10 of the best headphones under $500

Headphones are a lifesaver at many times. Be it a journey or idle at home, you always want headphones to listen to music. And headphones deliver it. Looking for a headphone at a budget of $500? That would be a costly affair. We have done our research and have chosen some of the best headphones in the market. Let us see the best headphones under $500.

Best headphones under $500
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Sennheiser HD 600

Sennheiser HD 600 is one of the great headphones under $500. This headphone is a very popular headphone in the audiophile community. People vouch for its performance and sound quality. It is also used in studios by audio engineers to mix, master, and as a reference to the sound.

The frequency response of this headphone is 12 – 40500 Hz. This means the bass extension is quite lower down in the spectrum. The maximum SPL it can go to is 97 dB. 

The total harmonic distortion is 0.1%. It is a circumaural ear coupling. That means that the ear cups will be around the ear when worn. This is great for comfort. There is a 3.5 mm stereo jack plug. Also, a 1/4 inch adapter is supplied. The length of the cable is 3 meters which are perfect for studios and home usages. 

It uses a dynamic driver and the impedance is 300Ω You would need a nice amp to power up this headphone for the headphone to show its true color. You can plug it into a mobile phone. But don’t expect much sound quality out of the earphones when you connect them to a normal phone.

The sound quality is typical Sennheiser-like except for a slightly detailed treble. The headphone is an open back phone. The sound stage it produces is huge and a little bit frontal. It is definitely enjoyable. Being open-back headphones, the sound leaks from the headphone. The people around you may hear what you’re listening to. Similarly, being an open back, the noise from the outside is not really muffled. You can hear people talking, etc as it passes through the diaphragm. You have to mind it before purchasing one of these. 

The bass is good for an open-back headphone. Don’t expect it to produce large bass as it cannot. But there is enough bass for the use of many people. The mids are sweet and energetic. This is where the headphone shines. The vocals are crystal clear and have so many textures.

The imaging is very much fantastic and you can hear everything perfectly. It is not as clinical as a studio monitor but it is reasonably revealing and allows you to enjoy your music. The treble is slightly emphasized for Sennheiser headphones. The treble has a good airy feel and has plenty of details to appreciate it. All in all, this is one of the best headphones to buy and it is the best headphones for under $500.

Pros
  • Sound quality
  • Open back
  • 3 m length cable
  • 1/4 inch support
  • Good imaging
Cons
  • Noise comes in
  • people near you can hear what you hear.
  • 300 Ohm impedance
  • Less bass
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Sony WH 1000xm4

Sony is making headphones for a long time now and their noise-canceling headphone that was launched in recent years have gained strong momentum. The headphone itself looks cool. The ear cups are soft enough for comfortable wearing. The headband is soft too and you won’t feel much weight on your head. The build quality is great. The product looks great to the eyes.

The main feature of this headphone is its active noise cancellation. The headphones have built-in mics to capture external noises. The external noise is captured by the mic, it is then phase inverted using a circuit. The phase inverted sound is then sent to the earpiece speaker. So, two sounds of opposite phase are fed into the ear cup and the noise cancels each other leaving only music to be heard. This is such an awesome technology that you’re getting for the money. The battery life is quite good too. The company claimed the figure is 30 hours. It has atmospheric pressure optimization too.

Like the build quality of the headphone, the sound quality is nice too. It is Bluetooth enabled and you can pair it with any mobile phone and play music. A wired connection can be made for ultimate sound quality. A 3.5 mm jack and cable are supplied along with the headphones. 

The headphone has bass. This headphone is perfect for bass heads. The amount of bass it produces will satisfy the bass thirst of many. The bass is not bloated or with a long tail but tight and articulate. The texture of the music can be heard with this headphone. The mids are crisp and clean. It reveals a lot of details. The highs are silky and airy. You won’t be disappointed with the sound quality of these headphones. 

The driver unit is 1.57 inches in diameter. This is enough to pump bass into the system. The frequency response is between 4 Hz and 40,000 Hz. 

Pros
  • Sound quality
  • Noise cancellation
  • Bass
  • Battery life
Cons
  • Nothing at this price range.
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Hifiman Sundara

In the audio world. HIFIMAN is a very good brand that makes planar magnetic headphones. If you’re an audiophile and/or a headphone enthusiast, you would know about this headphone already. The name Sundara means beautiful in Sanskrit. Indeed the headphone is beautiful to look at. At the same time, its build quality is nice too. It might look fragile at the first site but it has good build quality. It is also one of the most comfortable headphones in this price range.

The clamping force is just adequate and it has huge ear pads. The earpads are soft and made of nice material. It gives ultimate comfort. The headphone has a circumaural or over the ear design. It is much comfortable than the headphone that is on the ear. The headband is made of leather and it evenly distributes the weight across the head. It also makes this headphone comfortable to wear.

The main reason to buy this headphone is its audio quality. It uses a driver called a planar magnetic driver. It is very thin and can respond to even the slightest sound signal. Hence, the audio quality out of this headphone is fantastic and unmatched by the dynamic driver. This can be the sole reason to buy this headphone. This makes it one of the best headphones under $500.

The frequency response of this headphone is from 6Hz to 75,000 Hz. The treble extension is because of the planar magnetic driver in place. However, you shouldn’t expect much from the bass department. The bass is nice and it’s there in the right amount. If you’re a bass head, try it and see if you like it.

Being an open-back headphone, it is tough to make good bass out of the driver. Open-back headphones also mean they leak the sound to the outside world. People sitting next to you can hear the sound you’re playing and similarly, all the noise from the external environment creeps inside the headphone. The headphone will shine with a dedicated amplifier. Phones can power up this headphone well, yet, a headphone amplifier can significantly improve the sound quality. As told already, it is one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • planar magnetic
  • sound quality
  • beautiful design
Cons
  • nothing at this price range
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Bower and Wilkins px7

The next one on our list is from the esteemed company Bower and Wilkins. They are audio experts and they know what they are doing. This headphone looks cool. It is lightweight as well. It is made up of carbon fibers as like most supercars are made. It is lightweight yet very very durable.

This headphone also has adaptive noise cancellation. The noise cancellation aggression is taken care of by the system that is inside and it sets the aggression automatically. This means you don’t have to manually set the noise cancellation feature to suit the environment. Additionally, You can set the noise cancellation on seven degrees of aggression. You can choose the one that works the best for you. The noise cancellation in this headphone is powerful but second only to the Sony in the list.

It is a wireless headphone and has all the controls on the headphone themselves. It has some nifty features like you can lift the ear cup of one ear to listen to what’s happening around and the music stops. You can resume the music by putting the ear cups back. 

The headphone comes in three colors. Space grey, silver, and carbon are all the colors. The headphones consist of 43.6mm sized drivers and they are tuned by the sound engineers who have tuned the renowned 800 series diamond loudspeakers that are found in Abby studios. Hence, the sound quality is fantastic. It has a brilliant battery life too. The headphone is claimed to have a battery back up of 30 hours. That’s enough for the longest flight in the world. Besides, there is fast charging as well. 15 minutes of quick charging would give you 5 hours of playback time. Hence, it is one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • Adaptive noise cancellation
  • Sound quality
  • Super light headphones
  • The auto pause and resume.
Cons
  • Nothing in the price range.
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Sennheiser momentum 3

Sennheiser momentum 3
Sennheiser momentum 3

This is the second Sennheiser product that is on this list. It is because the brand is very good. Sennheiser momentum 3 is a Bluetooth-enabled closed-back headphone. With a closed-back design, there will be no noise going out of the system or coming into the system. This way, the sound quality is improved compared to Sennheiser HD 600.

The frequency response of this headphone is 6Hz to 22,000 Hz. This means you will hear from the rumble of bass all the way to airy highs with Sennheiser’s sound signature in it. The sound quality is very very good. The default equalizer has everything you would need. The bass is strong, the mid is silky smooth and the highs are airy and clean. There is no harshness in it. The bass is fast and tight. The headphone comes with equalizers.

You can connect the headphone to the app to access the equalizer. It has a few presets and manual adjustments for customizable sound. In every case, the sound quality was very good.

You will get features like an auto-pause on removing the headset from the ear etc. but the sound is up there with other competitors and in a unique sennheizer way.

Another feature of this headphone is its noise-canceling ability. It is not the best in the world but does the job well. Although they cannot compete with Sony or Bose, it can still keep much of the noise away. Sennheiser’s 3-way active noise cancellation is effective on various occasions.

The headphone has Bluetooth 5.0. It supports Bluetooth profiles like A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP. It supports the codecs like SBC, aptX™, aptX™ Low Latency, AAC. This means you can play HD audio on the headphone. The headphone also has NFC built-in so that you can touch the phone to pair it. 

The 3.5 mm to 2.5mm cable is included in the box and you can connect it and bypass the Bluetooth when the battery is dead. Sound-wise, there is not much of a difference. The battery life is good. It has a built-in USB type C using which you can recharge the built-in battery. The input power supply must be 5.0 V DC, 330mA. With a full charge, you can expect 17 hours of playback time. For everything it offers, it is one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • Sound quality
  • Bass
  • Equalizer
  • Wireless
Cons
  • Nothing in this price range
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Grado RS2e

Grado is an international brand that is concentrated on headphones. They make really nice headphones for the money. They are hand-crafted and made with perfection. The casing is made of mahogany wood and the build quality is paramount. Since It is handmade in Brooklyn, each one will get special attention.

This reference series is one of the best headphones under $500 from the house of grado. It has an 8 conductor cable for superior sound quality. There will only be a negligible amount of transmission losses. 

The headphone comes with L cushion. This is an over-the-ear headphone. It can never be as comfortable as the over-the-ear headphones. But for an on-ear headphone, it is very comfortable. The earpads are very soft and the headbands are comfortable as well. It comes with a leather band and it evenly distributes weight across the head. Overall, the headphones are very comfortable. 

It is a dynamic headphone. The driver is distressed so that the headphone sounds relaxed. The headphones have each driver matched with the other driver in the headphone. The matching is done at 0.5db. This has a huge advantage. The speaker not only sounds great but also images accurately. The imaging in this headphone is perfect. All instruments are laid across the sound stage and the phantom center is excellent. Speaking of the sound stage, the sound stage is wide. It is because of the open-back nature of the headphone. 

The headphones have the same caveats as far as the open-back nature goes. As usual, there will be a sound leakage so that people around can hear the sound you’re listening to. And also, the noise will creep into the ear.

The frequency response is about 14 Hz to 28,000 Hz. It can go to the maximum loudness of 99.8 dB which is great. Not many will go this loud on a headphone. The nominal impedance is just 32 ohms. You can comfortably power it with an ordinary cellphone. Having a headphone amplifier is an added advantage. This is simply one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • Open back design
  • Build quality
  • Retro design
Cons
  • On the ear, the headphone is uncomfortable for some
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Auduze LCD 1

Auduze is a well-known brand in the audiophile community. Their flagship headphones Auduze LCD 4 are a treat to listen to. The new LCD-1 has inherited very well from the bigger models.

To begin with, it is an open-back headphone. The music goes out and the noise comes in. So, it has to be used in a noise-controlled environment. Being an open-back design, it has a huge sound stage. It is fantastic for mixing and mastering. The phantom center is very accurate and focused. The imaging is layered between your ears. You can pinpoint the location of the instrument in the sound stage. Like studios, it is equally a good device to listen at home for normal listening. Be it critical imaging or casual listening, the headphone aces it. It is a benchmark for critical listening.

It is a planar magnetic headphone and therefore the sound is fantastic. It has a 90 mm planar magnetic driver which is known for the best performance in other LCD models. The good thing is that the product is hand-crafted in California, USA. It has a patented Fluxor™ magnet and Uniforce™ voice coil which is responsible for the fantastic sound quality. It is very light enough for transient response. This means you can hear the transient sounds like a snare, kick drum just like the real one. The driver is capable of producing frequencies from 10 Hz to 50 kHz. It covers all the spectrum very well.

The sound quality is fantastic in this headphone. The bass, mids, and treble are just right. You cannot expect heavy bass as it is an open-back headphone. Otherwise, it is a balanced headphone with an open back design. Hence, this headphone is one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • Planar magnetic headphones
  • Sound quality
  • Balanced sound
  • Imaging
Cons
  • Bass is a little less
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Bose Quiet comfort QC 35 II

You might have wondered, where is the Bose in the list. Here it is. Bose makes good headphones. Their speakers are a different story but their headphones are really good. The headphone looks good. It is one of the best headphones under $500 with less weight. It is very light. The ear cups are very very soft. You will forget its presence after some time of wearing it. The top band is made of fabric lining and it is soft to touch. It evilly distributes the weight across the head.

The headphone is a noise cancellation headphone. Bose is known for its noise-canceling headphones. The headphone filters out almost all low-frequency noise and it also decently eliminates high-frequency noises. These are most useful in an airplane where the engine noise is a bit higher or it is useful in train and buses where the external noise is highest.

The sound quality of this headphone is decently good. It cannot beat any other headphones on the list but I can stand well as a good-looking good sounding headphone in the market. The bass is nice. It doesn’t hit like a Sony as far as bass goes. But the bass presence is there. It punches well too. But not at all overpowering. The mid is sweet. Vocals come out nicely. The bass doesn’t ruin the mids. The highs are nice and have a warm sound. The highs are rolled off a bit in my opinion but for long listening sessions, it is not tiresome. That doesn’t mean treble isn’t there. But it is a bit rolled off. 

The battery life is good too. It can last 20 hours as it claims. The headphone has Bluetooth and you can pair it with any smartphone. If you like a wired connection, it is there as well. There is a button to trigger assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, etc. Bose is such a no-nonsense headphone and it is one of the best headphones under $500.

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Noise cancellation
  • Good sound quality
  • Wireless
Cons
  • Wish the battery life is a bit higher.
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Ultrasone performance 880

Ultrasone performance 880 is a studio monitor headphone. The build quality is premium and looks great. The ear cups are soft and it is an over-the-ear headphone design. There is plenty of room between the surface and the ear leaving the ear to breathe well. The headphone ear caps are made of soft memory foam and it instantly seals the headphone from the external world. This is why it is comfortable to use. The headband has a good cushion and therefore it is comfortable to wear. The build quality is great that the slider height adjuster is made of metal.

It is a 32-ohm headphone and you can drive it with a normal cellphone but a proper amplifier is always recommended. The frequency response of this headphone is 7 to 35,000 Hz. This means you will hear the rumble of the bass and the goodness of the treble equally. The mids are balanced and they sound more natural

It uses a 40 mm driver and it has inbuilt s Logic processing and thus it gives a natural sound. The maximum SPL it can go to is 94dB. It is a closed-back headphone and thus the noise level is at the minimum. For what it offers, it is one of the best headphones under $500

Pros
  • Memory foam earcups
  • Sound quality
  • S logic processing
Cons
  • Nothing in the price range.
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Conclusion

I have listed a few headphones here. Each one has its strength and weaknesses. Some are good in sound quality, and some are comfortable to wear. If you ask me I would pick up the Auduze LCD-1 for its sound quality, comfort, and planar magnetic nature of the headphones. Thanks for reading.
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