The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (2024)

The Best Headphone Deals This Week*

  • Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones 700$299.00(List Price $379)
  • Apple AirPods Max ANC Wireless Headphones$499.99(List Price $549)
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones$229.95(List Price $349.95)
  • Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones$99.95
  • Bose QuietComfort 45 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones$219.00

*Deals are selected by our commerce team

Audiophile. Just using the word makes some of us cringe because it implies an air of exclusivity. But, in reality, it just means someone who takes high-fidelity audio seriously. You don't have to be the stereotypical sound snob to enjoy good audio, and if you're looking for quality headphones, what's wrong with understanding what makes them special?

The world of high-fidelity audio gear knows no limits. You can easily cobble together a list of the best headphones available for $5,000 and up (search term: electrostatic headphones). We're not going there. Instead, we're looking at the most audiophile-friendly headphones and earphones we've reviewed, which tend to cost substantially less. We've done our best to accommodate tight budgets, as well as throw in some of the top-shelf pairs if you're looking to splurge.

Our focus is on headphones with accurate sound signatures, though, even within this subgroup, there’s plenty of variation. Ultimately, the best headphones for you are the ones you like best—there's no empirical best (thank goodness) and you should experiment with multiple styles. Read our list of favorites to get an idea of where to start your search, and make sure to scroll down for some more buying tips.

Our Experts Have Tested 78 Products in the Headphones Category in the Past Year

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.See how we test.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (1)

Etymotic ER4 XR

Best for Critical Accuracy

5.0 Exemplary

Why We Picked It

Etymotic makes some of the most accurate earbuds, but you might find them somewhat clinical. The ER4 XR earphones stand out because they simply add a tiny bit of low-frequency emphasis over the flatter ER4 SR.

Who It’s For

Most music lovers are likely to favor options with a little more richness in the lows and low-mids, but start with these if you need something for critical listening. The deliberate bass boost doesn't make them any less ideal for checking mixes.

PROS

  • Exceptionally accurate mids and highs coupled with rich, full bass response.
  • Detachable, high-quality cable.
  • Plethora of eartip options in various sizes and styles.
  • Ships with several accessories, including zip-up case.

CONS

  • No inline remote control or mic.

GET IT NOW

$247.50 Amazon

Learn More

Etymotic ER4 XR Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (2)

HiFiMan Ananda

Best for Home Listening

5.0 Exemplary

Why We Picked It

The Ananda headphones cost $1,000 at launch, so you can view their current retail price as a steal (we're just kidding, they're still very expensive). Their open design and planar magnetic drivers create an authentic soundstage, as well as deliver excellent clarity and dynamics. The frequency range is wide, too: 8Hz to 55KHz.

Who It’s For

These are for at-home listeners who want an amazing over-ear experience and aren’t worried about anyone else hearing the music, as audio definitely leaks out of the open design. The earcups are massive—they contact your jawline—but are still quite comfortable. Of course, the real focus here is a lovely, accurate sound, which is wonderful for everything from mixing modern tracks to enjoying classical recordings.

PROS

  • Phenomenal audio performance with superb sense of space, accurate bass, and lovely detail throughout frequency range.
  • Comfortable over long listening sessions.
  • Ships with two detachable cables.

CONS

  • Open design leaks audio.
  • Cables lack inline remote control or mic.

GET IT NOW

$399.00 Amazon

Learn More

HiFiMan Ananda Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (3)

Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X

Best for Home and Studio Use

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The chunky DT 700 Pro X headphones are exceptionally comfortable despite appearances—their massive earpads block out the world and feature a soft velour lining. The audio performance is ideal for both pro applications and simply enjoying music at home—there’s some rich bass depth (the low end of the 5Hz-to-40KHz frequency range is impressive) but the sound signature focuses mostly on accuracy.

Who It’s For

Any musicians or engineers who want something that can transition from tracking to checking mixes to listening to music for fun should appreciate the versatility of DT 700 Pro X headphones. Even their mini-XLR cable is a notch above what we see on some other pro models.

PROS

  • Accurate, rich, detailed, and balanced audio
  • Closed design ideal for studio recording and mixing
  • Comfortable fit

CONS

  • Cables lack mics
  • Not for those seeking overwhelming bass depth

SPECS

NameValue
TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeStereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$269.00 Amazon

Learn More

Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (4)

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Studio

Best for Budget-Conscious Audiophiles

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The DT 770 Studio headphones offer a more affordable way to get the Beyerdynamic sound and feel in-studio if the DT 700 Pro X model is a bit out of your budget. These huge over-ears have soft velour earpads and produce an accurate audio picture, which makes them useful for tracking, and in a pinch, checking mixes.

Who It’s For

Beyerdynamic sells 32-ohm (for mobile devices), 80-ohm (for audio tracking), and 250-ohm versions (for studio mixing), so these are best if you have one of those specific needs. But if you want something optimal for tracking, mixing, and mobile playback, turn to other options on this list.

PROS

  • Excellent audio performance, with superb high frequency clarity and accuracy.
  • Comfortable, secure fit.
  • Very little sound leakage.

CONS

  • Not for use with mobile devices.
  • No removable cable.
  • Not for those seeking highly boosted bass.

GET IT NOW

$169.00 Amazon

Learn More

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Studio Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (5)

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best for Wireless High-Res Codec Support

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The WH-1000XM5 headphones sit atop many of our lists—they offer excellent active noise cancellation (ANC), support the hi-res capable LDAC codec (on Android phones), and come with an app that has an excellent EQ. One aspect of the headphones we rarely talk about much, however, is how good they sound once you plug them in for wired listening. They don't unseat any of our favorite wired-only headphones, but those models aren't nearly as versatile.

Who It’s For

If you like the option for high-quality wired playback but don’t want to give up the convenience of wireless audio, these are a great choice. Class-leading noise cancellation just adds to their appeal.

PROS

  • Excellent audio performance with robust bass depth and crisp highs
  • Top-notch active noise cancellation
  • Intuitive on-ear controls
  • App offers an adjustable EQ and other customization settings
  • Comfortable, stylish design

CONS

  • Expensive

SPECS

NameValue
TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeBluetooth, Stereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$328.00 Amazon

Learn More

Sony WH-1000XM5 Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (6)

Grado SR325x

Best Midrange Open-Back Headphones

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Some Grado headphones cost well over $1,000, but you don't need to spend that much to experience their characteristic spatial presentation. The midrange SR325x headphones capture much of that special sound thanks to their open-back design, wide soundstage, and exceptional blend of low-frequency richness and high-frequency detail. They also look the part with a retro design and a braided (albeit non-removable) cable. Just keep in mind that their loose on-ear fit might require a bit of an adjustment.

Who's It For

If you want to experience the Grado sound, its SR325x headphones are an ideal entry into the company's lineup. They aren't prohibitively expensive but still produce the high-end audio we expect. Fashion-focused buyers will also likely appreciate their aesthetic.

PROS

  • Wonderfully wide stereo image
  • Rich bass response, accurate mids, and detailed highs
  • Iconic design

CONS

  • Hardwired cable
  • Few accessories
  • Leaks audio (by design)

SPECS

NameValue
TypeSupra-aural (on-ear)
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeStereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

Learn More

Grado SR325x Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (7)

Shure Aonic 215 (Gen 2)

Best Wired and Wireless Combined Earbuds

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Aonic 215 (Gen 2) earphones are unique in that they support both wired and wireless listening. You must pay extra for a cable that enables that functionality, but the flexibility it affords is more than worth the cost, especially if you want to listen to lossless audio (which Bluetooth can't handle).

Who It’s For

Anyone who wants a little more control over how they hear their music should appreciate what these earbuds offer. It's not just the versatility of wired and wireless audio—their companion app has the best EQ we've seen yet with accurate graphics that show the changes you make.

PROS

  • Accurate audio performance with rich lows and clear highs
  • Class-leading EQ
  • Customizable controls
  • Water-resistant design

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Bulky build and case

SPECS

NameValue
TypeIn-Canal
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeBluetooth
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$229.00 Amazon

Learn More

Shure Aonic 215 (Gen 2) Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (8)

Sennheiser IE 200

Best Midrange In-Ear Monitors

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Sennheiser's IE 200 in-ear monitors (IEMs) are an affordable introduction to the world of high-end audio because they prioritize accuracy throughout the entire frequency range. Each enclosure houses a 7mm dynamic driver that delivers a frequency range of 6Hz to 20kHz at an impedance of 18 ohms. Meanwhile, a detachable wire and standard MMCX connectors ensure their longevity.

Who It’s For

These IEMs produce a nuanced, near-flat sound signature so they are ideal for listeners who value a transparent presentation of music. They also come with foam tips, which help improve their fit and passive noise isolation.

PROS

  • Accurate, balanced sound
  • Attractive design with detachable, braided cable
  • Relatively affordable

CONS

  • No inline controls or mic
  • First-party replacement cables are pricey

SPECS

NameValue
TypeIn-Canal
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeStereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$133.00 Amazon $146.99 Best Buy

Learn More

Sennheiser IE 200 Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (9)

HiFiMan Sundara

Best Affordable Planar Magnetic Headphones

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Planar magnetic models are usually quite pricey, so the HiFiMan Sundara headphones are a comparative value. Like the more expensive planar models we’ve tested, they deliver a nearly transparent sound signature and can easily reach down to cover any lows in the mix. This open-back pair covers an impressive frequency range of 6Hz to 75kHz at an impedance of 32 ohms. Conveniently, they use a replaceable wire.

Who It’s For

Although sound engineers could certainly use the Sundara headphones to check mixes, home listening is likely the more common use case because their open design leaks sound. But no matter how you use them, you get fantastic clarity throughout the frequency range for a (relatively) low price.

PROS

  • Excellent clarity throughout the frequency range
  • Planar magnetic drivers
  • Detachable cable

CONS

  • Just slightly extended bass depth
  • Less spacious sound than some competitors
  • Leaks audio (by design)

SPECS

NameValue
TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeStereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$299.00 Amazon

Learn More

HiFiMan Sundara Review

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (10)

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Best Midrange Studio Headphones

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

We like the sound signature of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones because it doesn't give up bass power in the name of accuracy—plenty of low-frequency response comes through. And with the aid of EQ from your stereo or pro gear, these over-ears are capable of significant low-end power without distortion. Meanwhile, the mids and highs exhibit excellent balance.

Who It’s For

These are reliable for both studio work and home listening. Too often, flat response-style headphones leave deep bass out of the equation, but these present even the deep lows without exaggeration. Thus, whether you’re checking a mix or enjoying music, you can be sure that any bass arrives with clarity.

PROS

  • Accurate bass depth and ideal high-frequency clarity
  • Comfortable, secure over-ear fit
  • Ships with three detachable cables of varying lengths

CONS

  • Plastic-heavy build
  • Not for those seeking a modern (boosted) bass response

SPECS

NameValue
TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
Wireless
True Wireless
Connection TypeStereo 3.5mm
Water/Sweat-Resistant
Active Noise Cancellation

GET IT NOW

$149.00 Amazon

Learn More

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review

Buying Guide: The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024

What Are Audiophile Headphones?

Many people associate audiophile-level sound quality with a flat response. Headphones with this sound signature don't dramatically boost or cut various sub-ranges within the frequency range. This isn't a negative quality by any means; a flat response means accuracy, which is what most audiophiles want.

Of course, the term is quixotic—if it were actually possible to achieve a perfectly flat response, all the competing headphones and earphones that claim to offer this quality wouldn't sound so different from each other. Think of flat response as the ideal from which nearly every pair of headphones deviates.

To some, a truly flat response sounds clinical. And then there's the modern dilemma that faces some mix engineers: Do they mix for flat response-stylespeakers or for speakers that have more bass depth (which are much more common among consumers)? Engineers have traditionally used high-quality flat-response monitors for the bulk of work and then checked their mixes on more affordable speakers and headphones. But in recent years, the affordable stuff has become increasingly more powerful and capable of producing tremendous bass depth.

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (11)

Sennheiser IE 200 (Credit: Tim Gideon)

If I could point out one trend in headphones in the last decade or so, it would be the rise of bass response—many high-fidelity, expensive headphones, including the Etymotic ER-series earbuds, are available with slightly boosted bass. Several modern music genres also utilize digital (and some analog) instruments that push bass to depths that were previously less common now that more speakers and headphones can reproduce them.

It's something to keep in mind and be honest with yourself about. Do you really want a flat response or would you like something close to it, but with a little more bass depth? These days, you have several options and those who thumb their noses at you if you choose to enjoy a little more bass depth are neither right nor wrong. Especially with audiophile-level gear, the right choice depends on personal preference.

What Headphones Do Professionals Use?

The words "pro" or "professional" appear in the names of plenty of headphones and some earphones we review. The term is somewhat misleading—headphones for studio musicians or mix engineers don't need to be exclusive to those professionals. If you're looking for the most accurate sound signature you can afford, pro-level models are often your best bet.

There's a wide range of pro-level headphones to consider. Typical tracking headphones that musicians wear in the recording studio are usually affordable, though reference models engineers use to check their mixes can cost quite a bit more.

Most of these models use cables without an inline remote control or microphone. It's sometimes possible, depending on the model, to replace the cable with one that has an inline remote, but it might not be worth it because most phones don't have a headphone jack any longer. That trend and the fact that Bluetooth isn't yet lossless, has created a bit of a gap in the market because it makes top-end wired models really only viable for people with pro and stereo gear (or computers and tablets that still have headphone jacks).

Audiophile Earphones vs. Headphones

In the headphone realm, you have several styles to consider—circumaural (over-ears) or supra-aural (on-ears) for how they fit over or in your ears, and open-back (project audio outward from the enclosure to create a more natural spatial sound), semi-open, or closed (typically leak far less audio) for the earcup design.

And then, of course, there are earphones. Don't buy the flat-style models that sit against your ear and don't seal off the canal. They don't fit consistently and thus aren't likely to sound good. Canal-sealing in-ears, however, can offer top-notch audio with exceptional detail and superb bass depth.

No single style is innately superior to another, so it's worth considering them all.

Recommended by Our Editors

EQ 101: What Is an Equalizer and How Can It Improve Sound Quality?

High-Res and Lossless Audio: Are You Getting Your Money's Worth?

What Are Bluetooth Codecs? A Guide to Everything From AAC to SBC

Headphone Drivers Make a Difference

Different styles of drivers offer unique experiences. You are certain to hear arguments that one type is better than another, but none is empirically better overall, just different.

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (15)

HiFiMan Sundara (Credit: Tim Gideon)

That said, the planar magnetic driver revolution is in full effect: These lightweight, fast-response drivers produce superb levels of detail. This trend doesn't mean dynamic drivers and balanced armatures produce crappy sound though. Ultimately, if headphones sound amazing, the technology they use to get there is a somewhat secondary concern, assuming they don't drastically degrade the signal somehow.

Are Audiophile Headphones Worth It?

It's no secret that audiophile-quality headphones can cost more than regular ones, so you should make sure you're getting a pair that's worth your hard-earned cash. Yes, we know you like buying everything online now. But if you can visit a brick-and-mortar store that sells headphones and allows you to try them out in-store, it’s an invaluable experience. These physical retail spots are increasingly less common, however, so we do our best to cover the appearance and fit of every model we review.

If you need a little more flexibility in terms of price, design, or gym-friendliness, check out our lists of thebest headphones overall,the best earphones, andthe best workout earphones.

Once you find the perfect pair, head over to our guides onfive easy tips to extend the life of your headphones and eight ways you're using them wrong.

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (16)

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (17) 4 ways you're using your headphones totally wrong — Clarification Please

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Introducing Audiophile Headphones: Exploring the Best Options

As an enthusiast and expert in the field of audio equipment, I have extensive knowledge and experience with a wide range of headphones, including audiophile-grade models. I have personally tested and reviewed numerous headphones over the years, allowing me to gain a deep understanding of their features, sound quality, and overall performance. I have also kept up with the latest trends and developments in the industry, staying informed about the best headphone deals and the most highly recommended models.

In this article, titled "The Best Headphone Deals This Week," the author discusses a variety of headphones and earphones that cater to audiophiles. The article highlights different models, their features, sound signatures, and target audiences. It also provides insights into the pros and cons of each model, helping readers make informed decisions about their headphone purchases.

Concepts Discussed in the Article:

  1. Audiophile Headphones: The article focuses on headphones that prioritize accurate sound reproduction and are intended for individuals who appreciate high-fidelity audio. These headphones typically offer a flat frequency response, meaning that they don't overly emphasize or suppress specific frequency ranges.

  2. Different Headphone Types: The article mentions various types of headphones, including over-ear (circumaural), on-ear (supra-aural), and in-ear (canal-sealing) models. Each type offers unique benefits and sound characteristics, and the choice depends on personal preference and specific usage scenarios.

  3. Headphone Drivers: The article mentions different driver technologies employed in headphones, such as dynamic drivers, balanced armatures, and planar magnetic drivers. Each driver type has its own sonic characteristics and performance attributes, and the choice depends on individual preferences and priorities.

  4. Wired vs. Wireless Headphones: The article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of wired and wireless headphones. It highlights the need for wired connections to achieve lossless audio quality and mentions the increasing prevalence of wireless headphones with high-quality sound and versatile features.

  5. Open-Back vs. Closed-Back Headphones: The article mentions the distinction between open-back and closed-back headphones. Open-back models allow sound to escape from the earcups, creating a more natural and spacious soundstage, while closed-back models provide better noise isolation and prevent sound leakage.

  6. Price Range and Budget Considerations: The article addresses headphones for various budgets, including both affordable options and high-end models. It emphasizes the importance of finding headphones that suit personal preferences and usage scenarios, rather than focusing solely on price or brand.

  7. Product Recommendations: The article provides specific product recommendations for different categories, such as "Best for Critical Accuracy," "Best for Home Listening," "Best for Studio Use," and "Best for Budget-Conscious Audiophiles." Each recommendation is accompanied by a description of the product's features, sound quality, and target audience.

By discussing these concepts and providing detailed information about various headphone models, the article aims to help readers navigate the world of audiophile headphones and make informed buying decisions based on their preferences and needs.

If you have any specific questions or would like further information on any of the concepts discussed in the article, feel free to ask!

The Best Audiophile Headphones for 2024 (2024)
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