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

We’re in the Endgame now. These are the very best headphones in the world. At this stage, cost is not a concern as headphones become a once in a lifetime heirloom purchase, with the highest levels of driver technology and detailed craftsmanship. These headphones represent years of acoustic research and the best in materials and design.

$2000 - $3000

While there will always be a “bigger, better, more expensive” option, this price range represents top of the line design and performance. In fact, some of my favorite headphones come in just under $3000.

Open-Back Recommendations

The Meze Empyrean hits you first with its exquisite design. The black and copper finish is distinct, striking, and beautiful. Its sound matches its outward beauty with a powerful signature that is both energetic and emotional. The HIFIMAN HE1000 V2 is a bit of a mouthful to say, but once you hear it, you’ll be speechless. As a contrast to Empyrean’s raw power, HE1000 V2 provides detail and clarity for days, as a step up from the Arya in soundstage and sonic refinement.

Meze Empyrean - $2999

  • Emotional, impactful sound
  • Unrivaled build quality
  • Incredible level of comfort
Meze Empyrean

HIFIMAN HE1000 V2 - $2999

  • Detailed, analytical sound
  • Nearly reaches the heights of the Susvara at half the price
HIFIMAN HE1000 V2

Closed-Back Recommendation

While the top-end closed back options are somewhat limited, the Focal Stellia offers perhaps the best performing closed-back in the world. It has a highly addictive sound signature, its technical capabilities are top notch, and, as the cherry on top, it has a sleek vintage inspired design that evokes the early days of hi-fi audio.

Focal Stellia - $2999

  • Arguably the best closed-back headphones in the world
  • Dynamic, balanced response
  • Beautiful, luxurious design
Focal Stellia

$3000+

At this range, it’s impossible to even pick a favorite, as every offering features some of the best headphone design and performance the world has ever seen. The RAAL-requisite SR1a is a totally unique entry which uses ribbon speakers to create a set of headphones that are essentially high end studio monitors strapped to your head. The sound is unlike anything you’ve ever heard – unless you’ve been in an acoustically treated room with $10,000 worth of speakers, in which case, it sounds pretty much like that. The Focal Utopia is a sonic Shangri-La with an unsurpassed level of detail and resolution, and one of the few headphones at this level to use dynamic drivers instead of planar magnetic. The Audeze LCD-4 has what some have called “the best bass in the world,” balanced with the detail and articulation found in other top of the line headphones. And the HIFIMAN Susvara is the headphone that has it all: incredible detail, dynamic response, a solid low-end, and a massive soundstage.

RAAL-requisite SR1a - $3499

  • Unique design is more “head-speakers” than headphones
  • Lifelike presentation
  • Perfect tonality and timbre
RAAL-requisite SR1a

Focal Utopia - $3990

  • Quite possibly the best dynamic driver headphone in the world
  • Incredible analytical sound lets you hear a pin drop in the Abbey Road Studio in 1969
Focal Utopia

Audeze LCD-4 - $3995

  • The culmination of Audeze’s planar magnetic research and technology
  • Bass slam that will rearrange your internal organs
Audeze LCD-4

HIFIMAN Susvara - $5999

  • The total package: detail, impact, balance, soundstage – everything you could ask for in a headphone
HIFIMAN Susvara

The Bottom Line

The quest for the perfect headphones might never end as manufacturers experiment with new designs and technology every day, but right now, these headphones represent the very best in the world, with the current pinnacle of design, craftsmanship, and technology. If you’re looking for the perfect headphones for you, but you’re not quite ready to drop $3000, check out our other guides, whether you want to stay under $1000 (or even under $500), or if you’re somewhere in the middle going from $1000-$2000. No matter your listening preferences or budget, there are superb headphones out there for you.