If you desire the highest quality of sound in the headphone market, you should go for electrostatic headphones. These headphones operate on a slightly more refined principle than what you get from the conventional dynamic headphones. There are no moving coils, magnets, or cones/dome in these headphones. These headphones possess a system that is both simpler and more complicated than the traditional dynamic headphones.
The advanced design of these headphones means they are often seen as the most transparent, natural, and detailed sounding headphones available in the current market. The driver design has a little semblance to that of planar magnetic drivers but the system of operation in play is not similar in any way.
To make your search for an electrostatic headphone easier, we have penned this article, cataloging the best electrostatic headphones for the year 2021.
Best electrostatic headphones in 2021 are:
1. HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphones
The HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphone has a bulky appearance but is surprisingly lightweight and very comfortable when worn. The brand managed to take care of every issue related to comfort here. The headphones are equipped with plush and thick hybrid pads which are also referred to as focus the same sort of pads can be found on some of the headphones with planar magnetic drivers produced by the same brand like the HE series. To ensure that you feel zero discomforts or pressure on your head while using these headphones, the weight is accurately distributed across the head area. Clamping force is considered to be excellent.
What you get with the Jade II in detail, speed, and dynamics. Specifications include extremely extended frequency response, particularly in the high-end response at 7Hz – 90kHz. It offers a light sound signature with emphasis on the midrange and treble. Reproduction of the treble and midrange are very dynamic, crystal clear, and well-detailed. It provides clean vocals that are well-placed and pushes forward.
You will find its imaging, definition, and instrument separation to be quite extraordinary. It has a wide and airy soundstage although the width is not to be compared to that of some premium quality planar magnetic headphones we have come across in our tests. The design gives it a soundstage that is slightly taller than its width. It doesn’t struggle in the least when playing complicated genres of music which has numerous instruments as part of its production. It reproduces this type of music perfectly.
2. Mitchell and Johnson MJ2 Headphones
These MJ2 headphones from Mitchell and Jonson may not have the best sound among the electrostatic headphones in the market but they possess lots of useful features and unique characteristics.
MJ2 headphones can perform without an external amplifier but we do recommend an amplifier if you are looking to milk the best performance out of them. Its bass response is not overwhelming or boomy but it is negligibly high. The bass definition is adequately defined, punchy, and deep.
The best part of these headphones is in their midrange and treble production. You will find that the mids are dynamic, accurate, and well-detailed. The same can be said of the treble response which is not remotely bright but extremely extended. You will find zero sibilance within these headphones, imaging is perfect while the soundstage is quite wide when you consider that these are closed-back headphones.
These are considered to be slower, less musical, and transparent than the STAR SR-09 but performance is quite amazing for headphones in this price range. If you are looking to acquire entry-level electrostatic headphones, then these are for you.
3. MrSpeakers Voce Electrostatic Headphones
The Voce headphones are like most electrostatic headphones out there when it comes to sound production; they are well-detailed and offer revealing sound. They provide a more powerful bass than one would expect. Users will find its bass extended, thick, and punchy. Extra warmth is added into the mix by a slight elevation found around 100Hz. It also delivers well-detailed and vigorous midrange reproduction.
There is a little forward push on the vocals. The difference between these headphones and other electrostatic headphones can be found in the treble response. It offers three different treble responses which are hinged on the tuning pads you select. Tuning pads are built to deflate the high-end frequencies, keep their brightness on the lower side, and ensure that the treble doesn’t overextend.
All of these are done in a bid to make these more natural and ensure that you are not fed the same bit of high-end extension and the outrageous amount of detail found on STAX SR-009. Unfortunately, you’ll find that these things make STAX headphones sound unnatural. It offers a wide soundstage which is almost without bounds. Its imaging is also very accurate.
4. Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System
When discussing some of the most notable brands in the audio industry, you can’t forget to mention Shure. These heavyweights are amongst the heavyweight audio brands that chose to delve into the electrostatic headphones line. The KSE1500 which is an electrostatic offering from the Shure stables has been described by many as radical.
The KSE1500 has a solid build quality, with a very durable appearance. It provides considerable comfort and comes with ‘not-so-large’ earphones designed to fit different ear types easily. Be sure to try out a variety of different ear tips to choose the best pair for your ears. We weren’t quite enamored by the cable, speaking from a comfort-oriented perspective.
Although the cable is quite well-built and sturdy we found that it is heavier than the traditional IEM cables and you’ll find these annoying when you need to use headphones on the go. The dedicated DAC/Amplifier also helps to make things more difficult. Of course, you can use these headphones on the go but it won’t make for a very satisfying experience. Our recommendation is to use these for critical listening at home although they are technically considered portable. The KSE1500 offers a great advantage with its sonic performance. It provides a very smooth and revealing sound reproduction. It also has an extended frequency response.
5. STAX SR-007A Electrostatic Earspeakers
What you get from the SR-007A MKII is everything you’ve been told to expect from electrostatic headphones and even more extras. It offers detailed, smooth, and organic sound delivery. You will find the sound to be revealing and transparent and also very forgiving in the same breath. We were even more surprised by the bass response!
You will find the same quality accuracy, texture, and detail as you would in the SR-009 but the SR-007A gives you more when it comes down to quantity. You will find more bass on the SR-007A than you would in any other STAX headphones. They also have a warmer sound to them than we found in most of the other electrostatic headphones we tested due to the punchy nature of its bass. It is important to note that the bass is not remotely exaggerated, boomy nor filled with echoes. There is no faulting the midrange reproduction, you will find it dynamic and well-detailed. You also get clear vocals and extended treble response.
It is smooth and accurate with a little twinkle on the high-end. Compared to the SR-009, these headphones are slightly relaxed. The treble is neither ostentatious nor tiring in the least. If you dislike huge treble extensions and detailed high-end, then these are the headphones for you. It offers a wide and airy soundstage. The SR-07A is designed to create a good 3D room around you, offering good instrument separation and accurate imaging.