It is possible to do this hobby on a budget but let’s face it; we are here to see the cool stuff. I don’t flip though a car magazine to see the newest offering from Fiat. I want to see the Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Corvette. In this vein I bring you: The No Holds Barred Headphone List
This list is simple and consists of the best sounding headphones I have had an opportunity to hear or own. There isn’t enough time to give detailed reviews for each and frankly it has been some time since I listened to some of these. I can unequivocally state that if you were to find yourself with a fistful of money you could not go wrong with any of these cans. So, in no particular order:
Warning: The following headphones require a great amp that will generally cost several times more than the headphones themselves — You have been warned — See how helpful that was.
Denon is well known for its mid-fi receivers, source components, turntables, and now their headphone line. While I never warmed up to their other products the Denon AH-D7000 headphones are an amazing over the ear, closed-back pair that can keep up with the fastest musical transitions, be it a speed metal solo or a delicate, floating harp crescendo. At just $999.99, these are one of the more reasonably priced cans on the list.
Senn HD 800
Sennheiser has long been a leader in the headphone game. They are one of the originals and this left their fans wondering why they didn’t have a set of headphones that were elite and competitive with the new high end headphone market. Alas, Sennheiser came out with their version of a perfect headphone. The $1499 HD 800 is the single most neutral headphone I have owned. The HD 800 never lies but it will reveal every problem in a recording which makes listening to even the best MP3s like nails on a chalkboard.
I love BeyerDynamics and their Tesla T1 is no exception. While I have never been able to quite put my finger on it, these cans are just out and out fun. Priced at $1399 not everyone will swoon but these phones have a very high dollar to fun ratio. The bass is slightly over emphasized and the highs can be sparkly… some would call that lively and I can’t disagree.
The Grado PS1000 is much like its lower priced kin, polarizing. You either love the sound of Grados or you hate them, there is no neutral ground here. The PS1000 are lovely sounding with the right music, which is rock and roll my friends. This is the headphone that reproduces the sound of an electric guitar better than any other can on earth. This alone makes it worth the $1699 price of admission but if you can only have one set of cans, look elsewhere on the list.
Behold the Fostex TH-900. These are my favorite headphones in the world, they sound wonderful but even more than that, they are the most beautiful headphones I have ever seen. The Japanese cherry birch housings are finished by the traditional “Urushi” lacquer (a.k.a. Japan) by a 100 years old artisan group. Yes, a substantial portion of their $2300 price tag is because of the aesthetic quality of the phones but the sound is a perfect match to their gorgeous exterior. When I find the right deal, this phone will be all mine.
What is the most you would spend on headphones?