Headphone Purchase Advice

Over the past few months I’ve had:

  • Meze 99 Classics (Nice sound but wanted open back)
  • Fidelio X2HR’s
  • Sennheiser 58X’s (decent bass but wanted more. Not very exciting)
  • Grado SR325X’s (Sounded nice at times, other times felt veiled oddly. Very uncomfortable)
  • Nighthawk Carbon’s (Sounded too odd on a lot of tracks)
  • Tygr R300’s (Mids too recessed)
  • Hifiman Sundara’s (too hard to drive with Apple dongle or portable amp)

The only one that I’ve kept is the X2HR’s. I work off my work laptop in the kitchen, with the laptop being packed away each night. Music is played via my iPhone 11. During school holidays my kids are around the kitchen too. So a dedicated desktop amp setup isn’t feasible.

The Sundara’s looked like a good option but they were a hassle to drive. I had a hip dac but I hated how quickly the battery drained so that was returned. The Qudelix 5K wasn’t working well enough to drive the Sundara’s via the iPhone USB as confirmed by Qudelix support. So the Sundara’s have been returned.

So I’m in a position now where there doesn’t feel like there’s much left I want to try that’s easy to drive, comfortable and has nice bass to it while being open backed.

Maybe the HarmonicDyne Zeus but even then I’m wondering if I should just leave it and stick with the X2HR’s.

Does anyone else have any other recommendations other than the Zeus? Sivga Phoenix is another maybe? I’ve also got the Tygr’s in mind although they might be a bit too similar to the X2HR’s anyway.

Budget is around £350 and I’m intending to use my Qudelix 5K or Apple dongle to power the headphones.

I’d say I mostly listen to hip hop and R&B so some good bass is needed. But also I’ll listen to some classic rock, grunge, occasionally metal, some country. So I need a headphone that handles all genres well, that has nice bass but also can offer a good soundstage and sense of air.

So a summary:

  • Budget of £350.
  • Based in the UK.
  • Looking for open back.
  • Must be easy to drive from an Apple dongle or Qudelix 5K. Purchasing a desktop amp isn’t an option due to my setup being temporary each day.
  • Music will be played from an iPhone 11, or iPad Pro 10.5.
  • Preference for bass but also want a feeling of airiness.
  • Genres are mostly hip hop and R&B. Also listen to rock, country, metal.

I feel like you need a used THX00 or EMU, there’s a pair on eBay btw (not mine), but happy to sell mine

But he wants open back right?

My 99 Classic’s were my favourite mobile 'phone.

Ah I should also point out I’m in the UK so Fostex etc are hard to get hold of.

I’ve heard so much about the TH-X00’s and I’m sure they’d be amazing for me, but I think I’d miss a sense of air? They’re hard to get over here though. There’s one on eBay but the headband is damaged and they want £365.

I only see bass and jumped to X00 :grin:

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Gotcha. I’m in the UK too. Personally I feel sth like the X00/EMU would have better treble extension that sth like the Zeus, but that’s just my opinion. I’m not really a fan of that one. X00 you can only look at used, they come up from time to time, I’d probably be putting mine up at some point, but a good condition one tends to go higher than the one on eBay. You can buy a brand new EMU for 530USD. The Denon D5200 is pretty solid too. If u like bass I personally think closed back is a bit more satisfying. The Drop 177x Go can be imported too.

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the main problem will probably be that you don’t have a proper headphone amplifier that can drive your headphones properly.

The devices you mentioned are more intended for mobile use.

My recommendation would be more like this, for example.
Use a headphone amplifier. Like Schiit Magni 3 or Herasy or Jds Labs Atom, Xudoo amps.

For mobile travelling I use the Nuprime Hi mdac connected to the Ipad in the train, and in the hotel with a 3.5 mm cable to Rca to the Little Dot 1+.

If you are looking for headphones and your choice was now more planar oriented, you almost need a headphone amplifier.

The Emu Teak would be ideal, but it costs a bit more than your budget allows.
Not bad is the Emu Purpelheart, which with its 32 ohms can be connected almost anywhere and is more suitable for your Ify Hip Dac.
Denon D2000 used would be a good option but hard to find.
Denon D5200 would be a good headphone that could be attractively priced and plays mostly all genres of music and is very easy to drive.


@Deleeh I have to mostly agree with you, this is tough @DagsJT The best fit would be a 4XX / HE4 its cheap but the power requirement will require an amp. It can be driven off a phone but it won’t be driven as well as if off an amp.

Even a small amp would do this recommedation justice thankfully. Nothing crazy required.

Its really fun great for hip hop and busy passages great bass they will rumble and does handle all genres well.

The sundara would be great if you want that air but needs a better amp than what the 4XX requires to really shine.