Home Headphone Guides The Best Audiophile Headphones (Part IV) [Complete Buyer’s Guide]

The Best Audiophile Headphones (Part IV) [Complete Buyer’s Guide]

by Stuart Charles Black
Published: Last Updated on
The best audiophile headphones

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To send me a pair of headphones for a demo, for the purpose of potentially adding it to this list: Click Here!

Note: I have cut down on this list quite considerably because nowadays I just don’t believe there are many headphones truly worth much more than $600. Stay tuned for future developments!


($300-600)


First:

  1. Top-tier ($300-600)
  2. Critical listening
  3. Closed-back

Audeze Sine

Price: Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Type: Closed-back.
  • Fit: Supra-Aural (On-ear).
  • Impedance: 20 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 10 – 50kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 100dB/mW.
  • Driver size: Not specified.
  • Material: Aluminum, authentic leather.
  • Color: Black.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 8.2 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Yes
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Fold-able: 
  • Weight: 230g.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, large felt pouch, lightning cable.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The Audeze Sine is the world’s first on-ear planar magnetic headphone, and boy howdy do they deliver.

The bass digs deep and has a lot of texture, is tight and clean, but also remains lean and not too overbearing. It seriously is the perfect amount.

Metal gushes quite a lot over these headphones, and he’s got every reason to. The mid-range is uncolored, smooth, and correct in Timbre. What is Timbre?

It’s an accurate headphone by and large and does very well for mixing/mastering purposes.

In demoing the Sine at my local Audio Advice, I found the overall sound very crisp and sparkly, with a beautifully controlled slam.

It’s just a grand sound overall.

Metal571 describes it as shimmery, glassy, etc. and I would have to agree with him. It left me very impressed.

Try Metals EQ settings if you want to bring the treble down some. He mentions them in the video below.

These really have an exceptional transient response, and handle fast guitars extremely well.

Female vocals are very present and alive as well, and I feel like the mid-range is a hare forward.

It’s a near-perfect balance, and I really got a sense of honesty with these guys.

Separation and instrument placement was spot on as well, and I started to hear even the smallest of details.

Stuff like echoes, extra voices, and seemingly insignificant sounds really made my listening experience all the more enjoyable.

Comfort is a bit awkward, as the cans are On-ears and the cups aren’t quite large enough. You will be adjusting these quite often I’m sad to say, as they will get hot around your ears. The build is phenomenal, however.

Things to be aware of

  1. I agree with Headfonics about the leather on the earpieces. It looks a bit tacky and is prone to scuff marks, dings, scratches, etc. They would have been better off just using a matte black finish, which would have rendered these babies perfect.
  2. To me, the Soundstage was pretty darn good for a closed-back. In comparing with the open-backed Grado SR225e, I honestly didn’t hear that much of a significant difference between the two.
  3. The angle on the cable provides a really impressive amount of strain relief due to its design. More on that in the video.
  4. The treble is missing a little bit of shimmer around 4-8k but is a bit over-accentuated above 10k which both Tyll and Metal571 talk about. I agree, and upon demoing them a second time, there is definitely an ever-so-slight piercing in the high treble area. It’s nothing to be overly concerned with, but it is there.

Video Review

Credit to @Metal571. Follow him on Twitter and subscribe to his channel!

 


Second:

  1. Top-tier ($300-600)
  2. Critical listening
  3. Open-back

Sennheiser HD600

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Note: The HD600 frequently dances around the $300 line, either a little more or a little less on any given day. I decided to put them in the $300 – 600 category because 1) I believe them to be top-tier headphones, 2) because at retail they sit comfortably in this price range, and 3) These truly are Top 3 in terms of Price to performance ratio and in my opinion one of the only headphones you need to consider at this price point and in this category.

Even with all that said, I think the 6XX (the one we saw in Part III) is a better purchase.

I’ll admit it’s hard for me to get rid of these given how long they’ve been around and how important they have been over the last 23+ years.

The fact that they still remain relevant after such a long time is a true testament to the sound. Out of the 10+ headphones I sold in 2019, only the HD600 and 9500 stuck around. That should tell you something! 

Specifications

  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 300 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 12 โ€“ 39000 Hz.
  • Sensitivity: 97dB/mW
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour earpads, plastic.
  • Color: speckled blue finish, black
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 10 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 9.2 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, fancy box. ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Amp needed: Yes.
  • Amp recommendation: Bottlehead Crack, JDS Labs Objective 2, Audioquest DragonFly Red, FiiO E10K, Chord Mojo.

Summary

Ah, some of my favorite headphones. So much has been said about these babies that it’s almost like beating a dead horse.

They’re simply some of the finest dynamic headphones on the planet and have been for over 20 years (1997).

Not much has changed in that time span, and it’s easy to see why they’re still highly regarded to this day. If you look around the internet, these are probably the only headphones that have consistently received almost perfect marks everywhere you look.

The build is very solid, and the comfort is exemplary. I never have to adjust these or take them off when I sit down for a listening session.

The sound is pristine as well. You’re getting an articulate bass, and while it doesn’t have a ton of impact, I’m never craving more.

It’s just right, digs deep, and has a lot of texture. The mid-range is this can’s bread and butter, and it’s a bit forward which gives vocals and instruments that extra sizzle and presence. Many people talk about the treble being dark, but I just don’t see it. What is the Sennheiser veil?

Things to be aware of

  1. While the build is good, the headphones have been known to snap if you aren’t gentle when breaking them in and fitting them to your head. They do need some stretching but do it wisely. I would use something like a big book.
  2. The chord is fairly cheap and flimsy. It doesn’t really bother me, but I did notice it. It honestly looks like it should be on a $20 set of headphones. It’s much too long for my tastes, but again, this is a nitpick.
  3. There is a bump in the mid-range between 3-4kHz, but to me, it’s what gives them their character. I will admit that I sometimes find myself turning down the volume a tad, as it can be a little harsh at times. Still, this isn’t a headphone you want to blast, and I have a tendency to do just that because I like my music loud. Just something to keep in mind. If you need to, just EQ that area down by about 3dB. ๐Ÿ™‚

Video Comparison with the HD650

Donโ€™t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. Any support is much appreciated!

 

 

 


Third:

  1. Top-tier ($300-600)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Closed-back

I don’t currently have a good recommendation in this tier, but stay tuned for future developments!

Fourth:

  1. Top-tier ($300-600)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Open-back

I don’t currently have a good recommendation in this tier, but stay tuned for future developments!


($600 and beyond)


First:

  1. Upper echelon ($600 and beyond)
  2. Critical listening
  3. Closed-back

I don’t currently have a good recommendation in this tier, but stay tuned for future developments!


Second:

  1. Upper echelon ($600 and beyond)
  2. Critical listening
  3. Open-back

HiFiMan Ananda

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos Audio! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

HIFIMAN Ananda vs. Edition X

Specifications

  • Type: Open back, Planar Magnetic. What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 25 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 55kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 103dB/mW.
  • Driver size: Not Specified.
  • Material: Fabric, Foam, Leatherette, Metal.
  • Color: Black/Silver.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes. 3.5mm.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 4.92 ft. (1.5m)
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Ear-pads replaceable: Not Specified.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Minimal.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 14.07 Oz. (399g)
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ Adapter.
  • Amp needed: No, but will help the sound open up.
  • Amp recommendation: JDS Labs Element, Audioquest DragonFly Red

Summary

The Ananda represents this tier absolutely perfectly and has since come down in price.

This is a headphone with an incredible amount of air, spacing, Soundstage, and near-perfect dynamics and resolution.

You’ll start to hear even the most intricate of detail, and in all honesty, it reminds me a lot of a Focal Utopia.

If you don’t have the cash or don’t want to spend $3-4k on that headphone (and I don’t blame you although the Utopia is the best I’ve heard), the Ananda is just about the next best thing with regard to this general type of sound signature.

Think of the Utopia and Ananda being somewhat similar with regard to crispness and freshness (as well as micro detail), while something like the LCD line from Audeze is a bit darker in the treble, but still incredible as well.

The Ananda is an absolutely beautiful headphone worth every penny in my estimation due to its rugged build, fantastic comfort level (for the most part), and phenomenal sound.

If you have a grand to spend and want an open-back Planar, this is the headphone to consider first.

Things to be aware of

  1. I did have an issue with the sound cutting out due to a faulty cable, but I was told by a guy at Audio Advice that the demo unit was the only one with issues. I brought the problem to their attention and they are repairing it. He said that they’ve sold a bunch of Ananda’s online and had no QC issues.

Comparison to the Sundara

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Sennheiser HD800/800S

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 300 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 6โ€“51,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14โ€“44,100 Hz (-3 dB).
  • Sensitivity: 102dB.
  • Driver size: 56mm.
  • Material: Alcantara, Stainless steel, Teflon, Velour.
  • Color: Black & Silver.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 3m.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 11.6 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: Yes.
  • Amp recommendation: Woo Audio WA2, SPL Phonitor.

Summary

This is Sennheiser’s flagship headphone, and it does not disappoint.

Out of all the flagships available, I think the HD800 has got to be the most covered and reviewed headphone.

This is pretty astonishing considering its price. Normally when you get into these higher ranges, the reviews kind of diminish quite a bit. The 800 is that exception.

It’s of course got a very neutral sound signature, with emphasis on the treble and perhaps a bit too much at times. Sennheiser took those complaints about its unnatural character into consideration and came out with the 800S, which fixes that spike at around 6kHz.

Build quality is immaculate, to say the least, and comfort is out of this world. Enough said.

The bass extends plenty deep, is very detailed, and in fact, may surprise you just how much range it has. The mid-range is also phenomenal and comes across as very natural, smooth, accurate, and relaxed. It’s very genuine and not forced.

The soundstage is right up there and probably the best all-around, with laser-like precision accuracy with regard to instruments.

Overall it’s the quintessential headphone and would be perfect if not for that 6k peak.

Things to be aware of

  1. This headphone is very amp-picky, so before purchase, I would highly advise you to be prepared to dish out some money for the right amp. The Woo Audio WA2 is a great option. Please don’t buy these headphones if you’re not ready to also get a good amp. I can’t drive this home enough. The best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD800.
  2. There is a spike in the treble around 6kHz. The 800S improves upon this, but you could always EQ the original down as well.

Video Review

It’s a real @Metal571 fest up in here, lol. Check him out on Twitter!

Metal 571’s second review

 

 


Third:

  1. Upper echelon ($600 and beyond)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Closed-Back

Sony MDR-Z1R

Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Type: Closed-back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 64 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz โ€“ 120kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 100dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 70mm.
  • Material: Beta Titanium Alloy.
  • Color: Black.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes, comes with 2. A 3 meter (9.8โ€ฒ) cable terminated with a straight 3.5mm TRS plug with a 1/4โ€ณ adapter, and a 1.2 meter (3.9โ€ฒ) cable. Cables are comprised of silver-coated oxygen-free copper conductors and gold-plated connectors.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 9.84 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 385g.
  • Accessories Included: Hard Case.
  • Amp needed: No.

Summary

The local Audio Advice in town has a few walls of headphones that I frequently A/B test and compile notes for in my reviews and comparisons. They have the Z1R away from the rest of the headphones on its own little table, minding its own business.

Nirvana & The Ginger

I had ignored it for a while because it seemed like a reject.

You know, the kid in school who everyone made fun of because he was different. Perhaps he was a ginger. Perhaps his glasses resembled goggles and he was obsessed with Nirvana (I knew a kid like that).

Perhaps it’s the opposite: he’s the privileged rich kid in high school who drives a BMW. Yeah, the Z1R has its own headphone stand, its own MP3 player, and its own personal special little amp. Maybe we should pamper it some more.

Seriously though, as soon as I picked the headphones up I knew I was in for a treat. They’re rugged, durable, and feel very solid in your hand. Though they are ginormous in stature, their weight is ideal. Not too heavy, not too light.

Dave Matthews

So I put ’em on and fired up “Ants Marching” by Dave Matthews. Wow. It was nostalgia city for me. I don’t remember the last time I heard the song, but it was like hearing it for the first time.

This is a common theme you’ll notice with some of these high-end headphones. Everything sounds foreign. It’s hard to explain, but it’s like you’re hearing the music as it was intended: no veils, no mud, no fuss, no muss.

It’s as if the sound was overtaking me but in the best way possible. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an open sound in a closed-back model. This makes the Z1R incredibly versatile.

You can theoretically take it with you instead of keeping it cooped up in the studio.

To sum it up, it’s a mellow sound with a lot of air, body, instrument separation, and clarity. It’s a big sound, but never intrusive. It excites you but doesn’t overwhelm you. You start to actually understand vocals rather than just hear them.

Things to be aware of

  1. They are going for a pretty penny. Are they worth the price tag? At $1,700, yes. At retail, it becomes a bit harder to justify, but everything in me wants to say yes.

Video Review

Don’t forget to subscribe to Z’s channel!

 

 


Dan Clark Aeon Flow

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos Audio! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Review

Absolutely Breathtaking.

Specifications

  • Type: Closed-back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 13 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: Not specified.
  • Sensitivity: 92dB/mW.
  • Driver size: Not specified.
  • Material: Protein leather, carbon fiber, leather, NiTinol, cast aluminum.
  • Color: Black & Blue.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Detachable, yes. Replaceable? Not sure.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 2m.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Earpads replaceable: Not specified.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: No.
  • Headband Style: Hammock, easy adjust.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 12 oz.
  • Accessories Included: Carrying case, foam-pad filters, detachable fabric-covered headphone cable with โ€œHirose-styleโ€ connectors at headphone end and ยผโ€ and 3.5mm dual-tip plug at the other end.
  • Amp needed: Yes.
  • Amp Recommendations: Oppo HA-2, Audioquest Dragonfly Red, FiiO E10K, JDS Labs Objective 2, Audioengine D1.

Summary

The sound of the Aeon Flow really reminds me of the wonderful open-back Audeze LCD-X. It’s just buttery smooth and balanced across the spectrum, with fantastic bass and darker-sounding treble. Totally non-fatiguing and wonderful.

The bass is neither rolled off nor too heavy. There’s a perfect amount, and it’s immensely detailed and also enjoyable. These could be your end-game closed-back headphones, and in fact, just maybe the best closed-back I’ve ever heard.

Things to be aware of

  1. The only small minor gripe I have with these is that the treble can come across as slightly metallic. It’s such a nitpick though. Learn more about these in my review!

My Video Review

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. ๐Ÿ™‚ Any support is much appreciated!!

 

 


Fourth:

  1. Upper echelon ($600 and beyond)
  2. Casual listening
  3. Open-back

Audeze EL-8

Price: Check Audeze! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Specifications

  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 30 Ohms.
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 50kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 102dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 100mm.
  • Material: Die-cast metal, protein leather, wood accents.
  • Color: Black, Brown.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 6 ft, and flat.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: Yes, inward allowing you to lay them flat on your desk.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 16.2 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter.
  • Amp needed: No, but will benefit.
  • Amp recommendation: Oppo HA-1, Emotiva Little Ego DAC, Audeze Deckard.

Summary

This is a very honest set of cans, but at the same time, they sound very relaxed and pleasant. One big thing I noticed is that you can really tell a bad recording from a mediocre one to a good one. You’ll start to hear exactly how a song was mastered, and it’s very revealing.

I would characterize the sound and detail as a light drizzle of raindrops. They may seem insignificant at first, but you still feel them. It’s the same with the EL8. Those small details become very apparent once you spend some time with the headphones and get to know their personality.

Overall these headphones are about definition and accuracy as opposed to impact. Lyrics are also easier to understand. Instead of sounding muffled and distant, you’re able to follow the words better. There’s a nice sense of clarity and space going on.

Things to be aware of

  1. These can sound a little boxed in at times, even a bit distant. I didnโ€™t find it to be a huge deal, but it is something that I noticed.
  2. From song to song, I noticed that certain mixes sounded much better than others. I believe this to be the honesty of the cans. I would try to focus on listening to the best sources possible; stuff like FLAC, WAV, and generally anything 320kbps and up. With both Deezer and Spotify, these sounded great, but you could definitely discern the bad tracks from the good ones.

Video Review

Don’t forget to subscribe to Z’s channel!

 

 


Audeze LCD-3

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos Audio! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Audeze LCD-3 Review

Specifications

  • Type: Open back.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 45 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response: 5Hz – 20kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 91dB/mW.
  • Driver size: Not specified.
  • Material: Wood, lambskin.
  • Color: Black, Brown.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 8 ft. (both)
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes, 4-pin mini XLR.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional. They kind of resemble the Grado style.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 19.2 oz.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, waterproof road case.
  • Amp needed: Yes.
  • Amp recommendation: Benchmark DAC1 HDR, Woo Audio WA7, Woo Audio WA6 SE, Bryston BHA-1, NAIM DAC V-1.

Summary

Listening to the LCD-3 is like putting a magnifying glass up to a fire ant, or a microscope to literally anything that has dimension. ๐Ÿ˜›

Everything becomes so crystal clear that it kind of makes you feel really weird. It’s hard to explain, but imagine music in its most raw state. That’s what I mean. Guitars sound crunchy to the point of you being able to see through the artist’s soul.

I listened to Yes’ Starship Trooper and I was completely blown away. It’s not so much that the music was orgasmic, but more just so incredibly revealing.

You can hear exactly, and I mean exactly what an electric guitar sounds like at its absolute core. I never knew a guitar could sound like that.

This is actually a running theme with all Audeze headphones from the LCD line, so really it’s picking your poison.

I also heard an extra bonus guitar that I had never heard before, and keep in mind I’ve heard Starship Trooper about a thousand times.

Normally with cheaper headphones, instruments, and sounds tend to get layered on top of each other. One of the striking differences between a true audiophile headphone is the fact that the instrument separation is that much better.

There’s a great sense of air as well, and the Soundstage really breathes.

Think of how music normally sounds through headphones; it’s kind of tight and bunched up. A headphone like the HD600 spreads it out a little, and a headphone like the LCD-3 spreads it out even further, but not too far where it sounds unnatural.

It’s like you can block out parts of the song, and simply focus on one thing at a time. Or you can just kick back and relax with it as a whole. That’s how present the music is.

Small, insignificant stuff becomes more apparent and interesting, which has been a running theme in this article.

The personality of the voice also comes through so well, that you get a sense of that person’s true character almost. You can feel their emotions better and may identify with them on a deeper level.

Things to be aware of

  1. These babies are heavy as crap. It’s like a bowling ball for your melon. Just kidding, but they are heavy. Hit the gym and do some heavy Rack Pulls before you buy a set of these puppies! You’re gonna need that neck and trapezius strength!

Video Review

Oh look, another @Metal571 fest up in here, lol. Check him out on Twitter!

 

 

 


Focal Utopia

Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

The Best Headphones for Gaming

The King.

Specifications

  • Type: Open back, dynamic.
  • Fit: Circumaural.
  • Impedance: 80 Ohm.
  • Frequency Response:  5Hz – 50kHz.
  • Sensitivity: 104dB/mW.
  • Driver size: 40mm.
  • Material: Lambskin leather, Memory foam, Carbon fiber, Beryllium, black anodized aluminum, Black metal mesh, brushed aluminum.
  • Color: Black, Silver.
  • Cable replaceable/detachable: Yes.
  • Cable coiled: No.
  • Cable length: 13.1 ft.
  • Comes with straight cable: Yes, 2 pin lockable ยฎLemo.
  • Earpads replaceable: Yes.
  • Rotating ear-cups: No.
  • Headband Padding: Yes.
  • Headband Style: Traditional.
  • Foldable: No.
  • Weight: 1.08 lb.
  • Accessories Included: 1/4″ adapter, Huge box, various small booklets/documentation.
  • Amp needed: Yes.
  • Amp recommendation: Naim DAC V-1, Bryston BHA-1. If you’re on a budget, the Magni will suffice.

Summary

These are some of the most transparent headphones on the planet, but they also happen to be extremely pleasurable and fun to listen to. I would say they work well as both casual and critical headphones, but more so casual because they are a bit more laid back in the treble regions.

The main takeaway with the Focal Utopia is complete transparency. Be prepared to hear everything. I talk much more about these in my official review. Link below!

Things to be aware of

  1. The cable is extremely thick and cumbersome. DUMMY THICC. Plan to use this in-studio only.
  2. Despite their low impedance and high sensitivity, a good amp should be paired with these. An amp/DAC combo really won’t suffice because of how bulky the cable is. It’s not really ideal for that kind of setup.

My Video Review

Please don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. I would really appreciate any support! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 


Final Word

This should give you a great idea of what exactly you’re looking for. All of these headphones have been reviewed very favorably, and my experience with them has been extremely positive.

After reading this, I’m sure you also got a sense and understanding that truly no headphone is perfect. Even the best headphones have flaws, and as I said in the beginning, it’s a trade-off and something you’ll have to accept with any purchase that you make.


Wow! Thatโ€™s about it for today my friend! I hope youโ€™ve enjoyed this article on the best audiophile headphones, and came away with some newfound knowledge.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you spot something that’s not accurate. This was a fun article to write but got pretty grueling towards the end. I’m bound to have made a mistake or two with specifications especially. Though the majority of them online are correct, no one’s perfect, and I myself have spotted inaccurate numbers in my own research. So please leave a comment or contact me if I need to fix anything. ๐Ÿ™‚

That said, which one of these tickles YOUR pickle? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Be sure to check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!


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21 comments

CG April 9, 2018 - 6:22 pm

Wow, now that’s a great article!

Thank you for taking the time to write about and review all these headphones. I think I’ve settled on the M40x’s since they tend to be in my budget and seem like they’ll suit my (non-audiophile) listening preferences.

I like the price range of the V6’s as well, but the coiled and non replaceable cord with pretty “meh” looks are a turn off, IMO.

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Stuart Charles Black April 10, 2018 - 12:28 pm

Thanks much CG!

You’ll love the 40x’s. Let me know your impressions once you have tried them out for a bit!

Best Regards,

-Stu

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Philippe April 14, 2018 - 11:55 am

What a great review and you really know about what you’re talking.
You convinced me to try the Samson SR850’s. I own many headphones, finally found the one who sounds great to my ears (Beoplay H6 MkII), but I always will enjoy to test new models and hope to be positively surprised and pleased by their sound.

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Stuart Charles Black April 16, 2018 - 12:27 am

The SR850 is a great entry level sound, and in fact can compete with higher priced models! I still have my pair and love them for their crisp detail and revealing character. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the nice comment and for stopping by!!

-Stu

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Nicholas April 15, 2018 - 6:48 am

Yo Stu!
Have you ever tried Hifiman Sundara? (not Susvara Xd)

I’m curious about comfort and sound quality since they claimed to replace its older brother(sister?) he400i.

In my country, there’s no store that I can demo Sundara…..
Let me know what you think once you tried them!

Very best.

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Stuart Charles Black April 16, 2018 - 12:23 am

Nicholas!

Perfect timing my boy! Before I even read your comment I was at Audio Advice yesterday perusing the headphones and saw something different. The “HIFIMAN Sundara.” It looked absolutely delicious in every way. Being that I’m an avid borrower of the Audio Advice headphone inventory, I couldn’t help but take it home. I’m wearing them right now!! Stay tuned for a Video Review as well as a written review once I’ve spent some time with them. I will email you when it’s ready! Hopefully I will be adding them to this list very soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for stopping by and check me out on Youtube!

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Stuart Charles Black April 26, 2018 - 4:07 pm

Hey I reviewed the Sundara! Check the video above towards the top of the page and let me know what you think!

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Vanessa April 25, 2018 - 10:52 am

Hi Stu,

Great review! I was wondering whether you know the Bowers & Wilkins P5 series 2 or the Sennheiser HD 4.3? If so, could you maybe give me some feedback since you seem to have the knowhow on any headphone? Thank you in advance!

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Stuart Charles Black April 25, 2018 - 8:44 pm

Hey Vanessa!

Unfortunately I don’t know much about either. I do have experience with the P7 and P9. I do not like the P7 at all, but love the P9. The P7 is very stuffy/clammy, and not at all enjoyable. I’ve tried on a few different occasions to like it, but simply cannot. It’s really just not a good headphone. By contrast, the P9 is fantastic but does come at a price. Not sure why there’s such a huge difference in sound quality, as most companies will make small improvements as the price gets higher. For some reason, the mid-range priced P7 sounds awful while the P9 is incredible. If I had to guess, I would say the P5 sounds about equal or perhaps even worse than the P7, but I don’t know for sure. Luckily I can demo it at any time at my local Audio Advice. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Let me know if you would like me to demo them.

Blessings,
-Stu

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Nicholas May 9, 2018 - 3:04 pm

Nice review Stu!

I really appreciate it!

Maybe I’ll replace my dt880 pro as an upgrade next year ๐Ÿ˜›

What about the new Sennheiser HD660s that Tyll didn’t like? (he said that legend doesn’t continue…???!?)

What do you think about the HD660s?

Let me know your thoughts once you’ve demoed them!
Cheers!!

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Stuart Charles Black May 12, 2018 - 9:03 pm

Hey Nicholas!

I will definitely let you know once I get my hands on a pair. ๐Ÿ™‚

-Stu

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Gaims August 25, 2018 - 2:36 am

Hi Stu
An excellent review but I have a question: If the HD700 is better than the HD650 why did not you put it and put the HD650?
Thank you

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Stuart Charles Black August 25, 2018 - 12:50 pm

Hey! Thanks so much for your nice comment. Not sure where I said the 700 is better could you show me? I think the 650 is probably the best overall for the casual listener while the HD600 is the best for someone who desires a more sterile type of reference sound. Let me know!

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sstt June 11, 2019 - 1:30 am

What is the best headphone for you?

I’m thinking of HD600 or HiFiMAN Ananda

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Stuart Charles Black June 11, 2019 - 4:19 pm

Hmm that’s an interesting question because I would consider the Ananda a true step up from some of the mid-tier stuff like the 600, 650, Sundara, etc. What type of music will you be listening to? The Ananda has a better overall bass response. Less rolled off, more thump, but it’s not out of line. Mid-range on both is exceptional, but the forward area around 3k on the 600’s has always bothered me.

Treble is darker and more subdued on the 600 vs. the crisper, brighter treble of the Ananda. My only nitpick with the treble on the Ananda is that it’s just ever so slightly hot, but it’s such a minor gripe that it really doesn’t even matter and you may not notice.

The Ananda is a much more open sounding headphone. Lot’s and lots of air, spacing, and room to breathe. Soundstage is pretty good but nothing outrageously special or anything. Definitely wider than a 600 though. The 600’s Soundstage is very narrow.

You’ll also be able to drive an Ananda from your phone at 25 Ohm and over 100dB Sensitivity. With the 600 you’ll need an amp for sure at 300 Ohm and 97dB. It’s just not very efficient and won’t do well with a phone or even straight out of a laptop.

Comfort wise, I would take the 600 over the Ananda but it’s really close. The Ananda sits more loosely on your head and feels a bit awkward at first, like you’re wearing a football helmet. XD. Comfort on the Ananda is fantastic save for one small issue I had where it kind of digs into that bone area behind your ear after awhile. Still a fairly minor complaint.

The 600’s are very clampy at first of course, but over time open up and just feel amazing on your head for extended periods. I almost forget I’m wearing them sometimes.

Build is tough to say. The 600’s are lighter but both feel solid. I don’t find the Ananda bulky but some do. The 600’s are very compact but don’t fold up obviously and the ear cups don’t swivel. They move slightly to get a good fit. The Ananda’s cups do fold and rotate in a myriad of ways.

I think as far as materials go, the Ananda is a bit more rugged.

Overall, I do think the Ananda is a great step up from the 600 if you have the cash to spend. If not, you’ll be really happy with the 600 but do keep in mind you’ll need an Amp. I did an article on the best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD 650 and all of the same amps apply for the 600 too.

Let me know if that helps and keep me posted!

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Isak Storm January 21, 2020 - 8:23 pm

First of all. Thank you for this comprehensive website. I’ve been reading every square inch of it, or at least I’ve been trying to for the last few weeks.
Got a question for you, do you still consider the Sennheiser Momentum to be as good now as they were when you wrote this three years ago?
Reason why I’m asking is that I got an offer to buy these used for 75 bucks.

Looking forward to review of the Sennheiser 6xx:s and 58x:s as well as the dragonfly cobalt. I’m currently considering getting the chord mojo or the cobalt.

Most of all. Thank you for all your work. I’ve subbed on youtube, signed up for your mailing list..
Greetings from Sweeeeden (As the tendency to imitate our language goes:)

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Stuart Charles Black January 22, 2020 - 11:28 pm

Dude! Thank you so much for your kind words. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you can get a Momentum for $75 that’s a fantastic deal. What kind of Momentum is it? There have been a lot of iterations over the years.

My 6XX review is actually up! Check it out and let me know what you think: Sennheiser HD600 vs. HD6XX. Also def consider sharing with your friends if you think they would benefit from a headphone like the 6XX. I’m actually going to be making a new link on the homepage for newer folks to the hobby, outlining the best options. 6XX is definitely the absolute quintessential audiophile headphone in my opinion (even more so than the HD600 that I’ve had since 2016!!) You’ll find out why in the article ๐Ÿ™‚ I def need to update the best audiophile headphones to reflect the change.

Gosh, so many people have been asking me about the Cobalt and I really need to get my hands on one. I have the DragonFly Red here at the pad and have been itching to compare them. Sit tight! Thank you again for your support. It means a lot!

How did you stumble upon the site by the way?

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senn guy June 2, 2021 - 3:26 pm

FYI, you state the HD6XX falls in between the HD600 and HD650 sonically. But that is not true. Sennheiser has come out and stated they are identical drivers configured the same on both the HD650 and HD6XX. Inner Fidelity did measurements that back this claim up. And many that have both, including me, have attested to the fact that they sound the same. The differences are the color, the supplied cable, the packaging, and obviously the branding.

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Stuart Charles Black June 3, 2021 - 12:51 pm

Disagree and I’ll link you to a video I did. They do not sound the same at all. Not even close. 650 is way more laid back, relaxed, and veiled than a 6XX. The 6XX is crisper and livelier sounding and plays more like a 600 than it does a 650. It should be obvious to most people, but that’s precisely the issue. Most people don’t actually critically listen to headphones; they just parrot what everyone else says on the internet and that’s how misinformation gets spread. https://youtu.be/8Ki2B_fGZqw

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Minhaz Abedin September 24, 2023 - 1:07 am

Wow, I had no idea that finding the Best Headphones in Bangladesh could be so easy! Your blog has made the search process a breeze, and I’m now confident in making an informed decision.

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Stuart Charles Black September 24, 2023 - 11:09 am

My pleasure, Minhaz! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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