Best Audiophile Headphones Under 10000 2020: Picking up a headphone under the 10,000 INR Price tag ain’t a decision for the faint hearted anymore.
There are atleast a dozen options from each manufacturer which cater to music production, mastering, or for the sheer joy of enjoying music when at home or on the move.
Some headphones are more versatile than others whereas some are made to cater to a particular use case scenario.
We have put together a list which is geared towards giving you the best possible musical experience, including the ones which could also serve you for mastering and monitoring purposes.
10 Best Audiophile Headphones Under 10000 2020
The list is in descending order of preference and rating, so do read till the very end to know which one is the best of the best out there!
10. Beyerdynamic Custom Street:
The Custom Street are a pair of headphones trying really hard to impress the different types of music listeners out there, be it casual listeners or audiophiles.
It does succeed in that aspect for the most part. Apart from the customizable face plates, there are customizeble sound signatures with an easy slide of a slider on the ear cup, one each for heavy bass, balanced and analytical.
They sound their absolute best when being used in the balanced mode with good layering, decent dynamics and above average imaging.
The fit over the head is comfortable and even though these on-ear pair of headphones have quite a shallow depth to the ear-pads, they are pretty comfy, and the clamping force is extremely forgiving to be just about right for extended periods of listening.
The customizable sliders at times feel like an effort in vain as the bass mode is just a shower of thunderous skull shattering bass which over powers everything in its way and is way too boomy. Imaging and soundstage go haywire and everything just feels off balance.
The analytical mode does the exact opposite by boosting the upper mids and highs to levels where it gets overly fatiguing for safe hearing and the bass becomes feather-like in presence making the overall sound feel lacking body.
9. Beats EP:
Surprisingly enough, the Beats EP is a gem that has come out from the rather un-impressive Beats Audio stable which is plagued with products that are not only sub-par for their price, but also fall flat on their face the moment one talks about sound quality or dynamics.
The Beats EP thankfully is not one among them and stands out among the barrage of headphones in this price bracket.
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Inspite of being an on-ear pair of headphones, the EP provide decent sound isolation, have plush deep earpads and are reasonably comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Build quality for the price is about average and better than few plastic dressed competitors. The sound reproduction on the whole is again, surprisingly balanced with a slight emphasis on the bottom end like most Beats Audio products.
What’s not so obvious however is that the big bass doesn’t really overpower or cloud the mids and the highs, which gives it a rather rare flair of coherency. The highs are not overly rolled off nor do they really stand out. There is enough sparkle to keep things lively and maintain the balance at all times.
Not the most detailed of headphones for the price but in all probability could be the most fun of the lot! Midrange is smooth and lacks texture of any sort and even though the bass is tamed to not wash away the mids, it’s still a bass heavy pair of headphones.
8. Ultrasone – HFI 580 & DJ1:
The HFI 580 and DJ1 benefits from the same applause that the other new Ultrasone products possess these days, which is the S-Logic tech which provides significant boost in the soundstage and perceived imaging which other closed back cans can hardly seem to mimic otherwise.
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Bass on these is quiet big and pronounced and the highs are clean and extend really well, too well at times.
The fit is pretty comfortable and these look pretty nice on the head and in person as well, infact the headphones aren’t overly bulky. They are quite lightweight when worn and are extremely portable and fold up quite nicely for quick storage and transport.
There’s not much in terms of differences between the two pairs except for a different design and color scheme and a longer chord with the DJ1. Both sound identical especially given that they share the same drivers with a slight difference in outright specs on paper.
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Bass-heads will rejoice irrespective of the pair they choose. And to top it off, these benefit from the same class leading 5-Year peace of mind warranty!
The highs can be a little too sparkly at times as they do tend to push through more than the rest of the frequency response surprising the user and prompting them to reduce the volume.
The mids aren’t the show stopper on these partially due to the S-Logic tech playing too intrusive by boosting the soundstage too wide, making the already delicate midrange to be lost ever so slightly among the bass and treble expanse.
7. AKG K92:
The AKG K92 might just as well be the most stylish yet classy looking pair of headphones on the list. The self-adjusting band is one of the most non-cumbersome smooth ways of getting the right fit and the earcups are fairly large and very comfortable.
The Champagne Gold isn’t goddy atall and seems very tastefully color schemed. On the sound front, these don’t shy either. Clean, fairly neutral and crisp sound which is supremely balanced is what is at offer.
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What comes as a surprise is that the coherency and dynamics are excellent especially given its price and these cans are revealing to the point of being overly exciting at times which adds a touch of fun factor to a can which isn’t even trying too hard to impress.
Definitely not portable and is meant to be used indoors in a quiet and calm place. Other than outright portability, it’s really hard to fault these excellent pair of headphones.
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6. Brainwavz HM5:
This particular product would have made it much higher up the rankings, in the top 3 perhaps, had it not been for the cheaper build quality and bulky design, that’s how good these sound.
They share a lot of good traits with the AT M40X and M50X with better comfort and slightly more dynamic sound than the M40X but a tad lesser than that of the M50X.
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Critical listeners will be extremely pleased to know that these sound near neutral and very natural with excellent imaging and midrange performance.
Bass has pretty decent extension for a can that’s geared for critical listening and the highs are crisp and clean without being overwhelming or rolled off either. Due to this balanced nature, the HM5 do cater to almost any genre of music and do justice to them with panache.
Bulky design may not be for everyone as its not the most portable cans on the list. Cable is split individually into each ear-cup further making it a little cumbersome for portable usage.
Build quality leaves a little to be desired, and even though the faceplates are metal and the plastics do seem sturdy, they don’t really have a re-assuring feel to them.
5. Sennheiser – HD 280 Pro:
When Sennheiser adds a ‘Pro’ to their headphone lineup, they sure do mean business. The 280 Pro are extremely clean and near neutral sounding with extremely good tonality and balance overall.
What’s really fantastic for such a clean and crisp sounding pair of headphones is that they do not sound dry and clinical but have quite a well extended low end with good depth and width.
Midrange is near flawless with strong vocal performance and highs that have just the right amount of extension for a fatigue free listening experience.
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Sound isolation is top notch and gives the perception that there might be some kind of noise cancelation technology in place, the passive sound isolation is that good.
These do extremely well with almost all kind of genres, with an added flair of being both detailed and fun sounding. With an impedance of 64 ohms, these do a good job for both home listening as well as studio monitoring.
These are strictly for home use based on the cables provided and the industrial look and design that Sennheiser went for.
The 1.2m coiled cable can be used for portable usage but then again, these perform best with a decent capable source or a desktop setup for that matter.
4. Audio Technica M50X:
The AT M50X is no stranger to most people out there, audiophiles or not, especially due to the popularity & hype train they roll on and there is a good reason for it too.
Unlike its little brother the M40X, these are like a Swiss Army Knife in the hiding when it comes to sounding about just right and have little extra sparkle in the highs and bass big enough to be called fun sounding.
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Unlike most headphones out there, these have a slight bump in the bass department and slight boost in the highs. Even though this boost isn’t as natural sounding as that as that as the Beyerdynamic DT-770, it does help in making almost any genre shine on the M50x’s.
A spot of classical sounds just as rewarding as the thundering trickle of heavy metal. These even look better than any of its little brothers, although still all in plastic like a sheep, in….well….sheep’s clothing but the wool is softer and slightly better groomed!
Ear Padding doesn’t breathe too well over long hours of usage and does make the ears warm up over time.
The M50X comes across as more of a jack of all trades than a master of any particular one and that’s where audiophiles would draw the line whereas the casual listener might go on to adore them.
Also, the treble boost does sound a little too sharp and artificially boosted and the mids do sound ever so slightly recessed over a lot of tracks.
3. Audio Technica M40X:
The M40X is the underdog of the AT family of headphones that usually gets the backstage performers credits which otherwise should have been the star performer of the show on-stage, generally the limelight hogged away by the bigger brother the M50X. In simple terms, the M40X sounds ‘correct’, for the lack of a better adjective.
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Tonality is bang on, the signature is as neutral as it gets, scales extremely well with portable and desktop sources, and does not make you want to run to an EQ to tweak something to make them sound right or natural.
If mastering and mixing is the key agenda on one’s calendar, these will do an excellent job on a tight budget!
This one isn’t for bass-heads as there isn’t hard hitting boomy bass on offer, but what’s there, is plenty and accurate to give the mids and highs the right amount of body and uplift making the presentation sound rich, but not overly so.
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The highs are extremely well tuned for something the low price these warrant and have plentiful of details and textures if paired with a clean slightly warm source, something like the Shanling M0 is an excellent pair up.
Something to take note of here is that, these cans are reasonably forgiving to a bad source but not necessarily so with bad quality or badly mastered sound tracks.
Bass heavy, upbeat genres are better served on something like the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro or even the bigger brother M50X.
Based on the design and their size in general, wearing one of these on the streets for a shot at vegetable shopping will make a nerdy presence be felt across the neighborhood, which might not be a bad thing after all, but needs to pointed out!
2. Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro
First and foremost it comes in 3 flavors in terms of getting the best from your source which is in a 32ohm, 80ohm and 250 ohm variant. Beyerdynamic has made sure that each version doesn’t differ in sound signature irrespective of the variant one goes for.
That said, there are tiny differences and for the most coherent performance, one would be better off going with the 80 ohm to be paired with an external budget amp/dac or DAP or with the 250 ohm version to use for mastering and desktop setups.
These aren’t bass shy by any means and the bass is well extended and prominent without being boomy or interfering with the mids and highs in any way.
Mids aren’t as prominent as more mid focused pair of headphones around, making them sound ever so slightly delicate sounding but never truly recessed by any means.
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Highs are really the standout of any headphone in this price bracket, being sharp, crisp and well extended making the overall presentation very airy and clinical sounding.
This well extended treble is just shy of being fatiguing and also helps in lending the overall soundstage to feel very natural and wide than almost any headphone for the money.
The 80 ohm version in particular has a slight edge in midrange performance and a tad less prominent bass as compared to both the 32 ohm and 250 ohm variant, but it’s noticeable only on a serious A/B testing for the most part. The DT-770 Pro is easily the most technically right sounding pair of the entire list.
This isn’t a looker or a really transportable pair of can to be honest. It feels at home within a man-cave, with a barge of metal boxes that do things and a comfortable couch to fall back into.
That said, its overly clean presentation may not be really for everybody and the highs even though really well controlled can be handful to those sensitive ears.
The cable is hard wired and that’s the only real bummer on these otherwise brilliant pair of cans. These baby Beyer’s have all the traits of its bigger brothers, be it good or bad!
1. Ultrasone Performance 820:
Absolute stellar all-rounder when it comes to doing justice to all 3 listening scenarios which is movies, games and music! This one isn’t meant for mastering or critical listening but to enjoy and get an immersive experience irrespective of the content.
The S-Logic tech is a welcome addition which brings a much wider soundstage to the table as compared to most closed back headphones at this price point. Fit is good and the option to upgrade to better pads is an added bonus. Instrument separation and imaging are top notch and the overall presentation shouts fun and dynamic.
The addition of a nifty sleek Bluetooth adapter accessory called ‘Sirius’ can be bought separately to make these already brilliant pair of headphone turn into wireless transports!
What gives the 820’s brownie points over the other pair of headphones in this list and brings them to the top of the list is a brilliant 5-Year warranty program which is generally unheard of with headphones playing at even 2-3 times the price. Peace-of-mind? Hell Yeah! The Performance 820’s are easily the most immersive and fun sounding pair under 10k INR. (Period)
Hard to really find faults with these but fit issues could create an unsettling sound perception of these cans, especially because the S-Logic tech requires the headphones to be perfectly aligned to the center of the ears to work correct. Anything off-center with a big margin and the resultant sound output tends to be slightly undesirable.
Another thing to note is that the bass on these aren’t shy to show their prominence and unless dialed down via EQ, could be overpowering the mids at certain instances especially so if the source is leaning to the warmer end of the spectrum.
This one is definitely not for the purists looking for a neutral and natural signature and the S-Logic tech boosting the soundstage might even come across as artificial, but these cans do ask the question……Why So Serious always?!
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1) What about creative aurvana live?
I really wanted to hear the gen 2 myself before giving it a rec. Even from memory, i cant really recollect how the gen 1 sounded except that they were supremely comfortable to wear when i heard them last which was a long long time ago.
Since the list is rolling every 3 months, will keep it updated as I hear more! 🙂
2) Is the Shure SRH440 too poor to make the list?
Not too poor…..but i find the HD-280 Pro to sound better. ‘Better’ being a relative term here.
3) What about Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X ?
Ideally it wont be considered as the overall cost probability which would include shipping + customs when imported through Massdrop will eventually yield in significantly higher prices then 10k.
4) Why put m50x ?
People are gonna hate me for putting the M50X on the List…..off putting the M50X below the M40X and also if i didnt put the M50X on the list.
All i had to do was to choose the hate i love more!