These pro earbuds promise the powerful sound of live music – but they'll cost you

(Image credit: L-Acoustics)

You'd be forgiven for thinking that audiophile sound is the preserve of large over-ear headphones, but there's a growing cohort of premium earphones that deliver high-fidelity sound to discerning ears – and the latest earbuds from L-Acoustics promise to do just that. 

Costing a whopping €1,350 (about $1,580 / £1,220 / AU$2,230) – or €1,690 (roughly $1,930 / £1,490 / AU$2,730) if you opt for a custom-fit – the L-Acoustics Contour XO are said to be " the perfect pocket-size reference earphone for rock stars, sound professionals and serious music lovers alike".

Don't hold your breath for any Black Friday deals on these premium in-ear headphones; the Contour XO were created by Jerry Harvey of JH Audio (famed for its in-ear stage monitors) and Dr. Christian Heil of L- Acoustics, which "set the standard for top-notch modern PA systems with their line array Wave Sculpting Technology".

While in-person concerts are off limits for most of us at the moment, you can find L-Acoustics sound systems at the likes of Coachella festival, the Hollywood Bowl, and The Hammersmith Apollo in London.

On-stage and at home listening

According to L-Acoustics, these new earbuds reproduce the company's sound signature by using 10 (yes, 10) drivers, which should offer high levels of detail and clarity, whether you're using the Contour XO for analytical listening, on-stage monitoring, or just enjoying your music. 

The company says that the earbuds deliver "an accurate, distortion-free reproduction" of your tunes, that's designed to deliver "the intense emotional impact of live music".

The bass should sound full yet controlled, with "bass adjustment of up to 15dB above flat response", and according to Heil, there's a "very generous, deep low-end contour and a high-end extension" that he had "never heard" through in-ear monitors before.

At such a high price, the Contour XO earbuds are likely to only appeal to hardcore audiophiles and sound professionals – and we'd feel more inclined to spend that kind of money on a pair of really good over-ear headphones. 

If you are on a stricter budget, there are some fantastic wired earbuds out there that can satisfy your audiophile tendencies – models like the 1MORE Quad Driver come with a beautifully balanced sound and a luxurious build quality (and they're often discounted to below $160 / £160). 

Whatever your budget, be sure to bookmark our guide to the best Black Friday headphones deals; the deals are already starting to roll in, and you could save some serious money on premium and cheap headphones alike.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.