I get asked a lot of questions about what the best headphone brands are and to be honest its getting harder and harder to pin down an answer. In recent years the audiophile headphone and portable audio market in general have exploded resulting in a number of new companies rising to contention as well as many of the old guard of companies releasing new models in order to combat this onslaught of awesome on head audio. Ultimately picking the best headphone brands will come down to that specific end users needs from a headphone and users will have to consider all manner of aspects from usability, comfort, isolation and budget to find the best headphones for them. However, there are a number of companies that stand out in regards to making generally excellent headphones. These headphone brands have something that sets them apart from the more mundane competition and makes them a little bit more special. In this list we have drawn up 8 of the best headphone brands that you can trust when it comes to taking care of sound quality.
Grado are a family headphone company out of Brooklyn, New York founded way back in 1953. The companies headphones are hand assembled and and are backed by the companys long and prestigious history in the audiophile world. The design of these headphones is often copied due to its iconic looks but what really sets the Grado brand apart is its consistency of excellent sounding headphones right throughout its range. Countless on ear audiophile have started their journey into higher levels of audio listening with the now legendary Grado SR-80 due to its outstanding price to performance ratio. Some people move on to other brands and others will move up the Grado line to the higher end models but
Audeze have been dead front and centre at the advancement of the headphone revolution with their amazing sounding range of planar magnetic headphones. There is something very special about the incredibly detailed and accurate sound that this brand is well known for amongst the headphone community. Probably best know for the stunning but cumbersome LCD series the company have in the past year launched a number of new models such as the EL open and closed back headphones as well as the new portable Sine models. These new models have all received extremely positively and the new designs are so damn cool they are managing to attract a whole new generation to the audiophile hobby.
Stax are known as some of the ugliest and most cumbersome to use headphones in the world but don't let that put you off because the Stax brand absolutely dominates the world of electrostatic headphones. Electrostats are a unique technology that forgoes the traditional use of moving coil drivers and instead operates by moving an incredibly thin and light film between two plates using a static electricity. The end result is a sound that is arguably the best possible from on ear headphones. Listening to the Stax SR009 is a breathtaking experience if you ever get to try it but the entire range still manages to offer a unique flavour of the Stax sound. Just remember you wont be using your stax headphones straght out of your Iphone any time soon as the headphones have to be paired with very high voltage amplifiers to get them going. It may not be the most practical solution but if sound fidelity is your number one priority a set of Stax headphones should be very high on your shopping list.
Ultrasone is a German company whose brand is synonymous with the creation of great sounding and sometimes incredible looking headphones. Ultrasone has a huge range of headphones that will be a reliable choice at almost all price points but its the high end headphones that the company is most revered for. You can have your Ultrasone in almost any tuning its just about going through the edition series until you find the one that meets your particular tuning preferance. Our top picks are the incredibly detailed and spacious sounding edition 5 and edition 10 models.
Sennheiser, I am pretty sure, will be the one headphone on this list that you will know. Unless you have been living under a rock its hard not to have seen something from the Sennheiser brand in your life. Sennheiser are a company that caters for users at all price points whether you are looking to spend ten dollars to tens of thousands of dollars they manage to transcend the mainstream and find a place right in the hearts of high end audio lovers. The flagship Sennheiser HD800 is one of my all time favourite headphones and I am sure that such feelings are shared with thousands of headphone enthusiasts around the world but that doesn't mean there aren't great choices further down the line. The HD-600, HD650 and HD-700 are all some of the best headphones for their price range and they even have some brilliant portable models such as the Momentum.
Of course you cannot talk about Sennheiser as one of the best headphone brands without mentioning the name Orpheus. The original Sennheiser Orpheus were widely regarded as the best headphones of all time and fetch prices in excess of $30,000 on the open market. A few months ago Sennheiser announced that they were revising the line in and thus cementing there place at the very top of the high end headphone marketplace.
When it comes to all out luxury one of the best headphone brands in this category has to be Final Audio Design. The Japanese company has a history spanning bak to the late 60's and early 70's and but its only in the past decade that the have been truly gaining recognition. Most folk including myself were incredibly sceptical of the pricing of Final Audio products but that was before I tried them. It is at that point when you finally get these headphones on your head and give them a listen that you understand that Final Audio Design are very serious about sound. The way I look at final audio is that they compete with everyone on sound but when it comes to flat out luxury these are the headphones that are streaks ahead of the competition. In that regard the price becomes far more palatable as you are paying for a luxury brand as opposed to the performance. For example a Sennheiser HD800 might be considered the Nissan GTR of the headphone world, performance is god like and looks are functional. The Final Audio Pandora is more Pagani Zonda in that its Sonorous X will give you that raw performance but it the design it over the top luxurious..... and a bit bat***t crazy to boot.
Our Final Audio Design Reviews:
Starting to catch the theme here? Yeh you get it. Germans make some of the worlds best headphones (is there anything that Germans can't make well?). Beyerdynamic is another headphone brand that make this list but I am giving it to them because the make some of the toughest, most durable workhorse headphones your can find on gods green earth. The sound house sound is best described as reference right across the range as you are most likely to find a set of Beyer's at home in a studio or on the heads of some of the worlds to DJ's.
Oppo's inclusion on this list might surprise a lot of readers due to how relatively new this headphone company is to the market. It was only a couple of years ago now that Oppo had released the incredible planar magnetic headphones the Oppo PM-1 and Oppo PM-2. Before this it was generally accepted that planar magnetic headphones had to be bulky, heavy and somewhat, dare I say, ugly. Yes I am talking about the Audeze LCD series. Oppo's design was fresh, it was clean cut, streamlined, comfortable and sounded oh so good. Having owned a set of the Oppo Pm-2 I can vouch for the incredible build quality and warm detailed sound.