Looking for "end game" headphones in 2K ± price range.
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FYFL

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Need your feedback on headphones that would bring something different to collection of headphones I currently own.

•Budget - around 2k. Could go higher if necessary.
•Preferably tube amp friendly. (Dragon Inspire IHA-1)
•Technically better and with more even, correct tonality then my current headphones.
(Aeon 2C, Sennheiser hd700, Audeze lcdx & Fostex TH-X00 Mahogany)
•Preferably under 500g.
•Exceptional soundstage. For Jazz, Blues, Classical and older Rock.
•Good track record and customer support. Preferably US made or at very least supported by US dealer/distributor network.

I could explore used market for higher budget headphones but I would prefer new or perhaps an open box deals.
What you guys think, doable?
 
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I’m in the same boat, but I’m pretty satisfied. I don’t think I would trade any $2k headphone for my current rig.
 

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ruinedx

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HD800S
Ain't gonna get much more exceptional soundstage with high technicality than that. Also excels with tubes in the loop.
 
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I’m in the same boat, but I’m pretty satisfied. I don’t think I would trade any $2k headphone for my current rig.
Which Stax model is it? I forgot to mention that I also have vintage Stax Lambda.
Not trying to replace my cans. But looking for something different. Or something that is superior significantly from what I got.

Cans that peaked my interest are ZMF, LCD4 or z (too expensive tho), HADD Audio (a little too heavy), maybe HiFiMan. Preferably open back but I’m open to suggestion as I have not heard most of this stuff.


HD800S
Ain't gonna get much more exceptional soundstage with high technicality than that. Also excels with tubes in the loop.
How much better are these over hd700? And do they have similar “house sound”?
 
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Which Stax model is it? I forgot to mention that I also have vintage Stax Lambda.
Not trying to replace my cans. But looking for something different. Or something that is superior significantly from what I got.
SR-Lambda (1979) excellent mids and highs
It does piano (Daft Punk- Within) really well.
(Cry me a river Gene Harris & Ray Brown Trio) Best piano timbre and sparkle I’ve experienced. I almost cry sometimes because it’s too good.

Maybe HD800sdr or jmod

Focal Clear is good... timbre is a bit too metallic and might be a little peaky for me
though. Utopia is good, but it’s soundstage is a dealbreaker for me.



Susvara for the win :)
 
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Hifiman Jade II
 
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SR-Lambda (1979) excellent mids and highs
It does piano (Daft Punk- Within) really well.
(Cry me a river Gene Harris & Ray Brown Trio) Best piano timbre and sparkle I’ve experienced. I almost cry sometimes because it’s too good.

Maybe HD800sdr or jmod if Heddphone is too heavy.

Focal Clear is good... timbre is a bit too metallic and might be a little peaky for me
though. Utopia is good, but it’s soundstage is a dealbreaker for me.



Susvara for the win :)
You really think Susvara is that good? I have heard a lot of good things about it. It’s a bit over my budget but if a good deal comes alone, I could make that stretch. If it’s really that good.

PS I love my vintage Stax as well but I’m trying to go easy on usage as sourcing parts or service is almost non existent.

HADD seems like a very interesting option. It’s a little unconventional in many ways and I find it kinda appealing. 👍 The only thing that concerns me is the weight. 700g is a bit worrisome. I own LCDX and they’re not light by any means. It’s tolerable but I would prefer something lighter for longer listening sessions. A little over 500g is probably max as far as weight is concern.
 
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Hifiman Jade II
Not familiar with these but I’ll definitely take a closer look. Like I’ve said, I’m open to all suggestions.
Can you tell me why did you suggest them? What’s is it that they do so well in your opinion?
 
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How much better are these over hd700? And do they have similar “house sound”?
Massively better, not even comparable. Hd700 sounds small soundstage and muffled compared to hd800s. But hd800s is also much larger so hd700 good to have for portability.

The only similarity is that the hd700 has a large soundstage compared to other headphones with similar size driver as the hd700. But compared the hd800s, the hd700 soundstage is far smaller and the frequency range far more uneven.

If vast soundstage and high technicality are your criteria and you want a currently in-production headphone, nothing comes close to hd800s in 2k range. (Trust me I've investigated the same thing since soundstage is most important to me)

If you like large soundstage top 3 headphones you should have are:
HD800S (when you don't need isolation)
HD820 (when you need isolation)
HD700 (when you need portability)

These 3 are the biggest soundstage in each of their class considering those still readily available
 
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This can be extremely and i mean extremely subjective as to what you want.

Anyways neutral sounding tonal balance non colour is what most true audiophiles want like exactly what professionals want for mixing, it has to incorporate that trait for enjoyment in a headphone not designed for mixing but enjoyment but again this is subjective.

So being as realistic as can be, the headphone has to have a flat or flat-ish sound (flat-ish meaning it is coloured but has the critical flat element for fun) frequency architecture, it has to incorporate the flatness for professional enjoyment even if the headphone is coloured a bit with neutral non colour - colouring, i hope that makes sense to make it sound more fun, fun eh subjective again but a flat sounding fun sound so it sound much more real.

Next is the audio gear synergy is also absolutely critical in the extreme to get the most it can be, maybe a linear amp/dac?

I am no expert but it would take a person to write a book about audio as to what you want.

I am afraid it can be difficult to find the right gear for best possible synergy i think, i am talking about headphones absolutely picky with the amp to sound best as they can like the hd 800 apparently from what i have read, unless the manufacture states what the product is designed for to match with a headphone, i mean the perfect match for it to sound best which is what the manufacturer wants not a non perfect colour of the sound that is which is what most people go with or not, i seem to think a amp dac designed for neutral will fair better in synergy for the high end but may very likely not be a perfect match but would have much better synergy, you have to factor everything with a headphone to factor what the amp dac gives you for the best possible match, like pace rhythm and timing critically that is.

Yes a neutral amp dac may be better but would sound a bit off with synergy if the headphone is coloured a bit but again very subjective because it won't match the output of the sound from headphone resulting in a imbalance giving you well varying on headphone frequency sound signature it could do all sorts of things and again it would take you to write a book to explain all of that.

Dan.
 
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Not familiar with these but I’ll definitely take a closer look. Like I’ve said, I’m open to all suggestions.
Can you tell me why did you suggest them? What’s is it that they do so well in your opinion?
Excellent timbre, life like experience, great soundstage, dynamic, top notch comfort.

Some say they are bass light (even if Jade II go low) so maybe not versatile enough for pop / rock but bass is of quality.

I was debating between Jade II, Arya and HE6se.
I ended up with HE6se because I like natural yet dynamic and punchy music.

if you go with headphone only, seems that portable amp Stax SRM D10 is good enough, it avoid the dedicated amp from Hifiman.
 
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Massively better, not even comparable. Hd700 sounds small soundstage and muffled compared to hd800s. But hd800s is also much larger so hd700 good to have for portability.

The only similarity is that the hd700 has a large soundstage compared to other headphones with similar size driver as the hd700. But compared the hd800s, the hd700 soundstage is far smaller and the frequency range far more uneven.

If vast soundstage and high technicality are your criteria and you want a currently in-production headphone, nothing comes close to hd800s in 2k range. (Trust me I've investigated the same thing since soundstage is most important to me)

If you like large soundstage top 3 headphones you should have are:
HD800S (when you don't need isolation)
HD820 (when you need isolation)
HD700 (when you need portability)

These 3 are the biggest soundstage in each of their class considering those still readily available
That’s very interesting comparison. And very helpful. Probably the only reason that I didn’t gravitate towards HD800s is, the crap they tend to receive for inconsistent tonality and peaky upper frequency region. Headphone that don’t need aggressive EQing is what I would prefer. Little Schiity Loki is OK for small adjustment but mostly it is used to compensate for recording anomalies (especially on vinyl).
On the other hand, some suggested use of a tube amp to remedy some of those issue. Of cause tubes would also make that soundstage even more specious. Auditioning HD800s shouldn’t be the problem. I just hope that I can power them with something similar to what I use at home. Maybe I should take them a little more serious......
Excellent timbre, life like experience, great soundstage, dynamic, top notch comfort.

Some say they are bass light (even if Jade II go low) so maybe not versatile enough for pop / rock but bass is of quality.

I was debating between Jade II, Arya and HE6se.
I ended up with HE6se because I like natural yet dynamic and punchy music.

if you go with headphone only, seems that portable amp Stax SRM D10 is good enough, it avoid the dedicated amp from Hifiman.
Are they comparable to any modern Stax? I did considered Stax but guys I know, keep telling me that I would have to go up in their lineup to really hear the difference between my vintage Stax and their modern siblings. And those systems are a bit out of my reach at the moment. Not sure if I’ll be able to audition them locally tho. I’ll try to research a bit more about your recommendation.
Thank you for your input.
 
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That’s very interesting comparison. And very helpful. Probably the only reason that I didn’t gravitate towards HD800s is, the crap they tend to receive for inconsistent tonality and peaky upper frequency region. Headphone that don’t need aggressive EQing is what I would prefer. Little Schiity Loki is OK for small adjustment but mostly it is used to compensate for recording anomalies (especially on vinyl).
On the other hand, some suggested use of a tube amp to remedy some of those issue. Of cause tubes would also make that soundstage even more specious. Auditioning HD800s shouldn’t be the problem. I just hope that I can power them with something similar to what I use at home. Maybe I should take them a little more serious......
If your system works ok with hd700 it should work with ok HD800S. The original HD800 was peaky, not so much HD800S. However HD800S is still revealing so it will sound garbage in > garbage out. HD800S + tube is an amazing combo I doubt you will be able to exceed less than $4000 if soundstage is priority.
 
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This can be extremely and i mean extremely subjective as to what you want.

Anyways neutral sounding tonal balance non colour is what most true audiophiles want like exactly what professionals want for mixing, it has to incorporate that trait for enjoyment in a headphone not designed for mixing but enjoyment but again this is subjective.

So being as realistic as can be, the headphone has to have a flat or flat-ish sound (flat-ish meaning it is coloured but has the critical flat element for fun) frequency architecture, it has to incorporate the flatness for professional enjoyment even if the headphone is coloured a bit with neutral non colour - colouring, i hope that makes sense to make it sound more fun, fun eh subjective again but a flat sounding fun sound so it sound much more real.

Next is the audio gear synergy is also absolutely critical in the extreme to get the most it can be, maybe a linear amp/dac?

I am no expert but it would take a person to write a book about audio as to what you want.

I am afraid it can be difficult to find the right gear for best possible synergy i think, i am talking about headphones absolutely picky with the amp to sound best as they can like the hd 800 apparently from what i have read, unless the manufacture states what the product is designed for to match with a headphone, i mean the perfect match for it to sound best which is what the manufacturer wants not a non perfect colour of the sound that is which is what most people go with or not, i seem to think a amp dac designed for neutral will fair better in synergy for the high end but may very likely not be a perfect match but would have much better synergy, you have to factor everything with a headphone to factor what the amp dac gives you for the best possible match, like pace rhythm and timing critically that is.

Yes a neutral amp dac may be better but would sound a bit off with synergy if the headphone is coloured a bit but again very subjective because it won't match the output of the sound from headphone resulting in a imbalance giving you well varying on headphone frequency sound signature it could do all sorts of things and again it would take you to write a book to explain all of that.

Dan.
I get it. It’s hard to know what one likes or perceive as correct and musical. To criteria that I have already stated, I would add that I’m not looking for perfection since there’s no such thing. But headphone that are sophisticated technicality and don’t need to depend on EQ to get the most out of them. I also am not obsessed with perfect linearity. Hence my choice for amplification. Which I really enjoy. But you’re right, it’s complicated. That’s why I seek some opinions from fellow audiophiles. Hopefully it will narrow my list to 2-3 headphones which I’ll try to audition and compare. 👍
 
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For your tastes my recommendations would be Hifiman Arya or HD800S.
 
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