Trending December 2023 # Bose Quietcomfort 45 Anc Headphones Hit $279 In Friday’s Best Deals, Magsafe Gear, More # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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Wrapping up the work week, all of today’s best deals are headlined by the Bose QuietComfort 45 ANC headphones at $279. That’s alongside a rare discount on Belkin’s 15W MagSafe 3-in-1 Charger at $127 as well as Eve’s Thread-enabled HomeKit Weather Station for $61. Hit the jump for all that and more in the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

Bose QuietComfort 45 deliver best-in-class ANC

Amazon now offers the all-new Bose QuietComfort 45 ANC Headphones for $279 in two styles. Down from $329, today’s offer is delivering a match of the second-best price to date at $50 off. These over-ear headphones from Bose arrive as the brand’s latest flagship offering yet with a series of notable specs to match.

First up, there’s enhanced active noise cancellation which pairs with an Apple-style transparency mode as well as Active EQ for balanced listening. You can also rely on 24 hours of playback before needing to recharge the QuietComfort 45 ANC, and plugging in a USB-C cable for just 15 minutes will net you 3 hours of usage in a pinch.

Belkin’s 15W MagSafe 3-in-1 Charger refuels your whole Apple kit

Amazon now offers the Belkin 15W MagSafe 3-in-1 Wireless Charger for $127. Normally fetching $150, today’s offer is right in line with our previous mention at 15% while marking a rarer chance to save on the black style. This is a new Amazon all-time low, as well.

With MagSafe at the center of the nightstand or desk upgrade, this 3-in-1 Belkin charging stand features a 15W magnetic stand for iPhone 12 and 13 series devices. Off to the side of an Apple Watch charging puck as well as the secondary 5W Qi pad which rests at the base of the assembly for topping off AirPods and the like. You can get a closer look in our hands-on review. I’ve also been personally using this one for over a year and can highly recommend the more premium charging experience. 

Eve’s Thread-enabled HomeKit Weather Station hits all-time low

Amazon is now offering the Eve Weather HomeKit Weather Station with Thread for $61. Marking one of the first discounts since launching back in January, today’s offer is down from the usual $80 price tag. On top of beating our previous mention by $9, this discount is also a new all-time low. 

Supplementing your Siri setup with hyperlocal readings, Eve Weather can track temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. It sports the brand’s signature aluminum design with e-ink display and an outdoor-ready build thanks to IPX4 water-resistance. On top of Bluetooth connectivity, there’s also Thread support to round out the package. Our recent HomeKit Weekly feature takes a better look at the experience.

Ponder Anker’s MagGo 8-in-1 MagSafe charging orb at $75

Anker’s official Amazon storefront now offers its MagGo 8-in-1 Charging Station Orb for $75. Normally fetching $100, today’s offer amounts to 25% in savings, matches the best price of the year, and is $10 under our previous mention.

Packed into a unique orb design, Anker’s MagGo charging station is a notable way to top off all of your gear at the desktop, nightstand, and more. Its main draw is the 7.5W MagSafe charging mount on the front, which is joined by an array of ports on the back. Alongside three AC outlets, you’ll find dual USB-C outputs, and two USB-A slots. We also walked away impressed in our hands-on review. 

Wrap your AirPods Pro in Nintendo nostalgia with elago’s Game Boy case

The official elago Amazon storefront is now offering its AW5 Game Boy-style AirPods Pro case for $10 in black and $12 in the more traditional gray styling. Regularly $17, today’s offer is up to 35% off the going rates, slightly below our Prime Day deal price, and the lowest we can find.

This is a Lightning deal that will only be live for another 10 hours or while supplies last before it’s game over. Delivering some fun and novel vintage Nintendo vibes to your AirPods Pro case, it features the same soft silicone treatment we have come to love from the brand. Alongside the scratch protection here, you’ll also get the carabiner-like clip seen in the image above. Additional details are found in our review.

Best trade-in deals

9to5Mac also keeps tabs on all the best trade-in deals on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more every month. Be sure to check out this month’s best trade-in deals when you decide it’s time to upgrade your device. Or simply head over to our trade-in partner directly if you want to recycle, trade, or sell your used devices for cash and support 9to5Mac along the way!

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Deals: Apple Magsafe Chargers And Cases 40% Off, Airpods Pro $160, More

All of today’s best deals are headlined by an up to 40% off sale on official Apple MagSafe chargers and cases. That’s alongside AirPods Pro at $160 and a new low on the latest iPad Air at $70 off. Hit the jump for all that and more in the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

Apple MagSafe Charger deals take 40% off

Verizon Wireless is launching a new buy more and save sale that’s taking up to 40% off a selection of smartphone accessories. Amongst all of the eligible deals, our top picks fall to Apple’s lineup of MagSafe iPhone 12 cases and chargers. Across the board, these are the best prices to date on the new first-party accessories and well below previous offers whether you’re saving 30% or the full 40%.

Those who just picked up an iPhone 12 and are looking to deck it out with accessories will find today’s deals particularly notable, as the Apple MagSafe Duo Charger can be bundled with a Silicone MagSafe Case and standard MagSafe Charger for $153. That’s $64 off the going rate and $30 under the combined all-time lows on the accessories.

AirPods Pro fall to $160 in Woot refurb sale

Woot is discounting a selection of certified refurbished Apple AirPods from $10. Amongst all of the savings, AirPods Pro at $160 is our top pick. Having originally fetched $249 and going for $220 in new condition at Amazon, today’s offer amounts to 35% in savings and matches our previous mention for the all-time low.

With active noise cancelling leading the way, AirPods Pro arrive as Apple’s most capable earbuds yet with other notable features like spatial audio, Hey Siri, and more. That’s on top of IPX4 water-resistance to ensure they can tag along through workouts, as well as up to 24 hours of playback with the charging case. Dive into our hands-on review for a closer look.

Latest iPad Air arrives at Amazon low of $70 off

Amazon currently offers the latest Apple 10.9-inch iPad Air Wi-Fi 256GB for $679 in select styles. Down from the usual $749 going rate, you’re saving $70 with today’s offer beating our previous mention by $1 and marking a new Amazon all-time low. The 64GB models are also on sale for $559, down from $600.

Apple’s latest iPad Air arrives with a 10.9-inch edge-to-edge screen and Apple Pencil support that makes it just as ideal for drawing and other creative work as it is for binging Netflix and the like. Everything is powered by the new A14 Bionic processor that’s supplemented by Touch ID in the power button, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and a USB-C port. Get a closer look at all the features in our launch coverage.

Save up to $100 on Apple’s latest M1 Mac mini 

Authorized Apple seller Expercom is currently taking up to $100 off a selection of Apple’s latest M1 Mac mini configurations starting at $663. Headlining is the 16GB/256GB model at $799. Down from the usual $899 going rate, today’s offer amounts to the full $100 in savings, marks a rare discount on the higher-end models, and is the best we’ve seen to date. 

Bringing all the power and efficiency upgrades of Apple Silicon to the desktop, the latest Mac mini arrives with the same compact design that you’ll expect, but with plenty of additional power under the hood. There’s also up to 2TB of storage, 16GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports to round out the package. Learn more in our launch coverage. 

LIFX Nightvision HomeKit Color Light Bulb sees first drop to $60

Amazon is currently offering the LIFX Nightvision A19 Smart HomeKit Color Light Bulb for $60. Down from its usual $80 going rate that you’ll find direct from LIFX, today’s offer amounts to 25% in savings, marks only the second notable price cut we’ve seen, and is a new all-time low.

LIFX’s latest addition to its smart home stable arrives with an 1,100-lumen output and its usual roster of Siri, Alexa, and Assistant control. That’s alongside full color and white temperature illumination. And more unique to this offering, the bulb lives up to its name by outputting controllable infrared light to assist night vision cameras and the like.

Best trade-in deals

9to5Mac also keeps tabs on all the best trade-in deals on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more every month. Be sure to check out this month’s best trade-in deals when you decide it’s time to upgrade your device. Or simply head over to our trade-in partner directly if you want to recycle, trade, or sell your used devices for cash and support 9to5Mac along the way!

Subscribe to the 9to5Toys YouTube Channel for all of the latest videos, reviews, and more!

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The Best Planar Magnetic Headphones Of 2023

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Written By Chris Coke

Updated Apr 7, 2023 2:41 PM

In the world of audiophile headphones, planar magnetics rule the roost. Many of the most popular headphones, even for listeners on a budget, use planar magnetic drivers, and for good reason: the level of detail and clarity they’re able to provide is outstanding. It’s no exaggeration to say that the best planar magnetic headphones will let you hear things you’ve never heard before and can breathe new life into your listening. If you’ve found yourself craving an upgrade to your audio experience, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be breaking down the best planar magnetic headphones you can buy across six key categories to help you sink into your music like never before with the set that’s right for you.

How we chose the best planar magnetic headphones

I’ve been a headphone collector for over five years but an audio enthusiast for much, much longer. I began my first foray into the world of audio as a kid, borrowing my dad’s Sony over-ears to sink into Metallica’s 1991 self-titled LP (aka “The Black Album”). As an adult, I contented myself with cheap earphones until I joined the tech press in 2013 and discovered a passion for all things personal audio. Since then, it’s become a full-on hobby, and some of my very favorite listening experiences have taken place with planar magnetic headphones. I own nine different sets of planar headphones and have no plans to stop collecting them anytime soon.

For this round-up, I’ve gathered the best selections across six different product categories. Listening is a subjective thing, so I connected with Tony Ware—PopSci’s associate managing editor and a fellow personal audio enthusiast—to discuss our experiences and hash out what really deserved to be called the best of the best. Every choice we landed on was researched and cross-referenced with leading audio forums, Head-Fi and r/headphones, and a wide array of professional reviews and user impressions. They don’t often come cheap, but each of the headphones included in this list is exceptional and well worth your hard-earned dollars.

The best planar magnetic headphones: Reviews & Recommendations

Now that you’re interested in planar-magnetic technology (sometimes referred to as orthodynamic headphones), we’ve gathered the top choices across six categories for your consideration. There is some overlap in these choices, so consider all these planars and what works best for your budget and listening preferences.

Why it made the cut: The Audeze LCD-2 Classics balance outstanding sound with a reasonable price, making them an accessible and exceptional choice.


Price: $799

Type: Open-Back

Frequency Response: 10Hz – 50kHz

Impedance: 70 ohms

Sensitivity: 101 dB

Weight: 550 grams


Great balance of price and performance

Durable metal construction

Outstanding value 

Pelican-style travel case


Boring appearance

Requires EQ to sound its best

The LCD-2 Classic may not be the pinnacle of planar performance, but it’s the best overall choice for users looking to balance outstanding audio quality with a reasonable price. The LCD-2 Classic takes the LCD-2 back to its roots, removing the current generation’s Fazor waveguide system, and simplifying some design elements to deliver a headphone that’s the perfect fit for the value-conscious audiophile. 

The LCD-2 Classic features the same driver as the LCD-2, which means you can count on a similarly great sound: rich, well-extended bass, lush vocals and instruments, and airy, spacious treble. The LCD delivers a moderately wide soundstage but features exceptionally good layering, so you can hear every note and every harmony, regardless of how far back in the mix it is. This also makes it a great choice for sound engineers and content creators who need to hear every tiny piece of the content they’re creating. 

At $195 less than the current LCD-2 (with its more richly appointed trimmings and audiophile articulation), there are some trade-offs. The biggest is the need to EQ these headphones to get them to sound their best. Out of the box, many users describe the mids as sounding “off” or “glaring” due to some strange mid-range peaks. These can be easily tamed with EQ software, bringing this headphone in line with its more expensive sibling. Put another way, these headphones do require a touch more effort upfront but can sound downright amazing after.

The construction has also been changed, swapping out the wooden rings on the standard LCD-2 with basic black nylon. The all-black construction does make the LCD-2 Classic look a little boring, but it’s also more durable and pairs well with the otherwise metal build. Speaking of metal, specifically of the musical persuasion, the right planar magnetic headphone’s coupling of bass slam and nimble technicalities can be great when paired with the genre; the LCD-2 Classic has particular synergy with death and doom to industrial. Also, contrary to early reviews, this LCD-2 also now ships with a hard-back pelican-style travel case for even more peace of mind.

True audiophile: Dan Clark Audio Stealth

Why it made the cut: The Stealth from Dan Clark Audio is super stylish and packed with technology to enhance the listening experience. 


Price: $3,999

Type: Closed-back

Frequency Response: Not disclosed

Impedance: 23 ohms

Sensitivity: 86-87dB

Weight: 415 grams


Huge V-Planar drivers

Stylish design

Outstanding bass and rich detail

Intricate tuning system


Big and bulky

Extremely expensive

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line headphone custom-designed for audiophiles by audiophiles, look no further than the Dan Clark Audio Stealth. It’s a set that includes all of the latest innovations from one of the most respected names in the boutique audio business. It also breaks the mold with its closed-back design, making it a better fit for those times when you want to block the world out and disappear into your music.

This stealth bomber-like headphone uses the fourth generation of the company’s esteemed V-planar drivers, which are 20% larger than the last generation and deliver incredibly low distortion and outstanding detail. Enhancing these drivers further is DCA’s Acoustic Metamaterial Tuning System, which not only reduces phase distortion for increased clarity but enhances treble performance without adding harshness or sibilance. 

When it comes to tuning, the Stealth plays it safe with a sound that’s close to the classic Harman Curve. That means you can count on rich, detailed bass that doesn’t overwhelm the other frequencies and plentiful details. The Stealth also manages to buck the stigma of closed-backs sounding compressed with a wide, airy soundstage.

The biggest drawback to this headphone really is its price. At $3,999, it will be hard for many listeners to justify. Those that do will be in for a treat, however. Dan Clark Audio rarely fails to impress.

Why it made the cut: The Audeze LCD-5 is a top-of-the-line headphone that showcases the very best of what this industry-leading brand can do.


Price: $4,500

Type: Open-back

Frequency Response: 5Hz – 50kHz

Impedance: 14 ohms

Sensitivity: 90dB

Weight: 420 grams


Easy to drive

Great build quality 

Neutral sound signature

Much lighter than the LCD-4


Extremely expensive

High clamping force

Can be very revealing

Audeze is one of the biggest names in the business, and the LCD-5 represents the peak of its engineering. For its new flagship, the company went back to the drawing board, redesigning its fit and function. While it’s still unmistakably an Audeze headphone with its circular earcups, precision-cut grilles, and floating headband, the LCD-5 comes in a whopping 290 grams lighter than the former flagship, the LCD-4. It makes heavy use of magnesium and carbon fiber, so is made to last and you can look forward to longer listening sessions and less head fatigue over time (the clamp force is a bit stronger, though).

Part of the reason for its reduced weight is the redesigned driver system. The driver is now 90mm instead of 106mm and uses fewer heavy magnets to deliver its sound. The new driver has also been engineered with Audeze’s new Parallel Uniforce voice coil, tightening its response across its entire surface, improving resolution, and lowering how much power it takes to drive. No need for a monster amplifier here (though, like all summit-tier headphones, performance will scale the more you invest in your signal chain)! This driver system is paired with Audeze’s acclaimed Fazor waveguide tech to reduce distortion and phase interference. 

The best word to describe the sound of the LCD-5 is “revealing.” These headphones deliver all of the incredible detail you would expect from a $4,500 planar magnetic, but they’re more balanced and less bassy than prior sets from Audeze. Because of their outstanding resolution and mid-forward tuning, they’ll allow you to hear things you’ve never heard before, and old favorites in a new way, but that also means uncovering flaws in recordings or sound characteristics from your amp or DAC that may have missed with other sets.

Best closed-back: Meze Audio LIRIC

Why it made the cut: The Meze LIRIC is a stylish closed-back in a world of open-back headphones and a great choice for isolation that doesn’t sacrifice an impressive soundstage.


Price: $2,000

Type: Closed-back

Frequency Response: 4Hz – 92kHz

Impedance: 30 ohms

Sensitivity: 100dB

Weight: 391 grams


Great isolation (for you and others!)

Stylish but minimal: won’t attract unwanted attention

Comparatively low-weight

Surprisingly wide soundstage



No wireless option

Still a bit bulky

Closed-back planar dynamic headphones are few and far between, but the Meze Audio LIRIC is the best among the more (relatively) approachable top-tier models. This headphone is packed with technology to make it the premiere closed-back headphone for audiophiles. The LIRIC uses a custom-made MZ4 driver, a scaled-down adaptation of the voice coil included in the Romanian company’s flagship Empyrean headphone (which retails for $2,999), tuned to operate in a closed-back shell. Best of all, Meze has been able to overcome the biggest challenge facing closed-back headphones—reduced soundstage—with its all-new Phase XTM system. This may just be the most spacious closed-back option (of any driver style) available today. 

Mounted in a vented, purpose-built acoustic chamber, the LIRIC’s driver manifests a captivatingly deep staging without losing its imaging authority. Despite being a closed headphone, the bass is not overwhelmingly energetic, though the LIRIC can take well to goosing the lows. Mid-range gives vocals plenty of presence, while treble is fresh but not fiery. Pair the LIRIC with a source known for its top-end extension, you’ll experience more energy. Pair the LIRIC with a rounder source, you’ll up the musicality. What the LIRIC is, ultimately, is extremely friendly to equipment and EQ choices. 

Best earphones: 7Hz Timeless AE

Why it made the cut: The 7Hz Timeless AE offers well-tuned planar sound at an affordable price. 


Price: $259

Type: Closed-back earphones

Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz

Impedance: 14.8 ohm

Sensitivity: 104dB

Weight: 5.5 grams (each earpiece)


Very well-tuned, balanced sound

Full of detail

Good bass performance


Unusual shape 

Limited soundstage

Planar earphones are nothing new, but few have been quite as well received as the 7Hz Timeless at its $219 price point, and the company recently released an updated version that’s even better than the first: the 7Hz Timeless AE. The magic of the Timeless lies in the tuning of its 14.2mm drivers (powered by double-sided N52 magnet arrays), updated to provide deeper, more impactful bass and smoother treble for hours of easy listening. While others in this space, like the Tin HiFi P1, were criticized for their brightness, the Timeless AE delivers a warmer sound that doesn’t skimp on the bass. At the same time, it delivers an enjoyable amount of detail which combines to make these earphones a well-balanced buy at $249.

The Timeless isn’t perfect, however. Since it uses an in-ear design, the soundstage is narrower than any over-ear headphones included on this list. It also breaks the mold with the divisive, quarter-like shape of its earpieces. You’ll either be ambivalent about the shape or outright hate the shells—there doesn’t seem to be much in between. If you already own the original Timeless, the AE version probably isn’t worth the price to upgrade if you’re comfortable playing with EQ.

One of the biggest reasons to choose the 7Hz Timeless AE is its impeccable balance of price and performance, but there are better options if you’re willing to spend more. For a truly audiophile experience, the Audeze Euclid has a more appealing aesthetic and delivers incredible sound quality but at the high price of $1,299. While not a small earbud (it can’t be to fit its 18mm drivers, bigger than the 14.2mm of the Timeless), the Euclid is comfortable. And that comfort extends to the frequency response, which is smooth and cohesive throughout. Bass is tight, mid-range spacious, and treble snappy without being sharp. Details are effortlessly retrieved and rendered across an uncluttered soundstage—one that’s astounding for a closed, compact earpiece.   

And suppose you’ve got $1,500 and want something exclusively yours. In that case, the Campfire Audio Supermoon is an in-ear monitor featuring 14mm, 2-micron-thick planar drivers in solid-body enclosures custom-molded to your ear canals. The bass is textured but controlled, mid-range is dynamic, and treble is honest (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on the recording). Planar IEMs are really coming into their own.

Best for gaming: Moondrop Venus

Why it made the cut: The Venus is only the second pair of headphones by Moondrop Labs, but you wouldn’t guess it based on its construction and sound quality—both of which convey a clear vision of clarity.


Price: $599.99

Type: Open-back headphones

Frequency Response: 6Hz – 80kHz

Impedance: 18 ohms

Sensitivity: 100dB

Weight: 600 grams


Spatial cues are immaculate

Distinctive look

Responds well to EQ


Somewhat bass-light out of the box

Has to be used in a quiet location for optimal performance

We’re going out on a limb … a raid? a quest? … for this pick because it’s far from a standard “gaming headphone.” There’s no head-tracking or adjustable boom mic, etc. (but you have a signature mic for livestreaming already, we’re sure). However, the same things that make the Moondrop Labs Venus an attractive headphone for audiophiles—including a sparkly but still non-fatiguing treble that lets each note ring out—are also great for the situational awareness needed to win.

Most importantly for missions, imaging and soundstage are excellent. Aided by a specialized waveguide that smooths any errant peaks, the Venus places each audio cue on its own layer. It’s resolving and spacious enough to make every sound source perfectly audible, even in busy tracks or cacophonous multiplayer matches. There’s no masking or loss of detail from overwhelmed drivers, but also not so immersive it’s diffuse (an experience we describe in more detail in our full review).

Best budget: HIFIMAN Sundara

Why it made the cut: The HIFIMAN Sundara are detail powerhouses for their price and a gateway drug to the wider world of planar magnetics.


Price: $299

Type: Open-back

Frequency Response: Not disclosed

Impedance: 37 ohms

Sensitivity: 94db

Weight: 372 grams


Affordably priced

Wide soundstage

Exceptionally detailed

Thin, low-profile design


Bass can seem recessed

Not great for portable use

To start off, budget is relative. To some (like our associate managing editor), the $1,299 HIFIMAN Arya Stealth Magnets Edition is an amazing “budget” pick because of its extraordinary bang for the buck when putting many options in the $2,000-$3,000 range to shame. But here we’ll talk true budget, which in the planar magnetics world is under $500. So we’re talking about the Sundara, which has become one of the staple recommendations for new hi-fi(man) fans, and it’s not hard to see why. These headphones deliver a spacious soundstage and an incredible amount of detail for their comparatively modest price. In fact, it’s hard to find a better value in this space, which is exactly why terms like “giant killer” pop up so frequently in conversations surrounding it: these headphones deliver performance well beyond the $349 price point.

Looking for something a little more portable but still great? The Audeze LCD-1, if you can snag one (it’s now discontinued), is an outstanding choice that solves the Sundara’s portability issues, is smaller, more stylish, allows you to rotate the earcups, and includes a travel case. Those benefits come at a higher cost of $399.99, less detail, and a more plasticky build, but it’s hard to argue with its still-great sound. 

Related, in a way, is the similarly priced Edifier STAX SPIRIT S3, which is quite a mishmash of branding and components, so let’s decipher. Edifier, a Chinese company with a firm foothold in the affordable speakers sector on Amazon (and beyond), bought the legendary STAX brand of electrostatic headphones in 2011. In 2023, Edifier invested in a minority share of Audeze. So, the STAX SPIRIT S3 is a wireless (but not noise-cancelling) closed-back headphone that, despite its name, has nothing to do with electrostatics (that’s a whole ‘nother tech for another time) but does feature Audeze’s Fluxor magnetic structure, Uniforce diaphragm, and Fazor phase management—and more than a passing resemblance to the LCD-1. Sonically, though, they’re a bit more reminiscent of the 7Hz Timeless in headphones form, offering a quick-moving body with plenty of detail balancing out bold but not boomy low end. It’s a clearly closed-back soundstage, so flat in comparison to its less-isolating brethren, but if you’ve got an Android phone that supports the aptX HD/Adaptive codec and are looking for some Bluetooth 5.2 headphones that travel well, the Edifier STAX SPIRIT S3 could be a flavor to savor.

Things to consider before buying the best planar magnetic headphones

Buying any pair of headphones can be a confusing mix of terminology and marketing buzzwords. This is especially true with planar magnetics, where the costs are often significantly higher. To help you cut through the noise, these are the most important things you should consider when shopping for the best planar magnetic headphones:


Let’s get this out of the way first: planar magnetic headphones can be expensive. This is true of other types of headphones as well, but it’s especially common to see planar magnetics come at a premium compared to their dynamic driver counterparts. This is due to the complexity of the driver itself, as well as the pedigree of the brand producing them. As with all things personal audio, a high price doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to enjoy the sound more, so take the time to read reviews to get an impression of its real-world performance. If you’re considering a very expensive set, pay careful attention to the return guidelines to be sure you can refund or exchange it if it’s not your cup of tea.

How difficult they are to drive

Open up a headphone that uses dynamic drivers, and what you’ll find is familiar to anyone that has ever seen a speaker: a cone or dome, behind which a magnet pulls a coil that vibrates the diaphragm to create sound waves. At the heart of planar magnetic headphones, however, are incredibly thin membranes imprinted with conductors and strung across magnetic arrays that manipulate them at incredible speed with low distortion.

Because most planars are physically larger than dynamic drivers (sometimes twice as large at 100mm versus 50mm, for instance), they often require more voltage to drive. It’s important to consider whether you’ll need an external amplifier to power them properly. This isn’t always the case. Efficient planars like the HIFIMAN Deva can be run straight from most PCs, smartphones, etc. without issue. It isn’t common, however, and manufacturers often design their headphones around the idea that listeners will have a separate amp in their setup.

The amount of power a headphone requires will vary from set to set. This is determined by two key specifications: impedance and sensitivity. The higher the impedance (measured in ohms), the more difficult the headphones are to drive. The inverse is true of sensitivity (how loud the headphone will get with a certain amount of power): the higher the sensitivity, the easier it will be to drive. The simplest course to determining the power needs of a headphone is to plug these values into a headphone power calculator. This will tell you how much power it takes to drive those headphones to different volume levels.  

Open- or closed-back

Like all headphones, planar magnetics come in open-back or closed-back varieties. These terms refer to the outward-facing side of the earcups and whether it’s sealed off to trap sound or uses a grille to let sound pass out the back (while protecting the delicate diaphragm inside). Each design has its benefits and drawbacks and there is no right answer for which is better. Instead, it’s best to understand what each term means and to determine what’s best for you.

Whether it’s the more affordable HIFIMAN Ananda or the ultra-premium line-up of ABYSS Headphones, open-back is by far the most popular design in planar magnetic headphones. It complements the strengths of the driver—detail, clarity, realism—by adding a natural sense of airiness and space to the music. This is referred to as soundstage. Open-backs don’t isolate sound well, which is their biggest drawback. Anyone sitting close to you will be able to hear your music and you’ll be able to hear the noise of your surroundings.

Closed-back headphones are much more common when looking at big-box consumer stores for connected convenience features like noise cancellation, whether in budget models or more high-end ones like the Bowers & Wilkins Px8, Focal Bathys, or the Apple AirPods Max. These headphones usually offer a reduced soundstage but at the benefit of vastly improved isolation. If you plan on wearing your headphones to commute, or simply want more privacy to your listening, closed-backs are the superior choice.


One of the most important considerations is also the most nebulous: how it actually sounds. Brands often refer to how clear and detailed their sound is, and make heavy use of buzzwords in their marketing. But what does that actually mean for how it compares to other headphones you’ve heard in the past? 

That’s where graphs come in. It can be difficult to test a headphone before buying it, so many manufacturers and audio enthusiasts provide frequency response graphs to give a better impression of how a headphone actually sounds. These graphs are essentially a swooping line that represents how the sound is balanced between the lows, mids, and highs. Take a moment to read up on how to read a graph and, wherever possible, take a peek at how the sound is balanced before hitting Buy Now.

Weight and size

While it’s not a rule, many planar magnetic headphones tend to be larger and heavier than their dynamic counterparts. This is because the driver itself tends to be larger and utilizes magnets on one or both sides of the driver to deliver sound. Both of these require a bigger earcup. Boutique audio brands also like to design their earcups around improved sound quality and unique aesthetics (even sometimes exotic woods and composites), which can mean anything from the egg-shaped windowshades of the HIFIMAN Arya Stealth Magnets Edition to the stylish rings of the Audeze LCD-4z. This doesn’t have to be the case, however, as the traditional design of the discontinued but still desirable Oppo PM-3 clearly illustrates. 

Regardless, be sure to consider where you’ll be using your headphones and your own comfort needs while you’re doing so. A heavier headphone can lead to sore spots on the top of your head. Likewise, a giant pair of cans can attract sideways glances you may not be ready for. 


Upgrading to the best planar magnetic headphones can transform your listening experience. Take the time to find the right set for you, whether that’s a big and bold pair of over-ear headphones or a small-but-mighty pair in-ears, and you’ll be able to experience your favorite songs like never before. They don’t always come cheap, but a great headphone investment can pay dividends in your enjoyment for years to come. 

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

Black Friday’s High Stakes Ad Environment In 2023

Paid social already offers many creative ways to attract buyers. The multitude of ad units and platform options create many ways for brands to create attention-getting ad experiences to capitalize on the sales potential of Black Friday.

Black Friday Stakes in 2023

2023 represented the highest stakes for retailers ever for online sales, with several factors at play.

COVID-19 still keeps many people from going out excessively, which sellers knew would increase online buying demand. It also created some unique situations that were first encountered in March when COVID hit: lack of warehouse space, trying to cover retail space that wasn’t being used, and delayed shipments from Chinese manufacturers were a few of them.

The forthcoming demands of Black Friday, combined with the learnings from March and April, added extra stress onto the ability to fulfill orders.

Fulfillment Stress

There was another wrinkle raising the stakes as a ripple effect from those fulfillment issues: unlike the March/April timeframe, Christmas is on a set schedule. There are shipping cut-off dates to contend with, and the ability to deliver by a deadline. That wasn’t a factor as much in the spring because it didn’t have a looming deadline.

And, for just one more log on that fire: Thanksgiving fell late this year, leaving a few less days of shopping until Christmas.

The result of all this added up to: unparalleled online demand, squeezed into a concentrated time frame, in an environment with fulfillment issues.

What Did This Mean for Advertisers?

Advertisers are used to this pressure every year, but knew this was whole new level. Indeed, the predictions came true on Thanksgiving Day, with Adobe reporting a 21.5% increase in holiday sales. That’s a total of $5.1b in sales!

2023’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday meant more had to be done and sold – in an environment where everyone was trying to do the same.

Let Creativity Reign

Advertising in this environment means a brand has to stand out. Who are the brands that did it well? Let’s look at some examples.

Story Maximization

One of the fastest-growing ad placements are Stories on Instagram. They have added inventory to it continuously, and users love the full-screen, engaging units. Advertisers love the ability to show their products in a detailed way to a captive audience.

The Gap has done a good job of using Story Ads in creative ways. The example below was actually a video that was sized for Facebook but also had an equivalent version in Stories. It did well with an eye-grabbing visual, space utilization, and constant movement of happy folks showing off the clothes:

Cross-Platform Nods

Some platform creative has a “look.” Many people associate certain fonts, layouts and styles with Instagram Stories, Snapchat or TikTok.

Particularly on TikTok, video challenges are all over. These are usually spurred on by a hashtag, use of a certain song, or some common theme or sequence that each user will make their own version of. One of those has been the “Wipe It Down” challenge, where the user is cleaning their bathroom mirror. As they wipe the mirror, a different version of themselves appears in the reflection.

They ran it on Facebook.

Acknowledgement of 2023

Lululemon featured a departure from the usual holiday messaging. Bucking the trend of featuring deals, bright colors, and general distraction from how different the holidays are for 2023, they addressed this year head on.

The somewhat melancholy ad has a voiceover and text essentially acknowledging what 2023 has been: a hard year. While it shows video clips where their clothes are seen, it is not at all the focus of the video.

It’s a stark departure from usual holiday fare, and an interesting risk for a brand.

It will tell the rest of the tale that started with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Wednesday’s Best Deals: Ipad Air Hits $549, Iphone 11 Pro $250 Off, More

All of today’s best deals are headlined by a $50 discount on Apple’s latest iPad Air, as well as iPhone 11 Pro at $250 off, and these meross HomeKit accessories from $17. Hit the jump for all that and more in the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

Apple’s iPad Air delivers Magic Keyboard support

Amazon offers the latest Apple 10.9-inch iPad Air Wi-Fi 64GB for $549. Normally fetching $599, you’re looking at nearly $50 in savings with today’s offer beating our previous mention by $9 and marking the second-best to date. 

Apple’s latest iPad Air arrives with more of a pro design that’s centered around a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and P3 wide color. Everything is powered by the new A14 Bionic processor, and there’s also the reintroduction of Touch ID, which returns in the power button. Get a closer look at all the features in our launch coverage.

Save up to $250 on unlocked iPhone 11 Pro

Woot currently offers the unlocked Apple iPhone 11 Pro starting at $880 for the 64GB model in Silver or Midnight Green. Shipping is free for Prime members, with a $6 fee applying otherwise. Normally fetching $999, today’s offer amounts to $119 in savings and while we’ve seen better discounts as of late for those who activate a new plan with a carrier, this is matching our previous mention for the all-time low on a fully unlocked model. You can also save up to $250 on the higher storage tier configurations, as well. 

Whether you don’t need the latest and greatest from Apple or you’re just looking to update at a notable discount, iPhone 11 Pro brings plenty of notable features into the mix. Everything is centered around a 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR display that’s powered by the A13 Bionic chip. There’s also Face ID, all-day battery, and a 12MP triple camera array around back. You can get a closer look in our hands-on review.

meross HomeKit accessories on sale from $17

Amazon is offering up to 32% off meross smart outlets, wall switches, and accessories. One standout is the meross Apple HomeKit Outdoor Smart Plug for $19. Regularly $26, this is 27% off the going rate and one of the lowest prices we have tracked.

This one provides Apple HomeKit and smartphone control over a pair of outdoor outlets wrapped in an IP44 weatherproof housing. This way you can set up and control your outdoor lighting in the summer and holiday lighting in the winter (plus anything else that needs some power outside) remotely with the meross app and voice commands, as well as the ability to create schedules and timers to automate the entire process. 

LaCie Rugged Pro Thunderbolt 3 2TB Portable SSD $100 off

Amazon is offering the LaCie Rugged Pro Thunderbolt 3 2TB Portable Solid-State Drive for $600. This $100 savings is one of the largest we’ve seen, and marks a new Amazon low. A top-of-the-line solid-state drive, the LaCie Rugged Pro harnesses Thunderbolt 3 speeds for recording and playback at up to 2800MB/s on 6k and 8k video quality. Virtually indestructible casing will keep your files safe with IP67 water resistance, that can withstand drops from three meters and two tons of weight. Completely portable, in a package you could fit in your wallet.

elago’s MS2 MagSafe Charging Stand at $20

elago’s official Amazon storefront currently offers its new MS2 MagSafe Charging Stand for $20. Down from its usual $25 going rate, today’s offer amounts to 20% in savings, beats our previous mention $2, and marks a new all-time low. Comprised of a premium silicone so as not to scratch your device, this spherical stand has a slot for your MagSafe charger and delivers a design that makes it easy to drop on an iPhone. Its compatible with all of Apple’s latest iPhone 12 devices and is a great way to upgrade your desk or nightstand’s charging setup.

Best trade-in deals

9to5Mac also keeps tabs on all the best trade-in deals on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more every month. Be sure to check out this month’s best trade-in deals when you decide it’s time to upgrade your device. Or simply head over to our trade-in partner directly if you want to recycle, trade, or sell your used devices for cash and support 9to5Mac along the way!

Subscribe to the 9to5Toys YouTube Channel for all of the latest videos, reviews, and more!

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Wednesday’s Best Deals: Apple Magic Keyboard From $111, Airtag Leather Loop $29, More

We’ve made it halfway through the week with all of today’s best deals following suit. First up, a rare discount has dropped Apple’s Magic Keyboards to as low as $111 alongside an all-time low on the AirTag Leather Loop at $29. That’s alongside the latest Anker iPhone accessory sale from $13. Hit the jump for all that and more in the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard sees rare discount

Amazon now offers the Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad for $111 for the silver style. Marking the very first notable discount this year, today’s offer amounts to $18 in savings from its usual $129 price tag and is the best we’ve seen since October of last year. You can also score the Space Gray version for $137 (now discontinued), down from $149 and marking just as rare of a discount.

Color aside, Apple’s Magic Keyboard elevates your desktop workstation with a built-in numeric keypad with a metal build that comes in your preferred style. With Apple’s latest scissor key switches, this is as notable of an option for using with a Mac as it is for an iPad, and a Lightning port on the front to top off the rechargeable battery rounds out the package. 

Score a new all-time low on Apple’s AirTag Leather Loop

Amazon is now offering the new Apple AirTag Leather Loop in several styles, starting at $29. Marking the very first price cut to date since releasing earlier this spring, today’s offer is down from the usual $39 price tag to mark a new all-time low.

Delivering a stylish way to affix one of Apple’s new item finders to a backpack, keys, and more, its recent AirTag Leather Loop enters as one of the brand’s more premium offerings. Comprised of specially tanned European leather, the case holds AirTags in place with a looping form factor that can clip to a variety of accessories. Get a closer look in our launch coverage.

Anker’s latest iPhone accessory sale goes live

Following our exclusive offer on the new PowerWave Go charger from earlier in the week, Anker is now back today with its latest sale. Via its official Amazon storefront, you can now save on everything from iPhone essentials to smart home security offerings, solar chargers, and more. Headlining is its PowerWave Magnetic Pad Lite MagSafe Charger at $14. Down from $20, you’re looking at 30% in savings and the second-best price to date. 

With new iPhones around the corner, now is your chance to expand your setup’s MagSafe charging capabilities for less than Apple’s official model. This lightweight version from Anker arrives with a fittingly slim design and 7.5W charging output. It’ll snap right onto the back of your handset much the same otherwise and pairs with a 5-foot USB-C cord to round out the package. 

Twelve South BookArc stylishly upholds your MacBook at $40

Amazon is now offering the Twelve South BookArc for MacBook for $40 in both styles. Usually selling for $60, you’re looking at 32% in either case with a new all-time low arriving on the silver model. This is also matching the best price to date on the other version, which we last saw back in July. Delivering a space-savings, aluminum design, Twelve South’s BookArc holds your MacBook vertically on the desk for recharging while not in use or docking into a desktop workstation with external monitor. There’s a matching silver or gray colorway, and also delivers some integrated cable management to help with tidying up your setup.

meross HomeKit dimmable smart desk lamp now $50

The official meross Amazon storefront is now offering its HomeKit Tunable White Smart Desk Lamp for $50 shipped when clipping the on-page coupon. Typically fetching $70, a recent price drop paired with the coupon amounts to $20 in savings while marking the second-best price to date that comes within $5 of the launch discount and all-time low. Featuring a sleek design, this HomeKit desk lamp arrives with tunable white illumination that can range from temperatures of 2700 to 6000K. That’s alongside being able to dim the lamp, or adjust its angle with the 180-degree hinge towards the top. As noted before, Siri support will likely be a highlight for many, but there’s also Alexa and Assistant support, too. You can learn more in our launch coverage.

Best trade-in deals

9to5Mac also keeps tabs on all the best trade-in deals on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more every month. Be sure to check out this month’s best trade-in deals when you decide it’s time to upgrade your device. Or simply head over to our trade-in partner directly if you want to recycle, trade, or sell your used devices for cash and support 9to5Mac along the way!

Subscribe to the 9to5Toys YouTube Channel for all of the latest videos, reviews, and more!

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