If you’re looking for high-quality headphones, you might ask yourself how much you should spend. Does it matter if you spend $50 or $200 on headphones? It turns out that quality does vary, and you get what you pay for.
Unlike in the past, technology has evolved and there are more things to consider before buying headphones. So, let’s dig into how much you should spend on headphones.
What determines the price of headphones?
When choosing a headset, some of the most important features that determine the price include:
1. Style: Are they on-ear or over-ear types of headphones?
2. Bluetooth/wireless: This is a standard feature in most headphones nowadays. However, you can still find wired headphones.
3. Noise-canceling: Do the headphones have noise-canceling capability? And if they do, can you control the level of noise reduction?
4. Spare parts availability: Some of the most durable headphones have parts you can replace if damaged.
5. Craftsmanship: Low-budget headphones are usually mass-produced with minimum quality testing. However, high-end headphones go through extensive testing and craftsmanship to the smallest details to maintain consistency.
6. IP Rating: The IP rating of the headphones will determine if they were tested against water or particles. If you’re looking for headphones that you can wear when working out, you should consider IPX7 or IP65-rated products.
7. Latest technology support: Do your headphones have voice assistant, 3D, or Atmos sound support? If they do, they could be more expensive than standard products.
8. Brand: Most reputable brands with top-notch quality control sell their headphones at a higher price than less known brands.
9. OEM parts: The cost of headphones is usually determined by the OEM parts. For instance, most high-end headphones are designed with planar magnetic drives, which are superior to traditional dynamic drives.
10. Warranty: In most cases, the longer the warranty cover, the higher the price of the headphones.
How much should you spend on headphones (and what should you expect)?
Before you buy a pair of headphones, you should know what you should expect in different price ranges.
Entry Level ($100 and Below)
There are plenty of decent headphones in this price range, with some of the cheapest options selling for less than $50. Even headphones for $50 or less can get the job done, but they don’t have a lot of features to make the sound more immersive. Plus, most headphones that sell for $50 or less aren’t made by reputable brands, so don’t expect them to last long.
However, between $50 and $100, the quality of the headphones improves a little. Expect to find basic features such as Bluetooth, noise cancellation, and a microphone. One of the most acclaimed and popular headphones in this range is the Sony MDR7506. Plus, you can buy wireless gaming headsets for less than $100.
Mid-Range Options ($100-$200)
You’ll get better professional headphones in this price range than those that sell for less than $100. In other words, these headphones will have more advanced noise isolation and Bluetooth capabilities. In addition to that, most headphones between $100 and $200 feature higher-quality drivers that deliver high-quality audio with less distortion. You’ll even find that some economical flat magnetic headphones have crept into this price segment.
Although there are improvements over cheaper headphones, you won’t find many options in this price range that suit most enthusiasts. But you can find decent options for studio recording and tracking.
Audiophile Entry Level ($200-$300)
Between $200 and $300 is the magic start. Most reputable brands offer entry-level headphones for enthusiasts in this price range with a longer warranty. The sound is more balanced, and you can control noise reduction more precisely.
Since you pay a higher than average price, some headphones in this range have spare parts that can be replaced. They are consistent in their craftsmanship and more comfortable.
Audiophile Sweet Spot ($300-$500)
This is the sweet spot for most enthusiasts. Some of the best music, gaming, and movie headphones fall into this category – most enthusiasts are spoiled when it comes to choosing.
The difference in sound quality compared to cheap headphones that cost less than $200 is enormous. In a 3D environment, the audio is more immersive, and you can hear the tiniest audio details that you won’t notice in cheap headphones.
Sure, headphones in this category aren’t perfect, but they have all the latest features you can think of to personalize your sound the way you like it.
Premium Options (Above $500)
Many excellent headphones sell for over $500 and are aimed specifically at sound engineers and professional musicians. However, many sound lovers still find their favorite headphones between $500 and $1,000.
However, the improvement in quality between headphones in this category and those sold between $300 and $500 is negligible. In addition, it may be difficult to tell the actual difference in audio quality.
Your headphone budget depends on what sound you want
Before buying a new headset, you should figure out the type of sound you want. If you don’t have an opinion on basic sound, any headphones under $100 will do, but you’ll have to compromise on durability.
If you want good sound quality and more features to slightly improve your experience, you can try the mid-range option between $100 and $200. On the other hand, if you want the best headphones, you have plenty of headphones to choose from, from $200 to $500.
You can even spend more money than that if you want. It all comes down to your personal preferences.