[Help] Looking for new a new headphone set up ($1k) for casual listening and gaming

As the title suggests, I’m looking for a new headphone set up for casual listening.

I’m currently using my old DT 990s that I’ve had for 3 years. While I enjoy having open backs, I personally don’t enjoy the headphones as a whole due to comfort and they’re starting to show some aging. Thankfully tax season is here and I’ll have a decent budget to play with ($1k for headphones and possible amp/dac?)

I’m horribly inexperienced when it comes to the world of headphones but would love to properly dive into this hobby with a solid pair of cans for music.

Not sure if it helps, but I enjoy a wide range of music (Hip Hop, Heavy Metal, Bachata, Drum and Bass, etc).

Open to any and all suggestions, thanks!!

As a generic suggestion that falls under the price point, I like the Sennheiser HD600 ($300) and a Luxury & Precision W2 ($300) for a pair of headphones and an amp/DAC to get you started. Even after buying an aftermarket balanced cable, that should be well under your $1k budget.

(EDIT: If you’re willing to buy used/refurbished, a Focal Elex can be had for ~$550, which would also still be within budget.)

Though people might be able to give you more specific suggestions if you could describe anything in particular that you really liked or disliked about the sound of your old headphones!

As far as my old headphones, they feel kinda flat and lack some bass (kinda a shameless basshead). I also own a pair of Hyper X Clouds and Sony WH-1000XM4s and enjoy the sony’s for commuting.

I’ve tried messing around with EQing them and they helped to some extent, but back when I used to own a pair of custom game’s from Beyerdynamic, they were what I felt like a solid pair of cans (before they broke in half)

I do however gotta say I absolutely prefer open backs though. Everything else I’ve ever owned were closed backs.

Hope that helps?

Huh first time I heard someone describe dt 990 with it’s treble peaks as flat XD so I would say we can recommend some cans that are a bit hot because you don’t suffer from treble sensitivity :wink:
For gaming i could recommend a beyerdynamic tygr because something like hd560s could be a bit to flat for your taste and it can be driven by nearly everything ^^
If you want to please the bass slut I’m you maybe something like fostex purple heart could scratch that itch if you can find one, otherwise something like fostex t60rp or Denon ah d7200 can also be a nice addition

If you want more recommendations for gaming @Falenkor is an authority for that around here :wink:

I will check back in on this later when I have some time, apologies. Super busy. If OP still needs any advice he can ask me through here and I will chime in later on over the weekend. However, I skimmed this it appears hes a basshead looking for an open back? thats… a rather large oof and going to be a tough one since open backs biggest weakness is the bass(hence many open backs sub bass tends to be more recessive to begin with). If warmth is the goal… Audeze, Beyers T1 3rd gen and Tygr 300r, Fostex ARGON obviously will be in there, and nighthawk carbon are the first that come to mind… I guess you could throw aeon in there but its not as bassy…Could also just swap over to DT 880 600 ohm and throw some suedes on it or put it on a tube amp… that works as well


The headphones? Easy: Audio-Technica r70x.

I mean I’m pretty open to trying something TBH. At the end of the day I just want to just enjoy music with something new. If that means sacrificing bass then so be it, I’m a newbie when it comes to headphones lol

For gaming, look for a headphones with great imaging and bass. Sennheiser HD 600 is overall very good under $1K, with amp & dac from Drop or Schiit should put you around $700. Sennheiser PCX38 is also very good for gaming, but not so much for bass and your library.

My suggestion is to use IEMs instead (with a mic separately) since IEM’s will do imaging and bass a lot better than headphones (and they’re a lot lighter and more comfortable!), especially vs open-backs. I’d suggest grabbing LETSHUOER EJ07M (also around $800 after dac+amp) for it’s soundstage/imaging and immersion. I think your library will match it very well :slightly_smiling_face:

You can also go for the XENNS UP ($700) which have beryllium dynamic drivers and are one of the best basshead IEMs period. That will put you just under $1K. Difference between EJ07M and XENNS UP is that the UP is a legit basshead set with A LOT more bass, but the EJ07M will have better soundstaging and be slightly better all-around.

Edit: Both the XENNS UP and EJ07M are 10% off right now on Linsoul!

I think that’s way too neutral for his library, especially bass.

My suggestions is HD600 for imaging and overall technicality and tuning, or ARGON T60RP for bass. Both are pretty hard to drive tho… personally I’d rather go for IEMs like EJ07M and XENNS UP instead. Both IEMs are much more comfortable, lighter, with great technicalities, and basically a HD600 with more bass.

Thats funny, because people literally describe the r70x as an hd600 with more bass.

They’re also much lighter, which is a huge comfort factor, as you said.

Last but not least, op asked for headphones not iems.

Never said it wasn’t. Both are neutral vs his library, but I’m saying the HD600 does a better job in-terms of technicalities. Hence why I also suggested the Argons:

Sure, but I don’t see the downside of suggesting op something better for his given price point? If he really doesn’t want an IEM he can just ignore my suggestions and go with the HD600 or Argons lol. I don’t see how suggesting a better product will hurt op.

not a basshead headphone by like… any means…

from crin, its somewhat bassy… but more on the neutral side of things. Since hes looking for a bassier headphone I cannot see this being an “easy” or feasible recommendation imo.

In the long run it really depends on what you want and are most comfortable with. Trying headphones takes quite a lot of time and can be quite expensive.

I wouldn’t particularly call any of the sennheisers like 600, 650, or 660 as bassy… not less you plug these into a tube amp… then they get a good amount in terms of bass… overall they are quite neutral and timbre friendly… however, may not fit everyones taste

:thinking: subjective and debateable… hes also looking for an over ear… not so much IEM.

They are unless you use tube amps as I mentioned earlier… then the 600 series can be a bit more in terms of bass… Then again… pretty sure tubes work just fine on r70x as well since they are what like 470 ohms? So either or would be fine as long as the proper setup is involved…

Better would be subjective in this case and your personal opinion… if hes open to IEM thats one thing… but hes stated hes looking for over ear and open back specifically… it makes no sense to suggest otherwise at that point less he states hes okay with an IEM.

Looking at all this your definitely sounding like someone who needs a heavy hitter in terms of low end… and probably more involved in mids… so something heavily leaning warm and boomy. The sennheiser MIGHT achieve this but -only- through tube amps… I can say the same for r70x as mentioned and maybe even headphones like the focal elex which get rather dumb in terms of amped bass when set up correctly…

however, if were talking explicitly in terms of warm signatures. let me think here…

Cheap end? Probably something like Fidelio X2hr… cheap as hell but honestly for a warm / bassy headphone its damn good

mid tier…? … hmm… as mentioned… nighthawks may cut it but you may find them a bit lacking… I would point you to the Argons for a few reasons in this case… they have massive soundstage yet are more of a closed back… at the same time… have some miraculously well done bass.

Past that? There is nothing from Hifiman that will suit this, dan clark probably wont fit your bass needs so we can cross them out, focal just isn’t bassy they rely towards neutrality and mids(can argue mg… but lets be clear… its not a basshead headphone by any means), Sennheiser is heavily catered towards the neutrality timbre line outside of tubing and EQ, Audio technica… more mids and highs… in some rarer cases they will do bass but most of those are closed back, AKG… ehh pass… they have some good ones but a lot of recession in the lower sub bass with them.

Outside of what I mentioned… hmm…

Any beyer pad swapped to a suede or leather will gain tons of bass… you can also tube them to press it even harder… headphones like DT 880 and T1 2nd gen are very good for this… T1 3rd gen is extremely warm but expensive if thats your aim… would encourage try before buy on the 3rd gen though.

Argons as mentioned will suit

other than that… Audeze may suit you well but youd need heavy amounts of EQ, lots of power, and a warmer amp(potentially a hybrid tube with a lot of power or an ifi amp) to really push the warmth up. So something like LCD-2 will work…

I suppose it boils down to how much quality of bass your looking for though as well… big difference between quality and texture / detail compared to quantity.

You may be stuck going towards closed backs in this case if you really want to scratch that itch… in this regard… You’d probably want to look into Fostex and Denon as brands… both do incredibly well in this regard and are very good for casual gaming and listening.

Warmer amps? Something from IFI will work here, maybe an xduoo depends on the headphone, could also swing very warm and smooth like the liquid platinum + bifrost 2 combo, Singxer may also fit here but thats a bit of a different path and also very very expensive

I will help if I can here, if you have questions feel free to ask.

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As I mentioned before, I suggested the HD600 for imaging (which is important in gaming) and overall tuning (which is important for sound). Hence why I ALSO suggested the Argons for bass, but it won’t have the technicalities of the HD600 which is again, why I suggested both with drawbacks on each

You only taking a section of what I said is very misleading.

Hun? OP literally said he is open to trying things:

No, not really lol. There’s an argument if you don’t take into account basshead bass with overall technicalities and tuning, but based on OP’s library and gaming needs the best IEMs at this price point does bass+imaging+tuning combined better than the best headphones at this price point, especially when you have to spend a lot more on amps which limits your buying power of the headphone. Again, this is different if we’re talking about a more neutral preference since there’s more of an argument there, but we’re not, we’re talking about a combination of basshead bass, technicalities, and tuning.
Having tried Argons, Sundara, Monolith M1070, HD600+tube amp, and IEMs like EJ07M and XENNS UP, I can for sure say that both of the IEMs does a combination of bass, imaging, and tuning much better than Argons or Sundara or HD600. The EJ07M also comes pretty close in-terms of sound-staging as well vs the Argons.

Hence why the EJ07M and XENNS UP fits OP’s library MUCH better than the Argons. Now, given this new knowledge, wouldn’t you also recommend OP IEMs as well if it better serves his purpose and price bracket? Again, I don’t see why I can’t suggest IEMs to OP when he said he’s opened to trying things, and if he isn’t into IEMs he can just ignore my IEM suggestions and go with Argons lol. It doesn’t hurt to give him better options since at the end of the day the purpose for both IEMs and headphones is for the user to enjoy their music, bottlenecking yourself solely based on form factor is rather limiting and counterintuitive…

first chill the attitude… that sorta thing is not welcome here. Your welcome to voice your opinion and we are welcome to disagree.

If you feel IEMs are better thats more your opinion… I have tried those as well, and I found pretty much similar outside of soundstage which I definitely did not find superior with iems. Therefore, agree to disagree. Could be my hearing but most cases I do not find soundstage to be better than a good headphone compared to an IEM.

To clarify, I didn’t mean “new knowledge” in a negative tone. I was referring to my suggestions regarding the Argons and also my experiences with other headphones. Maybe I should’ve phrased that better. But either way, setting a rule regarding for what one can, and can’t say is rather contradictory when you say I’m welcomed to voice my opinion no, haha? But philosophical debate regarding freedom of speech aside, I don’t want this conversation to be about headphones vs IEMs, but rather regarding the best product for the given price range and musical/gaming context. I’m experienced with headphones before I started my IEM journey, so in no way am I biased towards either since being limited to form-factor is rather counterproductive. So trying to turn this into an IEM vs headphone debate is rather ineffective in solving the problem at hand imo.

I think given the context (gaming and basshead with good tech/tonality) and based off both of our suggestions, which seems to be leaning towards Argons or FOSTEX, I do not see how either the Argons or FOSTEX does an overall better job. For reference, Argons were my “guilty pleasures” a few years ago and I love the bass and soundstaging, but to me, the EJ07Ms are basically Argons but with much clearer/fuller mids, and overall detail/separation. On the other hand, Argons do have more bass and are wider stage wise, but the staging is not holographic with pinpoint imaging and separation like the EJ07M. Vocally, Argons also have less texture and clarity, lacking in “soul” and immersion compared to the EJ07M. XENNS UP are like EJ07M but with more bass but less holographic immersion, and compared to Argons, XENNS UP have better mids and details with similar bass quantity (if not more depending on the amp) and quality, but less wide soundstage.

OP’s main focus is bass, gaming, and tuning that matches his library, hence why I think the EJ07M and XENNS UP are the better fit. He also said he is opened to trying things, so form factor should not be a limiting factor when deciding. Again, not saying ALL IEMs are better at this price point (since Sundara and HD600 is pretty hard to be in a neutral preference), but yes, I do think the 07M and UP would be the best option in this unique context. I mean hey, if we can find him a headphone that matches, that would be the best :slightly_smiling_face:

oh jeez, whole lotta info to process here.

Mic isn’t a concern for me, I already have that sorted out on my end (AT2020 [yeah yeah basic, but I’m not streaming] and a Presonus Studio 24C).

I haven’t owned a pair of IEMs before so I’m open to giving it a try but I think I’m more comfortable with using over ear if I’m being honest. Comfort seems to be better for me with overears since my experience with earbuds has been nothing but awful, so I’m reluntant to try out IEMs (comfort I’d imagine is a lot better though with them, no?)

Assuming I go with IEMS, are they any amp/dacs you’d recommend I look at?

Are there any downsides to owning a tube amp if I went that route?

I was actually looking at Audeze (LCD-2s specifically) but same thing as I mentioned before, I’m not sure what amp/dac or whatever else I’d need to proper run them.


Thanks for all the input, I appreciate all the new information!! @Falenkor @VIVIDICI_111 @Barolo @DuerumBen @rgdelato

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impedance becomes a larger factor, the idea of tube rolling could toast your wallet later(different tubes… different sounds), some headphones just do really poorly with a tube amp, can’t really do planars with tubes(hybrids and certain tube amps excluded), not the best idea to run IEMs in many cases with a tube amp can work… but it depends on the setup

Theres plenty to get along with that headphone as well as many who have extensive EQ(audezes tend to need quite a bit of EQ for peoples tastes) so it wouldn’t hurt to just ask on the headphones thread for help with that… others who have more testing A/B with the LCD-2 will definitely be able to help on that more than me

They are larger form factor ear buds essentially just with much better sound and drivers. Quite a few factors go into making them comfortable from things such as different tips or just the size and dimension/design of the IEM itself going by how your ears are shaped. IEMS will give you much better isolation and are better in the case of bass to an open back since the sound doesn’t escape outside of a speaker

Hey, glad we can help!

Amp/Dac wise most will work since IEMs don’t need much wattage. Just find something that’s neutral with a good DAC. You can get the Magni Amp and Modi Dac from Schiit audio for $200 which is pretty good, or you can invest in their higher options, either is fine! Comfort wise I find IEMs a lot lighter with no heat/sweat issues (and you can listen lying down which is what I do), but unless you have REALLY big or small ears, fit isn’t an issue since both are designed to be fit friendly. EQ wise, you could, but it’s not needed/recommended since the tuning matches your library really well already.

Another note, make sure you budget right if you’re getting a headphone that needs a lot of power since the AMPs will cost more, especially if you’re getting tube amps or harder to drive headphones like the Argons, HD600, or LCD-2s. I think you can rule out the HD600 since the bass will not be to your taste.

Quick comparison between the Argons, 07M, and UP:

^ this is why I mention Tube amps aren’t the best of choice lol. Since Tube OTL amps prefer high impedance over something low watt.

Can find something like this, JDS atoms stack, or something like a liquid spark + Topping D10(its a warmer stack) for like… $140 used market in total. Granted this is heavy entry level.

^ only suggested with a tube amp in this particular case… better options though for bassheads are out there.