Have you ever had a cleaner, closer sound experience than what it offers a good pair of headphones? Revealing all the best details and brightness of the recorded music, the stunning headphones produce sound for the average person that would otherwise only occur in professional listening rooms with high-end electronic walls. And while you may get a serious explosion in affordable seats, virtually nothing has comparable experience with a pair of high-end cans – more specifically, the most expensive in the world.
We’ve been fortunate to have a front-line seat to the greatest headphones ever created by mankind, so we’ve put together our favorites and put them together on this death-worthy guided tour. The list below is sure to spark a lot of discussion, but there’s no denying that all of these headphones deliver really incredible sound – albeit at really astronomical prices. So kick your heel, throw some tunes and follow us to the heaven of headphones.
The name of these headphones says almost everything. UE 18+ Pro was designed by a company that helped create a plan for modern in-ear displays, for almost linear sound reproduction, and the sound field is meant to mimic the immaculate sound found in the pro-studio’s control room. The UE 18+ Pro headphones are customized and 3D printed on every corner and corner of the ear canal, offering a near-perfect fit and impressive noise insulation.
Thanks to their triple advanced and balanced True Tone anchoring devices, they offer brilliantly accurate reproduction of exactly what is set in the recording studio – no artificial colors or preservatives. The rich records are revealed in all their splendor, with solid and striking bass and great clarity for ever lower areas. While these can be designed for professional use – whether on stage or in the studio – make no mistake: UE’s 18+ Pro offers epic riding that lets you follow your steps and rediscover the details of your favorite music like you’ve never heard before.
Read the in-depth UE 18+ Pro review
Audio-Technica’s latest contribution to the ultimate in headphone nirvana, the open backrests ATH-ADX5000, are easily the best-sounding headphones of all time.
The minimalist design and intelligent physics-based technology help get the ADX5000’s built-in dynamic controls to produce the brightest and brightest sound on the planet, giving you a new listen to your favorite songs. The lightweight design and plush ear cushions ensure that the headphones are also the most comfortable we’ve ever tested, so we can spread our favorite music for hours.
With the striking dynamics, the noticeable transient reaction, and the finest definition we’ve ever heard, nothing stops us from picking up a pair of these amazingly good headphones except their hefty price tag.
Read the in-depth review of the ATH-ADX5000
With Shure headphones, it took eight years of stubborn design to reduce the complexity of electrostatic controllers and reduce them to ones that fit perfectly inside the ear canal. Still, towing your own separate power supply (priced at $ 1,000 alone) makes for a great package and price point that would make even the most ardent audiophile swallow. One is tempted to ask: Why ears?
One quick glimpse of buttery heat, precisely delineated instruments and the amazing details offered by the KSE1500, and that question melts. As Shure engineers observed mostly by accident, limiting electrostatic controllers to a cramped space – with just the right physics controller – creates a sound space that is nothing else. We’re talking about details that are so clean that you’ll hear a change in tone as the singer moves a few inches away from the microphone, with delivery as flat as a satin bed, all in a package you can take anywhere. Now you should save.
Read the Shure KSE1500 hands-on review
There is a reason we called Audeze’s LCD-3 “the voice of God” headphones in our 2013 review. Decadent hand-crafted headphones were less headphones than built-in listening devices designed to reproduce strange sounds. But thanks to the mammoth’s size, strong weight, and greedy power demands, they didn’t go far from your listening room.
With the introduction of its energy-efficient LCD-4z Audeze has made this amazing sound portable. With a 15-ohm impedance, the LCD-4z can even be used with a mobile phone, providing listeners with fantastic sound without the requirements of high-power headphone amplifiers.
The sound embodies the best features available in the thin films of a planar magnetic guide, carving every secret, every lonely detail, and every explosion of busy shape and color from your most complex music, spanning through sprawling sound. Unlike many early iterations of the genre, the LCD-4z pulls a full pulse of healthy bass, complemented by all the higher-frequency delicacies that the best recordings can get. These are the most amazing headphones we’ve ever heard, and they’re now even more real-world-ready than ever.
Named after the “mythical mountain paradise,” Shangri-La cans can produce a listening environment that, according to HiFiMan, is as perfect as the utopia that gives them their name. Using barely there, a particle-coated film less than a micrometer thick, these headphones produce a robust 7Hz to 120kHz frequency response. The metal mesh that surrounds the “lightning-fast” driver is also very thin (0.001 mm) and is built to be “acoustically transparent” so that sound waves can travel almost completely without distortion. This design makes Shangri-Glass particularly adept at handling high frequencies and produces an insanely sharp, natural sound.
If you are looking for a cheaper (but still insanely expensive) alternative, Shangri-La JR, the little brother to the couple outlined above, will only refund you $ 8,000. Nevertheless, you won’t get top performance from either pair unless you have to partner amplifiers, which are sold separately and cost more than the headphones themselves. Who needs a savings account anyway?
In short, with headphones adorned with real diamonds (yeah, they’re there), there are a few higher-level options on the market, but our next entry will take that already broken bank and crush it smooth.
Simply put, the rebirth of Sennheiser’s original Orpheus HE 90 (which collected a $ 16,000 price tag in the 90s) has led to the biggest headphones ever. Born of ten years of ingenuity, effort and reinvention, Sennheiser took the mantle of Orpheus ’predecessor, broke all the relevant techniques and rebuilt the headphones from scratch. The end product is not just awe-inspiring headphones, but a marvel of modern technology.
The Orpheus system, assembled from more than 6,000 components, starts with a Carrara marble-carved pedestal and adds gold-vaporized ceramic electrodes, quartz glass vacuum tubes and double-reinforcement steps to create a “ultra-high impulse” clean, unadulterated flood rate.
The sound is unparalleled in the world of headphones – and beyond – offering awe-inspiring detail, galaxy-sized sound and an almost supernatural transient response. Ridiculously expensive? Absolutely. But hey, you won’t buy a Ferrari if you’re going to find out the price. If there has ever been a creation that embodies a completely irresponsible luxury, it is Orpheus.
Read the Sennheiser HE 1 hands-on review