It might be challenging to stay up to date on the newest headphones and how they vary from the competition. Electrostatic headphones are one of these headphones that are perhaps the least understood by most people. These are the expensive versions that audiophiles adore and admire. Simply said, audio signals are converted to sound waves using electrostatic headphones, transforming electrical energy into mechanical wave energy. The actual operation of the electrostatic headphones is, of course, much more complicated. But the headphones themselves are what we’re worried about here.
The operating mechanism of electrostatic headphones is a little more sophisticated than that of dynamic headphones from the past. They lack magnets, moving coils, and cones or domes. They are, in some ways, both easier and more complicated/advanced than traditional dynamic headphones. Although the driver architecture somewhat resembles that of planar magnetic drivers, it nonetheless operates on a totally distinct concept.
The electrostatic headphone working principle is based on the electrostatic force, as opposed to dynamic and planar magnetic headphones (not magnetic). When you rub a ruler against your hair or clothing to charge it with static electricity, your hair will rise and small bits of paper will be drawn to it. This is the same electrostatic force, also known as static electricity. The same thing also produces lightning. It’s a really cool force, then.
A remarkably thin and light diaphragm serves as the electrostatic driver’s heart. The diaphragm is often constructed of mylar or another type of plastic and contains incredibly thin wires. The dynamic headphones’ diaphragm is significantly lighter and thinner than their cones or domes, and it is also thinner than the diaphragm inside the planar magnetic headphones.
Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System
- The first application of electrostatic technology for Sound Isolating Earphones (patent pending) featuring a single MicroDriver design
- Extremely high correlation to the source audio provides unmatched audio clarity and detail
- 4-band parametric EQ features five preset settings and four customizable settings to manage audio playback preferences
For people who favour earbuds over headphones, the Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System is appropriate. They are among the best earbuds available in the electrostatic headphone and earbud market. They scale greatly when combined with the appropriate source. First off, Shure is a well-known company that has successfully dominated the electrostatic headphones market by creating the KSE1500. Yes, these earbuds are expensive, but given their high build quality and sound quality, they are undoubtedly worthwhile.
The KSE1500’s sonic performance is, as one might anticipate, their biggest plus. Extremely accurate and smooth sound reproduction. A longer frequency response is present. The manual states that the response ranges from 10Hz to 50kHz. They have a pretty neutral sonic character. It’s unlike anything you’ve heard with expensive IEMs previously. Particularly for a pair of IEMs, their precision and transient response are interesting. The bass has a lot of texture. The highs are brilliant, and the midrange is lively and incredibly detailed. The airiness of the soundstage is something these earphones lack in comparison to larger open-ear electrostatic headphones. Although the soundstage is a little smaller, the image and separation are still excellent.
KSE1500 earbuds are packaged in a very luxurious, eye-catching, and elaborate manner. Your KSE1500 earphones, a dedicated DAC/amp unit, various connecting cables (including a micro USB to USB-A cable, a micro-B to lightning cable, two standard 3.5mm audio cables (6″ and 36″), a 6.25mm jack adapter, a wall charger, an aeroplane adapter, a cable clip, and a set of ear tips are all included in the box (silicone tips in three sizes, yellow foam tips in one size, and triple flange tips). Additionally, you will receive a cleaning cloth, a carrying case for the headphones, rubber bands for stacking, and a leather case for the DAC/Amp. As you can see, you get an incredible amount of accessories. The proprietary cable that comes with the earphones is not removable.
The comfort is quite pleasant. The earbuds should easily suit a variety of ear sizes because they are not overly big. As always, you’ll have to experiment with various ear tips to see which pair suits you the best. The cable is one area where we weren’t too thrilled, at least in terms of comfort and portability. Don’t get me wrong, though. Although the cable is unquestionably well made and sturdy, it is heavier and thicker than typical IEM cords, which might be uncomfortable when using the headphones while on the go. Additionally, the dedicated DAC/Amp makes things more challenging. Although it’s not absolutely impossible, using these headphones while on the road is not the most pleasurable. Therefore, even though the KSE1500 earbuds are technically portable, it’s wiser to use them at home for attentive listening. This is the Best Electrostatic Earbuds in 2023.
Sennheiser HD 800 S Over-the-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones
- Open back, around ear, reference class dynamic headphone
- 56mm ring radiator transducers are the largest drivers ever used in dynamic headphones
- Innovative absorber technology reduces unwanted frequency response peaks allowing all the music nuances to become audible
The Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System is easily the best set of electrostatic headphones available today. They are definitely more expensive than average, but we bet it’s hard to find headphones with such superb sound quality.
Despite their large appearance, over-ear electrostatic headphones are quite trendy and chic. They are composed of high-quality plastic and are lightweight. You can tell you have the best headphones in your hands just by looking at them. The comfort of electrostatic headphones is excellent. The ear cushions are quite fluffy and soft, and they don’t put any pressure on your head. Additionally comfortable and adjustable, the headband.
Due to the open-back design, the soundstage is fairly wide, deep, and detailed. In fact, these headphones have one of the biggest soundstages we’ve ever heard. The audio is crystal crisp and lifelike. Both the bass and the precision are flawless. These headphones are great for listening to techno music. The percussion on these headphones also sounds fantastic. Even though the treble has a tendency to get a touch crisp, the mids are still good. The lows are strong and enormous. They more or less serve as an accompaniment to everything else. These headphones produce silky smooth sound all around. The smoothness of these headphones over the full sound spectrum is perhaps one of their best features.
The SENNHEISER HDV 820 headphones amplifier, for example, has balanced outputs, and these headphones include a 6.3 mm connector and a 4.4 mm Pentacon balanced cable to provide great sound quality from such sources. The lengthy, sturdy, and high-quality spiral headphone cable is made to last.
To sum up, the Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System consists of an electrostatic headphone you can rely on to deliver top-notch sound with or without an amplifier of equivalent calibre (preferably tube amplifier). For audiophiles and musicians, these headphones are ideal. We therefore strongly suggest these headphones for your studio if you’re seeking for high-end headphones for mixing and music creation. On these headphones, everything sounds great, from jazz and classical to rock. This is the Best Electrostatic Headphones in 2023.
Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic Stereophone
- Electrostatic transducers deliver clean bass and unmatched sound quality
- Pivoting ear cups and an adjustable/detachable headband ensure ultimate comfort and convenience
- Straight, dual-entry 4 foot cord with 6 foot extension
The top-tier electrostatic headphones from Koss are currently the ESP-950 models. When it comes to electrostatic headphones, this is one of the “cheap” choices. For less than $1,000, you may purchase the entire system (headphones + electrostatic amp). They are not inexpensive, but they are still affordable when compared to STAX flagship and other flagship electrostats. Their audio quality is superior to what they cost. It’s surprisingly nice, though not quite on level with much more expensive electrostats.
The sound reproduction of the Koss ESP-950 electrostatic headphones is their main selling point. The ESP-950 headphones provide essentially what you’d expect from a set of electrostats: accurate and detailed reproduction with lots of detail and melody. They don’t have a very deep or overpowering bass, but it is beautifully textured and precise. The midrange is brought into focus. The reaction is quick and quite lively. Well-extended treble response. It never becomes tedious or wearisome. It’s pretty airy, but you won’t have the same kind of incredibly broad soundstage that you would with STAX flagship headphones. The image is quite accurate, and the instrument separation is excellent.
Despite being large, the headphones are remarkably lightweight thanks in part to the electrostatic drivers and almost all plastic construction. Regarding comfort, we have no problems. Just like the headband, the pads are substantial and fluffy. These headphones have a few extremely great and practical features, like the detachable headband. Although the battery pack that comes with it is a pleasant feature, it only has a playback time of 2-3 hours.
Koss electrostatic headphones are designed specifically for the energizer that is supplied (due to proprietary headphone connection). It has an AUX (3.5mm) and an RCA audio input. Similar to the headphones, the energizer is composed of plastic and does not appear to be high-end technology.
STAX SR-009 Open Back Electrostatic Earspeakers from Japan
- Push-Pull Open Back Circular Electrostatic Headphone
Perhaps the most well-known brand of electrostatic headphones is made by the Japanese company STAX. The first electrostatic headphones were created by this business in 1959. They have never attempted to create another form of headset since that time. The electrostatic headphones made by STAX are referred to as “earspeakers.” One of STAX’s most well-known models of headphones is the SR-009. This has been their main model for a while, however they also offer an improved model called SR-009S.
The STAX SR-009 is not a cheap pair of headphones. You will also require a special electrostatic amp to drive them, and the price increases to $4000. You could spend up to $10,000 on the amp you want (if you want the SRM-T8000, the flagship amp from STAX). If you choose some of the more economical models, such the SRM-007tII or SRM-700S, the cost can be greatly reduced. DAC/player, connectors, and other tools may also be required, depending on the source you choose to use.
The design doesn’t really provide anything unique. The open-back headphones include aluminium cups that are shaped like circles and a vintage lambskin tension band. Plastic makes up the frame at the top of the headband, which is likely the weakest component in terms of longevity. Flat and non-detachable, the cable. It has a very sturdy, long-lasting feel. A conventional 5-pin balanced XLR connector is used to finish the wire.
Although they appear big, the headphones are actually fairly light. It’s simple to wear them for hours because of their above-average comfort. The tension band is evenly loaded with weight, and the clamping force is moderate. The earpad cavities are enormous and big enough to fit all types of ears, and the pads are thick and velvety.
HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Open-Back Headphones
- Jade II Electrostatic Headphone and Amplifier
As you undoubtedly already know, planar magnetic headphones are HIFIMAN’s specialty. You might not be aware that HIFIMAN was formerly known as HE Audio and that the original Jade, their first headphone model, was electrostatic. Despite the fact that the first version was rather good, they nevertheless chose to switch to planar magnetic headphones. Two years ago, HIFIMAN made the decision to go back to their roots and unveiled the Shangri-La and Shangri-La Junior, two incredibly pricey electrostatic headphones. After that, they unveiled the Jade II, which was significantly less expensive. Although Jade II headphones hardly qualify as entry-level models, they are nonetheless significantly less expensive than Shangri-La models.
Although they are large, the headphones are surprisingly light and pleasant. Every comfort-related problem was masterfully resolved. The headphones employ FocusPads, which are thick and plush hybrid pads that were previously found on select HIFIMAN planar magnetic headphones (HE series). You won’t experience any undue pressure or pain because the weight is evenly spread around your head. Perfect clamping force has been achieved.
The speed, dynamics, and detail are the three pillars of Jade II headphones. They feature a significantly prolonged frequency response, notably the high-end response, according the specifications (7Hz-90kHz). There is a slight lightness to their sound. The midrange and treble reproduction, which are very clear, lively, and detailed, are highlighted. Clean, prominent, and well-placed vocals. The imaging, instrument separation, and definition are astounding. Although not as expansive as some of the high-end planar magnetic headphones we’ve tested in the past, the soundstage is airy and open. The soundstage is slightly wider than it is tall (if that makes any sense). While playing more challenging musical compositions with numerous instruments, the headphones displayed no signs of strain. Surprisingly, the reproduction was accurate.