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When Apple announced the AirPods Max the tech community went crazy. $549 for a pair of headphones? Outrageous! Well, it’s sort of relative, isn’t it? It depends on so many things – your income, your dedication to the brand, just how important audio is for you, etc. We’re not here to judge the price of the new AirPods Max – or the people who have pre-ordered the headphones, for that matter. Let’s just see how far can an audiophile obsession go and take a look at the most expensive headphones in the world. You would be surprised by those numbers!Also Read: Best AirPods Max alternatives from Sony, Bose, Master & Dynamic, and more
5. Sennheiser HD800 – $1,499
This Sennheisers classic from 2009 is considered “affordable” in our list, can you believe it? The HD800 model has been one of the go-to choices for audiophiles in the past decade and for a good reason. $1,500 may sound scary, but the audio performance of these headphones is on par with models that are 10 times more expensive. Sennheiser’s very clever absorber tech works wonders – it basically removes the “masking” effect that low frequencies tend to exert on the human ear at high volume.
In reality, your hard-earned $1,500 will get you a natural, balanced sound with clear highs and powerful lows at the same time. Build quality is excellent, too. The HD800 is a wired model and it costs three times as much as the AirPods Max.
4. Shure KSE1500 – $2,999
Musicians and audio professionals are quite familiar with Shure. The company has been designing and producing microphones for almost a century. Over the past 50 years, the iconic Shure SM58 model has won over some of the world’s most legendary performers, including Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, and Run-DMC. But let’s get back to listening, not singing.
The Shure KSE1500 is an interesting animal. This model uses electrostatic technology. Without getting too technical, this design uses a very high-voltage electrostatic charge to drive really tiny diaphragms. The result is allegedly very high-quality sound in a compact package. Although there are many electrostatic overhead models out there too, the KSE1500 model is extra amazing with its in-ear design.
3 grand for in-ear headphones? Nice! Oh, and these earphones need a dedicated amplifier due to the unusual electrical demands of the electrostatic design. You can’t just plug them into your iPad.
3. Sennheiser Orpheus/HE-1 – $59,000
That escalated quickly! The top three spots are occupied by record-setters. Truth is, you can get hundreds of good audiophile-grade headphones around the $5000 price range, so why bother listing all of them. The second Sennheiser on our list is the iconic Orpheus. Named after the legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek mythology, these headphones are very exclusive.
So much so that they need their own tube amp to work at all. Yeah, you’ve guessed it right, they are electrostatics. The amplifier itself is made from a big slab of marble and every single one is unique. The headphones are not just a gimmick too – with an audio range from 8 Hz to more than 100 kHz, and the lowest distortion ever measured in a sound reproduction system: 0.01% at 1 kHz they are at the pinnacle of audio technology. But then again, you can buy a Tesla Model S with that kind of money.
2. Onkyo H900M 20-carat diamonds – $80,000
Well, at this point the price can be further inflated only by using diamonds, right? Onkyo thinks the same. The brand is well known and critically acclaimed in the audiophile territory but with the H900M diamond edition, things got a bit out of hand. These pair of headphones are based on the H900M model but feature 20-carat diamonds on the ear cups and some rubies too.
Whether or not diamonds improves audio quality, it’s highly questionable (hint, they don’t). But, sometimes it’s “form over function” or in this case – diamonds over the ears. Beats earrings any day of the week!
1. Focal Utopia by Tournaire – $120,000
For the price of a small house or a decent apartment, you can become a proud owner of the Focal Utopia. The most expensive headphones in the world are not the best-sounding. Surprise, surprise – we’re dealing with diamonds again.
This model is custom made and not mass-produces and features gold and diamonds on the ear cups and also on the band. People buy these to listen to their billions multiplying on the stock exchange, probably. Nothing wrong with that, though.
So there you have it. Put things into perspective, doesn’t it?