Ten of the best headphones over $300

Having established ten of the best headphones under $200 we decided that it's time to raise the stakes, and this time we asked our members what they think are the best offerings out there over (USD) $300 to find out the cream of the current crop. Here’s what they said - we have listed them alphabetically with no particular order of preference!

AKG K701

AKG K701

AKG has always been associated with great studio headphones, with decades of expertise on the subject and their creations are easily and frequently spotted in many studios worldwide, large and small. The classy-looking K701 is one of their premium offerings, combining all their past experience with new transducer design technology to make one of their finest sets of headphones ever, with highly-detailed frequency and transient response. They also feature AKG’s unmistakable headband, 3D-form ear pads and a lightweight frame (235g total weight) for great comfort - and great listening pleasure. The low impedance of 62 ohms should also aid ease of use since it won’t require a very powerful amp, working at satisfactory levels with most devices. These are definitely a great pick that will not only work wonders in the studio for critical listening but that will also deliver great sound quality for all occasions. Read our user reviews.



Audeze LCD-4

Audeze LCD-4

Since 2008, Audeze has taken both the hi-fi and pro audio universes by storm with their astonishing headphones, using innovative materials that can be traced back to NASA research, where one of the company founders worked. The LCD-4 is the top-tier entry in the LCD series, using an open-back design to house the best incarnation of Audeze’s proprietary magnetic planar transducers for the most accurate sound reproduction, a frequency response of 5Hz - 50kHz and up to 130 dB of SPL, which means distortion is nearly impossible. Needless to say, the the LCD-4 needs a good quality amplifier as it’s a 200-ohm headphone, but if you’re looking for something of this calibre we’ll just assume that you've already got one to make the most out of this beautifully designed and well-built piece of gear with all the qualities to put an end to your hunt for the ultimate pair of headphones.



Audeze LCD-X

Audeze LCD-X

If the LCD-4 is the pinnacle when it comes to quality, the same can be said about the LCD-X when it comes to efficiency. With a mere 20 ohms of impedance the LCD-X will work in any situation with basically any working stereo quarter-inch audio output out there no matter how consumer/low-end, and it does so while packing all the amazing listening tech developed by Audeze. The LCD-X is the perfect choice of headphone for the working professional that needs faithful sound reproduction everywhere, but as an open-back design it’s definitely geared towards critical listening applications more than anything else, so if you need isolation for positioning a mic when recording or just need to cut out environmental noise then look for the LCD-XC, which is the closed-back version of this amazing line of headphones. If your budget is a bit short but you really want to have the Audeze sound then there’s the LCD-2, which is more affordable than their other offerings (but that doesn’t mean it will come cheap)! Read our user reviews of the LCD-2 and LCD-X.



Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

Not just a mere update to one of their most successful headphones of all time, but a whole new product developed with the best Beyerdynamic has to offer. The impressive-looking DT 1990 PRO comes packed with an equally impressive set of features - most notably the new Tesla drivers and two sound settings provided by two different ear pads which can shift the sound from “analytical” (which is as flat as possible) to “balanced” (giving it a little bass boost) - but regardless of the ear pads in use the open-back design and superb dynamic transducers provide a very open sound that goes all the way from 5Hz to 40kHz. It also features a spring steel headband, a one-sided cable with mini XLR connector and it’s assembled in Germany with the utmost care. The DT 1990 PRO’s predecessor (the DT 990) is a frequent name on our “best headphones” threads, and we have every reason to believe that Beyerdynamic has surpassed that classic, so if you like the DT 990 you’ll more than likely love the DT 1990 PRO.



Focal Spirit Professional

Focal Spirit Professional

Focal’s expertise in developing studio monitors and audio speakers in general is well-known, but the company has recently entered the headphones market with the impressive Spirit Professional headphones. This closed-back design was designed with music production professionals in mind, combining good isolation (thanks to its closed-back design) with excellent sound quality thanks to Focal’s vast knowledge of speaker design and manufacturing. The Spirit Professionals features a mylar/titanium membrane that delivers loud levels without breaking up and a clear sound, with a frequency response of 5 Hz-22 kHz. It’s also very comfortable over extended periods of use thanks to its 'memory foam' cushions and with a low impedance of just 32 ohms it will perform very well with just about any sound source. Definitely a solid choice if versatility is required!



Grado Labs RS1e

Grado Labs RS1e

Grado Labs is a very popular name in hi-fi circles but clever as audio professionals are they have also realised that these are excellent headphones that can serve well in studios and music production environments. The model “e” is the third version of RS-1, which is part of Grado’s 'Reference' series and since its introduction it has been one of the top products in the brand’s line-up. As with other Grado Labs headphones the RS-1 is a dynamic headphone with a cup made from handcrafted mahogany that houses a 50mm transducer on an open back design for an extremely balanced frequency response all across the spectrum. It also features a super light frame weighing only 255g and a very modest nominal impedance of 32 ohms, which makes the RS-1e extremely easy to drive and it will surely play nicely with any source - but with headphones of this calibre we’re sure that you’re not going to 'cheap out' on the amplifier!



Sennheiser HD 650

Sennheiser HD 650

One of the most recommended headphones when it comes to critical listening applications is the Sennheiser HD 650, widely adapted by many of our users and one of the most popular choices amongst professionals worldwide. The HD 650 features a 40mm driver, open-back design, a wide frequency response from 10 to 41,000 Hz and it delivers audio up to 103 dB SPL. It’s also very lightweight at only 260g, providing great comfort with swivel cups, velour pads and a cushioned headband with adjustable height. The pads and cables are replaceable, so it’s an investment that’s sure to last a long time. The HD 650 is definitely a community favourite, but the slightly-cheaper HD 600 also gets many recommendations and there seems to be a consensus amongst our users that they’re very close and share a similar sound signature, so if money is a bit short you should definitely check out the 'little brother'. Both have excellent sound quality and a proven track record, so you’re well covered regardless of choice. Read our user reviews.



Sennheiser HD 800 S

Sennheiser HD 800 S

If there’s one pair of headphones that rivals the HD 650 in terms of popularity in this community, it is the Sennheiser HD 800 and its latest incarnation, the model "S", is better than ever. With a futuristic look that’s quite distinctive the HD 800 S features an open-back design with one of the best sounding dynamic transducers Sennheiser has ever put in a production line model - and also one of the largest in size - with an extremely accurate sound with near-zero distortion, superb frequency and transient response. They’re hand-assembled in Germany with the best workmanship, boasting a metal headband with internal damping for minimal resonance, a frame that weighs only 330g, premium microfibre ear pads and a head cushion for extended periods of listening without any discomfort. If money is not a problem and supreme quality is all you care about then the HD 800 S should be near the top of your shopping list as this is probably one of the finest set of headphones money can buy. Read our user reviews.



Stax SR-Lambda SR-507

Stax SR-Lambda SR-507

The STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 might come across as 'exotic' and odd-looking but make no mistake - Stax belongs in the upper echelons when it comes to quality headphone manufacturers, and the work done by this Japanese manufacturer has received nothing but praise over decades of effort. The first SR-Lambda was developed in the early 1980s after a request from Mercedes-Benz, who needed a super accurate headphone to reproduce the sound of automobiles for their R&D needs. The SR-Lambda features an electrostatic transducer, open-back design, a balanced frequency response covering the entire sonic spectrum with great balance and zero distortion. These are very unique headphones with a 5-pin connector that needs a proper amp (and it’s recommended that you pair them with the ones made by Stax themselves). The current incarnation of the Lambda keeps all the principles but also improves upon the original design to deliver an impeccable sounding headphone that reaches from 7Hz to 41kHz with the utmost transparency. They’re not insanely common because of a number of factors, including uniqueness and price, but make sure to add them to your wishlist.



Ultrasone Headphones PRO 900i

Ultrasone Headphones PRO 900i

Because they start with 'U', the headphone specialists at Ultrasone provide the final entry on our list, and as expected they have delivered another fine piece of personal monitoring with the PRO 900i. This closed-back headphone features all the technological breakthroughs of the brand’s flagship 'Edition' range for accuracy and efficiency, with a loud and clear sound from 6Hz to 42kHz from basically any amplifier thanks to a very low impedance of 40 ohms, delivering sonic quality while also providing good isolation from ambient noise. They also feature velvet ear pads for exceptional comfort and the foldable swivel-cups makes them easy to carry around, so you can have their trustworthy sound anywhere you go. An excellent choice for the discerning professional looking a reliable set of headphones to tackle all studio applications.


That’s the list! There are many other great headphones out there and our members will rightfully point to many other superb options, but we had to narrow it down to ten - however, honourable mentions go to the AKG K1000, Audio-Technica ATH-M70x, Shure SRH1840 and Sony MDR-7520.

Are you a happy owner of any of these headphones? Do you use more than one set for different applications/genres? Are you planning to buy a new set anytime soon? Considering something from our list? Please speak up, and if you have the time also share with us some thoughts on how to make the most out of them. We'd love to hear your tips on amps, 'combo units' with digital-to-analog converters and audio interfaces with great sounding analog outputs to drive these fabulous headphones.

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