The 10 Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Planar magnetic headphones are commonly regarded as some of the best-sounding on the market, which is often reflected by their cost. While you can make a huge investment in these high-end cans, that's not always necessary, as there are many options available across various price points. Here are some of the best models offering tonal clarity, fast bass response, and generally flat profiles. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 18, 2020:
For this update, we removed some uber-expensive models because they just don't appeal to most users. Instead, we included some high-quality options at reasonable prices, such as the affordable HiFiMan HE400i. The HiFiMan Sundara are renowned for the price-to-performance ratio, and the SendyAudio Aiva are a good choice if you want the rich sound of planar magnetics, but a response curve similar to dynamic drivers.
The Dan Clark Aeon Flow 2 are a highly refined upgrade to the their predecessors, and the HiFiMan Ananda BT are a relatively groundbreaking pair with premium amplifiers built it. Finally, the Audeze LCD-X and Audeze LCD-2 Closed are both pretty costly, but they're about as good as it gets without spending multiple thousands.
February 13, 2019:
When you place two identical magnetically charged metals near each other (i.e., two "north" poles), they're physically forced away from each other. Most headphones work using this same principle, but instead of two permanent magnets, they use a single static element, and an electrical conductor, whose magnetic charge changes based on how much current is passing through. Typical dynamic drivers do this by running wires to a conductor that's placed behind a magnet, which feeds its vibration to a cone, producing sound that then heads straight for the ears. Planar magnetic headphones, on the other hand, use a wide and flat conductor and magnetic film (hence the "planar" terminology), which drastically changes the manner of the sound. Among the most noticeable advantages is a vastly increased sound stage. The term "sound stage" essentially refers to how big of a room it sounds like you're in while wearing a pair of headphones. Planar magnetic headphones offer a truly massive sound stage, and positively dwarf nearly every set of dynamic drivers, across the board. They aren't perfect, of course; they're heavier and far more costly than typical cans, but it's basically impossible to argue against their incredible sound quality. They also tend to offer a much wider and more physical bass response, as well as quicker action, which keeps the loudest and most complex music from ever sounding muddy. And when it comes to planar dynamics, Audeze is by far the most popular manufacturer.