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The world's best headphones, period

The Audiophiliac's picks the best-sounding headphones, money-no-object.

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Steve Guttenberg
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1 of 14 Hifiman

Hifiman HE1000 V2 headphones

The best headphones are designed for true connoisseurs of sound and luxury. Hold any of these headphones in your hands and you can't help but notice their quality -- instead of generic plastic, you get sculptured metal and real leather. These headphones are all designed to last and to provide their owners with great sound for many years.

This gallery is all about the very best sounding headphones on the planet, and they're very expensive. For more affordable 'phones check out the Best Headphones of 2017 list.

The revised Hifiman HE1000 V2 is more transparent and comfortable than the original HE 1000, and it's a prime example of the state of the art of headphone design for 2017.

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2 of 14 AudioQuest

AudioQuest NightHawk headphones

The AudioQuest NightHawk is richer and more fully balanced than the other headphones on this list, so it takes some of the edge off overly harsh recordings.

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3 of 14 MrSpeakers

MrSpeakers Ether headphones

The MrSpeakers Ether liberates the sound, opens it up and allows the music to breathe.

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4 of 14 KingSound

KingSound KS-H3 headphones

The KingSound KS-H3 electrostatic headphone is beautiful, comfortable and lovely to listen to.

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5 of 14 EnigmAcoustic

EnigmAcoustic Dharma D1000 headphones

The EnigmAcoustic Dharma D1000 is a "hybrid" design with two drivers in each ear cup -- one electrostatic and one dynamic -- so this headphone delivers high levels of transparency and lots of low bass slam.

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6 of 14 Sony

Sony MDR Z7 headphones

The Sony MDR Z7 doesn't add or take anything from the sound of your music.

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7 of 14 Abyss

Abyss AB-1266 headphones

The Abyss AB-1266 is the one of the very best sounding, most dynamic headphones in the world. Bass goes shockingly deep, and definition is without peer.

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8 of 14 AKG

AKG K812 headphones

This headphone is capable of unleashing a huge soundstage, one that extends wider and deeper than other headphones.

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9 of 14 Beyerdynamic

Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Generation) headphones

The new Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Generation) looks almost exactly like the original T1 that debuted in 2009, but the new T1 sounds very different.

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10 of 14 Audeze

Audeze LCD-4 headphones

Oh my, the LCD-4's sound borders on deliriously decadent -- it's lovely and uber-detailed.

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11 of 14 MrSpeakers

MrSpeakers Either C Flow Headphones

The open-back Ether is clear as a bell, easy on the ears, beautifully made, and supremely comfortable. The new model, the Ether C, shares much of the original's tech, but it's a closed-back, noise-isolating headphone. Those real carbon fiber ear cups lend a distinctive look and quality feel to the Ether C.

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12 of 14 ZMF Headphones

ZMF Eikon Headphones

The ZMF Eikon has the look and feel of a vintage instrument, this made in the US headphone's sound is rich and clear.

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13 of 14 Sony

Sony Z1R Headphones

With the MDR-Z1R headphone and its matching TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier Sony is taking the gloves off, it's getting serious about making great, world class headphones again.

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14 of 14 Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Sennheiser HE 1 Electrostatic Headphones and Amplifier

The Sennheiser HE 1 electrostatic headphones are expensive, but they come with a dedicated amplifier! How expensive? Very, the headphone-amp system runs $55,000 (approximately £30,000, AU$75,000)! A team of Sennheiser technicians in Germany build just one HE 1 system per day, and 250 systems per year. The first year's production sold out! The HE 1's sound is far ahead of anything else, for more about that, read my review.

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