Top 5 Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $500 2021

Durable, affordable and plentiful could describe moving-coil/dynamic headphones. This popular transducer type can be found in many headphones on the market and even in high-end models.

Because moving-coil heapdhones are so popular and relatively inexpensive, there are plenty of options below the $500 USD mark. In fact, there isn’t a huge amount of options above this price point so 500 bucks will pretty well get you a top-of-the-line pair.

The top 5 best moving-coil/dynamic headphones under $500 are:

As mentioned, at this price, you’ll be getting yourself a superb pair of headphones. The headphones mentioned above are all excellent choices that cover the gamut of typical consumer and professional applications.

Since we’re having a discussion within the context of a price cap, I figure I should leave a link to a related My New Microphone article: Are Expensive Headphones (Or Cheap Headphones) Worth It?

What Makes A Great Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list out the criteria used for determining what makes a great pair of dynamic headphones.

  • Comfort: this is perhaps the simplest yet most important criterion of any headphone. Though highly subjective, specifications such as weight; contact pressure; earpad shape/material; stiffness, and the overall dimension play a role in comfort.
  • Impedance/device compatibility: compatibility with different audio devices is important. Choose a pair of high-end dynamic headphones that will be easily incorporated into your set up whether that’s a mobile device or a professional studio. Impedance and sensitivity ratings come into play when determining compatibility.
  • Frequency response: a great pair of headphones should be able to reproduce the full audible spectrum from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with clarity.

Wireless (especially Bluetooth) capabilities are also seen as a benefit since they further improve the functionality and general comfort of the headphones.

To learn more about moving-coil dynamic headphones, be sure to check out my article: The Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones.

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best moving-coil dynamic headphones under $500!

Sennheiser HD660s

The Sennheiser HD660s (link to check the price on Amazon) is one of the best moving-coil headphones $500 can buy.

Sennheiser HD660s

The Sennheiser HD660s is an excellent moving-coil dynamic headphone with wired connectivity and an open-back circumaural design.

The proprietary 38mm moving-coil transducers utilize light aluminium voice coils. Combining these drivers with a high-quality signal path and the expertly-designed open-back earcups gives the headphones their crisp bass, excellent mid-frequency response, and a gentle, pleasantly natural treble.

To learn more about what driver size can tell use about a headphone, check out my article What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones?

Compared to many audiophile-grade headphones, the Sennheiser HD 660 S actually has a rather low nominal impedance of 150 ohms. This allows the headphones to be used with multiple audio sources, including consumer-grade and mobile devices, without the absolute need for a dedicated amplifier.

That being said, the full potential of the HD 660 S’s reference-class fidelity is only truly reached when connected to the balanced outputs of a dedicated headphone amplifier.

Sennheiser suggests their HDV 820 (link to check the price on Amazon) as an amplifier for their HD 660 S headphones.

To learn more about headphones and headphone amps, check out my article What Is A Headphone Amplifier & Are Headphone Amps Worth It?

Sennheiser includes two choices of detachable cables to connect the HD 660 S to its audio device. Each of the cables is 3 meters long and is designed with oxygen-free copper cables. At one end of the cable is the 2-prong right and left connectors that attach to the headphones. The other end is different in the two separate cables:

  • 6.35mm (1/4″) unbalanced stereo jack plug
  • 4.4mm balanced stereo jack plug

A 6.35mm to 3.5mm stereo jack is included to allow these headphones to easily connect to 3.5mm headphone jacks, if need be.

The strong yet lightweight construction offers excellent durability and comfort simultaneously. This is a best-of-both-world situation.

The elliptical ear cups are shaped to follow the anatomy of the ear. Thick padding on the headband and replaceable ear cushions guarantee superior comfort for long listening sessions throughout the headphone’s long life.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 150 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 9 Hz – 41,500 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 104 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural?Closed-back
  • Weight: 260 g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

To learn more about headphone specifications, be sure to read my article Full List: Headphone/Earphone Specifications w/ Examples.

Sennheiser is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World and Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World.

Also check out the following Sennheiser headphones under $500:

Neumann NDH 20

Neumann is perhaps best known for its studio microphones but the Neumann NDH 20 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a top performer when it comes to headphones under $500.

Neumann NDH 20

The Neumann NDH 20 is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $500.

The Neumann NDH 20 is a premium quality closed-back circumaural dynamic headphone designed for monitoring, editing, and mixing.

The 38mm moving-coil drivers are built with Duofol diaphragms and high-gauss neodymium magnets for high sensitivity and minimal distortion. These reference headphones offer an extended frequency response (5 Hz – 30,000 Hz) without any unwanted colouration in the sound reproduction.

For more info on frequency response, check out my article What Is Headphone Frequency Response & What Is A Good Range?

Neumann’s NDH 20 come with two detachable cables. One is straight and the other is coiled. Both have a total length of 3 metres, though the coiled cable sits naturally at 1.5 metres long. Both cables have a 3.5mm plug at each end and a 6.3 mm (1/4”) adapter is also included.

With a nominal impedance of 150 ohms, the NDH 20 will definitely sound better with a dedicated amplifier or professional-grade headphone outs in the studio equipment it’s connected to. The relatively high impedance (compared to consumer-grade and many pro-grade headphones) allows the headphones greater clarity and precision so long as the drivers are being driven by a strong enough signal.

That being said, relative to many high-end headphones, a 150-ohm nominal impedance may be considered “relatively low”, which allows the NHD 20’s to be used with regular mobile and consumer devices. Just know that you’ll be missing out on the full potential if you’re not plugging the NHD 20’s into a capable headphone amp!

Long-time comfort and durability are made possible with high-quality materials in the NDH 20.

At the core of the construction, the headband is made of a spring steel strip with aluminum and plastic fittings, and the earcups a made from aluminum. The ear pads are made super-comfortable with cloth-covered memory foam for a superb fit.

The fit of these headphones is excellent, allowing for top-notch passive noise isolation and an ergonomic fit, keeping listeners comfortable throughout those long mixing/mastering or other listening sessions.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 38.10 mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnet
  • Impedance: 150 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 114 dB at 1 kHz
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 13.76 oz / 390 g without Cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Shure SRH1840

The Shure SRH1840 (link to check the price on Amazon) gets the third spot on the list.

Shure SRH1840

The Shure SRH1840 is a professional pair of open-back circumaural headphones with premium moving-coil dynamic drivers.

At the heart of these headphones are individually matched drivers for unparalleled acoustic performance, including smooth, extended highs and accurate bass. The 40 mm neodymium dynamic drivers offer an extended frequency response and, combined with the open-back ear cups, incredibly natural reproduction of audio.

With a rated impedance of 65 ohms, the Shure SRH1840 performs amazingly with both mobile and consumer devices and with professional-studio and audiophile-grade units alike.

The detachable dual-exit cable has gold-plated MMCX connectors headphone-end and a 3.5mm stereo plug at the other end. Shure even includes a replacement cable with each purchase of the SRH1840. As we’d expect, a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter is also included.

To learn more about 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone plugs/jacks, check out my article The Differences Between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm Headphone Jacks.

The lightweight construction keeps the headphones light. An aircraft-grade aluminum alloy yoke and stainless-steel grilles offer enhanced durability.

The headphone’s replaceable velour ear pads feature high-density, slow-recovery foam for exceptional comfort and an ergonomic dual-frame, padded headband is fully adjustable.

In other words, these headphones are super comfy for quick and long sessions alike. These rugged headphones easily withstand the typical wear and tear of studio cans and if the earpads ever wear out, they’re completely replaceable.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnets
  • Impedance: 65 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB/mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 268g without cable
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Shure is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World and Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

The Shure SRH1540 (link to check the price on Amazon) is another model worth having a look at for under $500.

AKG K712 Pro

The AKG K712 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a fantastic headphone and comes in at number 4 on this list.

AKG K712 Pro

The AKG K712 Pro reference studio headphones are a great pair of moving-coil dynamic cans with an over-ear fit and open-back design.

AKG’s K712 Pro provides fatigue-free mixing and mastering with specially-designed dynamic transducers that utilize flat wire voice coils. The driver offers powerful bass, incredible sound imaging and beautifully-natural transient response. Expect an accurate sound with a superb response in the bass, mid and high-frequency bands.

This headphone has a rated impedance of 65 ohms, making it a great universal choice for playing audio from nearly all devices (so long as a connection can be made).

To learn more about headphone impedance, check out my article The Complete Guide To Understanding Headphone Impedance.

Speaking of connection, the K712 Pro comes with a 3-metre coiled cable with 3.5mm connectors and a 3.5mm to 6.35mm screw-on adapter.

Whether we’re using these headphones in a professional studio, an audiophile’s lounge or on the go around town, they’ll sound great.

Of course, we’re likely to get a better response by connecting to a dedicated headphone amp, as is the case with most high-end headphones. The main point I’m making is that we don’t necessarily have to do so with the AKG K712 Pro.

These headphones are made with a genuine soft leather headband for a lightweight and comfortable fit. The cushions aid in securing the fit around the ear for passive noise isolation while also making the headphones uber comfy.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 62 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 39,800 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB/V
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Open-back
  • Weight: 235 g/8.3 oz.
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.

In addition to the K712 Pro, I’d suggest also checking out the AKG K701 (link to check the price on Amazon).

Ultrasone Performance Series 880

Let’s wrap things up with the Ultrasone Performance Series 880 (link to check the price on Amazon), one of the best moving-coil dynamic headphones for under $500 USD.

Ultrasone Performance Series 880

The Ultrasone Performance Series 880 is a closed-back over-ear headphone with superb moving-coil dynamic drivers.

The 40mm titanium-coated sound transducers of the 880 are remarkably precise, capable of reproducing the most nuanced elements of music and speech.

Despite the closed-back design, the Performance 880 presents itself with an airy sound, reminiscent of the great open-back headphones of the world.

This 32-ohm headphone will work wonderfully with all wired audio devices. There’s no need to worry about a headphone amplifier unless you really want to.

The 880 comes with two different detachable cables for versatile connection possibilities.

The first cable is straight, measuring approximately 1.2 metres in length. It includes a built-in microphone and remote control for telephony. The second cable is also straight but measures 3 meters and does not include the microphone and control. Both cables utilize gold-plated 3.5mm plugs with B-Lock connections at the headphone end. The headphones also come with a gold-plated 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter.

To learn more about headphone cables, check out my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

This durable headphone sits quite comfortably with its adjustable headband. Ultrasone packs 2 different earpads with a new purchase of the 880: one is made from artificial leather and the other is from velour.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40mm Dynamic with Neodymium magnets
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 7 Hz – 35,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 94 dB
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 9.7 oz / 276g
  • Wireless/Wired: Wired

Honourable Mentions

There plenty of other great dynamic headphone options below $500. Here are 4 that didn’t make the top 5 but would certainly make a top 10:


Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement ( or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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