12 Best Headphones Under $1000 in 2017

When it comes time to purchase a new pair of headphones, your choices are going to be virtually limitless on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. When it comes to high-end headphones that only true audiophiles will appreciate, the herd begins to thin considerably.

Most of the headphones on our list will have similar features and are corded although some allow you to go wireless. The main differences will lie in the style of the headset, comfort level, and the type of audio tech used. The quality of components are important as well and should not be overlooked but can be difficult to discern without a bit of knowledge.

Even with a narrow field, finding the best headphones under $1000 is still no small feat unless you are an expert in the audio world. Fortunately, you don’t have to be if you take our crash course and follow a few bit of helpful advice. Without further ado, here is our Top 12.

Top 12 Headphones Under $1000 Comparison Table

DesignNameWirelessOpen or Closed-BackRating (1-5)
  1. Focal Elear Open Back Over-Ear Headphones No Open 4.7
  2. Grado Professional Series PS500e Headphone No Open 4.6
  3. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Premium Headphones No Closed 4.5
  4. Shure SE846-BLU Sound Isolating Earphones No NA 4.4
  5. Audio Technica Audiophile ATH-AD2000X Open-Air Headphones No Open 4.3
6. Ultrasone Signature Pro S-Logic Plus Surround Sound Professional Closed-back Headphones No Closed 4.3
7. Audio-Technica ATH W5000 Audiophile Closed Back Headphones No Closed 4.0
8. Pryma Headphones, Carbon Notte No No 3.9
  9. Master & Dynamic MW60 Wireless Over Ear Headphones Yes Closed 3.8
  10. Grado Reference Series RS1e Headphone No Open 3.8
  11. B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 Wireless Over-Ear Headphone Yes Yes 3.7
  12. beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO Studio Headphones No Closed 3.4

Tips for Aspiring Audiophiles

The world of high-end headphone can be a scary place, but it doesn’t have to be as long as you keep a few pointers in mind going forward.

Size

Whether you are going for cheap headphones or cans of the high-end variety, there are two basic sizes or styles of headphone.

  • Earbuds  The most popular style by far would be in-ear or earbuds. They are small, easy to carry and discreet if you want to listen to music at the market, on the subway or anywhere you roam.
  • Over-Ear – Over the ear headphones are larger with comfortable ear muffs but can be hot on the head and are not ideal for all situations. They come in two flavors as well with open-back and closed-back but can be light as a feather or quite bulky depending on the brand and technology used.

With high-end headphones, you are going to have to look long and hard to find a pair of earbuds under a grand as the tech required is tough to shrink which makes them pricey and somewhat rare. In other words, you may want to start considering variations of the classic over-ear headphone as the selection is sparse on the other side of the fence.

Open-Back vs. Closed-Back

For consumers new to the audio world, this one could be confusing.

  • Closed-Back Headphones – Are by far the most common type of over-ear headphones. This style of headphone is built to keep the sound in and the outside world at bay. The backs are “closed, ” and the cups are tight to ensure an engrossing listening experience if you just want it to be you and the music. All closed-back headphones are also noise isolating by nature.
  • Open-Back Headphones – As the name suggests, Open-back headphones have an open back and are a bit of a rarity compared to earbuds or closed back headphones. They usually have slots on the outside of the shell that let the sound out and may seem weird at first as they do not block out the outside world. There is a good reason for that, however, as this can give music more of a live feel.

They are great if you’re going to be listening to music solo, but not something you will want in a crowd, in the office or the supermarket.

Circumaural or Supra-aural?

This is another area that may be of concern for consumers new to the audio game. It is quite simple to explain, however, so we will make this short and sweet and send you on the path to the best headphones under $1000.

Circumaural headphones sit “over your ear” completely with a large cup that cuts off the outside world. They can be open or closed-back but are usually larger. Supra-aural headphones are smaller than your typical set of cans and actually sit “on the ear” instead of over it. They can be open or closed as well but are not for everyone as they put pressure on your ear and do not always block out sounds from the outside.

Specifications

There are plenty of specifications in the audio world that could send you into a slumber, so we are going to focus on three with Frequency Response, Sensitivity, and Impedance.

  • Frequency Response – Is the range of vibration/sound measured in Hertz. The greater the effective range, the better you will “feel” and not hear anything out of our audible range.
  • Sensitivity – As for the sensitivity, this is measured in decibels and typically goes from 80 to 125dB in most cases. Headphones with low sensitivity can cause clipping if the power source is low output as well while headsets with a higher sensitivity can handle a broader range. Balance is what you want in this area.
  • Impedance – With Impedance, that ties into the power as well. If you are going mobile and using equipment with low impedance, you will want headphones that match up while high impedance headphones are generally used with home or PRO audio setups.

Top 5 Best Headphones Under $1000 Reviews

1. Focal Elear Open Back Over-Ear Headphones

Don’t let the looks fool or name fool you with this headset. They are clearly over-ear, but are also open-back and are dubbed Supra-aural headphones although they aren’t nearly as pancaked as some of the headsets carrying the moniker. The will be light on the head and are built to last designed and manufactured by audio experts in France with decades of experience.

These headphones are corded with a 13.1’ cable sporting dual plugs – one with a 3.5mm jack and the other at 1/4”. The balanced cable has channel separation as well which is great for bi-amps and other custom audio setups at home or in a studio. The drivers have M-shaped domes which are said to offer up extremely realistic sound – especially with their open-back nature.

  • Frequency Response – 5 to 23KHz
  • Sensitivity – 104dB
  • Impedance – 80 Ohms

2. Grado Professional Series PS500e Headphone

Grado’s first entry onto our list of the best headphones under $1000 is the PS500e. They are another pair of open-back headphones, so keep that in mind unless you want to share your music with the world. As for those cups, they scream luxury and are made from a blend of metal and mahogany with non-resonant air chambers for big bass. Another perk is the soft leather headband which keeps things comfortable for extended listening periods.

This particular model features a redesigned speaker that is 44mm and sports an “improved” 8 conductor cable design as well. In a nutshell, they will sound amazing, are very comfortable and worthy of attention from any true Audiophile. They don’t have a volume control or any type of adapter for modern gadgets but do have a solid 67” cord and come with a 1-year warranty.

  • Frequency Response – 14 to 29KH
  • Sensitivity – 99.8 dB
  • Impedance – 32 Ohms

3. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Premium Headphones

The Bowers & Wilkins P9 Premium Headphones are a lock for our list due to their audio prowess and their classy style that is somehow retro and modern at the same time. They are more portable than many of the headphones to make the cut despite their oversized nature as these will fold up for easy use on the go.

Before we get to the tech specs, let’s talk about the design. The P9’s are covered in Italian Saffiano leather on the cups and around the top of the headband. That headband is going to be sturdier than most as well considering it’s made from forged aluminum. While tough and built to last, you will get a protective pouch to store these in as an added bonus. Like extra cables? You will get three with this model including a 47” and 197” standard listening cable and a 47” cable with an in-line remote.

  • Frequency Response – 2 to 30 KHz
  • Sensitivity – 111 dB
  • Impedance – 22 Ohms

4. Shure SE846 Sound Isolating Earphone

If you aren’t really a fan of over-the-ear headphones, we have something for you. Actually, Shure does with the SE846 earphones. These are rare as they are earbuds that can hang or outperform high-end headsets from the top manufacturers around. That is due in part to quad “microdrivers” which pound out the bass and keep things crystal clear as well.

Due to their design, these Shure SE846 earbuds are noise-isolating so they will effectively cut off noise from the outside world. As for the quad drivers, here is how they work. Each earbud has two drivers and a crossover built-in to send the proper frequencies where they need to go; this gives you more accuracy across the range on the high side while the two low-frequency drivers pound home the bass. As a bonus, the cables can actually detach from the earbuds if needed and sport “shapeable” wire as well.

  • Frequency Response – 15to 20 KHz
  • Sensitivity – 114 dB
  • Impedance – 9 Ohms

5. Audio-Technica Audiophile ATH-AD2000X Headphone

Audio Technica’s Audiophile headset has some of the biggest drivers on our list. They clock in at 53mm and sport CCAQ voice coils with an open-back. They are also very comfortable as they sit on the ear with a 3D wing support housing. Vibrations will not be an issue, and you will get a strong and stable connection thanks to a four-core cord measuring 118” with a gold-plated 3.5mm jack.

With the audio, these have a nice full range but are geared more towards the highs than the lows. That means classical music and anything with a lot of treble, strings or percussion will sound amazing but bass heads may find the low end lacking. The mid and sub-bass is a bit weak but may improve once you get them burned in.

  • Frequency Response – 5 to 45 KHz
  • Sensitivity – 103 dB
  • Impedance – 40 Ohms