Finding my "Goldilocks" Headphone
May 17, 2020 at 3:35 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

monkey4054

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Hi everyone,

So I have had the chance to own and try quite a number of different headphones, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. However, I have yet to find my 'Goldilocks' headphone that is 'just right' for me.

I currently own a number of high-end headphones like the Focal Stellia, Clear, and Elegia, Abyss Diana, Kennerton Vali, and Fostex TH-600. Now, I like many aspects of each of these headphones, but none really get close enough to the exact sound that I want for my music. To be honest, the one I keep coming back to the most is the TH-600, which is the cheapest of them all...

For my next headphone, I'm planning on buying the TH-900. But I'd like to ask what else should I look at or consider? I mostly listen to metal and rock music and sound signature wise I like headphones that are clear, have good resolution, great dynamics and impact, slightly elevated bass, great neutral mids and non-fatiguing highs and overall sound. They also should be as detailed and resolving as possible without becoming too unforgiving with imperfect recordings.

Some headphones that I have been interested in are:

  • Fostex TH-900, TH-909
  • Campfire Audio Cascade
  • ZMF Aeolus
  • Atticus
  • Verite/ VeriteClosed
  • Klipsch HP-3
  • Audeze line? (I have heard a few of the Audeze's and thought they were too dark and off-sounding, want to give them another try though)
  • Abyss Diana V2, Diana Phi, 1266
  • Hifiman HE-6SE, Susvara, Arya, HE-1000
  • Sony MDR-Z1R
  • Denon 7200, 9200
  • Meze Empyrean
  • Final D8000, D8000 Pro

Any suggestions and opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 
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May 17, 2020 at 8:55 PM Post #2 of 9

darmccombs

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The Stellia's is a well kown point of referenece for those of us trying to help. What would you change in the Stellia to make it your "goldilocks" headphone (i.e. more bass, tighter bass, bigger soundstage, etc.)?
 
May 17, 2020 at 9:03 PM Post #3 of 9

protoss

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Its seems like you miss the most important brand and headphones in this hobby.

It's called, STAXS! 007 and 009

Non staxs, which is somewhat crazy are,

Susvara and Abyss TC should end your journey.
 
May 18, 2020 at 6:37 AM Post #4 of 9

monkey4054

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The Stellia's is a well kown point of referenece for those of us trying to help. What would you change in the Stellia to make it your "goldilocks" headphone (i.e. more bass, tighter bass, bigger soundstage, etc.)?

Hey, well the Stellia are great when the recording is as well, however they are brutally unflattering to less than perfect recordings. They are also somehow the darkest yet the most fatiguing of the Focal line. Finally, they present sound as if you are few rows back in the crowd. I personally prefer a more in-your-face forward presentation. Vocals/mids sound slightly distant/recessed compared to the Clear for example.

I'd like a little more bass, more body and heft to the overall sound, more forward presentation, but at the same time non-fatiguing. More forgiving to imperfect recordings whilst being as clear, resolving as possible. Maintain the same slam/dynamics and detail.
 
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May 18, 2020 at 6:40 AM Post #5 of 9

monkey4054

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Its seems like you miss the most important brand and headphones in this hobby.

It's called, STAXS! 007 and 009

Non staxs, which is somewhat crazy are,

Susvara and Abyss TC should end your journey.

Hey, thanks for your reply. I don't think electrostatic are the way I want to go at this time, but I would love to try them one day. I've never heard an electrostat before, only planar and dynamic. The Abyss TC would probably be the choice out of the ones you mentioned. I have heard the Susvara and whilst they were really good, they were a little too boring and relaxed for my taste. Also, the build quality and price are a joke.
 
May 18, 2020 at 10:41 AM Post #6 of 9

darmccombs

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Hey, well the Stellia are great when the recording is as well, however they are brutally unflattering to less than perfect recordings. They are also somehow the darkest yet the most fatiguing of the Focal line. Finally, they present sound as if you are few rows back in the crowd. I personally prefer a more in-your-face forward presentation. Vocals/mids sound slightly distant/recessed compared to the Clear for example.

I'd like a little more bass, more body and heft to the overall sound, more forward presentation, but at the same time non-fatiguing. More forgiving to imperfect recordings whilst being as clear, resolving as possible. Maintain the same slam/dynamics and detail.
With that info, I suggest you audition the Sony MDR-Z1R. They have elevated bass, good detail, are very comfortable, non-fatiguing, and are forgiving of imperfect recordings. I dont know if you’ll get the same dynamics as the Stellia, but with a good amp you can get decent slam.
 
May 18, 2020 at 1:53 PM Post #7 of 9

Monsterzero

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Hey, well the Stellia are great when the recording is as well, however they are brutally unflattering to less than perfect recordings. They are also somehow the darkest yet the most fatiguing of the Focal line. Finally, they present sound as if you are few rows back in the crowd. I personally prefer a more in-your-face forward presentation. Vocals/mids sound slightly distant/recessed compared to the Clear for example.

I'd like a little more bass, more body and heft to the overall sound, more forward presentation, but at the same time non-fatiguing. More forgiving to imperfect recordings whilst being as clear, resolving as possible. Maintain the same slam/dynamics and detail.
Youre asking for a lot. Normally when members are asking for a TOTL headphone I usually recommend the ZMF Verite closed,but if you find the Stellia hard on bad masterings,you wont find the VC to be your cup of tea either. Theyre absolutely brutal on bad recordings.


Wanting a revealing headphone thats easy on bad recordings is wanting the best of both worlds and frankly Ive yet to hear a headphone like that.

Youre best bet would be the ZMF Atticus or the Campfire Cascade,though IMHO the Cascade doesnt belong in the same breath as some of the other headphones being discussed here. It is however easy on bad recordings,warm with lots of bass.
 
May 18, 2020 at 2:27 PM Post #8 of 9

gimmeheadroom

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What about LCD-3 or 4? They're revealing but warm. They make everything sound good.

I think they check all the boxes you mentioned except for bass emphasis. They slam hard and clean, make no mistake. But they're not V shaped like Fostex.
 
May 18, 2020 at 10:09 PM Post #9 of 9

ScornDefeat

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I think the ZMF Aeolus/Atticus fits the bill for what you've laid out best. Although the Meze Empyrean could really work here, as well.

The Aeolus and Atticus have much warmth, a little more forgiven on poor recording, good bass (particularly the Atticus). Probably the best headphones I've heard for Metal and Hard Rock.

I think you'd be quite intrigued by the Empyreans though, as well. The Empyreans also have a warmth to them. I would describe them as having quite a thick sound but with a higher degree of detail retrieval and resolution than the Atticus or Aeolus. Not quite as forgiven as the ZMFs of bad recordings. Not as much oomph as them, either, but you do get that extra clarity.
 

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