End Game Headphone - Thought Experiment - Knowledge and Experience Sought
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Ksweene5

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Hi HF -

I am looking for my endgame phone - please share your make/model ideas and if you're up for it a little narrative would be great!! Im wanting to spend around $800 at the high end, ive been looking used. I know there are way more expensive headphones, but for the foreseeable future those would be my TOTL.

I have had the itch for some new headphones for a while. Instead of buying again where I feel the cans are sort of a "stop-gap" I want to go all in on finally get my elusive white whale of audio.

I currently own HD 650s, Meze Classic 99, Aiwa Arcs, UE Triple.Fi and a couple others - I like those sound signatures. Clear and separated highs, full mids, and I like some bassier low end - a bit of a U shape signature.
 
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Henrysharoop

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If you like the HD 650s, maybe go for the Focal Elex on MD. I haven't tried them myself, but so far other people who have upgraded have been very satisfied, and it seems like a very good value.
 
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Ksweene5

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If you like the HD 650s, maybe go for the Focal Elex on MD. I haven't tried them myself, but so far other people who have upgraded have been very satisfied, and it seems like a very good value.
Unfortunately I don't really have anywhere to listen, so I rely on impressions The Elex/Elear are probably the way Im leaning. Mrspeakers aeon are also in consideration Nice rec thanks
 
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Henrysharoop

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According to a lot of people, Elex is much better than Elear and some even prefer it to the Clears. Most people I've talked to don't really like the Aeon as it has numerous problems. Can't say myself as I haven't heard any of these besides the Elear. The Elear seemed like it was really dipped in the upper midrange, and the Elex frequency response looks a lot better.
 
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SilverEars

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According to a lot of people, Elex is much better than Elear and some even prefer it to the Clears. Most people I've talked to don't really like the Aeon as it has numerous problems. Can't say myself as I haven't heard any of these besides the Elear. The Elear seemed like it was really dipped in the upper midrange, and the Elex frequency response looks a lot better.
I think the problem with going to any headphone from HD650 is that the HD650 sounds relatively fuller at the upper-mids. I think Elex has some reduction there, and probably not as severe as Elear due to the pads. You get fuller with Clear I think.

Aeon closed was lean sounding, but also has relatively V-shaped response that you hear the tonality not full enough. I'm guessing tuned like so due to being closed.

I have the HD6XX and it has such a great value and withstands the test of time. These new headphones don't really get all that better, but people seem to hype train them when they first come out.
 
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Try the Aeon with the tuning pad. It makes the response closer to the Harmon curve. Also you said you like a bassier signature, in which case you may not like those high end Focals. Have a look at the hd820 or if you want a characterful headphone try the Sony Z1R.
Edit - just saw your budget. That puts the 820 out of the picture. Maybe have a look at the Cascade?

For open try the hd800s.
 
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Ksweene5

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This is all really helpful info. I wasn't aware of the majority thinking that elex's outperformed elear's - it definitely looks like elex's go for more used than many elears.

Does changing earpads on elear's make them sound/perform closer to elexs? Or are there other less superficial changes going on under the hood?

thanks again!
 
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Henrysharoop

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This is all really helpful info. I wasn't aware of the majority thinking that elex's outperformed elear's - it definitely looks like elex's go for more used than many elears.

Does changing earpads on elear's make them sound/perform closer to elexs? Or are there other less superficial changes going on under the hood?

thanks again!
Check out this comparison. I think it will be helpful.
https://www.verumsonus.com/focal-clear-vs-focal-elear-vs-focal-elex-comparison-review/
 
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Sniperpr5

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I have the Elex and they are great headphones,
One of my favorites out of my collection.

They are definitely worth the price, they can be found for $600ish used.

I have the HD650 in my collection as well and would choose the Elex over them 99% of the time.
 
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@Ksweene5 - What's your audio chain looking like? You a portable Dac/Amp person or you got a desktop rig? Most (not all!) mid to high tier headphones will scale with your audio chain.

My two cents, the HD650's will take you further a long way, especially with a decent Dac & Amp! Upgrading from here on is riddled with tough decisions!

Perhaps look in to a getting a used pair of Hifiman Edition X, I find mine is a great step up from the 650's!

Good luck!
 
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Man Focal's lineup is confusing.

The only headphone you have that I can relate to is the HD 650, but you say you like a U shaped sound signature which is not the HD 650. Like volly above mentions, we also don't know what DAC/amp you're using, which is rather important.

I do wonder how you'd feel about the HiFiMan Sundara, which is well below your budget and outperforms many $1,000+ headphones technically. Not a U-shaped sound signature, but a rather open airy sound with nice planar bass that's heftier than the HD 650, much more speed and transparency.
 
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Ksweene5

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Honestly the chain is also in flux. I use an LG V30 for some nice audio on the go, sometimes pair that with my RSA "The Predator" - and sometimes I use the RSA as the full DAC/AMP. I use a Yamaha Aventage w/ Burr Browns and high quality files. I have an old Pioneer SA-1000 that I use for vinyl and an Adcom pre I use for vinyl as well.

A more traditional stack setup is in the cards too, just moved and cleared a lot out.
 
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I currently own HD 650s, Meze Classic 99, Aiwa Arcs, UE Triple.Fi and a couple others - I like those sound signatures.
See if you can find a used pair of ZMF Atticus,which are kinda "Super HD650s". If the highs are too laid back a pad swap will lessen the bass slam and bring more detail,but honestly I dont find the treble lacking at all.
 
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Dan Lee

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Im finding it kinda surprising that no one has recommended anything from Audeze. You could very likely find a used pair of LCD-Xs used in that price range and you could likely get a new pair of the LCD-2 Classics new or used with some dough left over to get a schiit magni 3 and modi 3 or multibit. The LCD-X is a lot of peoples end game headphone period and the damn thing just gets better and better as you upgrade your equipment. The LCD-2 Classic is said to be just shy the quality of the fazor versions while still presenting the lush beautiful quality of the Audeze house sound. But thats just my two cents here.
 
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