HD560s or Sundara, what to pair them with?

Hello everyone,
In the past few days, i’ve been watching and reading a lot of reviews about headphones, DACs and AMPs. Everything is starting to be more clear now but I’d like to have some more personalized advice before I go and purchase what I want.
Quick background:

  • Desktop audio chipset: Realtek S1220A. I wonder if it could be enough to drive the Sundara.
  • Current open-back headphones: Philips Fidelio X2. I actually think/thought these were really good headphones. I really enjoy the openness compared to my old HD25. It’s also very comfortable. However it’s not aging well and it’s now in really poor condition. Also, I would like to try something more high-end/neutral.
  • Current bluetooth headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3. I do realize these are far from neutral, but when taking transports or being outdoor, I find them very convenient. They have a lot of bass but I still enjoy them.
  • Current DJ headphones: Sennheiser Amperior. They were my headphones for a long time but I barely used them anymore.
  • Current home speakers: Triangle Color 123. I really like them, they’re active. For the price (I bought them for around 250€), I think it’s a decent deal.
  • Current bluetooth speakers: Bose Soundlink mini 2. Again, not a very neutral sound, but I find them really nice sounding on the go. I might upgrade to a JBL Charge 5 in the near future as battery life is starting to get really bad on my minilink.

As you can see, ATM, I have products that are very mainstream/consumer orientated, and not really audiophile/hi-fi oriented.

However, I’m really fascinated about music and I’d like to step up my game. I don’t really have a precise budget, but basically I would like to have a good experience without spending too much. Overall, if I could spend less than 600€, it would be ideal. I could go a bit higher, if I really benefit from it. Here are the options that stood out for me so far:

  • Headphones: Sundara / HD560s. The Sundara seem significantly better overall but I’m a bit worried about QC and the fact they need more EQ than HD560s, from my understanding at least. There are already tons of threads about these two cans so I get it’s just up to me to decide at this point. If you have experienced both of them, I’d be curious to read your point of view.
  • DAC/AMP: this is the part where I was absolutely lost a few days ago since I’ve never used any. From what I’ve understood, they have improved a lot in the last few years and you can get really good hardware for a reasonable price. At the beginning, I was leaning towards the Topping L30 + E30 but apparently, you can get really good combos, such as the Fiio K5 Pro ESS or the DX3 Pro+. What is your take on these?

Thanks a lot in advance for your help!

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Hm 560 you could try to power from your Mobo and get a decent sound, fairly neutral and the bass goes deep for a senn :grin: and should you game it’s decent in soundstage and imaging :wink:
Imo you’ll need an amp for any planar the Sundara would give you a more airy treble and that planar punch :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: good alternative would be the 400se and with a pad swap to leather they can have a good bass punch

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560s and Sundara are excellent choices, Sundara may be a little bass light though YMMV I personally loved both for gaming and light music listening.
as for a DAC/AMP maybe a IFI Zen Air Dac or the DX3 Pro+


welcome to HFG 'Mater!

I agree with CTOX, the Zen Air would be an excellent way to start with quality hi-res audio. The Zen Air is almost identical to the Zen DAC v2, with the biggest differences being no MQA support, ballistic plastic enclosure and dropping the balanced audio output for single ended only. sonically they are identical, unless you’re streaming from Tidal, who uses MQA.

if you’re looking at getting the HD560s or the Sundara, then I recommend the Sundara as the sound will be totally new / different from anything else you’ve listed too.

also, I highly encourage you to enjoy the headphone as it is and not with EQ. if you’re forced to use EQ to get the sound you want, you have the wrong headphones. :wink:


Thank you all for your answers!
Regarding headphones, you’re confirming my slightly tendency towards the Sundara so that’s good.
Regarding the Zen Air, it’s a DAC/AMP combo right? EDIT: yes! I read some reviews and it seems to have a few issues at low volume. I feel like combos I’ve mentioned deliver more power and have better build quality, and the Topping one also has bluetooth, so it would justify the price difference?

Finally, regarding your EQ, that’s how I was thinking for the past 10 years! But recently I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasts mentioning EQ tuning and how the Sundara greatly handles it, so I’m not sure anymore. But of course, I’ll try without EQ first.

EQ is the bomb. I know a lot of people don’t like to use EQ, and that is fine. I get it. But personally, I use the shit out of EQ and I love every minute of it. And yes, the Sundara takes to EQ very well. I use the Peace APO with my Sundara and it’s fantastic. I mean honestly, if you have something that sounds good and can use a tool that makes that something sound great, why not use it? Just my $0.02. Good luck with the hunt. I think the hunt is more than half the fun!

Thanks for your insight! I think I agree with your last sentence, it’s very interesting and entertaining but it’s also really hard to reach a decision.

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very few people listen to music at super low levels so I wouldn’t worry about the channel imbalance. I’ve had the Zen DAC for a couple years now and it’s never been an issue for me and I don’t listen to loud music very often.


I know, maybe done to death by now, but get an XS if you can.

The budget is really an important consideration, and I believe you can grab an XS for about $360. If you can get a Sundara for much cheaper, that’s fine. But if you’re close to this figure, get an XS.

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I’m in Europe and it’s way more expansive than that, around 500€. The best price i could get is probably 420€ if I’m lucky on Friday. I’ll still have a look.

@ATK makes a good point. The XS is a superior planar headphone to the Sundara, so if the price is even close, I would go for the XS as well. I like the build of the Sundara better as the XS is kind of a cheap feeling set, and that kept me away from them for a long time. But I finally took the chance, and it’s fine. I wouldn’t get very rough with them, but it’s fine. And they sound great.

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Hd560s balanced is much better in my opinion. It doesn’t have the creaminess that the Sundara has and if you love listening to string instruments then the Sundara is great! Has a bit more sound stage But in every other category I feel like the 560s is more well rounded.

I’ve had every Hifiman up to the Arya and wearing an HE6se with an HE5xx hanging to the left and an HE560 behind me. Fit is a difference, if you wear XL size hats the Sundara has a tight clamp compared to the HE560 which can be a problem. The HE560 just fits better. For sound, the Sundara has a wide sound stage, but is very shallow front to back. In games, enemies in front or back literally have to be on top of you before you’ll hear them.
The HE560 is as deep as it is wide and significantly better for gaming. SBX surround can help with the Sundara, and you can push it quite a way up there without loss or resolution. I’d recommend the JDS Atom+ DAC+ stack for either of them. Having more power is the goal for these because they take equalization well, and you have to compensate for the preamp reduction, replaygain, or pre-volume war recordings if you have those. It’s important because I’m using the HE6se on a Topping A90 and SMSL DO200 DAC, and with a -4 or -6db preamp reduction, even the mighty A90 reaches the end of high gain to get them loud for a favorite song with some recordings.
I kept the HE560 and sold the Sundara because the HE560 fits better, both size and ear cups themselves. Also the depth of the soundstage is obvious in games like Destiny 2 in large areas. Do a +4db EQ boost to the bass region and you’ll have fun with them.

Sorry to OP for a quick hijack. I promise it’s just one question to @Dunring if they’re nice enough to answer.

How does the HE5XX stack up to the HE560 or Sundara, your pick? I have owned both Sundara and the HE560 in the past. I found Sundara to be a little to bright in the highs and a little light in the bass for me. I actually enjoyed HE560 quite a bit, but eventually moved on. I have the possibility of grabbing a pair of HE5XX as partial trade for a DAC I’m selling and I’m trying to decide if I’ll end up using them. Thanks in advance if you answer and I understand if it’s asking a bit too much.

I just boxed up the He6se and wearing the HE5xx right now. The HE560 has swivel cups, but the bar on the headband isn’t something I can wear all day. The HE5xx using the Autoeq profile for it is by far the one I want to use every day for gaming and music. The Sundara treble is too hot and peaks in the wrong location, and clamp is too tight. If it wasn’t for the headband, the HE560 is terrific.
I’ve bought and sold audio equipment for years and the HE5xx is the only pair that’s not for sale if that gives an idea how nice they are. On eBay you can find the He5xx for $125 and it’s the bargain of the century. Lighter, and ear cups are exactly the right size, not the cavernous ones like on the Ananda.


Thanks for the reply! I guess I’ll go ahead and take the trade then. Cheers! :beers:

I’m also planning my first headphone setup purchases. After lots of research I’m planning on getting an SMSL C200 dac/amp and a Hifiman HE400SE. From there I’m planning on eventually buying an HD600 or 650 and then an Edition XS eventually.


The HE400se doesn’t need or benefit from an amplifier in any way. I thought that too and tried on my Moto G Power phone and then switched to a full stack and it sounded the same. The CO200 is a good choice, I’ve had the DO200/HO200 as well. If you get the HE400SE first, you won’t benefit from an amplifier until you go to more demanding headphones.