The 10 best retro and vintage headphones in 2023

What counts as vintage headphones?

Vintage is a subjective term. One person might think that vintage could be headphones from the early days of the 1900s while another might say that vintage headphones are anything before modern innovations such as Bluetooth! For this article, I will go towards the upper end of the scale as I wouldn’t want to frighten most people away by listing lots of mono audiophile headphones!

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to say that anything released before 1995 counts as vintage. So without further ado, let’s take a look at these retro headphones!

The best vintage headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 150

10 best retro and vintage headphones - DT 150

The Beyerdynamic DT 150 is a classic headphone that dominated the market in the 1960s and early 1970s. Despite its age, the DT 150 is still revered by many audiophiles for its clear, natural sound. Today, the DT 150 is making a comeback, thanks to a new generation of music lovers who appreciate its vintage appeal.

The Beyerdynamic DT 150 is a German-made headphone that was first introduced in the 1960s (I couldn’t lock down a specific year). The headphone quickly became popular among professional studio engineers and producers for their accurate sound reproduction. The DT 150 continues to be sold to this very day!

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the DT 150 among audiophiles and music lovers. The headphone has been praised for its clear, natural sound, as well as its comfortable fit and rugged construction. The DT 150 is also popular among DJs and producers who appreciate its ability to isolate noise.

Despite its popularity, the DT 150 is not without its detractors. Some people find the headphone to be too bass-heavy, while others complain that it is not suitable for portable use because of their large size and weight. Nonetheless, the DT 150 remains one of the most iconic headphones ever made, and its popularity looks poised to make a comeback in the years to come.

The Beyerdynamic DT 150 is a classic headphone that dominated the market in the 1960s and early 1970s. Despite its age, the DT 150 is still revered by many audiophiles for its clear, natural sound. Today, the DT 150 is making a comeback, thanks to a new generation of music lovers who appreciate its vintage appeal. If you’re looking for comfortable, great-sounding headphones with a vintage look, the DT 150 is worth checking out.

Check out my other list where I talk about Beyerdynamic headphones!

Sennheiser HD414

10 best retro and vintage headphones - hd414

The HD 414 was released in 1968 and was the world’s first open-back headphones. It was also the first headphone to feature Sennheiser’s now iconic “bow tie” headband design. The HD 414 has a very light and airy sound with excellent detail retrieval.

It quickly became a popular choice among audiophiles and music lovers thanks to its clear, well-balanced sound. The HD414 has since been eclipsed by newer models, but it remains an iconic piece of audio equipment.

Despite its age, the HD414 is still a great-sounding pair of headphones. If you can find a pair in good condition, they are definitely worth checking out!

If you’re looking for a classic pair of open-back headphones, the Sennheiser HD414 is definitely worth checking out. While it may not be the newest model on the market, it still sounds great and is an iconic piece of audio equipment.

Check out my other review where I talk about Sennheisers!

Yamaha HP2

vintage headphones

For audiophiles and music lovers, there are few things more iconic than a great pair of headphones. And for many, the gold standard is still the Yamaha HP2. First released in the 1970s, the HP2 was designed for professional studio use. But with their sleek design and superb sound quality, they quickly became a favourite among music lovers of all stripes. Today, the HP2 is considered a true classic, and it’s not hard to see why.

One of the things that set the HP2 apart from other headphones is its design. Unlike bulky over-ear headphones, the HP2 is a sleek and compact on-ear model. But don’t let its small size fool you—these little beauties pack a serious punch. The ear cups are made of sturdy aluminium, and the headband is covered in soft leather for ultimate comfort. Even after hours of listening, you’ll barely know they’re there.

But of course, the real reason to love the HP2 is the sound quality. These headphones boast a wide frequency response, meaning you’ll be able to hear all the subtleties and nuances in your favourite tracks. Whether you’re listening to classical music or the latest pop hits, you’ll be blown away by the richness and clarity of the sound. And thanks to the well-designed ear cups, you’ll enjoy awesome noise isolation too—the outside world will fade away as you get lost in your music 

Also read our headphones for big heads blog here

If you’re looking for a truly exceptional listening experience, it’s time to try out a pair of Yamaha HP2 headphones. With their sleek design and superb sound quality, they’re sure to become your new favourite way to enjoy your music collection—vintage or otherwise.

AKG K500

vintage headphones

If you’re a music lover, chances are you’ve heard of AKG. They’re a company that’s well-known for its high-quality microphones and headphones. But did you know that they also made some of the best vintage headphones ever made?

Having been released to the general public in 1991 they are one of the newer sets on this list and were ahead of their time in many ways. For starters, it had a unique design that was unlike any other headphone on the market. It also featured a wide frequency response and very low distortion. But perhaps the most impressive thing about the AKG K500 was its price. When it was originally released, it was one of the most expensive headphones on the market. But despite its high price tag, the K500 quickly became one of the best-selling headphones of all time.

The first thing you’ll notice about the AKG K500 is its unique design. Unlike other headphones that have circular or oval-shaped ear cups, the K500 has an angular shape that’s more rectangular. This gave the K500 a very modern look and made it stand out from other headphones at the time 

The ear cups on the K500 are also interesting because they’re not symmetrical. One ear cup is slightly larger than the other, which helps to provide a better seal around your ears. This is important because it helps to improve sound quality by reducing outside noise interference 

The AKG K500 has a wide frequency response and very low distortion. This means that it can reproduce both highs and lows accurately without adding any unwanted colouration to the sound 

If you’re looking for a pair of vintage headphones with great sound quality, then you need to check out the AKG K500. They may be pricey, but they’re worth every penny thanks to their unique design and impressive sound reproduction abilities.

I also talk about AKG here!

Koss Pro 4

10 best retro and vintage headphones - koss 4aa

These bad boys go all the way back to the 60s but let me tell you, they look even older, but they sound just as good as anything you could pick up today! Thanks to their comfortable fit and superb sound quality, the Pro 4 was one of the most popular headphones on the market. Today, they’re still considered to be one of the best-sounding pairs of headphones ever made.

The Koss Pro 4 is a classic example of what a great pair of headphones should be. First and foremost, they’re extremely comfortable to wear for long periods. The ear cups are padded with soft, cushiony foam, and the headband is adjustable so you can find the perfect fit. They also provide excellent noise isolation, so you can enjoy your music without being disturbed by outside noise.

But where the Pro 4 really shines is in its sound quality. These headphones reproduce music with incredible accuracy and detail. You’ll be able to hear nuances in your favourite songs that you’ve never noticed before. Whether you’re listening to rock, jazz, classical, or any other genre of music, the Pro 4 will provide an enjoyable listening experience.

If you’re looking for a great pair of vintage headphones, the Koss Pro 4 should be at the top of your list. They’re incredibly comfortable, provide excellent noise isolation, and offer superb sound quality. If you’re an audiophile, you owe it to yourself to give these headphones a try!

Koss Porta Pro

10 best retro and vintage headphones - porta pro

The second of the Koss headphones on this list are my personal favourites, they just scream the 80s!

The Koss Porta Pro was first released in 1984, and it quickly became a favourite among audiophiles thanks to its clear sound quality and comfortable design. The headphones feature an open-air design, which allows them to be lightweight and breathable—perfect for long listening sessions. They also fold up for easy storage, making them ideal for athletes or commuters who want to enjoy their music on the go 

Despite being over 35 years old, the Koss Porta Pro is still cherished by many headphone aficionados. In fact, they were named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Greatest Gadgets of All Time” in 2010. If you’re looking for a great pair of vintage headphones that won’t break the bank, the Koss Porta Pro is definitely worth checking out!

Those who continue to wear the Koss Porta Pro despite its resemblance to something sold with the Nintendo / Sony Walkman are testaments to the quality of the product. The retro aesthetic of PortaPro is not for everybody and this flimsy band is able to break easily. However, it’s a very nice sound which is very spacious.

If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones, don’t overlook the classics! The Koss Porta Pro may be over 35 years old, but they’re still beloved by audiophiles around the world thanks to its clear sound quality and comfortable design. So if you’re looking for an affordable pair of headphones with a retro flare, give the Koss Porta Pro a try!

Grado SR 125

vintage headphones

For many people, music is an important part of their everyday lives. Whether you’re jamming out to your favourite tunes while getting ready for your day or listening to a relaxing album as you wind down for bed, music can have a big impact on your mood and overall well-being. That’s why it’s so important to have a great pair of headphones that can help you appreciate your music to the fullest. If you’re looking for a high-quality, retro option, then you may want to check out the Grado SR 125 headphones.

The Grado SR 125 headphones were first introduced in 1993, and they quickly became a popular choice among audio enthusiasts. Thanks to their comfortable fit and clear sound quality, the SR 125s were perfect for long listening sessions. They also had a stylish retro look that was perfect for anyone who wanted their headphones to make a statement.

Despite their popularity, the SR 125s were discontinued in 2002. However, they made a comeback in 2007, and they’ve been available ever since. In the years since their re-release, the Grado SR 125 headphones have only become more popular, thanks in part to the renewed interest in vintage audio equipment.

If you’re looking for a great pair of retro headphones with excellent sound quality, then you may want to consider the Grado SR 125s. They may be hard to find since they’re no longer in production, but they’re definitely worth seeking out if you’re an audio aficionado.

Do you love retro style? Do you appreciate high-quality audio? If you answered yes to both of those questions, then you need to check out the Grado SR 125 headphones. These classic headphones offer stellar sound quality and a comfortable fit, all while boasting a stylish retro look. They may be hard to find since they’re no longer being produced, but they’re definitely worth seeking out if you’re looking for an exceptional listening experience.

I talk about Grado’s here!

Sony MDR V6

vintage headphones

While these have only recently been discontinued you can still pick them up on eBay or even find their cousins on Amazon. Released in 1986, these Sony MDRs might be the most recognisable on this list.

In the age of digital music and streaming, it can be easy to forget that physical media like CDs and vinyl records ever existed. But for many music lovers, there’s nothing that can compare to the sound quality of a physical recording played through a good set of headphones. If you’re looking for a great pair of retro headphones that will make your music sound incredible, Sony’s MDR V6 model is the way to go.

One of the things that make the MDR V6 so special is its design. These headphones were first released in 1985, and they look every bit as modern today as they did 35 years ago. The ear cups are adjustable, so you can get a perfect fit regardless of the size of your head, and they’re made from soft, breathable leather so they’re comfortable to wear for long periods. The headband is also adjustable, so you can find just the right tension. And when you’re not using them, you can fold the headphones up for easy storage.

Of course, the most important thing about any pair of headphones is the sound quality, and the MDR V6 does not disappoint. These headphones have 40mm drivers, which produce deep bass tones and clear treble notes. They also have a wide frequency response range, so you’ll be able to hear all the details in your music no matter what genre you’re listening to. And because they’re closed-back headphones, you’ll get great sound isolation so you can really immerse yourself in your music.

If you’re looking for a great pair of retro headphones with amazing sound quality, Sony’s MDR V6 model is the way to go. These headphones are comfortable to wear, thanks to their adjustable ear cups and headband, and they produce deep bass tones and clear treble notes. Whether you’re listening to rock, pop, or classical music, these headphones will help you hear all the details in your favourite tunes.

Want to know if Sony are better than Beats? Find out here!

STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro

vintage headphones

In the market for a new pair of headphones? If you’re a fan of all things retro, then you’ll love the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro. These bad boys are modelled after a classic Japanese design and they sound incredible. But don’t take our word for it—keep reading to see what we think about the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro.

As soon as you lay eyes on the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro, you can tell that they’re a throwback to a different era. The large rectangular housing and retro leather cushions give these headphones a vintage look and feel that is unmatched by any other headphones on the market today. And despite their old-school appearance, the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro is still packed with all of the latest features, including Bluetooth connectivity and noise cancelling.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro is how comfortable they are to wear. The ear cups are made from soft, supple leather that wraps around your ears like a glove, and the headband is padded with just enough cushioning to make long listening sessions a breeze. We’ve tested out plenty of headphones in our day, and we can say without a doubt that the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro is one of the most comfortable pairs we’ve ever worn.

Of course, no headphone review would be complete without talking about sound quality. And in this department, the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro does not disappoint. These headphones reproduce sound with such accuracy and detail that you’ll feel like you’re right there in the studio with your favourite artist. The low end is tight and punchy, while the highs are crisp and clear without ever sounding harsh or tinny. Simply put, the STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro sounds phenomenal.

The STAX SR-Lambda SR-507 Pro is one of the coolest, most retro headphones on the market today—and they sound amazing too. If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones, we highly recommend checking out the STAX SR-LambdaSR 507 Pro. You won’t be disappointed.

Pioneer Monitor 10

vintage headphones

In the world of technology, it seems like everything is moving at breakneck speed. New products are released every day, and outdated ones are quickly forgotten. But sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back in time and remember the good old days. That’s why we’re so excited about the Pioneer Monitor 10 Isolation Headphones. These retro headphones will transport you back to a simpler time when audio quality was king.

The Pioneer Monitor 10 isolation headphones were first released in 1979, and they quickly became a hit with audio enthusiasts thanks to their excellent sound quality. Now, 40 years later, Pioneer has re-released the Monitor 10s, and they’re still just as good as they were back in the day. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will give you exceptional sound quality, then you need to check out the Pioneer Monitor 10s.

One of the things that make the Pioneer Monitor 10s so great is their isolation capabilities. These headphones are designed to block out external noise so that you can focus on your music. Whether you’re trying to drown out the chatter of a busy coffee shop or the sound of your commute, the Pioneer Monitor 10s will help you find your zen. And if you’re a DJ, then you’ll love how these headphones allow you to hear even the smallest details in your tracks.

If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that will transport you back to the golden age of audio quality, then you need to check out the Pioneer Monitor 10s. These isolation headphones are sure to give you an exceptional listening experience, thanks to their ability to block out external noise and their attention to detail. So whether you’re a DJ looking for an edge on your competitors or just want to find a piece of audio equipment that will give you years of enjoyment, be sure to give the Pioneer Monitor 10s a try.

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Vintage Headphones Buying Guide

1. Introduction:

Vintage headphones are not just about nostalgia; they represent a piece of audio history. With unique designs, unmatched build quality, and a sound signature that modern headphones often try to replicate, vintage headphones are a treasure for audiophiles. This guide will help you navigate the world of vintage headphones, ensuring you make an informed decision.

2. Why Choose Vintage Headphones?

  • Historical Significance: Owning a piece of audio history that has stood the test of time.
  • Unique Sound Signature: Vintage headphones often offer a warm and natural sound, which is different from the sound profile of many modern headphones. As highlighted in a video by Headphones.com, vintage HiFi is gaining popularity, and many are questioning if it’s worth the investment.
  • Build Quality: Older headphones were built to last, often using high-quality materials like metal and leather.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: The retro design of vintage headphones is unmatched and can be a style statement.

3. Factors to Consider When Buying Vintage Headphones:

a. Sound Quality:

  • Frequency Response: Check the range of sound the headphones can produce. A wider range means you’ll hear more details.
  • Driver Size: Larger drivers can produce better bass, but it’s essential to balance with mids and highs.
  • Impedance: Higher impedance headphones might require an amplifier to deliver their best sound.

b. Comfort & Fit:

  • Ear Cup Design: Over-ear designs can be more comfortable for extended listening sessions.
  • Adjustability: Look for headphones with adjustable headbands to ensure a snug fit.
  • Weight: Lighter headphones can be more comfortable, but don’t compromise on build quality.

c. Durability & Build:

  • Materials: Metal and leather components often indicate durability.
  • Cable Quality: Ensure the cable is sturdy and, if possible, replaceable.
  • Ear Pad Quality: Check if the ear pads are replaceable, as they can wear out over time.

d. Authenticity & Original Parts:

  • Documentation: Original manuals or boxes can indicate authenticity.
  • Serial Numbers: Some vintage headphones have serial numbers that can be verified.
  • Original Parts: Ensure the headphones haven’t been modified with non-original parts, as this can affect the sound quality and value.

4. Where to Buy Vintage Headphones?

  • Specialized Audio Stores: Some stores specialize in vintage audio equipment.
  • Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay or audiophile forums can be treasure troves but ensure you’re buying from reputable sellers. For instance, Headphones.com offers insights and reviews on various headphones, including vintage ones.
  • Estate Sales & Auctions: These can be places where rare finds are discovered.

5. Caring for Your Vintage Headphones:

  • Storage: Store in a cool, dry place. Consider investing in a headphone stand or case.
  • Cleaning: Use a soft cloth to clean the headphones. Avoid using harsh chemicals.
  • Maintenance: Periodically check cables and connectors for wear and tear.

6. Expert Opinions & Testimonials:

  • Expert Insights: “Vintage gear is definitely more interesting because it was a different time back then. Brands like Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic actually designed headphones that have become classics today.” – Headphones.com Forum
  • User Testimonials: “I recently got my hands on a pair of Koss’ Porta Pro headphones, and they truly live up to the hype. The sound quality is impeccable, and the retro design is a conversation starter.” – VICE Review

Conclusion

Investing in vintage headphones is not just about buying a product; it’s about owning a piece of history. With the right knowledge and care, these headphones can provide a unique listening experience that modern headphones often strive to achieve. Whether you’re an audiophile, a collector, or someone who appreciates the finer things in life, vintage headphones are a worthy addition to your audio arsenal.

vintage headphones

Ben Brooks, Head Content Writer