I am in dire need of some advice as to what would be a good fit for my first open back headphones. I’m certainly not an audiophile but I do spend a lot of time listening to music. My current setup is a Sony mdr Z7 (m1) coupled to a Aune x1s. I love those headphones so much. They were a direct buy after watching the review from Zeos and never looked back.
So, now I wanted to dip my toes in the open back pool and was hoping that someone can help me wade through it. Looking at what I have, and maxing the budget at around 350 dollars, what would be a good fit?
I was in your shoes a little over a year ago.
At that rough price point, I was down to the Sennheiser 6xx and Hifiman Sundara. Pulled trigger on Sundara and been very happy since. I’m sure others will weigh in with other, more exotic, quite possibly better ideas too. I got an upgrade 4.4mm balanced cable too.
I like options on headphones, and these are the two I keep on hangars at my desk.
If you get a planar like the Hifiman, you will want an amp. If you want something more affordable a FiiO E10K is a nice option ( $75 on Amazon ). I use the FiiO BTR5 ( $130 on Amazon ), it gives Bluetooth and more power. The Qudelix-5K ( $110 on Amazon ) is similar, but with a very nice EQ feature.
There are different attitudes on headphones, some people throw their entire budget at a single pair, like getting a Sundara or HD600. Then you are stuck with that one sound, and I think we don’t listen to one type of music, so why have one type of headphone.
I picked the Hifiman and Sennheiser since they almost have an opposite approach to their sound profile. Sennheiser likes to be very mid-forward and rolls off both the treble and bass, where Hifiman tends to have a recessed spot in the mids, and has very good sub-bass, so they compliment each other.
Sundara is going to be a popular rec in this scenario, for good reason. Not positive on amp - I think there will be folks saying you need double that power. However, I think you’ll likely be satisfied.
It’s def an open-back’s kinda open-back, planar and different than your current ref point.
More familiar, fun and less amplifier concerns in that range that still gives spatial advantage of OB would be Zeus.
I would say the Hifiman Deva Pro would a safer transition over the sundara even though they are around the same price of 300. Deva Pro is their second try at making a organic sounding planar and imo they did a good job at it.
Unless you absolutely want speed at the expense of noteweight then sundara is better.
I mean if you are in a budget, like a taste for open backs as a beginner while not wasting a lot of money yet, go for the Koss KPH30i, KSC75 and KPH40, those headphones are a good entry-point for open backs without making your wallet empty.
For more benefits for the KSC75, the yaxi pads swap can help a lot, also the headphone mod as well, making it imo one of the best open backs for its price.
HiFiMan HE-400se. The steal among entry-level open-back planars at $110. Solid across sound spectrum with a slight treble spike. Adequate bass. Outstanding for the price.
Sennheiser HD 6XX. A legend for a reason. Some of the best mids in the business, especially at $220. Adequate bass, rolled-off treble. A relaxed, smooth listen with adequate detail. Not great soundstage, but solid imaging.
Sennheiser HD 560s. Damn near flat neutral except for a small treble spike. Excellent detail. Better bass extension than the HD 6XX. Solid imaging. Not exactly an “exciting” headphone but one that will reveal many more details in a recording than the two above picks. That’s great if you listen to well-mastered and mixed music, not so great if you don’t.
I feel like for a first open back on a budget of $200-$350, a hifiman planar would be my first choice, you can experience the speed, crispness of a planar, fun and bigness of an open soundstage… I really like hifimans
If you don’t mind a bit of brightness and a bit of intensity/very detailed honest presentation i would say Dt 880 Edition 32 ohms would be great place to start for open backs that don’t break the bank. They could even be end Game worthy straight up if they click with you and your music.They are legendary and reference like for a reason.
They have very fast,dynamic bass that can be deep and powerful when called upon but also lean and almost underrstated if song calls for it. A bit boosted upper midrange and totally neutral lower mids, if you want your headphones to exctract the most details as possible in lyrics these are your cans. Treble is sparkly and really extended, energetic almost shimmery but also really controled next to dt770 and and dr990 which just fucks your brains out lol.
They need dac/amp to be their best something like zen dac V2 alone or with zen can is great have that as my main also Xduuo Ta 01 or topping dx3 pro+ or Shiit magni if you are in USA.
They are as hard to drive as 250 ohm version and absolutely not mobile friendly. They are also supremely comfortable seriously they are like angelic fluffy things that are so gentle to your head they almost feel like they are gone while wearing them yet sturdy strong Af.
Also can recommend Hifiman 400se if you like Beyer’s as far planars go these would suit you fine too .