Everybody expects more for less these days, and headphones are no exception to the rule. Fortunately, the headphone industry has undergone a sea change, with a veritable smorgasbord of choices, thereby creating cut-throat competition between manufacturers, and crowning the consumer as king.
There’s no question that headphones as pricey as the Audezes & HD650s can easily transform your music collection into a revelatory experience. But if you don’t have that kind of money, there are still plenty of affordable options that offer brilliant value – if you know where to look. To help you out, we’ve put together this list of the best headphones for Rs. 5000 or less, all of which have our stamp of approval.
Build Quality: Most of the headphones in this category would be made of durable plastic. With metal components or accents probably pitching in. They would also be comfortable enough for long hours of use.
Sound Quality: Audio quality in this category will definitely be very good. You will be able to get cans that sound excellent for studio monitoring as well as casual listening. Of course, don't go around expecting the kind of quality that a 10K plus headphone can deliver.
Form Factor: Wireless headphones of good quality are definitely possible. They won't blow your mind, but will do a decent job.
Remote and Mic functionality is not very common.
This list has been compiled with the help of users as well as our in-house experts.
In no particular order, here we go!
Professional-grade monitor headphones are engineered to produce sound that is exceedingly accurate and true-to-life. Audio-Technica is famed for making audiophile-grade headphones and the ATH-M30X is the mid-level model to its highly acclaimed M-Series headphones. The M30X is an upgrade to the M30 and was launched along with upgrades to the entire M-series.
The M30x has a design that is quintessentially Audio Technica. A rather large company logo runs along the headband. The update style on the M30x gives it a look that is similar to the iconic M50 and M50x headphones. Like the M50 and M50x, the M30x now features a collapsible design for space saving portability. Both of these are welcome changes from the dated looking and clunkier M30.
The earcups and headband have plush faux-leather making them very soft and comfortable. Unless you have uncommonly large ears/head, you should be able to use the headphones for long hours without experiencing fatigue. If you have a big-sized head, you might also feel some pressure on the top.
A negative design aspect would be that these circumaural headphones have a cord that is 10 feet long and non-detachable, so you'll definitely have to roll it up if you want to go portable. Also, after about 30 minutes to an hour of wearing these you may start to feel some heat build up around your ears and sometimes on the top of your head where the headband sits.
Moving on to the sound, the first thing that you should keep in mind is that the M30x has a very high impedance of 47 Ohms. So, most smartphones and iPods will be unable to drive it well. You can expect sound to be rather soft and muffled. Move on to your laptop or desktop PC and the difference is immediate.
The headphones produce rich, clean, and detailed sound with a good amount of bass. The sound is flat with absolutely no distortion. As for the bass, it is relatively tight, the amount present enough to be perfect for studio sessions. However bass heads will definitely not be satisfied.
Mids are where the M30x shines. Male vocalists and other instruments particularly do well and are great to listen to. The highs are nice and clear and each note can be easily discerned. However, they could do with a little more sparkle. These cans also have a nice full sound stage and good left/right separation
These headphones are closed, but they’re not intended for noise isolation in crowded, loud places, so they’re not ideal for a commute. But for the purpose of studio and home use, the noise isolation is perfectly adequate.
The ATH-M30x is definitely the one of the best options available for budget studio monitors. These are also perfect for long hours of movie watching on your laptops and computers.
Sennheiser is a brand with a legacy in producing fantastic audio, with products appealing to average consumers and audiophiles alike. Their affordable range of headphones and earphones generally tend to be heavy on the bass and the HD 451 is no exception.
These headphones are a replacement to the very popular HD 419s. HD 451's biggest plus point is how comfortable it is. In fact, the cup and padding are almost identical to HD 598's predecessor, the highly respected, albeit discontinued, HD595 which used to be considered as one of the most comfortable cans in production.
The foam earcups and headband padding perfectly contours your ears and head while remaining lightweight and breathable. A bit of an issue though is that the padding is made of a material that attracts dust and lint, making maintenance of hygiene a bit of a task.
The design on the other hand is understated and attractive, only let down by the slightly scratch prone plastic they're made of. Despite the plastic, the headphones are sturdily built and won't break unless you enjoy chucking them out of windows for fun.
The cable is probably the only feature that you'd have an issue with. It's thin and not the tangle-free kind that is the norm in this category.
Moving on to the sound, the HD 451s sound very, very good. Just don't expect audiophile level clarity from them. They deliver a considerable amount of deep bass that isn't overpowering and the mids are very warm and natural. However, the highs are recessed, which is a disappointment.
The soundstage is fairly wide, although not as wide as the M30x's. And your sound won't suffer from distortion even at high volumes.
Although there have been complaints about noise leakage, unless you're someone who listens to music at blaring volumes, you should have no problems with the same. Noise isolation is also pretty good.
Formerly MEElectronics, MEE Audio aims to deliver Music Enjoyment for Everyone. MEElectronics built its reputation for delivering quality audio at an affordable price. With MEE Audio and the Wave, they've definitely aimed at retaining that status.
The MEE Audio Wave is surprisingly suitable for sport activities. The on-ear cushions have small holes cut into them to let your ears breathe when worn, stay warm, but dry, and not accumulate sweat or moisture. The headband is also well cushioned to provide comfort and stability, so you can use them while working out and it'll do the job fairly well.
You can also get yourself the Air-Fi Connect Transmitter in case you'd like to use these headphones with the TV.
The Wave is a visually appealing pair of headphones. The plastic build however, is a bit of a let down. It's true that with the features that it packs in at this price point, one can't expect much, but the plastic construction does make it feel rather breakable.
Despite having an on-ear design, the Wave is quite comfortable and can easily be worn for long hours. However, where the design loses out on is noise isolation. Just like most on-ear headphones out there, you can't expect much. Sound leakage also may be an issue.
The main feature that sets the Wave apart is of course, the Bluetooth connectivity. Pairing the Wave with all your Bluetooth devices is very easy. The range is standard, about 7-10 meters of clear audio. The Multipoint Technology is also a nifty trick that lets you pair it with 2 devices at the same time, which is impressive at this price.
The Wave delivers on its promise of an outstanding 24 hours of battery life. Infact, it may even last for longer. Also, it requires only approximately an hour and a half to fully charge. The inbuilt mic also does its job well.
On the whole, sound is inclined towards the bass end of the spectrum. However, despite being heavy on the lows, they aren't overwhelming. Just punchy and exciting. The mids are recessed, but the highs are clear and bright without being harsh.
Soundstage and instrument separation aren't worth getting into. For a wireless headphone, they're good. Otherwise, not so much.
Being a wireless headphone, sound quality is definitely weaker than the others in this list. However, the plethora of functions it offers definitely make this the most value for money option in this budget.
Founded in 1924, Beyerdynamic is one of the oldest audio companies in the world. With the DTX 710, the company attempts to bring open back headphones to the masses. Whether they do succeed remains to be seen.
The DTX 910 is a smaller over-ear headphone. The pads are extremely comfortable velour and the pressure level is adequate. Although the earpads might not cover large ears, they are soft enough that comfort wouldn't be a problem. They're also comfortable to be worn with your glasses.
The build quality however, isn't exactly high-end by Beyerdynamic's standards and is a bit plasticky. The swivels also feel a little vulnerable.
Coming to the cable, it is inordinately long, thick and heavy duty. It's excellent if you're using these headphones at home, but on the move, the sheer bulk and weight of cable pulling down from the left cup might get cumbersome quickly.
Moving on to noise isolation, it's not optimal. Because of the open nature of these headphones, noise leakage is a big problem. So, you should definitely avoid using them while listening to embarrassing guilty pleasure music in public.
Sound is where the DTX 910 excels in. These deliver some quality punchy and extended bass, that can go low, and deep. The mid-range is pure, smooth and well defined. The highs are sparkly, and bright, but not harsh. Vocal control, especially for females, is very controlled.
The sound stage is wide, and clear, with excellent instrument separation, and depth. Your music will sound vivid, detailed, spacious and airy.
A few years ago, Panasonic was at the top of its game, known for its fantastic sounding value-for-money earphones. Although the company lost the price wars it had in the subsequent years with Sony & Phillips, the fact remains that they're a company with strong credentials in budget personal audio, especially for audiophiles. The RP-HTF890 is one of them.
The Panasonic RP-HTF890 eschews the contemporary plastic or metal headband design for a more traditional flexible leather one with a steel cage for support and stability. Although it does make them look old fashioned, it is a design feature that definitely works. The HTF890 is comfortable and lightweight and can be worn for long mixing sessions without fatigue.
These over-ear headphones are built with both metal and strong plastic, so they're more durable than they appear while also contributing to the lightness in weight. The high-grade cloth cable is also a nice touch. They're strong, durable and tangle-free, better than the M-30x's.
When it comes to sound, the HTF-890 is definitely the best open-back studio monitor you'd find in this budget. They deliver flat, undistorted, true-to-life sound that is wide, spacious and immersive.
Right out of the box, with no burn in, they sound almost as good as a reference pair of the acclaimed (and far more expensive) Audio Technica ATH-A700x cans that have over 200 hours on them. And with 15-20 hours of burn in, they get much better.
The Panasonics may not quite match the detail, high end extension, imaging or the transparency of the ATH-700x but they get very close. These have superb range and clarity, especially on the mids and highs. The bass could be a little more emphatic, but with a few tweaks through an EQ, they sound perfect. You definitely get a lot of detail, especially on the treble end where the high hats/symbols were really well defined. The mids are also very clean and unmuddied, with vocals shining through.
Just like the DTX910, the HTF890 cannot be used in public unless you'd like everyone else to listen to your music. Noise isolation, on the other hand, is surprisingly effective, despite the open-back design. Much better at high volumes though.
The Panasonic RP-HTF890 is better sounding than the M30x. However, for recording purposes, the closed back design and superior noise isolation the latter comes out on top.
These were the best 5 headphones that come under Rs 3000. Although there are others that come within the same budget, these are the ones we definitely recommend.
What are your favourite earphones in this range? Do let us know in the comments below!
If you'd like to learn more, #AskHeadphoneZone!
If you like this article you will also like:
We have curated a buying guide to choose the best earphones under Rs. 4000, for the confused Indian buyers.