Headphone buying advice


For years I’ve been running my Philips Fidelio X2HR and it’s served me well. It’s slowly falling apart and wish for something new. I like the lows although sometimes on some tracks they’re not clean, a bit distorted.

  • Edition XS:
    Last year I decided to replace it with the Edition XS. I really liked the sound of the XS. It felt as a true upgrade, heard details I never heard in tracks, felt as if certain things now got exposed. My issue with the Edition XS were multiple. The fit was loose, I felt as when I moved my head that the headphone would move. Also the headband was too big for me. I don’t have a small head but even on the smallest adjustment the earcups were not properly placed on my ears. Eventually I sold the Edition XS.

  • Sennheiser Drop HD6XX:
    I’ve purchased a HD6XX because it’s popular and I wanted to check out the sound. I do not like it at all. Comparing it to my X2HR and what I remember from the XS there’s a certain sound signature in the mids I don’t like.

  • Truthear x crinacle zero reds:
    I tried these, I like them very much but in-ears become uncomfortable after a hour or so. I sometimes have listening sessions of 6+ hours.

My music styles:

  • Peaktime techno / hard techno (Stuff by Autektone records, Filth on Acid, Amelie Lens, Reinier Zonneveld, T78)
  • 90s hiphop
  • Theme songs like The Pacific, Masters of the Air, other stuff by Hans Zimmer.

So I like soundstage, imaging, details. I like my basskicks to be punchy and clean, not over done. I don’t like to hear things rumble rolling off. The X2HR does that, subwoofers in cars tend to do that too.

I have some options after comparing several reviewers:
Hifiman Ananda Nano: I know the Edition XS, this seems to be very close to that. Some say it’s a bit bright but there’s EQ.
Fiio FT5: I really like this build quality, reminds me of my X2HR. Some reviewers love it, some find it too dark and warm. I wonder how well the FT5 takes EQ.
Harmonic Dyne Zeus vs elite: never heard of this buy heard Zeos mention these and from what I read this could be something.

My budget is around €500,-. I’m in Europe so no open box sales from Headphoneshow. My gear is a Schiit Magni heresy and Modi+ which I purchased in summer 2023. I’m getting to the point of growing a bit tired of fiddling around. Thing is, I don’t have a store in my area where I can goto and just listen. The closest one would require me to make it a day away. So I try to gather as much information from the internet.

Hope you guys could give some advice on those 3 headphones.

Oh, and sorry for the wall of text! :kissing_heart:

The best you can get currently is Thieaudio Ghost on sale for $52 on AliExpress through Tuesday for the summer sale. The sound and feel just like the Sennheiser hd600/650 tuning and just as comfortable.
I have a pair and another on the way. Value for money award winner hands down at that price.

I am not familiar with three headphones you mention, sorry. From your description of what you are looking for, you might be interested in a monitoring headphone: DT880, something in the Sony line, etc.

Also, you say you don’t want rumble but listen to 90s hiphop. 90s hiphop is based on boom-bap. Boom in the bass/drums are paramount over the punch of mid-bass for that genre/time, in general. You might be disappointed with a punchy headphone set for that need. Just trying to help

Boom bap

If you do enjoy the Hifiman sound and want a little bit more clamp you might want to look at an Arya-Stealth. I havent heard the 3 options that you mentioned but I imagine that the Arya would prob be an upgrade to the Ananda Nano and it takes well to EQ too. Not too bassy and I have found suspension headband to work a little bit better for my head though that can vary of course.

Right now it is going for a deal of $599 USD on store.hifiman for a refurb model though with a coupon AY79OFF it becomes $550 usd. On the site it says that it is available in Europe so you might want to check that out if your budget is around 500 euros.

I don’t know how strict your budget is and I have not heard them myself, but based on reviews, measurements, and tuning you are looking for, I think the new Focal Azurys would likely be the way to go. They are $550, tho.
Maybe Z Reviews new headphone might be good too, the Eris. Those are only $250+expensive shipping, nobody has heard them tho, but Z reviews likes his bass. I ordered some and will report when they are released in July.

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If the sound and feel is just like the HD600 series than it’s a no. I have the HD6XX, that series lacks bass.

You can have a good and punchy bass that rumbles, or you can have it overdone. That’s what I personally don’t enjoy.

The Dan Clark audio headphones on drop(dot)com are $500, the Aeons, and they always aim for Harman tuning as well.

I am watching that one, just didn’t felt like pre-ordering and importing to EU. About €100,- on top due to import and taxes. I’ll have to wait until it sells out and Linsoul decides to put it in regular production so I can order it of Linsoul EU page.

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I think I understand. You just don’t want extra resonances going on, right? That said, an 808 bass/kick, by its very nature, sustains long past the initial impact/impulse. Nowadays, the 808-derived bass/kicks go even lower and farther. (They can be tuned up or the decay made sharper also).

"It is also audible in the 20-50Hz range, the “sub-bass” which is felt more than heard. And there’s a slow slope downwards all the way to the highest frequencies. This is the synthesized “impact” tone of the 808. Its sound is comparable to a digital click. And this graph shows the decay of the 808, captured a second or so after the attack. Notice that almost all of the sound above 200 Hz has already decayed, but the huge 50-100 Hz bump sustains:

808 Decay Spectrum Analyzer

So, the 808 sound is a bass-heavy synth sound on impact, and the bass part sustains. The impact gives the 808 it’s percussive feeling, but the sustained bass frequency is what allows the 808 to be used as a bass track too."

Judging from your name I assume you’re based in Belgium or the Netherlands.

As for making it a day away to go and audition some headphones. That is what I have done several times: make an appointment in a store (I have good experiences with WideScreenAudio, Alpha High End, Wifimedia and Headphone Auditions Amsterdam) and hang out there for the whole day testing as much gear as I can. It’s really worth making the effort imho.

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Yes, I’m considering making an appointment at wifimedia and drive down there. Except for the Zeus Elite they have everything else there you could possibly think of.

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That sounds awesome! I don’t think anything like that exists anywhere near where I live.

Well, for me that’s still a 2.5 hour drive, and 2.5 hours back. So it’s still a tank of fuel as well.

To get what you really want and to test all the headphones they have is worth the tank of gas and time imho. Unless it’s easy for you to return things where you are, I’d agree with @Drefbal to make the appointment…if it were me.

Having said that, I am going throw another suggestion out and mention the Senny HD 560s, or HD 400 Pro (pretty much the same, except cost). I opted for the HD 400’s and wanted something that is tuned similar to what you are looking for, namely and open-back (though I consider it semi-open, compared to the HD 6XX variants) that has great mids and highs but then has a bit more bass “oomph” that is tastefully done. I love it for music, movies, and heck…anything!

When/if you do go, I’d suggest testing this one out just to see how it fairs to your preference. Also, bring your gear to test with (e.g., DAP or Phone/dongle with your music) along with your test/fave tracks…although you probably already are planning on doing so.

Either way, good luck on your quest! :headphones: