Finest Closed-back Audiophile Headphones – $1000 and Under

The best and most exciting headphones for listening to music are high-end closed-back audiophile headphones under $1,000 like Denon AH-7200 and Audeze LCD-2. Plenty of other Hi-Fi headphones offer an outstanding listening experience and craftsmanship, but they often don’t satisfy the desires of the avid audiophile. Expensive headphones offer marginal improvements that justify their high price, and while they may not make sense to most people, once you’ve listened to them, you’re unlikely to enjoy other headphones with the same passion.

Included in this article is a detailed list of the most notable audiophile headphones under $1,000. Each audiophile headphone has a section that outlines its strengths, drawbacks, and who the ideal buyer is.

Why buy closed-back audiophile headphones for under $1,000?

Most audiophile headphones that sell for $1000 or less are usually open headphones. The closed-back design has particular acoustics, entailing a diminished soundstage and less spaciousness but a more rounded, more visceral sound. This is generally more fun and engaging sound for most listeners.

It’s harder to find closed audiophile headphones in this high-end price bracket. Still, they definitely do exist, i.e., the Denon AH-7200, Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, Audeze LCD-2 Closed, Focal Elegia, Shure SRH-1540, Dan Clark Audio AEON 2 Closed. The experience of listening to them is pretty compelling. But the reasons why you’d buy a closed-back headphone for $1000 are valid, in that these headphones can be:

  • More natural sounding at all frequencies with warm and vibrant tones
  • Greater clarity, i.e., more definition in upper and lower midrange due to less bleed from the outside world and excessive basses.
  • More control over the reproduction of lower frequencies and an overall natural tonal balance, i.e., less “over-exaggerated” sounding
  • Top-notch manufacturing quality with materials with better acoustic properties (walnut wood ear pads, stainless steel frame, real leather ear cups, etc.)
  • More stylish finishes (exotic wood, cashmere pads)
  • Excellent investment: you can pass these headphones on to your kids, son-in-law, nephews, nieces, or you can resell the headphones for a profit after a few years (if you don’t want them anymore)
  • They provide excellent sound isolation and listening comfort both indoors and outdoors

Top closed-back audiophile headphones under 1,000 dollars on the market

Denon AH-5200

The Denon AH-5200 is a premium headphone and the entry-level model in the company’s line of high-end audiophile headphones. Even after AH-7200’s release, the Denon AH-5200 has remained at the forefront of the audiophile market as one of the most reasonably priced closed-back audiophile headphones under $1,000.

What makes them good?

It is made from premium materials and has a dark, brown look, and is also very durable. The headset features zebra wood ear cups, engineered leather, and precision aluminum parts. Unlike genuine leather, engineered leather is made from 50% synthetic leather and 50% genuine leather.

In addition, engineered leather is lighter than leather, which allows for a more comfortable and longer listening session because it eliminates as much weight as possible.

Music playback is smooth, organic, clear, and thorough across the audio spectrum (5 Hz – 40,000 Hz). The sonic response is versatile and well-balanced and, unlike the AH-7200, requires no equalization or amplifier and sounds great right out of the box.

Among most audiophile headphones up to $1,000, the AH-5200 has the refinement and attractive sound quality of more expensive headphones, but without the extra price. They look classy, scream “expensive,” yet offer tremendous value.

What are the drawbacks?

The Denon AH-D5200 is the kind of audiophile headphone that users define as “AMAZEBALLS,” “Worth Every Penny,” and “Absurdly comfortable.” But it has its drawbacks:

  • Denon AH-D5200 headphones are not suitable for daily travel
  • The balanced/flat sound response may not appeal to those who want an exciting listening experience
  • Some users consider the tighter bass a drawback in closed-back headphones

Who should buy it?

Anyone who wants a top-rated closed audiophile headphone at a price under $1,000 without compromising sound quality or craftsmanship should buy the Denon AH-D5200. Electronic music, pop, and rock genres are not the forte of this headphone, but for fans of classical, jazz, and blues, the Denon AH-D5200 brings the details and nuances that make music come alive as it plays the music with spectacular clarity.

Where to buy them

If you live in North America, you can get them directly from Denon or buy them from Audio46, Headphones.com, or Amazon.com.


Denon AH-7200

The Denon AH-7200 is one of the most popular closed-back headphones for bass lovers audiophiles and a definite recommendation for any music lover. The Denon AH-7200 reproduces bass details and powerful kick drums perfectly, much better than the Shure SRH1540 or the Fostex TH610. The audio transparency is among the best of all the reviewed headphones, but it is also among the most expensive audiophile headphones.

What makes them good?

The Denon AH-7200 is designed for true audiophiles and offers a high level of performance and a fantastic bass response. The sound signature is warm and gives the listener the feeling of being in the middle of the live show.

The workmanship is impeccable, with attention to detail and a comfortable fit. The wood construction is luxurious and beautiful to look at. The die-cast aluminum frame is lightweight and very durable, while the sheepskin leather of the headband is soft and comfortable and adds a touch of character.

Its sleek, elegant, wooden design is complemented by equally impressive sound performance. The Denon AH-7200 are amazing closed-back audiophile headphones that deliver full-bodied sound, capable of bringing music to life in all its glory.

The Denon AH-7200 is proof that the Japanese brand is at the top of the headphone market. With a price tag of under $1,000, these are the best closed-back audiophile headphones you can buy.

What are the drawbacks?

The earpads are not made of natural leather, and this is something that other headphones on the market exceed in quality, like the Focal Celestee and ATH-W5000. The warm sound signature makes high-end closed-back headphones like the Denon AH-7200 stand out, but it requires equalization for some.

Voice reproduction and the upper midrange and treble are lacking, which may turn some listeners off. While it has an impressive soundstage, imaging, and bass base, it lacks the sharpness and clarity that can be achieved with a better treble response. It is more expensive than the Denon AH-5200 and, as many users have reported, it requires equalization.

Who should buy it?

The Denon AH-7200 is the perfect closed-back audiophile headphone in the $1,000 price range for modern electronic music fans. While it offers excellent imaging and instrumental separation for classical, jazz, and highly complex genres, it lacks the details that make these musical genres so enjoyable.


Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen)

The third generation of the Beyerdynamic T5 is a closed-back high-end reference headphone for professional use. It costs less than $1000 and even though it’s designed for audio engineers, audiophiles looking for a luxurious, closed over-ear headphone with a neutral response that reveals enough detail in the music to realistically recreate sonic images will love the T5.

What makes them great

The Beyerdynamic T5 3rd gen build quality isn’t as compelling as Denon’s headphones. Still, the finely polished aluminum frames, leatherette headband, and earpads give them a sleek and lightweight feel. The T5 3rd gen also features tilted Tesla drivers that produce a very detailed and natural sound.

The Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen) is a perfect match for a wide variety of musical genres. The mid-range frequencies are impeccable, making the T5 (3rd Gen) one of the few closed headphones under $1,000 that can properly reproduce vocals. However, the T5 headphones are not for the most exciting and experimental tracks. Darker genres, including Electronic (EDM) and Dubstep, are not the headphone’s strong points.

The sound response is neutral, and the emphasis is only on the upper ranges, around the 7 kHz mark. This sound profile allows the T5 headphones to be clear and transparent, making them ideal for classical music, jazz, orchestras, acapella, and vocal-based songs.

What are the drawbacks?

The Beyerdynamic T5 3rd Gen is an expensive headphone, approaching $1000. While it inspires total confidence, its construction does not include premium materials like walnut wood or sheepskin leather, as seen in many closed audiophile headphones. The T5 3rd Gen has exemplary linearity but weak sub-bass and punch for a closed-back headphone.

Who should buy it?

Audio engineers, music producers, and hardcore audiophiles who need a headphone with neutral sound response are the perfect users of this type of closed-back reference headphone.

The Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen) allows you to hear music as if played live in front of you, with perfect clarity and detail. As such, these closed headphones are for those who appreciate the raw sound and prefer to keep the music unaltered.

Bass lovers may not be 100% satisfied with the T5’s purchase, but EQ will make you forget about its flat bass response in no time. No matter what music you listen to, you’ll get a solid, well-balanced sound.

The T5 is the perfect closed-back audiophile headphone for ambient and classical music. But it’s not adequate for more traditional genres like rock, hip-hop, pop, and head-banging music. Also, don’t expect to get a considerable bass boost through EQ.


Audeze LCD-2 Classic

Of the few sub-$1,000 closed-back audiophile headphones discussed here, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is the only one with large 4-inch planar magnetic drivers and a hefty weight of 544 grams. Its design has a rugged, imposing, yet sober look. It’s finely crafted solid, and if you’re looking for a pair of closed-back audiophile headphones that are different from most others, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is an excellent choice.

What makes them great

Like any multi-hundred dollar planar headphone, the LCD-2 Classic has a precise, rich, dynamic sound response with tight bass and an abundance of sound texture. The sound is hyper-detailed and accurate, with deep bass playback that reaches 10 Hz. The headphones easily reproduce acoustic instruments and male and female vocals and have smooth mid-range and consistent highs.

What are the drawbacks?

These headphones are heavy. As such, the Audeze LCD-2 Classic is not the ideal choice for people who spend hours listening to their playlists. But for the casual audiophile, the weight of the LCD-2 Classic might be more bearable for the first couple of hours.

Planar magnetic drivers require a dedicated headphone amplifier to provide the best sound quality. This is due to the nature of planar magnetic drivers and their size, which makes them more difficult to drive.

Who should buy it?

The Audeze LCD-2 Classic should be a top choice for the audiophile looking for a pair of neutral planar headphones. The listener should be prepared to shell out close to a thousand dollars for their pair of LCD-2 Classic. But listening to softer music, the kind of music that doesn’t require a lot of energy, you might think it’s money well spent.

Don’t buy the Audeze LCD-2 Classic thinking that large planar drivers are synonymous with powerful bass. On the contrary, the LCD-2 Classic is suitable for genres that require a relaxing and mellow presentation. Metal genre, rock bands, and singers who perform in the soul, jazz, and acoustic genres with a warm tone will feel a little out of place with the LCD-2 Classic.


Shure SRH1540

The Shure SRH1540 is an affordable closed-back headphone for audiophiles who value powerful bass, craftsmanship, comfort, aesthetics, and overall sound quality. It’s the cheapest model on this list of best closed-back audiophile headphones, so it has a few shortcomings.

What makes them great

Shure SRH1540 has a solid, heavy aluminum alloy construction with carbon-fiber ear cups, a dual-frame headband, and Alcántara earpads. The earpads are soft, large, durable, and provide sufficient airflow to keep the ears cool. The top of the headband is made of leather and looks fantastic, especially with its sober black color.

Convenience is one of the main advantages of the Shure SRH1540. The SRH1540 is lighter than most competitors, weighing only 10.1 oz (286 g). It’s comfortable to wear for hours on end and includes a second pair of ear cushions to use when the current ones get a little worn.

In addition to its convenience, the headphones also provide punchy, overwhelming bass while having a great extension to 5 Hz. This is not good for the typical audiophile looking for a clean, crisp sound, but for bass lovers who want ample bass with a significant presence, the SRH1540 will undoubtedly be a treat for your ears.

What are the drawbacks?

Shure suggests that SRH-1540 is a premium closed-back headphone for studio professionals and audiophiles. However, it is still lacking the refinement required for critical listening. The bass is plentiful, and mid-range instruments and vocals are unclear and recessed.

Who should buy it?

The Shure SRH-1540 closed-back headphones are a good choice for bass enthusiasts and solo gamers who want a robust headphone that delivers bass-rich sound.

The bass is deep but lacks dynamics and consistency; it’s ample but unreliable. Thus, the only people who should consider the SRH- 1540 are those who prefer modern pop music and like the feel of the bass more than the sound.

It’s not suitable for any audiophile or type of studio recording task. Audio engineers should not buy the SRH-1540 due to its overly warm and inconsistent bass response, which delivers too much bass when not needed and vice versa.

Conclusion

There are dozens of headphones up to $1000, but when even the most expensive ones have flaws, it’s hard to find the best pair of high fidelity closed-back headphones that can thrill your audiophile ears.

In the end, a good pair of closed-back audiophile headphones doesn’t have to cost close to $1,000 (as you’ve seen with the Denon AH-D5200), but you want to make sure that you’re getting the best of the best, give a listen to any of the headphones mentioned.

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