Best Planar Magnetic Headphones – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Many in the audiophile world recognize the benefits offered by Planar magnetic headphones. These headphones combine together the features of dynamic driver headphones and electrostatic headphones. These types of headphones use a super thin and fast-moving diaphragm that is featured between two magnets.

Just like any other type of technology used on headphones, there are also advantages and disadvantages that come from its use, which means that it is up to you to decide which specific headphone model fits your needs and preferences. To make a wise purchasing decision, in the end, we have come up with a review to help you with the selection process.

Top 3 Picks the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones

The Best Planar Magnetic Headphones

Our Runner-up Pick with Easy Cable Swapping

Third Best Pick with Customizable Audio



How Did We Pick the Top-rated Planar Magnetic Headphones? 

Like other headphones, planar magnetic headphones also come in various styles and designs. In order to give you a chance of having a wise purchasing decision, we try to create a balance in the different aspects in order to cater to your needs and preferences.

In order to achieve this, we have combined together with the different models, including both open-back and closed-back styles.

Amazing sound quality is not the only thing that we are looking for. All of these models have been tested by the right people, and with the right equipment in order to make sure that we attain objectivity.


Detailed Reviews of the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones

1. Audeze LCD-4 Over Ear Open Back Headphone

The Best Planar Magnetic Headphones

Specifications:

  • Color: Ebony
  • Item Weight: 1.62 lbs.
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 97 dB
 Audeze LCD-4 Over Ear | Open Back Headphone

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Features:

  • Robust Design
    These headphones have a black case, which is well-padded and robust. Inside the case is a pair of white gloves that can be used in handling the headphones. It also comes with a 3-meter long cable with a 6.3mm termination, a certificate for the owner, along with a flash drive which contains the manual of the headphones in PDF form.
  • Durable Materials
    Aside from the design, these headphones also take pride in their use of high-quality materials. It is made out of leather, wood, and metal combined. The housing of the earcups is made out of ebony wood, making it look appealing. At the same, chrome metal grills are used in completing its solid build. It also comes with very soft, yet thick earpads, which are nicely angled. The headband also uses a carbon fiber top, along with a leather head strap. Durable metal yokes also connect the headband to the headphones’ earcups, while serving as an amazing tool for adjustment.
  • Thin Diaphragm
    The Audeze LCD-4 is also known to sport a very thin diaphragm, with a thickness of only sub-0.5 microns. This size accommodates even very low distortions in the headphones’ sound quality.

The Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Dependable soundstage
  • Good instrument separation
  • Good comfort level
  • Durable construction 

The Cons

  • Quite pricey

2. HIFIMAN HE1000SE Full-Size Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone

Our Runner-up Pick with Easy Cable Swapping

Specifications:

  • Color: Transparent
  • Fit Type: Over-ear
  • Item Weight: 6.19 lbs.
  • Special Features: patented window shade system, nanometer thickness diaphragm
 HIFIMAN HE1000se Full-Size Over Ear Planar Magneti

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Features:

  • Nanometer Thickness Diaphragm
    When the HiFiMAN HE1000 SE was introduced, the manufacturer factored in a very interesting feature – the use of a new nanometer thickness diaphragm. This technology evolved with the HE1000 SE model, combined with its use of powerful neodymium magnets. As a result, the driver becomes more dynamic and faster than ever, with better detail levels and lower distortion than other versions.
  • Increased Efficiency
    These headphones feature a 5dB efficiency increase, which means that it can be used easily on portable sources such as SAPs, unlike their older siblings. In fact, it has been introduced as a headphone that may be driven by tablets and smartphones.
  • Robust Connections
    An improvement can also be seen in this model’s use of 3.5mm connectors, as opposed to the less dependable 2.5mm connectors with older models. The connections are more robust. Overall, it features quite an impressive package.

The Pros

  • Nice quality and feel
  • Single-end cable feature
  • Increased efficiency
  • Excellent midbass
  • Crisp resolution

The Cons

  • On the pricey end

3. Audeze iSINE20 In-Ear Semi Open Headphone

Third Best Pick with Customizable Audio

Specifications:

  • Color: Bronze
  • Fit Type: In-Ear
  • Item Weight: 0.74 oz.
  • Special Features: Longer Uniforce voice-coil, zero distortion sound, ear hooks
Audeze iSINE20 in-Ear

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Features:

  • Build Quality
    The Audeze iSINE20 headphones are solid despite being made out of plastic. They come in a unique size and shape, similar to that of two speakers with an IEM plug attached to your ear. It features a locking mechanism that is also different, with a cable that goes down, which means that you need to have a clip to keep them on your ears.
  • Sound Quality
    If you are interested in getting a good soundstage, feeling the music sensation and sound surround, this headphones offer these features in abundance. They perform really well, even at high volume, distortion-free.
  • Magnetic Technology
    These headphones are engineered acoustically to offer accuracy. It uses planar magnetic technology, which offers clear sound. The diaphragms used are actually thinner compared to human hair, thus offer 4x larger than a normal headphone, faster response time, and overall improved listening experience.

The Pros

  • Amazing clarity
  • Smooth and soft sound
  • Open and airy experience
  • Appealing aesthetic
  • Overall good package 

The Cons

  • Not that comfortable

4. Audeze LCD-2 Classic Over Ear Open Back Headphone

Best Headphones with Incredible Bass Response

Specifications:

  • Color: Black
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 2.12 oz.
  • Special Features: exclusive glass-infused nylon rings, incredible bass response
Audeze LCD-2 Classic Over Ear Open Back Headphone

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Features:

  • Premium Style
    This headphones are premium looking, with an audiophile-grade classification. It features huge circle earcups, with a strap headband for its design. They feel and look solid, with a heavily braided XLR cable, with metal yokes which give attention to their durable build quality.
  • Comfort
    The Audeze LCD 2 classic is a comfortable pair of headphones, thanks to the addition of well-padded earcups. Even though they can be considered as among the biggest out there, the huge earcups are padded with soft leather fabric which feels great on the skin.
  • Breathable
    Just like other planar magnetic headphones, these headphones are not that breathable, even though it features an open back design. The bigger PM drivers hinder airflow, which means that even though it comes with an open design, your ears may feel warm after hours of straight listening. Still, they are better than other closed back and over-ear headphone models out there.

The Pros

  • Great bass for its price
  • Well-built design
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Expansive soundstage
  • Durable 

The Cons

  • Quite big

5. HIFIMAN HE400S Over Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphone

Amazing Headphones with Super Hi-Fi Quality

Specifications:

  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 12.3 oz.
  • Special Features: Amazing Hi-Fi quality, extended bass, innovative headband
    Features:
 HIFIMAN HE400S Planar Magnetic Headphone

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Features:

  • Study Design
    These headphones are quite bulky, though they present some advantages. Even with their size, the earcups are still thin, made possible by their use of planar magnetic drivers. The earcups are also large, because of their over-ear fit type. The built is overall nice, as they are pretty solid and could last a long time.
  • Comfortable to Wear
    Not all bigger headphones are uncomfortable to the ears. At least not the HIFIMAN HE400s model. In fact, many users agree that it feels great and comfortable, with a lot of padding surrounding the earcups. Aside from that, it also features a headband that features a vinyl type, soft material which ensures a comfortable fit also on your head.
  • Good Sound Quality
    These headphones really perform on the high end. They did not produce too much distortion, which means that this is a good catch, especially if you love listening to loud music. They produce highly neutral sound, with just the right amount of bass.

The Pros

  • Lush soundstage
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Lightweight design
  • Solid build quality
  • Inviting and warm vocals

The Cons

  • Only one color option

6. HIFIMAN HE1000 V2 Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone

Best Planar Magnetic Headphone with Ergonomic Design

Specifications:

  • Color: Gold, Silver, and Black
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 1.06 lbs.
  • Special Features: Nanometer-thick diaphragm, ergonomic design
HIFIMAN HE1000 V2  Planar Magnetic Headphone

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Features:

  • Interesting Build and Design
    These headphones feature the use of an advanced asymmetrical magnetic circuit, thus achieving an amazing balance between high sound technicality and high driver efficiency. It features a window shade grill design which makes it a distinct looking pair of headphones.
  • Well-Structured Headband
    These headphones use a well-structured headband, combined with the use of light wood trim, making it a very comfortable headphone despite its size and weight. It uses calfskin head support and pleather earpads, thus allowing optimal comfort, especially during longer listening periods.
  • Sound Performance
    The HiFiMan HE-1000 v2 is one that exudes amazing bass. It has obviously introduced some adjustments to its earlier sibling, producing a more forward and vivid sound presentation. The treble produced appear splashy and hot, but with a refined and controlled presentation on the percussion side.

The Pros

  • Nanometer thick diaphragm
  • Ergonomic design
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Beautifully layered sound
  • Expansive soundstage

The Cons

  • Overly bulky connector

7. HIFIMAN Ananda Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones

Best Planar Magnetic Headphone for Neutral Listening

Specifications:

  • Color: Black
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 0.88 lbs.
  • Special Features: Lightweight
HIFIMAN Ananda Over-Ear

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Features:

  • Neutral Sound
    These headphones are designed for neutral listening, even making them among the best sounding models out there. They offer a well-balanced sound that easily caters to different music genres, producing a great amount of bass, combined with an accuracy of the representation of the musical instruments, and vocals, especially in the mid-range sound category.
  • Appealing Style
    The HiFiMan Ananda offers an appealing premium style. The yokes come with a solid metal frame which is durable, though lacking swiveling joints. These phones are recommended for use indoors, as they are not really designed for use outdoors. They feature huge and well-padded earcups that fit easily around different ear sizes.
  • Ample Amount of Bass
    These headphones offer enough amount of bass for many audiophiles, though bass fanatics may want to take into consideration improving the lows using an equalizer. The good thing about this model is that it is quite easy to equalize due to its almost flat frequency response. The use of a low-end shelving filter also addresses the needs of most loyal bass heads.

The Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Highly sensitive
  • Asymmetrical earcup design
  • Portable audio performance
  • Ultra-thin diaphragm

The Cons

  • On the pricier end

8. HIFIMAN HE1000SE Full-Size Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphone

Top Pick for Luxurious Design

Specifications:

  • Color: Transparent
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 6.19 lbs.
  • Special Features: User-replaceable connector design
HIFIMAN HE1000se

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Features:

  • Open Quality Design
    The open quality design of this planar magnetic headphones features thin horizontal blades for the ear cups, thus minimizing sound reflections to a reasonable amount, exposing a good part of the back surface of its diaphragm to the air. Its use of ultra-thin drivers limits interference, thus giving a wider soundstage.
  • Beautiful Finish
    Much thought has been put into the build of the HE 1000 SE model, using aluminum, steel, leather, and real cherry wood. This means that when you hold this pair in your hands, you can easily feel the design quality.
  • Clear Sound
    The HE1000 SE planar magnetic headphones offer a clearer attack to sound, offering stunning texture, definition, dynamics, and bass slam. The highs are amazingly clear, hyperextended, and airy, playing a good role in freeing the soundstage well. 

The Pros

  • Asymmetrical ear cups
  • Invisible stealth magnets
  • Patented design – ‘window shade’
  • Sturdy and replaceable connector design
  • Nanometer thickness diaphragm

The Cons

  • Big, not so portable
  • Expensive

9. AEON Flow Closed Back Headphone

Best Lightweight and Portable Planar Magnetic Headphones

Specifications:

  • Color: Black & Blue Highlights
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 0.72 lbs.
  • Special Features: Detachable Cable
ÆON Flow Closed

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Features:

  • Appealing and Lightweight Design
    The build of this model is similar to its older siblings in terms of design, with some slight differences. It features hinges on its yokes, allowing the headphone to be folded up with portability in mind.
  • Better Sound Isolation
    These headphones are among the better options in terms of sound isolation. One reason for this is the possibility of these headphones to be sealed on your head. It does not just block sound that comes in, it also does well in blocking outgoing sound.
  • Overall Quality Technical Performance
    The result of the enhancements combined is an overall improved performance in sound and technicality. 

The Pros

  • Clean sound
  • Deep bass extension
  • Comfortable design
  • Amazingly light
  • Includes hard carrying case

The Cons

  • The sound could be aggressive
  • Powerful amplifier

10. Fostex T50RP MK3 Professional Studio Headphones

Best Option for Decent Sound Stage

Specifications:

  • Color: Black
  • Fit Type: Over-Ear
  • Item Weight: 0.71 lbs.
  • Special Features: Refined Fostex proprietary RP (Regular Phase) diaphragm driver
Fostex T50RP MK3 Headphones

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Features:

  • Professional Use
    These headphones have been designed for professional recording use. It uses Fostex’s proprietary Regular Phase (RP) type of technology of accurate monitoring. The earpads, housing, and head pad are also designed to offer maximum comfort.
  • On-Point Sound Signature
    The sound signature of these headphones is just on fleek, showing off its amazing strength while doing so effortlessly and gracefully. It has the capacity to come close to a neutral signature with a bit of an elevated treble.
  • Unique Design
    The entire architecture of this model is unique, starting with the design of the frame. Rather than an integrated adjustment system, it comes with thick exterior rails. The driver housing also features the backside which is square. A part is also attached to the ear pads.

The Pros

  • A reasonable level of soundstage
  • Clear labels for the headphones
  • Decent sound performance

The Cons

  • Pads not that comfortable
  • Challenging to drive

Who Should Buy a Planar Magnetic Headphone

The best planar magnetic headphones are designed for those who are looking for a different level of sound quality. These headphones are designed to create high-fidelity sound, which are features appreciated by audiophiles, especially those who are into listening, mixing, and composing. Unlike the usual dynamic headphones, they are quite fast in producing sound. Note, however, that these headphones are a bit large, which means that they are not really suited for commuting, though there are some that have managed to implement this advanced technology in smaller assembly, and with less power.

Read Next: best earphones for bass


Buyer's Guide

When it comes to purchasing the best planar magnetic headphones, there are certain factors that need to be taken into consideration, including the following:

Sound Quality

In order to determine the quality of audio produced by a model, it is important to start looking at the specs list, looking for important features such as sensitivity, frequency response, impedance, as well as THD/distortion.

Sensitivity refers to the maximum loudness of certain models, though they need to be looked into together with impedance. The greater the rating for sensitivity is, the more desirable it becomes, though the advertised loudness can only be achieved using an amplifier, due to high impedance.

Frequency response, on the other hand, is always wider with these types of headphones, though it is not really needed. After all, you could hear the sound within the range 20Hz to 20 kHz. In certain cases, a wider frequency response translates to having detailed reproduction, along with the rich sound.

THD ratings, or the levels of distortion, are 0.1% lower as default. An amazing distortion-free sound can be achieved with any models included in this list.

Price

Your choice of the best planar magnetic headphones highly depends on your budget. There are some more affordable alternatives, while there are also higher-end models, offering more features. If you consider yourself an audiophile, then you can find anything that you find appropriate for your needs.

Comfort

Comfort is always an issue when it comes to planar magnetic headphones. They are relatively heavier and bulkier than old-school headphones, though not all are uncomfortable. When it comes to comfort, there are three factors that need to be taken into consideration, including weight and its distribution, earpads, and headband padding. It is recommended to have light headphones though it cannot be expected that they are lighter than regular headphones. The paddings on the earpads and headband need to be soft and thick, with eight that have to be distributed equally across the headband.

Durability

Planar magnetic headphones are more durable than other models. This is basically one of the reasons why many audiophiles prefer having them. Note, however, that when talking about durability, it’s not just about the drivers that you need to consider. It is also as important to look into the materials of the headband, paying close attention to the hinges that connect the headbands together with the earcups. It is recommended to look for a metal headband that comes with joints and hinges which are made of materials other than plastic.

Closed-Back vs. Open-Back Models

Your decision on the specific model to get depends on the features that you are searching for. If you are planning to use your headphones while commuting, outdoors, in your office, it would be helpful to select closed-back headphones. If you plan to use your headphones indoors, the best option is to have open-back headphones as they are expected to offer more natural sound, along with a wider soundstage.

See A Budget Noise Cancelling Headphone Review


Final Thoughts

In this article, we have listed the best planar magnetic headphones that could provide the best value for your money. While choosing one could be quite challenging because every one of them offers a unique set of features, advantages, and disadvantages, reading this review and guide puts you in a better position to make a wise choice. As such, the best choice all depends on what your personal needs and preferences are, mainly.

(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)
john andrews
 

HI, John Andrew here. I’ve been an audiophile since I was a little kid. I’m an original member of myaudiolover . It emerged as a way for me to share my passion and knowledge for audio technology. If you’re looking for tips, techniques, and insights about audio-tech, that can enable your productions that professional edge, then MyAudioLover is the place for you!

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