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Looking for high end headphones $500-$1000

  1. gobstoppable
    I’m on the quest for a nice pair of headphones. I got a pair of hd600’s for Christmas but I returned them because I really didn’t like them. Main issue was the paint job and the wire, I really disliked them from that perspective. I’m also unwilling to paint them. I found them incredibly uncomfortable, the cramping pressure was annoying. I also found them to sound a bit lifeless. Coming from my 13 year old hd555’s I just didn’t like them.

    So im looking for a nicer pair of headphones. Right now I’m looking at hd650’s, design is ok, less clamp then hd600, much nicer cable
    hd660s, like the black, don’t know much else
    hd700,love the design and the rave reviews about comfort. Really love the cable. Might be my favorite option, especially since they are less then 500 now.
    hifiman he-560 on sale for 500, look great, don’t know much else
    lcd2c out of stock, no more $600 price, I would be willing to pay the full retail price for the lcd2c, if they are really worth it.

    I have been looking at some used lcd2’s but I’m concerned about reliability, I’m to interested in repairing anything. I like the idea of buying new, that way the product is covered by a warranty

    Also I do have a nice amp and dac, so I shouldn’t have a problem driving whatever I choose. The headphones will be used for music, entertainment and gaming.

    All ideas welcome, just no hd600’s
  2. Monsterzero
    What amp and DAC are you using?
    What types of music do you prefer?
    What sound signature do you prefer?Bright?Warm?Intimate?spacious?
  3. gobstoppable
    Dac: jolida glass fx tube dac III
    Amp: synthesis nimis
    Music: everything, alt rock, modern rap, classic rock, classic country like Stevie Ray and Johnny Cash, female vocals like Amy Winehouse, even classical orchestra

    This is my first pair of high end headphones, aside from my very old hd555’s, so I don’t a lot of reference. I know I’m looking for something spacious, because I plan to game with these so I would like a nice soundstage. I believe I would like a warm intimate sound. Bright is nice but I want to feel the emotion of the sound, if that makes any sense.

    I recently went to my first high end audio store, deja vu in northern Virginia. They played some systems for where you felt as though you were there when the recording was happening, you could feel the warmth of the voice as though it was being sung into your face. I know I can’t expect a pair of headphones in my budget that will sound like a truly high end speaker system, but the 600’s just felt flat and lifeless. Like it was oblivious I was hearing nothing but a recording, there was no presence. Weezer - Undone, has no emotion, compared to my 12+ year old hd555’s, it was flat and emotionless
  4. ScareDe2
    From my little experience the hd650 gives a unique musical experience. It seems to never fail to deliver the dramatic effect of the music accurately. The timing, the flow of the music is great. It is a neutral headphone with a bit of darkness. For me, the planars try to immitate that presentation but never quite fully achieve it in my opinion, due to the excessively fast decay and unnatural visceral bass punch and lacks of air and sparkles in the treble region. Many prefer that for some reason. You either love planars or you don't. Personally I prefer dynamic headphones for reference purposes. I think planars works only if your attention is focus on the richness of the mids and that you like a colored sound. Soundstage on planars can also be a problem, especially the Audeze, very small soundstage, smaller that a closed back headphone. And the realibility is the worst, I had two driver failures with my LCD2.2F. Even Tyll from innerfidelity who praise Audeze a lot admit to have driver failure with them. And they are very heavy, neck crushing pressure. Those HP are for a very particular niche of audiophiles. So be careful.

    That being said I am a fan of german headphones and if I had 1k to spend now I would probably try to buy 2 sets: DT1990 from Beyer and HD650 from Senns. Two is better than one :)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  5. Monsterzero
    Those are mutually exclusive traits unfortunately...Cant be warm and intimate and a "nice" soundstage at the same time,though the term 'nice" can be subjective.
    Typically its the bright headphones that have the widest sound stage...Beyer T1/DT990,HD700/800,AKG K712.

    Warm headphones typically have smaller stages.

    As hard as it might be you would benefit from not comparing speakers to headphones,otherwise you will be perpetually disappointed.
  6. gobstoppable
    I only compared them to speakers because I don’t have another frame of reference. I’ve owned the same pair of sennheisers for years. I haven’t tried another pair of hifi headphones until I tried the hd600’s. I guess I don’t really know what I want, or at least I don’t know how to describe it. I wish there was a place I could try them out, I’m honestly considering ordering several pair from amazon and returning the ones I won’t want.
  7. Monsterzero
    I just Googled your amp,and unless im missing something its a speaker amp,which isnt the same as a headphone amp...and that can be a lot of the issue right there.
    I have a Rogue Audio Cronos Magnum and its headphone jack is incapable of making any headphone sound good.For speakers its really nice,for headphones its total ****e.

    Im not familiar with HD555 but a quick check of its specs says its an easy to drive headphone(103db sensitivity)whereas the HD600 needs a proper headphone amp to sound its best.The clamping force is a well known issue with them and the laid back sound isnt for everyone,but im not sure that your speaker amp is enough to do any high end medium-hard to drive headphone justice.

    If I were you I'd figure out what headphones interest you and then ask for amp suggestions for those particular headphones.Not all HPs sound good with all HP amps.

    If you dont want to invest in a dedicated HP amp and were happy with the way the HD555 sounded from your speaker amp,you might focus solely on low ohm/high sensitivity headphones.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  8. gobstoppable
    right now im using a banana clip to 1/4 jack adapter like this

    currently i have ordered the parts to create this adapter, they will be here shortly

    I ran the 600's off the speaker connectors, without any resistors, so having enough power to drive them was not an issue. the amp delivers 15w per channel, I wouldn't think the amp would have much issue driving any headphones.
  9. Monsterzero
    Ahhh,youre a brave man running HPs of off the taps of a tube amp.I have used my vintage receivers taps to drive power hungry beasts like the HE-6,but was always worried of frying my Cronos Magnum.

    Ok,since youre a taps guy power def isnt the issue here....I can suggest looking into the following HPs...each have their strong and weak points:

    HE-6,discontinued,need to buy used.
    Beyer T1.2
    ZMF Atticus
    ZMF Auteur

    Mr.Speakers Aeon Flow Open
    Focal Clear

    There are others but that should keep you reading for awhile.

    EDIT ZMFs are over your budget.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    easily_amused likes this.
  10. easily_amused
    I don’t claim to be experienced in this but I recently had he exact same question so I figured i’d explain what I did.

    I first got a pair of T90s - odd choice I know but they are considered very resolinving, neutral and a little bright (beyer house sound) but they were relatively cheap. I listened to them for a few weeks and then decided I liked them for some music but they weren’t punchy enough for some of the more meaty music like rock, edm and the like which I listen too.

    Then I got a pair of Elears which are just under $1000 and they are sort of the opposite. Lots of attack, more intimate (closer sound stage but still places everything really well) and a lot more character - they also feel like they are worth the money. That’s hard to explain but if you open the Elears up and hold them then the difference between them and even the T1 mk2. (Or HD800 even) is obvious - they feel premium.

    My next headphone is likely to be the Aeon Flow - which is also under $1000 coming in around $790. And I’ll probably get T1s at some stage too to round out the set.

    Ok that was long, sorry. Here’s the reasoning though: I wanted a dynamic driver that’s super resolving and a little bright (Beyers or HD800), a dynamic driver full of character and musicality that’s great for fun but no technical slouch (Elears) and I want a planar headphone that gives a strong planar sound but fits somewhere between the ultra resolving and the ultra fun. All the headphones need to be comfortable and under $1000.

    I thought if I get all three of those then I can really learn to find the sound and feel that I like. And it also allows me to have some reference for other equipment I buy - so I can test amp/dac pairings.

    I guess the tl;dr is that for the $1000 bracket I don’t think you get an all-in-one. If you plan your journey just a little then you can make sure you see as many sights along the way as possible!
  11. NA Blur
    Mr.Speakers Aeon Flow Open
    Focal Elear

    Wonderful headphones, upfront presentation, phenomenal attack, detailed enough to get into the music. The edge in quality in sound and build goes to the Aeon Open.

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