“Best” is a tricky word when it comes to headphones. What is “best” for you and your music may stink for someone else. Resisting Beats ads is hard, but, as Time and others point out, you can buy better sounding cans (headphones) for the same money. Spend a little bit more and your music can sound worlds better.
Moon-Audio.com doesn’t really sell headphones. We manufacturer audio cables, we call then Dragons, that make even the best headphones sound better. Headphones are a means to an end – listening to music. Headphone companies focus R&D on drivers. We focus our R&D on cables that connect headphones to amps, computers or DACs.
We love converting skeptics. Many don’t understand what a crucial role cables play in sound quality. Our Better Music Event email featured a section of testimonials from converted skeptics. If you’ve been converted, please share a review, comment or Tweet.
Finding the “best” headphones means you need to make decisions about “open back” vs. “closed back” too. Open back headphones can sound better because there is more air for the driver to move around in, but they are disruptive to those around you. You wouldn’t want to use open back in a public place since your music would be impacting others.
Here are my recommendations for best headphones at $500, $1,000 and $1,500:
Best $500 Headphones
Best open back cans in the $500 category is the HiFiMan HE400i. HiFiMan’s planer magnetic design offers great detail and engaging midrange. Hifiman headphones are known for sounding better than their price tag. And with multiple Earpad accessory options you can change the presentation of the sound slightly. The HiFiMan HE400i like the Shure SRH1540 has a detachable cable making connection options a breeze. Stock cable is a “must replace” on this headphone.
Best $500 Closed Back Headphones
Shure SRH1540 is an amazing value. One of the best bangs for the headphone buck on the market. And the Shure SRH1540 has a detachable cable that offers flexibility for changing connection.
Shure SRH 1540 has good isolation, but these headphones were not designed with 100% isolation in mind. Shure’s SRH1540 headphones use felt ear-pads so there is some sound leakage in and out. But the tiny amount of loss also creates the Shure’s larger sound stage (not always easy with closed back cans).
Best $1000 Headphones
Audeze LCD-2 is loved by many customers. This headphone has amazing bottom end weight and a warm sound signature perfect for hard hitting EDM to smooth Jazz. Audeze LCD headphones use a planer magnetic driver like the Hifiman HE400i. Audeze has wins awards for innovation in headphone. Audeze is a favorite brand at Moon Audio.
Best $1,000 Closed Back Headphones
Ultrasone Signature DJ wins in the $1,000 closed back headphone category. Ultrasound’s DJ headphone is a real sleeper in popularity. It is not well known.
I hope to change that with this statement. “Wow”.
I used to be a DJ (in college) and this headphone really surprised me. The Ultrasone Signature DJ is better than most higher dollar Ultrasones. Sound is fast, detailed and engaging, comfortable and ergonomics of the headband and ear cups offer good isolation. These Ultrasone cans fold flat so they are great travelling headphones. Give them a try for sure.
Best $1,500 Open Back Headphones
New Ether headphone from Mr Speakers wins best $1,500 open back headphone. Ether is Mr. Speakers first full production headphone. Mr Speakers is known for modifying Fostex TR50Ps. Now with a new and built in-house headphone Mr Speakers is sure to take the market by storm. Smooth, accurate and wonderful these headphones are a revelation.
Best $1,500 Closed Back Headphones
Fostex TH900 headphone has been our pick for one of the best headphones on the market for a long time. Fostex TH900s are linear and natural sounding. Nothing in the sound of these wonderful Japanese cans is tipped forward or recessed creating a true reference headphone. We recommend Fostex daily and the TH900s are popular with our Studio Mastering and Engineering customers.
About The Author Drew Baird is Moon-Audio.com’s founder and first engineer. After graduating from Penn State with an engineering degree Drew started making cables when he and his young family couldn’t afford to buy the quality he wanted. Giving away extra hand built cables to friends, receiving rave reviews and loving the work of building cables Drew worked two jobs to get his company off the ground. Once people heard the difference Drew’s quality audio cables (Dragons) make Moon-Audio.com required all of Drew and a small team of dedicated audiophiles attention.