Best Budget Audiophile Headphones in 2023 (High-Quality For Cheap!)

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Perhaps you are one of those persons that are obsessed with sound, the so-called audiophile.

I’ve heard stories about audiophiles being able to listen to non-existent noises. I guess that  It’s not that they’re nuts; it’s just that they know their way around audio tones.

Can you get affordable audiophile headphones? That is the subject that this article will address.

Yes, they can, and in today’s article, I’ll do my best to introduce what I consider to be the best budget audiophile headphones.

Most Affordable
Superlux HD 681

Superlux HD 681


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Best Value
Audio-Technica ATH-M20X

Audio-Technica ATH-M20X

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Best For Most People
Philips Audio Philips SHP9500

Philips Audio Philips SHP9500

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Best Overall


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How Did I Choose?

If you’re wondering how I picked the headphones, I’m about to explain it to you so you can get a better understanding.

This list was made by hours of research, highly paying attention to the headphones, and based on my general knowledge regarding audio devices. I even had the chance to test some of the products myself.

I am confident that the headphones I am about to reveal will meet the expectations of audiophiles.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Top 4 Best Budget Audiophile Headphones

4. Superlux HD 681 – Most Affordable

The Superflux HD681 combines excellent sound quality with a low price, making higher-priced competitors tremble.

Everything about these budget audiophile headphones screams cost-effectiveness. Despite being inexpensive headphones, they are well-made and durable.

They have a metallic headband with a black plastic coating.  The cushions, on the other hand, are made of synthetic leather and have a soft touch to them. The ear pads are very comfortable and allow you to wear these headphones for longer periods of time.

Although they have the appearance of retro plastic headphones, many people, like myself, enjoy their nostalgic design.

There’s nothing groundbreaking about its design, but nothing at fault either, for the price we must not whine.

I have no doubt that they would satisfy audiophiles on a budget in terms of sound quality; they check all the boxes to be audiophile tier.

Due to their half-open design, the budget audiophile headphones reveal an extremely wide stereo. These are not closed back headphones, but they are not open-back headphones either. They are somewhere in the middle.

Great bass is also there; kicks are well represented in the lower frequencies, while highs can be heard in a detailed and clear manner.

The mids are delivered quite clearly, producing a lovely vocal reproduction.

Overall, the sound is slightly warm, clean, and clear, with an emphasis on bass. Definitely some of the best audiophile headphones.

Why Should You Buy It?
This is an easy answer, in one word, cost-effective.
I’m not sure how they can sell these for such a low price given their overall performance. Of course, there are better headphones out there, but do they come at this price point? If you are really on a low budget, these budget audiophile headphones are worth serious consideration.

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3. Audio-Technica ATH-M20X – Best Value

A list of cheap and value headphones would be incomplete without a pair of Audio-Technica headphones. Whether it’s a different model or the well-known ATH-M50x, Audio-Technica is consistently ranked as a highly valuable headphone.

Because we’re on a budget, we won’t be talking about the M50X today, but rather its smaller sibling, the ATH-M20X.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X is a pair of well-respected budget studio headphones.

When you first pick up the M20x, you’ll note how light they are. The lightweight mainly comes from their plastic build, they are made entirely out of plastic. The only metal components you will find are the adjustment rails.

However, the headband is excellent, as the ear pads are comparable to those found on more expensive headphones.

Despite the heavy use of plastic, the M20x gives the impression of being tough, and they’re also quite stylish.

I couldn’t be happier with their design and comfort for the price.

They’re professional-grade monitor headphones that are designed to provide flat sounds.

The ATH-M20X isn’t for those who prefer their sound to be dramatic. In reality, it delivers a completely flat sound with no distortion.

These budget audiophile headphones are really loud and deliver a crisp sound.  The sound is amazing in general, well balanced, and genuinely sensational for a pair of closed headphones.

Why Should You Buy It?
This budget-friendly pair of headphones is a must-have for professionals with small studios. They are just incomparable in terms of value.

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2. Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 – Best For Most People

The Philips SHP9500 budget audiophile headphones are a wonderful option if you want high-end headphones at a reasonable price.

Despite the fact that their successor, the SHP9600, is now available, the older brother remains an excellent choice for audiophiles on a budget.

The Philips SHP9500 Headphones are really comfy, to begin with. The headband is smooth and nicely cushioned. Moreover, the suspension design fits your head perfectly and puts no pressure on it.

The ear cushions, on the other hand, are spacious and well-padded, and the fabric is very appealing.

Overall, they feature a robust design that is attractive without being overly so.

Unlike closed-back or noise-canceling headphones, these are open-back headphones, which allow sound to leak out.

Flipping the coin The open-back design provides a larger soundstage. However, because of the sound escape, these over ear headphones are more suitable for use in private places, you might annoy people in public with your guilty-pleasure music.

The sound is crisp, clear, and detailed with these budget audiophile headphones.

The mid-range and vocals have just the right amount of presence, so you won’t feel like the musicians are screaming at you.

Their bass response is extremely pronounced, and they sound better than their pricing suggests. It’s slim, light, and doesn’t slam like most entry-level headphones

The highs are well-placed and come in a pleasant sound.

Overall, the audio quality is excellent for the price, and i can say that these are the best budget audiophile headphones for most people.

Why Should You Buy It?
The Philips SHP9500s are one of the best options if you’re searching for a good pair of budget audiophile headphones for gaming, music listening, or even music production on a budget.

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1. GRADO SR80x – Best Overall

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the original SR80 headphones belong in a museum. They were one of the most valuable headphones produced by the Brooklyn-based company, topping all charts for years.

They now have a successor, a pair of budget audiophile headphones that provide the same experience as its predecessor but are now better and, of course, updated.

Grado’s on-ear cups and overall design remain the same, although some of the materials used have been improved.

Another significant upgrade is the headband, which now features a more cushiony material for a more comfortable fit.

It still holds dearly to its all-black, retro, industrial design. I don’t doubt that they will appeal to a wide range of listeners.

Overall, the comfort is top-notch; you will forget that you have had them on for hours.

These are another pair of open-back headphones, which means you can hear what’s going on around you and what others are saying, but it doesn’t mean they sound horrible.

These Grado budget audiophile headphones have long been a favorite among audiophiles.

If you’ve never heard of Grado headphones before, you should know that their soundstage is quite unique. The stage’s width is quite large, with separation and layering remaining one of its best features.

They also do a fantastic job with punchy, well-controlled bass. When it comes to audio quality, the midrange has to be the star of the show. The tonality is lively and crisp; the vocalist and instruments can be heard well and clearly. Definitely the best budget audiophile headphones out there.

Why Should You Buy It?
The SR80x lives up to its reputation and looks like it will be a headset that will remain popular for many years. I would target these budget audiophile headphones to audiophiles since they will be able to tell that those are not your average budget headphones.

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Buying Guide: Things To Consider

The Sound Quality

Audio quality is everything when it comes to audio devices, especially if the person is an audiophile.

If you offered a regular person the above budget audiophile headphones, he will most likely think they are the same. However, if the person is an audiophile, things change.

Audiophiles are “obsessed” with sound quality and can immediately distinguish between excellent and poor headphones. A pair of good audiophile headphones can stand out easily.


The driver is the heart of the headphones and one of the most vital components.

It transforms electrical signals into audio. In short words, the driver delivers the tones we hear in our ears.

The ideal driver size is decided by the design of the headphones, and it is commonly measured in diameter.

Earbuds drivers are typically 8mm – 15mm in diameter, while headphone drivers are typically 20mm – 50mm. Sound waves are more forceful when the driver is larger.

Most of the headphones we listed in this article are not planar magnetic headphones by the way, because these are usually much more expensive.

Frequency Response

When it comes to audio devices, frequency response is also crucial.

A decent pair of headphones, for example, should be able to create audio frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz with ease.

Although some headphones have a larger frequency response (for example, 5 to 33,000 Hz), this does not automatically imply better sound quality.

There are additional factors that have a role in this.


Yet another confusing element when it comes to audio equipment.

The term “impedance” refers to the opposition of current flow.

Distortion is reduced by using headphones with a high impedance. Low-impedance headphones, on the other hand, generate a more balanced sound, although they are prone to distortion and may sound too bassy.

For casual music listeners, headphones with impedances of 20 to 40 ohms are recommended, whereas audiophiles should use headphones with impedances of 64 or more.


Sensitivity is a measurement of how loud the headphones can go.

Using a high-sensitivity headset at high volumes would cause damage to the headphone’s drivers as well as your ears.

A headphone’s sensitivity should be between 75 and 110 decibels.

The Design

While sound is the most important consideration when purchasing headphones, design should not be overlooked.

It’s not just about the aesthetics, so they can look good, instead, an audiophile pays close attention to how the headphones are built and how long they will last.

However, I think that we should mostly be concerned with the comfort of the headphones. The headphones must be comfortable because you will be wearing them for hours.


As I just mentioned, those headphones will be on our heads for hours. At least try to find some that won’t overheat our ears or worse, cause earaches.

Make sure they have a soft, comfortable headband that won’t clamp or put pressure on the head.

Some headphones have excellent comfort but lack sound quality, and vice versa. Try to find a balance between both worlds.


Another factor to consider when purchasing headphones is their durability.

Although most affordable versions are constructed of plastic, they should be of good quality and not break as soon as they hit the surface.

We won’t be buying headphones every day, so look for a set that will last you several years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is an audiophile?

People who are intrigued by pure sound quality, motivated by sound quality, and addicted to audio equipment are known as audiophiles.

What’s the difference between audiophile headphones and consumer headphones?

Simply, audiophile headphones sound better than their peers.

An untrained ear might have it hard to tell the difference, but an audiophile person who trained his ear won’t have a problem telling the difference between 2 audio devices.

Final Words

We’ve reached the end, and I believe that all of the products discussed, as well as the buying guide, will be useful to aspiring audiophiles on a budget.

Even if you’re an expert in headphones, I’m sure you’ll agree that the headphones on my list are of excellent value in many ways.

If you disagree with any of the above, you should still follow the buying guide when purchasing audiophile-tier headphones.

Good luck.

Further Reading

If you liked what you read so far, you can check some great headphones for vinyl. There are also some decent ones for rock lovers, not leaving you EDM listeners behind either. Or was it specifically hardstyle?

Not only headphones, but I also have some great lists of speakers for Rock, EDM, Hardstyle, you name it.

Some interesting blogs that I bet you want to read would be, why do headphones have magnets? or Can wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?

My favorite one would be, Why Most New Phones are Ditching the Headphone Jack


Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!



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