Comfortable, lightweight headphones for big ears / head - under €800

Hello there!

I don’t know if there even is a headphone that fits my criteria, but I’m open to suggestions.

Looking to spend less than €800, but less is better of course.

As for what I’m looking for, and what I have tried, just to give an idea… starting with what I’m hoping to find.

Sound-wise, I prefer:
A more forward mid-range, perhaps a little bit of warmth, but still with some ‘air’ up top - just no harsh treble or bad sibilance issues.
I’m a big fan of the AD2000 sound but the wing system and lack of tilt swivel is killing it for me- I currently have the AD1000X with some Brainwavz earpads, and all the pressure goes in one place giving me a headache, plus the openings are only 60mm making it too small for my Dumbos.

As for comfort, I would love to have something around 70mm or taller for my ears, as they are about 72mm in height, and more than 50mm wide. I do not like leather or pleather because it’s not very breathable - I feel this aspect might really limit me but my skin is really sensitive to sweat irritations :frowning:
Weight is also important as I tend to use them for 6-10 hours a day, depending on what I do.
Clamping should be on the lighter side, as my head is quite wide.

Additionally… I like good build quality. I’m a sucker for ultralight things, and would love for it to be on the lighter side (sub 400 grams) while also being nicely built and not randomly imploding - I have had a few HiFiMAN headphones that I absolutely loved the sound from, but the comfort levels were bad and 2 of them failed on me more than once.
Not really sure what makes build quality good, but I’ve always been happy with Audio Technica and Sony headphones when it comes to look and feel.
I would also really like it if the cable was replaceable.

Worth mentioning - I have an iFi Nano iDSD Black Label DAC/amp combo, and hope to be using this with the headphones as well, not really looking to replace it.

And lastly, as for past headphone experiences-
I’ve tried HD800 but I find the midrange to treble transition a little too abrupt, the treble is just a little forward and sharp, even in the “S” version of the headphones.
HD600/650/660S/580 - these are decently comfortable, but the pads are very uncomfortable for me (super stiff, and when they get worn in, they become too shallow), and using replacement pads on these didn’t satisfy when it comes to sound.
Beyer ‘treble spike’ in the T1 is too much, as well as having too small openings in the pads.
Focal Elex definitely do well in the sound quality department, but the weight actually became too much.
Audeze LCD-2C were nice sounding, but even heavier than the Focal.
Usually heavier headphones are fine for the first hour or two, but after that, it gets to me.

Sorry for the wall of text, just not able to find anything that works for me, feels like I might have missed a few headphones in my search :thinking:
If there are any headphones that might fit well on large heads/ears, but requires modding/pad swap, I’m very interested in hearing about that as well! :smiley: I like the idea of customizing the last bit by myself.

Really appreciate any help/advice!

Hi! Welcome to HFGF!

Which Hifimans have you used? My first thought was “egg-shaped Hifiman” when you mentioned ear size. The Ananda is in your price range and probably has the signature you’re looking for. For Hifiman QC, I’ve heard that if you buy a refurbished model direct from Hifiman the QC is actually better because someone has gotten hands on them and checked them over.

Outside of that, I don’t know of any other headphones that have oval shaped ear openings. Community?

Thanks for the welcoming!
As for HiFiMAN, I’ve tried HE-1000 (not my own pair, just tried them) and absolutely loved the sound of them, just don’t want to spend €3600 (price where I live) on them - and I’ve also owned HE-400S, HE-560, HE-500 and HE-4. The HE-500 and HE-400S both broke in a few months, and the HE-560 / 4 I didn’t enjoy the sound of enough to keep around for long. 560 wasn’t actually bad, but I had HE-500 at the same time, and preferred those, even if HE-560 comfort was actually very much superior.

I do think the Ananda seems like a fantastic headphone overall, based on what my friends who have tried it said, and that it’s supposed to be somewhat like the HE-1000, just a bit inferior overall.
However, it’s not possible to buy from HiFiMAN directly here, I think - as I would have to pay ridiculous amounts of customs fees and taxes on import, as well as having to wait a few months for customs, currently. They are just a bit more than €1000 to buy from a shop here, so I’d probably have to consider buying a used pair, and then warranty might be a little tricky - as well as risky buying used without really seeing them in person.
I also have to admit I don’t know if the headband looks all that great, with its limited rotational swivel - at least from what I’ve read. I’ll have to do some digging and see, since I can’t try them in person.
And lastly… how are the earpads? Are they memory foam? Is there any 3rd party brands that fit? I have been greatly disappointed by HiFiMAN pads that I had on my HE-560, they just started ripping apart by the seams despite me being fairly careful with them. Never had that happen with any other brands :frowning:
or, simply if the pads themselves are better quality than their round ones.

Thank you very much for the response!

I’m not sure what Community means, or what you’re asking, to be honest… :open_mouth:

Welcome to hifiguides @munch
So mid-centric, a bit of warmth, and air in the highs without too much brightness but large ear cups and no stupid design that leads to pain and discomfort like the wing system. Your preference appears to be towards open backs.

Well that rules out the Aeons unfortunately as those ear cups are huge but they use a perforated sheespkin

Hmm, so I guess we can rule out sennheisers then

Beyer pads generally are close to the same size. There is a special exception to one of the beyer headphones since it does well with BRAINWAVZ XXL pads which is the 177x GO however this is a closed back and isn’t very mid-centric as instead they are recessed so I guess we can rule out potential beyers.

Going to create a very small list in that regard. Lets look at audeze for starters EL-8 Open: 520g

EL-8 Closed: 540g

LCD-2C: 549g

LCD-2 Bamboo/Shedua: 565g

LCD-2 Rosewood: 585g

LCD-3: 629g

LCD-X: 630g

LCD-XC: 680g

LCD-MX4: 555g

LCD-4: 695g

I think its safe to assume we can rule out audeze then. They are pretty heavy headphones

Let’s look at Focal

Elear: 450g

Elegia: 430g

Clear: 450g

Elex: 450g

So I guess we will have to rule out Focal as a brand.

Now let’s go to Hifiman:

Ananda: 399g and has egg shaped very large ear cups. Neutral Bright headphone. This could very well be the one you are looking for but the pads are a hybrid leather design called the ultra pad same pad that the he1000 uses

Edition XX: 420g also has egg shaped very large cups though unfortunately just outside your weight requirement this is a warm headphone with more neutral treble and a bit more centric into the mids.

Sundara: 372g mid centric sparkle on the highs with plenty of air and a natural sounding bass the issue here may be the pads

Looks like we can keep hifiman in the search here

@munch I know this is a bit on the side but does it have to be an over ear? Could it be an on ear instead? If you are okay with on ears I would bring up Grado as a brand as they have been said to have quite a few good mid centric headphones too. I found this out by asking in my own thread for mid-centric headphones. The recommendations on there were: Going to just copy paste some of the answers from there.
Grado RS1 and RS2, PS500, Shure 1440 and 1840. shure brandline is a very lightweight brand and may be worth looking into to see if they have a headphone for what you are looking for with large ear cups they have a large plethora of pad styles. Grado GH2, HiFiman Sundara. sony MDRMA900 used, Grados SR80e.

Another special option is modders headphones. The Fostex T50RP or T60RP may be able to be modded to exactly your preference and pad size due to the the shear amount of modifications you can use for the headphone and is around 320 grams in weight

Lol he meant what the rest of us on here think and may be ble to come up with

I have heard this quite a lot as well and people have practically confirmed this. Hifiman will sell open box’s directly on their site which are their refurbished models that have already had all the issues fixed on them and may be your best bet.

Yes! somebody finally said it! Most of the Audio Technica headphones have no tilt. makes no sense and ruins almost their entire line up for me. I gotta have some clamp on a headphone. without it a headphone sounds too light, thin, and too much treble

I mean, same boat. The wing system and no tilt killed the ad series for me completely and I have big ears like the op here which tends to cause even more issues

Well somebody needs to tell them. their entire headphones series rendered void!

Just calling in backup from the folks here at HFGF because my knowledge is limited.

Out of curiosity, have you tried or considered IEMs?

I’ll second the grado line. I got the Hemp LTD Edition yesterday and so far I have nothing but positive things to say (about the sound). If you are ok with on-ear then look into grado. Their house sound seems up your alley. Maybe even consider the Hemp LTD. So far it seems to be fairly warm with surprisingly good bass, typical grado mids (so good forward mids), and the treble is nice and rather smooth (no sharpness/sibilance). @elira has had the Hemps for a while so he could maybe give you some more in depth opinions.

lol what you think audio technica going to listen to that? no way. I personally can’t stand audio technica as a brand nothing I have tried for them has been positive for me. Some sound good or even great in some cases but the comfort for me personally has always completely sucked and made me turn away from them. Special exception was the m40x but I have a feeling grado is about to completely replace that tomorrow when I go to the audio store

Have you looked at their headphones?
The AD-series is the only one that lacks the second freedom of movement.
AVC, AVA, A, DSR, M,SR, ANC, AP and Pro series have it as do the AWAS, AWKT and ADX models.

Last one I tried from audio technica was if I remember right called the MSR-7 noise cancelling. Not bad just not for me, again I have extremely large ears though and a large head. Seems audio technica has more headphones for more portable uses least from what I have seen

Wow, thank you for taking the time to write all this out!

I am definitely a fan of open-back headphones, closed-backs tend to be a little too closed-in, in my experience - but it’s more limited than with open-backs.

You sure are making me tempted to try out another HiFiMAN, or rather, the Ananda… It’s actually mostly the part that touches my head that gets itchy if covered - so the hybrid pads I don’t really have a problem with, as they breathe a little bit, at least with open-back headphones.

I wouldn’t really want to go full-on T50rp modding, but they’re really nice for sure, I actually heard the Alpha Dog by MrSpeakers (now Dan Clark Audio?) and the Paradox as well. Just not really enamoured by the idea of semi-open headphones, I feel like I do enjoy hearing what’s around me, even if I live alone… :stuck_out_tongue:

Hmm, well… on-ear is most likely out of the question; my friend has the Alessandro MS-1 and I really don’t like how they feel rubbing against my ears. I don’t dislike the sound but it’s just not very comfortable for me.

I did try the Shure 1840, but the bass just sounds all kinds of weird to me - and the earpad openings are just a touch too small.
MA900 are great, I had a pair, but the earpads are far too shallow, making it feel like an on-ear. I tried a few pad swaps, but they sounded so shrill and harsh with all the non-stock pads I tried on them.

And… right, the community part - now it makes sense :smiley: I wrote this post at 1AM after trying to find some suitable headphones.

Would really be nice if I could buy from HiFiMAN directly if they offer refurbs like that! USA deals seem so good when it comes to my hobbies.

Again, thank you so much for the reply. I’ll have to see what I can find… Ananda really is calling my name…

— edit:

@Antpage2 - yeah, it’s a real mind-boggler that one… they are built so nicely and the sound when fitted correctly is really nice. But then they start crawling down after a while due to the wing system, and the uneven clamp gets even more noticeable after adjusting them a bunch.
R70x on the other hand… that headband is so adjustable! They feel great once fitted properly, if only it wasn’t for the wing system. Too bad the cups are only 90mm, so no earpads would make those work for me. Sound is nice too.

@WaveTheory - I have, but my ear canals are even more stupidly sensitive than the rest of my head, so I think I have to scrap that idea. Plus the feeling of putting in and taking out the IEMs wasn’t very pleasant, and a bit of a bother. Really surprising how good IEMs can sound, though.

@A_COC0NUT - that thing has quite funny marketing… $420 and hemp focused… but, unfortunately, I don’t think on-ears will work for me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sorry for the edit, not very used to this forum style!

1 Like

OK. Sounds like Ananda is a good place for you start. If that doesn’t work out I think playing with IEMs and swapping tips on them until you get a comfortable fit is your next best option.

Also, I’m assuming speakers aren’t an option(?) Because if headphones and IEMs don’t work for you that’s all that’s left.

You can always get a headband modification they are cheap one that zips or snaps or like dekoni nuggets or something that can help with that comfort. I think the Ananda would be good though since you also liked the He1000

Well you don’t really need to modify it a whole lot to begin with. The T20rp is fully open backed, granted it has a lot more bass, while the T50 is semi open back though granted can be made fully open. Putting a comfort strap on is a couple screws or you can get a zipper headband cushion or something like beyerdynamic has where it has multiple snaps that wrap around the headband. As for pads… I mean, it’s just pads lol just throw those on

thats rather unfortunate did you try other pad styles as well? They make different pad styles along with different materials. Some that are a bit more hollow and the like and may not rub as much.

I’m kinda half joking but the entire ATH-ADX line looks like it doesnt have any tilt except for the ATH-ADX5000, ATH-AWKT, ATH-AWAS.

The ATH-W5000 1700$ and down on their high fidelity line has no tilt. except the ATH-A990z and ATH-A550Z for some reason.

Also the ATH-R70x has no tilt. I got the AD900x and discovered this unfortunately.

I actually found a lot of IEMs to sound better than many full-size headphones - really love the BA sound - so I really would not mind that, but it might take some really special eartips to work for my ears - unless this is some common problem and there is an actual solution? That would be pretty fantastic, now that I think about it. Just seems like a really expensive experiment, as with most things in this hobby :stuck_out_tongue:

As for speakers - I have a pair, but I’m very limited when it comes to actual space, living in a tiny studio apartment, so they don’t sound fantastic and they’re very small, plus I can’t use them when it’s a bit late. Headphones are a lot more hassle-free, to me.

@Falenkor - I only tried the Grado brand bowl pads (?) and the stock pads on the Alessandro, but anything rubbing on my ear if I just move my jaw tends to get very annoying.

Actually thought of something… are there any Hybrid style pads for the AEon 2? You mentioned it as an alternative - and from reviews it seems like a super good headphone that is also comfortable and well-built, which seems like what the Ananda should be… :smiley:

I found a company in Belarus that has custom-made earpads available for the AEon 2, but it might be a lot of money and waiting time just to try. Just a thought, though.

@Antpage2 - right, the R70x doesn’t have tilt, but you can actually shape the headband as you see fit, making it so that you can angle it to fit your head perfectly, so the tilt isn’t important because of that. It’s not the most optimal solution, but it definitely works well enough.

No, unfortunately. I reached out to dan clark about different pads a very long time ago and they only have the newest creation of their perforation pads that are on the RT, open X, and Aeon 2. The pads are held on by an adhesive and by no means are they an easy changeable pad. You can find companies that do make custom pads for the aeons with differing fabrics but getting them put on will be a pain in the ass. Love my aeons but thats what of the bad points of it… pad swaps are a no go.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t find the headphone very hot and its extremely comfortable but it is still leather it builds heat may not be the best option for you.

I should also add that aeons are rather picky on their setup… They become a monster of a headphone with a higher end amp and dac connected to them especially when you turn them balanced.

i didnt like it at all. I tried that on the ATH-AD900X, bent the wire headband into a cone shape trying to get enough clamp and i still didnt. and now it looks goofy

Ahh drats, I see!

I think I will try to find a used Ananda, that way I can try it and hopefully re-sell with minimal monetary loss if I do not like it. I really can’t think of any better alternative in Current Day & Time.

And then later on… get a house, some speakers, and some flamin’ hot cheetos… I wish we had those in Europe.

Can’t really think of anything else without going in circles.

Maybe 3D-print some enclosure for HD800 drivers… but that’s a different thing altogether… :smiley:

Thank you so much for taking your time and helping me out everyone! Truly living up to the name of the community!