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Shopping for expensive headphones? The best option for you may be much cheaper

These more affordable versions of high-end Sony and Sennheiser headphones sound great and save you money.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Sony WH-CH720N over-ear headphones against a blue background

Sony's WH-CH720N over-ear wireless headphones.

Sony/ZDNET

If you're searching for the right pair of over-ear headphones, you may be looking at all the heavy hitters: Bose's QuietComfort 45, Apple's AirPods Max, Sony's WH-1000XM5, or Sennheiser's Momentum 4. The best headphones from these companies are $330 and up, so you'll want to ensure your money stretches as far as possible.

Also: How to choose the best AirPods for you: ZDNET's buying guide

But if you want to keep a couple hundred dollars in your pocket without compromising sound quality, Sennheiser and Sony have you in mind.

Sennheiser announced the Accentum headphones, a new line of affordable headphones that share "much of the most desirable DNA" with the Momentum 4 headphones, according to Sennheiser. The Momentum 4 are the company's high-end flagship headphones. 

The Accentum headphones share the same 5.2 Bluetooth standard, AAC, SBC, aptX HD codecs, and hybrid adaptive active noise canceling technology as the Momentum 4. So, users can expect similar sound quality and technological capabilities for $200 less.

But there are a few differences: The Momentum 4 has four built-in microphones, 60 hours of playtime, and 42mm dynamic drivers, while the Accentum has two mics, offers 50 hours of playtime, and has 37mm drivers.

Headphone drivers dictate the loudness of a pair of headphones, but bigger drivers don't always equate to better sound quality. Headphones with bigger drivers can handle deeper bass, but they struggle to adequately reproduce high-frequency sounds, like high-pitched guitar notes.

The Sennheiser Accentum headphones in black against a blue background

Sennheiser's Accentum over-ear wireless headphones.

Sennheiser/ZDNET

Sennheiser seems to replicate Sony's formula of offering a cloned but affordable version of flagship headphones, hoping to appeal to more cash-conscious consumers. Last year, Sony unveiled the WH-CH720N headphones, a cheaper version of its flagship WH-1000XM5 headphones.

Also: These $350 headphones allowed me to hear things I'd never heard before

The WH-CH720N offer similar audio quality to the flagship modelg but have a smaller frequency range in exchange for more battery power. Sony's affordable WH model's shortened frequency range means it doesn't sound as immersive or as full-bodied as the XM5 over-ear headphones, but most people are OK with that if they can save $250.

Some design tweaks in the affordable Sennheiser and Sony models differentiate them from their expensive counterparts, as the Sennheiser Accentum resembles the affordable Anker Space One headphones. Both affordable headphones are made from polyurethane leather and durable plastic, while the high-end headphones are made from higher-quality faux leather and cloth.

Polyurethane leather and plastic build components are cheaper to manufacture, but with Sony and Sennheiser, it's the inside of the headphones that counts.

Still, the staple design features are apparent on both headphones, and both companies are reassuring customers that they don't need to spend lots of money to have high-quality headphones packed with features and the latest software.

Also: All aboard the Space One headphones: Quality features for a down-to-earth price

The Sennheiser Accentum headphones are available for preorder and will begin shipping in November. They will be available in black and white with sandstone accents and in solid black on Sennheiser's website for $180.

The Sony WH-CH720N can be purchased in black and white on Sony's website for $150. 

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