Consensus great headphones?

I just received a text indicating has the OG Focal Clear on sale for $990 today, and I sighed with longing because while I’ve never heard them, the OG Clears are among the most lauded headphones by audiophiles on forums like this and by reviewers.

That got me thinking (always dangerous!): What headphones elevate to consensus greats from reviews, forum feedback or personal use? If this was a headphone all-star team, which ones would be unanimous first-team selections?

I’m talking cans that seemingly EVERYONE loves. Not something like the HD 6XX, which is respected and admired by many but still catches some sh*t due to blunted highs and the “Sennheiser veil.” Not the Focal Elex, which most love but some dislike for its aggressive nature and quality control problems. Not the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 Closed, which I own and love but some people dislike because of rolled-off ends of either end of the sound spectrum.

I’m talking the Kevin Durant’s, Mo Salah’s (for our Euro friends!) or Tom Brady’s of modern cans. Perennial all-pros.

My list, from my Internet travels and personal use:

HiFiMan Edition XS: Just about everybody loves these. I know why: I own them, and they’re terrific.

Sennheiser HE-1: At $59,990, they better be good!

HiFiMan Sundara: You see a scattered complaint about thin bass or tinny highs, but these are regarded by nearly everyone as outstanding for $350.

HiFiMan HE-400se: Like the Sundara, an idle bitch here or there, but everyone loves these as THE definitive entry-level planar.

Focal Clear OG: Revered by just about everyone. Why did Focal screw them up with the MG version?

Dan Clark Audio Stealth: The most lauded closed-back I can think of in the last three or four years, rivaled perhaps only by the Stellia. People love these things.

AKG K361/K371: THE default value choice for entry-level closed backs by damn near everyone.

E-MU Teak: People dig these as an excellent V-shaped bassy can that’s semi-open.

Focal Utopia: I rarely see an ill word spoken or written about these. Good thing, since they’re $4,000!

HiFiMan Susvara: Another super-pricey TOTL can that earns universal praise. Good thing: They’re $6,000.

Audeze LCD-5: Early days, but these TOTL cans are causing Old Faithful-height gushers of praise online.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few and may update. What are yours? Again, they don’t have to be headphones you’ve heard. This is just more of an interpretation of what are perceived to be the gold standard cans for nearly every headphone enthusiast out there.

This isn’t meant to be a dick-swinging contest or an argument over which brand is better than another. It’s supposed to be fun!


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Hhhhhmmm interesting topic and I’ll add a couple to your list.

ZMF has a cult following and if you heard any of their headphones you know why.

Meze seems to have very few complaints from the 99 all the way up to the Elite.

Audeze LCDX if you look past the weight comments.

I’m sure there are others out there.

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Beyernamic dt 880/600 ohm kept popping up so I finally bought one. Given the right power and a little low end eq (for me) they are detail monsters for $220 though
I got mine on sale for quite a bit less.

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I think every model catches some amount of flack. However, I would add the Arya Stealth

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I did extensive “research” on HarmonicDyne Zeus and they were praised by Zeos, Josh Valour, DMS, Crinacle and No Theme. So I bought them blind. And I can’t take them off.

Not the most versatile headphone to be sure, but if warm, smooth and analog sounding is a signature you want to hear… so so good.

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I would throw in the Denon AH-D9200
Can hardly imagine any Headphone enthusiast not liking them… I am sure some don’t like them but in general they feel like an absolute people pleaser for high fidelity music enjoyment

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Besides the ones you mentioned:
Verum 1 (disregarding QC issues)
koss khp30i
koss porta pro
Haven’t heard these but can’t really go wrong with:
zmf auteur, verite

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I need to try ZMF’s, for sure. You’re right: People have almost a cult-like attraction to them.

Disagree on the Meze’s. They’re among the most polarizing headphone brand of which I can think. For every person praising the 99 Classics, another person is ripping the flabby, excessive bass. Same with the Empryean. I’ve read just as many criticisms of a blunted sound for a $3,000 headphone as I have praise.

I owned the 99 Classics, and the bass bloat finally got to me, and I sold them.

Many of the Beyers catch a significant amount of shit for overdosing on treble. Surely, Beyer must have a darker or more neutral model, right?

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Yep, the Zeus definitely border on universal praise.

Denon is one of those brands that slips my mind. But you’re right: The 7200 and 9200 are loved by nearly all.

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Well if we’re going to disagree, I think this is a big one, I know a fair amount of people (myself included, although I don’t have as much experience with both as others I know do) who much prefer the he90 and find it generally superior to the current he1

I really like them, but I’ve seen plenty of people who thought they were unnatural, too bright, or not worth the money


I’m a jealous mofo that you’ve even heard the HE-1.

I visited a shop in Seattle last November that had the HE-1 on display. I listened to Focal Stellia in the shop – heavenly cans – and then asked if I could listen to the HE-1. The store attendant, who was cool as hell, smiled, laughed and told me those were available for demo by appointment only.

DOH! :slight_smile:

The recent Tygr, DT700 and DT900 all have a tamed treble peak. Other than those, pretty much all of them have the big treble peak. I guess the 1770 isn’t too bad either but for some reason some call it too bright as well and most ppl agree its tonality is a bit off.


I don’t think I have ever heard any one complain about The Argons, T50’s or T60’s other wise. Yeah the wait period is a bit ruff, but you are getting something crafted by someone who must be a wizened artificer.

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I’ve got to say most of the negatives I hear for the high-end meze’s are from reviewers. People say the liric can be peaky in the upper mids/treble. I don’t hear that at all and I’m pretty treble sensitive. So I always take thier comments with a grain of salt.
99s for the price bloated bass is acceptable but still not tons of negative speaking about it. Mostly it’s loved for the price.

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