Audiophile Headphone Buying Guide Under $500

by admin

Commuting headphones (Wireless)

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 ($400)

I love these headphones. They’re wireless, comfortable, folds for easy portability, and they’re the most stylish headphones by miles. On top of that, they take the signature Sennheiser sound signature and manage to make them even more fun by bumping the bass while still retaining the amount of clarity and details coming through. Great for bassheads and most genres, but suffers slightly on heavily layered music such as orchestral music.

Noise cancellation headphones (Wireless)

Bose QC35 Series II ($400)

I always bash on bose headphones, but these are an exception. There is no other headphone in the market that can drown out flight engine noise like these headphones. This goes true for subway noises as well, so if you have a long commute or are a frequent flyer, you definitely want to pick these up. They might not be audiophile quality sound, but they’re still good enough to get a glimpse of high fidelity here and there.

Wireless Earbuds

Airpods Pro ($250)

If you have an iPhone, this is a no-brainer. They pair instantly with all your iOS devices and provide a convenience level that no other wireless earbuds can. As usual, you’re trading sound quality for convenience in truly wireless earbuds, but the Airpods¬†are one of the better sounding ones in this category with a sound signature that’ll appease most people with a bumped up bass and treble. The noise cancelling is excellent, and they’re not that much more bigger than the previous gen Airpods.

Jabra Elite 65t ($170)

If you’re an Android user or want more isolation, Jabras are the way to go. They’re one of the few truly wireless earbuds that function flawlessly and isolate very well. Again, the sound quality is tolerable, but you won’t get audiophile grade sound out of them.

Closed headphones – office / home / recording

Beyerdynamic DT770 ($150)

The DT770s represent one of the best values in the audio business since they’re one of the most versatile headphones. It’s one of the most comfortable closed headphones ever and has a U shaped fun sound signature that brings out the detail in bass friendly genres, making them exciting to listen to for most. Opt for the 32 or 80 ohm edition if you don’t have a strong amp and 250 ohm if you have a solid amplifier. They also come in black, which I think looks really good.

Audio Technica M50 ($150)

If you need something on the go since the dt 770s don’t fold, the M50s represent a pretty solid value. They’re built like a tank, folds easily, allows you to rotate the cups out for DJs or people working in the recording industry, and have a relatively flat sound signature that works for most genres. While you aren’t going to get full-sized headphone sound quality, they’re still miles above others if you look at the portable category. They also come in a ton of fun colors!

Open headphones – home usage

Beyerdynamic DT 880 ($200)

If you’re looking for balanced sounding headphones to use at home for hours of critical listening, these headphones are for you. They’re comfortable, light, and relatively neutral, so they work well with most genres. If you’re a basshead, you might want to check out the Fidelio X2s.

Sennheiser HD 650 ($300-350)

The 650s are one of the musical hifi headphones in the market. These are also relatively balanced, but have a slight bass bump, which makes them very fun to listen to. If you want to get lost listening to music for hours, buy these headphones.  If DT 880s are going for clinical accuracy and detail, these headphones are going for warm hifi sound with details still present. These are my daily drivers, but I reserve my critical listening for DT 880s.

AKG K702 ($200)

If you want extra emphasized u shaped details with a massive soundstage, these are for you. These are for people who over-analytical headphones. The overexaggerated u shape results in a sonically slightly flat sound, but there are no other headphones that can match the detail reproduction at this price range. These are also not for bassheads.

Philips Fidelio X2  ($250)

If you want fun and bass-heavy sound but still want audiophile quality sound, these are for you. If you’re trying to convert a beats owner, throw these on them, and they’ll be shocked. While the headphones are slightly heavy, they have a sound signature that’ll make any genre of music fun. If you’re a heavy classical or jazz listener or want a more balanced sound, I’d look elsewhere.

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