Top 5 Planar Headphones

There’s a lot to be said for the distinctly crisp and accurate sound that planar drivers provide when featured in headphones. Once constrained to being exclusively ludicrously expensive, planar drivers have been finding their way into headphones across all price points in recent years. Let’s traverse some price ranges and explore the best planar headphones you can buy right now.


HiFiMAN Sundara (Closed $399, Open $299)

This year HiFiMAN made a snazzy closed-back iteration of the Sundara for the first time, in turn knocking a significant sum of cash off the previous open-back model. HiFiMAN’s Sundara won well-deserved attention from audiophiles and casual listeners alike for bringing planar quality to an affordable unit. Though the open-back and closed-back versions obviously have some differences in balance and imaging, both are extremely popular favorites among budget audiophiles for their full and exceptionally balanced sound signatures. The Sundara Closed-back features cans made of a bright, beautiful beechwood that may very well have people asking you about what’s on your head. Featuring a suspension headband, metallic sliding gimbles, and cushiony ear pads, the Sundara can be comfortably worn for hours of listening without fatigue.


The HiFiMAN Sundara Closed-back and Sundara Open-back are available for purchase from Audio46.


(Closed-Back) (pictured)

Frequency Response: 6 Hz – 50 kHz

Impedance: 20 ohms



Frequency Response:6 Hz – 75 kHz

Impedance: 37 ohms


Audeze LCD-X (Open-Back, $1199) and LCD-XC (Closed-Back, $1299 )

Audeze, LCD-X, planar, over-ear, open-back, headphones

Planars are kind of thing with Audeze. We’re starting to climb price ranges, but believe it or not, the LCD-X and LCD-XC are some of the more affordable offerings from Audeze. The open-back LCD-X and closed back LCD-XC have similar EQ’s: razor-sharp balances with slightly attenuated subs that eliminate masking issues and allow music to be heard in crisp, analytical detail. This squeaky clean Audeze release is not only popular among audiophiles, but mixers and audio engineers as well due to their reference-grade frequency response. While the high quality leather ear pads make for a comfortable fit, be aware that these units are pretty hefty and clock in at over 600 grams.


The Audeze LCD-X and LCD-XC are available for purchase from Audio46.


LCD-X (Open Back):

Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 50 kHz

Impedance: 20 ohms.


LCD-XC (Closed Back):

Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 50 kHz

Impedance: 20 ohms


Meze Liric ($2000)

Meze, Liric, planar, over-ear, closed-back, headphones

Meze Audio makes its way onto these “top” lists virtually without fail. Audiophiles are more than familiar with the company, which seems incapable of putting out an underwhelming release. The Meze Liric is one of the most popular high end open-back planar headphones currently. The Liric can be described as having a balanced sound character with some bass heavy inclinations. That said, the boosted low end is contained to the subs and mid bass and avoids muddiness and masking. Center frequency balance slants towards the high mids, and a generally boosted high end features precisely placed carves that let the Liric express vocal air, reverb and cymbal harmonics in smooth detail while dampening shrill and unwanted treble details like sibilants. Though they appear chunky, they come in at only 391 grams. This places them on the lighter end of high-end headphones and provides for a comfortable fit. Also worth noting is how far away the drivers sit from the ears, a feature that assists in producing an addictively wide sound stage.


The Meze Liric can be purchased here from Audio46.


Frequency Response: 4 Hz – 92 kHz

Impedance: 30 ohms


Kennerton Thekk

Kennerton, Thekk, planar, over-ear, headphones

Kennerton is a HiFi headphone manufacturer that flies surprisingly low on most people’s radars. The Kennerton Thekk is an open-back planar unit from the company that features elegant, 3D printed wooden housing and a FEM-optimized magnet system that utilizes 10neodymiumm magnets – usually just one is enough to get me excited. Much like the aforementioned LCD-X and LCD-XC, the Kennerton Thekk’s sound signature is strikingly balanced, making them an excellent choice to use as a reference pair. A mildly attenuated low gives lots of room to the fine details in its boosted midrange and natural-yet-far-reaching highs. Audiophiles tired of the bass boosts coloring everything we hear these days will take special pleasure in the highly analytical characteristics of the Thekk, as well as its durable and beautiful physical design.


The Kennerton Thekk can be purchased here from Audio46.


Frequency Response:10 Hz – 55 kHz

Impedance: 42 ohms


Dan Clark Audio Expanse, and Stealth ($3,999)

Dan Clark Audio, The expanse, planar, headphone, over-ear, open-back

Finally, the big kahunas of this list. I saved these for the end, not because of their intimidating price tags, but because Dan Clark’s Expanse may very well be my absolute favorite release of the year. Dan Clark released the Expanse this year as the open-back sibling to the Stealth, which was released in 2021. Sometimes I come across expensive headphones that end up disappointing me, but the Expanse and Stealth provide nothing short of a transcendental music listening experience every time I put them on. These two planar headphones have it all: phenomenal sound quality, extreme flexibility, and a well tuned suspension headband that provides a perfect fit the second they’re on your head. The Stealth and Expanse alike expose every little detail in a listen, bringing out new details in tracks you’ve heard hundreds of times; many headphones make this claim, but the Expanse and Stealth genuinely deliver on it. Both feature an Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System, Finite Element Analysis, and Computational Fluid Dynamics motors that obliterate unwanted resonances and maximize acoustic stability. If you want a summary in English, Dan Clark’s Expanse and Stealth literally contain the design ingenuity that goes into jet engines to provide a face-melting listening experience.


Note: Impedance may appear low, but these do in fact take quite a bit of power to properly drive.


Dan Clark Audio The Expanse and Stealth can be purchased from Audio46.


(Stealth, Closed-Back)

Frequency Response: n/a

Impedance:22 ohms


(Expanse, Open-Back) (pictured)

Frequency Response: n/a

Impedance: 23 ohms

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