Steve's Picks: Over-Ear Headphones $1000-$2000

In our previous guide, I covered some of our top picks for headphones under $1000, now let’s take a step up to headphones from $1000-$2000. In this range, you have headphones that combine craftsmanship, comfort, and performance to put you in the studio or the concert hall and experience the music like you never have before.

$1000 - $1500

While there are many excellent headphones for less money, once you crack the $1000 line, you move from “great headphones” to “hi-fi audio experiences.” Headphones in this range don’t just pump music into your ears, they transport you into a world of pure audio bliss.

Open-Back Recommendations

The Focal Clear and Audeze LCD-X are two major standouts in this range. Clear lives up to its name by breaking down the walls between you and your music, leaving nothing in between and delivering a listening experience with detail and a sense of space that feels like a private concert in an empty theater. LCD-X by contrast is a private studio with a well configured set of studio monitors thumping away and you in the perfect listening position to take in every note.

Focal Clear - $1490

  • Amazing detail retrieval
  • Class leading clarity and transparency
Focal Clear

Audeze LCD-X - $1199

  • Clean, neutral sound with excellent low-end response
  • Strong dynamics make it a favorite among audiophiles
  • High level of detail and clarity make it popular among audio professionals

 Audeze LCD-X

Closed-Back Recommendation

When it comes to closed-back headphones, Audio-Technica provides a high level of craftsmanship and sound quality. Their premium audiophile line of closed-back headphones is represented across several price ranges. The ATH-AWAS “Asada Zakura” is detailed and balanced, with an airy high end and a nice sense of space. Also notable is the Audeze LCD-XC which takes the same level of sound quality and craftsmanship of the LCD-X and delivers it in a closed-back format.

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS “Asada Zakura" - $1399

  • Phenomenal build and craftsmanship
  • Excellent full frequency range response
Audio-Technica ATH-AWAS "Asada Zakura"

Audeze LCD-XC - $1299

  • Everything we love about the LCD-X in a closed back format
  • Take the studio room experience with you anywhere without making the guy next to you on the plane here it as well

 Audeze LCD-XC

$1500-$2000

Once you cross over $1500, you’re really dipping your toes into the deep end of the pool. Headphones in this range represent nearly endgame level quality. With top of the line performance across the board, and bold, innovative designs, these are truly world class headphones.

Open-Back Recommendations

Two of our favorites in this category are the HIFIMAN Arya and the HEDD HEDDphone. The first time you hear the Arya you might ask, “Does it get better than this?” The mind-blowing all around performance – an evolution of the Sundara and Ananda – gives you a genuine endgame level headphone for under $2000. The HEDDphone may feel like it doubles the width of your head when you put it on, but it also provides a soundstage with a depth and width like you’ve never heard. HEDD’s unique Air Motion Transformer drivers feel like full sized speakers pointed right at your ears, delivering a loudspeaker-like response that few traditional headphones can match.

HIFIMAN Arya - $1599

  • Impeccably detailed
  • Fast, dynamic response
  • Endgame level performance under $2000
HIFIMAN Arya

HEDDphone - $1899

  • Huge sense of space
  • AMT drivers feel like loudspeakers for your ears
  • Great accessory for your retro-futuristic halloween costume

HEDD HEDDphone 

Closed Back Recommendation

Again, Audio-Technica takes top honors in the closed-back world with the gorgeously crafted ATH-AWKT “Kokutan.” Kokutan wood used for the ATH-AWKT’s earcups is renowned for its use in crafting the finest musical instruments. In the same way, the ATH-AWKT crafts an incredible sound which puts you in your own little world with nothing but yourself and your music.

Audio-Technica ATH-AWKT “Kokutan” - $1899

  • Vivid imaging
  • Incredibly deep soundstage for closed-back headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-AWKT "Kokutan" 

The Bottom Line

These headphones give you not only levels of performance that will leave everything you’ve heard before in the dust, but also feature striking, unique designs. Whether you prefer the designs of the more staid Arya or Clear, the simple but classy Kokutan, or the sci-fi inspired HEDDphone, you’re getting a sound that’s out of this world.