What's the Best Headphone for me in 2023?

What's the Best Headphone for me in 2023?

While we saw a flurry of high-end and flagship IEMs released in 2023, things were a bit quieter on the over-ear headphone front. Headphones typically have more longevity, with popular models like the Sennheiser HD800S being strong recommendations for years after they were first released. If you’re shopping for headphones now, there are definitely a lot of questions, like “Which classic headphones are still worth getting?” or “What are the best new headphones that are really shaking things up?” We’re going to try to answer those questions – and a few more – as we walk through our picks for the best headphones that you can get in 2023.

Best Budget Headphones

While the top boutique headphone designers have pushed prices up to astronomical levels, there are still a lot of great headphones to be found under $500 – and a lot of variety in those options too.

Best Wireless Headphones: Audeze Maxwell ($299)

Generally with wireless headphones, you get either amazing features – support for gaming consoles and the latest codecs, top notch ANC, and great mic quality – or you get amazing sound. Maxwell breaks the mold, providing the sort of excellent sound that you expect from Audeze, while also being packed with features at a level that puts other gaming headphones to shame. Whether you want them for gaming, music, or a little bit of both, Maxwell is astoundingly good for the price.

Best of 2023: Audeze Maxwell

Best Budget Technical Performance: HIFIMAN Edition XS ($499)

For the absolute best in detail, soundstage, and imaging for under $500, you can’t beat the Edition XS. It’s not the prettiest set of headphones you’ve ever seen, but from the deep, linear bass extension to the airy highs, it provides the sort of accuracy and resolution that rivals headphones at twice the price.


Best Bang for Your Buck: Sennheiser HD560S ($229.95)

Sennheiser’s HD560S is basically the lowest price to get in on the Sennheiser reference formula that the brand continues all the way up to their flagship HD800S. It combines incredible detail and a neutral tuning with a strong midrange and a revealing touch in the treble that makes HD560S great for enjoying the finer details of your music.

Best of 2023: Sennheiser HD560

Best Headphones Under $1000

The $500 to $1000 range is filled with great options that build upon lower cost options, offering tuning and design that moves towards flagship sound.

Best Closed-Back Headphones under $1000: Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noire ($799)

Closed-back planar magnetic headphones seem to be one of the toughest designs to get right, and few have managed to give listeners an engaging tuning with strong detail and a great sense of space in the way that Aeon 2 Noire does. Along with that, Aeon 2 Noire is lightweight, comfortable, and compact, making them a great choice at any price for high-end HiFi on the go.

Best of 2023: Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noire

Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $1000: HIFIMAN Ananda Nano ($599)

HIFIMAN released a few revisions of their classic headphones in 2023, and the Ananda Nano proved to be a perfect evolution of the Ananda design. Ananda provides one of the warmest sound signatures in the HIFIMAN lineup, and is also surprisingly easy to drive for a planar magnetic headphone. Nano sports an updated look and improves the level of detail and the overall feeling of cohesion and coherence in the tuning, evolving the design into the best version of Ananda yet.

Best of 2023: HIFIMAN Ananda Nano

Best Dynamic Driver Headphones Under $1000: Meze 109 Pro ($799)

Meze 109 Pro has been universally recognized as one of the best overall values in high-end headphones, with a highly natural sound that provides effortlessly engaging listening. 109 Pro has strong technical characteristics as well, but it never makes you think too hard about the technical qualities. 109 Pro is the sort of headphone that almost makes you wonder how much better than this it can possibly get.

Best of 2023: Meze 109 Pro

Best High End Headphones under $3000

While the ultra high-end, flagship headphones of the last five years have blown the ceiling off what people imagined was possible with personal audio, the $1000-$3000 range still contains some of the best headphones ever made, including many that represent the “endgame” for many listeners.

Best Reference Headphones: Audeze MM-500 ($1599)

While it might not have the biggest wow factor on this list, MM-500 delivers a balanced, neutral tuning and natural timbre that makes it a great choice for the discerning audiophile. With well-balanced bass, some of best clarity and detail on the market, and revealing but nonfatiguing extension through treble, MM-500 is perfect for professional studio applications, and for bringing that studio sound into your home.

Best of 2023: Audeze MM-500

Best “Fun” Headphones: Meze Empyrean II ($2999)

The original Meze Empyrean brought a warmth and emotionality to music that few flagship headphones had ever even tried for before, and combined it with some of the best build quality and comfort ever seen in a production headphone. Empyrean II takes the same craftsmanship and spirit, but adds a level of detail and improves technical aspects of the headphone to deliver a flagship headphone experience for listeners of genres like jazz, rock, pop, and hip hop, who want just a little more fun in their sound than the average HiFi reference cans are willing to provide.

Best of 2023: Meze Empyrean 2

Best Closed-Back Under $3000: Meze Liric ($2000)

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re looking for a closed-back headphone, and there’s almost nothing out there at this level that checks all the boxes the way that Liric does. Beyond the tuning and technical performance, portability, isolation, and comfort are must. While the Focal Stellia is a great headphone in its own right, it doesn’t provide the same level of portability, durability, and isolation that Liric does, meaning that if you need a closed back headphone that can give you flagship level performance on the road, in the office, or at home, there’s nothing quite like Liric.

Best of 2023: Meze Liric

Best Top of the Line Headphones

At over $3000, you’ll find the absolute best of the best: headphones with no compromise in vision or design that deliver absolutely exquisite sound. You’re getting amazing sound and performance across the board, with the subtle differences in design and tuning being the key to finding your perfect match, rather than there being major performance differences at this level.

Best All Around Flagships: Audeze LCD-5 ($4500) and Focal Utopia 2022 ($5000)

Despite different aesthetics, and different driver technologies, LCD-5 and the latest revision of Focal Utopia have a lot in common. Both offer highly detailed, very resolving delivery, with excellent balance in the tuning. Unlike the many other flagship headphones, both deliver great performance from just about any source, while also scaling up with the highest of high-end gear.

Best of 2023: LCD-5

If you take into account the price, the materials, and the convenience of using the headphones, in addition to the tuning and performance, Audeze LCD-5 stands out at the top of the pack. In terms of detail, resolution, and imaging, LCD-5 goes toe-to-toe with just about any headphone out there – regardless of the price – but its $4500 price point makes it a little less of a financial stress than the Focal Utopia 2022 or HIFIMAN Susvara.

Utopia gives you just a little bit more of a luxurious feeling build than LCD-5 or Susvara, with a greater focus on comfort and style. In terms of sound, while LCD-5 has its legendary midrange, Utopia’s most notable piece is the treble, which offers an unmatched level of definition and upper range performance. If it weren’t for Susvara, Utopia and LCD-5 would likely just be fighting each other for the title of best headphones in the world.

Best of 2023: Focal Utopia

Best of the Best: HIFIMAN Susvara ($5999)

When HIFIMAN created Susvara, they created an absolute masterpiece of sound. While many other headphones have come close, nothing has captured that combination of accuracy, realism, and engagement at the same magnitude as Susvara. With its immense soundstage, holographic imaging, insane levels of detail, and massive physical dynamics, HIFIMAN Susvara continues to rule the top-end of headphones.

Best of 2023: HIFIMAN Susvara

That performance comes at a price – and only the absolute top end of headphone amps can hope to deliver sufficient power for Susvara. While you can power it to spec with a modest amount of power, unlocking the absolute best that Susvara can provide requires power equivalent to a small speaker amp. HIFIMAN even designed its own amp, the EF1000, to effectively deliver this sort of power to Susvara.

The Bottom Line

With the best headphones on the market right now being a mix of releases from 2023, 2022, and all the way back to 2017, it feels like we have indeed reached a new headphone golden age. Whether you’re looking for open-back, closed-back, wireless, reference tuning, fun tuning – or any conceivable combination of those things, the selection of HiFi headphones just keeps getting better, and we’re looking forward to even more options in 2024.





Bottom Line

Sennheiser HD560 S


Open Back, Dynamic


Easy to Drive

Amazing entry level reference headphones.

Audeze Maxwell


Closed Back, Planar Magnetic

Balanced/Bass-Boosted Neutral

Wireless/Easy to Drive

Amazing feature set + amazing sound at a surprising price



Open Back, Planar Magnetic 

Slightly U-shaped, with a bit of extra subbass and air.

Moderately hard to drive 

While the build quality isn’t $500 level, the sound quality is absolutely stellar.

Ananda Nano


Open Back, Planar Magnetic


Easy to drive

Slightly warm, and very efficient, these balance performance and musicality very well

Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noire


Closed Back, Planar-Magnetic

Neutral/Balanced, with a small bass boost

Moderately hard to drive

A slightly retuned Aeon 2 becomes the best closed-back headphone under $1000

Meze 109 Pro


Open Back, Dynamic


Easy to drive

Incredible natural timbre and effortless detail

Audeze MM-500


Open Back, Planar Magnetic


Easy to drive

Purpose built reference headphones that will please detail oriented audiophiles

Meze Liric


Closed Back, Planar Magnetic


Easy to drive

Comfortable, well-built closed-back headphones with strong detail and imaging

Meze Empyrean II


Open Back, Planar Magnetic


Easy to drive

Fun and engaging sound that doesn’t miss out on details. Incredible build and materials.

Audeze LCD-5


Open Back, Planar Magnetic


Easy/Moderately hard to drive

World-class detail, clarity, and resolution, with incredible mids

Focal Utopia 2022


Open Back, Dynamic


Easy to drive

An updated classic with incredible soundstage, resolution, and tonal balance.



Open Back, Planar Magnetic Headphones


Very hard to drive

Summit-fi tuning and technical performance. The best of the best.