Electrostatic headphones work on an entirely different and more advanced principle than the traditional headphones that we usually use these days. A lot of greatest headphones of all time have been made using this technology. Here, we have compiled a list of best electrostatic headphones. But before moving onto our recommendations, it will be better if you know a little more about the electrostatic headphones and their pros and cons.
If you want to hear the utmost clarity, Electrostatic headphones are the way to go. These type of headphones sounds dramatically clearer than any conventional headphones. Now you must be wondering if they sound so much better then Why we usually don’t see them or talk about them? Well, this technology has the limitations that make it extremely expensive, and the headphones are not so practical for day to day usage.
Best Electrostatic Headphones
Electrostatic drivers have an ultra-thin electrically charged diaphragm that is being put between the two metal electrodes. When the sound waves are applied on the metal plates, the diaphragm moves and produces sound. And the sound reproduction that you get is immaculate and have almost zero distortion. So let’s jump onto the list and find out few of the world’s most expensive and extremely high-quality audio Electrostatic headphones.
1. Stax SR-L500
Stax was the first company to introduce the Electrostatic headphones back in 1960. Stax SR-L500 is an entry level electrostatic headphones. Once you hear the headphone, you would not want to move back to the dynamic headphones. Regarding clarity, it has no match even the Sennheiser HD 700 which is a great headphone, is not as much as crisp as the Stax one.
There are also few limitations to this headphone. You can not just plug and play music via the 3.5mm headphone jack. You have to use specially designed headphone amps. Stax has its range of the amplifiers, but you can also choose other amps designed for the electrostatic headphones.
Stax SR-L500 is an open-back headphone with over the ear design. The comfort will never be an issue with this one thanks to the high-quality synthetic leather pads that spread the pressure uniformly over the ear. This is a costly headphone, but if electrostatic is what you are looking for. Stax SR-L500 is the best affordable headphone.
2. Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic Headphone
The second alternative that you can consider to the Stax SR-L500 is Koss ESP-950 at an almost same price. It is a pinnacle of the audio production featuring an over the ear design. The best part is, it does not feel as bloated and heavy as other headphones in this list. It features electrostatic transducer design which offers unbeatable sound quality and extremely low distortion for a unique listening experience. The bass is deep and clean with the remarkable power. It operates in the extended frequency range from 8 Hz to 35 kHz and has a very high sensitivity of 98 dB.
Professional music creators have to work for hours and hours with the headphone on the head. So comfort is the principal factor. One would not like to be distracted by the pain and uneasiness of the headphone. Koss ESP-950 takes cares that all your concentration should be on music. It has pivoting earcups along with a detachable and adjustable headband to ensure comfort and portability. For peace of mind, it comes with limited lifetime warranty.
3. Stax SR-009
Stax SR-009 is the outcome of years of research and experience of Stax in the field of Electrostatic headphones. It produces precise and clear sound in the entire frequency range from very low to very high. These over the ear headphones will let you hear every string of the guitar. These headphones overcome the barrier of the music producer and listener and deliver precisely what the artist has recorded.
It has been engineered from pro-grade aluminum for durability while keeping the weight as low as possible. The earpads have been beautifully crafted from real leather and soft cushioning material. It has to be run by an electrostatic Amp. It has a frequency response of 5 Hz to 42000 Hz and 101dB SPL. It weighs around 590 grams with cable which is not that much considering it is an electrostatic headphone.
4. Sennheiser Orpheus HE90
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Sennheiser, everyone audiophile knows this name. Sennheiser has earned an outstanding reputation in the headphone industry. From $10 earphone to $10000 headphone, Sennheiser has something to offer in every segment. Orpheus HE90 is the Sennheiser’s step into the electrostatic headphones segment. Though it is an extremely expensive headphone way more than its dynamic series top headphone, Sennheiser HD 800. Is Orpheus HE90 value for money?
The sound clarity is beyond the level of dynamic headphones that’s because of the speed and accuracy of the driver to act to the sound signals. And distortions almost zero, forget about them. If someone is investing in such a tremendous amount, he/she will not only worry about the sound but also for comfort and looks. Sennheiser Orpheus HE 90 headphones look beautiful but could have been more stylish and appealing. The earcups are lined with wood, and the back side features a black color metal grille. The earpad cushioning is very gentle on ears for extended work hours.
5. HIFIMAN Shangri-La
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Hifiman Shangri-La is a complete system of electrostatic headphone and Amplifier. The headphone utilizes a nano-tech driver technology. The diaphragm used is just 0.001 mm thick which won’t be visible with the naked human eye. This ensures lightning-fast high-frequency response with virtually no distortion. It operates in an extended frequency range of 7 Hz to 50 kHz. The whole unit will cost you somewhere around $50k which is a hell lot of money.
Since there is zero competition in the segment, we cannot estimate if the price is fair or not. It is for sure Hifiman Shangri-La is one of the best sounding headphones that are in the market as of now. It does sound not only amazing but also looks terrific. Everything is very beautifully crafted to give it an eye-catchy look.
6. Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1
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Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1 is the beauty with a purpose. It has a striking design with utmost comfort. The amplifier to power up the electrostatic headphone sits on the glass and a single block of Carrara marble. I did not understand why Sennheiser is so much concerned about the lavish looks which have increased the cost of this unit even further.
Moving ahead to the sound quality which might be of more concern to you. It works in the extremely extended audio frequency range from 8 Hz to more than 100 kHz, which you might not have seen before. That’s why this electrostatic headphone is unique and amazing at the same time. And the distortions are at the lowest level ever measured in any sound system, that is 0.01% at 1kHz and 100 dB SPL. Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1 is something that is not readily available, even though it is not as much practical. Still, audiophiles like us love to have it.