10 Best Budget Audiophile Headphones 2020

If you are looking for a cheap audiophile headphone, this post features and reviews a list of the best budget audiophile headphones. For a few dollars you can get an excellent headphone of your choice.

However, sometimes you might have to deal with a tight budget. Well, you do not need to break the bank to get a good Headphones.

Whether your budget is $500 or $100, we are going to present you the absolute picks of the best budget audiophile headphones you don’t want to drop thousands of dollars, this is the guide for you. We’ve tested hundreds of audiophile headphones and picked our favorites for specific uses. 

These wired, over-ear headphones forgo features such as Bluetooth and active noise cancellation, and just focus on delivering a great sonic experience.

Top 10 Best Budget Audiophile Headphones for 2020

1. Sennheiser HD 600 – Best Budget Audiophile Headphone


Key Features

  • Category: Dynamic/ Open-Back
  • Impedance: 300Ω
  • Sensitivity: 97dB

The Sennheiser HD600 hardly need to be introduced. They are probably the most famous headphones released in the past 20 years. Following the Sennheiser HD560 Ovation, the German brand released the HD580 in 1993, 

The Sennheiser HD600 are mostly made of plastic, but it has a high-quality plastic feel that is more premium in the hands than that of the competitors, such as the AKG K701 or the Beyerdynamic DT880. The construction is very solid, especially the metal articulation between the headband assembly and the ear cups.
The driver’s enclosures are protected by external grills, which can be easily twisted if some pressure is applied; hopefully, they are removable and repairable. The ear pads are made of high-quality velour, but they will definitely wear out after some years of intense use.

The stock cables are, however, a bit too cheap for a $300 pair. The connectors are too thin and fragile, and can quickly become defective. The Sennheiser HD650 comes with a more robust cable. Like all Sennheiser headphones in the HD580/600/650 line, all cables are compatible.

2. GRADO PS1000e Professional Series Wired Open-Back Stereo


Key Features

  • Style: Open-backed 
  • Cable length: 1.7m 
  • Wireless: No 
  • Noise-cancelling: No 
  • Connector: 3.5mm 
  • Weight: 550
Grado PS1000e is one of the best budget audiophile headphones you can find in the market and they come with an open-back design. We will clearly emphasize on the open-back design here because the headphones leak sound on an unacceptable level (imo) but if you are sole listener then it might not be a problem for you. Anyway, The design of the headphone is quite unique and the ear pads feel very captivating while the leather headband also feels very nice.

The lows can be felt recessed while using these headphones and this creates the feeling of more detail in the bass while the low-mids are brightened. This gives the feeling of a warm sound signature overall. The best part of these headphones is the highs, which makes these headphones very musical.
With a similar price tag to that of the HD800S, these headphones are one of the best budget audiophile headphones, with music being their shining area.

3. Sennheiser On Ear HD 800s Headphones


Key Features

  • Style: Opened-backed 
  • Cable length: 3m 
  • Wireless: No 
  • Noise-cancelling: No 
  • In-line remote and mic: No 
  • Connector: 6.3mm 
  • Weight: 330g
Sennheiser is one of the most well-known companies all around the globe when it comes to high-end headphones. Sennheiser HD800S are the company’s flagship headphones for the mainstream market while their overall flagship headphones are the Sennheiser Orpheus, which has no competitor yet. Sennheiser HD800S are the dynamic headphones and by far one of the widest soundstage offering headphones. The low weight, comfortable ear pads, and the soft, cushioned headband provide miraculous comfort while the build quality feels very solid.

The most notable quality area of these headphones is their soundstage, which leaves a lot of similar headphones in the dust. The mids and highs of these headphones are very detailed and one can feel that right after putting these on the head. The bass of the headphones seems very controlled and balanced, although these headphones are somewhat bass-light by nature.

Overall, these are the best soundstage headphones with dynamic mechanism and for the price, you will not find any other headphones providing such quality sound levels.

4. Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Headphones


Key Features

  • Style: open-backed  
  • Cable length: 3.0m 
  • Wireless: No 
  • Noise-cancelling: No 
  • In-line remote and mic: No 
  • Connector: 3.5mm 
  • Weight: 340g
Now we present what is essentially the home-use version of the amazing 1990 set. They serve up the same high-end audiophile quality sound but are designed for lounging instead of working. They are priced just slightly below the studio reference set and come with a bundle of goodies.

They employ the same Dynamic Tesla drivers with their neodymium magnets, which are some of the best out there and are quickly becoming the new industry standard in top-quality audio-electronics. They are made with a cushioned headband, that is less restrictive, the studio sets need to keep the sound in prime position for analytical monitoring, which the home-sets do not.

They have an open back design which is ideal for at home as you can listen to lower levels and still be aware of your actual surroundings when needs be.

They built in house by the expert engineers at Beyerdynamic, with the reputable and reliable craftsmanship we have come to expect from their high-end lines. The accessory additions include; a well-designed headphone case, microfiber cloth to keep them in tiptop condition, as well as a stand for them to perch on between uses.

5. GRADO SR80e Prestige Series Wired Open Back Stereo


Key Features

  • Style: Open-backed 
  • Cable length: Standard 
  • Wireless: No 
  • Noise-cancelling: No 
  • In-line remote and mic: No 
  • Connector: 3.5mm 
  • Weight: 220g
If you are thinking of purchasing the Grado SR80e, I recommend picking up an extra set of pads and trying the double pad mod. Just make sure you have an amp that is powerful enough to make up for the extra volume you will need to accommodate the loss of efficiency.

For me, it made all the difference in the world. I would hardly ever use the Grado when I was using the stock pads by themselves. With the double pad mod, they are often times my favorite headphones.

Treble - Before mod, treble was very bright and harsh. With mod, treble is well integrated with the rest of the frequencies.
Midrange - Before mod, lower midrange was almost missing completely and upper midrange was bright and harsh. After the mod, midrange has exceptional clarity.

Imaging and soundstage - Before the mod, imaging was pretty good but not as good as the HD700 or HE4xx. Soundstage was barely there. After the mod, imaging and soundstage are better than any of the other headphones I own.

I recommend doing the double-pad mod if you already own the Grado SR80e. I do not think I will ever listen to them without it. It completely transforms the listening experience.

6. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3


Key Features

  • Style: Closed-backed 
  • Cable length: 1.2m 
  • Wireless: Yes 
  • Noise-cancelling: Yes 
  • In-line remote and mic: Yes 
  • Connector: 3.5mm, USB-C 
  • Weight: 254g

Sony’s WH-1000XM3 aren’t just a great pair of noise canceling headphones, they’re quality cans period. While you used to have to choose between great sound quality and decent noise reduction, the 1000XM3 do both while being a blast to listen to.

While the previous model was a slight upgrade over the original, Sony rebuilt the 1000XM3 (Mark 3) from the ground up. In the process, it fixed most of the line's lingering issues. For one, it's significantly more comfortable, thanks to a generous amount of plush cushioning around the pads and headband, as well as extra room for large ears (thanks, Sony). It's also lighter, and it no longer leaves a noticeable gap around your head while you're wearing them. And despite all that, the 1000XM3s are actually more compact when they fold up, making them easier to travel with. (I had to look up directions to get them in the case correctly, though -- it's not very intuitive if you've never done it before.)

7. Shure SRH1540-A Professional Open Back Headphones:


Key Features

  • Style: Closed-backed 
  • Cable length: 1.8m 
  • Wireless: No 
  • Noise-cancelling: No 
  • In-line remote and mic: No 
  • Connector: 3.5mm 
  • Weight: 286g

Shure’s high end SRH models have proven to be a real force to be reckoned with. Today we are looking at Shure SRH1540, the Ying to SRH1840’s Yang.
Closed speaker enclosures aren’t the only thing different on SRH 1540. Shure went with a slightly different set of 40mm drivers for this build, which are dialed in to work better with this type of headphone. One of the easiest tells is the frequency response range that is a bit narrower than on the other model, and goes from 5Hz to 25kHz. With SPL of 99dB and nominal impedance of 46 Ohms, SRH 1540 comes across as more friendly to mobile devices. As expected, the padding is top notch. Shure used the same headband layout on both SRH flagship models, with what appear to be the same ear pads as well. Again, some will fault them for basically copying the same headphone with slight changes, but why fix something if it works? Lastly, the cable is a dual exit one, fully detachable on both ends and featuring oxygen-free copper core.

Shure SRH 1540 have really shown to be a surprisingly awesome solution for fans of closed back monitoring. These offer plenty of transparency, lots of detail and borderline complete noise cancellation. It doesn’t really get much better than that. Along with the other SRH superstar, 1540 is an awesome choice

8. SONY MDR-Z1R WW2 Signature, Hi-Res Headphone


Key Features

  • Style: In-ear 
  • Cable length: N/A 
  • Wireless: Yes 
  • Noise-cancelling: Yes 
  • In-line remote and mic: No 
  • Connector: 3.5mm 
  • Weight: 385g

Sony MDRZ1R Signature is one of the best closed-back headphones you will find in the market and its characteristics prove these headphones to be very special. First of all, the closed-back design of these headphones provides much more noise isolation than the previously mentioned headphones, which might attract some people. Looks wise, the headphone feels very premium and the aluminum headband is fitted with leather on top and a soft cushion on the inside. The ear pads are also made of leather, unlike some of the similar high-end headphones, which use memory foam.

These are dynamic headphones and use some of the biggest drivers (70mm) we have seen in a headphone. The headphones greatly emphasize on the bass and the thick bass can be felt even in the low mid-tones, although the brightness in that area covers it up somewhat. The highs of these headphones are also much brightened and that is why the treble seems very piercing in a long session.

Overall, the sound quality of these headphones is definitely not as good as some of the open-back audiophile headphones we have mentioned, but if you are into the closed-back design, then these are one of the best closed-back headphones you can consider buying at the audiophile level.

9. Shure SE425-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Dual High Definition MicroDrivers


Key Features

Style: In-ear 
Cable length: 1.6m 
Wireless: No 
Noise-cancelling: No 
In-line remote and mic: Optional 
Connector: 3.5mm 
Weight: 30g

The Shure SE425 is an update to the well-loved SE420 and seeks to provide a well-balanced sound inspired by on-stage monitors. These midrange Shure IEMs sit right in the middle of the Illinois-based company's line of premium headphones and offer premium audio reproduction for any listener to enjoy. The SE425 is available in metallic silver or clear.

These in-ear headphones feature everything from Kevlar-reinforced MMCX cabling to dual high-definition drivers that pump out an excellent balance of sound that allows for a great deal of EQ customization, whether you love vocally-driven music or want more bass in your tunes.

The Shure SE425 has a lot to offer in terms of comfort, including a strong seal to pair with the high-end sound quality. Right out of the box, you can find the earphones and a premium hard carrying case. 
You can also find several ear tips, also referred to as "sleeves" by Shure, which include both foam and silicone tips so you can tailor your fit to your ears.
It is well worth it to take the time to test the fit of each ear tip, as this will help determine how you can optimize the auditory experience these earphones can give you. 
A perfect seal with the right ear tips will improve your audio experience tenfold with any earphones, but this proves especially true for high-end models like the SE425.

Shure is a company renowned for its dedication to comfort and practicality in design. Shures stand out even among other high-end brands like Dits, 64Ears, and Campfire Audio because of their size and incredibly comfortable fit.

The plastic shell helps keep the body of these in-ear earphones lightweight, and the fit, rather than sticking out of the ear the way the SE420s did, fits snugly in the curve of the ear. 

Best Budget Audiophile Headphone Buyers Guide

In our review of the best audiophile headphones, we have tried to cover everything. From the reviews of top 10 products to buying guide and FAQ. We hope you like the reviews as it is time to move towards the buying guide.

Types of Audiophile Headphones
Just like with regular headphones, audiophile headphones come in different shapes and sizes (wired and wireless). While they are all dedicated to producing ultra-high quality sound, the type you choose can have an impact on the overall audio experience and comfort.

Closed-back Headphones
Closed-back headphones have a seal behind the driver which basically stops outside noise. This way closed back headphones are better at reproducing low and mid-range frequencies. If you listen to music in noisy environments or while commuting, closed back should be your choice.

Open-back Headphones
As opposed to close-back, open-back headphones have no seal on the driver rather just a grille or gauze. These are great with high frequencies and are known for their crisp and accurate sound. These are suitable for listening at home or in a studio where there is less or no noise.

Semi-open Back Headphones
Semi-open back is a hybrid between closed back and open back as they partially seal the driver. It is great at both low and high-frequency reproduction. It is like you have the benefits of closed backs and open backs in one piece.

Frequency Range
The frequency range on audiophile varies from one product to another. While the human hearing is limited at 20 KHz, some audiophile headphones can produce up to 40 KHz of frequency. Frequency range has little to do with the quality of the audio but a wider range means you will be able to listen to a wide range of music.

If you are an audiophile you are not really thinking about the price but the quality. These headphones are very pricey indeed but still, the price ranges vary greatly. You should be ready to spend at least $500 on a pair of headphones that qualify as an audiophile. The other end of the spectrum is quite open so to speak as there are headphones with a price tag of $5000 too.

The more money you pay, the more features and quality you would get. But that does not mean that those at the lower end are not any good. You can get high fidelity sound from such headphones especially if they are from a known brand name like Sennheiser or Final.

Storing/Carrying Case
Some headphones come with storing cases too made from equally high-quality materials as the headphones themselves. While it is not something that affects the quality of the headphone, it does, however, provide protection and convenience. When you are buying something as expensive as an audiophile headphone you should make sure it is properly stored. If the headphone set you have your eyes on does not include a case, do not worry as these can be purchased separately.

How do you choose the best high-end Audiophile Headphones?
Buying an audiophile headphone is no different from making an investment. You have to see the long term benefits and check out every little detail of the product at hand. This is because you will be spending a lot of money on this headset so you should be careful.

First of all, you need to decide on a budget because that will make things far easier. Audiophile headphone prices vary greatly as you can find a headphone for say $100 and another for $4000.

Once you have decided your range, only look for items in this range. You will have different kinds, with different driver sizes and frequency response. Think about the kind of music you listen to most and find out which of the components on these headphones are optimized for the style of music you like.

Check out other secondary features and specifications like impedance, THD and connections provided. Now compare different models to see which offers the most in the least price. The last part is only applicable if you have a predefined budget. If money is not a constraint, you can choose the most expensive one too. Although, we recommend going for the one most suitable for your needs whether it is the priciest one or not.

Sound quality is the ultimate criteria for choosing the headphones and for that you should refer to user reviews. Those who have used these products before can vouch for its high fidelity. The brand name is also another surety about sound quality as some brand names are known for their high fidelity sound.

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