Open-back full size headphones are considered to be the best sounding headphones. This is where audiophile headphones are found and they are mostly used for listening sessions in quiet environments. With that said, they provide the least amount of isolation and leak a lot of sound to the outside world. Without further ado and in no particular order, here are the top open-back full size headphones today:
Stax SR-009 – Most people refer to this as ‘the best’ headphone in the world. The speed, clarity, resolution and imaging are totally unmatched. Owning this is undoubtedly expensive and almost unreal. Not only because it costs $5000+ (200,000 PHP), but also because you need a top-notch amplifier to drive this electrostatic headphone. A $10K plus investment on having a high-fidelity audio setup is required if you’re looking to purchase this headphones. Stax SR-009 on Amazon.
Cons: Extremely expensive. Requires an equally expensive set up.
Audeze-LCD-3 – Audeze LCD-3 is designed for Recording / Mixing Engineers as reference headphones for audiophiles and music enthusiasts. Unlike Stax, this headphone is much easier to drive but its still not your “walking around” type of headphone and you still need to have a good source.
These are also planar magnetic headphones (a mysterious type) and easily the best out of headphones of this type. Audeze LCD-3 on Amazon.
Cons: Not as transparent as other headphones within the price range.
Sennheiser HD 800 – The HD 800 cans can very well match the two headphones mentioned above. Its also cheaper, but is as equally hard to drive as the two.
Most enthusiasts rave for this headphone’s amazing detail retrieval and imaging which is arguably the best among the bunch. Sennheiser HD 800 on Amazon.
Cons: Perhaps too detailed to be enjoyable. Analytical.
Sennheiser HD 600 –I had a chance to audition HD 600 from a friend of mine and they’re just stunning. The relaxed sound signature of these headphones will attract a lot of audiophiles out there looking for simplicity without degrading sound quality. They’re also very comfortable to wear. Sennheiser HD 600 on Amazon.
Cons: For a reference headphone, the sound may be too relaxed/veiled.
Beyerdynamic DT880 – The Beyer DT880 is one of the most neutral mid-fi headphones on the market. If you’re looking for airiness, sparkle and speed for less than $350, then this headphone is for you.
The current street price of this headphone makes it even more competitive these days against the newer cans on the market. Beyerdynamic DT880 on Amazon.
Cons: Maybe a bit bright for some and midrange can sound a tad dry.