When you're in the market for new headphones, one of the first things you'll notice is that the price of headphones can range anywhere from $15, all the way up to $500+.
We try to review a wide variety of headphones, and one of the most common questions we get is regarding what makes premium headphones so expensive, and whether they are actually worth the extra money.
One thing is for certain; not all high priced headphones are superior. In some cases, you're paying for brand recognition and not necessarily sound quality.
However, finding an excellent pair of cheap headphones isn't the norm, and there is undoubtedly a noticeable difference between budget headphones, and high-quality, premium built headphones.
Budget Headphones Aren't Always Bad.
On average, higher priced headphones do sound better. They are generally crisper, have a better frequency response, and are normally built from better quality materials.
When you're considering a budget for headphones, you should know one thing -- there are diminishing returns. Here's what we mean:
- A pair of $50 headphones will be noticeably better than a pair of $10 headphones. That extra $40 makes a huge difference.
- A pair of $200 headphones will be slightly better than a $50 pair. That extra $150 makes a noticeable, but a relatively small difference in comparison to the $10 vs. $50 example.
- A pair of $500 headphones will only be marginally better than a $200 pair of headphones. That extra $300 doesn't make that much of a difference, and most consumers wouldn't be able to spot the more expensive pair with a blind test.
The higher you get up in price, the less difference you have in quality from one level to the next.
High-end headphones (strictly talking about headphones that are $500+) will sound better to a trained ear and might have more features than consumer-level headphones, but the average person won't notice that much of a difference. And, if they can, they likely won't be able to justify the price tag that goes along with the diminishing returns.
It Isn't All About Price.
While more expensive headphones give the manufacturer more room to add in better quality materials that translate to a better product, not all manufacturers actually do that.
Big-name brands spend a lot on advertising. You're paying for that when you buy a pair of your headphones. When we pit big-name brands against lesser-known brands, its not uncommon for the no-names to hold their own against more expensive brands.
When you're shopping for headphones, you need to be real with yourself. How much do you care?
- Are you a casual listener who just wants the sound quality to not distract from the listening experience? For the most part, you'll be happy in the $50 price range. (https://headphonecritics.com/best-headphones-under-50/)
- Are you into audio mixing and can pick up on the nuances of bad frequency response? For the most part, you'll be happy in the $100-$200 range. (https://headphonecritics.com/best-headphones-under-200/)
- Are you a full-fledged audiophile who demands top-quality sounds at all times? You'll never be happy
If you're really that serious about audio, you need to really do your research and get your hands on as many headphones as you can to test them.
You can read reviews on websites like ours all day, but that will only point you in the right direction, it won't give you enough information to make a purchase decision when you're looking for headphones that cost $500+ (https://headphonecritics.com/best-headphones-under-500/)
Here's the bottom line: Expensive headphones are worth it if you decide they're worth it.
The technology that goes into headphones has come a long way. It's definitely possible to get an acceptable quality-level of headphones sub $50, but that doesn't mean you don't get a better experience with more expensive headphones.
Always be wary of big-name brands, read tons of reviews, and see if you can find a store to test the headphones in yourself before you make a big purchase.
Ultimately, it's a safe bet buying headphones online if they are under $500, but anything above that, you need to listen for yourself to make the ultimate decision. (https://headphonecritics.com/best-headphones-under-300/)
Let us know your thoughts!
What's your price range for headphones? What features and quality indicators do you look for?
Let us know in the comments section below!