Are you in the market for planar magnetic headphones, but have no idea what options to go with? In this buyer’s guide you’ll find the best of what the marketplace has to offer so that you’re able to make an informed choice. You’ll love the variety and explanation of what the technology is all about. Even if you’re an experienced buyer of such headphones you may discover new tips and models in this guide that you haven’t come across before.
We have also added a buying consideration section that can be used to figure out the top features that are worth taking a look at. The features we have covered include audio quality, comfort, durability, and brand. It’s a great idea to take each of these features into account so that you can make an informed choice regarding the specific planar magnetic headphones to make an investment in.
We had a great time writing this buyer’s guide and hope you enjoy digesting all the info that’s included. We are confident that by the time you finish reading to the very end you’ll learn what’s needed to make an informed buying decision.
|Fostex T50RP MK3|
|Weight: 11.11 ounces|
|Frequency Response: 15 – 35,000 Hz|
|Good value for money and has a unique audio driver design.|
|Weight: 13.28 ounces|
|Frequency Response: 15 – 50,000 Hz|
|Wide frequency response and sophisticated audio quality.|
|Weight: 17.28 ounces|
|Frequency Response: 10 – 45,000 Hz|
|Premium use of materials and well-implemented design.|
What is planar magnetic technology?
Industry leading audio drivers make use of planar magnetic technology and there is a lot of science packed into the units. Currently, they are generally bigger in size than the majority of audio drivers in the marketplace.
The part that creates the audio is made up of a thin and flexible electrostatic style material that’s placed between the outer layers of the mechanism. Furthermore, thin evenly placed magnets are placed alongside this material, which act as the electrically active diaphragm material. The magnets are precisely placed and cut so that the diaphragm is held in place where it should be. This spacing and size of the components is what creates the large overall size.
Headphones with planar magnetic audio drivers are better because they are not prone to electronic and audio distortion like traditional ones are. Additionally, the response time between the frequencies is very fast, which means the audio sounds cleaner overall. Headphone amplifiers are not required with magnetic planar headphones yet the audio feels as if one is used.
Items by price:
Planar Magnetic Headphones Comparison Table
|Make and Model||Weight||Frequency Response||Price|
|Hifiman HE-560||13.28 ounces||15 – 50,000 Hz||Check Price|
|Monolith M1060||17.6 ounces||10 – 50,000 Hz||Check Price|
|Fostex T50RP MK3||11.11 ounces||15 – 35,000 Hz||Check Price|
|Audeze LCD-2||17.28 ounces||10 – 45,000 Hz||Check Price|
|Blue Ella Planar Magnetic||16.97 ounces||20 – 20,000 Hz||Check Price|
|Oppo PM-3||11.4 ounces||10 – 50,000 Hz||Check Price|
Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $300
You’ll find good value for money in this category. You’ll appreciate the large audiophile grade audio drivers that allow you to enjoy your favorite music like never before. They are an upgrade over many other headphones and even the amateurs among you will feel the difference due to the large audio drivers.
However, they are bulky headphones so you should look elsewhere if you need a portable option. Also the durability in this category can be a problem so make use to handle them with care.
1. Best Value: Hifiman HE-560
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5
The Hifiman HE-560 has huge planar magnetic audio drivers that creates amazing detail and sophisticated audio. The visual design also oozes class due to the wood grain that can be seen around the earcups. However, they are a pricey pair of headphones so you’ll need to decide if the quality offered justifies the asking price.
They are around 30% lighter than most planar magnetic headphones, which means they are not as cumbersome to wear for long periods of time. The ear pads are bulky but you will be able to fit your entire ear inside due to the extra size. On the other hand, the headband is thin with a small amount of padding on the underside. There is a lot of adjustability to the design so you can get a fit that matches your head size.
The audio design has a wide soundstage that creates lifelike audio. You’ll feel as if you’re actually there in person taking in the audio experience. The increased efficiency means the headphones can be combined with a modest sized amplifier. The overall audio quality is suitable for audiophiles that can appreciate an extra level of audio sophistication.
Before proceeding with the purchase you need to take into account a few of the disadvantages for a well-balanced overview of the Hifiman HE-560 headphones. The large bulky design is not suitable for going outdoors and they might be prone to damage if dropped a few times. Additionally, they are expensive and a few cheaper alternatives are available.
|Weight: 13.28 ounces|
|Frequency response: 15 – 50,000 Hz|
|Distinctive looking visual design|
|Wide frequency response|
|Sophisticated audio quality|
|Could be more durable at this price|
2. Monolith M1060
Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5
The Monolith M1060 is a stylish pair of headphones that has an open back design. Therefore, you can enjoy a wide soundstage, but be prepared for noise leakage and incoming ambient sounds. The visual design is a blend of black and wood that look aesthetically great so you’ll love wearing these. However, the high price tag means these headphones deserve their fair share of scrutiny.
The large 106mm audio drivers are some of the biggest in the marketplace, but in return you’re getting awesome audio power that sounds lifelike. This magnetic driver is made of a flat membrane surrounded by magnets. A 10-50,000Hz frequency response is provided that blows the competition out of the water. You’ll enjoy a mixture of strong bass, clear mids, and accurate highs that brings out the detail of all music genres.
The comfort has been engineered to allow for long listening sessions that will not agitate you. Due to the large audio drivers the earcups are huge, which means there is a lot of bulk but the comfort is excellent. Your ears will fit neatly inside and there is a lot of extra room for flexibility if it’s needed. The headband is light and thin to somewhat counteract the large earcups. There is a bit of padding on the underside and the adjustability is excellent allowing you to achieve a snug fit every single time without much hassle.
An advantage of buying from the Monolith brand is the excellent customer service that you’ll get when help is required. Therefore, you can rely on the brand to honor the warranty deal that’s in place for when damage takes place.
Other than the bulky earcups the other disadvantage is the sound leakage that comes with the open back design. People around you are going to be annoyed with the audio leakage so you’re best to use these in an isolated environment. Furthermore, ambient noise creeps into these headphones far too easily so you’ll need to be in a quiet environment.
Overall, the Monolith M1060 headphones are a good choice for those with a decent budget and an eye for audiophile grade audio. The combination of the advanced audio drivers, comfortable fit, and striking design means you’re going to love enjoying all genres of music with the Monolith M1060 headphones.
|Weight: 17.6 ounces|
|Frequency response: 10 – 50,000 Hz|
|Wide frequency range|
|Very large audio drivers|
|Good customer support with a great warranty deal|
3. Best Budget: Fostex T50RP MK3
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5
The Fostex T50RP MK3 headphones are a nice mixture of value for money and performance that you’ll enjoy if you’re a professional or amateur. They have a semi-open design so you’re getting the best of both worlds – a wide soundstage and decent noise isolation. Delve deeper into the features offered to figure out if the quality available here is worth the asking price.
The unique planar magnet audio drivers generate impactful audio that blown the majority of the competition out of the water in this price bracket. The audio drivers are based on 30 years of trial and error so you’re getting a well-refined pair of headphones.
The 3000mW complies with various professional uses so these can be used in the studio or by a DJ. However, the price means they can also be used by audio enthusiasts that want to take advantage of sophisticated audio drivers. Plus the frequency range of 15-35,000Hz ensures you’re going to enjoy a depth of audio that delivers lifelike sounds.
The fit is well-implemented since there is a lot of padding on the earcups and headband. You’ll find wearing them for hours at a time is not going to be a cumbersome experience. You can also adjust the headband to match your head size – once adjusted to the right size they tend to stay in place.
Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the negatives to fully appreciate what’s on offer. Firstly, the bass is not as good as other options since the frequency response doesn’t go below 15Hz. Furthermore, the fit might not be ideal for some users that require multiple hours of use at a time.
To conclude, the Fostex T50RP MK3 headphones are suitable for professional and amateur use. The unique magnetic planar audio driver design ensures you’re getting something different that brings out the best of all music genres. However, the overall audio quality cannot compete with the high prices magnetic planar headphones in this buyer’s guide.
|Weight: 11.11 ounces|
|Frequency response: 15 – 35,000 Hz|
|Good value for money|
|Unique audio driver design|
|Suitable for professional use|
|Comfort for long listening sessions could be improved|
Best Planar Headphones Under $1,000
In this price category you’ll discover industry leading technology that’s ideal for the audiophiles among you. The designs are bulky here due to the large audio drivers, but you’ll appreciate the impact of the audio.
However, the investment in this price category is big so you’ll need to be the type of audio fan that can appreciate the fine details. Also the brands here aren’t the most popular so you should do a bit of background research to familiarize yourself.
4. Top Pick: Audeze LCD-2
Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5
Audeze manufactures some of the best headphones due to the advanced technology that’s packed into their audio drivers. However, they come with a high price tag so you’ll need to be prepared to make a huge investment. Take the time to carefully look at the features and figure out if the quality that’s offered matches your needs.
The big 100mm audio drivers are evident from the large earcups that add a lot to the bulk. However, you’re getting impactful audio that creates a strong impression from the very first time you plug them into the audio emitting device.
It’s a closed back design, but the audio still has good soundstage. The closed back design means there is good noise isolation and sound leak into surroundings is minimal. However, ventilation of moisture and heat into the surroundings might a problem. Fortunately, the huge earcups means there is plenty of space for the ear.
The suspension headband means you’re getting a tight and highly adjustable fit that caters to all head types. Furthermore, the use of memory foam within the earcups means comfort cannot be questioned with the overall design here.
These Audeze headphones are ideal for audiophiles that can appreciate the fine details of the audio experience. If you’re the type of headphone user that likes bass without much fidelity, then you’ll be wasting your money here.
You need to take a few of the disadvantages into account before proceeding with the purchase. Firstly, the huge audio drivers means the bulk of the earcups could be too much for some users. Furthermore, the level of noise isolation is relatively poor given it’s a closed back design.
To summarize, the Audeze LCD-2 headphones are a great choice for audiophiles that have a lot of money to spend and are looking for industry leading audio drivers. The premium use of materials makes the headphones feel luxurious and you’ll love the attention to detail. However, the bulk and lack of noise isolation needs to be considered before you pull the trigger on the purchase.
|Weight: 17.28 ounces|
|Frequency response: 10 – 45,000 Hz|
|Advanced and large audio drivers|
|Premium use of materials|
|Well-implemented headband design|
5. Blue Ella Planar Magnetic
Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5
The striking design allows you to look somewhat different and you’ll appreciate the quality of the audio. However, it’s a steep asking price so you’ll need to pay close attention to the features to figure out if the value for money is there.
The advanced planar magnetic technology brings another level of detail that allows you to enjoy music like never before. However, the improved audio comes at the expense of added bulk – as you can see from the pictures the earcups are huge. Therefore, they might not be the ideal pair of headphones to be taken outside. On the plus side the large 50mm audio drivers deliver loud audio that doesn’t suffer from distortion as you increase the decibel level.
A built-in audiophile 250mW amp is included that adds a lot of value to the overall setup. This adds a lot of impact to the audio experience without resulting in noticeable harmonic distortion that’s a problem with lower priced headphones. The amp is a unique feature that is rarely found in headphones so the audiophiles among you will appreciate the sophistication of the design here. The amp can be switched off or turned on between two operating modes. One provides clean sound with added power and the other improves the bass to bring specific music genres to life.
The headband construction is also unique as you can see from the pictures of the product description. The spring loaded design was inspired from the suspension that’s used on Formula One cars. It does a great job of adapting to any head size and provides that secure fit which doesn’t come loose during head movements. The rigorous testing of the headband ensures you’re getting a thoroughly examined pair of headphones that will not be prone to shortcomings shortly after purchase.
There are a few drawbacks that should be taken into account before proceeding with the purchase. Firstly, the bulky and awkward looking design might not be for everyone – especially those that are used to portable headphones. Also the high price means the value for money here is not comparable to some of the other options in this buyer’s guide.
To summarize, the Blue Ella Planar Magnetic headphones are a great choice for those with a big budget and are after a revolutionary design. The closed back design allows you to be immersed in the music – even in noisy environment. The combination of the built-in amp and large planar magnetic audio drivers means you’re getting something truly unique in the headphone marketplace.
|Weight: 16.97 ounces|
|Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz|
|Sophisticated headband for extra comfort and practicality|
|Excellent audio drivers|
6. Oppo PM-3
Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5
Oppo is not a popular personal audio brand, but you’ll love the implementation of the magnetic planar audio drivers that are provided here. Visually the headphones look like they might be at the cheaper end of the scale, but the technology that’s packed under the hood should give you some food for thought.
These are closed back headphones, which means that you can expect noise isolation and no noise leakage. This is beneficial if you listen to music around others and do not want to be disturbed. Unfortunately, the drawback of a closed back design is that the soundstage is limited, which means the audio sounds like it’s in your head rather than all around you.
The weight of these headphones is low and there is a lot of added soft padding to increase the comfort even more. Therefore, you’ll feel as if wearing these for hours at a time is not a problem. In-hand you’ll appreciate the workmanship because they feel sturdy and dropping them a few times is not going to damage the audio drivers.
A bonus 1.2m cable with a control box is added that can be combined with a smartphone for convenient use. It has the functionality to alter the volume and activate the mic. Having an extra cable is also useful when the primary one has broken down.
The Oppo PM-3 charges a steep price tag so you need to be harsh when it comes to weighing up the cost versus the features offered. Firstly, the visual design could have a more premium feel. Also the treble could do with some polish given the sophistication of the audio drivers.
To summarize, the Oppo PM-3 headphones are the ideal choice for those with a big budget and want a durable design. The audio drivers are large and deliver a powerful punch for all music genres. You’ll also love the comfort that allows you to wear these headphones for many hours at a time.
|Weight: 11.4 ounces|
|Frequency response: 10-50,000 Hz|
|Sophisticated audio quality|
|Plenty of padding for great comfort|
|Visually looks cheaper than the price tag suggests|
- What is planar magnetic technology?
- Buying considerations
- Audio quality
- Items by price:
- Planar Magnetic Headphones Comparison Table
- Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Under $300
- 1. Best Value: Hifiman HE-560
- 2. Monolith M1060
- 3. Best Budget: Fostex T50RP MK3
- Best Planar Headphones Under $1,000
- 4. Top Pick: Audeze LCD-2
- 5. Blue Ella Planar Magnetic
- 6. Oppo PM-3