10 (11) BEST FULL SIZE HEADPHONES OF 2016
If the next headphone on your shopping list needs to be portable then the OPPO PM3 is still the best in our opinion. Other closed backs in this category tend to colour the sound – whether adding bass or top end sparkle – but the OPPO manages to produce a neutral sound with warmth and clarity which along with their superb comfort and isolation, makes them very enjoyable to listen to for long periods of time.
MASTER & DYNAMIC MH40
The PM3 has a challenger to the portable top spot – new in, the Master and Dynamic MH40 has already made an impact here at Hifiheadphones. Unique and stylish looks, sturdy build and great comfort makes them perfect for portable use. The sound is not as neutral as the PM3 but they deliver a crisper and more textured sound.
Shure’s flagship full size headphone is available as a closed or open back model. Both share the same sound signature – very well balanced and controlled with plenty of width and space. They are both extremely comfortable and lightweight making them ideal for long listening periods while you make the most of their easy to listen to and enjoyable sound.
Fostex’s open-backed addition to the TH line is bags of fun, with huge earcups which offer as much comfort as enjoyment. The midrange is the Th-500 RP’s forte, offering rich and plush sound which is not overshadowed, as the treble is detailed, yet gentle. Bass is tight and goes deep, though is not as present as with other models in the TH line such as the TH-900.
FINAL SONOROUS VI
Still the only hybrid driver headphone we have come across – the Final Sonorous VI uses a custom built dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver inside each earcup to produce a very unique and enjoyable sound with deep and impactful bass, crisp mids and treble with space and sparkle. The closed back design will allow you to use them in public but we still see them as a home listening headphone due to their relaxed fit.
BEYERDYNAMIC T1 2nd GEN
Beyerdynamic’s famous T1 flagship has had a makeover since its release a few years ago, but it’s kept all the magic and had a few tweaks as well. The new T1 2nd gen has a fabric-covered removable cable, and sounds more musical and natural than its (already good) predecessor. Smooth and supremely detailed mids are perfectly complemented with a tight bass and smooth treble.
At this price point you would struggle to find an open back headphone that delivers sound the way that the ether does. They perfectly balance clarity, space, attack and bass – creating a sound that is musical and very easy to listen to while also bringing fine details to the front with edge and authority. They are also very lightweight and comfortable so you can listen for hours.
PIONEER MASTER 1
At the summit of pioneer’s range comes the Master 1, a stylish and dapper headphone which looks as if it means business. With an adjustable stainless steel headband and plush earpads the Master 1 promises to look as good as it sounds. Neutral bass makes way for a clear and crisp midrange, with detailed and analytical treble.
These lightweight open backs may not be for everyone but their analytical sound gives excellent imaging and they are the widest sounding headphones we’ve heard – the HD800S is a new take on the original HD800 with more low end presence and smoother detail. This results in a more musical sound while preserving the almost 3D experience given by its predecessor.
Not only are Audeze’s LCD-XC great lookers – they are also our favourite closed back option for a high end full size headphone. The sound is tight and punchy with crystal clear detail. These headphones pull you into the music with superb separation and even though they are quite heavy, the weight is perfectly distributed to make them surprisingly comfortable.
The LCD-4 is Audeze’s current flagship headphone and quite possibly the best we’ve heard so far. Once you start moving into this price category the benefits become more subtle, but the LCD-4 is extremely revealing without being too harsh or bright, they also manage to be very rhythmic and musical with a superb balance of bass power and delicate top end detail – a combination that other models struggle with.