Top 25 Best Audiophile Headphones 2019

If you want to know the answer to the question what are the best audiophile headphones of 2018 then this article will let you know. We list the absolute best and most in depth recommendations for what the best high end, high fidelity and best sounding headphones in this list of the 25 best models.

Why buy Audiophile headphones?

The easy answer as to why you would want to buy any of the best audiophile headphones of 2019 is that you want the best sounding headphone in the world. Simple right?  But, the truth is, very few people get into this hobby and buy one of these outstanding high-fidelity headphones right out the gate and in reality are the best sounding headphones going to best fit your needs? We have laid out a few things you should consider before purchasing and I hope this article can help you choose the best headphones for your particular needs. 

The pursuit of high end audio fidelity usually involves a lot of tinkering as well as many headphone purchases and upgrades along the way.  You might start out with a set of simple budget audiophile headphones  like the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro and a relatively inexpensive DAP but before you know it you're listening to music on a full array of Dacs & tube amplifiers with custom cables and multiple sets of multi-thousand dollar headphones like the gorgeous Focal Stelia. Your pockets are significantly lighter but your music sounds great. There’s something about this hobby that drags you in and once it does its impossible to go back to using consumer grade equipment.

A lot of this obsession comes down to audiophiles (and those that appreciate fidelity in general) having a deeper understanding of how physical hardware is affecting the reproduction of their music.  It is easy to become obsessed with minor annoyances that are often overlooked by a lay person. You will soon pick up on barely audible treble spikes and minor bass roll offs because when you know what to look for its amazing how much an effect these things can have on your enjoyment. Good music simply sounds better through good audio equipment.

Of course another benefit to purchasing a set of audiophile headphones is that you can have incredible sound but you don't have to step into the ultra-pricey world of high-end HiFi systems.  That, or you may just not have the space available to accommodate such setups.  By going the headphone route you can still experience extremely high levels of fidelity in a relatively compact package.

Choosing The Best Audiophile Headphones For Your Needs

Whilst sound quality should be of utmost importance when buying audiophile headphones don't forget to consider a few other factors when looking for the best solution. 

The best headphones in the world might have the best sound but if they are too impractical for use in the scenarios where you listen to music, it's probably worth buying something better suited to the task. 

Comfort and fit both play huge roles in determining how good of a match certain headphones are for you.  A set of uncomfortable headphones is going to make you want to not use them.  Good audiophile headphones will be comfortable for long listening periods. 

Finally, the price is one of the biggest barriers to entry for some of the world's best soundingheadphones.  Don't be too disheartened though as there are a number of budget headphone options that produce about 95% of the sound that the multi $1000 versions do.  The difference between an entry-level audiophile headphone and an ultra high-end is a sonic evolution as opposed to a revolution.

What headphones do I use?

One of the most common questions I get asked from this site is what headphones do I use personally?

Obviously what works for you might be completely different, there is no right or wrong answer.  That's said here are some links to my personal favourite equipment. 


What source should I use to get the best sound from my Hi-Res headphones?

Whilst the music is and always will be the star of the show, the headphones you use have a massive effect on sound quality.  The same can be said for the source you use, just to a lesser extent.  Assuming you are using high-resolution audio files you are going to want to use a good source to make sure the signal is crispy clean and has enough power to drive your headphones to their full potential. 

I personally use 2 "sources" (both listed above) for the majority of my listening, One for home and one for on the go.  My home setup is driven by an insane all in one Amp and DAC and on the go I will most likely be using my phone with an external DAC or a stand alone DAP. 

However, you don't have to spend that much to get great sound. Something like the budget-friendly Objective 2 amp will blow your mind with its transparency and detail for home use.  If portable clean sound on a budget is your thing then many frugal audiophile still swear by the Clip Mp3 Player by Sansa

The short version of what I am trying to say is, upgrade your files first, then headphones and after that, you can throw any extra at the sources.  The differences in sound quality from changing headphones can be night and day whereas, at a certain point, with hi-res sources, it can be very incremental in terms of improvements to sound for your dollar.

If you want to read more about the best source hardware for your music you can check out our lists of the best high res music player and best budget music players.

The 27 Best Audiophile Headphones List

  • Sony MDR-Z1R

  • Pioneer SE-Master 1

  • Sennhesier HD660s

  • Stax SR009

  • Stax SR007 MK2

  • Focal Utopia

  • Monoprice Monotlith

  • Kingsound KS-H3

  • Sennheiser Orpheus

  • Sennheiser HD800s

  • ZMF Atticus

  • Sennheiser HD650

  • Audeze LCD-4

  • Audeze EL-8

  • Final Audio Design X

  • Final Audio Design Sonorous VI

  • Beyerdynamic T5p

  • Hifiman HE-1000V2

  • Hifiman HE-400

  • Grado PS1000E

  • Grado GS1000E

  • Oppo PM1 & PM2

  • Ultrasone Tribute 7

  • Mr Speakers Ether Flow

  • Hifiman Shangri La

  • ZMF Eikon

  • Campfire Audio Cascade

SONY MDR-Z1R - Closed Back Headphones

You know how big the demand for hi-res headphones rising when you see one of the biggest names in consumer tech getting deadly serious.  

The Sony MDR-Z1R is a surprising take on the high-end headphone.  Why surprising? Well instead of going for the predominantly popular open back design seen on most top-end headphones the Z1R is in fact closed back.  This makes them a whole lot more versatile when it comes to where and how you use them.

Massive 70mm dynamic drivers (cone shaped) adorn the internals and sheepskin are slathered over the externals.  Build quality is absolutely top notch as they feel both premium and solid, there's no need to baby them.

Supremely comfortable the sound is about big powerful bass with outstanding detail retrieval. This means that we truly rate them and the ability to isolate yourself from the external environment is just the icing on the cake.

PIONEER SE-MASTER1 - Open Back Headphones

After hearing these awesome open back audiophile headphones you will instantly know why they have been added to the list. Pioneer is a huge name audio brand and the SE-Master1 are just a stunning all around headphone that competes with the best of the niche brand headphones we list below.  

The SE-Master is the result of 5 years of development which has resulted in a true reference headphone designed for aficionados and developers at the same time.  They utilize custom 50mm dynamic driver technology and an open back housing to bring across music that is very true to the source.

Each headphone is handmade in Tohoku, Japan they feel incredible in the hand and on the head.  We really recommend you use a high-quality source and file to get the most of them as they are ruthless in displaying the deficiencies in poorly mastered tracks.

Official Pioneer website for the Master Series.


Update to the excellent value Sennheiser HD650

The original HD650 headphones were one of the best value audiophile grade headphones on the planet. They offered a large proportion of what you get with the companies much more expensive HD800 at a fraction of the cost. 

Sennheiser also don't make unnecessary upgrades and as such have a longer product life cycle than other companies that try to catch the flavor of the month vibe by releasing multiple models without significant improvements.

The HD 660s are more refined but still retain the slightly mid eccentric and warmer tones of the outgoing model and yet still retain incredible detail.  They are an open back headphone that pairs especially well with tube amps but are easily driven from most high resolution sources.

Stax SR009

TechnologyOpen back electrostatic headphones

The Stax SR009 have a very good case for being considered the best sounding headphones in the world right now and for good reason. 

These electrostatic headphones will need the addition of some high-end tube amplifiers or energizers to reach their full potential but when you do set them up right you end up with a smile plastered across your face going from ear to ear.

Owners of the Stax SR-009 are rewarded with unparalleled levels of transparency so be careful of the source material you feed them. They will expose shoddy mastering and recordings unlike anything else out there. 

Stax headphones are long considered by many audiophiles to be the pinnacle of headphones.

Official Stax Earspeakers Website

Stax SR007 Mk2

Technology: Open back electrostatic headphones

If you don't have the funds to shell out over $3000 for the outstanding Stax SR-009 you could always take a look at their baby brother. 

While there was a wide gulf between the SR007 mk1 and SR009 that has now been closed considerably in the mk2 version. 

If you like a more subdued midrange than the SR009 would a better choice and whilst the bass is still a little on the lean side compared to some of the Planar headphones on this list, it more than makes up for it in speed and detail retrieval.

Just like with its big brother the soundstage is excellent and when paired with the right tubes these headphones are about as close as you can get to listening to a set of full-size speakers whilst still being infinitely more portable.

Focal Utopia by Focal Headphones

Technology:  Open-back dynamic driver headphones

Most headphone companies hope they will make waves when releasing a new headphone and Focal just managed to create a Tsunami. If you wanted to know what headphones have the best sound quality then the Utopia is right at the top of our list.

The Focal Utopia is now out and after spending a couple of sessions with it, we had to crown it a king of the audiophile headphones world.

Detail retrieval is jaw dropping and soundstage is f****n massive.  It is everything I wanted when I got into this hobby and they very much feel like an end game product that takes some beating.

They are light and incredibly well built and if I could have one headphone for the rest of time, right now it would be the Focal Utopia.

At a shade under 4grand though these are going to be or of the reach of the majority of headphone enthusiasts but none the less they are a stunning achievement from the French manufacturer.

Official Focal headphone website

Monoprice Monolith M1060C

Technology: Planar Magnetic headphones without the Audeze price tag

Monoprice came almost out of nowhere to produce on of the most surprising headphones of recent times.

The company jumped in headfirst to the high end audiophile headphone world by releasing a range of planar magnetic headphones with open and closed back designs. 

Our pick of the bunch has to be the excellent Monoprice M1060C. For the cost its hard to think of anything that sound so good. It offers Audeze beating performance for a fraction of the price.

Kingsound KS-H3

Technology:  Electrostatic Headphones

Technology: Open back electrostatic headphones I have owned the Kingsound KS-H3 for a couple of years now and every time I put them on I know I'm in for a good time. 

The brand might not be as trendy as Stax or Focal but they still give them a serious run for the money.  Paired with my WooAudio tube amp they are everything audiophiles would look for in a set of premium headphones.

Detailed, transparent and unlike some other Electrostatic headphones they also have a solid amount of bass.  Oh, and if comfort is your thing then look no further.  Easily the most comfortable set of full sized headphones period.

Don't look past the companies own M-20 headphone amplifier / energizer either.  Paired with the KS-H3 and the right selection of tubes it is a beautiful thing bringing out that analog-style warmth that makes old recording shine. 

Click here for lowest price at Moon Audio.  (US Buyers Only)

Official Kingsound Audio Headphones website

Read our full review of the Kingsound KS-H3 Electrostatic Headphones

Sennheiser Orpheus

Technology:  ALL OF IT!

You will most likely never own these headphones.  You will most likely never listen to these headphones. You will most likely you never even see a set of these headphones. However, from what everyone who has heard them says the new Sennheiser Orpheus are the best audiophile headphones money can buy. 

How much money did you just ask?  Well in the region of $50,000.  As an exercise in how far we can take headphone technology, it's a great project but if you actually own one you should be slapped for having more money than sense. 

Sennheiser went all out and no corners were cut in the pursuit of all-out sound fidelity.  If there was any perceived weakness Sennheiser sought to rectify it and along the way the created not just an incredibly advanced piece of audio equipment but a work of art.

Check out the story behind the Orpheus on Sennheiser's awesome dedicated website.

Sennheiser HD800s

Technology: High Definition Dynamic Driver

The HD800 was for a long time considered the best audiophile headphone.  It just so happens to be one I still currently own (Update: I recently just purchased a set). However, Sennheiser did improve on the standard HD800 when they released the Sennheiser HD800s. 

There wasn't much wrong with the originals but any flaws have now been ironed out leaving one of the most analytical and technically perfect sounding headphones at any price. 

Long term fans of the top of the line HD's will be happy to know that Sennheiser has kept the styling of the old model and just made subtle refinements.  As I have said before... if Darth Vader used headphones... well just look at them.

What's more incredible is that with the introduction of this new model the outgoing 800's have just received a significant drop in price.  Given that they were already outstanding value before the introduction of the "S" variant they are probably the best bang for buck audiophile headphone on the market right now.

Official website for the Sennheiser HD800

Sennheiser HD820

The latest development of Sennheiser HD series of headphones is now their best and most expensive headphone (other than the Orpheus). the thing is a masterpiece and with outstanding resolution and transparency. In fact in a world where Focal, Hifiman etc are ticking towards the $4000 mark the 820 whilst not cheap seems like a bit of a bargain since its pedigree and lineage speaks for itself.

I think however that a lot of people are getting mistaken as to the performance of the HD820. These are no a 1 to 1 replacement for the original HD800 headphones.

The HD800 are visceral and cutting they are ruthless and add very little flavour to the sound. The HD820 sound less like a tool headphone designed to be used in the studio and more like and engaging and enthralling experience.

A headphone dedicated to listening with maximal pleasure.

Sennheiser HD650

Technology:  Open back dynamic driver headphones

One of the cheapest audiophile headphones on this list and another that I own. The HD650 gives you a lot of what makes the Sennheiser HD800 headphones so good in a far cheaper package. 

A lot of headphone enthusiasts consider the HD650 as the only headphone you ever really need for listening to High definition audio. For a large part, I agree with that statement.  They set the bar at 90-95% of what the far more expensive headphones can do and are top shelf performers even when you remove price from the equation.

Take the price into the equation and you have the perfect headphone for budget audiophiles.



Audeze LCD-4

Technology: Open back planar magnetic headphones

The top of the line Audeze LCD-4 are true luxury headphones in every sense of the word. 

From the exquisite and ornate packaging to the stellar build you are in for a treat with this set of planar magnetic beasts. 

Made from some of the finest materials, swathed in wood and leather they look every bit as good as they sound. 

Transparent, detailed fast and with excellent sound stage this is like having a full 2 way speaker system planted right on top of your head.

Official Product page for the Audeze LCD-4

Audeze EL-8 Open Back

Technology: Open back planar magnetic headphones

Sound wise they can't quite compete all out with a lot of the more pricey headphone models on this list but what the EL8 has done for the audiophile headphone community is something that not many people talk about. 

They made this hobby cool.  No longer do the planar headphones have to look like a DIY project from someones garden shed.

Instead the sleek lines are paired with Audeze's legendary orthodynamic technology to create a great sounding headphone that will also appeal to a mainstream audience. 

One of the best parts of this is that the Audeze EL-8 have encouraged more manufacturers to concentrate on design as well as sound and we are now seeing an industry wide trend in the direction of better built and more ergonomically designed Hifi headphones.

At $699 and with the ability to use it with a lighting connector as a set of true audiophile headphones for the Iphone 7 it also seems like a bit of a bargain.

Official Website of the Audeze EL-8 Open back headphones

Click here for our full Audeze EL-8 review

Final Audio Design X

Technology:  Semi-Open back dynamic driver headphones

Ostentatious and way over the top are 2 ways to describe the Final Audio Design Sonorous X the others might be rich, detailed and spacious. 

If ever a set of headphones could be considered a piece of jewellery then it's the Final Audio Sonorous X, the king of the FAD headphone lineup. 


Official website of the FInal Audio Design Sonorous X

Final Audio Design VI

Technology:  Semi-Open back hybrid driver headphones

Don't want to splash out on the Final Audio X headphones?  Well you can save a lot of cash and get the majority of the flavour from the brands Sonorous VI model. 

This is a headphone I own personally and what better way to explain how much I like it than the fact that it replaced my Audeze LCD-2 planar magnetic headphones. 

The soundstage is godlike, the bass and the mids are super imersive and the treble is some of the smoothest on any sub $1000 headphones.

It's still got all the bonkers design that Final Audio fans love but just toned down from the range-topping X model.  One of my all time favorite headphones and probably one of my most listened to when not conducting reviews.


Official website of the Final Audio Sonorous VI

Read Audiophile On's full in-depth review of the Sonourous VI

Beyerdynamic T5p - 2nd Generation

Technology: Semi Open Tesla Coil Dynamic Driver Headphones

Just like the Sennheiser HD800 these Beyerdynamic headphones have been around, for years and for good reason. Now though, there is a second generation available to buy. 

The German headphone company makes a lot of excellent headphones but my pick of the bunch has to be the Beyer T5p.  These headphones have a lower impedance of than the companies own excellent T1 Tesla model so they are a little easier to live with in terms of pairing a source to drive them from. 

The sound is very comparable to that of the Sennheiser HD800 but with a bit more of a low-end grunt and warmth that leads to a more natural and less sharp listening experience. 

Detail retrieval is at an all-time high thanks to the use of Beyerdynamic's Tesla Driver Technology.  Build quality is top of the line and these headphones should serve you well for decades to come.


Official Webpage of the Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd Generation

Hifiman HE-1000 V2

Technology: Open back planar magnetic headphones

Everyone thought Hifiman was done for when Audeze started to take control of the market a few years back. 

For a long time these 2 headphone makers were the kings of planar magnetic technology.  Hifiman's line started to grow somewhat stagnant but then they released the Hifiman HE-1000, a true audiophile grade headphone.  Then they decided to better it by releasing the V2.

I love everything about this headphone from it styling to its fit and finish and the transparent, highly detailed and ultra accurate sound.  I was so impressed that the HE-1000 V2 are the headphones I will be purchasing this Christmas.

Official Hifiman Website

Hifiman H400s

Technology: Open back planar magnetic headphones

Whilst there are better sounding, better looking and just all around better headphones on this list most of them also cost many times the price of the humble Hifiman HE400's.

I wanted to include it as a great option for those aspiring audiophiles on a budget.  The law of diminishing returns is big in this hobby and the HE400s offsets that by offering big performance at just $299 in the US market. 

A warm sounding but still very detailed Planar headphone they weigh only 350g so can be worn all day and are well enough built to last for years to come. 

One of the best headphone buys if you, like many others, consider yourself a budget audiophile.

Click here for current lowest price on Amazon

Grado PS1000e

Technology:  Open back dynamic driver headphones

It's hard to make a list of the best audiophile headphones without including Grado.  The PS designation on the Grado PS1000e stands for professional series and you can see why. 

The PS1000e, unlike the GS100e that is also on this list of the best audiophile headphones, will give out exactly what you put into it. 

It is as transparent as it gets and if your source chain is up to snuff the PS1000e show themselves for being one of the most accurate and true sounding headphones on this list.

You might want to invest in a pair of gloves though as touching anywhere on the PS100e's aluminium earcups will result in masses of fingerprints.

Official Website of the Grado PS1000e

Grado GS1000e

Technology:  Open back dynamic driver headphones

My personal favourtie out of the Grado headphone lineup.  The Grado GS1000e is beautiful in every way. 

The stunning wood earcups and leather headband are a sight to behold but its when you get to head these headphones with rock, acoustic, classical and jazz music that they really begin to shine. 

They retain all of the detail that the PS1000 produce yet at the same time the GS1000e have a subtle warmth and are fuller bodied.  The treble is more smoothed off and the bass slightly enhanced. 

The GS series feels much more like a continuation of the GR series in this sense, true to the Grado house sound and my current headphone of choice for daily listening.

Official website of the Grado GS1000e

Oppo PM1 & PM-2

Tecnology: Open back Planar magnetic headphones

Why have I included the Oppo PM2 and PM1 planar headphones at the same spot in the list?  Well basically it is the same headphone sound wise. 

The Oppo PM-1 has a number of more premium touches such as the packaging and earpads but the Oppo PM-2 sounds every bit as good as its pricier big brother. 

Oppo injected some much-needed competition into the world of orthodynamic headphones upon the PM-2's release.  They managed to put a planar-magnetic driver into a housing that looked far more appealing to mainstream buyers than Hifiman and Audeze headphones that came before. 

Sound is warm, energetic and detailed.

Oppo PM-2 Review

Oppo Headphone Website


Ultrasone Tribute 7

Technology: Closed back dynamic driver headphones

Another headphone on this list that you most likely will never own.  Unlike the Orpheus however, it is not the price that is a barrier to entry.  It's their rarity. 

The Ultrasone Tribute 7 are a special limited run of the truly outstanding Ultrasone Edition 7.  Having spent a couple of sessions listening on the ultra rare Edition 7 I can tell you that even given the age these are special headphones.  Unbelievable comfortable, detailed, rich and full bodied they even stand ahead of what many companies have managed to achieve 12 years after the originals release. 

The Tribute 7 were made available in July and only 777 models were made available. 

Sure to become a collector's item in the future if you can grab a set at a fair price then, by all means, listen to them every day and you will probably see your money back even with added wear and tear.


Mr Speakers Ether Flow

Technology: Open back planar magnetic headphones

We reviewed the Mr Speakers Ether a couple of months ago and were massively impressed how far Dan (aka Mr Speakers) has taken the company. 

From modifying the popular Fostex T50RP headphones to building the Ether Flow from the ground has seen Mr Speakers become one of the best audiophile headphone brands. 

The Ether are now surpassed by the Flow all accounts put them as an excellent choice for those buying audiophile headphones.  Ultra transparent, big detail and impressive amount of bass for and open back headphone

Original Mr Speakers Ether Review

Mr Speakers website


Hifiman Shangri-La Headphone System

Make sure you swallow your coffee before reading about this next set of headphones because I don't want you to spit it all over your screen.  Yes, the Hifiman Shangri-La headphones (with amplifier) are priced at a jaw dropping $50,000 (USD).  Yes I have seen them, yes I have heard them and in no way, under no circumstances should you ever buy them. 

They are included on this list purely based on their sound, without a doubt one of the best-sounding headphones I have ever heard.  The price though is simply inexcusable and nothing more than a price gouge designed to take advantage of people with more money than sense.

For more 5 times less than that, you could have yourself a Head Amp Blue Hawai and set of Stax SR-009.  I mean that's a pricey combo but the Shangri-La does not sound $40,000+ better.  Fun for a novelty but definitely not worth considering. 


These headphones get my vote for the prettiest audiophile headphones on the market and they sound incredible too.  The aesthetics of wooden headphones can be a polarising topic. Some people love them and others hate them but these are on a completely different level and give the at times classic styling a thoroughly modern twist.

ZMF the guy who is famous for modding the Fostex T50 RP has come a long way.  The ZMF Eikon is the companies new flagship headphone and the list of luxury touches is impressive. Owners are treated to highly sensitive Biocellulose Drivers, excellent Eikon earpads and even lambskin are used on the headband to ensure comfort.

The sound is mostly neutral but it does have a kick to it and each headphone is hand finished.

Campfire Audio Cascade

New to the beast audiophile headphone list in mid 2018 is the first ever full size headphone from Campfire Audio.  The Cascade takes off where the companies immensely popular IEM lineup took off from and it oozes quality at every turn.

The Cascade are a set of closed back headphones with large Berylium dynamc driver.  The build quality is absolutely superb, blending modern aesthetics with top of the line construction and materials.  

As with any of Campfire Audio's products the focus is on attention to detail and its not just the headphones.  The accessory set and included carry case is one of the best we have seen.

Soundwise it's all about the companies house sound.  Campfire have a knack for tuning headphones that make you just want to listen more and more.  The cascade have lots of detail, good top end extension and an absolutley amazing low end presentation.

To find out more read our full Campfire Audio Cascade review.

Readers Choice

A few years ago we would have put together a list like this and still had plenty of room to spare, however nowadays there is so much choice on the market we have to leave a lot off this list of the top 20 headphones.  The final spot, as usual is reserved for the readers pick, what headphone should we have included? what have we missed out that should be given recognition?

Leave a comment bellow with what headphone you want to see us put in the final place, the one that receives the most votes/ comments will be added to this list at the end of 2016.


Honorable Mentions

Plenty of headphones come through our doors that we get to listen to but not quite have time to do a full review. Some of the ones that impressed us this year has been the Mr Speakers AEON, Sennheiser HD660 and the Fostex TH-610.  Look out for these in upcoming reviews on the site in 2018... they really are that good.

Erzetich Audio Mania Hifi Headphones

We just finished our 2019 review of the Erzetich Mania headphones and will be considering them for a place on this list. These headphones have a wonderful rich sound with a surprising v-shaped tuning to them. They are an expensive set of headphones and the design is significantly dated from what you can find on other premium headphone companies. However, it has to be noted that they are one of the best built headphones on this list.

We list the top 25 best audiophile headphones in the world right now. These headphones provide the highest level of fidelity and greatest sound quality available. If you ever asked the question what are the best sounding headphones? You will find the answer here.