Best Planar Magnetic Headphones in 2021

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In a world full of upgraded technology, music is one of those things that are not left behind. Audiophile hardware is so complex and difficult to understand, but a lot seem to enjoy it that way. There is a new technology called “planar magnetic headphones” that has an affordable price, available in the market, and offers a more detailed sound than traditional dynamic headphones.

But what really is so special about planar magnetic headphones? and how are they better than dynamic traditional ones? 

We will take a look at each planar magnetic headphones in this article and will answer every question in your mind about it. 

What are Planar Magnetic and Traditional Dynamic Headphones? 

Planar and dynamic headphones’ obvious difference is the design. Planar headphones or sometimes called transducer lies somewhere between dynamic driver headphones and electrostatic headphones and differs from a dynamic driver headphone in terms of usage of the flat diaphragm instead of the usual cone or dome-shaped membrane that is used mostly in loudspeakers, giving a good benefit of stepping over some limitations imposed to dynamic headphones 

Designs were very limited for planar magnetic headphones in the earlier days of its first launch, such as the HiFiMan HE-500, HE-6, or the Audeze LCD2 which only have double-sided arrays. The result is somehow quite heavy headphone weighing 500 g. Designs were improved to a thinner diaphragm, and the rest of the structure, and convert the dual-sided arrays to single-sided magnetic arrays; everything has been refined just to make the headphones lighter alongside improved sound quality. 

For dynamic drivers, instead of a flat diaphragm, they are using a cone or dome-shaped diaphragm connected to a moving voice-coil, and then the voice coil is moved by a charged magnet structured behind it. A higher-end dynamic driver uses a moving piece that is much lighter than the signal being given, and it is called a formless voice coil. 

In terms of their sonic differences, planar magnetic headphones have a full bass response up to 20Hz, and while dynamic drivers roll-off below 50Hz. They are also resistant to all kinds of audio distortion, resulting in precise sound in your listening sessions.

So in summary, planar magnetic headphones sound tighter, more controlled, natural sound, and have extension capabilities with very good bass response than dynamic drivers. Moreover, what’s very special about planar magnetic headphones is that they will bring your listening experience to another much higher level free from sound distortion. They are also more durable than dynamic drivers.

Now that you have known the difference between the two, Planar Drivers and Dynamic Drivers, and have decided that planar headphones are way better than the other, you would want to know the best planar magnetic headphones in the market. 

What are the best Planar Magnetic Headphones in the Market?

Audeze LCD 4

The LCD 4 is the best pair of headphones in the market and has the best definition of a planar magnetic headphone–excellent bass control and speed. Audeze pride itself on this 40 years of planar magnetic technology advancements and thus the result of Audeze LCD 4 with patented Double Fluxor Magnet Arrays that are unique in the world of headphones today. 

The magnets used in this headphone are rated at 1.5 Tesla which holds the record for the most powerful open magnetic circuit. Stronger magnetic reflux means greater control for the diaphragm with the minimum amount of distortion, thus better audio quality. 

The design and material used in LCD 4 are crafted 30-year old Macassar Ebony wood rings. It also consists of a lightweight carbon fiber headband design, with pads of a leather texture. 

The headband improved from the previous generation of LCD. They deviate from lambskin or microsuede leather of Audeze LCD-1 and move to carbon fiber headband that improves on weight distribution while still becoming lightweight material in itself. The headphone is made from metal, wood, and leather. 

Audeze LCD 4 categorizes as open-back headphones with tonality ranging from dark to warm. The bass comes out with good quantity and impact and extends down to 5 Hz. While this pair of headphones features among one of the heaviest we have tested, the level of comfort it gives is superb to be worn for several hours. 

At an estimated price of $4000, it is truly a luxurious pair of headphones but with the best features of a planar magnetic headphone. 

This similar product is available:

HiFi Man HE-1000SE

A little cheaper than the Audeze LCD 4 is the HiFi Man HE-1000SE, the third and so far the last incarnation of HE-1000. It is an open-back headphone with a fantastic resolution, speed, and physics. With a black headband and ebony wood trimmings, it is visually luxurious. The headband consists of a special metal alloy and the head-support features soft-grade calf-skin material. 

The HE-1000SE is a more easy-to-drive variant, with higher sensitivity. The eardrums are large, so much enclosing the ear, and the ear cuffs are very comfortable to wear, which together with the leather headband weight of 440 grams, it is surprisingly a comfortable headphone despite the weight. 

Comfort has always been the priority of the HiFi Man pair of headphones. The HE-1000SE is obviously lightweight with even distribution support. It only weighs 20 g, so definitely a fatigue-free listening. 

This flagship headphone has a soft presentation with lower frequency ranges. So in terms of its bass sound, it has an outstanding texture, cleanliness, and details which makes a more magnetic, natural sound. 

Mr. Speakers Aeon

Comes with a black case that has a pouch inside, this minimalistic headphone’s build quality is super comfortable and lightweight. It has a teardrop shape of the ear cup that provides a natural fit on most heads and is large enough to fit over even on the largest ears. The headband is a good quality leather material and is a hammock style attached to steel wires that allows it to adjust either up or down. 

In terms of the quality of its sound, they are more natural sounding as compared to other closed-back headphones. However, it has a weak point on the sound of the bass. The bass is tight but not punchy to the point of not making your head shake, but it does have a decent bass extension. 

One of the ways in which they stand out from most planar closed-back headphones is their sub-bass extension, which can go deep in a way that Sennheiser’s celebrated HD 600, HD 650, and HD 660 can only dream of. 

Monolith M1070 

The M1070 is the same in terms of the capabilities of Sony, but with more balanced tonality, and up the bass. In terms of vocal intimacy and warmth, they are compared to Sennheisers. 

The over-the-ear form gives comfortable full-size ear cups that fully enclose the ears. This kind of design increases sound isolation and no sound leakage in the long run. These beautiful headphones also offer potential maximum bass and loudness level. 

It also has a detachable cable where you can use alternative cables, and if the cable is pulled out, it will pop out instead of breaking. This headphone also has an open-back design that allows sound to go out at the back of the ear cup, which has vents or perforations. 

This affordable pair of headphones also contains neodymium magnets which are lighter and more powerful than those who use ferrite magnets. 

Fostex T50RP MK3

Planar magnetic drivers and headphones seem like a recent development due to increased popularity. However, Fostex has been making this line of orthodynamic headphones for a decade now. 

If you are just starting out in the world of audiophiles, you may want to consider this Fostex T50RP MK3. The headphones are designed to highlight a flat and clear sound, and sport a detachable cable, which can be replaced if lost or broken. 

The RP series of Fostex are intended as professional studio headphones, with both reliability and accurate studio monitoring rather than home or leisure use. However, the MK3 model signifies a change in the norm with redefined earpads, housing, and band to improve comfort and looks. 

The T50RP or the T50 Regular Phase has a diaphragm driver that uses copper foil etched polyimide film and neodymium magnet. This unique magnetic driver is essential according to Fostex to achieve sharper audio reproduction for more accurate monitoring. 

Fostex T50RP MK3 is still the best planar-sounding headphone in its price range. 

 HiFiMan Ananda

The HiFiMan Ananda is a great pair of headphones that has a better mid-range harmonic distortion. It is an open-back headphone great for neutral listening. It has a good audio quality that caters to all genres, with a good amount of bass and an accurate representation of the instruments. They also have the same headband design just like the Sundara, which is a metal headband that makes fit feel a bit tighter on the head. Unfortunately, they still feel heavy and bulky unlike other pairs of headphones. 

The sound waves for a frequency response test of this headphone are great. In the bass range, it measures less than 3dB, this result is subtle, and noticeable as compared to some closed-back headphones. This shows a more magnetic sound for a bass range. Overall, their low-bass performance is quite good especially considering that this is an open-back headphone. 

HiFiMan Sundara

The trend of over-ear planars open-back designs from HiFiMan still continues for HiFiMan Sundara. The new design is somehow the same as the previous models but an obvious fresh look that is simple yet elegant. 

The headphone design and structure mix different types of metal. The headphone arc is made of spring steel while the round yokes and outer cups are anodized aluminum. The overall finish is dark matte and silver points. The Sundara seems to hold a very decent quality, solid and comfortable design.

This pair of headphones’ audio quality has a much thinner diaphragm. It rates pretty well for the price. It has a fantastic sound, very neutral, mostly linear, and nicely balanced. Sundara has an uncommon hint of warmth for HiFiMan, and has a very natural timbre. In terms of the bass, it is smooth and light. Moreover, there is not much strong impact, it is just that the sound quality is good, well layered and effortless. If you are more into the bass sound of the headphone, you will love this Sundara model. 

HiFiMan HE 400S 

This model in HiFiMan HE series is a remarkable headphone. It is lightweight, and comfortable for long sessions. It performs at a level that, in some ways, far exceeds its price. It holds its own against cans that cost two hundred dollars more. It has a spacious soundstage and is informative and complex. It has world-class midrange and outstanding treble. The Focus pads can be used to boost the low end and boost the bass.

These headphones are very cool to use. The ergonomic design factor with these headphones is high, partly due to weight, partly due to cup design and pads. I can wear them for hours without experiencing any ear pain. Velour is the standard pad material, but Focus pads are available for those who prefer leather.

The first term that comes to mind when describing the HE-400S’s sound is “actively involving.” You’re drawn in by the headset. It captures your attention, and before you know it, you’ve been listening for an hour or more. That’s how it works with this headset. It makes me want to keep playing songs after songs. Metallica sounds great, but what about The Dixie Chicks? It goes on and on.

Yes, the 400S is more comfortable to drive, and it sounds fantastic straight from phone and DAP. The HE-400S, according to Hifiman, is one of the world’s most powerful planar headphones (98dB). The new HE-400S, like the reference model, the HE-1000, uses the new connectors. Aside from that, the HE-400S is essentially a carbon copy of the HiFiMan HE-400I and HE-560.

Sigva P-II

Sivga is a young and rapidly expanding business that you’ve probably heard of if you read HiFi review websites. Just like other leading brands, they offer excellent products, and has an actual good sound quality. Even though they are just new in the market, they already placed their name in the Amazon check price, so you’re protected by Amazon’s policy as well. 

This pair of headphones is somehow hard to drive, it has a 98dB and a modest impedance of 32 ohm. These values are typical for all over-the-ear planar driver headphones. 

This pair of headphones has an open-back design, so music leaks a bit but in moderation. There isn’t much for noise isolation with this kind of design, however you will feel that it is well built and should adjust to any head size easily. 

You will appreciate the wood design on the earcuffs and the overall aesthetics of this portable headphone. 

Generally, they are quick, and not the high-end headphones, with controlled bass that has a good substance and warm treble. The upper midrange is rich and slightly colored by the mid-bass bump, but also organic and smooth. 

Oppo PM 3 

The Oppo PM-3 are good-sounding audio equipment that are well-made. They have a planar magnetic driver design that is mobile-friendly, as well as a stylish yet durable build quality. It’s also a pair of headphones that is very comfortable. However, for all important listeners, their closed-back ear cups and slightly sharp audio reproduction might not be optimal.

Since it has faux leather padding, it is not ideal for sports as it will make your ears a little warm after an hour of continuous listening. Actually this is the average result of those headphones that have a leather type of cover. 

The frame and joints of the headband are made of metal that gives its overall type to be sturdy and durable. 

The frequency response consistency and bass delivery of the Oppo PM-3 is about average. It is extended down to 10Hz, resulting in deeper thumps and rumbles. 

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Planar Magnetic Drivers?

Advantages

1. Low Distortion 

In a planar magnetic driver, the conductor is equipped to cover the entire diaphragm region in practice. The entire diaphragm moves evenly as a response, excellent audio quality even at high volumes. Moving-coil dynamic diaphragms, on the other hand, are pushed by a specific coil that does not cover the entire zone.

2. Easily Driven by Amplifiers

The magnetic driver conductor’s flat serpentine nature results in a nearly strictly resistive impedance. The flatness of the impedance graph ensures that planar magnetic driver headphones can be conveniently driven by amplifiers with low output impedance.

To achieve acceptable listening levels, planar magnetic headphones can need amplifier to improve the voltage and current of the audio signal, but this headphone amplifier will have no trouble driving the planar magnetic drivers.

3. Accurate Transient Response

The narrow peaks in an audio signal are known as audio transients. Horn and kick rhythm impacts are obvious examples. The reliability with which a headphone’s driver can reproduce the fluctuations of an audio signal as sound waves is referred to as transient response. This is due to the conductor being dispersed around the entire diaphragm once again.

The input signal pulls and moves the entire diaphragm field. This results in not only a fantastic transient response, but also a tight bass response, which is essential in most music.

Disadvantages

1. Heavy

Planar magnetic headphones are relatively heavy due to the relatively heavy magnetic arrays and the hardware needed to keep them in place.

2. Expensive

The materials used and the in-depth design process is the reason for the pricier side of the headphones. Lower-end planar magnetic headphones may have a fair price, but for the high-end ones will run a thousand of dollars. 

3. Fewer Options

Since it is expensive, manufacturers tend to sell only limited headphones in the market. 

 Are Planar Magnetic Headphones Worth it?

Yes, they are worth it if you want the best possible sound quality and are willing to pay more than you would for a pair of old-school headphones. Planar magnetic headphones, on the other hand, are much more costly than normal headphones. Even the most affordable planar magnetic headphones cost more than $100, while a good pair of standard headphones costs less than $100. There is no such thing as an upper limit. Some of the best planar headphones cost more than $2,000 or even $5,000.

Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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