motion designer. He is regularly testing new wireless headphones on in the rehearsal room and there are now more than 70 wireless headphones on the shelves.
Last update on 2021-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API