Stuck Inside, Together: Browsing the World’s Luxury Headphones

If you’re in any populated place, you’re probably going through it. Sitting inside for hours or days on end, going for small walks here and there. Listening to your favorite music, or making some of your own. You’ve eaten all your snacks and can’t hang out with your friends. You’ve already watched entire seasons of 30 Rock. You’re a little worried about it all.

I am, too, and that’s OK. I’m a big fan of retail therapy, and I like browsing the world’s luxury items, just to take my mind off of things. The past few years have seen incredible advancements in the way audio, design, and opulence intersect. Here’s a shortlist of some of the most lavish and expensive headphones available.

Klipsch x McLaren T10 True Wireless Earbuds

 

Klipsch waited until last year to introduce its first true wireless earbuds amidst a sea of competitors. The Klipsch T5 True Wireless made a splash as a great sounding and looking set of earbuds (you can read the original MajorHiFi review here). This year, Klipsch unveiled their new flagship piece. A partnership with McLaren Auto, no less.

The true wireless earbuds will be priced at $1,000 when they release this fall. They come in a carbon fiber case with magnetic doors, inspired by McLaren’s cars. The design also features a nice little McLaren logo and papaya orange accents, the auto company’s signature color.

Klipsch representatives at CES claim these will be the smallest and lightest earbuds on the market. They feature hybrid ANC and the same drivers from Klipsch’s legendary x10i earbuds. A proprietary operating system with AI have been built into the earbuds themselves. That means users can use head gestures to active advanced controls. There’s also something called a turbo boost mode — though it’s unclear what a lot of these features mean at this point.

These look amazing and sound amazing. At $1000, I hope they make me feel amazing, too. For right now, I’m content staring at the picture, just thinking about having a pair of these in my ears as I step into my own McLaren. That would sure be nice.

Tambour Horizon x Master & Dynamic True Wireless Earbuds

Master & Dynamic has entered their second year of a partnership with Louis Vuitton’s sub-brand, Tambour Horizon. After releasing a first gen model of these LV earbuds last year, they’ve come out with an update. Though the earbuds remain largely the same in specs and function, they come at nearly a $200 price increase, and are not available online for just $1,120.

The LV/Tambour Horizon True Wireless Earbuds come with ANC and a stunning ambient listening mode, with a Bluetooth 5.0 connection that stretches 100 feet. However, the battery life outside of the case can barely be pushed to four hours. That may be a weak point for the Louis earbuds, but we’re not even really here to talk about weak points are we? We’re here to look at some expensive headphones.

Tambour Horizon is the new luxury tech and accessory line from Louis Vuitton. Right now, they sell an array of smart watches alongside the earbuds. The new earbuds come in bright red, pristine white, jet black, pink, and neon yellow.

Onkyo H900M — but Covered in Diamonds

 

Onkyo’s diamond-studded over-ear headphones made headlines across the internet when they premiered at CES in 2017, and they’re just as legendary today.

These headphones are covered in 20 karats of diamonds ranging from G-H in color and VVS-VS in clarity. Each pair has the diamonds placed by hand for each buyer, meaning the amount of diamonds and the size of the diamonds varies. That puts the price of these bad boys in a range between $80,000 and $100,000. Oh, and you can only even have the chance of buying a pair if Onkyo reaches out to you with a special invitation.

On one hand, I get an extreme sense of satisfaction daydreaming about owning these. On the other hand, its a sign of the increasing aestheticization of hardware. It would be a real shame for good headphones across the board to become more expensive as unnecessary value is placed simply on how they look.

People at CES 2017 were allowed to try the headphones on, but couldn’t listen to anything through them. As the Onkyo representative at the time said, “the specs don’t matter.” Take from that what you will.

Focal Utopia by Tournaire

After gazing lovingly at the Tambour Horizon earbuds, I let myself veer off course. Now, just two headphones later, we’ve arrived at the most expensive pair available anywhere in the world. That’s right — the special Tournaire version of the Focal Utopia Headphones go for a whopping $120,000. The headphone stand (sold separately) is another $12,000.

The original Focal Utopia, already starting at $4,000, was handed to the legendary Tournaire jewelers for a custom, $120,000 touch-up. Each pair of these headphones is handcrafted in the Tournaire shop with 18-karat gold and six carats of diamonds. The headphones, structurally, have some interesting touches. The 40mm drivers are placed off-center, slightly towards the front of the headphones. This gives the impression that the sound is coming from in front of you, not from the sides.

Accents like that are great, and par for the course of the base version of the Focal Utopia, widely regarded already as one of the best headphones on the market. But these are in another league of their own. They look like something Versace wishes they released first. Like a relic found in a booby-trapped cave in an Indiana Jones movie.

I hope you’ve enjoyed windowshopping with me. Stay inside, stay clean, and stay browsing!