Headphone recommendations


im looking to get into hifi headphones for music to use with a PC. i have a external dac (sound blaster x7)

im looking for a headphone somewhere within the 500 to 600 dollar range.

im looking at the hifiman ananda nano and beyerdynamic dt 1990 pro but i don’t know. what else is there out there and how do these compare to the 999$ focals. are those like 499$ worth of better?

also im looking to upgrade my dac down the line. something with those five pin connectors i think its called xlr. i need help from a pro audiophile to give me some recommendations on some decent gear.

Thank you

Hello and welcome to HFGF. I’m not a “pro audiophile” but if I can give you some advice, is to first listen to more stuff before jumping straight to 1k headphones. If you have access to a store that let’s you hear them, this is a good opportunity. If you can’t, I would suggest buying 2 or 3 cheaper headphones with different sound signatures and see what you prefer. Headphones like Sennheiser 6xx or the 560s, Sundara, Beyerdinamic DT series, AKG K lineup are all good starting points.

That’s my 2 cents if they’re worth anything.


So a few questions

  • What kind of music do you listen to?

  • Are you using them for work (video/music editting) or for gaming?

  • are you in a quiet environment ?

I’d avoid the Hifiman Ananda for now, not because they are bad - but Hifiman plannars like power and a fair amount of it, something that you current dac can put out, so for now i’d hold off

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Do you know what kind of sound you are looking for?
Warm vs Bright?
Analytical vs Laid Back?
What made you want to consider the Ananda and DT 1990 vs other options? Is there anything in particular about their characteristics mentioned in reviews or elsewhere that stood out to you?

The answer the question about the Focals, I own and love the clears, but the answer is always ‘no’ to that question. $1000+ headphones never scale that well compared to their lower cost counterparts. You are paying way more money for slightly better results.

hello thank you for the reply

i listen to mostly all kinds of music, my room is quiet also don’t plan on using them for work or games. usually i play games with low sound because im watching something on the side.

i get what your saying about the power hunger issue, but i don’t plan on owning a bunch of headphones. i just kinda wanna do like a one and done sotra thing. i think i got a good enough dac but i plan on upgrading that in the future as well.


thank you for your reply.

Warm vs Bright? Analytical vs Laid Back? i dont konw. i guess analytical sounds good but i dont really konw what that means. im assuming most clear? also

im considering the Ananda and DT 1990, because of the price really. first i came across the dt 1990 from the woo audio website, and it seemed to have pretty good reviews. then i decided to purchase that but before i did i decided to see what else is out there, then i found the ananda nanos. i might get a tube amp down the line as well. nothing crazy though probably something in the 1500$ range.

im not dead set on the 1900 or nanos though if there is anything better that you might know about but i dont

thank you

There a more then a few solid headphone that dont need that kind of power but do scale up once you do - a great example is the Meze 109 Pro, its a bit out your price range but its a great example, personally i love it regardless on any type of gear i use. It’s the kind of headphoen you can listen on anything, it can be a small Bluetooth amp or a 1000$+ setup it does sound better on better amps but it doesnt NEED one, unlike the Ananda .

A lot depends on you taste, and buying this expensive without getting your money’s worth is a bit of a shame even if you plan to upgrade in the future, but something you like now and that can scale upwards.

A few solid suggestions around 500$ range

  • Harmonicdyne Zeus - Very fun, very enjoyble headphone, good bass, great soundstage, and pretty comfy too (Ive been told the elite is better but i only have the OG)
  • Sivga Luan - solid all rounder without too many flaws
  • HD 600 - recommended to death, but for a good reason, its has great vocals and overall very enjoyble (i had to padswap mine due to comfort issues)
  • Focal Elegia - a bit on the sharper side, but solid detail, and very “energetic” headphone but solid comfort

One headphone that i haven’t tried myself but has been recommended a fair amount is the new Aune AR5000, havent tried it myself but it’s suppose to be a very solid headphone

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thank you i will definitely look into these. if you don’t mind, what sound signatures should i expect from these.

thank you

really appreciate it. i will look into these, later on tonight the maze one looks nice too. i will look into that as well. i guess if its worth it i will be willing to go out of my range a bit.

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I’m personally going to recommend picking up a pair of the Audeze Maxwells. They are wireless, planar, and closed-back. You won’t ever have to worry about buying an amp. I’m sure plenty on here will disagree with me, but I think they sound 85-90% as good or more as anything else. They work well for gaming and music, have a removable mic, and just by their very nature being planar, you can EQ them to however you like (Either through their own app or with external software) without worrying about distortion, which will give you the opportunity to figure out what kind of sound (Frequency Response) you like. They also have insane battery life (80 hours) and are also just a good intro to the world of planars.

Another solid choice may be a pair of used Focal Elex, I recommended them to my brother years ago and he still uses them to this day and is very happy with them, if you don’t mind open back. They have identical tuning to the Focal Clears, and are easy to drive on any amp, on top of scaling well. Comfort is another big plus with them. They go for around 300-400 on the used market. Get a pair of replacement ZMF Focal pads if you do, I’d recommend the lambskin pads.

The 6xx are a similar recommendation to the Elex, though not as comfy, they will scale better with more expensive amps. Not as easy to drive on cheaper amps, however.

Also, I’ll just add that there is really no “one and done” with this hobby for many people here… no matter how “great or amazing” your gear is, it’s eventually going to get ‘boring’ after you’ve listened to them for long enough. The reason people get into more and more expensive gear is because they are constantly chasing that next level of stimulation, regardless of how minute the differences are… Many people in the hobby have multiple sets of headphones for this reason, it gives you a rotation to go through when you get bored of what you’re listening to. I recently just spent $3500 on a pair of ZMFs, but I don’t expect them to sound $2000+ better than the Focal Clears… if anything they will probably be a bit better in terms of resolution, but other than that, not much more. =P But it’ll be nice to have them to add to my rotation. I’ll mainline the for a while, but eventually I’m going to go back to the Clears, or fall back on the wireless convinience of the Bathys that I can EQ through the app, or 6xx, or just use a pair of wireless IEMs because I’m tired of having my ears covered all the time.

That’s my two cents.

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My 2 cents is go pick up a theiaudio ghost and listen to those for a bit, they are hands down the best budget friendly cans I’ve tried. Another avenue you can take is iems since the budget offerings are getting so good these days you can have multiple pairs for the same price as the focals/meze/beyer offerings and come within the same performance or better.
Good luck and happy hunting!


my dac has a 600ohm amp is that good

what are some good iems for around 500 to 600

Hhhhmmmm that’s a tough one cause there’s just so many out there. Dunu sa6, moondrop variations, timsok ts316, and if you can catch a sale the Z tuned kinera nanna’s. I’d start out at the $100 or less level till you find a sound you like and then go up from there just because there is so much out there compared to just a few years ago.

im thinking of doing that or just getting the dt 1900s since all the reviews say its analytical, and its marketed for studio use. maybe that will be like my starting point. or maybe a Harmonicdyne Zeus like the gentleman recommended above. that way i can also try out some IEMs. what is some of the new stuff

To get different flavors id try out thruthear project red, see audio rinko, z’s JoJo’s, final audio E series, moondrop star field and everyone should start with a kz z10pro.
A good source for iem reviews is Z’s iem channel In Ear Fetish. Looks like there’s been some bangers on there lately.

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Its a little more complex than that but trust me on this one…
There is a whole thing about pairing the right amp to a headphone, even if you DAC/AMP can push Anandas - you wount get the full capabilities of that headphone, that’s why you almost never see any Hifiman headphone on a beginner recommendation list regardless of budget (maybe the HE400SE but that’s also rare). They make excellent headphones but in most cases they need a good solid amp with a fair amount of power to drive them to “unlock” what those headphones can really do.

There are a ton of videos explaining the whole amp thing in detail, but you will also see in a lot of posts on headphone people talking about “pairings” - if a headphone works well with certain amp or not. You will also see most reviewers mention what amp they used to test out a headphone (in some cases they try multiple amps), because its matters a lot, it can skew a review.

P.S DAC means Digital to Analog - what actually makes the headphone go is the amp, yours is a combo unit, Dac and Amp combained.

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yes i noticed this. i have been watching a bunch of reviews. my next upgrade is going to be the amp. im thinking of getting the woo w7s im probably leaning towards the dt 1900s. i think this will be a good starting point for me based on the reviews. but im still not sure. im looking at more reviews of other models like Focal Elegia and Elex, Harmonicdyne Zeus and elite, Meze 109 Pro, dan clark ÆON RT, and THIEAUDIO Wraith

Don’t get the aeon as it’ll have the same issue as hifiman. For context I use a speaker amp to drive mine.

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@Etroze86 @Naturallymorbid @fabiokelm @giova05 so i narrowed it down to the shr1540, drop aeon x. Audeze LCD 2 Closed. most probably im gonna go for the shr, also im looking to get a amp soon after most probably geshelli Archel 3 Pro or woo w7s or shiit lyr. the one with the tube. thank you for the suggestions and feedback. it definitely helped me navigate through the reviews and everything.

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