In the world of headphones, the depth of quality products is maddening. There are so many headphones that you can rub your heads all day and still not be able to decide which headphones are the best. While searching for the best quality headphones, we are sure you must have come across “Planar Magnetic Headphones.”
These headphones have a different technology used in them, which is preferred by many audiophiles. Planar magnetic headphones have now started making their way into more budget-friendly prices. What makes these headphones superior to traditional headphones? How is the technology different? Which are the best planar magnetic headphones? Let us answer all these questions for those who are new to planar headphones.
Roundup of the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
How Do Planar Magnetic Headphones Work?
Planar magnetic headphones produce sounds by regulating the electrical flow through a film that has been suspended between magnets with equal magnetic force. The magnets are placed on either sides of an electrically-active diaphragm material. Upon the application of current, this diaphragm gets electrically charged, creating a magnetic field. When the magnets on either side of the diaphragm react with this magnetic field, it causes the diaphragm to move, therefore creating sound waves.
The concept behind these headphones is the reason why most planar magnetic headphones have a large-sized but thinly-spaced ear cup. Manufacturers must ensure that the magnetic force is equally distributed between both magnets to maintain a constant and consistent flow of audio.
Planar Magnetic vs Electrostatic vs Dynamic Headphones – What’s the Difference?
Majorly there are three types of headphones drivers:
- Dynamic Driver
- Electrostatic Driver
- Planar Magnetic Driver
Dynamic and electrostatic drivers are more commonly or traditionally used methods whereas planar magnetic drivers have come into the limelight more recently. It is important to know the difference between these headphones before deciding which one to buy for yourselves. Let us study about each in some detail.
Dynamic driver headphones are some of the most commonly made and used headphones. Majority of the headphones in today’s time are dynamic headphones. Headphones with dynamic drivers are also known as ‘moving coil headphones’. So how do they work?
Method of Working
Dynamic drivers are somewhat similar to planar magnetic drivers in the regard that they also use a magnet to produce sound. An electrical signal is sent through a coil that creates an electromagnetic field. This field reacts with a single magnet to produce vibrations. The coil moves to and fro which in turn moves the diaphragm, producing the sound from your headphones.
Pros and Cons
Dynamic driver headphones are generally priced lower as they are relatively cheaper to make as well. The concept is also somewhat more simple as the magnet needs to only move the coil, which thereafter moves the part of the diaphragm attached to coil. Dynamic driver headphones are known for their bass rich profiles.
One major disadvantage of dynamic driver headphones is that they are subject to distortion issues easily. This is because the diaphragm is pulled and pushed by a single coil, which at higher volumes can easily distort the shape of the diaphragm.
Electrostatic headphones are the more classic type of headphones. Some of the earliest high end headphones were electrostatic ones. In recent times they have seen a dip in demand but are still used by many users.
Method of Working
Unlike the dynamic and planar magnetic earphones, electrostatic ones do not use magnets or a middle-wire/coil for producing sound. The driver basically has a negatively and a positively charged perforated metal plate on either side of a electrically charged driver diaphragm.
This diaphragm is made mostly using a material called Mylar and is usually only a few microns in thickness. In electrostatic headphones, the whole diaphragm moves towards either of these metal plates to cause vibrations to produce sound.
Pros and Cons
Electrostatic headphones cannot be easily matched when it comes to their sound quality and experience. But, at the same time, they are extremely expensive to buy, making them impractical for use. This is because for very little audio quality difference, you can get a much cheaper pair of dynamic driver headphones. The expensiveness is the reason why only a handful of companies make electrostatic headphones. These are very heavy and not so easy to carry headphones either.
Planar Magnetic Headphones
Planar magnetic drivers are not as uncommon as electrostatic ones and not as common as dynamic ones. True audiophiles love themselves a planar magnetic headphone. They are generally more expensive headphones but not as expensive electrostatic ones.
Method of Working
Planar Magnetic drivers work very similar to the dynamic driver type . They also produce sound by causing an electromagnetic reaction between the driver diaphragm and magnets. The main differences are that firstly, in planar drivers, instead of a coil going down the middle, there is a flat film that covers the entire diaphragm.
Secondly, as the electrically charged area is bigger, more powerful magnets or more magnets are needed to pull the diaphragm. Therefore, planar magnetic drivers have a magnet on either side of the diaphragm, that are bigger and/or more in number than a dynamic driver type.
Pros and Cons
Let’s see the benefits and drawbacks of planar headphones.
Planar headphones have some of the best transient response which enables them to have some of the punchiest bass. You can say that if you are trying to find the middle ground between electrostatic and dynamic, planar is the way to go. Planar headphones also hold the edge when it comes to low distortion. This is because the entire diaphragm surface area is being moved by the two magnets, instead of some area. This results in no shape distortion of the flat diaphragm therefore less distortion.
The only drawbacks as such are that planar magnetic headphones are heavy due to more magnets. Also, they lack the sound staging effect that dynamic headphones thrive on.
Factors to Consider When Buying Headphones With Planar Magnetic Drivers
Planar Magnetic headphones can take a substantial investment so users must check for some important factors when deciding to buy them. The need for a headphone can be for many purposes. It could be for professional reasons or casual music-listening reasons. Different factors will affect different kinds of users when they plan to buy planar magnetic headphones.
We have listed a number of important features a good planar magnetic headphone should have! Let us take a look at the buyer’s guide in detail.
Purpose and Use
First of all, before selecting a planar headphone, you need to decide what you want it for. Is it for casual music listening needs or for a professional studio setup. Depending on what you need these for, you can decide a budget and then take note of the factors mentioned hereafter to land on a decision.
Wired or Wireless
Much like speakers, one of the main considerations that come with buying any headphone is if it is wireless or not. Its a bad thing that only a handful of planar magnetic headphones come with wireless connectivity. Majority of these headphones are wired headphones unlike dynamic driver headphones that have lots of choices in both connectivity.
So for those of you that are looking for Bluetooth planar magnetic headphones, there are only a few choices. Wired headphones might be inconvenient for regular use but for people looking to get these for gaming or their studios, its a perfect fit.
No head-scratching needed here. The sound quality of a headphone should be the foremost concern for all audiophiles. Sound quality is based on a multitude of factors such as distortion, frequency response range, impedance etc. You can say detailed sound means better sound quality.
All such relevant information about a headphone is made available to users by major brands but they still may go over your head if you’re not an expert. Therefore it is advised to buy headphones which have the option of being returned. this is so that you can be satisfied with the quality of sound being produced and have an opportunity to check them.
Durability and Sturdiness
The build quality of a planar magnetic headphone is as important as its sound quality. Imagine having the best sound quality but with average durability. Longevity of a paid of headphones is of utmost important. Therefore, sound quality and build quality go in tandem. You can say that planar magnetic headphones are sturdier than dynamic driver headphones.
But beyond the driver construction, lots of elements make up for the durability of a headset. This includes the ear cups, cable quality, head band quality, joints, hinges, buttons etc. One must check all these elements thoroughly before finalizing their single pair of headphones.
Audiophiles are thirsty for a good bass response. Generally best planar headphones have an extremely pronounced bass response in comparison to headphones with dynamic drivers. Not saying that dynamic driver headphones have a poor bass response but planar magnetic ones are known for the bass rich profiles.
So one must check if their planar headphone has a good bass response or not, and if not, we recommend you pass on them.
Mids and Highs
There should be a balance between the bass, mids and highs. A bass rich profile should not mean that the mids and treble frequencies bleed out and are not as relevant. At the same time, if treble is too rich, it can almost become uncomfortable to the ear.
Now that we know the difference between planar magnetic headphones, dynamic driver headphones and electrostatic headphones, let us jump to our list of the 11 best planar magnetic headphones up for grabs!
Top 11 Headphones With Planar Magnetic Drivers
Let’s now look at the detailed reviews of the 11 most popular planar magnetic headphones.
1. HIFIMAN Arya Full-Size Over Ear Planar Magnetic Audiophile Adjustable Headphones
Best Overall Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Superior comfort
- Well built and extremely durable
- Advanced Asymmetrical Magnet Circuit for avoiding distortion
- Have a neutral sound profile
- Have superior sound quality than most headphones
- Wide and spacious sound stage
- Expensive planar magnetic headphones
- Leaks audio on high volumes and lacks noise isolation
- No button controls
HIFIMAN is one of the biggest names in the planar magnetic headphones industry. HIFIMAN headphones are known for their superior quality when it comes to both audio and build quality. The HIFIMAN Arya headphones are our pick for the best over all planar magnetic headphones on the market. Let us take a look why.
Firstly, these expensive planar magnetic headphones are high-end ‘over-the-ear’ headphones with superior comfort for your ears. They come in bold black aesthetics and we believe no other color would really do justice to this ‘out there’ design. The body of the headphone is made using high-grade plastics and metal, making it a super sturdy choice for long-term audio gear.
Secondly, the HIFIMAN Arya has a ‘Advanced Asymmetrical Magnet Circuit’ system which makes sure that there is minimal interference in audio wave transmissions. This allows for a more accurate and consistent sound profile. Their ‘Patented “Window Shade” System’ provides additional protection for your audio driver. The open back design although allows for sound leakage on high volumes, it allows for a beautiful soundstaging experience.
To conclude, HIFIMAN Arya is an expensive planar headphone which is the perfect choice for a studio headphone for audiophiles. These open back headphones provide you the perfect sound stage that you would need in a studio environment. These are definitely not the right fit for users that want to bang their heads to music while vacuuming their rooms.
2. HIFIMAN Ananda Over-Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphones
Planar Magnetic Headphones With Best Sound Quality
- Extremely comfortable headband
- Great frequency range response
- Accurate and excellent audio fidelity
- Asymmetrical ear cups to match shape of the human ear
- Poor noise isolation
- Can leak audio on higher volumes
- Bulky headphones, difficult to carry
You will see a lot of HIFIMAN in our list for 2 reasons. There are limited companies making planar magnetic headphones. And, out of the ones making them, HIFIMAN is one of the best ones! The HIFIMAN Ananda Headphones are the best planar magnetic headphones with regards to quality of sound. The word “Ananda” means joy or bliss in Sanskrit and these headphones deliver no less of a pleasant listening experience.
Firstly, the HIFIMAN Ananda are a wired set of headphones (3.5 mm aux cable) and are black in color, much like the Arya. Although cheaper in price, the headband of the HIFIMAN Ananda is one of the most comfortable ones we have used. The ear cups are asymmetrical but that has been done to match the shape of your ears for additional comfort.
Secondly, HIFIMAN Ananda has one of the best sound qualities that we came across on our headphone tests. The driver of the Ananda has one of the thinnest diaphragms, standing at 1 or 2 microns thick. The thinness of the diaphragm allows was a super fast audio response, therefore further resulting in low distortion. The headphones have a frequency response range of 8kHz – 55kHz, so you can imagine the array of sounds it can reproduce.
To conclude, you will find a lot of “Ananda” while using the HIFIMAN Ananda, thanks to the amazing sound quality! These are bulky yet super comfortable headphones. They would be a perfect fit for audio studios as well as gaming setups, thanks to their surround sound capabilities!
3. HIFIMAN SUNDARA Over-ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones
Most Stylish Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Super comfortable
- Excellent build and construction
- Very stylish design
- Accurate sound reproduction from audio source
- Budget-friendly planar magnetic headphones
- Lacks proper noise isolation
- Can leak audio on high volumes, similar to other HIFIMAN headphones
And yet again, it’s HIFIMAN taking away the title of the most stylish looking planar magnetic headphones with their HIFIMAN Sundara Headphones! Unlike most planar headphones, HIFIMAN Sundara is one of the most beautifully designed headphones of all times! HIFIMAN isn’t messing about when it comes to names. The word “Sundara” is Sanskrit for the word “beautiful” and the name seems totally justified!
Firstly, the HIFIMAN Sundara Headphones are also black. They are affordable headphones that are very stylish in design. What makes them different from HIFIMAN’s other headphones is the more circular ear cup shape. Not only are these ear cups stylish but they are also very comfortable and durable. The quality of the cables that come with headphones are similar to the ear cups, super sturdy!
Secondly, HIFIMAN Sundara uses the same ultra-thin flat diaphragm as the HIFIMAN Ananda. This allows the headphones to reproduce accurate sounds from the audio source. The thin diaphragms not only allow for more accurate audio reproduction but also give the headphones an extended frequency response range!
To conclude, HIFIMAN Sundara is the perfect choice for audiophiles looking for a planar magnetic headphone but at a low budget. It is also for those that do not like to compromise on the aesthetics of their headphones. We are not saying that the Arya and Ananda do not have stylish aesthetics but Sundara has a more classic round look, similar to many headphones.
View on Amazon: HIFIMAN SUNDARA Over-ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones
4. Audeze LCD-1 Audiophile Headphones
Best Planar Magnetic Headphones for Home Use
- Budget-friendly headphones for daily use
- Modern design with foldable ear cups
- Come with a durable carry case
- Bass, mids and highs are all well balanced
- Excellent sound quality
- Audio leakage due to open back design
- Do not isolate ambient noise
You may say that Audeze (pronounced “odyssey”) is the second biggest name in the planar magnetic headphones space. Audeze has a number of planar headphones out of which the Audeze LCD – 1 is one of the best for use at home. Let us look into it in detail.
Firstly, similar to the HIFIMAN headphones, the Audeze LCD – 1 is an all-black pair of wired headphones. The look and design are somewhat similar to the Sundara headphones. But what makes the LCD – 1 a little bit more special is that it has foldable ear cups. The headband design is also different. It offers a more comfortable, padded headband for extended periods of use.
Secondly, the Audeze LCD – 1 headphones have a transparent sound profile with immaculate audio imaging. But the lack of noise isolation and sound leakage at high volumes are reasons why the LCD – 1 are suited more for home use than office use or travel use. You don’t want to make the whole subway listen to your playlist right?
To conclude, the Audeze LCD – 1 Headphones are the perfect choice for home use only planar headphones. The LCD – 1 planar magnetic sound amazing when it comes to overall sound profile. Though the noise injection and audio leakage can be off putting to people who plan to carry their headphones around with them.
View on Amazon: Audeze LCD-1 Audiophile Headphones
5. Audeze EL-8 Over Ear Open Back Headphones
Best Planar Magnetic Headphones for iOS Users
- Available in open back and closed back variants
- Both variants are beautifully designed – Designed by BMW
- Have Siri compatibility for iOS users
- Unique features – Uniforce voice-coil technology, Fluxor Magnet Arrays and Fazor Elements
- 100mm audio drivers give amazing audio quality
- No voice control option for Android users
- Do not use 3.5mm aux input
The Audeze EL-8 Headphones are the best planar magnetic headphones for iOS users! Out of a number of headphones we came across, we found that iOS users inclined towards the EL-8 headphones. Let us learn about them in detail.
The Audeze EL-8 Headphones come in two variants, open back and closed back. The open back model has a wooden look whereas the closed back one is made of titanium. We are focusing on the open back model which is more popular with users. What makes this headphone so popular with iOS users is that it has a Siri compatible microphone for voice control.
Secondly, the headphones offer three unique features. A Uniforce Voice-Coil technology which allows close to no distortion. Fluxor Magnet Arrays and Fazor Elements help in more accurate sound imaging and reproduction and amplify the power of the headphones as well.
To conclude, iOS users will not find better planar magnetic headphones for themselves than the Audeze EL-8 Over Ear Open Back Headphones. The voice control option adds to the convenience of using these planar headphones. Designed by BMW, these are the perfect style match for iPhone users to flaunt!
View on Amazon: Audeze EL-8 Over Ear Open Back Headphones
6. HIFIMAN HE400i Planar Magnetic Open-Back Headphones
Most Lightweight Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Budget-friendly superior quality headphones
- Extremely lightweight
- Accurate sound imaging and audio fidelity
- Sturdy and comfortable for extended use
- Lack proper noise isolation
- Bulky in size although weigh less
Weight can be an important factor when considering to buy headphones. HIFIMAN promises that their HE400i headphones are at least 30% lighter than other headphones on the market. This makes them our pick for the most lightweight planar headphones.
Firstly, although bulky in size, the HE400i are known for their lightweight build standing at merely 370 grams which is very light for planar headphones. Therefore, you can use these headphones for extended periods without any discomfort.
Secondly, much like most HIFIMAN models, the HE400i have excellent audio quality. Regardless of the lack of noise isolation, these are a great budget-friendly choice for both home and studio use.
To conclude, when it comes to weight, none can match the Hifiman HE400i. They are extremely comfortable headphones due to a combination of design, material and weight. Also, the light weight does not compromise either the sturdiness of the headphones, or the quality of sound they produce!
View on Amazon: HIFIMAN HE400i Planar Magnetic Open-Back Headphones
7. Audeze Mobius Premium 3D Gaming Headset with Surround Sound
Best Planar Magnetic Headphones for Gaming
- Budget-friendly planar gaming headphones
- Offer wireless Bluetooth connectivity
- Detachable and flexible boom microphone with in-built noise attenuation
- Brilliant surround sound detail
- Very comfortable for long periods of gaming
- Compatible with the PlayStation and Xbox
- Weighs heavy
Who says that planar headphones are not the best for gaming? The Audeze Mobius Headphones are here to prove you wrong. Not only are they the best planar gaming headphones but also one of the best overall gaming headphones.
Firstly, they have been designed to give users extra comfort for long periods of gaming. What makes them that much more preferable is the fact that they have Bluetooth connectivity and are compatible with both PlayStation and Xbox.
Secondly, the detachable and flexible boom microphone allows for clear voice command and calls while playing your favorite games. It has some of the best head tracking and surround sound ability out of all the planar driver headphones that we tested. Though the Mobius Headphones lack a level of noise cancellation.
To conclude, the Audeze Mobius Premium 3D Gaming Headset with Surround Sound is one of the best overall gaming headsets and for users that prefer planar drivers over dynamic drivers, there is no better choice. This will give you the ultimate theatrical gaming experience that you seek!
View on Amazon: Audeze Mobius Premium 3D Gaming Headset with Surround Sound
8. HIFIMAN SUSVARA Over-Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphones
Best High-End Headphones With Planar Magnetic Drivers
- Beautiful silver aesthetics
- Extremely accurate detail retrieval
- Lightweight headphones
- Excellent sound quality
- Extremely expensive headphones
- Can leak audio on high volumes
- Lack noise isolation
The word “Susvara” means “very melodious voice” and that is exactly what HIFIMAN intended to do with the HIFIMAN Susvara. They are one of the most expensive headphones on the market, and certainly one of the most expensive planar ones. Therefore, it was a no brainer for us when deciding which headphone will be the best in the high-end category.
Firstly, this silver colored beauty is one of the most durable headphones that we tested. It is one of the lighter planar magnetic headsets on the market which is great for extended periods of listening.
Secondly, on the sound front, the Susvara has one of the best detail retrieval we’ve ever come across. It can make you discover new things even out of the most detailed sound. HIFIMAN’s stealth magnets add to the performance of these headphones. They help by reducing the effect of the magnets on the sound waves being produced by the diaphragm.
To conclude, although the Susvara is one of the best headphones we have tested, spending such an enormous amount is not everyone’s cup of tea. We only recommend getting these if you really have the money to spend on these, as there are alternates available at much lesser prices with somewhat as good a performance.
9. Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back Over Ear Isolating Headphones
Planar Magnetic Headphones With Best Noise Isolation
- Design ensures comfort
- Great sound quality
- Noise cancelation at its best
- No sound leakage
- Punchy bass
- Bulky in size
One of the most common complaints with planar headsets is that they leak audio and have limited or no noise isolation due to being open back headphones, mostly. There are some closed back headphones in the planar space that take care of these drawbacks and among them, the Audeze LCD-2 is certainly the best.
Firstly, these closed back headphones come in bold black aesthetics. The ear cups and headband ensure absolute levels of comfort, although the headphones are bulky and heavy. So it is debatable if they are the best for long uses.
Secondly, the shape of these headphones is the reason why there is no sound leakage. These headphones have the noise isolation capabilities that you are seeking from a planar magnetic headset.
To conclude, the Audeze LCD – 2 is the perfect choice of headphones if you are keeping noise isolation as a primary consideration. The overall audio profile of these headphones is also very pleasant and clean, especially the bass!
View on Amazon: Audeze LCD-2 Closed Back Over Ear Isolating Headphones
10. Audeze iSINE20 In-Ear Headphones
Best In-Ear Headphones With Planar Magnetic Drivers
- Snug fit; extremely comfortable
- Has SIRI compatibility
- Really wide soundstage
- Low, mids and highs are all perfectly balanced
- Stylish and unique design
- Can leak noise at high decibels
Yes, we have in-ear planar earphones available for grabs as well. Although most users prefer over the ear planar headsets with big drivers to enjoy their effect to the fullest, some prefer the snug fit of the in-ear variants. Out of the lot, the Audeze iSINE20 are the best ones we came across.
Firstly, the iSINE20 comes in Bronze color and definitely looks stylish (designed by BMW). It comes with a number of different sized ear hooks and ear tips for you to pick the right size for yourself.
Secondly, this is another good choice for iOS users since it has a Siri compatible microphone for easy voice commands. On the audio front, the iSINE20 helps create the right audio experience for audiophiles. It has a wide soundstage with a very balanced sound profile!
To conclude, we always give preference to over the ear headphones but if its the in-ear variant you’re looking for, nothing beats the Audeze iSINE20. These are definitely the best planar magnetic in-ear headphones and you need not think twice if you have the money needed to spend on them!
View on Amazon: Audeze iSINE20 In-Ear Headphones
11. Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
Most Portable Planar Magnetic Headphones
- Come with a carry case
- Beautiful and modern design
- Good noise isolation and no audio leakage
- Lightweight headphones
- Faux leather ear padding can cause sweating
Users seek portability everywhere, especially with headphones and speakers. The Oppo PM-3 is the easiest to carry around pair of planar headphones on the market. Let us take a look as to why it makes it to our shortlist!
Firstly, the Oppo PM-3 comes with a detachable iOS-friendly cable. Oppo allows users to reach to them for Android variants of the wire. The headphones come with a carry case which makes them extremely easy to carry around.
Secondly, the build of these headphones is lightweight and comfortable, adding to the portability. Although, the overall build quality of the Oppo PM-3 could be better! The headphones offer good noise isolation and ensure privacy with closed back design.
To conclude, the Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones are the appropriate choice for users who give utmost preference to portability. We feel there is some compromise on the build quality but the overall sound profile is very good!
View on Amazon: Oppo PM-3 Closed-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones
Frequently Asked Questions About Planar Magnetic Headphones
Yes, planar headphones are definitely worth it if you have the cash needed to splurge on them. For users that do not wish to spend much on cans, dynamic driver headphones can be just as good.
Most planar magnetic headphones are expensive due to the extra focus given to making them sturdy and durable to maintain the planar drivers properly. Hifiman, Audeze, Oppo and Monolith headphones are some of the most durable planar ones out there.
The whole concept of “burn in” has no scientific backing as such and is regarded as a myth. Therefore it is not necessary for users to have a burn in period for their planar magnetic headphones for getting a much better sound experience!
We would like to conclude this buyer’s guide by reinforcing the belief that planar magnetic headphones can definitely be a better choice than dynamic driver headphones for high-fidelity sound experience.
Our recommendation from the lot would be the HIFIMAN Arya Headphones. They not only sound brilliant but are also look great!
Our opinion aside, it is better you choose the right set of headphones for yourselves. Keep in mind the important factors that we mentioned above before picking your pair of headphones.
Want to share your experience with us or have any queries? Let us know in the comments below!