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Audiophiles are a strange breed. They tend to dish out thousands of dollars on gear with questionable characteristics – monocrystal wire cables, electrostatic drivers, cathode-biased vacuum tube amplifiers, etc. Many people argue that all of it is snake oil, and just as many fiercely defend every penny spent.While the debate is one of the neverending types, there’s no doubt that most of the time audiophile gear sounds better than your run-of-the-mill Dre headphones, for example. Most of the time audiophile gear is also quite expensive. The trick is to find the perfect middle ground, where you get the best sound for your money.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
We had the opportunity to take these for a spin when they launched, a couple of years ago. And we were blown away by the sound quality. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones offer clarity and dynamics unprecedented in their price range. The big 43mm drives have something to do with this, no doubt about it. Also, for those of you who don’t know about this brand, it comes from the same people that engineered most of The Beatles’ records in the famous Abbey Road studio.
The PX7 model comes with some very modern features, too. From the carbon-fiber composite arms to the adaptive noise-canceling technology, the PX7 combines the best of both worlds – vintage and modern. You can get a pair at a discounted price right now – actually a lot cheaper than a pair of AirPods Max, to put things in perspective. Check the actual price below (it hovers in the vicinity of $330).
Blue Satellite Premium Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Another brand you’ve never heard of, probably. Blue (Baltic Latvian Universal Electronics) offers premium USB and XLR microphones, and audiophile headphones for recording. For 20 years, the world’s greatest artists have used Blue headphones and mics in the studio. Now the company has produced a range of consumer-grade headphones, the Satellite model being one of the results.
These headphones use a patent-pending 4-driver system featuring 2 custom 44mm ultra-responsive Blue dynamic drivers for audio and 2 dedicated 30mm drivers for noise cancelation. There’s a built-in audiophile amplifier for rich, dynamic, and detailed sound. You can use them wirelessly or with a cable. We won’t bother you with technical details, just know that the frequency response and total harmonic distortion readings say that these headphones sound amazing. You can get a pair for around $230 – a real bargain if you ask us.
Master & Dynamic MW65
We’ve already talked about the Master & Dynamic MW65 headphones in the past. And for a good reason – great things just continue to pop-up in our lists. The MW65 is packed full of features. The model offers a Bluetooth range that is 3x industry average at 65+ feet and has up to 24 hours battery life. There’s also an Active noise-canceling tech on board, dual microphones, and replaceable Lambskin-Wrapped Memory Foam pads.
Normally, these are north of $500 but there’s the option to get them renewed if you want to save some cash. The headphones have been professionally inspected, tested, and cleaned by qualified personnel, there are no visible cosmetic imperfections, and the battery health will exceed 80% capacity relative to new. You can replace them or get a refund within 90 days of receipt.
Now for something really affordable – the Audio-Technica ATHM50XBT model costs under $200 and has been very popular. Though not technically audiophile-grade headphones, these offer a great bang for the buck. They draw inspiration from the ATH M50x professional studio headphones, and offer the same audio quality but in an updated package. They feature large 45mm drivers, neodymium magnets, and up to 40 hours of continuous use on a full charge. A great choice if you’re on a budget.