Advice on buying Hifiman Sundara Vs HarmonicDyne Zeus

Howdy, audiophile community!

My name is Dr Bernard Shaw, I’m a Psychiatrist from Boston. I have popped up serious question on purchasing two different types of headphones. Since I’m a beginner in audiophile journey can you help me in picking up which headphones in open back category could I benefit much for enjoying lossless music listening from Tidal & Qobuz. I have designed budget allocation under $500

It would be great if you can help me pick between Hifiman Sundara & HarmonicDyne Zeus?

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Welcome! What specifically draws you to those two headphones? What kinds of music do you enjoy and what are you plugging them into (your source chain)?

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Hello there, thank you for taking a moment in helping me.

I have a iFi Zen DAC. It would be my primary source which I’m planning to plug the above headphones into. The reason I have picked up the Sundara is because it is in my price range and found out its a beginner audiophile headphone.

Lately I found out there is another headphone in that price range which I’m confused which is a better option to buy.

I listen to soft rock, guitar acoustics, blues, Jazz, electronic a bit.

Sundara would be a great place to start, for sure! So did you already purchase one or both? Are you looking for specific features? Both of those mentioned are open back, one being a neutral bright planar, the other being a v shaped dynamic driver. The Zen may power the Zeus better, as Sundara are more demanding, but if you’re using them balanced out of the 4.4mm output, it should handle them pretty well. Depending on some preferences, there may be some other recommendations in your price range, like a 58x if you’re really into jazz vocals. They’re more intimate, in your head sounding, and fairly neutral warm toned with a mid focus. They’d work well with your music preferences and are easy to drive and pair with amps.

I bought the Zen DAC and yet to buy a headphone. Should I go with Sundara as a retailer is providing me with a best deal.

If they’re offering under $300 new, it’s a good bet. They started at $500, but are seemingly now a fixture at the $350 price point.

Exactly what you have quoted for. I’m obtaining at less than $300.
Is the Zen DAC with balanced 4.4mm cable enough for sundara?

They do benefit from more power, but balanced the Zen should be fine. You could always add something like a Asgard 3 at some point and feed it with the Zen.

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Thank you for the suggestion my friend. Would you recommend some tube amp? along with Zen DAC

Also, Can I upgrade to Meze 99 Classics inn future?

Ehh I think the 99 would be a downgrade. The sound signature is actually pretty similar to the Zeus, so if your bored with the sundaras, you could try the Zeus later on as it’s also as good as the sundara but with a vastly different sound signature

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Thank you for the information. I will appreciate it and consider the upgrade after Sundara

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I forgot to add, a tube amp wouldn’t help much as the sundara’s impedance is quite low and would make the sound actually worse. The zen dac is perfect on its own, but you could try getting the zen can to stack later on

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Not necessarily. Tubes don’t do nearly as much for the 58x as for 6XX, 650, and especially 600, but does enhance stage and clarity a bit from my experience using them on a hybrid and ZOTL.

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Thank you, Zen CAN in future. Cool.

Oh, noted. Appreciate your necessary information.

Have you heard both now? I have not, but based on experience with the Zeus’s little sibling the Helios, I’m slightly skeptical that it’d be ‘better’ than the Meze, depending on which version, especially for build quality which appears exactly the same as the Helios just with a different grill and a driver swap. Comparing to Sundara is kind of comparing apples to oranges and likely comes down to preference.

Oh trust me, the Zeus and the Helios sound WAYYYYYY different. The Helios is more cleaner like a “mini hd 800s” as dms describes, while the Zeus is much more punchier and meatier. Completely different sound signatures. Although the Zeus does still sound pretty clear as well. Think of it like this

Helios - mini HD 800s
Zeus - upgraded meze 99 classic

Both the meze 99 and Zeus have the same bass emphasised warm sound signature, just the Zeus pulls it off quite a lot better.

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Trust is a funny thing…based on experience. When people haven’t heard the things they give advice about (or even something in the same family), and are basing things solely on sound demos, I have a much harder time considering the advice being given is trustworthy. Disclosures to that effect are appreciated so that those uninitiated or with less experienced have a point of reference for the experience behind the advice being given.

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Actually I tried the Zeus from a friend as well as the meze 99 neo (it uses the same drivers as classics put with a plastic shell instead). The Helios I haven’t tryied but everyone I know says they sounds very different from the zeus.