Hifi high end headphones can be quite expensive. However, investing under $500 on a pair will upgrade your music listening experience so much that you’ll kick yourself for not doing it quicker. So don’t waste any more time; check out the five best audiophile headphones for less than 500 bucks.
In a hurry? The best high-end headphones under 500 in 2021 are the SENNHEISER HD 660 S – HiRes Headphones. The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones take the second place and Meze 99 Classics comes close third.
Best Headphones For Audiophile For Less Than $500: Quick Comparison
SENNHEISER HD 660 S HiRes Open Back Headphones||Check Price|
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones||Check Price|
Meze 99 Classics Wired Over-Ear Headphones||Check Price|
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones ||Check Price|
Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Headphones ||Check Price|
Best Audiophile Headphones Under 500 2021: Reviews
1. SENNHEISER HD 660 S HiRes Open Back Headphones
The HD 660 S HiRes headphones may be expensive, but they are flawless. So trust us when we say you will have no regrets splashing out almost $500 on these babies.
The 660 model is the latest addition to SENNHEISER’s HD 600 series. It features the most innovative technology, such as lower (150-ohm) impedance transducers that produce reference-class sound from any Hi-Res home or mobile audio system.
In addition, these transducers have an exceptionally tight (± 1 dB) tolerance for the highest accuracy.
The transparent, detailed audio output of these headphones accurately expresses every emotion of a piece of music, fully immersing you in the experience.
What’s more, the design is equally impressive as the quality. The open-back architecture increases the airflow to your ears, preventing sweat or heat build-up.
Inside the headphones, the Para aramid-reinforced cables use high conductive OFC copper to keep handling noise minimum.
- Extreme clarity and crispness
- 150-ohm impedance
- Super tight tolerance for the highest accuracy
- Open-back design for better airflow
- Robust yet lightweight construction
- Top of the price range
2. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones
Best Studio-Grade Headphones Under 500 bucks
The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Professional Studio Headphones have a semi-open, diffuse-field style to give a clear and comprehensive stereo image and 3D-sounding neutral audio, ideal for music production or audio-engineering purposes.
In addition, these headphones have highly sensitive transducers so that you can hear even the most minuscule panning or EQ or adjustments.
The semi-open style combines the strengths of the previous DT 990 PRO open, transparent headphones with the powerful DT 770 PRO closed headphones.
As a result, the mid-way version gives more relaxed and transparent audio with a more restrained bass and lower noise level.
These headphones look and feel robust and sturdy.
Yet, at the same time, they deliver fantastic comfort, largely thanks to the adjustable, soft padded headband and the permeable ear-cup design.
Therefore, you could wear them all day long without them causing pressure or discomfort around your ears, a must for all music professionals.
- Wide, clear stereo image
- Ruler flat response
- Highly sensitive transducers
- Comfortable enough for extended periods of use
- Requires a headphone amplifier
3. Meze 99 Classics Wired Over-Ear Headphones
Best Under 500 Headphones For Sound Isolation
The Meze 99 Classics Over-Ear Headphones feature a closed-back style and ear cups made from real wood for natural yet effective sound isolation.
Unlike the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro headphones, the Meze 99 has a low impedance of 32 Ohm, meaning you do not need an amp for these headphones.
Instead, they will work superbly on their own with most devices, including your phone. However, if you want to create a higher-grade listening experience, you can connect up to an amp or DAC.
The Meze 99 Classics give detailed natural mids along with punchy bass and slightly boosted low ends. Overall, the sound is so clear that you can hear every instrument used in a song and even the vocalist’s breath.
What’s more, these headphones are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they provide fantastic ear comfort too.
- Excellent noise isolation
- 40mm dynamic drivers
- Highly detailed natural sound
- No need for an amp
- Lightweight and comfortable headband
- Elegant and beautiful aesthetics
- The airflow and breathability could be better
4. Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Overhead Headphones
Best Sounding Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Under 500 Dollars
The Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless overhead headphones use industry-leading noise-canceling technology with a dual noise sensor.
Because of this, they are the perfect headphones for you if you’re frequently on the go and out in busy environments and need active noise cancelling.
These Sony wireless headphones are some of the most advanced ones available in 2021. They feature Edge-AI to upscale compressed digital music files, touch control, voice assistant compatibility, and multi-device pairing.
In addition, they utilize 40-mm drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms that reproduce a full range of frequencies.
Furthermore, the state-of-the-art adaptive sound control automatically adjusts to your location and usage.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones have a long battery life of 30 hours and charge rapidly; a 10-minute charge gives 5 hours of playback.
Other impressive functions include precise voice pickup on calls and wearing detection that pauses playback when you take off the headphones.
- Superb noise canceling
- Many advanced features
- High power 40mm drivers
- Automatic sound adjustment
- Long battery life and quick charge
- Some quality loss with multi-device connection
- Touch controls can be too sensitive
5. Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Headphones
These are capable of reproducing your music’s dynamics to the highest ability and delivering a well-balanced and crisp sounding bass.
They also provide supreme high-frequency playback and natural sound. Meanwhile, the Layered Motion Control (LMC) drivers absorb and dampen any exaggerated frequencies for smooth, flat frequency response.
Like the SENNHEISER HD 660, the Philips Audio Fidelio X2HR has an acoustic open-back design to reduce air pressure build-up and improve airflow.
Combined with this are the breathable velour & memory foam cushioned ear pads that prevent pressure and heat for all-day comfort.
Along with an ergonomic design, these over-ear headphones have an extremely durable build.
They feature double-layered ear shells to reduce resonance and vibration while ensuring they last for years to come.
If that’s not enough, the ear shells have a 15-degree tilt that gives a better fit for your ears. This minimizes sound reflection to provide you with a fully immersive unadulterated sound performance.
- 50mm high power drivers
- Layered motion control for better frequency response
- Breathable open back design
- Extreme durability and comfort
- Amazing value for money
- Not the most HiFi
Hifi High Quality Headphone Buying Guide
Open Vs. Closed-Back Design
Audiophile headphones will either have an open or closed construction. The design determines the level of noise isolation they offer and the type of sound output they deliver.
A closed design gives the highest level of noise isolation, so this is the best choice for anyone who listens to audio in busy environments. However, with an open build, the noise can escape.
Even so, open-back headphones give a very spatial and transparent sound, ideal for studio use, such as mixing, mastering, and editing. What’s more, open-style headphones usually have better breathability for your ears and improved airflow.
When buying audiophile headphones, you’ll come across many specifications, such as the frequency response. This spec determines the range of bass, mids, and treble that the headphones can reproduce. The frequency response range for human hearing is 20 to 20,000 Hz.
When it comes to headphones, you should look for the lowest possible number for the first number and the highest possible number for the second one. For example, most high-grade headphones will have a frequency response of around 5 – 40,000 Hz.
Final Thoughts About The Best Audiophile Headphones Under 500 Dollars
If you’ve decided to invest in some high end hifi headphones, here are five top options for less than 500 dollars. The SENNHEISER HD 660 S HiRes Headphones, which cost just under 500, are a clear winner for us.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones and Meze 99 Classics are another top rated audiophile headphones on the market in 2021.