Endgame for Metal Music

Hi everyone, so I’m fed up with messing around with different headphones and gear and I’m looking to go complete endgame and just set and forget for good. Willing to spend up to 3k AUD maximum. So uber high-end headphones like the Abyss 1266, Susvara, LCD-4z, Utopia etc. are just out of the question. Still, have to pay the bills…… :frowning:

I currently have a Fostex TH-600, Focal Elegia, Burson Fun amp and an SMSL SU-8 V2 DAC. I recently bought the Focal Elegia, but I have found that I prefer the sound of the 600 overall. But both are still missing… something.

I am thinking of selling almost all my audio gear and buying the RME ADI-2 DAC which from what I’ve been reading, seems to be the best “value” overall high-end DAC/amp on the market.

Now, headphones. I mainly listen to metal, rock and hardcore music. But I will very occasionally venture outside these genres as well. Sound signature wise I want excellent bass quantity and quality with plenty of slam, impact and weight. Of course, excellent, meaty and forward mids and clear/crisp but non-sibilant or fatiguing highs. I would consider bass the most important end of the frequency range. I can deal with imperfect mids and treble somewhat, but bass-lacking headphones are a complete no-go.

I basically want an improved Fostex TH series sound, but with better, more forward mids and non-sibilant treble. If that exists. I have heard the Fostex 610 and the 900 and very much liked both. But the 900 just needs more forward mids and to tame that sibilant treble! If they did that, it would be perfection.

I have heard the Audeze LCD-X and LCD-2 and didn’t really like them as they sounded somewhat muddy/fuzzy compared to the clarity of the Focal and Hifiman. But haven’t heard any of the higher-end models, or any of the closed-backs. So I won’t go as far as to dismiss the whole line completely, based on my limited experience with those two.

The best headphone I have ever heard is the Focal Stellia, even better than the Hifiman Susvara (which I have also heard), but I felt its price was ridiculous (just like the Susvara) in comparison to the similar sounding and much less expensive Clear and even the Elegia.

Headphones I have been looking into or considered:

· Meze Empyrean

· Mr Speakers Ether C/Flow Closed

· Focal Clear

· Hifiman Arya or Ananda (heard the Ananda and liked it, but went with the Elegia instead because I thought it sounded clearer and more forward, but in practice, is lacking in bass quantity and impact somewhat and is quite fatiguing for long listening and unforgiving of bad material (a bit of buyers remorse perhaps?))

· Hifiman HE-6se?

· Fostex 909?

· LCD-3 Fazor or XC?

· Sony Z1R?

· Denon D7200

· Beyerdynamic T1, T5p, Amiron, 1770, 1990

· One of the ZMFs?

· Campfire Audio Cascade

· Sennheiser 820, 800s, or 660s

Any thoughts and opinions would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.


I like the Ether C closed for any genre, it is very good headphone. Plenty of detail while adding enough bass, it doesn’t have as much as a Fostex but is clear and well defined.

Have you considered any Stax equipment? That will provide you with more than enough detail.

Did you ever listen listen to the HD650/6XX? It would be a helpful point of comparison. They’re subbass performance is bad, but that’s not important for metal (60-350 Hz is what’s most important IMO). Without EQ, they remain my favorite for metal over the HD800S, Sendy Aiva, and Focal Elex. But if your getting the RME DAC, you’ll have parametric EQ available. You want headphones that match your ideal sound out-of-the-box right?

I think that the ether c is too compressed sounding and lacking some dynamic range for this type of music. The stax would definitely be something to look at. The 007 or 009 would have enough bass as well.

Ananda doesn’t quite have enough punch for metal. I usually use Dekoni Blue with velour pads. I can see DT1770 being awesome; I only demoed them for a few minutes but I’ll be trying them again when it’s time to buy something

That reminds me, the Arya is actually pretty good for metal, because it really gives you that big punchy sound, and it’s kinda interesting because of how the lower end kinda sounds separated (in a good way) and almost enhances clarity

I agree with that, as they have a bit more bass and body than Ananda. Planar metal is fun because there’s a better chance of feeling the impact of the kick drum.

What kind of metal do you like @Username69? If you like the modern stuff, they use a lot of gating on both guitars and drums, so a fast response and big low end would be good for that

In 10 years of listening to (mostly) metal, nothing sounded bad on my Sennheiser HD280 Pros. :stuck_out_tongue: Zero soundstage, though.

The problem with any headphones (not speakers!) with good, neutral 10+khz treble is, if any song is a bit bright, and you want to crank the volume, you’re screwed. Not a problem with these.


This is a good test for speed. If it doesn’t sound smeared together, you’re good.

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Another test I use for all headphones is the low note around :58. If it’s very present and doesn’t mask everything else, I’m happy.

Frequency-wise, that actually looks really good for a solid kick drum.

Confirmed. :slight_smile: Excellent for electronic music too.

I see you mentioned the DT1770 Pros. I just saw the graphs are quite similar.

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Dekoni Blue is on Drop again for $180. Definitely worth a shot

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Lol here is an answer that you wouldn’t be looking for.

I’ve had some dabbings with mid to high end gear e.g. Meze 99 noir, hd58x, imr r1 zenith, final audio stuff, audeze isine 10 & mobius, mr speaker aeon closed, and stax l300 ltd.

And out of all the ones i’ve tried, the best one i find for metal is the tin P1.

It might not have the best bass impact but i haven’t heard anything as quick and precise as that thing. I listen to a lot of periphery and on the aeon flow closed and l300 ltd, it sounds okay/meh. But on the tin p1, everything is just so quick and very detailed. Mids arent emphasised but soundstage is wide enough for everything to have its own space.

Responds well to EQ, so for fun I add a bit of bass through my es100. Otherwise through a balanced cable, sounds incredible (I’m so pleased, I am getting rid of my more expensive headphones)

Not sure how it would do for metal but the final d8000 are meant to have pretty meaty bass

Tin P1… XD. I’m much more interested in trying them now since you recommend them over any full size headphone you’ve heard. Though I don’t have much need for IEMs in general

It might be too intense for metal because the last time I listened to the d8000 it was really in your face even though it actually leaned towards the warmer side, and that might get fatiguing quickly with metal

I think in that price range the HE1000 V2/se would be the better choice. And yes the d8000 has great bass, but it kinda overwhelms the mids a bit

the thing for me is ive tried a lot of stuff that are neutral which i find a bit boring now. the tin p1 isnt the most natural sounding but its detail and speed amazes me. Like when listening to periphery on other stuff, i think oh this recording doesnt seem that great, ands puts me off listening to it. but with the tin, it does incredibly detailed and quick treble that when you are focusing on it, it feels like the rest of the song is playing slow motion. its quite a bizarre sensation but quite an interesting one. i use it balanced out of my topping dx7s and that can just about power it well.

Just wanted to chime in on the ADI2 DAC as that’s my end game… 1000% satisfied. Money well spent. Their support is phenomenal. Firmware updates add new features. You can even adjust the length of the buffer in Windows (10) to reduce latency if you’re a gamer. The only way it won’t have enough power for you is if you are already deaf and attempting to drive Modhouse Argons like they’re speakers. If that ever happens, just get a balanced amp.

As a metalhead/gamer, I love my DT1990s for their good imaging, soundstage and neutrality. I have no doubt planars can do better in certain situations.

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