Best ~$500-$600 Headphone

As happy as I am with my Sennheiser 58x headphones, I’ve been wanting a pair that I will use exclusively inside with my computer for mixed use of gaming and music. I want sound quality to be the most important and for gaming, the imaging just needs to be good enough for me to hear what is going on around me position wise. I am looking to spend around ~$600 all said and done, but I can stretch a hundred or so if something is really compelling.

This is less important and can be disregarded if compromising on the sound quality, but it would be nice to have something that complements my 58x and gives me another type of sound. So for me, it would be nice to go planar with a bit larger of a soundstage than my 58x, which feels very intimate. Semi-open/closed is a bonus, but not required.

My Current Shortlist

  • Fostex T60RP Argons Mod [Semi-Open, Planar] $455
  • DROP + DAN CLARK Aeon Open X [Open, Planar] $499.00
  • SendyAudio Aiva [Open, Planar] $479.00
  • Neumann NDH20 [Closed, Dynamic] $499.99
  • Focal Elex [Open, Dynamic] $600.00
  • Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO [Open, Dynamic] $533.90
  • Sennheiser HD 660S [Open, Dynamic] $468.99

Feel free to make any recommendations on the above or other headphones that I haven’t included. Thanks! :smiley:

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So personally I would suggest the t60rp, aeon open x, ndh20, or 660s for what you want

The 1990 sound really up your alley for something pretty different, it’s a bright, neutral, detail forward headphone with impressive staging capabilities, but might get harsh at times, works very well for gaming too

The elex would be my pick for music, it’s very refined with a nice mild w shaped signature, with a very impressive spatial recreation. It’s pretty natural with a at first intimate stage but it can extend very far if the music calls for it, and it’s got great speed and detail.

The aiva would be intimate, aggressive, and slightly v shaped but mainly treble focused. Personally not the largest fan, but it would be different so I’m mentioning it lol

You can find a used lcd 2 in this price range as well, you would look for a fazor model with the new headband (as the older headband without the comfort strap might not have good enough imaging for you). It would be warmer, thicker, smooth and enjoyable

Something else to consider might be the hifiman edition xx, it’s got a really large presentation and pretty nice impact, warmer sound with great layering and an interesting sound overall.

Some reasons for not reccing the other options:

The t60rp is pretty nice, but is needy with an amp, is planar but imo doesn’t really give you the full benefits of planar, and imo isn’t that wide or anything, it’s a solid pick but personally it’s not interesting enough to me, there is only so much you can do with a t50 driver

The open x is nice, but it still has some issues from the original aeon flow, which include having to play them at loud volumes for higher quality, dynamic range compression, and for some an not that fun sound (although the open x is a bit more enjoyably tuned)

The ndh20 is a warmer closed back that tbh might remind me of the 58x a bit, it’s warmer with a bass hump and sometimes smoother at times, stage is a bit narrow, and comfort is a miss for most people if that matters to you

The 660s is going to be too close to the 58x for you imo, it’s more a direct upgrade to the 58x while maintaining some similar aspects

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personally would not recommend the 660s for what you’re looking for. I owned a 6xx and a 660s and they did not sound different enough to me to warrant having both. Also although I like and own the 660s I don’t think its worth the price tag of a new one at around 500.

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For different, Sendy Aiva/Blon B20. I can get enough of that sound but it is treble focused weird bass punch.

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The Elex are AMAZING and different sounding from anything else I own. I am using these today with my Liquid Spark and they sound Great.
At least on the music side, they are a nice treat.

PS: Right now I am on a Seether binge and they are rocking! I wasn’t sure how they would do as they can be a little fussy on source material.

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For gaming the 1990 are pretty much the best n this price range. But the treble can be really harsh for many

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So it sounds like the general consensus is:

  • For gaming: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO $533.90
  • For music: Focal Elex $600.00

Both are dynamic, which is a shame since I wanted to try planar for this upgrade, but it sounds like sound quality wise that these dynamics are still the champs.

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So all dynamics are not the same, they come in many different variations with different sounds. I think you could also pick up something like a sundara if you wanted to try a real good planar for a good price (hell, you could even pick up a 4xx and that would be something fun to try)

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Just realized this large flaw that it should have said wouldn’t instead of would lol. I wouldn’t suggest the t60rp, open x, ndh20, or 660s (if you didn’t pick that up in the rest of the post that is)

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Yeah, I figured that is what you meant based on the rest of the context.

And yeah, I understand that dynamic are not all the same and neither are planars for that matter. The tuning, implementation still reign supreme. I guess I was just more curious on having a headphone based on a different core driver technology like planar vs dynamic rather than the tuning itself. Just because I never owned a pair of planars yet.

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if you want to try planars, as m0n suggested I think the sundaras are a good choice. They won’t break the bank and are very different from the 58x. They are much wider and brighter enjoyable headphone all around

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Gotcha gotcha. Well the elex is an aluminum magnesium dome dynamic if that interests you lol. I get it, makes sense, you could always get both lol

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Hmmm. How would you compare the Argon T50RP MK III vs Argon T60RP vs the Sundara? Would you say the Sundara planars are superior across all three?

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I would personally prefer the sundara because of the imo more impressive sound with better technicalities, but it is more preference I would say. The argons would be bassier and more fun per se, but I think the quality of the sundara overall is more desirable to me imo

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The Sundara and Elex are reference class to me. But i heard a Joshua Valor review of the t60rp where he really didnt seem all that impressed with it. Not sure if the Argon mod would make it much better. but no one seems to have tried it or reviewed it. which tells you something lol. The DT1990 has the treble spike which most people dont like. Valor says he uses the analytical pads and some foam to bring down.

I feel i upgraded from the Sundara to the Elex. So i would vote Elex for you. Its really a marvel of a headphone that punches way above its price. The Aiva is on sale right now for 475$ at Drop. But i believe the Elex is the superior headphone.

I really didnt like the NDH20. sounded dark and woolly to me. and the Sennhieser HD660S i hear sounds very very similar to the 58x.

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If closed is a bonus, you might be able to find a deal on the Elegia. It’s easy to drive and has a nice open v/w shape sound, similar to the Elex. I managed to find one new for $599 recently.

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Hmm, to me personally the elegia is more neutral with less subbass and a flatter midrange, but they are surprisingly open sounding for a closed back, and retain many positive aspects of the focal sound

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Well the T50RP wasn’t rated that highly until the mod as well. Which makes me think that the Argon mod is what makes them sound better. So if it works for the T50RP, it likely does for the T60RP as well since they use the same drivers. I guess it comes down whether it’s worth the price increase though.

The Elex definitely intrigues me, but the recent reviews complaining of build quality issues is a bit scary. Considering it’s a $600 headphone, build quality issues are big since it’s hard for me to pay for a replacement and i’m not sure how long until they stop sending me replacements.

I might go DT1990 just because it seems to be the best. Or maybe even the DT177X to get a closed back option and then get a Sundara later on for planar.

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Tbh there has really only been one batch where there were sig qc issues, others have been fairly fine without issues

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It might be. This last batch seems to be fairly bad according to the reviews. The thing I most worried about is the people who say it has been working for a month or so before it dies. I’ll definitely consider it seeing as how it’s such a highly regarded headphone soundwise. It’s only $600 right now so it might be a good time to jump on the pre-order. Seems I have some tough decisions to make.