If you’ve spent any time researching headphones to buy, you’ve probably come across planar in some form. Planar headphones use magnets instead of a traditional driver, hoping to significantly improve sonic characteristics like quickness and clarity. Generally, you’ll hear less noise and more of a natural performance from your music. All planar headphones are different though, especially in terms of sound. A lot of them can also run into high price brackets beyond the four thousand dollar range. If you don’t quite have the budget for the premium side of planar, here are a couple of planar headphones that are still great and won’t run you past the thousand-dollar range.
First up is the good ol’ Sundara from HiFiMAN. If you look up anything related to planar headphones, you’re bound to come across this brand. In 2022, HiFiMAN generously lowered the price of these open-back headphones to $299. For what they are, it’ll be hard to find anything better for that low a price. This year also saw the release of the closed-back version of the Sundara too, which is also a good pick worth looking into, especially if you prefer a more isolated sound with more bass.
One of the first headphones I listened to this year that really wowed me was the Edition XS. With the XS, HiFiMAN looks to deliver a mid-fi headphone for those who can quite afford the Ananda or Arya, which have been highly rated for some time now. However, the Edition XS isn’t just a great planar for the price, it performs far above it in a lot of cases. While the Ananda is still a fantastic option for less than a thousand dollars, when listening to both headphones back to back it is hard to say which one I prefer. Expect a ton of detail, texture, and depth in almost every facet of the Edition XS.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Wraith, as it gave me an experience that not a lot of planar headphones have. Not a lot of planar headphones in this price range offer as much closeness and warmth as the Wraith. It is able to achieve its specific sound signature in such a controlled and deeply immersive environment of sound, and it makes the Wraith very hard to put down.
There are few manufacturers that can deliver a pair of planar headphones with the level of design that Dan Clark Audio presents. Their AEON series has gone through a few different revisions over the years, and I think the Aeon 2 Noire might be my favorite. This is definitely one of the best closed-back planar headphones you can get for under a thousand, as its sound and comfort have little competition. Its sound is the most entertainingly tuned out of most of their headphone selection, with a fun mid-bass and a sizzling treble for audiophile enjoyment.
Both the closed and open-back LCD-2 are one of the best headphones you can have for less than a thousand. Audeze has been a trailblazer with planar headphones for at least a decade, developing and innovating new ways to improve upon their headphones. If you can get past its size, you’ll find that the LCD-2 is one of the cleanest and most detailed headphones you can hear for the price. It is a smooth and spacious headphone that enriches anything you put through it, whether it is the closed or open-back version.