While there are numerous best headphones under $500, not all of them are created equal, and while many offer useful features, an increasing number of customers are asking us whether there are better options for the money. Our top recommendation for headphones at this price point is to focus your search on brands that specialize in audiophile-grade headphones.
Many high-end headphones cost thousands of dollars or more, but when you buy a headphone from one of these high-end brands, some of the same technology, materials, craftsmanship, and comfort found in their more expensive flagship models trickle down for less, giving you the best audio experience and build quality for the money. Focal, Audeze, Bowers & Wilkins, Meze Audio, Grado, Sony, and Klipsch make world-class headphones for more critical listening, as well as amazing headphones for $500 – here are the ones we’re looking at.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones
- Industry-leading noise canceling with Dual Noise Sensor technology
- Next-level music with Edge-AI, co-developed with Sony Music Studios Tokyo
- Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (10 min charge for 5 hours of playback)
Sony WH-1000XM4 are the best under $500 headphones with noise-canceling technology for travel or working in public settings. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is a closed-back circumaural (over-ear) headset with Bluetooth 5.0 and advanced active noise-cancellation (ANC) technology from Sony. Sony’s noise-canceling technology is the industry standard, you should choose the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones if you want the greatest noise-canceling over-the-ear headphone. Sony’s active noise cancellation will eliminate low-frequency disturbances such as engine rumble as well as mid-range sounds such as chattering voices.
Sony’s LDAC technology enables high-quality Bluetooth audio transmission. It sends three times the amount of data, resulting in a better wireless listening experience with better audio quality. It can even link with two devices at the same time and switch between them at the push of a button.
These headphone models have a 30-hour battery life (with Bluetooth and ANC turned on) and are ideal for extended travels and listening sessions. With the accompanying AC adapter, we can acquire an additional 5 hours of battery life in just 10 minutes. Alternatively, you may charge from 0% to 100% in 3 hours with a USB-C charger cord. A detachable 4-foot headphone cable with OFC strands and gold-plated stereo small (3.5mm) connectors is also included with the WH-1000XM4. There’s also a 3.5mm to 6.35 (1/4′′) adaptor supplied.
ANC headphones excel at low-end rumble, but suffer with higher, more transient sounds. Additional microphones aid in the isolation of high and mid-frequency noises in Sony’s industry-leading noise cancelling technology. The HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1 and powerful algorithms that sense and alter the cancellation signal over 700 times per second make this feasible.
Liquid crystal polymer (LCP) diaphragms, neodymium magnets, and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils are used in the 40mm dynamic drivers to provide exceptional bass, clean mids, and non-fatiguing highs that reach well beyond the range of human hearing. The frequency response is remarkable, ranging from 4 Hz to 40,000 Hz. Artificial intelligence is used by the DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) to upscale compressed digital audio files in real-time. For a more full listening experience, this surround sound technology seeks to recover the lost quality that occurs with compression.
We appreciated how the Sony XM4’s have amazing deep bass that will make bass heads happy with this audio device, and there’s an EQ in the app that lets you modify the sound to taste, so we could pick out more nuances in the song when we wanted — or dial it down for a warmer sound on a lengthy road trip or a long flight. If you enjoy getting lost in music and listen to a lot of EDM, Hip-hop, Pop, or any music with deep and heavy bass, such as Dubstep, this is the noise-canceling headphone for you. It’s lightweight, travels well, and the XM4’s sound profile allows you to listen to music casually all day. These are the Best Headphones under $500 in 2023,
HIFIMAN SUNDARA Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Featuring Newly Developed Diaphragm that is 80% Thinner than the HE400 Series Resulting in a Wider Frequency Response, Faster and More Detailed
- With the weight spreading strap for outstanding comfort but with a more fashion conscious look with its sleek and sumptuous matte black finish.
- With its all metal headband the SUNDARA is built to take the rigours of urban street life. The SUNDARA is as tough as it is beautiful.
Hifiman’s Sundara headphones, which literally translate to beautiful, have become extremely popular with the YouTube audiophile community. With a slim metal frame, stylish ear muffs, and a matte black colourway, it’s no wonder the company called them Sundara. They are wonderful. When listening to it for the first time, the sound may be too bright. However, after hours of reading, you will find that the Sundara opens up to be an incredible mid-fi experience. The harshness of the treble is replaced by a precise and clean sound.
Flat magnetic headphones are generally more expensive than dynamic headphones, not to mention there are fewer options on the market. If you prefer flat magnetic headphones due to its precision and better bass response, the best option for under $ 500 is the HiFiMan Sundara. They are recommended for audiophiles and sell for around $ 350, offering good value for money.
The Sundara are wired in-ear headphones with an open design and a detachable audio cable that connects to both headphones and terminates in a 3.5mm analog jack. Its build quality is good and it looks premium, especially with its matte black finish. They are mostly made of metal and have sturdy grilles and hinges. They have a double headband design consisting of a metal headband and a feather strap underneath.
Despite its tight headband and heavier build, the Sundara are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Her generously padded circular ear muffs have plush cushions and easily wrap around large ears while her headband is snug on the head. But on the other hand, they are not as breathable as open dynamic headphones for the best audiophile headphones under 500.
Sennheiser HD600 Open Back Professional Headphone
- Lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Neodymium ferrous magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics
- Sophisticated design, elegantly finished in black and gray
We start with the best open-top in-ear headphones under $ 500. Sennheiser is a household name in the audio world and their headphones consistently produce incredible sound quality. Their products offer premium sound combined with a stylish appearance and are always comfortable to use.
The true Sennheiser HD 600 audiophile headphones designed for critical listening at home. They have neodymium magnet drivers that are designed to minimize distortion, which are very similar to some of the company’s higher-end and more expensive headphones; Sennheiser can lower the price of the HD 600 by giving it a predominantly plastic design. The HD 600 has a replaceable cable (in case you want to upgrade) and replaceable earbuds (in case you want to get some nice new ones).
This is the cheaper sibling of the HD 650, which became an industry standard when Sennheiser introduced it in 2003. We think the HD 600 is even better and, to date, it costs less than the HD 650. The HD 600 open back Over-ear headphones have a classic sound that jazz and classical music fans are likely to enjoy; Brent often returns to them for sheer pleasure. If listening to headphones with a high-end accent sometimes gives you a headache, this pair’s treble might be the right recipe.
The HD 600 headphones follow this trend by using ferrous neodymium magnets in the speakers to reduce distortion levels. Audiophiles will be more than happy with this product as it creates clear and powerful sound. The frame is made of lightweight aluminum, which means you won’t lift your head when you use it, which is a huge plus in my books. Additionally, the support grid design creates a unique environmental immersion. Long gaming or editing sessions will be comfortable and productive.
It’s a wired connection, which means you’ll get solid, consistent sound every time. It ranks in the middle in terms of price, which is a good deal considering the quality of the case and speakers. If you are concerned about the price, it comes with a 2 year warranty as standard, so you are covered for any eventuality.
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Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
- Open over-ear headphones, ideal for professional mixing, mastering and editing
- Perfect for studio applications thanks to their transparent, spacious, strong bass and treble sound
- The soft, circumaural and replaceable velour ear pads ensure high wearing comfort
These are some of our favorite open ear headphones. They sound great, especially since you can find a pair for under $ 200 right now (since they were first released over 15 years ago). And they are some of the most comfortable headphones you can wear. I mean, look at those headphones! They are made of memory foam and wrapped in super soft velvet. This package is widely considered one of the best options under $ 300, and we don’t disagree, we just don’t think it’s one of the best. For us, the emphasis of these headphones on the highs caught them, which each of our panelists commented. We found the same for the 250 ohm and 600 ohm versions, which in our opinion did not improve the sound of the standard 32 ohm version.
The DT 990 has focused its technology on creating strong tonal depth. This means that anyone with a keen enough ear will be able to detect the slightest changes in the quality, pitch, or pitch of the sound. For audiophiles or those who work in the music production industry, this is a must-have quality that cannot be ignored. This is combined with a slight increase in bass and treble, which is a huge boost for any product in my book. This means that audio editors will have a wide range of options available, while making them perfect for more informal listening for the best $500 headphones.
AKG K702 Reference Studio Headphones
- Over-ear design for maximum wearing comfort for long work sessions
- Sophisticated open technology for spacious and airy sound without compromise
- Patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm for improved high-frequency range and better performance at low frequencies
The AKG K702 are the best headphones for mixing and mastering sound in the studio. Their soundstage is better and they are more comfortable to use during long sessions in the studio, especially compared to Sennheiser headphones. You can get these for $ 350, which puts them in the same price range as the HD 600, but you can find them much cheaper some days.
The K702s are wired studio headphones with an over-ear fit and open-back design, which means their noise isolation is non-existent. These are bulky headphones that aren’t the most portable due to their non-collapsible design and no case or bag to store. Its overall build quality is decent, but a bit underwhelming for the price. Unlike the DT 880 Pro, its default audio cable is detachable, allowing for easy replacement. The 10ft straight audio cable ends in a 3.5mm analog plug, AKG also provides a 6.3mm plug adapter.
With their neutral sound, the K702s are ideal for mixing and mastering sound in the studio. They have a clear, detailed sound and feature a large soundstage. They will allow you to discern inconsistencies and flaws in the recording, but they are not the best for bass reference. You can also use them to listen to music at home and to play games, with their large soundstage being an advantage in some games.
The K702 works well for most types of music, but you will find that it works better at lower volumes. Try pulling this one out and it won’t respond very well. The highlight of this headset is its ability to reproduce a very large and grand soundstage. Sometimes the amount of detail you will start to hear around you becomes almost uncomfortable. The K702 is pretty much the best option you can go for if you want to hear a lot of genres and quieter passages like acoustic, folk, jazz, classical, etc., and also plan to watch a lot of movies and play a lot of games.
Philips Fidelio X2HR Over-Ear Open-Air Headphone 50mm Drivers
- Hi-res Audio Certified with extended response frequencies
- Engineered double layered ear-shells with pre-tilted speaker plates
- 50 mm high definition neodymium drivers with LMC diaphragm
Many people prefer Philips Fidelio X2HR’s constructed double-layered ears because they provide optimum comfort, outstanding sound, and enhanced music that makes you want to get up and dance. These headphones have been approved to create Hi-Res sound in spades when it comes to the moderate listening experience, thanks to their increased response frequencies. The majority of players prefer this feature since they want authentic fighting sounds.
The headphones have 50mm drivers with a multilayer motion-based diaphragm, maintaining true to the Fidelio X line’s roots. The increased frequencies appear to be attenuated by a special layer of gel in the diaphragm. The exterior headband is made of genuine leather, which feels soft, comfortable, and does not hurt when worn over the top of the head, enhancing the compact design. You can play games all day without getting too heavy in the skull.
Other robust plastic headphones begin to hurt after a few weeks of usage, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to the Philips Fidelio headset’s lovely leather exterior headband. Its high-quality audio, comfortable genuine leather headband, soft dual-layered ear covers, sonic open-back design, memory foam ventilated ear pads, and more, the Philips Fidelio X2HR is a fantastic choice. The bass shows up with pinpoint precision and just the appropriate amount of power.
It’s tight and precise without being obnoxious, and it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the radio spectrum. The Philips Fidelio X2HR is nearly excellent for many folks who enjoy gaming.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Headphones
- Cutting edge engineering and robust construction
- 40 millimeter drivers with rare earth magnets and copper clad aluminum wire voice coils
- Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments
With its clear, crisp, and articulate high-end, rich bass, and removable and replaceable cable, the ATH-M40x received high praise from our panelists. However, for three out of four panelists, a few extra decibels in the high end (the hi-hat, snare, and female vocals were too loud for our ears) kept the ATH-M40x from being our choice for studio use. If you can’t get the pair from Sony or prefer extra punch in the higher frequencies, you’ll be very happy with this set from Audio-Technica.
Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones – Apple W1 Headphone Chip
- High-performance wireless Bluetooth headphones
- Features the Apple W1 chip and Class 1 wireless Bluetooth connectivity
- With up to 40 hours of battery life, Beats Solo3 wireless is your perfect everyday headphone
The Beats Solo3 earphones are a good choice because they are not only compatible with Android devices, but also with Apple devices. Because of their lengthy battery life, you’ll enjoy these headphones. If you’re a casual listener who uses them for six to eight hours each day, you’ll be able to go five days without having to recharge them.
If they run out of battery but are still required, plug them in for around five minutes for an additional three hours of power. Furthermore, immediately after the three-hour battery capacity runs out, you can charge them for another five minutes to obtain an extra boost of vitality.
Its earbuds are so comfortable that you may wear them for long periods of time. Ensure a tight fit even if you’re jogging or doing household. The earbuds are lightweight and stay in place on your ears. You may modify playback and pause it, traverse music tracks, and accept or end conversations using the control systems in the left earcup. You’ll also find a built-in hidden microphone, which makes taking calls and chatting with Siri much easier. It is not necessary for you to use your phone.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless headset has a clear and crisp sound quality. When you’re outside, the bass isolates sounds, allowing you to concentrate on the music. It has a strong bass, yet it isn’t overpowering. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever hear a warped sound. The biggest disadvantage is that it might not be suitable for all forms of music.
Hip-hop and classical music are perfect for these headphones since they bring out the bass’s full potential. Some music might have a hard time with it. They don’t work well with tunes featuring a lot of guitars. Surprisingly, if you have a problem with this headset, Apple, which is known for its fair treatment of consumers, may be able to assist you with a replacement. So, when purchasing, don’t be concerned about a manufacturer’s defect.
The Beats Solo3 Headphones are remarkable in every way, thanks to their strong Bluetooth connectivity, long battery life, quick battery charging, and elegant style.