11 of the world’s most expensive pairs of headphones

11 of the world’s most expensive pairs of headphones

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, and they also come in a range of prices - you can get a perfectly decent pair for as little as £30. But you could also spend your life's savings on a pair. Whether it would be worth it is up for debate, but spending five figures on a pair of cans will surely be a talking point.

These extravagant headphones fall into the latter category. From marble chassis to diamond-coated cans, and a lot of clever sound processing in between, these are some of the most expensive headphones in the world. Any of these tickle your fancy? Time to remortgage your home.

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Focal Utopia by Tournaire – $120,000

Unveiled at CES 2017, the $120,000 Focal Utopia by Tournaire lay claim to being the world's most expensive headphones. Made by the master jewellers, they feature 18-carat gold mounted with six-carat diamonds and are handcrafted in Tournaire's workshops. A proportion of the sales will go towards saving eight-year-old Louis Biscini, who suffers from the degenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy type 1, so there's a charitable side to proceedings too. And if you're still feeling flush having bought them, why not shell out for the stand while you're at it? It's only another $12,000.

MORE: Focal Utopia by Tournaire are the world's most expensive headphones

Onkyo H900M with 20-carat diamonds – €80,000

The Focals weren't the only luxury headphones lighting up the show-floor at CES 2017 - Onkyo took its H900M cans and added 20-carat diamonds to its earcups.

But that's not all. It embedded these diamonds onto aluminium plates surrounded by a ring of highly polished stainless steel. Wondering which is the right earcup? It's the one with an extra ring of red rubies. Well, L and R letters would have just seemed churlish...

MORE: Onkyo adds 20-carat diamonds to its H900M headphones

Sennheiser Orpheus/HE 1 – £54,000

Formerly called Orpheus, the flagship Sennheiser HE-1 headphones come with their own valve amplification.

The chassis is made of Carrara marble, which is the same type Michaelangelo used for his sculptures. So it's not really hyperbole to say that they're a work of art. But not only does the marble look amazing (and we love the effect of the eight valves and control dials emerging from the slab of stone), it's also great for damping. Win-win.

The electrostatic headphones themselves are made from beautifully sculpted aluminium, leather and fine microfibre cloth. Thanks to Sennheiser's know-how, they even perform as well as they look.

MORE: Sennheiser Orpheus hands-on review

V-Moda Crossfade M-100 with 3D printed shields – $40,000

It's not the headphones themselves that cost the earth, but rather the decorative 'shields' you can add on to the earpieces. They're 3D-printed, and come in a range of materials including sterling silver, solid gold or platinum. Less expensive materials such as bronze and stainless steel are also available, but where's the fun in that? If you do opt for the pricier materials, you'd better make sure your music is up to it - no 128kbps MP3s, please.

MORE: V-Moda Crossfade M-100 review

oBravo EAMT-1s – £3699

Of course, pricey headphones don't all have to be over-ear models. These in-ears from oBravo will set you back a cool £3699. Why? It's all because of the Hybrid Dynamic AMT driver.

This is a coaxial design, combining two types of driver into a single unit. It's capable of reaching lows of 15Hz and highs of 45kHz. They also look great, thanks to their Precision-Ceramic hand-crafted body. The world's most expensive in-ears? So far, yes.

MORE: The £3699 oBravo EAMT-1s - the world's most expensive in-ear headphones?

Audeze LCD-4 – £3599

Audeze doesn't make one-off high-end headphones for fun - the company is experienced in the Art of the Expensive Cans and has the track record (and loyal customer base) to prove it. So why take the step up from the LCD-3 headphones to the LCD-4s? How about a ridiculously thin nano-grade diaphragm, and double Fluxor magnetic arrays that should mean more efficient power from less weight? Oh, then there's the snazzy new design, complete with new headband. Worth over £3k of anyone's money, surely...

MORE: Audeze launches flagship LCD-4 headphones and amp

Final Audio Design Sonorous X – £3499

Final Audio is another brand with plenty of premium headphone experience. Here, it's a combination of machined aluminium and stainless steel that makes these headphones look the business (to use a technical term). OK, so we thought the sound lacks a little drive and nuance, and they're heavy, but you can't deny they're eye-catching. They even come in a fur-lined wooden box, so keep it away from your cat.

MORE: Final Audio Design Sonorous X review

Stax SR-009 – £3495

While other headphones might add diamonds and gold to bump up the price, these cans don't need any bling - they aim to justify the high asking price on performance alone. Well-known for its high-end headphones, Stax pins the high price here on a thinner diaphragm, newly-developed electrodes and a silver-coated, high-purity copper wire in the cable. The proof can only be in the sound quality...

HiFiMan HE1000 V2 – £2599

Planar magnetic headphones always attract attention and these headphones sport a 0.001mm thin driver, which is certainly an impressive feat of engineering if nothing else. Elsewhere there's an advanced asymmetrical magnetic circuit, polyester ear cups, a new three core cable and an ergonomic design that should mean they're comfy enough to wear for hours. Which surely you will, if you spend over £2000 on them.

Shure KSE1500 – £2549

These are some of the finest in-ears we've ever heard, which puts them right up there as some of the best headphones money can buy (even at £2500+). They're some of the first in-ears to use electrostatic drivers, which means a more detailed and accurate sound. Sure, it means you have to use a dedicated headphone amplifier. But once you try them you'll be sold.

MORE: Shure KSE1500 review

Grado PS1000e – £1595

"The finest headphone Grado has ever produced" is the claim. And that's some claim, considering the impressive reviews and Awards that Grado has collected over the years. Part of the Grado Professional Series, which has recently been updated (along with a host of other models) as part of the e Series, the company takes attention to detail to the next level. Every single component was selected with care, right down to the glue. Tone-wood clad with metal alloy gives them their distinctive design, and aims to reduce ringing and distortion. And how many other headphones feature hand-crafted mahogany? If they're better than the PS1000 headphones, we'll be very happy.

MORE: Grado launches e Series headphone range