Electrostatic headphones operate completely differently from conventional dynamic or moving coil headphones. In fact, it is the first major step forward since the original speaker and headphone design of the 1800s.
The electrostatic system places force on an ultralight film without actually touching it. A similar principle is used when your shoes rub on the carpet. You occasionally receive a small electric shock when touching something metal.
This expensive technology results in the cleanest and most accurate sound reproduction currently available. So, I decided to review the best electrostatic headphones currently on the market and find the best ones for you…
Top 6 Best Electrostatic Headphones of 2023
1 Linsoul Shuoer Tape Pro – Best In-Ear Electrostatic Headphones
Let’s start with one of the most affordable electrostatic headphones available. Rather than over-ear headphones, the Linsoul Shuoer utilizes an in-ear design.
A focus has been placed on ergonomics. Ensuring a fit that balances both comfort and performance. The exposed area of the headphone has what’s been dubbed the “cassette tape” look. It is both functional and appealing aesthetically. As a result, these are some of the most comfortable electrostatic headphones you can buy.
Bass adjustment screws…
A tool is included for maneuvering the screws in the bass adjustment system. The screws are what make them look like a cassette, resembling spools, and allow you to customize the bass level to your liking for a completely personal experience.
High-quality aluminum material has been used in the construction of the Tape Pro headphones. Along with the premium materials, a 5-axis carve CNC process has been used for complete precision and accuracy.
Using a composite electrostatic dynamic driver results in a lower distortion rate. As well as quicker frequency response and smooth separation. Each of these dynamics goes towards providing audio that has to be heard to be believed.
When you first hear audio through these headphones, the level of detail is simply astonishing. Hear instruments like you are witnessing a live performance right there in the room.
- An affordable introduction to electrostatic headphones.
- Bass adjustment system for a fully customizable experience.
- High-quality materials used in construction.
- V-shaped frequency curve with mids not as pronounced as more expensive options.
- Although the bass is adjustable, it lacks power compared to over-ear models.
2 Koss ESP-950 – Best Noise Isolating Electrostatic Headphones
Combining two fantastic technologies, the Koss ESP-950 electrostatic headphones also feature effective noise cancellation. Not only will you hear audio like never before, but you also won’t hear any distracting noises in the background. As a result, these are some of the best noise canceling electrostatic headphones you can buy.
While they certainly aren’t cheap, these would still be considered an affordable entry-level product. The value is increased further with the inclusion of a stock amplifier that performs incredibly well.
A list of inclusions…
Not only do you receive these incredible headphones upon purchase, everything you need comes packaged alongside them. You’ll also get an E 90 electrostatic amplifier, extension cord, battery pack, and a stylish leather bag to hold everything in.
All the emphasis has been placed on providing superior technology and performance. However, the build quality takes a back seat. Constructed mostly of plastic, the headband and pads are also synthetic leather.
Place yourself inside the action…
Once you hear the audio from KOSS electrostatic headphones, you’ll forget all about the build quality. These are perfect electrostatic headphones for music and movies, placing you directly into the action.
The ESP-950s perform best around the mid-tones. With voices, acoustic guitars, and horns sounding realistic and natural. When watching movies, you’ll easily become lost in the vivid sound and be transported directly into the scene.
- Affordable over-ear introduction to electrostatic headphones.
- Effective noise-canceling technology.
- Perfect for both music and watching movies, particularly in the mid-frequencies.
- Build quality is disappointing with lots of plastic and synthetic leather.
- Bass is not as pronounced as on other products.
3 Shure KSE1500 – Best DAC Included Electrostatic Headphones
Even with Shure’s history and reputation within the premium audio world, it took 8-years of development to bring the KSE1500 to market. This needs to be taken into consideration when you see the price.
These are not going to be for everyone as they will simply be unaffordable for most users. If you can squeeze the KSE1500 within your budget, you’ll experience something very special. As a result, you’ll get some of the best electrostatic headphones around.
Dedicated DAC and amplifier included…
Included with the Shure KSE1500 are a dedicated DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) and amplifier. Electrostatic headphones require unusual electrical demands. Therefore, plugging directly into your audio source just won’t cut it.
The DAC/amp will connect to phones and tablets through either a USB or Lightning connection. There is a small display where you can access a menu function for settings and equalizer functions. Battery life for the DAC/amp is around 10-hours.
Accurate and detailed sound…
If you’re used to the big punch and bass-heavy sound of some Beats headphones, you’ll probably be underwhelmed initially. A major emphasis has been placed on detail and accuracy in the sound signature here.
It won’t take long until you begin to appreciate just how well balanced the sound truly is. Clarity is on a level of its own, with transitions from lows to highs being completely seamless. Going back to your Beats will sound crude and offensive after hearing the Shure KSE1500.
- DAC/amplifier is included with the headphones.
- Advanced equalizer settings are available on the small display.
- Amazing detail, accuracy, and balance within the sound signature.
- Expensive and out of reach for most.
- Limited to PCM 24-bit/96 kHz processing, but you won’t ever need or hear the difference of anything better.
4 MrSpeakers VOCE – Best Large Diaphragm Electrostatic Headphones
The theory behind electrostatic technology seems simple. However, the electrical engineering required is incredibly complicated. This is why electrostatic technology still isn’t mainstream. And why it commands such a high price tag.
The VOCE (pronounced “voh-che” being Latin for voice) from MrSpeakers was their first entry into the electrostatic world. They have combined both form and function, presenting an attractive set of large diaphragm headphones.
Like a work of art…
One of the standouts when it comes to MrSpeakers products is their innovative and unique designs. Every aspect has been given its own special touch. Right down to the packaging that doubles as an attractive display case when your headphones aren’t in use.
Even the cable is a custom silver-plated copper variant that has been wrapped in a carbon fiber style weaved cloth jacket. The grills that cover each earpiece look like a spider has made its home within the cups spinning a metallic web.
Standing out from the crowd…
While you’re not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to electrostatic headphones, MrSpeakers still manages to stand out from the crowd. The sound provided is much more tone-based rather than the heavy detail you’d expect.
Rather than lacking detail, the audio almost receives an extra layer of complexity. Frequencies are even and balanced right across the range from the deepest of bass up to the bright and most energetic highs.
- Innovative and unique style within every aspect of these headphones.
- Surprisingly comfortable headband given its minimalist design.
- A warm tone-driven sound that’s well balanced across the range.
- It’s expensive to hear audio at this level of quality.
- Style might not be for everyone.
5 Stax SR-009 – Best Premium Electrostatic Headphones
Stax is a Japanese company founded in 1938 that created electrostatic technology in 1959. Today, Stax continues to offer the finest headphones available. Often only in limited numbers and sometimes only released in Japan.
The SR-009s is Stax’s flagship model of electrostatic headphones reaching legendary status within the audiophile community. They are ultra-rare, ultra-expensive, and also provide ultra-performance to go along with this status.
Only the beginning…
If the price of these headphones has already put you off, then you’re not going to like this next part. Additionally, they need a separate specialized amplifier to power these state-of-the-art masterpieces.
They are often referred to as “electrostatic energizers,” which is probably more of an attempt to justify their also hefty price tag. There is a reason for this premium. That is the fact that electrostatic headphones require high voltage, often over 500 volts.
It’s the finer details…
The diaphragm used in the SR-009s is less than 2-microns thin and constructed from high polymer ultra-thin film. Within the cables, they contain silver-plated high purity copper wires rated 99.99%. Likewise, the padded box uses paulownia wood for an extra special touch.
I could list an entire page of adjectives in a vain attempt to try and adequately describe the audio quality. However, even that wouldn’t do justice to what these headphones can do. All I’ll say is that I’d describe the experience as transcending. If you want the best sounding electrostatic headphones, look no further.
- Manufactured by the creators of electrostatic headphone technology.
- Incredible attention to detail with every component.
- An unrivaled audio experience.
- Ultra-rare and ultra-expensive set of headphones.
- You’ll also need an ultra-expensive electrostatic energizer (amplifier).
6 HiFiMan Sundara – Best Planar Magnetic Headphones
I’ve included these HiFiMan Sundara planar magnetic headphones as a comparison. The technology is very similar. While they’re not electrostatic, they are more affordable and offer an incredible audio experience.
Planar magnetic headphones also use a diaphragm. But instead of being electrostatic, they rely on two oppositely aligned magnets. The driver sits precisely between the two magnetic fields and activates via varying electrical currents supplied to each magnet.
What can you expect from planar magnetic headphones? Well, this particular set has an impedance of 37 ohms. The sensitivity output is 94dB. However, they weigh only 13 ounces (372 grams), which are lightweights in this segment.
One of the most impressive specifications is the frequency response range. These headphones can deliver between 6Hz lows up to an impressive 75kHz high. Therefore, you won’t miss a single detail with the Sundaras placed across your head.
Bass, treble, and mids…
You’re not going to experience bone-shaking bass from HiFiMan products. And that’s not a bad thing. What you will get is a warm feeling of balance and depth.
Furthermore, these headphones shine in the mids. This is where the majority of instruments and vocals fall. The clarity, accuracy, and intensity create an immense feeling of character across music genres.
- More affordable than electrostatic with similar results.
- Large frequency response range of between 6Hz and 75kHz.
- Outstanding performance within the mid-range.
- Not an electrostatic set of headphones.
- Heavier to wear than electrostatic headphones.
Looking for Great Headphones?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Clip-on Headphones, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal, the Best Tranya Earbuds and Headphones, the Best Planar Magnetic Headphones, the Best Bone Conduction Headphones, and the Most Comfortable Headphones you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Headphones Under $20, the Best Headphones Under $100, the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $100, the Best Headphones Under $1,000, the Best Headphones with Microphone, and the Best Headphones for Music currently on the market.
What are the Best Electrostatic Headphones?
There is no doubt this is a specialist field for only the most dedicated enthusiasts and professionals. Even with high demands and expectations, the fussiest of critics could not be disappointed with any of these products.
The one that stands out the most is the…
It makes sense the company that created this technology would remain a leader in this field. At this level, the most important aspect is sound quality. And the Stax SR-009 headphones are simply in a class of their own.
Until next time, happy listening.