Best Budget Audiophile Headphones

Best budget audiophile headphones

Life used to be tough when you are an audiophile on a budget trying to replicate that gloriously authentic sound of a live performance at home. Technology has come a long way to meet our desires head on by producing some great headphones that are fit for even picky audiophiles. We have scoured the market and created this list of the best budget headphones for audiophiles.

Generally speaking, great headphones don't come cheap. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean you can't get a pretty good set of audiophile headphones at a great price. 

At Headphones Critics, we've tested literally hundreds of pairs of headphones. According to our tests, the best budget audiophile headphones are the Jabra Elite 85H. These powerful and reasonably affordable headphones have tight bass, excellent clarity and a natural, unadulterated sound coupled with premium-level design features. Here's some of the picks that made the cut.

A Quick Look:  Budget Audiophile Headphones

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Jabra Elite 85H

These super comfortable ANC headphones offer premium-level features and sound quality for a fraction of the price you'd expect.

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Sennheiser HD600

Sennheiser HD600

All the things you want in headphones are here: comfort, clarity, tight bass, and more. The price is a steal with this type of quality.

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Phillips SHP9500S

Phillips SHP9500S

These lightweight headphones are comfortable for lengthy periods. Impeccable build quality and outstanding sound balance.

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Audio-Technica ATH M50x

Audio-Technica ATH M50x

For those on the go, sound isolation is a must have. The closed back design prevents sound leakage so you get quality sound to yourself.

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Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

Phillips X2HR

Like wearing a cloud on your ears, these are seriously luxurious. Immerse yourself in games and movies with the detailed sound.

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Beyerdynamic 770 Pro

Beyerdynamic 770 Pro

The 770 Pro Studio gives you impressive quality sound at every level. Its luxuriously soft ear cups are very snug and comfortable too.

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V-Moda Crossfade

V-moda Crossfade

Audio lovers who are always on the go will love the ability to take phone calls. Its wireless technology also gives you more freedom.

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Edifer H850

Edifer H850

The Edifer H850 is comfortable to wear all day. The sound is perfect for casual listening.

8 Best Budget Audiophile Headphones We Recommend:

Jabra Elite 85H

Pros

  • Comfortable for 6+ hours at a time
  • Super effective noise cancellation features
  • Incredible 40+ hour battery life
  • Well balanced frequency response

Cons

  • On ear detection sometimes doesn't work

Summary:

The Jabra Elite 85H headphones are one of our favorite over hear headphones we've ever tested. This premium feeling, and premium sounding noise cancelling headphones perform like they should be 2-3x as expensive as they are. 


The noise cancelling features are great and eliminate background noises in everything but ultra-low frequencies. They aslo have a "hear through" setting that amplifes the sounds around you so you can stay aware of your surroundings when you want. 


The 85H are comfortable to wear for hours at a time, and the battery life allows you to do just that. They have a whopping 41 hour battery life, which makes them great for everything from casual everyday listening, to helping you through and entire week at the office. 


If you're in the market for a pair of headphones that look and sound great, and come with premium features, the Jabra Elite 85H are a winner. (See the full review)

Sennheiser HD600

Pros

  • Its plush cups are luxuriously comfortable
  • Excellent sound in all ranges
  • Great price for the quality

Cons

  • Sound is best when used with an amplification source

Summary:

Boost your music to a new level with Sennheiser’s open-back design headphones. These wired headphones are made with premium materials to give your music the clarity and dynamic sound it deserves. Lightweight aluminum voice coils bring voices and mid-range sounds to life while the neodymium ferrous magnets offer sensitivity so every sound is highlighted.

Critically listen in any environment knowing that these headphones are designed for minimum distortion and transparent sound.

Phillips SHP9500S

Pros

  • Comfortable for long sessions
  • Amazing sound balance
  • Great range of sound and versatility

Cons

  • Bass can be inconsistent at times

Summary:

Audiophiles will love the lightweight comfort these Philips’ open back headphones provide for long jamming sessions. The ear cushions are breathable and the headband cushion is double layered. For those who listen for long periods, you know how important comfort is.

Musical clarity and high precision sound are brought straight to your head through quality 50mm speaker drivers. These over-ear headphones creates an authentic sound without the need for an amplifier. Those seeking bass-heavy sound may be dissatisfied, but classical lovers and eclectic sound will love the midrange-centric sounds.

Audio-Technica ATH M50x

Pros

  • Perfect for games, music, and movies
  • Ear pads are replaceable
  • Effective sound isolation

Cons

  • Ear cups are a bit small

Summary:

Audio engineers and pro audio reviews agree that these Audio-Technica headphones are a steal for this quality at such a budget friendly price. These closed back headphones offer top sonic performance for games, movies, and jamming sessions. Sound isolation features allow you to listen in peace without distractions. However, swiveling ear cups allow you to listen with one ear so you can stay alert when needed.

Comfortably fitting ear cups and headband let you enjoy exceptional sound for hours. Its frequency range is balanced and the bass is clean without being over-emphasized.

Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR

Pros

  • Seriously comfortable to wear
  • Durable quality
  • Large sound stage

Cons

  • The bass lacks depth

Summary:

These Philips open back headphones are engineered for optimal comfort and high quality sound. It is lightweight and comfortable for extended use. Memory foam ear cups are breathable and conform to your head. Jam out to your favorite music or immerse yourself into your games with extended frequency response and refined sounds. A large sound stage creates a more enjoyable experience for games and movies.

Beyerdynamic 770 Pro Studio Headphones

Pros

  • Soft ear cups for long usage
  • Excellent sound reproduction
  • Durable build quality and long lasting

Cons

  • Ear cups do get warm after extended use

Summary:

Amazing quality comfort and sound wrapped up in a budget friendly package by Beyerdynamic. These closed-back headphones go over the ear to ensure that you experience all the sound with minimal leakage. Luxurious velour ear cups fit softly, yet snug, on your head. Its high performance sound is ideal for home, studio, and professional use. You’ll love that the bass is defined and higher frequencies are clear and detailed.

V-Moda Crossfade

Pros

  • Wireless capabilities for more freedom and versatility
  • Great sound isolation
  • Modern and sleek design

Cons

  • Odd button placement on the ear cups

Summary:

Sleek headphones by V-MODA bring optimal sound and comfort. These closed back over the ear headphones do it all. They are sound isolating to help you immerse yourself into your games, movies, and music without blocking out all sound.

These are wireless headphones, so you have more free range to do what you need. The built-in microphone allows you to quickly switch between answering phone calls and listening to music. Meanwhile, the refined sound is clear and bass is emphasized.

Edifer H850

Pros

  • Balanced sound
  • Lightweight and comfortable for all day use
  • Classy appearance

Cons

  • Materials are a bit fragile

Summary:

Edifier’s over the ear closed back headphones are lightweight and comfortable. All day wear is possible with these leather pads and cushioned headband. Sound is fine-tuned with a 40mm magnet driver. These classy looking headphones bring swaying dynamics and enunciated bass with rich treble. Overall, the sound is balanced and good for games, movies, and music.

Are You An Audiophile?

Audiophiles are people who are particularly appreciative of and attracted to extremely high quality, high fidelity sound quality. The process that goes into recording music for later reproduction (such as listening to playback at home), can be incorporated into any part of the original music production.

Likewise, playback equipment, such as headphones and speakers, can incorporate these audiophile qualities to produce high fidelity sound quality.

Why Choose Audiophile Headphones?

 There are plenty of different types of headphones available. Of course, there are also plenty of reasons you might choose any specific type. Here's why to choose audiophile headphones:

Nuances in the Hardware

Not many people spend time thinking about the hardware that goes into their listening gear. However, with audiophile headphones, the hardware makes a big difference. While many speakers roll over intricate details in the music, especially if they're not high fidelity, they also enhance some negative aspects that you wouldn't notice otherwise.

Whether it's a jump in the treble or a mid tone that shifts for half a second, you'll get used to more depth in the way you listen to music.

Enhance Music Genres

Everybody has their favorite type of music, whether you like rap, country, rock, pop, or electronic. Depending on the music you prefer, the sound qualities you look for will vary too. Some listeners place a deep, strong bass as priority, while others need headphones that really highlight vocals.

Audiophile headphones allow you to fully enjoy the range of tones in the music you love; some headphones (still audiophile) are suited to general use. These are ideal for people that like to listen to a variety of genres. Other audiophile headphones are optimized for bringing out the frequencies that certain genres use more heavily.

Sound Quality for Price

Audiophile headphones may sound expensive, and they can be, but they can also be surprisingly affordable. There's a very wide range of price points for audiophile headphones, so it's not difficult to find a pair within your budget. However, what you get in return far surpasses what you'll get from another set of headphones. The high fidelity sound is much better than with other types of headphones, regardless of price.

How to Choose the Best Audiophile Headphones

If you're ready to take the next step into better listening, it's important to know what to look for when you're picking out audiophile headphones. Here's how to choose the best audiophile headphones:

Pricing

As we mentioned earlier, you'll see a wide range of price points when you look at audiophile headphones. Some headphones will start around $100, and you may even find a pair for less.

Other pairs can reach $5000 or more in price. Of course, in many cases you'll get more when you pay more, but there are plenty of budget audiophile headphones that easily rival more expensive sets. It's a good idea to decide what you're willing to spend before you start looking around.

Style

When we talk about the style, we're looking more at construction than how flashy the headphones appear. There are a few different styles to choose from: closed back, open back, and less frequently, semi open back.

Closed back headphones provide better isolation from outside noise. This makes them more suited to listening to in environments where there's ambient noise, namely in public situations. They're known to be better with low and mid range frequencies.

Open back headphones don't block out outside noise, since there isn't any seal on the driver. Because of this, they also have a clearer sound and are known to be better with high frequencies.

Semi closed back headphones are, as you might assume, a sort of mix between both open and closed back headphones. Because of this, they also perform well with lower and higher frequencies.

Capacity for Frequency

Audiophile headphones have larger frequency ranges than other types of headphones. Of course, some can even reach frequencies that are barely audible to human ears, if they're audible at all (human ears can hear up to about 20 KHz).

While headphones that can reach wider ranges of frequencies don't necessarily guarantee better audio output, they do give you more choice in your listening. Think of it this way: the higher frequencies your headphones can reach, the greater the variety of music you'll be able to enjoy.

Conclusion

Audiophile headphones are one way to get a fuller experience when you listen to music. While you'll still look at them as more of an investment, that doesn't mean they have to be expensive. No matter what type of music you prefer, you'll learn to listen to it in an entirely different way with a pair of the best headphones. Now that you know what to look for, you can get ready to change the way you listen.

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