Electrostatic headphones represent a remarkable advancement in audio technology, offering an unparalleled listening experience to audio enthusiasts and professionals alike. Unlike traditional dynamic headphones that rely on electromagnetic coils to produce sound, electrostatic headphones use a unique electrostatic driver technology that delivers exceptionally detailed and accurate audio reproduction. These headphones operate on the principle of electrostatic attraction and repulsion, where ultra-thin diaphragms are placed between two charged plates. When an audio signal is applied to the diaphragm, it vibrates in response to the electric field changes, creating sound without the need for traditional coil-driven drivers. This design results in several key advantages, such as incredibly low distortion, lightning-fast transient response, and an extended frequency range.
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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.
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 sadly. 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. 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.
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 Koss electrostatic headphones 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.
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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are electrostatic headphones?
Electrostatic headphones are a type of high-end audio equipment that uses electrostatic driver technology to produce sound. Unlike traditional dynamic headphones, they rely on the movement of an ultra-thin diaphragm placed between two charged plates to generate sound.
How do electrostatic headphones work?
Electrostatic headphones work on the principle of electrostatic attraction and repulsion. An audio signal is applied to the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate in response to changes in the electric field between the charged plates. This vibration generates sound without the need for traditional coil-driven drivers.
What are the advantages of electrostatic headphones?
Electrostatic headphones offer several advantages, including exceptionally low distortion, fast transient response, extended frequency range, and unparalleled clarity. They are known for their ability to reproduce the finest details in audio, making them a favorite among audiophiles and professionals.
Are electrostatic headphones better than traditional headphones?
Electrostatic headphones are often considered superior in terms of audio quality, but they come at a higher cost. Their sound quality is characterized by remarkable accuracy and transparency. However, personal preference plays a significant role, and some users may still prefer traditional headphones for various reasons.
Are electrostatic headphones suitable for portable use?
Electrostatic headphones are typically not suitable for portable use due to their specialized amplification requirements and relatively large size. They are often used in dedicated listening environments or professional studios.