Headphones around 1,500 price tage

What kind of endgame headphones priced around 1,500 dollar range would you guys recommend for acoustic, jazz, and classical with a bunch of soundstage. Then I will also note that I enjoy Rock,EDM, metal.
So far from what I have found out there are two headphones that seem to fit these genres, the hi fi man Arya for all things instrumental and for it’s detail retrieve. Then I heard the Focal clear does a really good job with punch and slam so I would assume that headphone would be good for rock, EDM, and metal. The one thing I’m not fully sure is if the focal clear mg is better for punch and slam then the focal og.

The first sentence seemed well aligned to look at Senn 800s.

I did check out the senn 800s, though I believe on both josh valours video and Andrew from headphone show said the Arya had more soundstage and was better tuned for instrument separation

A high-level planar like that is going to excel in instrument separation. I value those attributes a lot for busier music.
I think elements of the staging may be better (or worse) with the Arya, I wonder if the stage WIDTH is larger than 800s. Staging is an interesting and pretty subjective matter. The visceral elements that you noted with something like Focal Clear is going to come up a bit light with most planar headphones. Maybe that is what bridges the gap for technical performance. Staging isn’t going to be as “big”.

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What’s your signal chain for these? At $1500 you are starting to edge into DAC/amp matter more.

I can vouch for Focal Clear on the type of music you are listening to. Great punch/slam. The hd800s is out of this world for soundstage, detail retrieval is on par for the price point, but really weak on punch / slam. I listened to the 800s for almost 2 weeks straight (loved them), then went back to the Focal and I was blown away by how much more dynamic they are.

Focal soundstage is it’s own thing, I would recommend finding a way to try before buy. It’s a love/hate thing for different people. It’s spherical around your head, like everything is 2 feet in front of you, and nicely continuous around you. Great imaging and layering. Not wide, not intimate, it’s kinda it’s own thing. I love it because it puts all the detail in places I can easily pick out. The HD800s had the same detail, just placed further away in the sound soundstage, so you had to listen closer for it.

Another great consideration is the Audeze LCD-X. If you like planar bass extension and tight / textured bass, they are awesome. The sound stage is more “wall of sound”. Not bad at all, it’s wide and layered. Great imaging. Real favorites of mine for rock and EDM. And love movie watching in them. For me a good reference point is the Sundara. The LCD-X is a nice upgrade from those - better bass extension, still generally neutral, better tamber and detail retrieval.


Yeah, but again I’m not sure how good the instrument separation is on the 800s and that is one quality I was banging on for the genres I would choose to listen to with the headphone. Also the most I have would be the ifi zen stack because I don’t know anything about the high end Dac amps and I was told the zen stack is all most people need.

LCD-X was another headphone I heard about, though when I watch Andrews review of the LCD-X he mentioned that you might need to EQ the headphone, and that’s something I don’t want to get into at this stage.

Well… Most people don’t buy $1500 headphones :wink:

It’ll be fine for the headphones being discussed here, and they are all resolving enough for you to hear some differences upgrading to a better DAC/amp.

It’s awesome for separation. Absolute killers for imaging and separation.

I don’t, and I daily drive the LCD-X (2021 edition). “Need to EQ” is very personal preference. If you are used to a specific sound, then an EQ is nice. The thing to watch out for when reviewers say “this needs EQ” is if they are chasing a specific measurement target (ie the Harman target curve). I don’t want my LCD-X to have the exact same frequency response as everything else - then it gets boring. The place that I personally think EQ is valuable is if you (personally) hear something distracting / annoying in the frequency response (ie bass bleeding into lower mids, upper-mid shout, treble sibilance, etc). Then dialing that part in with EQ is helpful, especially given that these characteristics are very dependent on your hearing. I’ve EQ’d various headphones, and long term I find that I end up enjoying a headphone as it naturally sounds and eventually turn off the EQ. Or I sell them because I’m constantly chasing the piece of the frequency response that bothers me.

A plus for the LCD-X 2021 (and to be honest, most $1.5k headphones) is they are available on the used market ~$1k or less. And if you don’t like them you can flip them for almost no loss.


LCD-X, Focal Clear OG and TH900.

Yeah the guys from Headphone show do tread close to the Harman target, which for my preference I do enjoy.

Also I look at the 1,500 headphones as a future investment perches after I save up quite a bite of money for them. It’s good to know what sound signature

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How about going STAX route, like L300 LTD or L500 and any amp? Even my HD800 is a joke compared to my L700 detail wise. The lack of crosstalk on STAX is actually insane.
Everything sounds boosted on STAX, even the bass. And L700 souds way taller than HD800 for me. STAX has this ability to make sounds much easier to hear, even the bass is easier to be heard. There is no such thing as bleeding bass into mids or mids bleeding into highs. Highs are so detailed, like any song has it’s own character, like hearing the song with a different headphone than the previous song.
With STAX you will understand what it actually does when you higher up the volume. There won’t be any hint of compression or artifacts so you will keep raising the volume and you’ll be in heaven. Or deaf. Or both.

I have SRM-353X, don’t know the differences between amps
I have a Delock 63276 HDMI extractor. No USB cable made it sound as detailed/harsh-free as the HDMI extractor.
I have a Lindy 2m Toslink cable (it was like $12), have the toslink the DAC came with and 2 other $2 cables, the Lindy sounded best.
Have Chord Hugo 2 and Chord Mojo DACs, it sounds great with both, but I use Hugo 2 because I have QED Reference 40 Audio RCA, better sounding than the cables from 353X box.
For lossless audio I use Tidal.

I agree that once you’re looking at $1.5K headphones, you should probably also pay a lot more attention to the amp pairing. A Focal Clear, a Hifiman Arya, and an HD800S are probably going to sound their best on completely different amps.* If you’re running a Zen stack, I would say to aim a little lower, I’d probably recommend a Focal Elex!

(*For some general forum recommendations on amp pairings, the Clear pairs well with studio amps like the RNHP/Little Labs Monotor, the Arya likes something with more power like a Liquid Platinum or a Cayin iHA-6, and an HD800S is fun with tube amps like a Hagerman Tuba or a Bottlehead Crack. Also, I’ve heard both Clears side-by-side and I prefer the OG over the MG, but of course your mileage may vary.)


As far as sound goes for objective and subjective what would be the differences between the Clear and the Elex?

I may consider getting the Liquid Platinum heard it was a good amp to have in general for high end use. Also I tend to avoid Tub amps because I keep hearing they are a known fire hazard, heard it’s especially true for the dark voice.

I think that’s a little disingenuous lol. As the owner of a DarkVoice, I mean yeah the power tube especially can get very warm but it’s not a fire hazard unless you’re like, listening to it on your bed or something haha.

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Liquid platinum is on sale right now FYI.

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well I can say this, elex appears much brighter aggressive and potentially sibilant… clear does maintain a tin-like tone less you grab the MG variation. Overall though they are extremely similar… as elex will get you I want to say around 85% of the way to the clear. Clear is essentially just an upgrade

Still my favorite hybrid until further notice(trying other units still lol)