Help Choosing a pair of headphones

Okay so I know the title is super original, and I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I’ve been lurking in the audiophile community for a while and finally decided to dip my toes into the hobby and ordered a Fulla 3. What an instant improvement over the USB sound card that came with my HyperX Cloud II. I ended up doing what I assume most of you did right after the realization that audio can actually sound better and started searching for headphones and dropped the money to get the Magni Heresy so I could drive anything I needed to.

I ordered and tried both the Philips X2HR and the new HifiMan 400i 2020 editions. Comparing the two, I felt that the Hifimans easily outclassed the X2HRs. The Hifimans seemed to have better detail and be way more crisp and clear. I also felt like the bass and sub-bass on the X2HR wasn’t as controlled as the 400i’s was and seemed to start bleeding into everything else. I’m still new to the audiophile jargon so that’s all I can really explain in a detailed form. The best way to explain it for me was that while listening to the X2HR, I felt like I was outside of the music and just listening to a recording. It felt as though I was just looking at a nice painting whereas the Hifimans made me feel like I was inside that painting. The Hifimans made me feel as though I was actually listening to these instruments. the guitar felt more aggressive and detailed and textured and trumpets in several songs sounded like they had more bite.

Once I got the Heresy amp in, these differences felt more apparent as the mids and lows and sub-bass on the 400is really took on a more powerful and present sound, and wow I really like the bass on these things. The bass and sub-bass was a tiny bit lacking even after an EQ to flat and the amp, but it made up for it in speed, punch, and texture which I found myself actually preferring after a while. I guess that’s the planar sound that everyone talks about.

Anyway, onto the question. In the near future, I plan to get the Modi 3 DAC to complete the stack and sell off my Fulla 3 since I’m still using it as a DAC and pre-amp to the Heresy. However, I also do know that the purchase of a Modi 3 when I already have the fulla 3 would be just for the aesthetic since they are the same DAC chip. Since it is not essential to spend that $125 on the Modi and cables at this moment, are there any headphones that would be without a doubt better than the 400i 2020s at around $150-$300?

I’d honestly be willing to go up to around $500-$600 if they’re available on Amazon since I can finance them interest-free.

I’ve researched some about the
Beyer 990/880
Beyer DT1990
But ultimately decided to start where I did due to the availability on amazon at the time with the ability to return them.

A little more info about the use case:

I do play quite a bit of competitive games where directional imaging is super important, but I’m not trying to go pro or anything so it’s not a number one priority by any means, but it would still be nice to be able to tell where things are coming from. Soundstage isn’t super important as long as I can still pick apart details and hear all the instruments. When I use my HyperX Cloud IIs, it feels as though all the instruments are constantly fighting over the spotlight and piling on top of each other right next to my ear and I really hate it. I feel as though comfort would probably be a huge factor for me as I would be wearing these for extended periods of time. I would prefer a better listening experience over pure gaming performance so I guess I’m looking for more of an all-rounder or a good gaming headphone with great music performance as well.

Do you guys have any ideas?

Thanks so much in advance for any help

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For competitive honestly those 400i’s will do you well their imaging is terrific.

I’d recommend with your current setup if you got a tube buffer to go with a focal Elex when it comes on sale for $550 [if its not on sale its worth waiting for] . Excellent warmth, bass mids and INCREDIBLE imaging. So it does fill all those checks. It’s harsh without a good amp so if youre going to stick with your fulla get one of these to buffer the signal:

FX Audio tube pre-amp

It already comes with swapped tubes this particular one.

I’d recommend more of a fun headphone, something like a 6XX with a Darkvoice with swapped tubes.

The 6XX would be the more nutty audiophile setup and those tubes turn the 6XX into something else when it lifts that sennheiser veil it’s amazing the warmth is off the charts, but the Elex is too good to pass up when it comes for that price.

These two recommendations are definitely good companions to the 400i.

Hope this helps

Thanks for the reply!

Your reply did help as im really considering picking up the Vali 2 or a cheap tube preamp to see what tubes sound like :slight_smile:

I’ve really been eyeing the 6xx recently too but not sure if it would be perfect for me. I just turned off the flat EQ on the HE400i and to be honest, I’m not sure what to think about them now. Bass seems pretty lacking and high-mids and some lower highs seem very forward right now. high hats are perfectly fine and nothing seems sibilant but it sounds like the singer is trying to shout into my ear now. Maybe a case of now that my ears have been burned in on the flat EQ, it’s just going to take a minute to get used to the new sound sig. It’s a very clean sound for sure though.

do you know how the 6xx would compare in those aspects? Is the bass and sub-bass much more apparent and there or are the 6xx just generally warmer?

Maybe a set of good replacement pads and/or a tube preamp might be what I’m wanting for these because as I’m listening, my ears are already burning into this sound and it’s very crisp. Bass light for me, but still very enjoyable at the same time. Any ideas on what pads would bring sub-bass and bass out more while still keeping detail?

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Hey there! Welcome to Hifiguides, perhaps I can help you out a bit, lets look a bit into this. I will segregate the post into sections as I read through it as there appears to be quite some stuff to cover.

10/10 for originality

I usually put on some reading music when I get a long post or a long conversation lol

So the fulla 3 is a good entry into this particular hobby and just for a gamer it’s not bad at all, though it admittedly struggles even with beyerdynamics own headphones at the 250 ohm and 600 ohm. It’s good for low power requirement headphones and an entry though that’s about it. As for the Heresy, that’s a standard entry level amp and has a lot of power… do keep in mind however, this will not fully -drive- headphones in some cases… let’s take a Beyerdynamic 600 ohm for example… these headphones synergize and scale to an immense degree… something such as a basic entry level won’t truly make the sound open up and upon upgrading past the entry level a lot of people come to realize many of the sound traits change… the sound can become much clearer, more present, more soundstaged, detailed, and other such traits become more present. That isn’t to say it’s a bad choice… it’s not… just as long as you know this going forward you will be alright, just at some point if you really dive deep you will need to consider an upgrade past that heresy… which would either be magnius or Asgard 3(more than likely an asgard 3 in my opinion).

For me, my realization took me down the wrong road and a lot of people fall into this… jumping head first into the more expensive territories without taking my time not to mention buying multiple headphones at once… I got stuck in it grabbing like 6 headphones a week lol. Needless to say I learned my lesson rather quick but it taught me a lot about the hobby as well so live and learn.

Some very difference headphones those two.

no, this is actually accurate as to what your hearing… the bass on the x2hr is very uncontrolled and bleeds rather badly into the mids… the 400i is a more neutral headphone not to mention being of a planar so you have that speed and texture to go along with that natural slam plus hifimans tend to be more airy in their signature which gives them this very relaxing spacious sound… As a brand most of their headphones have that kind of airy presentation to them granted the 400i is a more mid aggressive headphone than say a Sundara

Planars like to ask texture, speed, and slam to their tonality… however, comparing it to something like an x2hr… to be quite blunt the x2hr is nice for what it is… but in reality its worth maybe… $80 in terms of sound qualities comparing it to others these days. In terms of detail retrieval, clarity, and timbre? it loses all over the place in comparison to hifiman, sennheiser, and beyerdynamic. I liked the x2hr at the time but really… its a FUN headphone in that its just for a bassy good time… but as I began to enjoy my music and gaming more and more I found it just didn’t hold up… hell I found the shp9500 much more enjoyable in every aspect and thats even cheaper.

again what your hearing is quite accurate, the sub bass is slightly recessive as you can see in its own frequency chart. It’s a rather neutral headphone regardless… through a bit of EQ it becomes quite flat and neutral… it has a nice tonality… but if we go to the x2hr


the bass shelf there is what overwhelms into the mids… its just poor tuned in that retrospect… its not a bad headphone honestly just if you compare it to later headphones or higher price brackets it falls short rather quickly… in competitive gaming x2hr is quite pitiful

The DAC chip is the same, but that isn’t the most important part of a DAC. The surrounding circuitry is what makes a difference. Just because it uses the same chip doesn’t make them the same… though the gains and/or changes are minimal.

So, this is a rather vague question and hard to answer… there is always technically a “better” option out there… but it depends on what you would label as “better” based on your preferences and what you are looking for.

be wary that amazon gets angry if you return too much… just a forewarning.

Quite the selection.

58x Jubilee: Sennheiser Classic neutral. warm tonality, very balanced. Not as open as 400i but strikes in the mids well enough. jack of all trades master of none. Average soundstage. Average imaging. Nothing particularly special however, it still manages to best a great many in its price bracket due to just how well rounded this thing is. Alternative: HD 560S which is like this one but brighter

HD 6xx: Sennheiser classic neutrality, tries to stay as balanced as possible most sennheisers will be this way each with a slightly different trait that makes them different from one another, Better sound quality than the 500 series, very narrow soundstage, imaging is good but not as good as the 660s. This is a classic headphone used by a many gamer right now and has been for a while… however, it falls short in anything above the more narrow FPS due to its limitations of soundstage… if you only play smaller fps such as COD than this choice is fine… its signature will be in line… however if you like that more airy approach of your 400i this more than likely is not going to be enjoyable for you… as the presentation here and signature is that of a very intimate and close nature… good for a more immersive experience but not for that wide expansive concert like sound

DT 880 and 990: these are two very different headphones. Been called a beyer afficionado or a fan boy as its one of my favorite brands. Beyer likes build quality soundstage and imaging and it absolutely shows… most of their headphones are built like tanks and have full steel frames especially if you look at 1990 over there. In terms of signature the 990 is unforgivingly bright… its a V shaped signature with quite a bit in the bass, recessive mids, and a ton of treble… it sounds its best at 600 ohms which the magni can power just fine. Soundstage is large and the treble gives it an ethereal like presence that really I haven’t found in another headphone… but its absolutely not for everybody. Imaging on the 990 is ridiculously pin point accurate.

880 on the other hand is quite different… the bass falls closer to neutral in 600 ohms its slightly above the flat line, the mids are emphasized on this one making it more of a mid centric headphone, and the highs are raised yet smooth. This headphone is a detail monster with quite a lot in terms of clarity once powered to a higher unit. Its semi open back meaning it loses out to the 990 in terms of soundstage and in imaging they are close but 990 edges out slightly over this one. 880 fits in much more areas of use though than 990

HE4xx: love or hate relation… for me its a pass

Sundara: one of the best bright sounding headphones in its price bracket… bass is more than likely not remotely close to what your looking for here but mids and highs are gorgeous… very expansive airy soundstage and treble, very smooth and detailed, tons of texture and clarity. It’s only weakpoint is build qualities and bass. Terms of imaging though, it loses to the beyers… but wins on soundstage.

DT 1990: one of the kings of the competitive gaming market… Built like an absolute Tank and heftier due to it than the others on this list this headphone is versatile as they come from beyer… simple change of pads alters the signature to a very drastic degree. Signature is bright and neutral with a second set of pads to create a V signature. It’s essentially a step up hybridization of the 990 and 880 into one headphone… as it has better placements than the 990 and better soundstage than the 880 due to being fully open with a much more adaptive signature. It can fit absolutely anywhere but it comes with that added cost of pad swaps. 250 ohms and quite easy to drive you just need to make sure its powered to something that keeps the sound rather clean.

lol thats because they are extremely narrow and lack a lot of separation. You shouldn’t have that issue with really any of the headphones you listed whatsoever. Granted some will separate sounds better than others.

Its hard to recommend something based on comfort but beyers are quite well known for being extremely comfortable as its like a set of ear muffs on the head… not to mention the ridiculously comfortable dekoni pad swaps they can get. Sundaras are quite comfortable as well granted not the best for someone with very large ears… and they like most planars are a bit on the heavy side.

eh… to me I wouldn’t say terrific but they are plenty passable… granted I would absolutely say depends on the game hes playing. They aren’t pushovers for sure but I would absolutely argue Sundara bests that 400i in pretty much every single way outside of the Bass.

I can second the Focal being good granted not so much on the added warmth… be wary of adding bass while playing competitive… its a nice addition but bad for competitive gaming.

Focals are picky as hell about their source… granted magni will power something like the elex or elegia quite alright he would want to consider an upgrade at some point.

So, there is a reason ifi designed an amp with a 6xx button as well as people use tubes on them… the bass is quite lacking


Through the use of some simple EQ though it fixes up quite nicely but in comparison I would absolutely not say it can be warmer than the 400i. 6xx is very narrow and intimate sounding with a nice balanced tonality but it falls a bit short on the bass really…

It makes use of a Hybrid pad… changing the pad would remove some of the treble which can remove detail so I would say unfortunately not so much… granted changing the pads will absolutely increase bass response such as a full suede or leather

I certainly agree, for more context I thought it would be more practical if he was to keep his headphones and buy new ones.

The 6XX doesn’t have much in terms of sub bass you can “Hear” it but its not going to blow your socks off its a generally warm smooth headphone overall [This would be on solid state] It great for mid bass and specialises in vocals. With a tube its even warmer. Soundstage is elevated and sounds incredible. for a comparison it wouldn’t sound as crisp but with a tube amp it would surpass for clarity, vocals and match the mid bass.

Yes definitely. The Dekoni lambskin replacement pads I have on mine do exactly that. Highly recommended and super comfy. but they’re pricy. but worth it

Also if you need a killer imaging gaming combo with no too much treble to just win.

Koss KSC75 with Yaxi pads. very bass light, amazing imaging and treble and since its slightly off the ears you don’t get them sweaty

Best of all cheap

@Falenkor @Thotstomp

This is all really great information thank you so much. I was actually probably going to pick up some KSC75 for my Oculus Quest at some point so I’ll eventually try them.

Last question. what are yall’s opinions on the Beyer TYGR and the Monolith 1060/1070?

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Awesome, you’ll love them they’re the best. Definitely get the Yaxi pads

Skip the Monolith all together. too heavy, weird problems

The TYGR is great.

Just to update this, I took a big chance and got the HD6XX despite me thinking I might not like them. I think it’s such a widely known and beloved headphone that it will give me a great place to start and figure out where I want to go after that.

I will update this post once I receive them in about a month and let everyone know what I think of them just in case anyone is in the same boat as me.

I have the 6XX, the DT 770 (250) and the Sundara. Bought them in that order. The Sundara are my current DD for gaming on the PC, and everywhere else, as long as I don’t sit with company.

Powered by a Schiit Hel, I’m pretty happy with the result. I play a lot of Rocket League and Apex Legends. The 770s are also great, but getting used to the treble takes time…

I used to game with the 6XX, but stopped after getting the other two. I feel it’s a more… musical HP.

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Thought I posted but instead it sent someone a DM whoops sorry about that.

Hey there, I see you help many people and as most I am new to the audio world. Tired of the gimmick gaming headsets. I am for sure looking to purchase a Schiit stack. modi/magni combo. What headphones would pair nice to that combo?

Listen to all variation of music from rock, hip hop, and EDM

As for games the one most important at the moment is Apex Legends. So looking for something that will help identify footsteps and location of said footsteps. I also play RL, and other various games that audio does not make or break the competitive aspect.

Budget would like like to stay under $250, for sure not anything above $300 for now.

Appreciate your help/ advice and hope you have a great day


You’re saying the Sundara’s soundstage is wider and bigger than the Dt 990?
I actually got it the other way around. Things could sound way further away on the DT 990 and the Sundara beeing better in Imaging and instrumental seperation.
Note: When I had both here I did not have the best amp to run either headphone, so my perception must not be right, that’s why I am askin’.

The combination might be tough to find, depending on your trebble sensetivity. For tracking footsteps you’d likely want somrthing that brings the trebble more foreward, but for the music you like to much of that could be a problem.
The TYGR could defently do what you want. IMO the DT 990 600 Ohm outperfomes the TYGR but the tonality is tricky as it is very bright. In combination with the Magni and mayber some EQ it might be an option tho.

So let’s say we take out the music aspect and I focus on finding the “best” cans for gaming for now and focus on music with another set of cans. I know best is a tough term because everybody’s ears are different.

Well the best sub 500 cans for gaming are kinda the DT 1990. Many agree on that. If you want to have something cheaper I think DT 990 600 Ohm with Modi/Magni 3+ are very good and wont disapoint. Beyers are just good with soundstage and pinpoint trebble imaging.
If you want to have what is almost a book about gaming headphones check out this:

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Hmm ok, this gives me some options and more to research. I appreciate your help.

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Might have been the amp, but yeah I absolutely got more space and stage in my sound out of the sundara. Separation was a bit better as well however imaging was better on the beyers for the most part.

outdated but I get told a lot it helps alot.

I wouldn’t say the 1990 is the best at being all rounded… T1 2nd gen I believe is a bit better in that regard… either way… 1990, T1, Elex, Sundara, 660S, nighthawk Carbon, and like a couple others(still waking up lol) are some of the best bets based on different signature and traits

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The treble sensitivity is what I was worried about with the DT990s and Beyers as well. I looked at the freq response of the HE400i 2020 which was already bordering on pretty bright for me and decided that it would probably be too much at least for my first and only pair of headphones. I’ll probably pick up the DT880 or DT990 600 ohm at some point to try so that I have both gaming and musical headphones in my lineup. Other than that, I think a lot of people have made a good case for the sundaras as well so I might look at them in the future as well. I can see why this hobby gets expensive for a lot of people lol.

Try the 880 first, a lot of people love it despite being bright… Sundara is about as bright as the 880 as well though the way they present sound is very different. Either one will work fine