2018 Top Picks of the Year Headphones



Top Pick of the Year: Focal Clear headphones
(June, soundandvision.com) By using technology developed for its $4,000 Utopia headphones, Focal managed to bring many of the sonic advantages of its flagship to a model priced under $1,500. The result, according to reviewer Mark Fleischmann, is “extremely well-balanced performance” in a model with “gorgeous looks” and “impeccable build quality.” $1,499, focal.com/us

HiFiMan Sundara Headphones
(June) HiFiMan managed to raise the performance bar for $500 headphones with its Sundara, a planar magnetic model that also improves on the company's earlier designs when it comes to comfort and looks. $179, hifiman.com

Etymotic ER3 Extended Response Headphones
(September) This affordable set of headphones managed to win reviewer Steve Guttenberg over with its neutral, accurate sound and superior noise isolation compared with other in-ear models. $179, etymotic.com

Sennheiser HD 569 Headphones
(December 2018/January 2019) The audiophile-grade sound provided by the HD 569 headphones may seem out of step with its affordable price, but we found that Sennheiser's budget cans compare very favorably with the company's costlier models. $149, en-us.sennheiser.com