The Closed-Back Headphone Thread (Plus Comparisons & Reviews)
Sep 24, 2022 at 2:43 PM Post #5,026 of 5,352

catom

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Agreed that there is no perfect headphone, better luck catching a dragon :).

I have not heard the stellia or the th900mk2. I've always wanted to try both of them but never got the opportunity and didn't want to buy blind.

I have the Focal Clears and upgraded the driver wires to 18awg mundorf silver gold and resoldered everything with mundorf supreme as well as change the pads to custom leather pads. They have excellent bass impact but doesn't extend well, tapers off in the sub bass region. As much as I enjoy them, I need closed backs due to others in the household.

I found the aryas had great quality to the bass but lacking in the impact and volume to satisfy the itch for me.

I recently purchased the TRN Kirin which is a planar iem and it has reinvigorated my interest in planars, the speed is quite addictive and while the clears are quite fast for a dynamic, I find that it still can't match the speed of the planar.

This is why I'm very interested in the Sundara closed back.
You'd probably like the Stellia. I loved the Clear MG I tried but ultimately I passed on it because I have the Focal house sound in my collection. So you'd be presented with the same thing I'd imagine. Double down on that sound signature? Or try something else?

I think ZMF may reach deeper. Definitely try the Stellia and some ZMF if you can. If you're after the speed, the Stellia may be fast enough for you. I was a huge planar fan, but the dynamic drivers are getting so good now that I think they're just barely losing out here in terms of speed with some of the newer stuff that's coming out.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 3:11 PM Post #5,027 of 5,352

SlydZ

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I didn't like the Fostex TH900mk2 as much as I thought I would. I listened to them on a silver dragon cable at Moon Audio's table.

I'd honestly have to take the Stellia over them.

I don't think the Stellia really lacks anything. It's one of the (not the only) most perfect headphones I've ever listened to. I liked it better than the Utopia and other more expensive headphones.

Again though, when you can get the Elegias plus the Dekoni limited edition Stellia pads, you're getting maybe 50-75% of what you get from the Stellias...so are the Stellias 6x better? Because that's the price jump. They're a luxury. I'll get them one day for sure, but not before getting a variety of other headphones.

For more bass, the deep and lush bass, I'd probably look at ZMF. I think one of the biggest differences between Focal and ZMF being that to my ears Focal is more dynamic and energetic. ZMF is more smooth. That isn't to say Focal is fatiguing. For as being as dynamic and visceral as they are, they manage not to get fatiguing. You might otherwise think ok one or two songs is enough. Somehow Focal manage to stay on my head for a good while.

These Meze 109 Pros though (listening as I'm typing here on my phone). They're just reminding me so much of the Nightowls in terms of comfort/fit and sit somewhere between that laid back smooth sound and the Focal dynamic energy. I'm still forming impressions though. I know, not closed back, sorry. They are beryllium coated though, but Stellia has slightly more detail and speed. Less soundstage though given they are closed.
After a few months with the Stellias I think the same, but dependend with the genre or kind of music I listened more and more to the Hifiman XS. I did not expect that. Sometimes I like more to listen with that 500 euro headphone than with a 3000 euro headphone. I bought the XS more or less for movies, Youtube Videos and if I really want the open headphone feeling and more comfort. Because I like the XS so much, I bought the Hifiman Arya and this hp has other advantages to the Stellias like the immersive, open music listening in comparision and is really fast and crystal clear. Hard to compare, because the Stellia and the Arya are totally different.

I had the Elegia plus the Dekoni Stellia pads and compared them side by side with my Stellias. The Elegias should be my "portable" hp outside, at traveling.... I'm sorry to say, but this combination had nothing to do for me with the Stellias. The tuning is completely different. Could be that you get 50-75% in terms of details, but the tuning is different and the whole sound experience. The Elegia had a good amount of details, but in comparision with the Stellias they sounded totally dead. With the pads they sounded dead with more bass. Like dead neutral. Even if they are not neutral per definition. They are far far away of "fun headphones" especially with modern genres.

I kept the Dekoni Stellia pads for the Clears OG for a little bass boost, but I'm listening to the OGs with the original pads, because they give them more clarity (treble).

I think the Meze 109 Pros could be really interesting, but I can't justify another headphone. Probably if the TH900mk2 aren't my thing.

Agreed that there is no perfect headphone, better luck catching a dragon :).

I have not heard the stellia or the th900mk2. I've always wanted to try both of them but never got the opportunity and didn't want to buy blind.

I have the Focal Clears and upgraded the driver wires to 18awg mundorf silver gold and resoldered everything with mundorf supreme as well as change the pads to custom leather pads. They have excellent bass impact but doesn't extend well, tapers off in the sub bass region. As much as I enjoy them, I need closed backs due to others in the household.

I found the aryas had great quality to the bass but lacking in the impact and volume to satisfy the itch for me.

I recently purchased the TRN Kirin which is a planar iem and it has reinvigorated my interest in planars, the speed is quite addictive and while the clears are quite fast for a dynamic, I find that it still can't match the speed of the planar.

This is why I'm very interested in the Sundara closed back.

I can understand the need for a closed back. I enjoy my Clears, too, but its not enough bass, especially for modern genres. The sundara closed back is really interesting, because they should have a lot of impact and speed. The Hifiman Arya is very good for modern genres, too, especially EDM. The TRN Kirin sounds interesting, too. The planar IEM Supermoon from Campfire Audio should have the same properties (fast+good bass). I tried the U12T, I really like this IEM a lot, but they are a little bit too relaxed and I miss the impact/DD Bass.

You'd probably like the Stellia. I loved the Clear MG I tried but ultimately I passed on it because I have the Focal house sound in my collection. So you'd be presented with the same thing I'd imagine. Double down on that sound signature? Or try something else?

I think ZMF may reach deeper. Definitely try the Stellia and some ZMF if you can. If you're after the speed, the Stellia may be fast enough for you. I was a huge planar fan, but the dynamic drivers are getting so good now that I think they're just barely losing out here in terms of speed with some of the newer stuff that's coming out.
I think the same, that you can't go wrong with the Stellias. In Europe you can get them for 2000 EUR. I posted my impression with other closed backs in another thread:

Meze Liric: boring and overpriced for its technical abilities. In Europe you can get the Liric at the same price as the Stellia, so thats the benchmark. Perfect comfort.
DCA 2 closed: sounds like an open one (but I like the intimate sound of a closed one), very neutral and sounds compressed. Perfect comfort.
Focal Elegia: sounds dead neutral, even with the Stellia pads and a little bit hollow.
Focal Clear MG: I thought the bass would be nice and it is, but unfortunately it's much too dark and I missed the brilliance of the OG (treble)
Focal Clear OG: perfect all-rounder, everything just sounds good, very nice bass and treble. For 850 Euro its a steal.
Focal Stellia: Technically impressive, which makes a lot of fun. No easy listening, can be exhausting.
Focal Radiance: Sounds really nice, but in comparison with the Stellia a little bit boring, but relaxed. The bass is really nice. I thought about keeping it to complement the Stellia, but wanted a completely different sound signature and something fun and exciting. With one word I would describe the radiance with "relaxed".

Had no experience with ZMF, because these are in europe really expensive (VC closed is at 2750 euro)
 
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Sep 24, 2022 at 3:23 PM Post #5,028 of 5,352

AudioDuck

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You'd probably like the Stellia. I loved the Clear MG I tried but ultimately I passed on it because I have the Focal house sound in my collection. So you'd be presented with the same thing I'd imagine. Double down on that sound signature? Or try something else?

I think ZMF may reach deeper. Definitely try the Stellia and some ZMF if you can. If you're after the speed, the Stellia may be fast enough for you. I was a huge planar fan, but the dynamic drivers are getting so good now that I think they're just barely losing out here in terms of speed with some of the newer stuff that's coming out.
Having a Stellia and a ZMF Eikon, I can say that at least with an OTL tube amp, the Eikon goes a bit deeper/is more robust in its sub-bass response.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 3:54 PM Post #5,029 of 5,352

catom

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The tuning is completely different. Could be that you get 50-75% in terms of details, but the tuning is different and the whole sound experience.
Sorry, I should have been more clear. Yes, I agree here. I was speaking in terms of detail. What I was comparing when I listened to the Stellias was the detail. I was keen to see how the beryllium made a difference in detail and speed.

The tuning is different, but all Focal headphones do have their "house sound" in that you'll likely immediately know they are related and what you'd be listening to if you were doing so blindfolded. Their signature is really that distinct.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 10:58 PM Post #5,030 of 5,352

dougms3

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You'd probably like the Stellia. I loved the Clear MG I tried but ultimately I passed on it because I have the Focal house sound in my collection. So you'd be presented with the same thing I'd imagine. Double down on that sound signature? Or try something else?

I think ZMF may reach deeper. Definitely try the Stellia and some ZMF if you can. If you're after the speed, the Stellia may be fast enough for you. I was a huge planar fan, but the dynamic drivers are getting so good now that I think they're just barely losing out here in terms of speed with some of the newer stuff that's coming out.
I probably would like the stellia or radiance.

I'd just hate to have two headphones that sound that similar.

I've only heard the ZMF verite closed but it didn't sound like anything special to me. I listened to it for a good amount of time on ampsandsound red october. It sounds really good but for $3k I was expecting more. Perhaps its my taste, I like something along the lines of the focal house sound, intense, energetic and in your face.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 11:11 PM Post #5,031 of 5,352

AudioDuck

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The tuning is different, but all Focal headphones do have their "house sound" in that you'll likely immediately know they are related and what you'd be listening to if you were doing so blindfolded. Their signature is really that distinct.
I agree, and will add the exception here is the Focal Radiance, which has a different tuning/voicing. It’s warmer and more mid-bass/low-bass heavy and sounds more like Naim’s hifi-gear- likely due to the Naim/Bentley partnership that the Radiance stems from. This wasn’t an issue to me when owning it, but it is noticeably different from, say, the Elear and Stellia.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 11:14 PM Post #5,032 of 5,352

chaz_flhr

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Sorry, I should have been more clear. Yes, I agree here. I was speaking in terms of detail. What I was comparing when I listened to the Stellias was the detail. I was keen to see how the beryllium made a difference in detail and speed.

The tuning is different, but all Focal headphones do have their "house sound" in that you'll likely immediately know they are related and what you'd be listening to if you were doing so blindfolded. Their signature is really that distinct.
The Radiance is the one exception to the Focal house sound as it was voiced to approximate the TOL Naim system in a Bentley instead of the normal Focal house sound and I like it's warmth even if it is isn't as fast and articulate as the Stellia.
I always say that the Stellia is difficult to unhear, it sounds great with most amps or DAP's, paired with the right front end it's sublime and the right front end is a personal choice due to it doing so many things well. Currently for me it's a ifi pro stack running tube mode with some x bass.
My only complaint with the Stellia is ear comfort, I must have big jutting ears I can only listen for a few hours.
 
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Sep 24, 2022 at 11:17 PM Post #5,033 of 5,352

chaz_flhr

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I probably would like the stellia or radiance.

I'd just hate to have two headphones that sound that similar.

I've only heard the ZMF verite closed but it didn't sound like anything special to me. I listened to it for a good amount of time on ampsandsound red october. It sounds really good but for $3k I was expecting more. Perhaps its my taste, I like something along the lines of the focal house sound, intense, energetic and in your face.
The Stellia and Radiance don't sound that similar IMHO.
You can't make a Radiance sound like a Stellia but you can add warmth and bottom end to the Stellia.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 11:25 PM Post #5,034 of 5,352

chaz_flhr

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I agree, and will add the exception here is the Focal Radiance, which has a different tuning/voicing. It’s warmer and more mid-bass/low-bass heavy and sounds more like Naim’s hifi-gear- likely due to the Naim/Bentley partnership that the Radiance stems from. This wasn’t an issue to me when owning it, but it is noticeably different from, say, the Elear and Stellia.
How does the Stellia sound on the WA 2 I find it just good on Gen 2 firefly.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 11:29 PM Post #5,035 of 5,352

dougms3

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The Stellia and Radiance don't sound that similar IMHO.
You can't make a Radiance sound like a Stellia but you can add warmth and bottom end to the Stellia.
Well I know they dont sound that similar but in terms of the house sound.

Just as when you listen to Sony stuff, you can expect their house sound.
 
Sep 24, 2022 at 11:55 PM Post #5,036 of 5,352

AudioDuck

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How does the Stellia sound on the WA 2 I find it just good on Gen 2 firefly.
It’s good with the WA2, but not anywhere near its potential. It sounded better on my Violectric V200, and sounds GREAT with my Sony WM1A DAP.

This is why I’m thinking of trading or selling my Stellia and replacing it with a ZMF VC, which I KNOW will be wonderful with the WA2.
 
Sep 25, 2022 at 12:48 AM Post #5,037 of 5,352

catom

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I probably would like the stellia or radiance.

I'd just hate to have two headphones that sound that similar.

I've only heard the ZMF verite closed but it didn't sound like anything special to me. I listened to it for a good amount of time on ampsandsound red october. It sounds really good but for $3k I was expecting more. Perhaps its my taste, I like something along the lines of the focal house sound, intense, energetic and in your face.
No, I agree with you there. I actually preferred the Atticus and Eikon to it. I know the Atticus is somewhat distorted bass heavy, but I like that character. It's not technically correct, it's fun. I prefer fun headphones over technically correct or super neutral. I think most of the other closed back ZMF are a bit too smooth, muted, not real dynamic. So absolutely yes - not like Focal. I liked ZMF's open back more, which surprised me given my preferences. The Caldera was very good to my ears, probably the best ZMF has. Though I didn't get to try the Atrium.
 
Sep 26, 2022 at 11:00 PM Post #5,038 of 5,352

chaz_flhr

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Well I know they dont sound that similar but in terms of the house sound.

Just as when you listen to Sony stuff, you can expect their house sound.
The Radiance was voiced to approximate the TOL Naim system in a Bentley so definitely not the standard Focal house sound, Focal technicalities due to similar design and engineering inherent in Focal lineup yes but tuned differently. That is what is so nice about this hobby different strokes for different folks and a wide variety of manufacturers to choose from to fill your quest.
Now if I could just afford a Bentley Continental GTC speed to go with my Radiance.....
 
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Sep 26, 2022 at 11:08 PM Post #5,039 of 5,352

chaz_flhr

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It’s good with the WA2, but not anywhere near its potential. It sounded better on my Violectric V200, and sounds GREAT with my Sony WM1A DAP.

This is why I’m thinking of trading or selling my Stellia and replacing it with a ZMF VC, which I KNOW will be wonderful with the WA2.
For me the Stellia is best with my iFi Pro stack followed by in no particular order a gryphon, dx312 and a cap moded liquid platinum with warm tubes.
I do like warmth with body and hate brightness.
One day I will have to give ZMF a try, this hobby is hard on the wallet.
 
Sep 27, 2022 at 8:09 PM Post #5,040 of 5,352

SlydZ

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My first impression with that TH900Mk2 was: god are these bright. I expected much more (rumbling) bass, but I think I'm used to this of my Focal Stellia. With the TH610 pads the brightness is much better and listening after a while I can understand that these cans are a thing, but my Focal Stellia are much more universal for all genres.

The TH900MK2 sounds more open than the Stellia. I think thats because they are not so isolated than the Stellia and brighter. Afterall I think its not my case. I have the Arya as really open sounding and brighter headphone and the Stellia for really good bass/slam and universal closed headphone. The TH900Mk2 has some properties of the Stellia (closed, bass) and of the Arya (open sounding, bright), so I think that makes no sense for me. I have a really big head and the The TH900Mk2 fits really well.

Think about to try the Liric again as a relaxed and more portable headphone. The first time I listened to the LIric I wanted it as a universal headphone and more spectacular (in your face) headphone. The Liric were too unspectacular for that, but as comfy, portable and relaxed headphone....I appreciate the u12t more and more as simply good-sounding and more relaxed headphones escpecially in comparision with the Arya and Stellia which can be fatiguing.
 
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