Best audiophile headphones 2020: the ultimate headphones

Best Audiophile headphones

The simple answer as to why you’d want to purchase audiophile headphones is that you simply want the very best audio quality possible. But not many men and women enter this hobby and purchase one of those audiophile headphones right from the market. Rather, the pursuit of head sound fidelity usually entails a great deal of tinkering and many headset purchases and updates along the way towards this game. You may start out using some of Grado SR80 which are most likely the best bang for dollar audiophile headphones on the planet but until you know it you are listening to your audio onto a complete collection of tube amps and collection of Audeze LCD-4 and your pockets will be considerably lighter.

Another reason you may wish to buy a pair of audiophile headphones is you need incredible noise but you do not wish to step to the ultra-pricey universe of high-end HiFi systems. By moving the headset route it’s still possible to experience an extremely substantial degree of fidelity in a relatively compact package.

Best Audiophile Headphones Review

1. Sony MDR-Z1R Closed-Back Headphones

The MDR-Z1R, Sony’s new reference model, is one of the most comfortable closed headphones I’ve ever tested. Unusual technical details, the special design and the sound tuning make for goosebumps and are not only for technical nerds. The Sony MDR-Z1R is a supremely comfortable headset made from high-quality materials. I could enjoy myself for hours when listening with the “deactivated analysis mode” turned on. The spatial richness of detail is impressive, both in live recordings and while watching Hollywood blockbusters. In the evaluation mode, I noticed unexpectedly significant interferences in the frequency response, which will certainly polarize-some users will find their luck with the MDR-Z1R, while others will not be fully impressed with this sound.

2. Sennheiser HD 800 S

The best audiophile headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These open-back over-ear headphones look and feel very durable and premium, with a sturdy metal frame and good quality plastic. Their ear cups are spacious and well-padded with a suede-like material that’s very comfortable even during longer listening sessions. Their audio cable is detachable, so you can easily replace it if it becomes damaged, or if you need to switch up your connection-type depending on your setup.

Their sound profile is remarkably accurate and well-balanced, giving you an accurate and natural listening experience that’s well-suited for most genres. However, some people may find them lacking in bass compared to other options on this list. Their open-back design gives them a large and spacious soundstage, and they provide a clear and pure sound with minimal distortion.

Unfortunately, these earphones require a sizable investment, as they’re very expensive and need a powerful amplifier to run them. They are also best-suited to use in a dedicated listening room as they leak a lot of audio and block out no background noise, though this is expected from open-back headphones. Overall, if you want the best listening experience possible regardless of cost, these are among the best headphones we’ve ever tested.

3. Sony MDR-1A: Best Hi-Res Audio Headphone

The Sony MDR-1A are comfortable, critical listening over-ears that deliver a satisfying and well-balanced sound quality. They have a sleek-looking design, and they’re surprisingly lightweight for their sturdy and durable build quality. Unfortunately, they do not block ambient noise very well, so they won’t be ideal to use in loud environments or for commuting. The Sony MDR-1A are great headphones for neutral hearing. They will have a well-well balanced frequency response that packs enough bass without drowning the instruments and vocals on any track. They’re also light-weight and super comfortable so you can have them on for hours and not feel the fatigue that some other earphones induce after a long listening session. However, they have a closed-back design, so they won’t have the same ambience as open headsets, which some neutral listeners are looking for.


If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of audiophile headphones and don’t want to break the bank, then the Philips Fidelio X2HR is a good choice. These budget open-back headphones offer a less spacious and less natural-sounding listening experience than the Sennheiser HD 800 S and aren’t as stable on the head. However, they’re significantly cheaper and deliver a similarly neutral sound profile, with remarkably accurate mids and very even bass. However, like most open-back earphones, they lack a little kick and thump at very low frequencies. In addition, their slightly uneven treble accuracy means that certain tracks will sound just a little piercing. On the bright side, they’re very comfortable, even during long hearing sessions, and they look and feel quite well-built.

If money is no object and you prioritize a neutral sound profile and premium build quality above all else, get the Sennheiser. If you’re on a budget but aren’t willing to compromise too much on performance, consider the Philips.

5. HiFiMan Ananda

The best planar magnetic headphones that we’ve tested to date are the HiFiMan Ananda. These open-back over-ears look and feel quite premium and deliver a consistent listening experience regardless of head shape, thanks to their generously sized ear cups. That said, if you have a smaller head, those large hearing cups can extend past the jaw, much might be a bit irritating during longer listening sessions. In addition, while the unit we tested felt very well-built, HiFiMan’s overall quality control doesn’t isn’t always as consistent as other brands.

Their sound delivery is decently well-balanced with clear and bright vocals and lead instruments, making them well-suited to a wide range of genres. Despite their open-back design, their bass performance is great, though they lack a bit of low-bass, which may be disappointing if you listen to a lot of EDM or hip hop and demand lots of thumps and kick. This is expected from open-back headphones, however, and their open design provides an excellent and opens up the soundstage.

On the downside, these headphones are basically designed as bi-directional speakers, which means that they leak almost all of their audio. This, combined with their bulky style and inability to block outside noise, make them a very poor choice for travel. However, in the event that you intend to use them for critical listening at home or in the studio, they’re a great pair of open-back headphones with a unique selling point because of their magnetic drivers.

6. Grado SR325e

The Grado SR325 have good and open sound reproduction for critical listening. Unfortunately, they are subpar headphones for everyday use. They leak enough to be distracting to the people around you even at lower volumes and also will quickly fall off your head from slight physical activity. They also won’t fare well in loud environments because they don’t block any ambient noise. The Top of the Range Prestige Series Headphone, the SR325e has a new driver and cable design. The added mass from the metal housing minimizes transient distortions. With the new 8 conductor cable design, you will notice superb control and stability of the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum, with both supporting Grado’s world renowned midrange. The SR325e will produce a sound that is pure Grado, with warm harmonic colours, rich full-bodied vocals, excellent dynamics, and an ultra-smooth top end.

7. Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are the upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless that come with longer continuous battery life, additional touch-sensitive control features, and allow for multi-device pairing. Like their predecessor, they have an outstanding noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature and a comfortable, premium-looking design. Their bass-heavy sound profile may not be preferred by all listeners, but you can customize the audio using the graphic EQ and presets on the Sony | Headphones Connect app. Overall, these decently versatile headphones are a solid choice for many different listeners. The Sony WH-1000XM4 are decent for mixed usage. Their bass-heavy sound profile might not be ideal for listeners looking for a neutral sound, but they have lots of audio customization features via the Sony | Earphones Connect app. These comfortable over-ears have an exceptional noise isolation overall performance that makes them ideal to use in noisy settings, like an office or a crowded bus. They aren’t stable enough to utilize at the gym, but their long continuous battery life is suitable for long days on the go.

8. Sennheiser HD650

The Sennheiser HD 650 delivers an excellent and open sound that’s great for critical listening. They’re comfortable and decently built but unfortunately, like most open critical listening headphones, they won’t be suitable for more casual uses. They do not block any noise and they leak a lot so they’re best used in isolation where you can really benefit from their sound quality. The Sennheiser HD 650 are best used as crucial listening headphones since they won’t be versatile enough for more informal use cases. They have a bulky and cumbersome open-back design that doesn’t block a lot of noise so they won’t be ideal for commuting or to use outdoors. On the upside, they deliver a good audio reproduction with a decent soundstage for more critical listeners.

9. Beyerdynamic Amiron

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are closed-back Bluetooth over-ear headphones with a very premium design. Their understated style might not necessarily turn heads, but makes them look and feel like very high-end headphones. While they’re quite comfortable, their fit is a bit awkward – they tend to leave gaps around the ears which not only affects how they feel on your head but also how they sound. They have a fairly balanced sound profile overall, but their frequency response can change a lot depending on who’s wearing them, so they have a tendency to sound differently to different people. Their companion app has a sound personalization feature that could potentially help with this for some people, but we didn’t test it and there are no other EQ options available. That said, their 30-hour battery life is excellent, and they’re compatible with lots of different Bluetooth codecs, like aptX HD and aptX-LL, which can help enhance your listening experience if you have the right source device.

10. Sony WH-1000XM3

The excellent-sounding Sony WH-1000XM3 is more comfortable and 20% lighter than its predecessor. It offers slightly improved noise cancelling and performs better as a headset for making calls. Battery life is strong, and it has some nifty extra features geared toward frequent travellers. following up is our pick for best wireless headphones, greatest noise-cancelling headphones, and best earphones of 2017-Sony released a slightly-upgraded monster in the WH-1000XM3. Virtually identical to the model it replaces, incremental upgrades over the best isn’t exactly a bad thing.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are versatile wireless over-ears. While some may find them slightly too bulky for sports, they’re comfortable and have one of the best ANC that we’ve measured so far. They also sound decently well-balanced; if you want to customize your audio profile, they come with a great EQ. Unfortunately, they have a bit too much latency for watching videos and gaming.

11. Sennheiser HD 202 II 

The Sennheiser HD 202 II are average-at-best. They deliver a decent sound and won’t be too distracting to the people around you because of their relatively low leakage. However, they feel cheaply made. They have no audio controls and do not block much noise, which is not ideal for commuting or travelling.

The HD 202 II are low-budget, closed-back, critical listening headphones that are not well-rounded enough to be good everyday headphones. They lack a few features, which makes them cumbersome to use on the go, and they also struggle in loud environments.

12. AKG K712 PRO Headphones

The AKG K712 PRO delivers a great sound for critical listening. They’re super comfortable headphones with a few more accessories than the K701 or the K702. However, like the previous models, they’re a bit bulky and cumbersome for everyday use. They also have an open-back design that improves their overall sound quality but leaks a lot and won’t block much noise, which is not ideal for loud, noisy commutes.

The AKG K712 PRO headphones are not designed for everyday, casual use

13. AKG K701 Headphones Review

The AKG K701 are comfortable and breathable critical listening headphones with great sound quality. Unfortunately, they do not have a detachable or spare cable like the K702 or the K712 Pro. They’re also not meant for outdoor use so they have poor isolation and no control options for mobile devices. On the upside, they’re surprisingly lightweight for their size and they deliver in the sound department.

The AKG K701 are best used for critical listening. They’re a bit too big and bulky for casual use and their open designed means they won’t be suitable for outdoors. This makes them poor for office, sports and commuting but they deliver a great and spacious sound quality that’s suitable for critical listening.

14. AKG K702: Premium Headphone

The AKG K702 is great, comfortable headphones for critical listening but are mediocre for everyday casual use. Their open design doesn’t block any noise and leaks enough to be distracting. They’re not made for commuting or to use at the gym but are ideal for appreciating high-quality audio in a quiet environment.

These headphones aren’t created for everyday, informal use. They’re greatest used for crucial listening in private. This headphone is an excellent example of best studio headphone.

15. Meze 99 Classics

The Meze 99 Classic is really a beautiful walnut wood headphone which can be purchased with either gold or silver accents, the people we are reviewing today will be the walnut silver. Meze has been typing and gracious to lend the 99 Classic if you ask me for review, greatly appreciated. I’m not being compensated or influenced at all to evaluation the merchandise; all views are my very own.

The 99 Classics from Meze Audio certainly are a fantastic choice for individuals who appreciate an elegant headphone as much as a neutral tone and wide audio phase. I strongly suggest these to anyone who would like a headphone set that may look good with nearly every outfit you put on. They’re really nice.

16. Focal Utopia Review

The Focal Utopia only lose out to the Meze Audio Empyrean because the Empyrean headphones beat them on price while offering sound quality that is almost as good. But make no mistake: if you can afford them, the Focal Utopia offers the best sound of any headphones ever. You can fight us in the comments if you disagree. In our full review, we said, “There’s only one conclusion here, and that’s that you should buy these immediately if you can afford to. They are the single easiest Editor’s Choice award we’ve ever given out.”

Focal has a more recent, closed-back couple of headphones called the Stellia which are equally outstanding. We don’t believe they knock the Utopia, however, they rock, and so are even more than worthwhile if you are searching for a shut alternative. But also for the near future, the Utopia stay an excellent, classic choice.

17. AUDEZE LCD2C Review

The Audeze LCD 2 Basic is well-built and great-sounding planar magnetic critical listening headphones. They will have a high-finish and durable open-back style, they’re comfortable despite being among the heaviest earphones we’ve tested plus they deliver a well-balanced sound that is clearly a bit ahead with instruments and vocals but should make sure you most listeners. Nevertheless, their heavy and heavy build quality won’t become for everybody and like the majority of open-back headphones, they’re not made to isolate or even to be utilized outdoors.

The Audeze LCD 2 Common are critical hearing headphones, not designed for other use cases except probably home entertainment. They’re comfy, they will have excellent construction and deliver a good sound but their bad isolation and a heavy, cumbersome design will not be versatile sufficient for other makes use of cases. They’re best used in the home and in isolation where you can appreciate their audio high quality without distracting those around you or becoming bothered by ambient sound.

18. HiFiMan Sundara

The Hifiman Sundara are great-sounding and comfortable critical listening headphones. They’re better-built and more durable than HE-400i and deliver a sound quality that’s closer to the Edition X but with slightly less bass. However, like most open-back headphones, they’re not designed for other use cases but critical listening.

The Sundara is critical listening headphones, not intended for other use cases except maybe home theatre. They deliver great sound quality and comfortable design but have poor isolation and a bulky, cumbersome build. They are best used at home and in isolation and will not be suitable for commuting or sports.

19. HiFiMan Edition X

The HifiMan Edition X deliver a comfortable listening experience with a balanced and open sound. Their build quality feels premium and looks unique, but the headband is a little weak. Also, they’re not intended for casual use and will perform poorly outside of a quiet, stable environment. These are not sports-oriented headphones. They’re big and bulky, and although comfortable, they’re not stable enough on your head to use while doing any physical activity. The large and heavy earcups will sway and slip off your ears if used while running or exercising. On the upside, the cable is detachable in case it gets hooked on something.

These headphones are intended for the specific use of critical listening and will not be versatile enough for other use cases.

20. Sennheiser HD600

The Sennheiser HD 600 are good critical listening headphones not meant for other use cases. They’re decently comfortable and have an above-average build quality. They also have a well-balanced sound that has an excellent mid-range and detailed instruments and vocals but lack a little low-end bass, which might not be ideal for everyone. They also do not isolate by design so they won’t be a good option to use outdoors.

The Sennheiser HD 600 are critical hearing headphones, not intended for other use cases except maybe home theatre. They deliver good audio and a decently comfy style but have poor isolation and a bulky, cumbersome build. They are best used at home and in isolation and will not be suitable for commuting or sports.


The Sennheiser HD 660 S are good open-back critical listening headphones. They will have a good audio reproduction and are comfortable sufficient for lengthy listening sessions. Nevertheless, they are a lot tighter than some other Sennheiser earphones we’ve tested, just like the Sennheiser HD 650. They won’t become great for any other make use of as their open up design doesn’t block any noise and leakages a lot, therefore they’re best found in a silent listening room where you can actually reap the benefits of their sound high quality.

These open-back more than ears were created for critical hearing and won’t be suitable for any use situation. Their open style will let sound seep into your audio and can furthermore leak a whole lot, which isn’t ideal for commuting or any office. Their heavy design isn’t created for sports plus they leak an excessive amount of for watching television without disturbing your home. They could be good for games in case you have a stand-by yourself a mic and so are playing in an exceedingly quiet space, but generally, a video gaming headset is a better choice for most.


The HiFiMan HE-400i is great critical listening headphones that are not really suitable for any other use case. They’re comfortable and deliver an excellent sounding audio reproduction. However, they can sound a bit sharp on already bright tracks, and they do not have as much bass as the Edition X. They also have fairly weak hinges that aren’t very durable, unlike the HiFiMan Sundara, and maybe a deal-breaker for most critical listeners.

The HiFiMan This individual-400i are critical hearing headphones, not intended for other use cases except maybe home theatre. They deliver great sound quality and comfortable design but have poor isolation and a bulky, cumbersome build. They are best used at home and in isolation and will not be ideal for commuting or sports.

23. Sennheiser RS 195 RF Wireless

The best Sennheiser headphones for home theatre that we’ve reviewed so far are the Sennheiser RS 195 RF Wireless. These dedicated home theatre headphones have a comfortable, closed-back design that feels premium and well-made. Their transmitter has an optical and a standard 1/8″ input, so you should be able to easily hook it up to any TV setup, and it doubles as a charging dock for when you aren’t using your earphones. They’ll likely be fine for a few days even if you forget to put them on their dock, as their battery lasts 19 hours off a single charge, which is great.

These headsets have an exciting sound profile that will provide a bit of extra thump and rumble to movies without drowning out dialogue, though some people may find them a bit too bright and bass-heavy. If you’d rather a more neutral and well-balanced sound, you may prefer the open-back Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless, though they’re much harder to find, and due to their open-back style, they leak a lot more audio.

24. Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless

The Sennheiser RS 185 is comfortable, easy-to-use and have an improved sound over the RS 175 and RS 165. Their open design enhances their sound quality, but it also makes them less versatile than the already limited use of the RS series. They’re leaky, they barely block any ambient noise, and you need the stand for the headphones to work, so they won’t be practical for commuting or sports.

The Sennheiser RS 185 are good home theatre headphones, but they’re not very versatile. The stand transmitter limits their use outdoors, and since the 185 are open-back headphones, they struggle even more in loud environments. On the upside, they’re comfortable and have a good sound for critical listening.