- Contrary to what many assume, audiophiles prefer a sound that has no distinct flavor, with no frequency (bass, treble, or mids) being stressed.
- Headphones for audiophiles generally are different from mainstream users, providing a more balanced and often a slightly “flat” signature.
- If you are in the market for a pair of “audiophile” headphones, Amazon is offering some excellent options at surprisingly affordable prices.
Love to hear the sound the way it was created, with minimum flavoring or accents? Well, heading to Amazon India would be a good idea. As part of its recent sales festival, the e-retailer is offering some amazing discounts on audiophile headphones. The following five are easily our pick for anyone looking for a pure music experience, without denting their budget too heavily:
ATH M50X – The old favorite that get better with time
The ATH M50X are perhaps the most popular audiophile or studio level headphones around. Made of sturdy plastic and metal and with very comfortable padding, they have a very distinct design and come with detachable cables. Some think that their sound has a slight bass accent, but by and large, they are loved for their clarity and excellent audio quality. They are powered by large 45 mm drivers and come with detachable cables, as well as cups that fold inwards, making them very easy to carry (there’s a basic carry bag in the box). They literally plug and play and can work even without an amplifier (amp). And for many people, these still are the headphones for anyone who wants sound as basic as can be.
Usual price: Rs 12,999-15,999
Discounted price: Rs 10,999
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (32 ohms) – The anti-M50X, with really sharp sound
The biggest rivals of the ATH-M50X are the DT 770 Pro from Beyerdynamic. And they represent a very different sound signature even in the flat, audiophile spectrum, with a slight emphasis on the treble (something that is rare) and a surprisingly wide soundstage for closed-back headphones. They are known not just for their exceptionally clear sound, but also for being among the most comfortable headphones to wear, thanks to very well-padded ear cups. Mind you, though very sturdily built, they do not come with detachable cables and are a little bulky, so handle with some care. What’s more, this variant (32 ohms impedance) can even be powered by a smartphone. No amps needed.
Usual price: Rs 13,999
Discounted price: Rs 10,999
AKG K371BT – Wired, wireless, calls…the all-rounder
Perhaps the closest to being mainstream in this collection, the AKG K371BT is the wireless cousin of the AKG K371, but still comes with remarkably balanced sound for a Bluetooth headphone. Its design might not be to everyone’s liking with its hinges and sliding calibrators, but the headphones are very comfortable on the ears, and deliver fantastic sound, thanks to large 50mm drivers. They come with forty hours battery life and sound terrific even over a wired connection. Also, they are among the only headphones on the list to come with a microphone, so they can be used for calls as well. You might need an amp to get the most out of them in some systems but by and large, they should work fine. There’s a basic canvas carry bag in the box for carrying them around – and they fold into a small handful!
Usual Price: Rs 7,999 – Rs 10,999
Discounted price: Rs 6,999
Sennheiser HD 599 Special Edition – Open back magic, and stunning sound!
In terms of sheer listening pleasure, these are perhaps the best in this collection. And that is because although they are marketed as audiophile headphones, the Sennheiser HD599 actually have a slightly warm touch to them, with bass and treble getting just a tiny accent. But what really makes them special is their open-backed design, which means you get an amazingly open and wide soundstage, and can almost visualize where each instrument and vocal is coming from. Mind you, that open design also means that they leak a fair bit of noise, They are very comfortable to wear, and have detachable cables, but some might be put off by the very plasticky design and the fact that there is no carry bag. A terrific “first headphone” for anyone wanting to join the audiophile crowd – the sound signature is mostly flat, but the clarity is awesome. And no, you do not need an amplifier to get them running, although having one does no harm.
Usual Price: Rs 15,999-17,999
Discounted Price: Rs 8,990
Hifiman HE400i 2020 Edition – Go ahead and try planar audio
Planar magnetic headphones have yet to go mainstream, but they are already acclaimed for their amazing sound clarity, thanks to the technology they use. Now, planar audio is something that deserves an article in its own right, but its potential is accepted. Hifiman is one of the few brands that comes out with planar headphones and the HE400i is its most affordable offering, which have now got yet another price cut. They are definitely the bulkiest of all the headphones in this list, but if it is sheer clarity and definition that you seek, these are perhaps the best, with the open back design ensuring a very wide sound stage. They are a little heavy but come with very well-padded earcups, and detachable cables, although with no carry bag. Perfect for those who want to try the future of high-class audio without busting a massive hole in their bank balances. Having an amplifier would help, though.
Usual Price: Rs 14,999 – Rs 16,999
Discounted Price: Rs 12,999
(Note: these prices were available at the time of writing. They might be withdrawn subsequently. Also, the “Usual Prices” quoted in the piece are based on actual experience and observation, rather than retail markings, as prices are known to fluctuate.)
A note about audiophiles:
Most people might like their music with booming bass or highlighted vocals or other instrument arrangements, but the audiophile crowd would rather hear music the way the artist intended it to sound. This is why audiophile headphones tend to stress more on clarity, sound stage (a sense of where different instruments are being played), and having a balanced or even flat sound. They definitely are not everyone’s cup of musical tea, are almost always wired, and more often than not have no microphones. But for those who love sound in its original form, they are audio heaven.
Now, while audiophile headphones are available at many price points, from as low as Rs 3,000 going up to Rs 2,50,000 and above, a decent pair of audiophile headphones can still cost a pretty penny. Which is what makes the ones mentioned in this list special.