Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Best Headphones Under $500 in 2022

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All opinions remain my own. You can learn more about our editorial policies here.

Whether you’re a musician, a headphone designer, or a passionate audiophile, you’ll always be on the lookout for the best of the best in headphones. We are here to help by assisting in providing you the best headphones under $500 that are on the market today.

There are so many options that it literally becomes a full time job to study and learn about all the different headphones available that meet your personal needs.

We know it can be difficult to find the perfect pair of headphones that offer both great sound and a comfortable fit without breaking the bank. Whether you prefer new releases with the latest technology or old classics that are tried and true we are here to help.

In this article we’re highlighting some of our favorite picks from as little as $50 up to $500. These are our top 9 headphones under $500 in 2022!

What should I consider when buying headphones?

Before purchasing a set of headphones, there are a few things you should consider first: Maybe you are only concerned about sound quality or maybe you need portability and sound isolation. Luckily we have provided an entire article dedicated to what to consider when buying headphones that covers different types of headphones, types of drivers along with common features you may want to consider. What Should I Consider when Buying Headphones

Without further ado, our 9 Best Headphones Under $500 in 2022

Best Dynamic Driver Headphones under $500 Closed-Back

Our top picks for the closed back dynamic driver category make excellent daily driver headphones and offer some of the best price to sound ratio in the best headphones under $500 headphone category.

Meze 99 Classics

If you are looking for a headphone that looks as good as it sounds look no further than the Meze 99 Classics.  These cans offer a very natural, detailed sound and have lots of punchy bass. Best of all, they are easy to drive and can be powered from your smartphone or tablet without issue. For best sound quality we found a that pairing them with a portable DAC like the like the iFi Audio Hip worked amazing.

Meze 99 Classics Walnut Gold | Wired Over-Ear Audiophiles

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

Meze 99 Classic Specs

The Meze 99 Classics feature walnut wood earcups and a 40mm driver. They have a wide frequency response range of 15Hz – 25KHz and have a Detachable Kevlar OFC cable.

The impedance is 32 Ohm and they weigh 9.2 ounces without the cables.

Focal Elegia

Our alternate pick for the best headphones under $500 dynamic driver closed-back are the Focal Elegia. Upon release, these were priced much higher but as new models have came out and they are to be discontinued you can find some great deals on these.

Like the Meze 99 Classics, the Focal Elegia sound simply amazing with detailed highs and a natural mid range. They bass response is near perfect by remaining punchy and defined.

Again, these are easy to drive with just your phone or computer but the sound quality will benefit from an external DAC. Something like the iFi Audio Hip or iFi Audio Zen and you will be in audio bliss.

Focal Elegia High-Fidelity Closed-Back Circum-Aural Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

Focal Elegia Specs

The Focal Elegia feature are closed back and and feature a dynamic 39.88mm driver. They have a wide frequency response range of 5Hz – 23KHz and have a Detachable cable.

The impedance is 35 Ohm and they weigh 430 grams without the cable.

AKG Pro K553 Headphones

The K553 headphones by AKG Audio are perfect if you want desirable closed back headsets that have all the latest accessories and other features. They are light, comfortable, built with advanced closed backed technology that provides some sound isolation while providing provide precise sound reproduction. The quality of the audio is so good on these for closed-back cans. Sadly I found the headband arced and felt awkward for my personal taste but it may work perfect for you.

AKG Pro Audio K553 MKII Over-Ear, Closed-Back

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

SENNHEISER HD600 Dynamic – Best for Bass

This headphones are extremely comfortable and light enough to make you feel light when you are wearing them for a long time. The sound field of the Sennheiser HD 600 is moderately quiet. The instruments sound realistic, unique and nicely placed. They are cleanly split, so that identifying individual notes is very easy. The aluminum speech coil has weight and helps increase the rapid response time.

Sennheiser HD 600 Open Dynamic Hi-Fi Professional

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The closed back design offers some noise isolation and we found the ear cup to be comfortable for long periods of use. They are 300 Ohm headphones so you will want a quality headphone amp like the Topping A90.

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Best Dynamic Driver Headphones under $500 Open-Back

Sennheiser HD 660

The Sennheiser HD 660 is our top pick for a dynamic driver open-back pair of headphones under $500. These high quality audio cans probably have the best price-to-performance ratio of any of the headphones we reviewed. Read the full Sennheiser HD 660 S Review.

The sound quality is simply top notch with a big, open soundstage and crisp, clean highs that were not fatiguing in the least. We would have no problem mixing with these cans all day long.

They have a very neutral sound signature and remind us a lot of the HD 700 headphones that have been a favorite here. They have good bass but it is not ear-rumbling like a closed back that is bass heavy like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x.

SENNHEISER HD 660 S - HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

Sennheiser HD 660 Specs

The Sennheiser HD 660 are open-back, dynamic driver headphones with a frequency response of 10 to 41,000 Hz. They are 150 Ohm (vs the 300 Ohm HD 650) so they are easy to drive but you will want a quality headphone amp.

One note, these headphones are easy to drive but the better headphone Amp / DAC you use will result in an increase in the sound quality you get. For our test we used the Topping A90 and they sounded terrific together.

Best Dynamic Driver Headphones under $500 Open-Back on A Budget

Sennheiser HD 560 S 

If you are looking for excellent quality set of dynamic driver open-back headphones but pushing the $500 mark is a little too much for your budget, do yourself a favor and check out the Sennheiser HD 560 S headphones.

These have a lot of the same audio sound qualities as our top open-back headphone pick, the Sennheiser HD 660, but at a more budget friendly price tag.

Sennheiser HD 560 S Over-The-Ear Audiophile Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The Sennheiser HD 560 S headphones have a natural sound signature and a nice bass extension that surprised me when first hearing them considering the price. Like the HD 650, these are 150 Ohm so you will want to add a headphone amp to your shopping list. We tried these with the affordable Dragonfly Black DAC / Amp and had great results.

Audio Technica AD700X

Audio-Technica AD700X is an excellent high quality audio, over-ear-caps for home use. The headphone has good resistance to vibration and is pleasant to use.

Its depth of sound space provides an unprecedented product in this price segment. They were our top pick for best wide open soundstage in the open-back headphones under $500.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones Black

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as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The headsets are light & have small clamping pressure owing to self-adjusting 3D wing paddles. The headphones replicate soundscapes in incredible depth, making them one of the best open-back headphones to be found for under 500 dollars. However the ear cup are broad enough for a full pair so those with smaller ears may not have the right cushioning.

Best Planar Magnetic Headphones under $500

For a lot of Planar magnetic headphones we need to start looking well north of the $500 headphone mark but there are defiantly a few affordable planar options in the headphones under $500 category that we really liked.

Hifiman Sundara

The Hifiman Sundara are our top pick in the sub $500 headphone range. We find the planar magnetic transducers to often sound crisper and more controlled compared to their dynamic driver counter parts. They will usually have better extension for the trailing edges of sounds. (We go into some detail about Planar vs Dynamic driver in our What Should I Consider when Buying Headphones article.)

One of the drawback of planar magnetic headphones of course is the cost. Fortunately in recent years the cost has come down and we now have some great options for planar magnetic headphones under $500.

The Hifiman Sundara are our top pick in the sub $500 headphone range. We find the planar magnetic transducers to often sound crisper and more controlled compared to their dynamic driver counter parts. They will usually have better extension for the trailing edges of sounds. (We go into some detail about Planar vs Dynamic driver in our What Should I Consider when Buying Headphones article.)

HIFIMAN SUNDARA Hi-Fi Headphone Planar Magnetic

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The drawback of planar magnetic headphones of course is the cost. Fortunately in recent years the cost has come down and we now have some great options for planar magnetic headphones under $500. The Hifiman Sundara are a great example of this, offering sound quality that rivals headphones that are much more expensive. With a retail price of under $500, the Sundara are currently one of my favorite planar magnetic headphones in our list of headphones under $500.

The Hifiman Sundara have a fairly neutral sound signature but do have slightly enhanced highs which is preferred by some and not by others. In addition, if you are looking for thundering bass, these planars would not be top of your list. We needed to fiddle with the EQ to get the sound dialed in but once we did, WOW!

So far I have been enjoying the Hifiman Sundara headphones more than my previously reviewed (an more expensive) Hifiman Ananda. Overall, not on the same level as the Hifiman HE-6 (one of my favorite planar magnetic headphones) but overall a great way to get to know the sound benefits of planars.

One downside of the Sundara is that they are a little bit heavy at 385g and again you are not getting any noise cancellation from these planar magnetic headphones. But for me, the great sound quality outweighs this small downside.

Best Planar Magnetic Headphones under $500 Portable

Audeze LCD-1

We added a second category for those looking for a portable pair of planar magnetic headphones under $500. For portability and sound quality we found nothing better than the Audeze LCD-1.

They sound very good with a nice, crisp sound signature. We really enjoyed live recordings on these cans as they provided a nice realistic atmosphere.

Audeze LCD-1 Audiophile Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

We did prefer the sound signature of the Hifiman Sundrara but they do not offer the porability of the Audeze LCD-1.

Best Planar Magnetic Headphones under $500 Value

HIFIMAN HE 420I Headphones – Best For Value

HiFiMan HE-420i has a one-sided Planar Magnet driver similar to the previous model. The mid-range is slightly moved forward and has a huge amount of data. The bass is the main drawback with these as it is lacking body. Even with the faults with the bass, they are still one of the best bargain planar headphones for leisure use because of their precise sound reproduction, super high build quality, comfortable wear and beautiful aesthetics.

HIFIMAN HE400SE Planar Magnetic

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

Most Comfortable Budget Headphones Under $500

AKG K240

AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The AKG K240 is a great mid-range headphone with many features. These headphones will be perfect for any music lover who wants an enjoyable sound and a relaxation experience. The headband is made of adjustable wings that automatically follow the shape of your head. The ears are still fully round which makes them fit most all ears. Overall, the audio quality is solid and smooth with a flat and clear frequency response. The vocal performance is relatively detailed and should satisfy most listeners. The headphones have an affordable price and make them one of the best Semi-Open Back Headphones.

Byerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The DT 990 Pro is a great choice for those who are looking for one of the best headphones under $500 in a semi-open back. They offer an incredibly accurate and neutral sound. These headphones are perfect for studio use or even just casual listening. They have a frequency response of 5 Hz – 35 kHz and offer an impedance of 250 ohms. This makes them perfect for use with high-end audio equipment.

The DT 990 Pros are also one of the most comfortable headphones on the market, thanks to their lightweight design and soft ear pads. They also come with a 1/4 inch jack adapter, making them perfect for use with amps and mixers.

Best For Noise Canceling Headphones

Bowers and Wilkins Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins PX Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The Bowers and Wilkins PX are our pick for best noise canceling headphones. They have a fantastic sound and adaptive isolation technology (a fancy way of saying active noise cancellation) and a 32-hour battery life. The over-ear design provides comfort while the closed ear design helps reduce noise. Bowers & Wilkins use the same curved driver in PX headsets which is expected to enhance the soundstage. The oval cushioning on the ear cup is magnetized to the elastic padding in memory foam which is easily replaced by other pads. They are a bass-loaded pair of headphones that are suitable for outdoor activities due to the noise isolation. However, replacement cushions are currently available for about $50 for each pair. The headset weighs 336 grams and is pleasant to wear but may be too heavy to use for long periods.

Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones

SONY WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones Noise Canceling

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

Our second best headphones under $500 for noise cancelling headphones are by Sony. The Sony WH1000XM3 are robust and can block external noise like moving automobiles and noisy cars. It has flexible ear pads and headbands to make it ideal for long usage.

It’s Alexaable that allows hands-free operation. While the mics are not the best, they are adequate to hold calls and they work fairly well to reduce noise. The headphone doesn’t perturb anyone when playing noisy music and moderate volume. Listening to classical music is not a problem even during considerable elevations. It’s also fun to enjoy bass heavy songs because of the solid and deep bass.

Best for Dynamic Sound Reproduction Headphones Under $500

GRADO SR225x

GRADO SR225x Prestige Series Wired Open-Back Stereo Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The GRADO SR225x is our pick for the best headphones under $500 for anyone looking for dynamic sound reproduction. These headphones are able to recreate any genre of music, and they do an especially great job with instrumental and classical music. They provide clean, deep, and accurate sound that is sure to please any listener. The headphones can rotate 360 degrees, which is a great feature that allows for extra comfort and flexibility. The build quality is impressive, and the headphones feel securely attached even when rotating your head. The detail that is reproduced with these headsets is truly incredible.

Best Headphones Under $500 Battery Life

Beats Solo3 Headphones – Best For Battery Life

Beats Solo3 headphones are battery operated. The battery life on the Beats Solo3 is around 40 hours. Their battery is a suitable replacement for iOS and Android phones, and can be charged in 5 minutes providing an extra 3 hours battery life.

Beats by Dr. Dre - Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

Amazon.com
as of May 17, 2022 11:23 am

The sound quality of Beats Solo3 headphones is excellent due to the bass-powered design. They deliver a powerful sound without distortion, and they’re an excellent choice for hip hop music with a boosted bass curve. The main drawback is that it is unlikely this is an ideal headset for all types of music, as they are most suited to bass-driven genres.

Conclusion

We hope our list helps you on your journey to finding the perfect pair of headphones at a price in your budget. We feel our list of the best headphones under $500 for 2022 represents a wide variety to meet the needs of anyone seeking an excellent pair of headphones. Whether those needs are top audio quality, long comfortable listening sessions, audio mixing or the latest in noise isolation and active noise cancelling technology, we have tried to include something for everyone.

The excellent headphone pairs we’ve highlighted are our top recommendations for anyone who wants the best performing headphone on a budget. As always, make sure to read other reviews and try out before making any purchase decisions.

Want to keep your new headphones in tip top shape, read How to Extend the Life of Your Headphones.

FAQ

What is a soundstage?

The stereo soundstage is reproduced in three dimensions by the high-fidelity reproduction of sound in a stereo speaker system, creating an artificial three-dimensional world.; in other words, the soundstage allows us to hear the location of instruments when listening to music.

Do I need an amplifier to run my open-back headphones?

It depends on the several factors. most of the open-back headphones in our list of best headphones under $500 will need a headphone amp. Make sure to factor the price of a quality headphone amp into your budget when planning your purchase.

What is Headphone Impedance?

Headphone impedance is the measure of how much electrical resistance a headphone presents to a connected audio source. This is usually measured in ohms, and it can be an important spec to consider when purchasing headphones. If your audio source has a low impedance, you’ll want headphones with a low impedance as well; otherwise, you may damage your audio source or headphones. On the other hand, if your audio source has a high impedance, you’ll want headphones with a high impedance to avoid damaging your audio source. It’s important to note that not all headphones are compatible with all audio sources, so be sure to check the specs before making a purchase.

Quinn
Quinnhttps://www.thesoundawards.com
Hi, I am Quinn. I am an experienced audio engineer who has worked in the audio field for the past 20 years. I enjoy most genres of music and enjoy home recording and learning about new recording techniques. In my free time I enjoy reviewing the latest audio gear and gaming.

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