A few years ago, some would say that you were less gifted if you spent five hundred on a pair of headphones. That was until the wireless noise canceling headphones came along. Several of the best cost over 400 £, something no one wants to raise their eyebrows for.
But how often do you really need active noise reduction? It is primarily on airplanes such headphones are indispensable. In these times when people try their best to fly less for the sake of the environment, maybe one should think a little differently.
For normal use on trains and buses, you can go a long way with a pair of closed headphones. The same at work, even in an open office landscape. If you have a closed office or are mostly at home, it may be even wiser to choose a pair of open headphones. They often give even better sound, and you do not get clammy around the ears.
If you opt out of Bluetooth wireless sound and rather buy high-quality headphones with cable, then for 500 £ you will be able to disappear into the music, and almost touch and feel the instruments. There is such a big difference in sound between these and a pair of noise-canceling headphones for the same price, that you almost have to hear it to believe it.
You will experience that the soundscape opens up more, the music really begins to live. As a result of even better dynamic properties and lower distortion.
More exotic headphones
You should also not miss the build quality and comfort that lies in the most exclusive headphones in this price range. You get more aluminum, with a better sense of detail in the grinding. The pillows are in even better quality to maintain comfort for a long time. Some have taken the trouble with exclusive packaging, gorgeous details in genuine leather, hand-sewn pillows and so on. On such, the entire budget does not go to sound quality, and they may not sound quite as good as the models where stunts are not a priority. Worth thinking about.
Better than speakers
If you think 500 £ is a lot to spend on a pair of headphones, then there are perhaps more deadlines when you hear that they can quickly compete acoustically with speakers at five to ten times the price. This is because the speaker element in the headphone is placed close to the ear and thus cancels the room’s influence on the sound. For the same reason, they only need to deliver a fraction of the sound pressure compared to a speaker several meters away. Hence lower distortion for the same perceived sound level. A headphone also has a much lower material cost than a pair of speakers. Better sound for the money, in other words.
In this test, we consider nine models, who argue about being the best in class.
We have included both open and closed headphones in this test, to find the best no matter what you are going to use them for (if you absolutely must have noise reduction, you can read lots of tests of such with us).
In the selection of the best, we do not pay special attention to whether they work well with a mobile phone or not. But we have tried directly from the Lightning transition from the iPhone, to check. Otherwise, we have tested with the headphone output on the integrated amplifier Hegel H190 and also the separate headphone amplifier Schiit Magni 3+ . The most heavily driven ones have also been a quick trip to the Auralic Taurus.
Products in this test
Test winner in open class
Hifiman Sundara is not only the best buy in this class, you also get the best sound.
High-end headphones for your smartphone
Audeze LCD-1: There is no better sound for portable use in this price range.
Neumann NDH 20
Non-engaging first attempt
Legendary microphone manufacturer fails to grab us with its first headphone model.
Sennheiser HD 660S
Classic in renewed costume
Sennheiser's best in the 600 series is the safe choice in this class.
The music unfolds
Whether it is because they are semi-open is not known, but the Fostex T60RP has cleaner sound than most closed in the class.
Fabulous closed headphones from Denon
Denon AH-D5200 is among the very best closed in its class.
Beyerdynamic Amiron Home
The most sensible choice
The Beyerdynamic Amiron Home is an exceptionally successful all-round headphone.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
The studio qualities are the strengths and weaknesses of Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, must be tested before purchase.
The entertainment is saved
Sony has improved its premium model Z7 with technology from the flagship Z1R. The result is even more striking.