These sapphire-encrusted earbuds are the flashiest in-ear headphones we've ever seen

(Image credit: qdc)

Start saving your pocket money – Chinese in-ear monitor manufacturer qdc has launched what may be the most expensive earbuds on the planet, coming in at a whopping $12,580 / £12,199 (about AU$18,000). 

The lavish Blue Dragon in-ear headphones are encrusted with 800 sapphires and feature an audio cable made with gold-plated sterling silver conductors, silver-plated single crystal copper, and a copper / palladium alloy.

The Blue Dragon in-ear headphones end in a 2.5mm balanced jack, and come with a 3.5mm adaptor should you wish to plug them into your smartphone, portable DAC, or MP3 player.

They're significantly more expensive than most earbuds on the market, including our favorite wired earbuds, the 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones, which cost just $89 / £70 / AU$100.

They're also very striking compared to the minimalist earbud design popularized by Apple AirPods – even so, that incredibly high price means we'd be very hesitant to take the Blue Dragon earbuds out of the house to show them off.

Luxury sound

With 10 transducers in each earbud enclosure, qdc says that the Blue Dragons offer an "astonishingly spacious soundstage".

According to What Hi-Fi? the enclosures are made from "sections of gold-fused titanium", which qdc says it used because of the material's "awesome acoustic properties". 


(Image credit: qdc)

What look to be silicone eartips should provide a pretty good seal against the outside world, as well as a comfy fit. 

If you're lucky enough to have $12,000 to spend on a pair of earbuds, you'll have to wait a little while to get your hands on the Blue Dragons – they apparently take three months to craft. 

As for us? We think we'll stick to earbuds that won't bankrupt us if we accidentally misplace them – and if you're beholden to a more sensible budget, be sure to check out the best in-ear headphones deals we've spotted below:

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.