Shopping for planar magnetic headphones is a much more difficult task than shopping for dynamic headphones. There are significantly fewer options on the market, not to mention many of them don’t have a whole lot of reviews, even the best ones. Fortunately for you, we already got you covered with this product guide. The products below are some of the best planar magnetic headphones currently out right now.
Launched in November 2019, the Aeon Flow 2 are the first headphones under the rebranded Dan Clark Audio, formerly known as MrSpeakers. Like the original Aeon Flow, they are available in both open-back and closed-back configurations, with both selling for $900. The Aeon Flow 2 Open are best used for listening to music at home while the Aeon Flow 2 Closed are more versatile, with their sealed design offering better passive sound isolation.
The Aeon Flow 2 are wired over-ear headphones featuring large teardrop-shaped ear cups, a Nitinol headband, and a leather strap. While they look identical to the original Aeon Flow, they are easily distinguishable from their blue-colored predecessor due to their new red color scheme, which makes for a more striking look. They are lighter than many other planar magnetic headphones, but they are still quite bulky, with their large ear cups easily standing out.
With their spacious ear cups, soft earpads, and relatively light frame, the Aeon Flow 2 are comfortable to use for long listening sessions. Their clamp is secure but not overly tight, striking a good balance between stability and comfort. Due to their open-back design, the Aeon Flow 2 Open are slightly more breathable than the Aeon Flow 2 Closed, which further adds to their comfort level.
Unlike their predecessor, the Aeon Flow 2 can be folded into a more compact format, making them more portable and easier to carry for travel. Their smooth folding mechanism is similar to that of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, with both ear cups fully tucking underneath the headband. They also include a more compact travel case, which protects them from scratches and physical impact and makes them even more portable than the original Aeon Flow.
In addition to the travel case, the Aeon Flow 2 also come with tuning pads and a detachable audio cable, with Dan Clark Audio offering different cable connector options when buying the headphones from the official site. As with most other headphones designed for audiophiles, professionals, and headphone enthusiasts, the included audio cable lacks an in-line remote for music management and volume control, which can be inconvenient in some situations.
Although the Aeon Flow 2 Open and the Aeon Flow 2 Closed are practically identical in almost all design aspects, their sound profiles and sound isolation effectiveness are different. The Aeon Flow 2 Closed have a punchy and warm bass, an intimate and detailed mid-range, and a smooth treble. Their soundstage is also pretty good for closed-back headphones. With their sealed design, they offer better passive noise isolation than their open-back counterpart, which makes them more suitable for listening to music in moderately noisy places. You can use them for listening to music in the office and while traveling, especially considering their portable design and low sound leakage.
The Aeon Flow 2 Open, on the other hand, have a rich and tight bass, a well-balanced mid-range, and a wide soundstage, with excellent instrument separation. They are more natural-sounding than their closed-back counterpart. But they are only suitable for listening to music in quiet environments because of their poor noise isolation. Their sound leakage is also higher, which means you’ll disturb nearby people with your loud music. As mentioned earlier, they are best used for listening to music at home, which can also be said for all other open-back headphones.
Overall, the Aeon Flow 2 are the best planar magnetic headphones under $1,000. Whether you choose the open-back model or the closed-back model, you’ll get a pair of great-sounding headphones that are well-built and comfortable to use for long hours. They are not just a minor upgrade from the original Aeon Flow. They are better-sounding, with a redesigned driver structure, and are much more portable due to their folding design and smaller travel case.
If you want more versatile headphones with better sound isolation, not only for home use but also for listening to music in the office and while traveling, go for the Aeon Flow 2 Closed. They offer a more intimate and more private listening experience. But if you don’t care about sound isolation and prefer headphones that are more natural-sounding, with a more spacious soundstage, strictly for listening to music at home, get the Aeon Flow 2 Open instead.
The HiFiMan Sundara are some of the best open-back headphones on the market, outperforming and offering better value for the money than most other products in the same price range. Their build quality feels premium while their sound quality is outstanding. While their open design makes them a poor choice for listening to music in noisy places, they are excellent for listening to music at home.
A pair of wired over-ear headphones, the Sundara are premium-looking headphones featuring a mostly metal construction with a nice matte black finish. They have well-padded ear cups and a flexible metal headband with a synthetic leather strap. Their round ear cups are large and spacious and can easily accommodate most ear sizes. The metal yokes connecting the headband to the ear cups are more wear-resistant while the grilles on the ear cups are sturdy and look good.
The included audio cable – which is detachable and connects to both ear cups – ends with a 3.5 mm analog plug for universal compatibility. It’s durable and has secure connectors, but it lacks an in-line remote for volume control and music management. A gold-plated 6.3 mm plug adapter is also included in the box. There are no other accessories included in the package aside from the default audio cable and the plug adapter.
While they are not as breathable as other open-back headphones and have a tight clamp, the Sundara are very comfortable to use for long hours. They have soft earpads and good weight distribution and stay securely on the head. They are not as heavy as some planar magnetic headphones that are also mostly made of metal, which makes them less fatiguing to wear for extended listening sessions.
Unlike the Dan Clark Audio Aeon Flow 2, the Sundara don’t fold into a more compact format and lack any form of case for storage, hurting their portability. But since they are meant to be used for listening to music at home, their mediocre portability is not really a big deal. Their lack of a case is slightly disappointing, though, considering many similarly priced headphones – including the Audeze LCD-1 – come with a case or pouch.
The Sundara are some of the best-sounding open-back headphones under $500, with their immaculate mid-range being the highlight. They have a tight and punchy bass and a detailed treble that is not too sharp. While not as good compared to that of premium open-back headphones like the Sennheiser HD 800 S, their soundstage is wide. They are suitable for most music genres and will impress audiophiles with their audio reproduction.
In addition to listening to music, the Sundara are also decent headphones for gaming, especially if you love to play games with an excellent soundtrack. But they are less versatile than some of the best gaming headsets. Moreover, they lack a boom mic for voice chat, which can be an issue if you have a mixed gaming diet and regularly play both single-player and online multiplayer games.
Like other open-back headphones, the Sundara are best used in quiet environments, whether at home or otherwise. Due to their open design, their sound isolation is non-existent both ways: their noise isolation is poor while their sound leakage is high. This means they are not going to block out ambient noise even in moderately noisy places and will leak a lot at high volume. In some situations, their high sound leakage is going to be a big problem when listening to very loud music and while playing action-packed games with a lot of gunfire and explosions.
Selling for around $350, the Sundara are an excellent pair of planar magnetic headphones that sound fantastic and are comfortable to use for long hours. Their build quality is great, with a sturdy headband and durable ear cups, while their clamp is secure without being uncomfortably tight. Compared to the newer LCD-1 – one of their main competition in this price range – they are more neutral-sounding and have a better soundstage, but they are less portable.
You don’t have to look far if you are shopping for planar magnetic headphones that are more affordable than the HiFiMan Sundara. The best ones that you can get for around $200 or less are the HE400S, which also come from the same Chinese audio company. While they are considered as entry-level planar magnetic headphones, their sound quality is impressive for the price and their build quality is solid.
The HE400S are wired over-ear headphones with an open design and a detachable audio cable. They are bulky and have a plain aesthetic that won’t win any style awards, but their build quality is good and feels sturdy. They have a dual headband design composed of a metal headband and a synthetic leather strap. While the squared headband looks odd, it can easily accommodate large heads and allows for a secure and comfortable fit, with no alarming creaks when being adjusted.
Unlike the headband, the ear cups are made of plastic, but they feel durable and make for a lighter frame. They are large and spacious, easily accommodating most ear sizes, and include soft pads with velour covers. They make the HE400S comfortable to wear for long listening sessions, with their more breathable design adding to their comfort level. The ear cups have a nice silver finish while the grilles and earpads share the same black color scheme of the headband.
As noted by some people, the weakest part of the HE400S in terms of build quality is the braided audio cable, which is roughly five feet long and terminates with an angled 3.5 mm analog plug for universal compatibility. The default audio cable is stiff and feels rather cheap. While it is decent enough, we recommend replacing it with a better audio cable from other brands.
You shouldn’t expect too much regarding accessories. The HE400S offer the exact same number of accessories as the more expensive Sundara – which is to say there isn’t much to see. The only items included in the box are the detachable audio cable and the 6.3 mm plug adapter. There is no case or pouch, but that’s not really a big deal unless you plan to use the headphones when traveling despite their open design, bulky frame, and lack of in-line controls.
The HE400S have superb sound quality for a pair of planar magnetic headphones under $200. They are smooth and engaging and are thoroughly enjoyable to use for a variety of music genres. They are easy to drive – which is one of their biggest selling points – and have minimal distortion at safe volume levels. Their mid-range is magnificently detailed while their treble is never harsh. Their soundstage is wide while their bass performance is good but feels a bit lacking, which will leave you wanting more if you are a fan of bass-heavy music.
If you don’t mind their lack of a boom mic, the HE400S are also good headphones for gaming. Their wide soundstage is beneficial for some games while their comfortable fit makes them suitable for long gaming sessions. They are suitable for both action-packed games and story-driven games with a lot of dialogues and cutscenes. If sound quality is more important to you than convenient gaming features, they are a good alternative to gaming headsets in the same price range such as the SteelSeries Arctis 7 and the Astro Gaming A40 TR.
Considering the HE400S are open-back headphones, it’s hardly surprising that their sound isolation is non-existent. They are not going to block out background noise even in moderately noisy places and will leak a lot at high volume. Their high sound leakage can be a problem in certain situations – like when listening to loud music at the office or in a small room with other people around. They are best used for listening to music in quiet environments with no one around to disturb or bother with their high sound leakage.
All in all, the HE400S are the best option if you are in the market for relatively budget-friendly planar magnetic headphones. Their price-performance ratio is excellent while their build quality is solid, with their metal headband and plastic ear cups both appearing durable. Although their styling is not the most good-looking, they are comfortable to wear for long hours due to their generous padding and relatively lightweight design.
If you prefer to use earphones, check out the Audeze iSine 20. They are in-ear headphones with planar magnetic drivers and a semi-open design, both of which are uncommon in their category. They are some of the best-sounding earphones on the market. While they are quite expensive, they are still not as expensive as premium in-ear monitors designed for professional use. You can get them for around $600 with the Cipher Lightning cable, which is recommended if you plan to connect them to an iOS device.
The iSine 20 are wired earphones that are larger and bulkier than typical earphones, but they are still lightweight, measuring around 0.04 lb without the audio cable. They have an eye-catching design that will easily turn heads, featuring hexagonal frames with webbed backplates. They are easily noticeable in your ears, which makes for a less discreet look. Their build quality is good, with a mix of metal and plastic parts in the construction.
Although they are quite bulky for earphones, the iSine 20 are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Like other earphones, they are significantly more breathable than both over-ear and on-ear headphones since they don’t cover or press on your ears at all. They don’t enter your ear canals too deeply, which makes them less fatiguing after several hours of continuous use, and stay securely in your ears. There are multiple silicone ear tips included in the box, along with thin ear hooks for support and better stability.
Compared to over-ear and on-ear headphones, the iSine 20 are much more portable. They are extremely compact and lightweight and include a travel case. However, they are not recommended for commuting and traveling due to their semi-open enclosures, which translates to mediocre sound isolation. They are designed for listening to music at home, making them less versatile than typical earphones.
The default audio cable terminates with a regular 3.5 mm analog plug for universal compatibility, but it lacks an in-line remote for volume control and music management. If you are going to connect the earphones to iOS devices, we highly recommend buying the iSine 20 with the Cipher Lightning cable included. The Cipher Lightning cable, which sells for $120 as a standalone unit, has a built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC), along with a mic and remote.
Suitable for different music genres, the iSine 20 have excellent sound quality, with good instrument separation and minimal distortion at high volume. Their bass is deep and powerful while their mid-range is rich and detailed. Their treble is smooth while their soundstage is fairly wide, which is notable for earphones. But they are best used for listening to music in quiet environments since their noise isolation is mediocre, as expected from semi-open earphones.
While they are still decent and sound better than many other earphones with their regular audio cable, the iSine 20 can only reach their true potential when connected to an iOS device using the Cipher Lightning cable. With the unique cable, you can modify the sound profile using the Audeze iOS app, which has two presets and a 10-band equalizer. If you are using an Android device, you’ll need to look into other solutions to get the most out of these Audeze earphones.
Considering their compact design and portability, it’s tempting to use the iSine 20 for listening to music while commuting or traveling. Sadly, they are not built for that. In addition to their mediocre noise isolation, their sound leakage is also quite high. This means you’ll disturb nearby people with your loud music, especially during flights. You can use them for listening to music in the office, but only if their high sound leakage is not going to be an issue.
Although they are not as versatile as typical earphones, the iSine 20 are excellent earphones. They are great-sounding planar magnetic earphones that are well-built and comfortable to wear for long listening sessions. Their build quality is good, with their compact design and weight making them easy to carry from place to place. If you want these Audeze earphones and plan to connect them to an iOS device, we highly recommend getting the package that includes the Cipher Lightning cable.
Most of the other products in this guide are at least decent for gaming, especially if you don’t mind not having a boom mic for voice chat. But if you want planar magnetic headphones that are designed for gaming, check out the Audeze Mobius. Unlike all the other products here, it’s an actual headset, which means it comes with a boom mic. It’s packed with features, boasting multiple connection options – including Bluetooth – and impressive virtual surround sound technology.
The Mobius is an over-ear headset with closed-back ear cups and a detachable boom mic. It has a casual design and doesn’t appear to be intended for gaming at first glance. It has large, roomy ear cups with contoured memory foam pads coated in artificial leather. While its mostly plastic construction is disappointing for a product selling for $400, its build quality is good, with its thickly padded ear cups and flexible headband both appearing sturdy and durable.
For long gaming sessions, the Mobius is comfortable to use despite its tight fit. It has soft earpads that don’t feel too hot after just a couple of hours of continuous use. Its spacious ear cups can accommodate most ear sizes while its bulky frame is neutralized by its good weight distribution. Although the tight clamp is uncomfortable at first, it makes for a more secure fit, with the headset not easily sliding off when you are turning your head.
Like other wireless gaming headsets, the Mobius has on-cup controls for different functions. It has one of the most complete control schemes among gaming headsets, offering both basic and gaming-related functions. It has a power button, a 3D button, an audio volume wheel, a mic volume wheel, and a mic mute switch – except for the latter, all of them have multiple functions.
The power button is also used for Bluetooth pairing and for call and music management (excluding track skipping). Meanwhile, the 3D button is used for changing the 3D audio settings and for switching between different sources. In addition to their default functions, the audio volume wheel can be used for track skipping while the mic volume wheel can be used for cycling through the EQ presets and for changing audio modes. While confusing to use at first, the control scheme is efficient and allows for easy adjustments on the fly once you become familiar with the layout and all the functions.
In contrast to many other gaming headsets, the Mobius includes three audio cables, with two of them also serving as charging cables. It has a USB-C to USB-C cable, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and an analog audio cable with a 3.5 mm plug; the former two can be used for charging and digital audio while the latter allows for universal compatibility with most gaming platforms, including mobile devices. In addition to the multiple cables, Audeze also includes a hard case, which is useful if you want to use the headset as travel headphones with the boom mic detached.
Capable of running up to around 10 hours in wireless mode, the Mobius is a good-sounding gaming headset with an accurate mid-range and a deep bass. It boasts an impressive virtual surround sound feature – superbly implemented with Waves Nx technology – with integrated head tracking and room emulation for a more immersive gaming experience. You get plenty of options for the 3D audio on the Audeze app, which is user-friendly but lacks some features typically found in other gaming software.
The Mobius has a great boom mic as well, which is especially beneficial for voice chat when playing online multiplayer games. With its multiple connectivity options, you can connect the headset to various gaming platforms. You can use the USB-C, USB-A, and analog cables for connecting to PC, consoles, and mobile devices. If you prefer the convenience of wireless connectivity, you can connect to compatible devices using Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the Mobius lacks a dedicated wireless transmitter for a low-latency wireless connection, which makes it inferior to other wireless gaming headsets – like the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless and the Astro Gaming A50 – in regard to wireless gaming.
Although it’s designed for gaming, the Mobius is also decent for other usages. It’s decent as office and travel headphones due to its Bluetooth connectivity, on-cup controls, casual design, and secure and comfy fit. But don’t expect it to block a lot of ambient noise in crowded or noisy environments – it has mediocre passive noise isolation. On the bright side, its sound leakage is not too high, allowing you to increase the volume to reduce ambient noise without worrying about your loud music leaking out too much.
Overall, the Mobius is a great planar magnetic headset for gaming, with its multiple connection options allowing you to use it for different gaming platforms. Its sound quality is good while its mostly plastic build feels sturdy and reliable. It has a decent app for customization and features a good on-cup control scheme with a lot of functions. It’s one of the most expensive gaming headsets, though, normally selling for around $400, making it even more expensive than the Arctis Pro Wireless.
If none of our top picks above meets your preferences, consider the following products. In this section, you’ll also find more options under $500, including planar magnetic earphones that are much more affordable than the Audeze iSine 20.
Fostex T50RP MK3
The Fostex T50RP MK3 are wired over-ear headphones with a semi-open design. They are designed for professional studio use and are hard to drive. While their utilitarian design is unappealing, their build quality is solid; they feel durable and reliable, with secured parts and a sturdy headband. They are not the most comfortable, though, especially for long listening sessions. They have thin and shallow earpads that are not glasses-friendly and make the headphones feel like on-ear headphones.
Selling for around $150, the T50RP MK3 are better-sounding than their predecessor. They are better-balanced, with a well-defined mid-range, a clear treble, and a wide soundstage for a pair of semi-open headphones. They are meant to be used at home or in the studio, especially considering their mediocre noise isolation. Of the best planar magnetic headphones in this guide, they are some of the easiest to disassemble and modify, making them an excellent option for headphone enthusiasts who are interested in modding headphones.
If you prefer to use earphones due to their portability but can’t afford the Audeze iSine 20, check out the Tin HiFi P1. They are much more affordable, selling for less than $200, with the price sometimes dropping to around $150. They are wired earphones featuring a detachable audio cable and metal frames with angled nozzles for better ergonomics. Their build quality is excellent, with the detachable audio cable – which can be easily replaced by third-party ones – also adding to their longevity.
Suitable for a variety of music genres, the P1 are good-sounding earphones that are detailed from top to bottom. Their bass is not too emphasized while their treble is rarely harsh. They are not as good as typical earphones at blocking ambient noise, though, but their sound leakage is low. There are multiple ear tips included in the box – including foam tips – allowing you to choose ear tips that offer the best seal and comfort for your ears.
The Monoprice Monolith M1060 are bulky over-ear headphones that sound good and are enjoyable to use for different music genres. But they are not as comfortable to use for long listening sessions as the similarly priced HiFiMan Sundara, mainly due to their weight. They weigh around 1.1 lb, which makes them more fatiguing on the head.
On the bright side, their build quality is good, with their mix of metal and wood parts making for a more premium look. The M1060 have durable ear cups and a sturdy metal headband with an artificial leather strap. Their ear cups are large and spacious while their earpads are soft and don’t feel too hot after a couple of hours of continuous use. Their open-back design means they are poor at both blocking out background noise and preventing your loud music from leaking out.
The Audeze LCD-1 are some of the best planar magnetic headphones under $500 and are the next best option if you don’t like the HiFiMan Sundara. They are wired over-ear headphones featuring open-back ear cups with memory foam cushions covered with leather. They are lighter than the Monoprice Monolith M1060 and are more portable than the Sundara, featuring a folding design, with their travel case also adding to their portability.
Capable of reproducing clear and detailed vocals and instruments, with good separation, the LCD-1 are some of the best-sounding open-back headphones. They are suitable for listening to music at home and in the studio, with their comfortable fit making them ideal for long listening sessions. They have a detachable audio cable terminating in a 3.5 mm analog plug and include a 6.3 mm plug adapter. Due to their portability, they are recommended if you travel frequently and can’t leave home without your hi-fi audio equipment.
A pair of over-ear headphones with an open design, the Sendy Audio Aiva are beautiful headphones that will easily stand out. Their build quality and styling are excellent, with their smoothly finished wooden ear cups being especially notable. They have a dual headband design composed of a metal headband and a leather strap. Their large ear cups have thick cushions and nice-looking black metal grilles with fish-scale-like patterns. Ending in a 4.4 mm plug, the audio cable is braided, with Sendy Audio also including a 3.5 mm plug adapter in the box, along with a travel case.
While their soundstage is a bit disappointing for open-back headphones, the Aiva are good-sounding headphones that sound engaging, with an energetic and clear treble, a warm bass, and a detailed mid-range. They are comfortable to wear despite their bulky and heavy construction and stay securely on the head without being overly tight. They are best used for listening to music at home, especially considering their poor noise isolation and high sound leakage.
The HiFiMan Ananda are some of the best-sounding headphones under $1,000, with their neutral sound profile making them suitable for critical listening. They sound rich and detailed and have a spacious soundstage. They are easy to drive and include a detachable audio cable terminating in a 3.5 mm plug for universal compatibility.
Featuring horizontal metal grilles for an open design, the Ananda are over-ear headphones with large, spacious ear cups that will easily fit around most ear sizes. Their earpads are asymmetrical for better ergonomics. Their metal headband, which is complemented by a leather strap, is flexible and has no problem adjusting to large heads. Although they are not as breathable as other open-back headphones, they are comfortable to wear, with their soft earpads mitigating their tight fit.
Built like a tank, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic are over-ear headphones that sound good and are suitable for most mainstream genres. Their build quality is simply outstanding and definitely one of the best among over-ear headphones regardless of the price range. They have a sturdy metal headband with an artificial leather strap below it. The grilles on their large ear cups are also made of metal, but on the other hand, the mostly metal construction of the headphones is reflected in their weight.
The LCD-2 Classic are much heavier than the LCD-1, weighing around 1.2 lb, which is more than double the weight of the LCD-1. But despite their weight and bulky design, they are comfortable on the head, with their generous earpads and good weight distribution making them less fatiguing to use for long listening sessions.
Of the best planar magnetic headphones in this guide, the RHA CL2 are the most versatile and most suitable for all-around outdoor and indoor use. They are in-ear headphones that can be used in either wired or wireless mode. You can easily convert them from regular wired earphones to neckband earphones with Bluetooth connectivity. When in wireless mode, they can run up to 12 hours per charge, which is a solid mark for neckband earphones.
The CL2 are good-sounding earphones that also block a good amount of background noise with their passive in-ear seal, making them suitable for listening to music when commuting or traveling. They come with plenty of accessories. In addition to the two audio cables and the neckband, they include a carry pouch, a foldable travel case, an airplane adapter, a sports clip, and multiple silicone and foam ear tips.