Are you looking for best Planar Magnetic Headphones to over the limitations of sound imposed in the dynamic headphones? You have landed at the right place. Benefits of Planar magnetic headphones are well-known among the audiophiles. Though this technology was known for last 40 years, still it was not that much production
A few years back planar magnetic headphones used to have a hefty price tag, usually above $1000. But recently, many manufacturers started making the planar magnetic headphones. As a result, you can get a high-quality planar magnetic headphone starting at $200. Before moving onto the list let’s now a little more about the planar magnetic headphones and their architecture, you can also better judge the best option for you.
Planar magnetic headphones come between the dynamic driver headphones and electrostatic headphones. These headphones use an ultra-fast-moving and super thin diaphragm which is held between two magnets.
Now the working principle is somewhat similar to like that of dynamic headphones. However, in dynamic headphones, the sound is produced by moving the voice coil, but in planar magnetic headphones, the music is composed by pulling the diaphragm in and out from one ring within the driver.
The charge is spread across the large thin flat-film driver. So the force is not focused on a small part, it’s covered all over the diaphragm. This setup requires larger magnets on both sides of the membrane. As a result, these headphones are quite big and bulky.
The evenly suspended diaphragm material in between permanent magnetic fields makes the planar magnetic drivers very resistant to the almost all kinds of electronic and audio distortions. The response time is swift, with a little or no transient sound when the drivers do not get high or low frequencies from the audio source. In short, what you hear is the exact sound that does not even require the aid of a headphones amplifier.
Nothing is perfect; there are some cons too in planar magnetic headphones also. These headphones are quite heavy and big. You can use them outside, but it is going to be a hassle. Do remember one thing “Magneplanar,” “Isodynamic,” or “Orthodynamic,” these are all the same thing and works on the same operating principle that is planar magnetic drivers. Now you must have got a good understanding about the planar magnetic headphones lets see what we have got for you.
Best Planar Magnetic Headphones – The List
Gone are the days when it used to be hard to find a high-fidelity planar magnetic headphone in the affordable range. Now, you can get a decent planar magnetic headphone as low as $200, and as usual, we don’t have an upper limit. But you can get a premium planar magnetic headphone for around $2000 to $3000. This list includes all, budget ones to excellent ones.
1. Fostex T50RP
So starting ones with the affordable ones, you can look out Fostex T50RP. It is an ultimate bang for the buck. The possibilities are endless from comfort mods to sound tweaks being does to this headphone. Its 3000 mW maximum input level complies with the various professional uses. The back is semi-open for more realistic sound and bass response.
The earpads and headband are so well designed to keep the comfort at top priority. It has a detachable cable option and comes with two cables, 3m, and 1.2 m to retain a right balance of profession and traveler inside you. It operates in extended frequency range of 15 Hz to 35 kHz for deep bass response and crisp highs without suppressing the vocals. When we talk about the planar magnetic headphones, it was evident that sound is more precise and accurate as compared to dynamic headphones that we usually see in the market.
2. HIFIMAN HE-400S
HIFIMAN has done a good job by bringing the planar magnetic headphones concept to a competitive value. Hifiman has an excellent long record of making headphones, and over time they have improved a lot. Hifiman HE-400S delivered a lovely crisp and detailed mid and punchy bass. Well, the design is not that much impressive, and everyone has their point of view. So I will that up to you, you can be a better judge your requirements. The large earpads and light weights make it ideal to wear for long hours and carry around with you.
The synthetic leather covers are suitable for comfort but feel low quality. Hifiman HE-400S is an excellent sounding headphone. The soundstage is decent and depends on what you are listening. It operates in the frequency range of 20 Hz to 35 kHz and offers an impedance of 22 ohms. It can handle a max of 6-watt power and is quite loud having a sensitivity of 98 dB. Overall, it is one of the best options in planar magnetic headphones of this price range.
3. AUDEZE SINE
Audeze Sine is the smallest form factor planar magnetic headphone in this list. It is the cheapest one that you can get from Audeze’s Planar magnetic headphones. When I first see it I was quite surprised to see it, and I thought, Is it a Planar magnetic headphone? It has a reliable build quality. The frames are made for aluminum for durability with a leather finish for comfort and add a taste of style. You can even fold them flat for easy portability.
With Audeze Sine, you get the option to choose from the two included detachable cables, 3.5 mm standard and a lightning cable for iPhone. The lightning cable has a built-in amplifier, DAC, and DSP and it will draw power from the phone. The lightning cable also has a microphone for voice calls and Siri-voice commands. This headphone is ideal for creators who are always on the go.
4. OPPO PM3
Oppo PM3 is a closed back headphone that is ideal for use in noisy environments. These headphones have a compact form factor and less weight comparatively. It uses the same planar magnetic drivers that we have seen in the much appreciated Oppo PM-1. Oppo PM-1 is still a great planar magnetic headphone. But from a customer point of view, it needed some improvements. With Oppo PM3 you can see the changes that make it even better over its predecessor. The first thing is the comfort and fit. You won’t feel like you are wearing a planar magnetic headphone on your head.
It is indeed a stunning pair of headphones. You get the incredible definition across the entire soundscape with well-defined lows and crystal-clear, natural highs. In the box, you get a standard a 3.5 mm cable and a long cable for use with your headphone amplifier. The synthetic earpads are a bit turn off when you pay such a huge amount. But they are soft and comfortable. You won’t feel too hot and sweaty, which is also a plus point for a closed back headphone. The build quality is robust and can bear regular physical abuse. Under $500, you won’t be getting better than this one among the Planar magnetic headphones.
5. AUDEZE EL-8
Audeze EL-8 comes in two variants open-back and closed-back. The one we have mentioned here is an open-back EL-8 from Audeze and recommends you the same. It offers you the pro-grade sound and clarity without a bloated and bulky design. It is stylish, comfortable to use, comfortable and maintains Audeze’s sound quality that customers crave for.
The space-age materials used in the diaphragm helps in fast response times, higher resolution and reduced distortion. Audeze’s patented Uniforce voice-coil technology spreads the driving force across the entire membrane for nearly zero distortion. To curb down the resonance, patented Fazor elements are used. It is marvelously designed for a right balance of style and professionalism.
6. AUDEZE LCD 2
Audeze LCD 2 is the young brother of the ultra-premium Audeze LCD 4. This headphone has been around for few years but still an excellent planar magnetic headphone. The midrange is refined and clear that every creator craves for, so are the bass and treble. The only thing that did not impress me much is the comfort. Don’t get me wrong here; they are comfortable to wear but not for very long sessions. They are a bit heavy and bloated in size. It becomes a tedious task to carry them around and use them in public places.
Rest of the things are praiseworthy. The finishing is good. You won’t face wear and tear problems any time soon if you handle them not too roughly. The cutting-edge design technologies and advanced circuitry make them one of the best sounding headphones under $1000 from the music production point of view.
7. Oppo PM-1
Have a budget of $1000; Oppo PM-1 is great planar magnetic headphones that have a premium touch. Even though it was launched four years back still an excellent option for the music enthusiasts, this is probably among the best headphones ever made but costs a whole lot. Anyways, keeping aside the price, let’s talk about what it offers. If we dig dip down the Oppo PM-1 architecture, it has a super-thin, seven-layer diaphragm with a spiraling pattern of flat conductors. Because of twice number of conductors in a magnetic field, it can deliver higher sensitivity, more drive force, and better damping.
Quality won’t be an issue; Oppo PM-1 is designed from the best materials to have a right balance of weight and sturdiness. The earpads and headband are comfortable enough for long sessions. They weigh around 395 grams which is not a big deal considering it is a planar magnetic headphone with all the cushioning done. They sound so well; you will get too addicted to them for watching movies and other stuff. Everything is evident and precise, like the natural ones.
8. Audeze LCD-3
There is no denying that Audeze LCD-3 is very expensive but so is the sound quality and comfort that matches the value. If you have got around $2000 in your hand, Audeze LCD-3 might be right for you. They are heavy and bloated, but the styling looks stunning and eye-catchy. It produces an engaging-midrange with powerful, rich bass that draws you into the music. Every bit of music is clear and precise for an ambient soundstage experience.
It has an ultra-thin diaphragm which is thinner than a human hair and more substantial than typical headphones to deliver faster response with almost zero distortions. The internal patented Fazor elements keep track of the sound waves to avoid distortions. Audeze planar magnetic headphones use some tropical West African Zebrano hardwood as the outer shell to give them unique premium looks. Rest of the things like earpads was cushioning, headbands and joints have been precisely designed to leave no room for disappointment.
9. HIFIMAN Edition X – HE1000
Hifiman Edition X HE1000 is the company’s flagship planar magnetic headphone. We have two more Hifiman’s planar magnetic headphones in this post. They are quite affordable. But The Edition X HE1000 will cost you ten times more that is around $2000. Hifiman features a beautiful wood color earcups. The headband offers a uniform distribution of pressure over your head.
This time Hifiman engineers have also reduced the earcup depth to lower down the weight. Now the diaphragm is much closer to your ears. Thus the sound is more engaging and precise. After a good-burn in the period, you will notice a significant change in the sound quality. The best thing about these headphones is the treble part. It has an enormously extended frequency range that extends from 8 Hz all the way to the 65 kHz and has a sensitivity of 90 dB. Hifiman Edition X HE1000 has an impedance of 35 ohms and to use it to the fullest you will have to connect it with a suitable amplifier or DAC.
10. AUDEZE LCD-4
Audeze LCD is outstanding but eye-watering expensive. It is an open-back headphone with massive 106 mm planar magnetic drivers and 200 ohms impedance. It is specially designed for professional use. Extended frequency response from 5 Hz to 50 kHz and high-sensitivity keeps it ahead of its rivals. It doesn’t have much competitors cause of its price, which not everyone could invest in the headphone.
Talking about the design, the headband is made up of carbon fiber. A combination of wood and polished metal on the earcups feels durable and appealing. Then a dash of leather on the headband and earcups takes care of your comfort and fitting. They are very massive and weighs more massive than all the headphones here. Even though Audeze tried to keep the weight down by using carbon fiber headband and also with the driver technology, it still could not cut down that much.
If you have just bought a new pair, give them some time around 40 to 50 hours to settle up the sound. Then you will get to hear the best Audeze LCD-4 could deliver. This pair of headphone has the best bass response especially in the lower range thanks to the LCD-4 has second flexor magnets. It sounds incredibly open in the midrange and treble. Overall, the LCD-4 is the most advanced planar magnetic headphones to date, but it also costs double to the competitors.