The Best Budget Audiophile Headphones (2022)

Not too long ago, people laughed at the idea of Budget Audiophile Headphones. To be fair, up until the last few years, headphones retailing for less than $500 were mediocre at best. But now, there are quite a few entry-level hi-fi headphones and critical listening headphones at this price point. If you really want to hear what these headphones are capable of, pair them with one of our recommended DAC/Amp combos!

We have over 20 years of experience evaluating and reviewing hi-fi components, and we listen to tons of gear, so you don’t have to! Check out our list of The Best Budget Audiophile Headphones (2022)!


Have a question about building an affordable hi-fi system? Drop us a line at info@hifitrends.com! We may feature your question on the site!


Here’s our shortlist of the Best Budget Audiophile Headphones (2022):


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The List:

Best Budget Audiophile Headphones Under $50: Koss KPH30i On-Ear Headphones ($29.99)

These Koss KPH30i on-ear headphones have brought a lot of joy to many an audiophile, providing a nice warm, open sound that you can listen to for hours. They’re also lightweight and comfortable, which adds to the cachet. Besides listening to music, we also use them for phone calls and zoom meetings because the mic’s clarity is surprisingly good! This is an excellent pick-up for the “work from home” crowd, excellent value for $30.

Specs:

  • Frequency response: 15-25,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 60 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB SPL
  • Cable Length: 4 foot

What we love:

  • Great Price
  • Big, Spacious, Engaging Sound
  • Light and Comfortable

What to think about:

  • Not the most detailed
  • They feel a little fragile

Buy: Amazon


Best Budget Audiophile Headphones Under $100: Oneodio Monitor 80 Open Back Headphones ($99.00)

After several lackluster trials of OneOdio products, we landed on the OneOdio Monitor 80. We found it a highly enjoyable listen in the under $100 segment, where there aren’t many options. They don’t have the best resolution or separation (to be expected at this price), but the balanced tuning, smooth mids, soundstage, and air make them well worth a try if you only have $100 bucks to spend. Keep in mind that the build is a little plasticky (also par for the course at this price); plus, you will need a decent headphone amp to get them up to volume with the high impedance.

Specs:

  • Impedance: 250Ω
  • Frequency Response Range: 10 – 400000Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Driver Diameter: 40mm
  • Cable 2: 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable (3M)

What we love:

  • Beautiful Design
  • Warm, Open, Natural Sound
  • Comfortable Fit

What to think about:

  • Creaky Construction
  • Relatively Hard To Drive
  • Not The Most Resolving

Read our full review

Buy: Ali Express


Best Closed-Back Budget Audiophile Headphones Under $500: Meze 99 Classics Walnut Over-Ear Headphones ($309.00)

The $309 Meze 99 Classics Headphones are more like a work of art than a pair of headphones. Pictures don’t do them justice. They have hand-finished wood cups, high-quality PU Leather, and beautiful gold accents. The comfortable headband and earpads add to the luxurious feel. All that wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t sound right, and they do, especially if you like a bit of bass emphasis. These headphones have received more rewards than you can count for their warm yet refined sound. They make any music you play sound good!

Specs:

  • Transducer size: 40mm
  • Frequency response: 15Hz – 25KHz
  • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
  • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated

What we love:

  • Beautiful Design
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Warm & Musical Sound

What to think about:

  • Might have just a little too much Bass for Jazz/Classical tunes

Buy: Amazon


Best Budget Audiophile Headphones with Wireless Option Under $500: HIFIMAN Deva-Pro Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone ($329.00)

We like the Hifiman DEVA Pro. It’s a well-built set of relatively comfortable cans that sound great both wired and using the included “high-resolution” BLUEMINI R2R Bluetooth dongle. The Hifiman Sundara (which comes at around the same price), is more detailed and resolving, but the DEVA Pro, which offers the wireless option, isn’t that far behind.

In addition, some may prefer the DEVA Pro’s sound to the Sundara’s since it’s more laid back in the upper midrange. At the end of the day, the DEVA Pro is the best wireless audiophile headphone I’ve heard outside of Hifiman’s own ANANDA-BT, which is bulkier and more expensive.

Specs:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 18Ω
  • Sensitivity: 93.5dB
  • Weight: 360g
  • 3.5mm balanced sockets

Bluemini R2R Dongle Specs:

  • Bluetooth version: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Bluetooth chipset: Qualcomm QCC5124
  • DAC: HIFIMAN HIMALAYA
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Battery life: 8 hours
  • Net weight: 25g
  • Transmission codecs: LDAC, aptX-HD, aptX, AAC, SBC

What we love:

  • Great Build Quality
  • Warm, Natural Sound
  • Class-Leading Wireless Connection

What to think about:

  • The sound lacks just a little depth

Read our full review

Buy: Amazon


Best Budget Audiophile Headphones Under $350: HIFIMAN SUNDARA Planar Magnetic Hi-Fi Headphone (2020 ver. with 3.5mm Connectors) ($349.00)

Until the Hifiman Edition XS (next on the list) came out, this was hands down the best headphone under $500. The $350 Hifiman SUNDARA has detail, soundstage, and separation that competes with headphones above $500, and the tuning is darn near perfect. It’s neutral through the midbass with a gentle lift in the bottom end to keep things interesting. This headphone, matched with the $129 EarMen Eagle USB Dac or $189 iFi Hip Dac 2, will make a fantastic starter headphone rig and give any music lover tons of enjoyment.

This Planar Magnetic headphone has a relatively high sensitivity rating so that you can drive it with a wide variety of devices. It also has comfy earpads and a nice suspension headband for a stable fit and excellent comfort.

Specs:

  • Frequency Response: 6Hz – 75kHz
  • Impedance: 37 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 94dB
  • Weight: 372g

What we love:

  • Crisp, Detailed & Neutral Sound
  • Comfortable
  • Relatively easy to drive

What to think about:

  • Can be a little edgy with certain songs

Buy: Amazon


Best Budget Audiophile Headphones Under $500 All-Around: HIFIMAN Edition XS Full-Size Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones ($499.00)

Before these headphones came along, I almost exclusively recommended the Sundara to people looking for headphones under $500. But now there’s a new sheriff in town. The $499 Hifiman Edition XS‘ detail, dynamics, and imaging are off the charts for a $500 headphone. They have a more pronounced low end, and more depth than the Sundara. This, combined with the exceptional soundstage and comfort, makes them class-leading for headphones $500 and under. These are excellent all-rounders. I still recommend the Sundara if you can’t find the extra cash.

Specs:

  • Impedance: 18Ω.
  • Frequency response range: 8Hz-50kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 92dB.
  • Weight: 405grams.
  • Cable termination: 3.5mm.

What we love:

  • Warm, Natural, Detailed Sound
  • Exquisite Soundstage
  • Comfortable Fit

What to think about:

  • Not A Neutral Headphone
  • May be too big for smaller heads

Read our full review

Buy: Amazon


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