There a wide variety of choices when it comes to headphone models. You can choose from every form, style, and features you want. This article will focus on how to choose the best headphones under the price of $500. Headphones listed herein include those within the range of $300 to $500, or those considered as upper mid-range headphones. If you are looking to spend less, feel free to also check out our guides for headphones under $200 or $100.
If you have stumbled across this article, chances are, you are serious enough about finding the right pair of headphones. You might have tried other headphone models and wanted to get a bit more. You are ready to spend money for upper or higher end headphones. If you are an audiophile, you will surely love to get your own pair of quality headphones. Good choice though, it is because headphones which belong under this category combine practicality, with superb audio performance.
Best Headphones Under $500 Complete Guide
Why Buy Top-Rated Headphones Under $500?
For those who are accustomed to listening to music only through computer speakers or ordinary earbuds, using a high quality headphones for the first time will give instant eargasm. The experience is similar as seeing clearly for the first time. Vocals shine through the music. The sounds of various instruments used become clearer and more distinct. When using high quality headphones, you are given the chance to hear what most sound engineers, artists, and musicians really hear. High-quality audio is hard to find.
The high end headphones, those used in recording studios, may cost a load of money. Some music and audio enthusiasts cannot afford to splurge that much. As such, the upper mid-range headphones are the best option. For a price of within $300 to $500, you can listen to various music with clarity and high performance which budget and entry level headphones cannot provide.
The first thing to try and do before selecting the right headphones to purchase is to try them personally. You may try to read various reviews and articles about each and every headphone available in the market. But, sound is subjective in many ways. It is experienced differently by different people. When it comes to buying headphones, putting them on will defy everything you have read from the reviews. If you can’t do that, the next best thing is to find a credible source like PricenFees and read what they have to say. We love everything headphones – we know whats good and what isn’t. This guide was designed to be a one-stop-shop to help you purchase the best product for you.
Make an initial list of the headphones you prefer. Most music stores have a sample unit for each model they have. Make personal note on the strengths and weaknesses in sound quality, design, durability, and ergonomic design.
Try these models on and listen the same music through them. Know that your personal choice is music plays a vital role in choosing the best headphones. Each model of headphones are created to cater different types of music. It is best to try listening your favorite songs into the headphones. From there, you will have a slightest idea which one to choose.
Next thing to determine is the location and purpose of use of the headphones. Will you be using your headphones at work, while traveling, working out or jogging? Opt to choose headphones with minimal or no sound leakage. You would not want other people from hearing what you are listening to. The purpose and location of use will also determine whether or not you need noise cancellation or noise isolation feature in your headphones.
Noise isolation is accomplished through additional sound blocking materials. For example, the earcups may have more padding and leather cover in them. Through noise isolation, external noise is blocked from entering the ear. Noise cancellation, on the other hand, is an additional technology in the headphones. It involves a microphone which listens to the external noise. It will then release a tone that will eventually cancel out minimal noises. Noise cancellation is not effective in loud and sporadic environment noises.
Additional caution for headphones with noise cancelling features should be considered. For headphones with noise cancelling technology, you will be spending more of your money on noise cancelling rather than sound quality. In fact, noise cancelling headphones compromise the quality of audio performance. Consider buying headphones with noise cancelling technology only if you really need it.
Lastly, determine the genre of music, and what kind of media source or player will you use your headphones with. Check whether they are compatible with your iPod or any MP3 player you have. Do you plan to listen to classical music? Or, maybe you’re into heavy metal, dubstep, or hip-hop? Also, consider the fact that some headphones may need a headphone amp to sound their best.
Best Headphones Under $500 Reviews
1. Shure SRH1540 Review
The Shure SRH1540 is one of the best headphones below $500. One of the best upper mid-range headphones, Shure SRH1540 promises stellar audio performance. Its absurdly high price is justified by its power and performance.
With its over-the-ear design, users are assured of extreme comfort. Its ergonomic and stylish design lets you pamper your ears in style. The Shure SRH1540 has soft ear pads which mold to the jaws and temples. The ear pads help lock in sound without getting uncomfortable heat on the ears. The tiny holes in the fabric help the pads to breathe comfortably.
The aluminum materials in the band and cups adds a stylish edge, as well as durability. The headband is made primarily of plastic to make the headphones light when worn. Each earcup has a patterned black hatching covered with smooth glossy plastic. It is then ringed with a shimmer of silver. The Shure SRH1540 truly look good.
As for sound quality goes, the Shure SRH1540 gives premium and solid audio performance. Expect balanced sound when used. It gives modest bass support and prominent mids. Users will get a full and rich soundscape every time they use the Shure SRH1540.
The Shure SRH1540 has buttons and controls that are easy to access. Volume between the left and right speakers can be handled to get balance in sound.
Each pair of headphones comes with a leather pouch to pack the whole headphones and its accessories safely. The headphones are lightweight and very comfortable to use.
The only concern regarding this pair of headphones is the practicality concerning the price. Unfortunately, these headphones do not receive as much attention as they deserve because many people simply cannot afford them. Not all headphones successfully combine comfort and sound quality as well as Shure SRH1540 does.
2. Westone W40 Quad Driver Review
Westone Audio is a company known for its successful line of in-ear and acoustic innovation products. Its new model, the Weston W40 Quad Driver, boasts of being a high-quality, audiophile-worthy in-ear earphones. Its balanced sound, wide soundstage, and warm sound signature make it one of the best headphones to buy under $500.
As promised by Westone Audio, the Westone W40 Quad Driver will take the listening experience to a new level. The Westone W40 provides an amazing, clear, and rich details in its sound quality. It is not overwhelming to the ears when it comes to bass, but is still hard-hitting and deep. Overall, the Westone W40 gives a balanced and sufficient amount of bass, even for a hardcore bass-head like myself.
These headphones are specifically designed to fit snugly into the ears and head. Westone W40 knows the importance of proper fit in optimal audio enjoyment. This perfect fit provides superior comfort.
Each pair of the Westone W40 Quad Driver comes with two detachable cables. One cable is smooth in texture. It is specifically designed for iOS devices – with the 3-Button Apple Control System, volume, tracking, phone answer, and Siri activation. The other one is a twisted pair in line cable. Both cables have a huge 90-degree source connection.
The Westone W40 features a “Monitor Vault”. It is a small plastic, latch-locking case used to carry the headphones and its accessories. The interior of the monitor vault is foam with a weather resistant design. The monitor vault has a second cable, nine additional ear tips (four are silicon, five are foam), an earwax removal too, two additional faceplates (in red and blue colors), and a small wrench used to remove and customize the headphones. The Westone W40 Quad Driver comes in a handsome package. Each pair comes in a magnetic sealed box.
3. AKG K712 Pro Review
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If you are looking for some serious headphones, the AKG K712 Pro Reference Studio Headphones is the headphones to clamor for. When buying a pair of headphones, know that each pair is built differently – especially when it comes to purpose of use.
The AKG K712 Pro headphones can do some serious stuff. They are constructed to be the proper pair of headphones for any kind of music work. Of course, they perform well if used just for listening to music. But the AKG K712 Pro headphones are capable of doing so much more. Its performance gave it the excellent reputation as the headphones used by ‘pros’.
The quality of entry level or mid-range headphones cannot compete with that of the AKG K712 Pro. These headphones are especially made for genuine mixing and mastering of applications. Its open backed form allows natural, flawless and accurate sound reproduction. The AKG K712 lets you listen to music the way it is – without the excessive bass. Listening through the AKG K712 gives a clear separation of frequencies – a quality which is rare amongst headphones.
However, the headphones give sound leaks which may not be great for late night working. If no sound leakage is desired, closed back headphones are recommended.
The built of the headphones is solid and high quality. These headphones are lighter than one would expect. With only about a quarter of a kilogram in weight, the AKG K712 Pro are highly suitable for long period usage. The headband consists of high quality leather – making them soft to the ears. The other components of the headphones are made of plastic and foam – making the durable and robust.
In totality, the AKG K712 Pro is a great steal for its price. It can certainly compete with higher end headphones. If you are up for some serious music listening, then the AKG K712 Pro are certainly for you.
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4. Beats Pro by Dr. Dre Review
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Alas, the most popular choice for upper mid-range headphones: Beats Pro by Dr. Dre. The opinion about these headphones are split into two – some love it the others hate it. This is because its attributes tend to go to the extreme.
The Beats Pro are made with a sturdy design and quality construction. The solid build will assure how extremely durable they are. The headband and earcups are largely padded with a soft cushion material. The padding in the earcups are detachable for washing.
The Beats Pro can be described in many ways – extremely comfortable is not one of them. The headphones are bulky and heavy on the head. The adjustable headband does not help in providing comfort. It is because the earcups are too tight on the ears. We did not have many problems with prolonged use, but they also are not the most comfortable headphones we’ve had the chance to try on.
When it comes to sound quality, the bass is ‘skull-shattering’. Bass can become too overwhelming and prominent. Although most people would want excessive bass, others prefer a well-balanced sound. Those who enjoy electronic, rock, hiphop, and upbeat songs will surely enjoy Beats Pro. On the other hand, those who prefer mellow and slow songs should find another model of headphones. The mids and highs are good and crisp. In short, the Beats Pro are not suitable for all types and genre of music.
One concern regarding the booming bass is its tendency to overpower the mids and highs. This happens when the volume is turned really loud. The overwhelming bass can make the music sound messy and sloppy.
Beats by Dr. Dre are one of the most popular choices of headphones for professional DJs. However, purist audiophiles will have problems with the Beats Pro. These headphones do not provide accurate and natural sound reproduction. The Beats Pro are perfect for aspiring and amateur DJs and mixers.
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5. TDK ST800 Review
The TDK ST800 is one of the best headphones made by TDK. Its retail price makes it within the very affordable range for high-quality headphones.
In a nutshell, the build quality of the TDK ST800 is highly comfortable, stylish, and extremely convenient to use. The overall design, look, and functions of the headphones are top notch.
As for comfort, it can be worn throughout the day without any experience of pain or discomfort. The headband and the ear pads have soft padding to protect the head and ears. The only issue with comfort is the hefty AAA batteries placed on the left side. These batteries provide extra weight on the head when worn.
The leather finishing to the headphones provide additional durability and style. It cannot be denied that the leather and stitch detailing on the headphones make the design more visually appealing. The overall look of the headphones denote elegance and professionalism.
There are sturdy controls and features added throughout the headphones. The control wheel, battery cover, wire, and EQ controller (consists of the volume wheel and mute function) are all strategically placed for ease of access. In order to activate the volume and mute functions, the EQ controller should be turned on first. The EQ controller can also enable the internal amplifier installed in the TDK ST800.
When it comes to sound quality, the TDK ST800 does deliver quality audio. The audio quality is good but not extraordinary like some of our other top picks. The bass was balanced and not overwhelming to the ears. The highs are pleasant and easy to the ears. The sound quality is not terrible at all based on its low price.
6. Shure SCL3 Review
Sound isolation helps in preventing external noise from interrupting music listening. Combine sound isolation with a sleek build and good sound quality, and you find yourself with the Shure SCL3.
In spite of the noise isolation technology that Shure SCL3 has, the audio performance of the headphones is not compromised. In fact, the sound isolation helps in getting detailed highs and enhanced lows. The Shure SCL3 do not give the most powerful bass we’ve heard, keep that in mind if you expect some skull-rattling bass in your new earbuds. Expect crisp and crystal clear mids and highs. If you want more bass response, make sure that the ear pads are sealed tight on the ears. Tight fit of the ear pads makes the sound to be fully insulated.
Of course, the sound isolation feature enables minimal sound leakage to none. The Shure SCL3 can be used on noisy locations without being disrupted by noise. Moreover, you can also use it in offices, rooms, parks, or the bus without worrying that people can hear what you are listening to.
The Shure SCL3’s sound isolation works by blocking out unwanted external noise while allowing music to come in. The outstanding sound isolation feature of the Shure SCL3 outperforms the higher end active noise cancelling headphones. The secure and snug fit increases the sound isolation capabilities of the headphones.
Each pair of the Shure SCL3 include three sizes of different sleeves for the ear pads – soft flex, foam, and triple flange. You can choose from these sleeves to know which best fits you. A good fit will enforce sound isolation while improving bass response and comfort. A carrying case is also included with each Shure SCL3. Organize and transport your headphones and its accessories using this pouch.
The best thing about Shure SCL3 is its reasonable price. However, you will be guaranteed that you will get the value for every dollar you spend when it comes to Shure products.
Last update on 2021-09-22 at 02:19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API