Planar magnetic headphones have continually grown in popularity in recent years. They have a reputation as some of the best-sounding headphones. But there is a large selection of options available.
This guide takes a deeper look at the best planar magnetic headphones you can buy today. From top-tier premium options to budget-friendly choices. The highlights are below but read on to see our full selection of recommendations.
The Top Planar Magnetic Headphones Overall
Planar magnetic headphones deliver exceptionally accurate sound. Sound that is fantastic for both casual listening and studio work. Below we highlight some of the best choices that are worth your attention.
HIFIMAN Arya Review
- Super Consistent – The Arya displays superb accuracy across the frequency spectrum. While there are a few blemishes here and there, these are among the most accurate headphones out there.
- Spacious Delivery – The soundstage and imaging provide a broad and sweeping sonic soundscape. Exceptionally layered and nuanced recordings come out brilliantly.
- Balanced Weight – Compared to other planar magnetic headphones, these are lightweight and nimble. A good change from other bulkier options.
- Precise Engineering – Excellent components throughout. These are premium planar magnetic headphones with fantastic attention to every facet of the build.
- Long Ear Cups – The elongated ear cups provide ample room, but the bottom of the ear cup may extend too low for some head shapes.
HIFIMAN headphones have a reputation as some of the best planar magnetic headphones available today. And the Arya model is among the most premium.
These amazing headphones deliver fantastic accuracy that brings life and clarity to your music. If the initial recording were sub-par, these would easily highlight those issues. The bass response is solid, the midrange is well defined, and the highs don’t appear overly sharp. Appropriately balanced.
The superior sound quality is matched with the excellent build quality. This pair of headphones will last you years and continue to perform to the end.
These are expensive planar magnetic headphones, but you get what you pay for. Premium quality and sensational sound.
Audeze LCD-X Review
- Supreme Transparency – Highly accurate delivery across the entire frequency range. Fantastic for picking out details in music or your mix.
- Embracing Sound – Good bass response and tight and focused mids. A dynamic sound signature that is engaging.
- Sturdy Construction – Every component offers superior quality. From the modern drivers to the metal frame and everything in between. Dependable quality from an iconic brand.
- Mild Clamping – Relaxed fit that still maintains good stability. Weight distribution is also excellent, thanks to the broad headband.
- Heavy – These are pretty heavy at 1.35 lbs. (612 grams). You will notice them on your head, but they are still a reasonable option for long listening sessions.
Audeze delivers with the spectacular LCD-X. This pair of planar magnetic headphones provide impeccable clarity and detail. This detailed sound makes it a premium choice for analytical listening.
Often highly analytical headphones tend to sound a little lifeless. But these buck that trend and offer generous and pleasing audio that invites and nurtures your ears with stunning quality.
There is a reason that these are among the most popular planar magnetic headphones out there. High performance, exceptional build quality, and surprising comfort despite the bulky build.
Look no further if you are looking for audiophile headphones with a strong reputation in a studio setting. One of the best planar magnetic headphones you can buy today.
HIFIMAN Ananda Review
- Natural Sound – Much like most HIFIMAN headphones, these offer exceptional clarity and detail. This detailed sound is also very natural and inviting. Clear and precise and a capable contender for serious studio work.
- Flexible Headband – The newly designed headband design adjusts well to your head shape. It is a firm fit but not uncomfortable.
- Appropriate Price – These are substantially cheaper than HIFIMAN’s top-of-the-line offerings. Yet the drop in performance is negligible. Good balance between price and performance.
- Trustworthy Build – These planar headphones offer a high level of build quality. From the durable headband to the robust ear cups, you can depend on these.
- Potentially Awkward Cups – Much like the Arya headphones, these elongated ear cups could be uncomfortable for some people.
The HIFIMAN Ananda is a perfect example of balancing quality sound with a reasonable price point. Planar magnetic headphones can be expensive. And while these are not cheap, for the money they provide excellent value.
The natural sound is a highlight. Punchy bass response and pleasant mids are backed up by a clean top end. At the same time, these don’t present much sub-bass, which is an issue with many open-back headphones.
Comfort is also high with delightful earcup padding that retains plenty of breathability. The fit is on the firmer side, but that adds stability.
If you want headphones with impressive sound quality, it is hard to look past the Ananda. An excellent middle ground between cheap planar magnetic headphones and premium choices.
Avantone Pro Planar Headphones Review
- Refined Sound – Superb sound quality that is fresh and inviting. Crisp delivery across the full range without a hint of muddiness or distortion.
- Flat Delivery – The frequency response is relatively neutral. This delivers accurate sound that is as close to the source material as possible.
- Great Comfort – The large ear cups feature fantastic padding that is soft and inviting. But the coating does attract dust, so an occasional clean-up is in order.
- Flexible Connection – Unlike most other headphones, these allow you to choose which side you plug in the cable. Excellent flexibility to adjust to your preferred style.
- Bulky Design – The supersized earcups are clunky, and the unit comes in at one lb. (454 grams). Not the most attractive or ergonomic option out there.
Avatone Pro occupies an interesting space in the audio market. They have an excellent reputation for re-releasing previously popular products from other companies. But that isn’t all they do. They also develop their own proprietary gear.
These planar headphones are a great example of what the technology has to offer. Great sound quality that is precise and authentic. Plus, a broad and generous soundstage makes listening to music a joy.
Due to the high level of neutrality, these are also an option for mixing and mastering. Despite the chunky build, they are also reasonably comfortable for long sessions.
An impressive pair of open-back headphones and among the best planar magnetic headphones you can buy at this price point.
Avantone Pro Planar
Audeze LCD-2 Review
best planar magnetic headphones for bass
- Punchy Bass – The LCD-2 Classic features a satisfying and accurate bass response. Plenty of warmth and distinct kick without boominess.
- High Comfort – Super comfortable planar magnetic headphones despite the relatively high weight. The ear padding is firm, secure, and pleasant.
- Dependable Build – Premium quality materials throughout. Rugged metal construction is up to the challenge of frequent use.
- Wide Soundstage – Generous soundstage that features exceptional spatial placement. It makes music sound broad and enveloping at the same time.
- Overly Warm – The top end rolls off aggressively. Benefits from some extra EQing to get the most out of them.
USA-based Audeze brings back a long-time favorite with the LCD-2. It features a warm sound profile that is inviting and satisfying. The bass is a highlight and something other planar magnetic headphones can struggle with.
The midrange is also exceptionally accurate. These handle various music genres with ease and finesse. Despite a slightly flat top-end, there is still plenty of definition in the upper mids.
It comes at a high price point, but compared to others in this range, it is a stand-out option. Super high-quality build and a dynamic sound profile. It does need a little EQ tweaking but once dialed in, it is an exceptional performer.
With excellent imaging and soundstage, these are easily one of the best planar magnetic headphones on the market.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro Review
- Excellent Sound Quality – The Deva Pro offers a satisfying sound profile that punches well above its price point. Good resolution and clarity with impressive balance.
- Enjoyable Fit – The combination of plastic and metal components helps keep the weight down. Comfortable and ergonomic fit with nice pleather ear padding.
- Affordable Price – When you factor in the flexibility on offer and the impressive sound profile, these deliver exceptional value for money.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – One of the few open-back planar magnetic headphones that feature Bluetooth technology. The added dongle isn’t overly heavy and performs well.
- A Little Bright – The top-end leans slightly to the bright side. If you dislike a bright top end, these might not be the best choice.
Flexibility is the name of the game with the HIFIMAN Deva Pro. Most planar magnetic headphones require a wired connection, so it is a welcome sight to have an alternative available.
The performance over Bluetooth is also impressive. Yes, there is some quality degradation, but overall it isn’t as noticeable as other wireless headphones. It is worth noting battery life will fluctuate depending on the codec in use. But even then, a range between 4-8hrs will often be enough for most situations.
The wired performance is also exceptional for headphones in this price range. Deep bass, well-rounded mids, but slightly bright highs.
Build quality is also quite good for its price point. If you want a pair of headphones with Bluetooth, these are easily among the best planar magnetic headphones you can pick up.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro
The Best Budget Planar Magnetic Headphones
Planar magnetic headphones tend to be rather expensive. But there has been a shift to providing entry-level options for people that want to try out this headphone technology. Below are our picks for the best affordable planar magnetic headphones.
Dekoni Blue Review
- Pleasant Sound – The Dekoni Blue features an enjoyable and well-rounded sound profile. It is non-fatiguing, warm, and full.
- Good Price Point – These offer exceptional value for the quality on display. They reach a little beyond the super-budget range but are worth every dollar.
- Outstanding Comfort – Legendary Dekoni comfort level. Super plush padding that envelops your ears.
- Striking Appearance – The blue color sets it apart from many other plain planar magnetic headphones. A little retro vibe in the modern era.
- Not Accurate – These headphones are not the best for analytical listening. A pleasing sound signature, but it is not accurate enough for studio work.
The Dekoni Blue takes the existing framework of the popular Fostex T50RP MK3 and elevates it further.
The real highlight is the sublime comfort level. Dekoni is renowned for its ear padding products, and that expertise translates perfectly here. These planar magnetic headphones are perfect for long listening sessions and are inviting and secure on your head.
The low end offers plenty of warmth and punch. The mid-range is well defined, and the top end provides a tight response. But these do lean more towards a consumer sound profile. Not a great choice for purists or studio pros.
The Dekoni Blue is among the best planar magnetic headphones for people with a modest budget up their sleeve.
HIFIMAN HE4XX Review
- Great Sound – Planar magnetic sound quality in a cheap form. They are satisfying throughout the entire range but a little unbalanced.
- Hybrid Ear Padding – The adaptive ear padding offers a high level of comfort. It is easy to find the perfect fit when combined with the adjustable sliders.
- Cheap Price – These offer an aggressive price that makes it affordable to enter the planar magnetic headphones market.
- Impressive Build Quality – For headphones this cheap, I was surprised by how well constructed they are. Excellent component quality for this price range.
- Needs Power – Despite the claim that these will work fine with lower-powered devices, there is a noticeable drop in quality. An amp is still ideal to drive these to their full potential.
Massdrop has teamed up with HIFIMAN to bring a classic back to life. And it is an impressive option with a price that is very appealing.
Good sound quality is what you would expect from HIFIMAN headphones. Excellent detail and plenty of character. The mids are a little forward, but this is fantastic for vocal-centric recordings. Bass also offers a decent amount of punch.
These offer a straightforward and uncomplicated design. Clean appearance backed up by high-quality materials that stand the test of time. The newly designed headband is a highlight and features spring steel that retains its form.
For headphones this cheap, it is hard to be overly critical. The balance between performance and price is superb. One of the best planar magnetic headphones for those on a budget.
HIFIMAN HE400SE Review
- Tonally Accurate – The HE400SE retains a good level of neutrality across the frequency response range. Not blisteringly precise, but enough to be able to pick up the subtleties in the music you listen to.
- Super Cheap – These are extraordinarily cheap for planar magnetic headphones. Quality is lower, but you still get exceptional value for money.
- Stealth Magnets – The refined planar magnetic drivers deliver when it comes to clarity. The stealth magnets do an excellent job of keeping distortion at bay.
- Clean Design – Simple and refined with a touch of flair. An excellent balance between colors and form factor. Not overly flashy but also not cheap looking.
- Small Ear Opening – If you have larger than average ears, you’ll struggle to find a comfortable fit.
Quality sound at a low price is usually a mutually exclusive thing. But the HIFIMAN HE400SE bucks this trend and provides an affordable yet capable sounding pair of planar magnetic headphones.
The tonality is pleasing, warm, and inviting. Audio quality should not be this good at such a low price, but here we are. Of course, if you want superior sound quality, you’ll need to invest in a headphone amplifier to get the most out of these. But even without one, these still perform pretty well.
The comfort level is also well-executed. The ear cups feature good ear pads, but the opening is tight for more prominent ears. The headband padding is also ample and comfortable for long listening sessions.
If you want to squeeze every last drop of value from your money, the HE400SE should be on your list of options.
HIFIMAN HE5XX Review
- Pure But Not Lifeless – The quality sound that emanates from the HE5XX is relatively neutral but not to the point of blandness. Plenty of vibrancy without too much fidelity loss.
- Lightweight Design – This redesign grants a massive reduction in overall weight. The HE500 series headphones these are inspired by were chunky and cumbersome. This lighter design is far more forgiving.
- Relaxed Clamping – Working in tandem with the lighter design is a relaxed clamping force. The ear cups also feature good ear pads that add to the casual and comfortable feel.
- Economical – The price point is exceptionally enticing if you are on a budget. Planar magnetic technology often results in a high price, but these are pretty reasonable.
- Different Sound Profile – There are several changes to the sound profile from the original. If you want a replica of that sound, these won’t deliver.
This is another classic reborn, thanks to the collaboration with Massdrop. This time the iconic HE5oo Series headphones get the upgrade treatment. And for the most part, the improvements are a huge step up from the original.
There are a couple of notable changes from the original. The new sound profile offers excellent clarity and a high level of accuracy. Only the mid-range features a slightly boosted sound. But for casual listening, this isn’t always a bad thing.
By far the most impressive change is the dramatic drop in weight. Comfort levels are head and shoulders above the original and improve in every aspect.
If you want a cheap pair of planar magnetic headphones, it is hard not to consider these. Some of the best sound quality you can find at this price point.
Fostex T50RP MK3 Review
- Refreshing Sound Signature – Fostex has an excellent reputation for high-performance sound at a low price, and these are among the best. Plenty of punch but also high levels of clarity
- Clean Separation – The move from bass to mids to highs is well defined with minimal bleed across the spectrum. Clean definition.
- Long-Lasting – Sturdy construction with the majority of the components of high quality. Rugged semi-open planar magnetic headphones.
- Budget-Friendly – One of the cheapest planar magnetic headphones you can buy today. A perfect entry point.
- Poor Ear Pads – The ear pads are skinny and don’t provide a comfortable fit. You’ll likely want to invest in some alternate pads.
The Fostex T50RP MK3 is among the most popular planar magnetic headphones. And it is no surprise considering how cheap these are.
The high-quality planar magnetic drivers deliver excellent sound quality. Meaty bass that isn’t muddy, clean forward-facing mids, and good levels of precision in the top end. These are not the most balanced, but they are fun to listen to.
Unfortunately, some of that fun dissipates after dealing with the subpar ear pads. It is one of the first things people recommend you upgrade. But that is also a strong selling point of the T50RP MK3. It offers plenty of flexibility to mod these to your preference.
If you like the flexibility to play around with your headphones, these are a decent choice. Plus, they easily make the list of best budget planar magnetic headphones at this price.
Fostex T50RP MK3
The Best Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
The vast majority of planar magnetic headphones offer an open-back design. This is a critical component to achieving a broad soundstage and accurate sound. But sound leakage and noise isolation are non-existent in open-back headphones. Below we take a closer look at some closed-back headphones that offer these qualities.
Audeze LCD-XC Review
- Sensational Sound – The LCD-XC delivers some of the best performance for a planar magnetic headphone. Sublime lows, generous mids, and detailed highs. An exceptional listening experience.
- Premium Quality – Component quality is supreme. Everything from the planar magnetic drivers to the ear cups is top-notch. Nothing to fault and a pair of headphones that can go the distance.
- No Distortion – Not a hint of distortion even at ridiculous volume levels. Superior sound quality that is pristine and clean.
- Easy To Drive – At 20 ohms, these are easy to drive, even when using lower-powered devices like smartphones. However, I would still recommend a good headphone amp.
- Expensive – These planar magnetic headphones are costly. Sensational quality but at a big-ticket price point.
The LCD-XC from Audeze is a pair of closed-back headphones with unbelievable performance. A testament to the absolute pinnacle of design and execution.
Advanced planar magnetic drivers deliver a listening experience that is hard to beat. Even comparable headphones on the market have a tough time matching the smooth and detailed sound. The soundstage is also exceptionally impressive for a closed set of planar magnetic headphones.
The closed-back design also provides noise isolation, allowing you to enjoy your music without distractions. While also not distracting anyone else.
With premium materials and exceptional attention to detail, it is no surprise that people heap so much praise on these.
These are expensive but worth the investment. One of the best planar magnetic headphones on the market. Especially if you need closed cans with noise isolation.
Blue Microphones Ella Review
- Impressive Sound Quality – The Ella features good sound quality that is dynamic. It’s also relatively spacious despite the closed-back design. Accuracy is also decent.
- Built-In Amp – The built-in amp makes these easy to drive and can save you money by allowing you to forgo having to buy a dedicated headphones amp.
- Notably Comfortable – Despite the unusual shape and relatively high weight, these headphones offer excellent comfort. Perfectly balanced.
- All-Purpose – The amp allows these to be a practical option for smartphones. The included short cable with in-line controls adds to the versatility.
- Odd Design – The awkward appearance will be loved by some and reviled by others. Either way, they certainly catch the eye for better or worse.
Blue Microphones is not usually a brand you would associate with premium headphones. But they have taken their extensive experience in the audio scene and delivered a surprisingly robust and innovative option.
Most planar magnetic headphones work best with a headphone amp. This is an added purchase that can be pretty expensive. With a built-in amp, these headphones work well across all devices and save you money.
The construction quality is also excellent, with secure hinges and robust components. The closed-back design also provides noise isolation and prevents sound leakage.
While they sport a high retail price, it is common to find these well below that. When you factor in the built-in amp, these offer exceptional value.
Blue Microphones Ella
Monolith M1060C Review
- Powerful Sound – The 1060C delivers superb sound that is rich and powerful. Good bass extension without muddiness. Mids and highs are equally great for headphones at this price.
- Well Built – These closed-back headphones offer a high level of build quality. Thick premium foam and great planar drivers. The headband could be a little better, but it’s still durable and dependable.
- No Sound Leakage – A tight seal ensures that no sound escapes. Comfortably listen to music as loud as you want without disturbing people around you. Noise isolation is also decent.
- Wood Finish – While the cups are massive, the finish is as classy as it comes. The woodgrain is slick and sophisticated. Just a shame it is attached to such large cups.
- Chunky – These headphones are enormous and make a commanding statement. Not the most attractive, and you’ll likely get many sidewards glances from people if you go out with these on.
Want to make an epic statement that you are an audiophile? Then you’ve come to the right place. The Monolith M1060C is a super chunky pair of headphones that instantly catches the eye. For better or worse!
But behind the stocky appearance lies some fantastic sound quality. Good bass response that is meaty and rich. Mids that are detailed and fully formed and highs that are crisp but not overly sharp.
Noise isolation is also decent enough to block out a solid amount of exterior sound. And while these are heavy, they are also surprisingly comfortable.
Despite the in-your-face shape, these are quality closed-back headphones. Among the best closed-back planar magnetic headphones you can buy today.
The Best Open Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
With so many fantastic planar magnetic headphones available, it is worth highlighting some other notable cans. Below we delve deeper into the range of open-back planar magnetic headphones you can pick up today.
HIFIMAN Sundara Review
- Defined Sound Quality – The Sundara offers a warm and pleasant sound profile. But it also maintains a high level of accuracy and neutrality.
- Great Comfort Level – The updated ear padding has elevated the comfort level. The clamping force is firm but not overly so. Despite a high weight, these don’t feel cumbersome on your head.
- Metal Components – I’d expect a lot more plastic at this price point. Excellent quality throughout. A rugged and dependable pair of headphones without a hefty price.
- Competitive Price – Fantastic balance between price and performance. A great mid-tier set of headphones that punch well above their price point.
- Headphone Amp Required – At 94 ohms, you’ll need a good headphone amp to get the most out of these.
The HIFIMAN Sundara is a popular pair of open-back headphones with planar magnetic drivers. The combination of superior sound quality and competitive price make it an easy recommendation.
The sound quality is superb for open-back headphones at this price. The bass is a little lacking but still provides plenty of punch. The mids are a true highlight. Detailed and embracing. The top end is equally impressive, but there are a few wobbles towards the very top of the range.
The straightforward design is also appealing. Not overly bulky and somewhat restrained when it comes to accents. But it doesn’t just look good it is also well-constructed. Good components throughout.
This is a planar magnetic headphone that ticks plenty of boxes. Great price, impressive sound, sturdy construction, and a clean profile. One of the best planar magnetic headphones available.
Sivga P-II Review
- Sumptuous Sound – The P-II offers a delectably rich and nuanced sound profile. Lush and meaty with ample warmth throughout the range. But at no point does it come across as muddy or unfocused.
- Solid Construction – High-quality materials throughout. The black walnut wood housing is expertly crafted. The drivers are fantastic, and the ear pads are equally great.
- Pleasant Fit – These planar magnetic headphones are surprisingly comfortable for headphones that weigh 0.93 lbs. (420 grams). Custom-shaped ear pads and good weight balance.
- Stylish Design – The wood housing and the unique open-back mesh meld together to provide a modern and unique appearance. These are also not overly bulky like some planar magnetic headphones.
- Not For Analytical Listening – The warm and full sound isn’t accurate. Best for casual listening as opposed to serious studio work.
The Sivga P-II is another fantastic pair of planar magnetic headphones. These tick a lot of the right boxes when it comes to a pleasant listening experience.
The comfort level is up there with the best. Firm clamping force but well balanced and supported by breathable ear padding. Quality sound that is dynamic and engaging without an excessive amount of color.
The soundstage is wide but not overdone either. Just enough for instrumental and vocal components to sit within the field.
Beyond fantastic sound and comfort, these are also one of the more attractive planar magnetic headphones on the market. At a reasonable price point, these have plenty to offer music enthusiasts.
HIFIMAN Edition XS Review
- Tremendous Accuracy – These headphones offer an impressive level of neutrality across the frequency range. There are occasional nominal dips and peaks, but these are pretty flat overall.
- Natural Soundstage – The soundstage is wide and generous. This gives a natural openness and airiness to the sound. Much akin to listening to speakers as opposed to the in-your-head feel that some headphones deliver.
- Reliable Build – The updated headband, along with the drivers, are all top quality. The ear cup padding is not cheap, and the durability of all components is excellent. A sound investment.
- Oval Ear Pads – The large oval ear cups feature comfortable padding. The oval design also allows plenty of room for your ears. A good choice if you have larger than average ears.
- Big And Bulky – Even though I love the oval ear cups, they are large and bulky. Plus, at 0.89 lbs. (405 grams), these are not exactly the lightest planar magnetic headphones out there.
The HIFIMAN Edition XS is a planar magnetic headphone with a rich history. But this new edition spices things up and adds even more technology. The result is a refined and capable pair of headphones for casual listening and light studio use.
The addition of stealth magnets has refined the sound profile. No distortion and crisp delivery are on the menu. Highs are a little bright, but the mids and lows offer enough counterbalance that you’ll likely not realize. A testament to how well-balanced these are.
Slick styling, crisp finishing, and advanced technology. But this is all within a large and cumbersome frame. Thankfully comfort level is not an issue despite the hefty design.
An exceptional reimagining of a classic pair of headphones. Superior sound quality at a price point that is reasonable for headphones of this quality.
HIFIMAN Edition XS
Monolith M1060 Review
- Wide Frequency Range – The extended frequency response range hits low but equally offers plenty in the top end. Delivery is also neutral, making it a reasonable choice for detailed listening.
- Excellent Clarity – The sound quality is remarkably distortion-free. Plenty of clarity, but there is a slight brittleness in the mids for those with a keen ear for detail.
- Fair Price – Appropriately priced with an excellent balance between build quality and performance. Good value buy.
- Deceiving Comfort – Despite the high weight, these are rather comfortable. Dependable headband and thick ear cup padding. Good weight balance seals the deal.
- Hulking Presence – These are large headphones. Both in weight and size. Not the most ergonomic option for travel and is potentially too bulky in appearance.
Monolith headphones offer an impressive balance between function and price. And the M1060 is another perfect example of that.
The sound quality is fantastic for headphones at this price point. Wide and spacious soundstage with a high level of precision and clarity. The bass is satisfying but not overly punchy. Mids are well represented, although a little rough around the edges. Highs are crisp and detailed.
Looking beyond sound quality, these offer a unique and distinctive design. Whether you’ll like it will come down to personal preference. Best suited for listening to music at home instead of on the go.
If you want a dependable and reasonably priced pair of planar magnetic headphones, the M1060 is worth adding to your shortlist.
Read our full Monolith M1060 review for more detailed information.
Our Expert Buying Guide
Planar headphones used to be only within the grasp of people with plenty of money to spend. But as planar technology becomes cheaper, so has the range of options for more affordable choices.
But before you rush out to buy a pair of planar magnetic headphones, there are a few things worth considering. Below we cover what planar headphones are and the key considerations you need to factor in before buying planar magnetic headphones.
Planar Magnetic Headphones Explained
Planar magnetic headphones feature a unique driver design. This sets them apart from regular dynamic and electrostatic drivers found on other headphones.
Standard dynamic drivers will feature electromagnets. These magnets send an electrical current through a coil connected to the diaphragm. The magnetic signal will move the diaphragm, creating sound waves that our ears and brain will interpret.
If you have spent time in front of regular speakers, you’ll have noticed how the cone moves up and down. These dynamic drivers are relatively inexpensive to create and quite effective. This is why traditional dynamic drivers feature in most headphones, monitors, and speakers.
Planar magnetic drivers feature two sets of magnets.
Planar magnetic drivers apply the same principles but execute them differently. A super-thin diaphragm is suspended in an electrical field via magnets on either side. Once again, changes to the electrical flow will cause the thin electrostatic material to vibrate and produce sound waves.
Planar magnetic drivers allow for a more significant reduction in distortion and super-fast response times. The result is a crisp, clear, and precise delivery of audio.
Which one is better? Well, that is up for debate. Dynamic driver headphones will often produce deeper bass with more punch and kick. But a planar magnetic headset will provide higher accuracy and less distortion.
Planar magnetic technology continues to evolve, but the core principles will always remain the same. If you are hunting for the best sound quality, a planar magnetic headphone is a great choice.
Selecting a planar magnetic headphone that is right for you can be challenging. Below are the essential elements to consider when choosing a pair.
Planar magnetic drivers have a reputation for fantastic sound quality. Highly detailed and accurate with no distortion. But not all planar headphones sound the same.
If you work in a studio or want an analytical sound profile select a planar magnetic headphone that is neutral in its delivery. These headphones will be more accurate and represent the source material faithfully. It will make it easier to make mixing decisions. It will also provide an authentic experience when listening to music casually.
Headphones like the HIFIMAN Arya offer detailed and neutral sound.
If you just want to listen to music, you can select a planar magnetic headphone that offers a slightly more colored sound. Some planar drivers can deliver a richer bass response that isn’t as flat and lifeless. This can make listening to music more enjoyable but also not as accurate.
Selecting a planar magnetic headphone with high comfort levels is also critical. Whether you are in the studio for hours or enjoying your favorite album. You want to be immersed in the audio and not worry about the pressure your headphones place on your head.
Planar headphones tend to be rather heavy, so the design is critical. Soft padding, a flexible and comfortable headband, and precise weight distribution are the key elements to look for.
Select a planar magnetic headphone with high comfort levels. You’ll have a far more enjoyable time when using them.
Planar magnetic technology is fragile, but as long as your headphones are well constructed, there is no reason they can’t last. Metal components or thick plastic are preferable.
Robust and durable ear padding is another thing to look out for. Even better if you can replace the ear padding easily. Not only does this save you money down the track, but it also allows you flexibility in choosing your preferred materials.
Cable quality is also worth checking. Cables that don’t tangle easily and don’t transmit unwanted sound to your cans are ideal. As for length, this will come down to personal preference.
Appearance is subjective but worth considering. I’ll take an ugly pair of headphones that performs well over a flashy-looking pair that doesn’t deliver. But there is no reason why you can’t have both.
Headphones from reputable brands like Audeze offer premium build quality.
Beyond appearance, it is worth factoring in the planar magnetic headphone design itself. Closed-back options will provide noise isolation. But an open planar magnetic headphone will have a better soundstage.
Over-ear headphones tend to dominate the space, and not surprising considering the size requirements of a planar magnetic driver. Unfortunately, it is rare to find in-ear headphones or on-ear headphones that feature planar drivers.
It is also worth factoring in the impedance rating of the planar magnetic headphone you have your eyes on. Low impedance will make it easier to power your headphones. The higher the impedance, the more likely you’ll need a headphone amp.
A solid headphone amp is a good investment even for lower impedance offerings. But if you don’t want to spend extra money, select a planar magnetic driver headphone with a low impedance rating.
Do Planar Magnetic Headphones Need Burn-In?
Planar magnetic headphones do not need burn-in. Burn-in is a well-documented myth that is not applicable to headphones.
Are Planar Headphones Worth It?
Planar magnetic headphones offer clean and accurate sound. Planar magnetic driver technology helps reduce distortion and provides a faster transient response.
Are Planar Magnetic Headphones Fragile?
Planar magnetic drivers are thinner than dynamic drivers and, consequently, more fragile. But the design and material quality impact durability more than the headphones’ driver.
Which One Should You Buy?
Planar magnetic headphones continue to evolve and impress. It is no wonder that many audiophiles, music producers, and casual fans instantly recommend them as the best choice for music.
As you can see, there is a staggering amount of choice. Every pair of headphones we have highlighted offers a sensational listening experience. The one that is right for you will come down to various factors.
But if I had to highlight one pair, my choice would be the HIFIMAN Arya. It is the culmination of all the prowess that HIFIMAN has displayed over the years. Superb build quality, premium durability, and audio quality that is breathtakingly rich and detailed. It comes with a big-ticket price tag, but it’s an investment worth every dollar.
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