Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $500 (Top 5)

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Any audiophile would tell you that if you want to advance your listening, planar magnetic headphones are the ideal option. They cost substantially more than dynamically driven headphones but provide a much clearer, more detailed sound over a wider frequency range.

It’s time to invest in a pair of the best planar headphones if you want to hear your favorite songs the way they were intended to be heard and you don’t mind spending a little money to do it.

Actually, I take my word back, cause in this article you will understand that you don’t have to spend that much, because no headphone listed in this article is over $500.

I have analyzed the top 10 planar magnetic headphones at the lower end of the pricing spectrum to help you make the best decision.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
HIFIMAN SUNDARA
HIFIMAN SUNDARA
9.7
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Best Closed Back
Monolith M1060C
Monolith M1060C
10
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Best Gaming Headphones 
Audeze Mobius
Audeze Mobius
9
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Best Collaboration 
DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX
DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX
8.5
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The Most Comfortable
Monolith M1060
Monolith M1060
8.6
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Top 5 Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $500

5. Monolith M1060C – Best Closed Back

Although open-backed headphones have a larger soundstage by nature, the M1060C’s strong drivers perform an excellent work of constructing an immersive acoustical environment inside the closed cup. enabling you to fully enjoy your music without annoying folks nearby or the other way around.

The driver inside the closed-back earcups works much more effectively thanks to its innovative symmetrical magnet arrangement, producing nearly distortion-free sound. The should quality itself needs to description.

Even if the 106mm drivers in the Monoliths headphones make them once more bulky and heavy, the oversized, padded faux-leather earpads and headband are made to be as pleasant as possible.

The weight of the M1060C is another noteworthy feature. Despite being heavier than typical dynamic headphones (483g), for a closed-back planar magnetic headset, these are far lighter than other models of similar caliber available on the market.

Specifications of Monolith M1060C Planar magnetic headphones: 

  • Style: Closed
  • Transducer Type: Planar magnetic
  • Magnetic Structure Asymmetry: Push‑pull neodymium
  • Magnet Type: High grade N50 neodymium
  • Driver Size: 106mm
  • Maximum Power Handling: 5 watts (for 200ms)
  • Maximum SPL: >120dB
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 50kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1% at 1mW; 1kHz
  • Impedance: 18 ohms
  • Efficiency: 90dB / 1mW
  • Optimal Power Requirement: 1 watt
  • Weight: 17.0 oz. (483 g)

Why Should You Buy It?
Even though users have commented that the build quality is not as good as that of other planar magnetic headphones available, the sound quality is excellent given the low cost.

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4. Audeze Mobius – Best Gaming Headphones 

I am aware that for a video game to be truly fascinating, a realistic and immersive sound stage might occasionally make the difference between victory and defeat. The Audeze Mobius Premium 3D gaming headset has a number of functions that give you the impression that you’ve entered the game for real.

The Mobius has Waves NXTM Head-Tracking, which offers the same clarity as other orthodynamic headphones, as well as 3D audio technology. Even the smallest movement will be input into the algorithm by carefully tracking your head motions 1,000 times per second to produce the most lifelike real-world listening experience.

Your teammates will be able to hear you well thanks to the detachable boom mic, enabling you to speak without interruption while playing. As long as your ears don’t get too hot, the lightweight (just 350g) and memory foam filled ear cushions let you to stay comfy for hours of uninterrupted fun.

You can connect the Mobius headset to a variety of devices thanks to its multiple connection options, including wireless Bluetooth, USB, and AUX.

Specifications of Audeze Mobius planar magnetic headphones: 

  • Style: Over-ear, closed-circumaural
  • Transducer type: Planar Magnetic
  • Magnetic structure: Fluxor™ magnet array
  • Phase management: Fazor
  • Magnet type: Neodymium N50
  • Diaphragm type: Ultra-thin Uniforce™
  • Transducer size: 100 mm
  • Maximum SPL: >120dB
  • Frequency response: 10Hz – 50kHz
  • THD: <0.1% (1 kHz, 1mW)
  • Earpads: Contoured memory foam: artificial leather
  • Microphone: Detachable with separate volume control
  • Battery type: Lithium-polymer
  • Wireless Connection: Bluetooth (SBC, AAC, LDAC)
  • Wired Connection: USB-C, USB-A, 3.5mm analog audio
  • Weight: 350g (including battery)

Why Should You Buy It?
Easily locate where your opponent is by listening to every sound made during the game.

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3. DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX – Best Collaboration 

Drop’s sixth collaboration is marked with the renowned audio company HIFIMAN. The Drop + HIFIMAN HE5XX planar magnetic headphones are a high-resolution exclusive with a long history. The open-back HE5XX mixes powerful, speaker-like audio with new ultra-light components to maximize both quality and comfort, and is inspired by HIFIMAN’s renowned HE500 Series headphones.

Through smaller double magnets and Nano Diaphragm membranes, we worked together with Dr. Fang, HIFIMAN’s founder and lead engineer, to substantially reduce weight on the original dual-sided planar magnetic design. What’s the end result? A brighter, more neutral version of the HE500 Series’ signature sound, with improved efficiency and fit than ever before.

Specifications of DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX Planar magnetic headphones: 

  • Operating principle: Open back
  • Drivers: Nano Diaphragm planar drivers
  • Magnets: Double sided
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 93.5 dB
  • Impedance: 18 ohms
  • Finish: Matte black with high-gloss black printing
  • Headband: Spring steel with adjustable sliders
  • Earpads: Hybrid Focus pads
  • Laser-etched serialization
  • Cable: 4.9 ft (1.5 m) stereo cable
  • Termination: 3.5 mm
  • Weight: 12.5 oz (355 g)

Why Should You Buy It?
This is the most perfect collaboration you can ever find. Excellent sound quality at a great price.

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2. Monolith M1060 – The Most Comfortable

These on-ear headphones produce a wonderfully balanced sound. The highs, mids, and low bass end never compete with one other and always complement each other perfectly. This remains true for all types of music, including rock, pop, classical, and opera (yeah, I had to try some with these), dance, and electronic dance music (EDM), and, especially, rap and old-school hip-hop.

The fact that these feature huge 106mm drivers that really push out the sound helps a lot. The audio was clear and sharp with no sign of distortion even at maximum volume, which is far too high for extended listening. If you’re lucky enough to have a gadget that can play Hi-Fi audio, you’re in for a treat.

The Monoprice Monolith M1060 Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones boast a unique floating headband design that is both refined and beautiful. The 3/4-inch metal headband is incredibly thin, measuring just 1/32-inch thick. The top has three oval cutouts that flatten out when worn. The metal headband’s sides are curved and have eight little holes carved into them where they meet the top.

Specifications of Monolith M1060 Planar magnetic headphones:

  • Style: Open
  • Transducer Type: Planar Magnetic
  • Magnetic Structure: Linear Symmetry Magnets
  • Magnet Type: Neodymium
  • Driver Size: 106mm
  • Maximum Power Handling: 10W (for 200ms)
  • Maximum SPL: >130dB
  • Maximum SPL: >130dB
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 50kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 1% at 1mW; 1kHz
  • Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Efficiency: 96dB / 1mW
  • Optimal Power Requirement: 200mW – 4W
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs (500g)

Why Should You Buy It?
Instead of an “inside your head” isolated experience that traditional closed-back headphones provide, these open-back headphones will provide a holographic listening experience.

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1. HIFIMAN SUNDARA – Best Overall

The Sundara has super nano diaphragms that are 80% thinner than prior designs and 1/10th the thickness of a human hair, giving it a quicker response time. As a result, the acoustics are much improved, and high-quality, clearly defined sound is produced for a far more realistic listening experience.

The planar magnetic driver’s lighter diaphragm has far less distortion than other materials, which is another advantage of these headphones.

You can use them directly with the device of your choice or with a specialized headphone amp for an even better sound quality. They are simply driven even by smartphones. The structure not only produces loud sounds, but it is also exceedingly light, making it more pleasant to wear.

The chassis weights significantly less than plastic chassis because it is made of lightweight aluminum. The big ear cups properly enclose the ears to offer comfort for hours of listening.

The Sundara’s maximum sound pressure level is lower than some of the more expensive choices I have suggested. However, at 104 dB, they are within the safe limit of 120 dB established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and are almost at the same volume as a shouting voice.

Definitely some of the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $500 that offer superior sound quality and many more features.

Specifications of HIFIMAN Sundara Premium Planar Magnetic Headphones: 

  • Driver Type: Planar
  • Design: Over-Ear (Circumaural)
  • Earcup Style: Open-Back
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • Impedance: 37 Ohms
  • Audio Connector: 1/8″ / 3.5 mm Straight
  • Connector to Earpiece: 2 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm
  • Detachable Cable: Yes
  • Weight: 13.12 oz / 372 g

Why Should You Buy It?
Additionally to the other amazing features these headphones offer, they have an astoundingly wide frequency range (6Hz to 75Khz), which provides an incredible spectrum of bass and treble.

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Planar Magnetic Headphones – What Do They Represent? 

Planar magnetic headphones (also known as orthodynamic or isodynamic headphones) are a hybrid of dynamic and electrostatic headphones. A planar driver is made out of a conductive diaphragm sandwiched between an array of magnets, which can be circular or square.

The old-school headphones with dynamic drivers and planar magnetic headphones appear to be identical at first glance. The only obvious distinction is the cup size variation. The ear cups of planar magnetic headphones are typically bigger.

The actual distinction between them is in their motivations and operating philosophies. The old-school headphones have dynamic drivers which pretty much look like miniature speakers and have the same working principle.

So, in comparison to dynamic drivers, headphones with planar magnetic transducers sound tighter, more controlled, and have better extension capabilities with less bass distortion.

Planar Magnetic Headphones – How Do They Work?

In order to understand what planar magnetic headphones are, first you need to understand what they are not.

To put it another way, electromagnets power the drivers (speakers) within headphones. An electrical current is transmitted through a tightly wrapped coil in the most popular and inexpensive “dynamic” kind of driver construction. This coil is surrounded by a circular magnet and attached to a “cone” or “diaphragm”—the huge, cone-shaped component of the speaker visible from the outside.

The diaphragm is moved by regulating the electrical current of the coil, which causes it to move up and down inside the donut-shaped magnet, compressing and expanding air particles and creating sound waves that your ears take up. The driver may convert the electronic source into standard music and other audio by precisely managing the electrical current that runs through the coil.

The electric coil and the diaphragm are merged into a single portion of the equipment in more unusual and complex electrostatic drivers. Both pieces are replaced with a thin sheet of electrically charged material sandwiched between two metal plates, one positive and the other negative. The outer plates manage the electrical charge by pushing the inside material back and forth between positive and negative, vibrating the molecules in the air and creating sound waves.

Advantages Of Planar Magnetic Drivers

As you can understand from their name, planar magnetic headphones consist of planar drivers. Let’s go through a few of advantages of planar magnetic drivers.

Large and powerful diaphragm

Planar drivers’ strong bass response is provided by a large, robust diaphragm. This is due to the fact that a huge volume of air may be moved more effectively with a larger driving surface when combined with a strong electromagnetic force. The sound signature is also enhanced with a high responsiveness diaphragm.

Responsive diaphragm

The ability of a driver’s diaphragm to respond quickly or slowly to changes in the input signal is referred to as responsiveness.

A planar magnetic driver has an extremely thin diaphragm, and the strong magnetic force evenly dispersed throughout the diaphragm causes it to move more quickly and respond better to even slight changes in the input signal. A better, more punchy bass is produced by a rapid, sensitive diaphragm.

Easy on the amplifier

The inductive peaks produced by coil windings on a headphone driver give the device a high impedance rating. The helix voice coil shape used by planar magnetic drivers lowers the driver’s impedance. Although driving orthodynamic drivers efficiently requires a small amount of voltage, it is not at all challenging.

Low distortion

A planar magnetic driver’s diaphragm is held in place by two magnets. There are relatively few chances of the diaphragm moving unevenly since the conductors in the driver are evenly dispersed over its surface. The conductors’ steady movement makes the driver less prone to distortion and gives it a more precise, detailed, and richer sound.

Planar sound wavefront

The shape of the sound waves produced when a typically big driver moves its entire diaphragm is called a planar sound wavefront.

A planar sound wavefront interacts better with the ear and lessens sound reflections on the outer ear than a spherical sound wavefront, which is focused and typically connected with dynamic drivers. This enhances the sound’s concentration when it enters the ear.

Final Words

If I have to be honest with you, now it’s the time. I honestly don’t feel like I have done the best writing this article, but I want you to know that at least I have tried. I have covered 5 of the best planar magnetic headphones under $500, and also three key questions that you might ask yourself. As you can see, I can already read your mind!

Further Reading

Since I have written an article mostly about those who are on a budget, I will also suggest the best subwoofers under $200  or, you know what, I’ll suggest more articles dedicated mostly to those on a budget, best closed back headphones under $500 (Top 5 Picks) or the best open back headphones under $100.

Wait, I have more! Best Subwoofers Under $300 (2022 Buying Guide) or if you have a little bit more money, check the Best Subwoofers Under $500 (Top 5 Picks Reviewed)

 

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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