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Most Expensive Headphones – A Buyer’s Guide and List💰

Content Updated: April 13 2017


To many people, if you say the word “expensive headphones” they are probably going to think of something like Beats By Dre or one of the other similar brands that put fashion ahead of function.

But in the grand scheme of things they are bargain basement headphones that are dwarfed by some of the top offerings from the best headphone manufacturers in the world. Paying 5 figures of USD for a set of cans can seem a bit crazy for many people who are not attuned to the world of high-end audio equipment. But for the true audio addict, premium headphones are an investment worth every penny.

Today we are going to take a detailed look at the ins and outs of expensive headphones to see what makes them tick. Are they just overpriced headphones? Or are they products that are worth the high price tag?

Let’s get started by taking a look at the features you should look for in any set of premium headphones. We will end this article with a lift of our top 10 expensive headphones in the world.

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  • Experience a premium listening environment anywhere.
  • Whether you’re on an international flight or an undisturbed mountaintop, your ears will be enveloped by luxurious audio in a sleek system designed for the most discerning audiophile.

  • Featuring unprecedented Sound Isolating electrostatic earphones and a matched digital-to-analog amplifier, the KSE1500 means that high-fidelity portable audio is at last a reality.

  • Simply luxurious sound, wherever you are.

What’s In The Box?

  • KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System
  • USB Wall Charger
  • Micro-B-to-Lightning Cable
  • Micro-B OTG Cable
  • (2) 1/8″ (3.5mm) Cables [6″ (15.2 cm) and 36″ (92 cm)]
  • (6.3mm) Adapter
  • Leather Carrying Case
  • Airline adapter
  • Attenuator
  • Cable Clip
  • (2) Security Bands
  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
Comparison Table



shure-kse15001. Shure KSE1500


Shure SE846-CL2. Shure SE846-CL



Stax SR-009

3. Stax SR-009




Sennheiser Orpheus 20174. Sennheiser Orpheus



Final Audio Design Sonorous x5. Final Audio Design Sonorous x



Audeze LCD-36. Audeze LCD-3$1,945.00


HiFiMan HE1000 V2

7. HiFiMan HE1000 V2 



Grado PS1000e model

8. Grado PS1000e



OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetics9. OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetics



Ultimate Ears UE4 PRO (New)

10. Ultimate Ears UE18 PRO (New)



Ultrasone Edition 10 Limited S-Logic11. Ultrasone Edition 10



What would you expect

Headphone Type

Let’s start with the most obvious decision you are going to need to take into account. What kind of headphones do you want? Each kind has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right balance between them is a personal preference, usually based on your usage requirements.

In-Ear (aka Earbud) headphones

Shure KSE1500 wearingLet’s get these out of the way first. In terms of audio quality in-ear headphones are by far the worst kind of headphones money can buy. They are designed to be incredibly portable instead of being primarily designed for high-performance audio playback.

If you care mainly about audio quality, then you should really consider on-ear or over-ear headphones. If you need extreme portability, then earbud headphones are what you are looking for. We will say that in-ear technology has really advanced, especially in some of the most expensive headsets. If you are willing to pay for the quality, it’s certainly available.

But when it comes to in-ear products, even the best expensive headphones in the world are nowhere near capable of providing the exceptional dynamic range of over-ear headphones.


On-Ear Headphones


Star SR-009: A Headphone with Subdued Response Gives them their Dark and Laid-Back Sound

On-ear headphones are a reasonably curious invention to us. They were designed to be a middle ground between in-ear headphones and over earphones. In our opinion, they fail miserably at both and are more of a marketing gimmick that has gotten out of hand. (Because of this, none of the premium headphones we recommend at the end of this article are on ear headphones).

On-ear headphones admittedly do provide a huge increase in sound quality compared to in-ear headphones. Their much larger size allows for more powerful and responsive drivers. This increases and improves the dynamic range considerably, especially with regards to the lower part of the frequency spectrum.

Bass is usually plentiful, and the higher more delicate frequencies can usually be heard with reasonable quality.


However, their open ear design means that they leave a lot to be desired compared to over ear headphones. Manufacturers of on-ear headphones claim they are more portable and comfortable than over ear products. Now as strange as this may sound, we do actually agree with them on these points.On-ear headphones are slightly more comfortable than over ear headphones, especially when being worn for significant amounts of time. They are also slightly more portable than over ear headphones as they are usually smaller.

However, we think when discussing the world’s most luxurious and really expensive headphones both of these benefits are totally obsolete. If you are paying several thousand dollars for headphones, they are probably going to be more comfortable than the pillow on your bed (and the portability difference is minimal at best). You are not going to notice the difference between transporting a set of on-ear headphones and a set of over ear headphones.

Over-Ear Headphones

OPPO PM-1 WearingThese are the top dogs of the headphone world. Recording studios around the world exclusively use over-ear headphones for a reason. They are unparalleled in terms of sound quality. The majority of the headphones we recommend later in this article are over ear headphones.

Over-ear headphones look similar in shape and size to on-ear headphones, the only difference is the ear padding. Over-ear headphones perfectly encapsulate your ear blocking out a huge amount of ambient noise and outside frequencies. This allows the headphone manufacturer to fine-tune every single aspect of the headphones audio output to near perfection in a reasonably controlled environment.

Because of this ability, it becomes economically viable for them to use the very best components money can buy. The isolation of the ear allows the slightest upgrades to have tangible and noticeable differences to the user.

A good set of over-ear headphones (like all the ones we recommend later) will allow you to hear music in a way you have never experienced it before. It is like entering a new and exciting world where the bass is clearer, higher frequencies are fuller, and balance is perfect.


Headphone Type: Our Recommendation

We highly recommend that you opt for a set of over ear headphones if you can. The difference in audio quality is simply astonishing. On-ear headphones should be avoided, the portability difference is negligible compared to over ear headphones, and the comfort of the world’s most expensive over ear headphones is more than good enough for extended use.

If you really need extreme portability (for example if you use them for running or working out) then there are some exceptional very expensive earbud headphones we recommend. We list them at the end of this article, and they will astonish you with how much sound can be generated from such a small thing.

The Geeky part

Additional Functionality

While we still use the humble 3.5mm jack to transmit audio signals, audio technology has come a long way from the headphones of a decade ago. These days there are a whole range of special features and functions that can be included on a simple set of cans. In this section, we are going to take a look at 2 of the most popular features to see if you should be looking out for them.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Bluetooth HeadphonesBluetooth connectivity is arguably the most dramatic and widespread change that has happened in the headphone world during the last decade. The need for seemingly archaic wires has been removed and now we can simply stream our music to our ears through the air.

The amount of freedom and comfort that is obtained by removing wires that connect to headphones cannot be overestimated. It’s an incredibly liberating feeling that many people cannot do without once they have tried it. But this being said, there are a few downsides to Bluetooth connectivity that are not commonly known outside of the audio industry. The main issue being quality. Despite popular opinion, audio streamed via Bluetooth is much lower quality than audio transferred via a cable. This is an inbuilt limitation of the wireless Bluetooth technology. For the audio to be seamlessly transferred from your device to your headphones, it needs to be compressed. There is just too much data for a raw file to be streamed consistently and reliably.

Many people who use Bluetooth headphones are not concerned enough about audio quality for this to be an issue. And we cannot fault them for this, the quality is still usually more than acceptable. But if you are a stickler for quality (which you probably are because you are reading this article) it could be an issue.

Many solutions to this issue have been proposed and some have been implemented. Many of the best Bluetooth headphones actually have a dual operation solution. They have Bluetooth connectivity but also come with a detachable audio cable which can be plugged directly into a device. Perfect for those times when you want the full quality, premium listening experience. Other solutions that are just rolling out are upgrades to the Bluetooth technology as a whole. Standards like the aptX Bluetooth codec are becoming more widespread which increases fidelity and improves overall quality. But as it stands, even the worlds most expensive wireless headphones are inferior to their wired cousins.

Other downsides to Bluetooth headphones are more obvious. There is nothing more annoying than having your headphones be out of battery when you really want to listen to music. Some models allow you to charge and listen at the same time, but it’s far from a standard feature. Controls are often more fiddly and you can usually only use them with devices that have Bluetooth connectivity (unless they have an additional hardwire capabilities).

Noise Cancellation

Noise CancellationNoise canceling headphones are another one of the most popular technological advancements in headphone technology. It’s a feature that you don’t know you need until you try it, but when you do – its impossible to live without it.

How it works is a little bit technical and works on the waveform level by creating opposite audio frequencies which cancel out background noise. All you need to concern yourself with is that it makes noisy environments nearly silent. They work great in places like cafes, or on airplanes where ambient noise is constant but not excessively loud. However, when being used in louder environments (like a building site) you are still going to hear background noise, albeit slightly muted.

There is no downside to noise canceling technology that we are aware of. Some noise canceling headphones work better than others, and cheaper products will often allow noise through that should be blocked out. It can often be difficult to add the technology into smaller headphones at times, and sometimes audio quality suffers.

 Additional Functionality – Our Recommendations

Most Expensive HeadphonesIf you are going to be putting down the cash for a pair of the most expensive headphones on the market, we highly recommend you find some with noise canceling technology if possible. It’s an additional feature that will literally change the way you think about listening to audio. That being said, you should not pass up a good pair of headphones simply because they don’t have noise canceling functionality.

Bluetooth functionality, on the other hand, is more of an “added bonus” in our opinion. The connectivity and freedom is an amazing benefit that should be valued. However, as we mentioned earlier, it is not without its downsides.

Ensure any headphones you buy with Bluetooth functionality allow you to connect via an audio jack too. This will ensure you can listen on non Bluetooth devices – even when your headphones are out of battery.

You are paying a premium price for super high-quality headphones that produce super high-quality audio. Limiting their potential by only using Bluetooth for signal transmission is a less than ideal situation, so get ones that have an optional audio cable input if possible.

Audio Quality

Audio QualityIf we were talking about decent “average priced” headphones, this would probably be the most important section of the entire guide. Because let’s face it, the whole reason you are buying decent headphones is to listen to audio at the highest possible quality.

However, when we sat down to write this guide about super expensive headphones, there was not really much for us to say. This might sound strange, but we feel this way because all the headphones we recommend on this list are of impeccable quality. You are paying a premium price for a premium product when you buy expensive headphones – so they are all going to be amazing in terms of audio.

We could go on and talk about some technical details in this section. We could mention how frequency response is a useless metric. We could mention that impedance and total harmonic distortion should only be taken into account in conjunction with your intended playback device. But to be honest… If you are the kind of audiophile who craves in-depth technical audio specifications like that, you are probably not the kind of person that needs to be reading this article.

All you need to know is that with all of the headphones we recommend on this page the audio quality will be amazing. The individual instruments in any piece will be clearly defined, bass will be clear and robust, artifacts should be nonexistent, and the overall audio experience will be worth every penny.

The main difference you will find between the different headphones we recommend on this page is going to be mainly because of headphone styles. In-ear headphones will struggle with the lower bass frequencies compared to full over ear headphones.

headphone style and comfortThis should not come as a surprise, and many people who are buying in-ear headphones are already aware of this limitation. If you want maximum bass and audio quality, get over ear headphones.

But apart from that, every product we recommend at the in this guide is impeccable. There will be slight differences between the products that we will mention – but every single one of our recommendations will surpass all expectations.

Style And Comfort

We are firm believers that headphones should put function over fashion. That being said, Beats By Dre are the most popular headphones in the world right now purely because of the way they look.

Their audio capabilities are mediocre at best, and audio experts across the world lambast Beats regularly. But many people want to look good while rocking out to their music, even if it comes at the cost of audio quality.

However, with our recommendations on this page, you will not have to make the decision between function and fashion. You are paying good money for expensive headphones, which means you can get the best of both worlds. All of the products we recommend are incredibly comfortable, and very stylish.

Comfort is something that we feel is very important. If you are going to be spending lots of money on a pair of expensive headphones, you want to be able to use them all day without feeling uncomfortable.

You will be able to wear any of the products below all day long, without discomfort.

The Money

The Worlds Most Expensive Headphones – Our Review

We have done extensive research to bring you a list of our top 10 high end headphones. We are listing them in order of recommendation, but every single product on this list is a winner in our book. So what are the best headphones in the world? Let’s find out…

#1 – Shure KSE1500

Shure KSE1500

Shure are one of the world’s oldest, and most respected headphone manufacturers. They have been responsible for many widespread audio advancements we now take for granted. To this day they continue to push the limits of audio technology. We are proud to announce that their KSE1500 headphones are our overall top pick.


Audio Quality Shure use what is known as “electrostatic” technology in these headphones. We won’t bore you with the technical details, but you should know it took them 8 years to develop the tech. It produces impeccable clarity and performs exceptionally well for a pair of in-ear headphones at lower bass frequencies. Compared to other in-ear headphones – they are unbeatable.

Comfort The headphones themselves are incredibly comfortable, you will regularly forget that they are in your ear. You can wear them at work, in the gym, or while playing sports without ever worrying about them slipping out. The only issue we have with the KSE1500 is the requirement for an (included) dedicated amplifier. It is an unfortunate (but necessary) side effect of the incredible audio produced by the audio static technology.

Style The translucent plastic molding makes this product a very discreet set of headphones. The clear body seamlessly merges into classic black fixtures and cabling making a stunningly modern yet understated look.

Our Verdict These are some of the most impressive sounding headphones you will find anywhere. They rival over ear headphones in terms of audio quality. A truly impressive product that is a worthy winner of our top 10 list.


—–>CHECK PRICE at Amazon<——

—–>CHECK MORE REVIEW at Amazon<——

The Money

#2 – Shure SE846-CL

Shure SE846-CL Review

After reading our glowing review of the KSE1500 above you will probably not be surprised to find a second Shure product at the number 2 spot on our list.


Audio Quality We will start off by saying immediately that the SE846 is nowhere near as good in terms of audio quality as the KSE1500 we put in the top spot. The audio static technology is simply incredible. However, that being said, the SE846 is still an amazing product. It produces incredible clarity and depth that needs to be heard to be believed.


There is not much difference between the SE846 and the KSE1500 in terms of comfort. They both fit securely into your ears and when they are there, they stay put. The main benefit the SE846 has, however, is that it does not need an external amplifier – making them much more portable.


The SE846 is nearly entirely translucent, allowing you to see all the high-tech internals that are providing you with your audio experience. Again they are discreet headphones that look understated and sophisticated.

Our Verdict

If you like the look of the KSE1500 but wanted something a little more portable, then these are the headphones for you. They provide impeccable audio quality, with extreme portability. We highly recommend you add them to your shortlist.


—–>CHECK PRICE at Amazon<——

—–>CHECK MORE REVIEW at Amazon<——

The Money

#3 – Stax SR-009


Our final product in our top 3 is the Stax SR-009. These are an incredible pair of over ear headphones that outperform both the Shure products we mentioned above in terms of audio quality with ease.


Audio Quality

Remember the awesome electrostatic technology we mentioned when we talked about the KSE1500? Well, the Stax has the same technology built into the SR-009. It has the same impeccable clarity as the KSE1500 but also has booming deep bass that will make your soul wobble. The SR-0009 arguably has the best audio quality on this list.


Over-ear headphones can be a little uncomfortable after a while, but this is not the case with the Stax. They will feel secure, yet almost weightless on your ears. They apply the perfect amount of pressure that allows them to enclose your ears, without crushing them.


These are the kind of headphones that are so stylish you could picture James Bond listening to them while sipping a vodka martini. A classic black headband is offset by the stunning silver accents of the ear pieces. They are the very definition of style.

Our Verdict

These are hands down the best headphones we have ever listened to, they are some of the highest quality headphones in the world. The electrostatic technology combined with the natural bass capabilities of over ear headphones makes the two Shure in-ear products above look like toys (which is a bold statement, because the Shure headphones above are awesome). If you are serious about audio and don’t need ultra portability –we highly recommend you consider the Stax.


—–>CHECK PRICE at Amazon<——

—–>CHECK MORE REVIEW at Amazon<——

Runners Up

The following products below are also highly recommended but were beaten to the top spots by the headphones above. However, every single one of the products on this page is a winner. We feel that any of the runners-up below are more than worthy of your consideration.

#4 Sennheiser Orpheus

Sennheiser Orpheus

Sennheiser is arguably the world’s most respected headphone manufacturer. Their Orpheus headphones are probably the most famous pair of expensive headphones in the world. They look like something out of a science fiction movie and sound absolutely incredible. If you want to look awesome and listen to awesome audio at the same time, The Orpheus is a product you should consider.


#5 Final Audio Design Sonorous x

Final Audio Design Sonorous x

Final Audio Design is a less famous company than Shure or Sennheiser, but they are quickly amassing a formidable reputation. Their Sonorous X headphones are some of the largest on this list, but they also are some of the most impressive. The audio quality is incredible, and they are extremely comfortable to wear. We love the outlandish gold, silver, and black color combination. If you want to look great while rocking out, these are more than worthy of your consideration.


#6 Audeze LCD-3

Audeze LCD-3

All of the headphones on this list are going to provide you with amazing audio quality, and the Audeze LCD is no different. What we really love about these headphones is the way they look and feel. The amazing vintage Zebrano wood that has been polished to a high shine contrasts beautifully with the space age looking grill design that covers the earpiece. They provide the perfect amount of pressure on your ears, sealing them off from the outside world without crushing them too much.


#7 HiFiMan HE1000 V2

HiFiMan HE1000 V2

Many people rated the HiFiMan HE1000 V2 as the best headphones in the world when they were first released in 2016. While we don’t agree that they are the absolute best headphones, they are certainly a worthy contender. The audio quality is exceptional, particularly down at the lower bass frequencies. We love how the grilled appearance on the ear piece contrasts with the stainless steel and leather headband. If you want to be understated and stylish at the same time, these could be the headphones for you.


#8 Grado PS1000e

Grado PS1000e Series

The Grado PS1000e is a thing of pure beauty. Its polished aluminum ear cups contrast beautifully against the matte black of the headband and ear pieces. The fine mesh grille is reminiscent of old school recording studio headphones and is a beautiful addition to an already stunning set of headphones. However, the Grado is not just a pretty face and features exceptional audio quality and fidelity that can only be found in high-end headphones like this.


#9 OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetics

OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetics

The OPPO PM-1 is a curious looking product. It is understated yet modern at the same time and features an immediately visible build quality that only money can buy. The audio produced by the planar magnetics technology built into the headphones is nothing short of amazing. It produces incredibly crisp and detailed audio playback while retaining warmth and fidelity.


#10 Ultimate Ears UE18 PRO

Ultimate Ears UE18 PRO

While many of the other in-ear headphones on this list will fit your ears snugly and securely, none of them will fit better than the Ultimate Ears UE18 Pro. This is because every single pair of these headphones is custom molded to a customer’s ear canals. They will literally fit perfectly. They have incredible audio fidelity and a respectable amount of bass. When all this is combined with the passive noise cancellation technology it’s a winner in our book.

Product is not available at amazon: “Alternative” Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 ProCHECK PRICE at Amazon

#11 Ultrasone Edition 10 Limited S-Logic Plus – Bonus Pick!

Ultrasone Edition 10

As an added bonus we have decided to include the much loved Ultrasone Edition 10 S-Logic Plus. This is a stunning combination of style and function that forms a product worthy of anyone’s consideration. The crisp high frequencies complement the clear and full bass tones creating a listening experience that is almost unparalleled. The stunning elegant and sophisticated design combines brown leather, with various tones of silver, bronze, and copper. It looks as good as it sounds.


Things to remember

Things to remember while buying expensive headphones

It is a known fact that the higher you shell out money from your pocket, the better quality you will get in return. But also remember before you tend to change your mind on splurging this amount that this is going to be a one-time investment. A good headset will last you for a couple of years. Moreover, it will give you a peace of mind and ultimate solace every time you play music on it.

Therefore, it is crucial to follow certain steps before getting into this deal. Below is a list of things to remember before making this investment.

  1. Brand: It is essential that you pick a well-known brand that has earned a good enough name in the competitive market of gadgets. Technology has become a part of our everyday lives and thus, there are many competitors willing to take the cake away by releasing the best products. However, as a buyer, you need to be smart enough to make an investment into items that are worth your every penny. The bigger brand you pick, the more satisfying your response to it will be. Thus, play it smart and look up for top brands in terms of headphones and take a final pick. From Bose to Apple, Sennheiser, JBL, Sony and Skullcandy, the list is very long, so you have enough options.
  2. Features: As soon as you pick a certain brand, you must ensure that the shortlisted product has the features that you are looking for. Every buyer has his or her preference and choice, which is perfectly fine. You should have yours, too, and get as picky as possible. After all, it is your money which is at stake here. So, ensure that you check the sound quality, volume controls, warranty cards, colours, among other features before taking a final call.
  3. Online or local store: Nowadays, it has become a major dilemma to buy products either on ecommerce sites or local stores. Both are reliable. If you’ve known of the local store for long enough and are happy with the service, please go ahead. But, if not, then online purchases are always trusted, too. Whatever you pick, just ensure that you do not regret the final decision.

Where to buy them?

Can I Buy Them On Amazon?

Expensive Headset1. Unfortunately, some of them are on Amazon and some are not. This is because they are extremely rare, only 250 pairs are produced each year. This isn’t because they don’t want to make more pairs, but every single pair takes a painstakingly long time to produce, as they contain over 6,000 individual components, which makes them a bit awkward to mass produce. They are all extensively tested too, to make sure that no problems will arise, and that they all conform to the listed technical specifications.

2. An Extravagant gadget for music are currently the Mcintosh Labs MHP1000 Headphones with MHA100 Amplifier, these aren’t quite as good – however they are significantly cheaper! If you are dead-set on getting a pair of extremely expensive earphone, Amazon is sometimes the place to look for a premium headphones that are extremely rare, like the Sennheiser Orpheus, Hifiman Edition X V2 and Ultrasone E5 LTD – so you may be waiting a long time before you ever get your hands on a pair.

3. After questioning tonnes of tech savvy people and gadget gurus, it has come to the fore that buying expensive headsets not only boosts one’s class and social appeal, but also adds other advantages to the lifestyle. MP3 players have become history and can now only been seen as just another application on electronic devices. This has made the usage of headphones easier and more comfortable. All you need to do is plug them into the device, whichever that may be, and enjoy all the soothing songs that are been saved on it.

4. So, we suggest you upgrade yourself today itself and go get one for yourself or loved ones. Headphones can actually become the most-purchased item in no time. It can be used for gifting purposes or for almost any requirement under the sun. But, ensure that you read up reviews and conduct a thorough research before acquiring one. Look out for offers, too. But most importantly, see to it that you get them on warranty so that your headsets can be well serviced whenever need be. In case, you come across a defective one, you can always get them exchanged from the retailer. Go get going today and grab yours right away.


So there you have it, everything you could possibly want to know about luxury headphones. They may seem a little costly at first, and you may wonder if they are worth the initial investment.

We would argue that they are worth it. Unlike most other pieces of modern technology, headphones do not get obsolete quickly. Technology does not change rapidly in the headphone industry, and a good product today will still be a good product in 20 years.

Investing in a high-quality pair of headphones is a decision we highly doubt you will regret.

Your only problem will be that you will wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.



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