When it comes to listening to music, there’s nothing quite like a pair of high-quality headphones to help you fully immerse yourself in the soundscape. And while there are plenty of options out there to choose from, if you’re a true audiophile, you know that not all headphones are created equal. That’s where planar magnetic headphones come in.
For those not in the know, planar magnetic headphones use a completely different technology than traditional dynamic headphones. Instead of using a cone-shaped diaphragm, planar magnetic headphones utilize a thin, flat diaphragm that’s evenly driven across its entire surface. This results in a more accurate and detailed sound reproduction, with less distortion and better imaging.
But with so many planar magnetic headphones on the market, how do you know which ones are worth your hard-earned cash? Well, fear not, my fellow audio aficionados, because I’ve done the legwork for you. After hours of research, listening sessions, and a few too many cups of coffee, I’ve narrowed down the 10 best planar magnetic headphones on the market today.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just looking to up your headphone game, these headphones are sure to impress. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of planar magnetic headphones. Just be warned: once you go planar, there’s no going back.
What Are Planar Magnetic Headphones?
This is probably the first time you have heard about planar magnetic headphones, but these headphones have actually been around for decades now. Although it has just started to grow in popularity, planar technology has been around for several years and has different names.
Some refer to it as the isodynamic technology while others call it magnetostatic and orthodynamic. Sometimes, it’s also called magneplanar. Headphones that are incorporated with planar magnetic technology are equipped with two big magnets as well as a thin diaphragm and have conductors that are inserted between them.
With planar magnetic drivers, there’s a diaphragm attached in between the two magnets. If a current is applied, it will pass into the conductors of the diaphragm and this will produce a magnetic field.
This magnetic field will then interact with the magnets and will result in the movement of the conductors within the diaphragm. In doing so, the diaphragm will be able to move simultaneously to produce a sound.
The magnets that are in the planar drivers have an isodynamic magnetic field that’s equal to each other and helps to ensure that the current force and flow that are exerted into the diaphragm is constant despite the position of the conductors while the diaphragm is moving.
Benefits of Planar Magnetic Drivers
So why would you choose to invest in the best planar headphones? Here are some of the advantages of using planar magnetic drivers:
Thanks to the powerful and large diaphragm of the planar drivers, the headphone is capable of producing a tight bass response.
This is due to the fact that the bigger driver along with the powerful electromagnetic force will allow a massive amount of air to be able to move even better. Furthermore, a diaphragm with high response can help improve sound signature.
Minimized Driver Impedance
The planar magnetic headphone drivers have coil windings that produce inductive peaks, which gives the headphone a high impedance rating.
These drivers utilize a serpentine coil pattern that helps to minimize the driver impedance. Although orthodynamic drivers will need more voltage in order to efficiently drive them, these drivers are not really that hard to drive.
Responsive diaphragm refers to how slow or fast the driver’s diaphragm will react to the various changes that are happening within the input signal.
The planar driver’s diaphragm is usually very thin and the strong magnetic force that’s distributed evenly on the diaphragm allows the driver to be able to move faster. This results in a better response even on small changes. The fast response of the diaphragm results in better bass quality.
As mentioned, the planar magnetic driver’s diaphragm is sandwiched in between two magnets. The conductors are distributed evenly across the surface, which is why there’s less chance that the diaphragm will be moving unsteadily.
Due to the even movement, the driver isn’t prone to distortion, allowing you to enjoy a more accurate and detailed sound when using the headphones.
Things to Consider When Shopping for the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
Now that you know more about the planar magnetic headphones, it’s time to take a look at the different factors to consider when choosing the best planar magnetic headphones,
The audio quality is a very important factor to consider when buying any type of headphone. So how can you check the level of audio quality that a pair of headphones will produce?
Just take a look at the specs and features that the headphones come with. These include sensitivity, frequency response, THD or distortion, impedance, and more.
The sensitivity, together with the max SPL, refers to the maximum loudness that certain types of headphones can produce. But you also need to consider the impedance when it comes to sensitivity.
A bigger sensitivity rating is always a good idea, although, in some instances, you can achieve your desired loudness with the help of an amplifier.
By default, the THD rating of the planar magnetic headphones is lower than 0.1%. With this rating, you’ll already enjoy distortion-free audio quality.
When it comes to durability, you can rest assured that the planar headphones are more durable than dynamic drivers. This is one of the many reasons why users prefer to get planar magnetic headphones.
You must also consider the materials used for the headphone as well as the headband to assess the durability of the planar headphones.
This is especially applicable to the hinges that connect the headband to the ear cup. Understandably, headphones with metal hinges and headbands are always better compared to plastic.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best brand to choose for your planar magnetic headphones. But of course, buying something that’s made by some of the most reputable brands like MrSpeakers, HIFIMAN, Audeze, and Oppo would be a great idea.
There are also less famous brands that are worth considering, such as the Monolith, which is known for producing some of the best planar magnetic headphones under 500.
Comfort is one of the biggest issues that users have to deal with when using planar magnetic headphones. As mentioned, these headphones are usually heavy and bulky, which could lead to discomfort. But this is not to say that all planar headphones are uncomfortable.
When it comes to comfort, you need to get something with enough padding on the earpad and headband. The padding should be soft and thick enough and the weight must be distributed evenly across the headband.
As with anything, the price is an important consideration when buying a planar magnetic headphone. This will basically depend on how much is your available budget.
If you cannot afford to pay $500 or more for a planar magnetic headphone, the HIFIMAN models are worth checking out. These are some of the cheaper models, along with the Monolith headphones.
For beginners who just want to give the headphones a try and perhaps do some experiment, it would be wise not to spend more than $1,000 for this headphone.
For audiophiles, investing in headphones that cost more than a thousand dollars would be appropriate. In fact, some of the best models of planar magnetic headphones cost more than $1,000.
Closed Back vs. Open Back
When deciding between planar magnetic closed-back headphones and open back, your choice should be based on what is it that you are looking for.
If you need to use the headphones outdoors, such as when you commute to work, you should opt for the best closed planar magnetic headphones. But if you intend to use them only indoors, then the open-back headphones are more suitable for you.
10 Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
Are you excited to check out some of the best planar magnetic headphones in the market? To save you time, we’ve prepared below a list of the best ones in the market. We’ve also reviewed each of them so you’ll understand why we think they are the best.
1 – HIFIMAN Arya Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphone
HIFIMAN is one of the most popular brands of planar magnetic headphones. This Arya Full-size Planar headphone is one of the best in the market. With every purchase of this headphone, you’ll get a user manual, warranty card, as well as a 5-foot cable.
As for the appearance, this headphone will definitely not disappoint. It has a similar look with the Edition X, although it has a matte black color finish instead of chrome.
The headphone’s earpads feature padding that’s made from a combination of velour and leather, which offers bass extension without the hot and sweaty mess.
In addition, the removable cable that it comes with connects to the ear cups through the 3.5 mm entry plugs, while the cable’s end terminates at a 6.35-mm plug. This Arya headphone from HIFIMAN boasts an extensive range of frequency, which is actually way beyond a human’s hearing range.
At 35 ohms, this headphone’s impedance is a bit low. During practical testing, it will still require a bit of juice. Lastly, the 90-decibel sound pressure level is a bit weak. For as long as you observe proper amplification, you won’t have any issues looking for the right level of volume when listening to sounds.
Comes with a diver protection
Features an asymmetric design that comes with smaller magnets on each side
It covers the surface of the diaphragm evenly, allowing you to enjoy a distortion-free listening
Made with high-grade plastic that allows for lightweight comfort and durability
Optimized open-back design
Next on the list is the Audeze LCD-4 Over-ear headphone. This headphone is pretty impressive, although it may not be the best choice for those looking for the cheapest planar magnetic headphones since it’s somewhat expensive.
Nevertheless, this specially designed headphone is worth investing in, especially for professional use. The headphone comes with an extended frequency response of 5 Hz – 50 kHz.
Its high sensitivity makes it stand out from the rest of the planar magnetic headphones. As for the design, this headphone comes with a carbon fiber headband. Its ear cups are made from a combination of polished metal and wood.
They not only look appealing but help make it durable as well. The headband also has a dash of leather, which allows for comfort and proper fitting. Compared to the other headphones on this list, this headphone is pretty massive.
Although the manufacturer tried to keep the weight of this device down by integrating a headband that’s made of carbon fiber, it is still not enough to cut the weight down. If you’ve just purchased a new pair of this headphone, you may have to wait for up to 50 hours to settle the sound up.
That’s when you will hear the best quality of sound that this headphone can deliver. It has an excellent bass response, especially if you’re going to set it at a lower range. Overall, this headphone can produce an incredible quality of sound in treble and midrange.
Comes with an almost weightless nano-scale diaphragm
A double magnetic driving force
The patented Fluxor magnet offers almost zero distortion
Well-engineered for accuracy and sound quality
A bit expensive
3 – Monolith M1060 Over-Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones
Monolith is another brand of headphones that we will highly recommend and the M1060 is certainly one of the best planar magnetic headphones out there. The overall look and feel of this pair of headphones are superb, and so is its sound quality.
It’s also worth mentioning that these headphones are packed with the most advanced technology and offers the best listening experience. The Monolith M1060 features a special planar driver that’s 106 mm.
These drivers are able to provide low distortion sound quality even at high volume. The sound it produces is optimally balanced allowing you to retrieve an excellent range of details from the voice recording.
These headphones have a frequency response of 10Hz to 50kHz as well as an impedance of 50 ohms. This model features an open-back design, which is capable of delivering excellent sound quality that’s about the same level to a live music performance. Basically, these headphones will not close you from the surroundings.
Instead, they will provide you with an immersive all-around sound. While this headphone is pretty big and robust, it’s quite comfortable to wear. You won’t feel any discomfort even when using it every single day. The earpads are made from faux leather with superior quality and the headband comes with extra padding for added comfort.
Impressive sound quality
Offers excellent value for money
4 – HIFIMAN SUNDARA Over-ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones
Another great pair of headphones from HIFIMAN that deserves to be in this list is the Sundara Over-ear Full Size Planar Headphones. Aside from the headphone, you’ll get a 1.5-m cable with every purchase of this package, as well as a 6.3mm adapter.
There are no other accessories included apart from these. You’ll also get a warranty card as well as an owner’s guide. This HIFIMAN headphone features an open-back design.
Its overall design is pretty excellent, which is a great improvement from the previous models of HE 400i and HE 400S. The quality of the materials used for this headphone is pretty good.
The majority is made from steel although there are also a few plastic materials. The headband comes with a steel band on top along with a leather suspension, which sits right on your head.
There’s a steel band that attaches the headband to the ear cup. The yokes are then attached to the ear cups, which allow the headphone to move in a swinging motion, up and down.
Beautiful and tough
Comes with a newly developed diaphragm
Features a sleek and sumptuous matte black finish
Has a wider frequency response
Doesn’t seem to last long
5 – Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar Magnetic Over-Ear Open-Back Headphones
The Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE4XX Planar Magnetic Headphone is the best choice for those who are looking for a headphone that can offer a plush and comfortable feeling. It’s much more comfortable to wear than the HE400, which is much harder.
Featuring new Focus-A pads, this headphone provides a whole new level of comfort when listening to your favorite music. The combination of velour and leatherette padding offers a better seal on the all-around circumference.
This new version of the HIFIMAN headphone offers an audibly clearer sound quality with a texture that’s less thick sounding. Its sound quality is definitely purer when compared to the HE4XX.
For those who want more quantity and depth in this style of headphones, it may be best to choose the original HE400 model that was already been discontinued years ago. If you would prefer something that can produce a bass that’s noticeably purer while still offering a plentiful response, then this new model might appeal to you more.
Hand-stitched and made with breathable protein leather
The headband is made from spring steel
Produces smooth and engaging sound quality
Versatile planar magnetic headphone
Users complained of poor performance
6 – SendyAudio Aiva Black Beauty Planar Magnetic Headphones
Another great choice for an open back headphone is the Aiva Black Beauty Series Planar Magnetic Headphone. This comes with a 97x76mm planar driver and features an asymmetrical double magnet array.
The driver is also very thin and makes use of a TUYU composite diaphragm that has the same thickness as those alternatives from HIFIMAN. This particular headphone utilizes a 0.0005mm aluminum foil that’s commonly used for tracing coil material for most planar headphones that are outside of the highly resistive gold option of HE6.
Given the mode’s treble performance, it’s highly recommended that the trace weight of the aluminum should be light. There’s no indication about the measurement of the entire driver or any of those moving components on the diaphragm, which is usually confusing.
Given the headphone’s overall physical size, it’s recommended to get an entire driver measurement. For instance, the much bigger cups of the Verum 1 have an 82-mm moving part. Despite the Aviva cup’s elongation, it seems that the moving part is way smaller than the Verum 1.
The overall design of this planar magnetic headphone is great. There’s a small homage to the likes of the AEON series from MrSpeakers, with its elongated cup design as well as a pressure headband strap.
97x76mm ultra-nano planar magnetic diaphragm unit
Features a traditional craftsmanship
Comes with a hard leather carry case
Has distinct layers of transparency and clarity
7 – Monolith M570 Over-Ear Open Back Planar Magnetic Driver Headphone
The M570 Monolith headphones are among the best models that Monolith has ever created. They have an open back design and with a price tag that can compete with the cheaper models of Sennheiser, HIFIMAN, etc.
The ear cups are made from a dark wood finish. It’s so dark that it almost seems like plastic. Its headband has a look and feels that it’s similar to the mass-market ones. The earpads are pretty soft and come with perforated edges.
This planar headphone has a rated impedance of 32 ohms and the sensitivity is rated at 96 decibels. Both are pretty standard for these types of headphones. It might seem like the typical open-back planar design so there is not much to talk about.
Overall, the sound quality of the M570 is what anyone would expect from a decent set of modestly priced Planar magnetic headphones. It’s natural, spacious, and definitely satisfying.
When compared to other models of the same caliber, it’s safe to say that the M570 is much bassier, which is actually a good thing since most of the open back planar headphones usually lack bass.
This is what makes the headphone produce slightly softer sounds. Although there seems to be that added kick on its mid-treble that can help to balance it out.
Comes equipped with a 97x76mm Planar magnetic driver
Extended soundstage, rich sound, lush, and excellent build quality
Good ratio of price to performance
Has a plush and well-padded headband and ear cups for added comfort
8 – HIFIMAN HE400S Over-Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphone
HIFIMAN is one of those brands that you can rely on when it comes to the best planar headphones, and this HE400S headphone is truly remarkable. It is good-looking and performs extremely well, which is why its affordable price is surprising.
On top of all that, this headphone is pretty lightweight for a planar magnetic headphone, having a weight of only 350 grams. As for the sound quality, you can never go wrong with these planar headphones.
In fact, the sound quality can compete with the more expensive models in the market. It can deliver crisp and lifelike clarity, with well-defined bass. One of the things that customers really love about this headphone is its ability to offer a wide soundstage.
This basically means that the sound quality of this headphone will provide you with a sense of width and spaciousness. This planar headphone is very comfortable to wear. It has soft and plush on-ear cushions with additional cushioning at the headband.
Bass is not that deep
9 – SIVGA P-? Over-Ear Open Back Planar Magnetic Headphone
Many audiophiles are familiar with the design of the SIVGA P-II Over-Ear planar magnetic headphone. It looks almost the same as that of the CanJam from Aiva. The Blon B20 also features a strikingly similar design.
Thus, you will be forgiven to think that these three models come from the same company. But according to the maker, the driver technology of this unit has been fully updated. The P-II has an open back design and a shell made from solid wood. Its ear cups will not only tilt forward but also swivel around to make it flat on either side.
This model also comes with a detachable balanced cable that has a 4.4mm termination. But for users who don’t have the option to go balanced, the maker has included a 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapter for this headphone.
Although the transient response of this model is somewhat speedy, you will not hear a tight bass. Instead, it has a more voluptuous feel. You will be able to hear tons of bass punch as you listen to pop music, but it will be more of a rounded punch instead of something that’s a hard smack to your face. Thus, its bass profile is more suitable to rock.
97mm x 76mm ultra-nano double-sided planar diaphragm unit
Comes with a one-year warranty service
Overall sound direction is very comprehensive
The headband sheathing and earmuffs are made from high-quality leather
This list wouldn’t be complete without the HyperX Cloud Orbit S. It features a pair of headphones made from memory foam as well as headband pads that provide a very comfortable feel.
The headphone molds well to the shape of your head. But the tension of the headband is a bit loose compared to the Audeze Mobius. So, you will not really feel any discomfort with this headset.
Just like Mobius, this model has an overall plastic build, although it still feels a bit sturdy. It has a flexible headband that’s tight enough to fit snugly into your head. Everything in this headphone is pretty well balanced so you won’t find it heavy.
Most users are happy with the fact that this model fits snugly around their ears although a few customers complained that it’s a little bit narrow on the side. However, those that have wider ears might find this headphone a bit uncomfortable, especially after a long time using it.
Even though the pads that were made from memory foam did a great job of conforming to the overall shape of your head, the velour pads will be more suitable to gamers who have glasses and are in need of a more decent seal.
This pair of headphones comes with fantastic 3D audio features, which is pretty remarkable. The headset makes use of the Waves NX 3D Audio environment with the help of a head tracking.
Advanced audio customization
Detachable noise-cancellation microphone with pop filter
Features Audeze planar magnetic drivers
Waves NX fully immersive 3D audio
Could be better given its price
Planar Magnetic Drivers vs. Dynamic Drivers
With the dynamic drivers, the diaphragm serves as the conductor and is driven from a principal point. But with orthodynamic drivers, the conductors are attached directly into the diaphragm. Planar headphones have a much better bass response when compared to dynamic headphones.
Thus, the bass that the orthodynamic headphones produce is usually more extended. Furthermore, having a thinner diaphragm makes the planar produce a tighter bass response since it could react much faster to the changes within the input signal.
As for the design, the dynamic drivers are better compared to planar drivers since the latter are usually bigger and heavier. The dynamic drivers are available in small sizes, which is why they are more convenient.
Planar Magnetic Drivers vs. Electrostatic Drivers
As for electrostatic drivers, there’s a thin diaphragm that’s stretched into a rigid frame and attached in between two panels that are electrically charged, while the planar’s thin diaphragm is integrated within the two magnets.
Electrostatic drivers rely on the static force when moving the diaphragm in order to produce sound. Static force is usually very weak in the planar river when compared to the electromagnetic force. And since the static force is weak, electrostatic drivers require the use of high-power amplification in order to drive efficiently.
Well, there you have it folks – our top 10 picks for the best planar magnetic headphones on the market today. As a self-proclaimed audiophile, I can honestly say that these headphones are some of the best investments you can make for your music listening experience.
And let’s be real here – who doesn’t want to block out the world and immerse themselves in their favorite tunes? With the right pair of planar magnetic headphones, you can do just that. You’ll be able to pick up on nuances in the music that you may have missed before, and you’ll feel like you’re right there in the recording studio with the artists themselves.
But remember, not all headphones are created equal. Some may be more comfortable, while others may offer better sound quality. It’s all about finding the right balance for you.
And let’s not forget about the style factor. These headphones come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. Whether you want to look sleek and professional, or bold and daring, there’s a pair of planar magnetic headphones out there for you.
So, what are you waiting for? Invest in a good pair of planar magnetic headphones today, and take your music listening experience to the next level. Who knows, you may even discover new things in your favorite songs that you’ve never heard before.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rock out with my planar magnetic headphones on. Until next time, keep on jammin’.
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