Kurt Cobain's $20 headphones have been bought for $70,000

Realistic Nova 40 Headphones from the 1970s
(Image credit: Adilon23)

How much would you pay for a good set of headphones? Fifty bucks, a couple hundred? If you want to go all-in on immaculate audio reproduction and hang the sense of it, you could easily spend a grand or more. But if you want a genuine piece of music history, you could have paid $70,000 for a set of headphones once used by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. 

I've had serious audiophile cans strapped to my head, which cost thousands, and honestly, they might be great for monitoring but not so much for just enjoying music or gaming. Just give me the Audeze Maxwell, and I'm happy. 

However, these Realistic Nova 40 headphones were never made to be audiophile-level headphones. But their heavy sound isolation meant they were popular for people either wanting to keep the world out or keep their sound in. And their vile flesh-tone plastic and coiled wire have a retro-chic aesthetic that means they're still in some demand for the nostalgia factor alone.

According to the report in Audioviser, the sale wasn't the result of a classic auction of music memorabilia but a private purchase between a collector, Felix Zimmermann, and presumably the musician's family.

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(Image credit: Colorwave)

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The article notes its sources, who were relatives of Cobain, have stated the headphones were "meticulously maintained and stored over the years" as the family "recognized their sentimental and historical significance."

But if you want to get the same experience, you can nip over to eBay where there are a whole bunch of the same Realistic Nova 40 headphones on sale for a more reasonable sum. Around $20, to be more precise. Or you could just nip into your local goodwill/charity store and see if you can find a pair.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.