While spending Rs.5,000 on a headphone may seem like an expensive splurge, it is really the entry level of high-quality audiophile grade headphones. These are headphones for serious listeners who want a pair of headphones that can do justice to their playlist.
We understand this, so we had partnered with Rontek an audio company known for their speakers, amplifiers and power management systems. Each of the headphones were personally tested by Rontek’s CEO Mr.Jacob Abraham who has an experience of 20 years.
But with price drops and a few new product launches, we felt this was the opportune moment to update our article. After putting in over 24 hours of research going through lists of new headphone specifications, talking to our expert and analyzing reviews from trusted sources we finally managed to pick 4 headphones that fulfil your needs perfectly. So, here are our best picks.
The Best Headphone under 5k
The K 92 is another new headphone from AKG, a brand that has won a lot of praise and awards for their high performing and value priced headphones. The K 92 continues that trend with a slightly more upmarket design and even more comfortable build that makes it great for long listening hours. Add to that AKG’s balanced sound signature and you really cannot get anything better at this price point, which makes the AKG K 92 the best headphones under 5000.
The Budget Best Headphone under 5k
AKG K 52
AKG’s K52 headphones offer a pleasantly different experience at their price. They are balanced, airy and extremely comfortable to wear, so good in fact that we felt they were the best headphones under Rs.3000 and thus naturally should be featured even here. Read more about how they perform in our Best headphone under 3000 article.
The Budget Best Headphone under 5k
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x too was amazing in sound quality irrespective of frequency. The sound from this headphones was pretty loud too. The bulky design coupled with the lack of foldability make them far less portable than other headphones. The noise isolation works effectively keeping you cocooned from the noises in the world. The materials used for the padding, headband and cables feels extremely durable.
The Best Budget Headphone under 5k (Wireless)
Skullcandy Uproar Wireless
The Skullcandy Uproar is an on-ear lightweight headphone that can be worn for long hours without any discomfort. Being wireless and backed by a good battery life makes them great for you if you hate dealing with tangled wires. The Skullcandy Uproar has effective sound quality but lacks good noise isolation. This headphone has an in-line mic which can be used in calling and the voice was clear over the calls we made.
This is a really long post! Use the links below to jump around.
Why Trust Us?
To find the best headphones under Rs.5000 we had spent 5 days testing different aspects of the headphones. To do justice to the audio testing we had partnered with Rontek, a company with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing high-quality audio amplification systems and loudspeakers.
At Rontek we had measured the sound quality of each headphone subjectively and objectively. Good sound quality isn't all that makes a headphone good, so we used each headphone for at least 2 & 1/2 hours to understand the kind of comfort they offer.
Similarly, a noise isolation test was carried out to understand if external noise can seep through. Lastly, we called up all headphone manufacturers to understand their warranty and service policies.
But with a year gone by, we felt it would be right to update the article with new picks that will offer more for the same price range.
How we selected?
Our search for the best headphones started with an initial list of 30,000 headphones, from Amazon and Flipkart.
We started by removing all headphones with poor ratings and reviews. We finally selected the most reviewed and highly rated headphones online today. We also browsed popular online websites like Cnet and TechRadar for their best picks and added some products accordingly.
The shortlisted headphones were:
Creative Sound Blaster Jam
Skullcandy S5URHW-509 On-Ear Wireless Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Over-Ear Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
While our best picks are great there was still some price gap between them and some other products under 5000, so we felt it was right to add some more products that would offer a lot more sound.
With careful picking from reputed audio and technology websites, we’ve managed to find two more picks that are truly great picks for someone upgrading into the audiophile world.
How we tested?
When buying a headphone, sound quality alone is not enough. You must also make sure the ear cups of the headphone are comfortable enough to at least watch a movie. There's no point in buying a headphone with great sound which continuously hurts your ears. These were exactly the points we thought of when we had tested the products as we wanted to suggest headphones that not just sound great but also deliver on other features as well. Here’s what we tested.
Sound Quality: The sound quality testing was done at Rontek with the help of Mr. Jacob. We split the sound quality testing into two parts, Objective and Subjective. The Subjective testing is where Mr.Jacob listens to a selection of songs from different genres and then grades each headphone for sound quality.
The Objective testing is where things get interesting. Objectively testing a headphone is much more difficult than a normal speaker. Still, with the help of Rontek we built our own test rig, which consisted of a box to simulate the human head, fitted into which was a calibrated microphone to record sound. With this setup we managed to perform the LARSA test on all the headphones. LARSA test helps to plot the frequency response curve of the headphone which shows the frequency and loudness of the headphones.
Comfort: As we said before, we don’t want you to be stuck with headphones that hurt your ears. So, to test the comfort of each headphone our researcher wore each headphone for over two hours, looking out for any sort of pain in the ear, irritation, sweating etc.
Durability: Next we wanted to check the durability of the headphone padding. So we checked the sponge quality, softness, thickness of padding on each of the headphone. We also checked verified reviews on Amazon and Flipkart to assess whether people had problems with the padding.
Next, we checked the cable quality to see if they were actually tangle-free. We tried tangling the cable and then tried removing the tangles.
Noise Isolation: To test the noise isolation, we sat down next to a TV and put the headphones on. We kept increasing the volume on the TV until the sound from the TV was louder than the sound from the headphone. We noted the exact point at which this occurred.
Quality of Mic: the mic was used in calling with different people and the voice clarity n volume of the call was analysed
Bluetooth - We tested headphones with Bluetooth by connecting to a laptop and mobile phone. These headphones we checked for their connection speed, stability, range, battery life and charging.
Warranty and Service: We called each headphone company to find out the warranty and service policy and process for getting a headphone replaced or fixed for each headphone.own test rig, which consisted of a box to simulate the human head, fitted into which was a calibrated microphone to record sound. With this setup, we managed to perform the LARSA test on all the headphones. LARSA test helps to plot the frequency response curve of the headphone which shows the frequency and loudness of the headphones.
Note: Objective testing cannot be conducted on the Bluetooth only headphones as the calibrated microphone is designed to work with wired headphones only
What makes a good headphone - inputs from our audio expert
In our previous headphone articles we have talked about headphone specifications, frequency response curves, comfort and branding. Today we shall look about drivers- the component that actually produces sounds inside a headphone.
These drivers depending on what type they are can be made voice coils, magnetic elements and a diaphragm (in a dynamic driver). Now depending on the type of headphone size you are going you you can have different sized drivers, as our expert says a large size should help reproduce lower frequencies at a much higher volume and this is one trend you will see as prices go up, the size of the drivers too usually increases. Driver sizes usually start around 30mm and can go above 50 mm on some really headphones. Now apart from size, there are many different types of headphone drivers as shown below.
Dynamic drivers are the most common type and are found in most headphones and earphones. They use a larger diaphragm and produce powerful sounds with heavy bass. They can be very versatile and can produce the whole range of frequencies without making use of too much power.
Balanced Armature Drivers have traditionally been used in hearing aids due to their small size. Recently due to their amazing capability to produce extremely high frequencies you can see them in many in-ear headphones. But usually their range is limited and hence are paired with dynamic drivers as that helps with producing the lower frequencies much better.
Planar Magnetic Drivers are usually found in high end headphones from Audeze in both over ear and in ear style. This type of driver makes use of a diaphragm that is sandwiched between two magnets. A wire is pushed through the diaphragm in a serpentine pattern to create an electromagnetic field, which can react with the magnets to create sounds. Recently RHA came out with the CL2 Planar which is one of the smallest planar magnetic in ear style headphone, with the driver only 10mm in size.
Electrostatic Drivers are used by pretty niche brands and can be extremely expensive. Using sandwiched membranes between electric plates and an amplifier you get amazing sound quality with Electrostatic drivers.
- Multiple driver arrangements: Many in ear headphones today feature multiple drivers to get a much wider frequency range by pairing a dynamic driver with a balanced armature driver. But there have been products with more than one balanced armature driver (some with 9!!). The audiophile community is divided on these multi driver arrangement with Sennheiser’s Headphone Guru, Axel Grell not being a fan due to the time differences in the signals. Our audio expert too emphasized that rather than getting drawn to multi driver set ups especially at the entry level segment make sure you pick headphones that give you a more balanced or warm signature.
To sum up headphones with Planar Magnetic and Electrostatic drivers from Audeze, Hifiman, Stax and more will sound amazing, but they are mostly priced much beyond most people budgets. But slowly the technology is becoming affordable with the Audeze iSine 10 with planar magnetic drivers costing around Rs.20000. But the main takeaway is not to get drawn in by too much of multiple drivers and extremely high frequency reproduction specifications and stick to the basic of looking for products that actually sound good to you.
The Best Headphone under 5k in detail
Comfortable to wear for long hours
Subtle gold accents make it look expensive
Long 3m cable
Detachable ear cups
No mic or remote
Non removable cable
Quality of Sound: Great sound with great comfort
AKG’s as we said before are known for their value and great sounding headphone that does not compromise on comfort, and the K92 is no less. Its 40mm drivers and comfortable design mean long listening sessions without any fatigue to the listener. What Hifi? found them to be extremely clear with full of rhythm. They also handle vocals very well while doing great justice to the horns and drums with no harshness or boominess.
TechRadar too had liked the AKG K 92, in fact, they even declared it as their best budget over the head headphone (2018). They too loved how the headphones handle most frequencies without dampening them making listening to songs on them very enjoyable.
Another great thing is despite their capabilities the K 92’s have an impedance of 32 Ohms which means they can be used with smartphones without any issues.
For our readers who love a bit of technicality here are the frequency response and sensitivity curves of the AKG K 92.
Build and Comfort
The design of the K 92 is similar to the K 52’s with the same rounded ear cups and headband, to differentiate it AKG has given golden accents on the K 92 which does make it look that much more premium.
TechRadar did say that the design makes them suited for home listening but ultimately were pleased with the sheer comfort offered by them for marathon listening sessions. This was something that can be seen of the much more affordable K 52’s as well.
The K 92 also comes with a single-sided non-detachable cable along with a 6.3mm adapter. While the non-removable cable can be an issue its at least really long at 3m.
The primary material on these cans is plastic and TechRadar were not too happy with it, they also felt the gold accents could divide opinions but personally, we loved the gold.
To sum up, the AKG K 92 is simple, they carry forward the tested AKG ear cups and headband that offer great comfort while maintaining the balanced sound that doesn't make you jump from your seat, rather gives you a pleasant listening experience.
The Best Budget Headphone under 5k in detail
Great Sound Quality
Good build quality
Quality padding makes headphone comfortable to use for long hours
Thick round tangle free cables
Very good noise isolation
Comes with a long 3m cable
No Volume Control buttons or on/off button
Headphones very bulky can't be folded for added portability
Can be used only indoors
No Mic for calling purpose
Quality of Sound: Loud and clear natural sound reproduction
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x being headphones designed for studio monitoring have a relatively flat sound to them. The sound is clear even at extremely loud volumes, and it can get pretty loud. This level of clarity makes them a great pair for movie watching too.
Objectively this headphone did extremely well, topping the charts in this category when we last tested them. Mr Jacob particularly liked the well-balanced sound on them without anything extra added to the sound, making them sound very natural, which can be a boon for studio recording.
Here are the technical details of the Audio Technica M20X in the form of a frequency and sensitivity graph.
One look at the frequency response and you can see that the AKG’s are much warmer sounding than the M20X this makes them much more suited for a larger audience, while the M20X isn't bad, the sub-bass reproduction does not seem to be as powerful as the AKG’s.
As far as noise isolation goes this headphone managed to suppress external noises to a very great extent. The quality of the passive noise isolation comes from the thickness and diameter of the padding.
Do note these headphones have an impedance of 47 Ohms and thus may not work to their full extent with most devices. Most smartphones manage headphones only up to 32 Ohms.
Build and Comfort: Bulky but comfortable
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x being an over-ear headphone had ear cups that completely engulf your ears. It is also good for extended listening and we did not face any listening fatigue even after using them for more than 2 hours.
Audio Technica has used quality materials especially on the ear cups and the long tangle-free cable. The design of the headphone has a strong industrial look to it. It is however quite bulky especially given the lack of foldable ear cups which make them difficult to carry. The headphones ships with a long 3m cable which is great if you listen to your TV using the headphones. This headphone also comes with an extra 6.3mm jack for connecting into musical instruments and for studio monitoring purpose.
Also given the lack of proper sweat resistance on the earcups and as stated previously the bulkiness of these headphones make them more suited for listing on the couch rather than on a treadmill. We found almost no complaints about the cable quality or durability from online reviews.
This headphone does not have an inline mic and cannot be used for calling purpose, and there are no volume control buttons. Taking voice calls on this headphones was clear without any distortion. Sadly the same can be seen on both the AKG’s and if you really need a mic you can look at our next pick below.
What makes the Audio Technica great is the purity in the sound that it manages to keep, there is no artificial bass boosting or anything. It's simple, clear and really loud. If you want a good audiophile grade headphones on a budget and don't know which one to pick, this one makes for a great starting point.
The Best Budget Headphone under 5k (Wireless) in detail
Tuned for good low end
10+ hours of battery life
Soft foam ear cups
Average built quality and materials
Loudness is low compared to Audio-Technica ATH-M20x
No wired connection
Quality of Sound: Made for Bass
The young, active nature of the Skullcandy brand can also be seen in the sound from the Skullcandy Uproar headphone. The Uproar is tuned for music that needs a lot of bass. And the bass is what it delivers, in spades. However, it is remarkable in the treble region too, producing relatively loud, distortion-free sound.
The noise isolation is however not very good with background noise seeping in, this is a bigger problem when worn outside.
If you are a person who prefers a pair of headphones for listening to symphonies and classics we suggest you look at the Audio Technica or the AKG’s as those are far more natural sounding headphone, but for anything with a lot of beats you need the Uproar.
Build and Comfort: Lightweight and comfortable
With a hip looking design and funky colours the Uproar will create quite an uproar with the younger crowds. Also, the wire-free design and little details like the funky logo or the retro GameBoy like buttons on the side make this a refreshingly different headphone in this range.
The Skullcandy Uproar has good quality faux leather padding which makes the on-ear experience much more comfortable. Its medium sized ear cup will almost cover your entire ear.
However, the build quality of the headphones is not the best with plastic being used everywhere, although we did not find any durability issues.
The size of the headband can be adjusted. The headband slider joints are also made of plastic but still, it's very smooth to adjust, unlike some other cheap products.
There is an inbuilt mic for calls and a micro USB charging port. Although it would have been really awesome if the headphones came with a wired connection as well.
Battery life: Very good battery life
This headphone has a very good battery life and in our tests, it lasted for more than 10 hours with a single charge. It took approximately 1 hour to charge. The device switches off automatically if kept idle thus saving battery life.
The headphone maintains good quality sound even till a distance of 15 feet, after which the connection becomes wonky.
Overall, these wireless headphones by Skullcandy is the best bet if you are looking for a wireless headphone with good sound quality. The mic also is very suitable for calling purpose with good voice clarity. If wireless is what you prefer then this headphone is the best choice in this price range.
Who are our best picks for?
Of the four picks we have, three are very clearly for people who want a comfortable pair of wired headphones for home. The AKG K 92 and K 52 offer a more comfortable fit owing to their design and build, while the Audio Technica M20x is more conventional. While the AKG’s of a balanced sound but a bit of warmth, the Audio Technica is much flatter sounding.
Meanwhile the Skullcandy offers a bass-heavy soundstage with wireless connectivity for anywhere listening. This makes it great if your someone who doesn't want to get bogged down with wires and love your music to be a little boost.
Also another reason to pick the Skullcandy is the presence of a mic to make phone calls, which is sadly missing on the AKG & Audio-Technica. Really shows that they are designed for music and music only and nothing else.
A note on Warranty and Service
AKG offers a 1-year warranty on the K52 and you need to take it to their service centre for any issues. The product can be repaired and there are 9 service centres of Harman in India.
Audio Technica: AT headphones have 1 year of warranty from date of purchase for headphones. Your invoice bill is your warranty card. Audio Technica customer care was a little difficult. We had to call the toll free number a few times to get the phone number of the service centre. The AT Delhi service centre details are as below:
SKE Audiotech, G-18B, 2nd Floor, Main Road, Kalkaji, New Delhi-110019
For any queries: Landline: 011-49049414, Cell: 91-8700466883
Once the headphones are found faulty, the replaced product will be sent to the customer.
Skullcandy: Generally, Skullcandy products have two years of warranty from the date of purchase. Skullcandy was also difficult to get on the line. We had to call them five to six times before we finally got through to their customer-care representative. Brandeyes.in is the sole distributor of Skullcandy headphones throughout India.
If a product malfunctions, the user is advised to call the customer-care number mentioned on the box or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. No initial registration is required. The invoice or bill copy of the purchase doubles as the warranty card. They have only one office in Noida (UP). To claim the warranty, the customer needs to ship their product to the service centre. They have to enclose a copy of the invoice and the reference address. Once the service centre verifies that there is a fault in the product, a replacement will be sent to the customer.No technical assistance or service will be provided, post-warranty.
Those that didn’t make the cut
Creative Sound Blaster Jam
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam although a good headphone that is referred to by many websites, our expert felt the Audio Technica and Skullcandy had much better sound quality. This headphone has a good design and was very comfortable for the wireless listening experience. The quality of ear padding, however, was poor low and could wear soon. Also, there is no mention on the warranty contact no on the box. The customer toll-free number was not reachable even after multiple tries. So you could be left stranded if your headphone stops working!.
At Rs.5000 the audio products we have recommended are from brands many might not have heard about, but trust us when we say they deliver on great sound quality.
The AKG K 92 is the priciest of the lot here but offers great sound quality with an extremely comfortable fit for its listener. It is well built too and can be used with any smartphone.
The AKG K 52 are a much more budget priced version of the K 92 which boasts the same design and comfort but a much more open soundstage. They too come with non removable but long cable and work swell with phones.
The Audio Technica M20X is a much more serious headphone that manages to keep sounds true to their source. It keeps you well isolated and when paired with the right audio player can get really loud.
Lastly the Skullcandy Uproar is a headphone to unwind yourself from the wired misery and onto something light and funky. With a comfortable wireless design, long battery life and mic support you get something that's not offered by the other best picks.