While most people could probably go their entire lives and be completely content with headphones under 100 dollars or so, audio enthusiasts like myself are always looking for ways to push our obsession even further.
Unfortunately not all of us have the cash on hand to try out each and every new pair of headphones that come on the market, but we can at least have dreams to aspire to, right?
We’ve reviewed some of the most expensive headphones in the world here in an attempt to find out if spending more money on your headphones than you did on your flat screen TV really does result in an overall better listening experience, or if the most expensive headphones are more of a luxury item than anything.
|Ultrasone Edition 10 Headphones||Ultrasone||$2,749.00|
|Grado PS1000 Headphones||Grado Labs||$1,695.00|
|Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones||Sennheiser||$1,499.95|
|Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 Headphones||Beyerdynamic||$1,359.00|
Ultrasone Edition 10 Headphones
“Luxury” headphones doesn’t even begin to describe the Ultrasone Edition 10 headphones.
These are hands down some of the most expensive headphones ever produced; besides utilizing some of the most high quality audio components currently available, the materials used in their construction should go a long way towards explaining precisely why this is the case.
First and foremost, you’ll probably notice the unique look and feel of the Ultrasone Edition 10′s. The exterior is covered in Zebrano wood, imported from central Africa, which is coated in a high quality clear lacquer a total of 8 times in order to ensure protection and durability of the wood. The included headphone stand and storage/transport box is also made from this same wood.
The ear pads are easily more comfortable than any we’ve tried before too, and of course more expensive. Made entirely of genuine Ethiopian sheep skin, you could literally lay on the Ultrasone 10′s ear pads as pillows and be just as comfortable. They provide plenty of padding and “breathe” enough to wear for hours without sweat accumulating around the earphones, which is an annoying issue a lot of headphones have whose ear pads are made from cheap materials.
- Ultrasone S-Logic technology provides a rich three dimensional sound stage like none other
- 40mm sound drivers are plated with titanium for sound quality and durability
- Ultrasone MU-Metal shielding prevents up to 98% more radiation exposure than any other brand of headphones
- Ear pads are covered in genuine Ethiopian sheep skin
- Much of the exterior covered in Zebrano wood from central Africa
- Cables and cords contain silver plated copper wires which are coated in Kevlar for flexibility and durability
- Hand crafted Zebrano wood headphone stand and carrying case included
- Surprisingly lightweight construction at only 9.1 ounces
- Exterior is coated in 8 layers of clear, protective lacquer
- Aluminum fittings on the headband provide plenty of room for adjusting clamp strength and the ability to swivel ear cups back and forth
The cables/cords are virtually indestructible and as flexible as they come. The copper wires within are silver plated, which are protected by a coating of Kevlar (the same material from which bullet proof vests are made) in order to ensure the highest level of flexibility and practically unheard of durability.
The Ultrasone Edition 10′s are also equipped with Ultrasones “S-Logic” technology. Awarded on numerous occasions for the revolutionary concept, Ultrasone headphones sound drivers are engineered and positioned to send sound waves at your ears at a specific angle which will give your listening experience the most natural, three dimensional texture that you’ll experience with any kind of headphones. Rather than feeling like the music is coming from INSIDE of your head, Ultrasone headphones provide an experience that is reminiscent of being present and surrounded by a performance.
This three dimensional feel to the sound offers practically endless depth, texture, and spatial recognition to your music that you probably have never experienced before. Although most Ultrasone headphone models are now equipped with this technology, the Edition 10′s take it to a whole new level.
Grado PS1000 Headphones
Grado has been around for a half a century, and while they might not be nearly as well known to the average person as a pair of Sennheisers or Bose headphones, audio professionals in every walk of life know Grado well for their unique, high quality audio equipment.
Grados flagship model, the Grado PS1000′s, are their most expensive model available, and for good reason.
Sound quality, first and foremost, is breathtaking. Anyone who has experience with Grado headphones sound quality will know that Grado has a signature sound to them which you can identify from any other brand. The sound stage is wide, spacious, and EXTREMELY detailed. This is especially true for the bass, but there isn’t any frequency range on these that doesn’t sound pristine. Every detail and instrument can be heard separately from one another more clearly than a professional speaker system 10 times the price could attain.
- Grados flagship model
- The PS1000′s feature inner mahogany sleeves to suppress ringing or distortion
- Wide, balanced sound stage with endless depth and attention to precise details
- Clear separation between different sounds and instruments
- Exterior features a durable metal allow, processed specifically for porosity
- Affixed with a 5 foot long cable; 15 foot extension cable included with purchase
- High quality adjustable headband
Not only do the Grado PS1000′s sound like professional equipment, but they look like it too. All of Grados best quality headphones ($500 or so and higher) come with finished wood or processed metal on the exterior, but these include a combination of both. Inside of the headphones themselves is a special sleeve of intricately cured mahogany, while the exterior boasts processed metal from an extremely durable, non resonant metal alloy that’s carefully crafted to be more porous. The combination ensures that there’s no ringing, distortion, or added detail to the audio that isn’t intended to be there.
The Grado PS1000′s are also some of the most comfortable headphones we’ve had the pleasure of trying. The thick, plush cushions on each earphone are specially designed not only to make certain that every aspect of the sound is presented perfectly, but to be comfortable enough for hours of listening.
Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones
The Sennheiser HD 800‘s have been regarded as some of the best headphones in the world by many, and for good reason – handcrafted electronic components, a lightweight design, and audio quality with depth and crystal clear precision put these flagship headphones at the top of their class among audio enthusiasts.
The construction and design quality of the HD800′s is top of the line in every way. Unique to Sennheiser (and most headphones or electronic devices in general these days), many of the electrical components within the HD800′s are quite literally handcrafted and inserted by hand in order to ensure absolute precision. Lengths and spaces of less than a millimeter are meticulously engineered in order to create the most high quality listening experience you’re going to find.
As bulky as they might look, they weigh in at only 11.7 ounces by using durable lightweight materials.
At the end of the day, sound / audio quality is the real indicator of excellence, and the Sennheiser HD 800′s pass with flying colors. Sennheiser has many models of headphones ranging everywhere from under 100 dollars up to their most expensive headphones currently available, which are the HD 800′s.
- Extremely detailed, wide sound stage due to Sennheisers 55mm sound drivers
- Many electrical components constructed and inserted by hand during construction for precision and accuracy
- Spacial listening created by precisely angled (60 degrees) sound drivers
- Specially designed cords constructed with twin core high performance Teflon insulated connections which are covered with high quality material to shield from oscillations
- Headband is custom designed with a unique method of sandwiching metal between layers of plastic in order to ensure that oscillation/vibration from the earphones don’t affect headphone housings while listening
- Each ear pad made from high quality, specially designed Japanese Acantara for one of the most comfortable headphone wearing experiences in the world
- Deep, spacious ear cups allow for plenty of space and a wide, spacious, three dimensional sound stage
- Durable construction whose exterior is primarily coated in a metal allow is high quality enough to take plenty of abuse without skipping a beat
The HD 800′s manages to reproduce sound with such detail and clarity that it literally feels as if you’re right there as part of a live performance versus the “closed in”, boxy sound stage that most cheap headphones provide. The bass range especially on these headphones is difficult to beat – instead of forced, overpowered bass range that simply corrupts the mid and high range frequencies, the bass is deep and textured enough to hear a very airy, open sound stage.
This is due to Sennheisers specially made ring transducers – unlike any other sound drivers made up until now, the Sennheiser HD 800′s boast 55mm dynamic sound drivers that are angled precisely to allow sound waves to hit your ears at just around 60 degrees. This, in laymans terms, allows for what Sennheiser refers to as “spacial listening“, which is the sensation of feeling the space and separation between each and every sound, instrument, etc. down to precisely which direction each sound / instrument is coming from at the time of recording. All in all, these are easily some of the most “natural” sounding headphones we’ve ever heard in terms of creating an experience reminiscent of being present with the performers as opposed to listening to a recording!
Sennheisers very deep ear cups help in this regard as well. Cheap headphones often have the sound drivers pressed right up against your head/ears, which eliminates much of the space needed in order to create that three dimensional “part of the performance” feeling.
Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 Headphones
The Beyerdynamic Tesla T1′s are the companies flagship model and easily their best quality headphones available. As you can probably imagine, they’re also the most expensive headphones Beyerdynamic offers as well.
These headphones were named the T1′s for their unique attribute of being the first headphones worldwide whose audio drivers broke the one “Tesla” barrier of magnetic flux density. In laymans terms, this essentially means that the drivers within the T1′s feature an extremely lightweight voice coil. Much like a lightweight vehicle can accelerate at a much faster rate than a heavier one, the lightweight elements of the Tesla T1′s sound drivers give them an extreme boost in efficiency, resulting in some of the best headphones in the world in terms of lightning fast responsiveness and fine attention to detail.
Attention to detail is possibly the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 headphones greatest strength. To say that they’re of professional quality is almost to downplay how precise the overall tonal accuracy is. While plenty of even some of the most expensive headphones might be fun and entertaining to listen to with certain genres, they often fall flat when it comes to working with completely opposing musical genres.
- First headphones to ever break the one Tesla of magnetic flux density
- Lightweight construction of durable aluminum (8 ounces)
- Plush velour ear pad cushions for comfort
- Aluminum storage/transportation box included with purchase
- Adjustable leather headband for perfect clamping strength and comfort
- One of the most natural, three dimensional sound stages available among headphones today
- Precise attention to the finest audio details possible with Beyerdynamics superior audio drivers
- Dynamic and tonally accurate enough to reproduce any sound/frequency range with professional precision
- Deep, spacious ear cups allow for an expansive and wide sound stage
This is not so with the Tesla T1′s, whose endless attention to even the finest details makes them ideal from listening to literally anything from rap/hip hop to classical music. In every style that you can imagine you’re bound to hear new elements that you never knew were there.
Besides being some of the best headphones for reproducing the finest details of sound, they have amazing natural surround sound capabilities as well. Much like many of the most expensive headphones in the world are currently doing, the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1′s have specifically angled sound drivers which gives an impression of a deep, natural sound stage.
Beyerdynamic headphones have always been some of the most comfortable to me as well some of the best quality, and that’s certainly no different when it comes to the Tesla T1′s. At a weight of only 8 ounces, they’re lightweight enough to wear for hours without neck or head fatigue. Their construction of almost entirely lightweight aluminum gives them this light weight while also making them durable enough for plenty of abuse. Thick, plush velour ear pads on the ear cups are also a welcome feature for even further additional comfort.
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