HeadRoom's Ten Best Audiophile Headphones (over $500)
High-end headphone listening has hit an unprecedented level of sonic performance, advanced technology and gorgeous styling. The German-engineered Sennheiser HD800 reigns supreme for many audiophiles and is touted by many as the preeminent 'open-back' headphone in existence. The Fostex TH-900 is arguably the best full-size sealed-back headphone currently available; many may prefer the mild isolation, comfortable circumaural fit, beautifully rendered mids/highs and textural bass response over any other high-end headphone. With nearly the imaging of the HD800, the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 has a fuller-bodied timbre that will thrill those looking for a more romantic listening experience; with classical music in particular. Listeners seeking the ultimate in juicy, creamy accuracy for rock and jazz have flipped their wigs after hearing the Audeze orthodynamic LCD-2 and LCD-3 headphones, offering unmatched warmth and Magnaplanar-like clarity.
The HiFiMAN HE500 is also of orthodynamic design, a technology currently taking the high-end headphone world by storm. It's perfectly round timbre and fast dynamic sound is a marvel of high-end headphone audio engineering. This is also evident in the HiFiMAN HE6, a hard-to-drive but incredibly neutral headphone once properly powered. Long considered a classic 'affordable' audiophile headphone, the laid-back Sennheiser HD650 still holds its own in price-to-performance for smooth-toned listening.
Audio Seekers Of The Great Beyond looking to replace iPod, MP3 player, or other portable device earbuds will marvel at the pristine, rich tone and easy universal fit of the Shure SE535 3-driver in-ear headphones. Uber-musical in-ear mavens will want to consider going fully 'custom' with the Jerry Harvey Audio line of audiologist-molded headphones, a superlative series of in-ear monitors all rating at the very top of the category at their respective prices.