Low impedance headphones are a perfect starting point for those who are just starting in the audio hobby. Most of these models don’t need a headphone amplifier or DAC/Amp. They can be used directly with your personal computer, Mac, DAP, or smartphone.
Low impedance headphones are great because they are usually not dependent on the source. However, if you are thinking about upgrading the rest of your gears and you want to purchase devices like DAC/Amps in the future, then low impedance may not be a good fit because they are known to have little to no benefits with better sources.
You have to think about whether you want low impedance or high impedance headphones or even something in between. And of course, impedance should not be the only basis for requiring a headphone amplifier.
The best budget pair we have on this list is the Philips SHP 9500. And for the best high-end option, we have the Drop Beyerdynamic DT177X Go. If those two aren’t your cup of tea, we have more models on this list, so read on to find out more.
Best Low Impedance Headphones
Budget: Philips SHP9500 – Best Value
The Philips SHP 9500 is one of the best open-back headphones that you can purchase in the budget category. Its sound quality alone already punches way above its price point. While it isn’t a Sennheiser HD600 killer, it still does a lot of things right and is a mainstay in a lot of enthusiasts’ headphone collection.
The build quality is excellent in this price category. Despite being predominantly built with plastic, the plastic used is high-quality and comparable with the build of other mid-tier headphones. It features a 3.5 mm detachable cable that can easily be replaced with other aftermarket cables. This also means that it is compatible with the popular V Moda Boom Pro microphone, which turns this headphone into a gaming headset.
Those features are great to have on a budget headphone, but the real star of the show here is the sound quality. The SHP 9500 has great clarity and detail retrieval. It has a smooth high-end that is well controlled and prevents sibilance. The bass is still present but isn’t as pronounced as closed-back headphones. The midrange is also a bit cessed for this pair.
Despite having an intimate soundstage, the imaging is excellent. Its ability to help discern the position of sounds has helped make this a popular pair for competitive gaming. The sound signature is very pleasing and would satisfy anyone who is limited to this price range.
Overall, the Philips SHP9500 is quite possibly the best sounding pair that you can get in the budget category. Its versatility is excellent since it performs well both in music listening and gaming. It has a few things that can be improved on its sound quality, but overall, this is a competent pair that could easily belong in the midrange price category. If you are interested in a budget open-back pair of headphones, this is the one that you should check out.
The Philips SHP 9500 is one of the best-sounding pairs in this price category. It performs well in almost every task, especially for gaming.
The sound signature could use some improvements in order to compete with the rest of the midrange offerings. This is still, however, an enjoyable pair.
Takstar Pro 82
If open-back headphones are not your cup of tea, then we have a closed-back option as well. The Takstar Pro 82 is a perfect alternative to the much more expensive Audio Technica M40X and M50X. It has a similar factor, and both of these are designed as studio monitors.
Just like the SHP 9500, the Takstar Pro 82 also features a removal cable. This is great since the cable is usually the first thing that breaks in headphones. It also means that you can change the cable to a longer or shorter size, depending on your needs.
Unlike the SHP 9500, however, the cable connects to the headphones via 2.5mm. It is still a common connection, so you should not have trouble finding aftermarket cables.
The Takstar Pro 82 also has one more accessory that makes the overall package worth it. This is the inclusion of the flight case. Headphones that are twice or thrice its price don’t even come with a hard case. So it is good to see a product that gives a lot of value with its included accessories.
In terms of the sound quality, the Takstar Pro 82 is mostly leaning in the flat and neutral side. It is more accurate than the similarly priced Audio Technica ATH M30X and. It is a lot more similar to the M40X.
Compared to the SHP 9500, it sounds tighter with more bass. The tradeoff is that you lose the imaging, soundstage, instrument separation, and natural sound due to the closed-back design.
Unlike those models, the Pro 82 has a bass dial with three modes of bass adjustment. This is, however, mostly useless since it adds too much bass and ruins the sound signature of the Pro 82.
Lastly, If you are primarily going to use the Takstar Pro 82 for gaming, we recommend checking out the Cooler Master MH751. It is a rebranded version of the Pro 82 with an added microphone. The branding isn’t too heavy, and it doesn’t look too over the top like other gaming headsets, so it still fits in any kind of setup.
Overall, for those looking for a versatile pair of headphones that can be used for casual listening, gaming, and even professional recording, the Takstar Pro 82 is the best pair of headphones that you can get in this price range.
The Takstar Pro 82 comes with a lot of accessories, which is surprising for a budget pair of headphones. It checks all the right boxes for a good pair of studio monitoring headphones.
The sound quality isn’t as refined as the more expensive Audio Technica M40X and M50X.
Grado produces unique headphones. Their vintage-inspired designs are like no other and would definitely be a unique addition to any headphone collection. Like the Philips SHP 9500, the Grado SR60E is an open back headphone, which makes it ideal for home use.
Unlike the other two headphones in this category, the Grado SR60E does not feature a removable cable. The cable is quite thick and does not have the best quality. There are several mods to address this issue. But this would, of course, void the warranty.
The build quality of the Grado SR60E is also not on par with the other two. This is something that Grado has been criticized for since all of their headphones are built similarly. Their design does not inspire confidence.
The SR60E does make up for this in terms of sound quality. For its asking price, there aren’t too many headphones that can match its distinctive Grado sound. The SR60E sounds very lively and natural.
It is leaning more towards a fun sound signature rather than the analytical approach of the other headphones on this list. The bass is tighter compared to most budget to mid-tier open-back headphones. The mids are also very clean and clear, especially for female vocals.
The soundstage is more on the intimate side but definitely larger than the Takstar Pro 82 or even the Audio Technica M50X. Also, despite having an on-ear design, the Grado SR60E is surprisingly comfortable. Your ears will start to hurt in longer listening sessions, but the overall comfort is acceptable.
Overall, the Grado SR60E is one of the best and most unique sounding pairs on this list. If you want to own something different, give the Grado SR60E a listen.
The Grado SR60E is both a unique looking and unique sounding pair. It embodies the Grado house sound that is generally liked by the community.
The build quality doesn’t inspire confidence. This is the story for almost all Grado headphones, so you just have to be careful with them.
Midrange: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 80-Ohm
First up on the midrange headphones is the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 80-ohm version. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro comes in different versions. We have decided to pick the 80-ohm version since it is technically superior to the 32-ohm version and has lower power requirements than the 250-ohm version.
However, if you are on a tighter budget, you can try checking out the 32-ohm version. If you need a headphone that scales with better equipment, check out the 250-ohm version. You can check out these other variants, as well as other top Beyerdynamic models here.
In terms of the build quality, the DT 990 Pro carries the signature German-made build quality that Beyerdynamic has been known for. Aside from the non-detachable cable, there is very little to complain about. The combination of the metal and plastic build balances the weight while keeping the entire build sturdy.
In terms of the sound quality, the DT 990 Pro is leaning towards a V-shape. This means that the lows and highs are more pronounced. This is an open back headphone, so there is more detail than its competitors.
The DT 990 Pro shares a lot of qualities with the higher-end DT 1990 Pro. While it isn’t as detailed as the DT 1990 Pro, it is also not as peaky and as fatiguing as the higher-end model. This is a headphone that has a sound signature that is accurate enough but still enjoyable.
The DT 990 Pro’s excellent sound quality is versatile with many tasks. While primarily designed for professional music production, it is also popular for professional gaming. This has been famously used by the Fortnite player, Ninja. You can learn more about its use in professional gaming here.
If you are looking for the best open-back pair that is rugged enough for professional work or daily tasks, then the DT 990 Pro 80-ohm version is the best in this price category.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is a classic model that has stood the test of time. You won’t regret buying this due to its excellent build quality and sound quality.
The cable is non-detachable. You either have to mod this or move to the higher-end Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro.
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 ohm
If you like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro but prefer a closed-back design, then the DT 770 Pro will suit you nicely. It also has the signature Beyerdynamic V-shape sound signature and rugged build quality. It is also a classic headphone that has been used in the professional production industry for decades.
Like the DT990 Pro, we are also selecting the 80-ohm version for this list due to the same reasons. It also has a higher-end counterpart in Beyerdynamic’s lineup, the DT 1770 Pro. The Drop and Beyerdynamic collaboration, DT 177X Go, is also included in this list, and we’ll get to that later.
Unlike the DT 990 Pro, the sound of the DT 770 Pro is not as accurate or as natural. This is a side-effect of the closed-back design. It doesn’t automatically make the DT770 Pro a worse headphone. It just means that it is different.
One advantage that the DT 770 Pro has over the DT 990 Pro is the superior bass reproduction. The closed-back design means that the DT770 Pro can produce more bass. Also, the bass reproduction here is clear and clean and does not overextend to the mid frequencies.
In terms of soundstage, the DT 770 Pro is notorious for having an above-average soundstage. It isn’t as good as open-back headphones such as the DT 990 Pro. It is, however, better than most closed-back headphones in this price range (including both the ATH M40X and M50X).
Overall, if you are looking for a closed-back headphone, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is hard to beat. The combination of build quality and sound quality has once again produced a winner for Beyerdynamic.
Like the DT 990 Pro, this classic model is a tried and tested headphone. If you buy this pair, then you will probably own this for a very long time before needing to upgrade.
Again, like the DT 990 Pro, the cable is non-detachable. You’d have to mod it or upgrade to the DT 1770 Pro or Drop DT 177X Go for this feature.
Audio Technica M40X/M50X
Lastly, we have the popular M40X and M50X. These headphones also have a cult following and can be seen almost everywhere. It is arguably as popular as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro for professional and casual use.
Despite being ranked lower than both of the Beyerdynamic models, we still think this is a competent model for almost every task. The build quality isn’t as good as Beyerdynamic’s offerings. However, the plastic construction makes it lightweight and suitable for long listening or long working sessions.
Unlike Beyerdynamic’s offerings, the M40X and M50X feature a removable cable. There are also several cables that are included. Each has a specific length that is suitable for either portable or desktop use.
Both of these models are closed-back headphones. Almost everything about these two is similar. The only difference is the drivers used and the way that they are tuned. The M40X is flatter and more accurate sounding while the M50X is leaning more towards a V-shaped sound signature with a slight bump in the bass region.
The flatter sound signature is more appealing to audio enthusiasts. However, the sound signature of the M50X makes it a more versatile device. It can be used for monitoring, DJing, and casual use. We have featured this model in our best DJ headphones article.
Compared to the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, both of these models feel less refined. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro has more soundstage, has a punchier bass, and has a clearer sound. Both the M40X and M50X have a very congested soundstage, which does not sound very natural.
Despite their negative aspects, the sound signature would still depend on your preferences. All of these headphones have their strong points, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. Overall, for professional and casual use that is more versatile than the Beyerdynamic headphones, check out the M40X and M50X.
The popularity of these headphones comes from their excellent build and sound quality. Like the DT 770 Pro, these will last you quite a while if you decide to purchase them.
These headphones have been surpassed and aren’t the best sounding anymore. They still hold their own, but you have to remember that there are better-sounding alternatives.
High-End: Drop Beyerdynamic 177X GO – Best High-End
Moving on to the high-end category, our top pick is the Drop Beyerdynamic DT 177X Go. This model is the result of Drop and Beyerdynamic’s collaboration to bring an improved version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro. This one is for the fans of the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and Beyerdynamic’s sound signature in general.
It takes the best features of the Beyerdynamic 1770 Pro and turns it into a more affordable and low impedance version. The excellent sound quality and build quality of the original model have been well preserved. You can read more about the DT 1770 Pro here.
One downside that this new model has is that it won’t scale to more powerful amplifiers like the original model. For us, this is an acceptable tradeoff since the DT 177X Go can be used with less powerful equipment like smartphones and game consoles.
For those who enjoyed the sound signature of the DT 770 Pro, the DT 177X Go is even better. The bass response is more refined than the DT 770 Pro. It even beats the more expensive models.
The soundstage is also a lot better. Not as good as the open-back DT1990 Pro, but better than most closed-back headphones. The highs are also well controlled without losing any significant detail.
Overall, the Drop DT177X Go presents so much value. And because of that, it gets an instant recommendation from us and should be on the list of anyone looking for a high-end pair of closed-back headphones that are easy to drive.
The Drop DT 177X Go has preserved the best features of the original DT 1770 Pro. The lower impedance also means that this is now to a wider audience.
The DT 177X Go won’t scale with higher-end equipment as well as the original model. This will mostly be based on the user’s preference because the DT 177X Go already sounds good as is.
Audeze LCD 1
If you are more into open-back headphones, then the next model on our list may be more appealing to you than the Drop 177X GO. The Audeze LCD 1 is Audeze’s attempt at an entry-level planar magnetic headphone. Unlike its higher-end LCD siblings, it has an all-new design and, most importantly, comes in at only 13.5 ohms.
The direction of the LCD 1 is quite unclear. In terms of its design and specs, this headphone is leaning towards the portable market. However, the simple fact that it is an open-back headphone makes it impossible to use outside.
Regardless of what it is designed for, the LCD 1 is indisputably one of the best in its price range. Its technicalities can match higher-end dynamic driver headphones such as the Sennheiser HD660s. Also, despite its low impedance, it also scales well with higher-end sources such as DAPs, DAC/Amps, and headphone amplifiers.
The soundstage is more intimate than other open-back headphones such as the higher-end LCD 2, LCD 3, etc. Build quality is also slightly less refined compared to the higher-end models but still upholds the same standards that Audeze has been known for.
Overall, if you are looking for a high-end low impedance open-back headphone, then look no further. The LCD 1 can handle almost anything that you throw at it. Pick this up, and you will surely be satisfied.
Audeze once again shows how good their headphones sound with this model. You can own an Audeze headphone without breaking the bank.
Despite having a portable oriented design, these headphones are not meant for portable use solely because of its open-back nature.
Stephen is a musician, cinematographer, and headphone enthusiast who is passionate about reviewing audio equipment. He has been playing guitar for at least a decade, which introduced him to professional recording equipment such as headphones and in-ear monitors. With the help of reviews and online content, he was able to learn the ins and outs of the hobby. His goal is to give back to the community by providing quality content to help others enjoy the beautiful (and expensive) world of audio.
Favorite Headphones: Sennheiser HD660s