Why a best of list? A quick google search on the subject reveals little that actually touches on the helm of high fidelity and serves neither as a reference, nor a time capsule for future generations. Here we have some true blue options for those than can afford it, as this set of products is presented with a cost-no-object parameter placed firmly in mind. Its not a must-have, best value or even highly recommended compendium, no, just a simple group of 5 of the best options for sonic retrieval available to man in the year 2018.
The Best Headphones Of 2018
The Sennheiser Orpheus HE 1
The flagship creation by the headphone giant has long sat atop the mountain as the king of the hill for headphones. Utilizing electrostatic technology the current model is actually the second generation of the system reintroduced in 2016 as the end-all, be-all of headphone listening. The case is constructed of Italian marble with the tubes and knobs automatically rising from the base when powered up. Its quite an experience to behold and one that held quite a line at its first release at CES. Each member of the press had assigned listening sessions got exactly one predetermined song to evaluate. The headphones fully embody an effort to pull out all the stops in terms of headphone design in the 21st century. ($55k)
The Shangri-La Headphone System
This electrostatic headphone system is a response to the HE 1 by HiFiMAN designer Fang Bian. Only offered as a set, the .001 mm driver headphone and 300b based amplifier are the pinnacle of the prolific headphone manufacturers years of experience in the field. As with the HE1 the Shargri-La quite a sight to behold on the desktop, and includes personal installation and setup by a HiFiMAN rep upon purchase. ($50k)
The top-of-the-line planar magnetic headphone from California-based Audeze brings the playing field down to a price point that actually costs less than a nice car. With a more diverse selection of traditional amplifiers available to assist the headphone, the LCD-4 is more accessible luxury both in terms of cost and transportability. This flagship headphone is the current destination for a long heritage of LCD products, and really sets the bar for what can be achieved from a standard 1/4″ headphone jack. However, don’t expect to share a workout session with these cans anytime soon, they see their performance when comfortably seated in a listening chair and attached to a equally deserving, powerful headphone amplifier. ($4k)
Traditionally a loudspeaker company, Focal has recently reached out to personal audio with a slew of new headphones for varying consumer markets. The flagship Utopia matches the current playing field with both price and performance. Unlike the other top dogs here, this Focal pair of cans creates sweet music via the more traditional dynamic driver technology used in most mainstream consumer brands. What is unique to the Utopia is the use of beryllium for said driver. This material is known for both its rigidity and light construct, which allows for a more speedy response from the diaphragm. ($4k) – Not fancy enough for you? They also make a diamond-encrusted 18 Karat gold Tournaire version for $100k.
MrSpeakers Ether Flow
The second generation Ether from US-based MrSpeakers continues the fine tradition that was started with the original in the line just a few short years ago. This flagship is also by far the least expensive entry on the list, but makes no shortcomings in design. Harnessing the power of planar magnetic technology, the new Flow is also fairly light in weight for the category at 400 grams. Coupled with advanced materials for the headband, the appeal of this high end can is very easy to pick out amongst its more costly peers. ($1.8k)