Help? Need headphones: I'm lost, Hearing disabled and more

So I’ve been looking into headphones for two weeks now, And I got so lost in things it’s best to get back to where it all started.

First of all I’ve got some health conditions that need to be taken in consideration:
I’m hearing disabled both left and right, Left ear has a 35 decibel loss and right a little more. The frequency loss in both ears is different and where one fails the other compensates that a bit. I only wear a hearing aid on my right ear because the left ear has had surgery three times, During the last surgical procedure the malleus and incus had to be removed (there is a tiny bit of the Incus left) which means there is no longer a connection between the eardrum and inner ear. That and the fact they made a passageway into a hollow space so any future ear infections would leave my eardrum alone (first two surgery’s where to strengthen the eardrum) and it’s impossible to wear a hearing aid on my left ear, It sounds horribly hollow and robs the ear of the necessary airflow which the body try’s to get rid of by producing lots of ear fluid. Reconstruction surgery has been discussed, But is a lottery under full anaesthesia and might require multiple attempts (each with a minimum of six to twelve months recovery before a new attempt.) and the preferred way of local anaesthetics and about 3 to 4 hours or more of surgery is something I’m just not ready for and probably won’t ever be. (That’s 3 to 4 hours of people poking in your head and you get to hear it all.)

I’ve also got a chronic daily headache, In my case that means waking up and going to bed with a headache every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, over the past 16 years.
How severe it is differs from day to day and is influenced by my ASD and it’s companion oversensitivity, The exact cause of the headache is unknown but most likely a combination of factors. Overal it’s a tension headache, With an occasional migraine or cluster headache.
Currently getting some medication and a bunch of exercises to keep my neck and shoulders lose, That plus outdoor activity’s keeps it under control.

Listening to music, Playing single player or PVE games and or watching tv can be a strain but also a relieve for my headache. The more distracted I am, The less I notice the headache that always there. An activity like gaming is adding a bit to the headache I already have but the distraction it provides nullifies that.

TL;DR: Hearing disabled, Chronic headache, Oversensitive.

In past two weeks I’ve seen and read about lots of headphones and used a grand total of three:
Sennheiser HDR-127 (that’s wat it say’s on the side anyway, It’s open back wireless using radio frequencies)
Koss KSC-75 (x2)
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (Returned for full refund)

The Sennheiser is what I’m using while I type this, It’s comfortable to wear and I can listen to it all day without my left ear hurting.
The Koss have great sound for what the are, And will be used outside or in the living room for short periods. But I can’t wear them all day long at my desk/bed because they exhaust my left ear to the point where it hurts, If I’m not mistaken the highs are a little too sharp for my left ear. (Right is fine.)
The DT 990 Pro I didn’t get to properly test, Because the cable was rattling around inside the cup with every move I made. (See Koss KSC-75 topic.) So they went back in there box after less then two hours, But as expected way too sharp high’s (even my right ear didn’t like them.) and to my ears too much bass but it was brought to my attention that they just lack in the mid’s.

So what am I looking for? A headphone and a amp/dac so I can connect both my TV and PC (Optical for TV and USB for PC), control the volume and switch inputs without re-plugging cables.
Also keep in mind I’m in The Netherlands (Europe) and prefer to buy from Dutch webshops or not everything available in the USA is available here and some stuff is a lot more expensive here.

Headphone requirements:
Open back so my left ear can ‘breathe’
Relaxed sound for all day everyday use, Will vary per day but let’s say a minimum of 8 hours a day. With three to four 12+ hour days a week.
Will be used for TV, Gaming and Music, Small priority towards speech perhaps.
I’d like to keep cost in check, But I’ve got money available if necessary. (I’m not an audiophile and probably won’t ever become one, This won’t turn into a hobby for me but I do prefer to listen to music in wave or lossless formats.)
Up to €150/200,- I’m willing to order sound unheard, Above that I’d have to find a store to demo them.

Music preference:

  • '80’s Synthesizer: Jan Hammer, J.M. Jarre, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis… Ed Starink’s Synthesizer Greatest Vol1 t/m 7
  • World music/new age/instrumental: Aereda/Clannad/Era/Enya/… Pure Moods vol.1 t/m 5.
  • Game and movie OST’s: Ennio Morricone, Martin O’Donnel, Hans Zimmer…
  • Some focal stuff when I’m in the mood: Paul Simon, Dire Straights (Only Brothers in Arms), Men at Work, And some Dutch '80’s Pop: Het goede doel, Klein Orkest.

Candidate I’ve found so far:
AKG K612 Pro (€105,-), But the most recent Amazon reviews aren’t all that positive.
AKG K712 Pro (€199,-), But the most recent Amazon reviews aren’t all that positive.
Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X or AD700X (€165/185,- Bit expensive compared to USA & Japan)
Beyerdynamic DT 880 (€165,-)
Hifiman Sundara (€350,- Can only be auditioned on a Audio GD R2R11 or NFB 11.28 (€349/339,-) anything else I’d have to bring myself.)
Sennheiser HD 599 (€137,-)
Sennheiser HD 559 (€76,-)

The DT 880 and Sundara I haven’t really looked at yet, Didn’t like the DT 990 Pro and the Sundara I could afford but I’d rather not go there if I don’t have to.
The AKG’s quality control appears to be out of the window, Don’t want a headphone that’s poorly build and won’t last.
Audio Technica’s high European prices makes them hard to justify. (At €85 I would probably have ordered the AD500X a week ago to try it out.)
The Sennheiser I did some proper research on, Zeos preferred the 559 as a comfortable to listen to headphone, Another reviewer (DMS) liked them for all day use over his high end studio headphones and a third reviewer (The Nitpicker) didn’t like them at all, recommends you get the 569 closed back over the 559, And preferred the HD 579 over the 599 out of all of them. But the 579 is no longer available here (Except for somewhere I’ve never heard before at full retail €199,-)
The Nitpicker:

Based on that I’m now leaning towards the Sennheiser HD 559, But I’m open to suggestions.

This got confusing fast, Basically everything below €500,- is Chinees or maskerades as made in the USA (Schiit that’s a joke :stuck_out_tongue:) but here it goes, Requirements:
Needs a least two inputs and a way to switch them, USB and Optical at minimum.
Must power whatever headphone I end up buying + the Koss KSC-75 for gaming with voice chat. (I use a Jabra Biz 2400 Mono on my left ear for voice chat and speakers or the Koss KSC-75 for my right ear to hear game sound and music + left ear gets whatever bleed’s trough. The Koss KSC-75 can hang on top of the Jabra Biz speaker, And a little tweak in Windows 10 balance setting plus higher volume gives decent enough stereo while still being able to hear the chat clearly.)
Bonus point’s if I can connect my Creative T20 speakers (But I probably wont use them anymore, Not wearing that crap digital hearing aid all day has been a relief.)
Candidates I’ve found so far:
FiiO K5 Pro (€179,-)
Schitt stack ( ~€300,- Modi 3 & Magni 3 €125 each = €250,- + Cables to connect them)
Aune X1s Pro (€279,-)
Topping DX3 Pro (€229,- Got Bluetooth for my phone/tablet and a remote. But I could adjust the TV volume with the TV’s remote and PC volume would be within reach, Phone and tablet can use the Koss KSC-75.)
Audio GD R2R11 (€349,-)
Audio GD (€339,-)
Topping MX3 (€129,- If I end up getting the HD 559 I assume this might be enough? comes with the same benefits as the DX3 Pro.)
And there was this budget option called the FX Audio Dac-X6 (€65,-), But recent reviews on learn that the Amp only has 1/4th the power of the unit Zeos reviewed so it might be just enough for the HD 559 but anything requiring more power won’t work.

Again, I’m open to suggestions.

That’s all I guess, Let me know if you need to know more.

The HD650 is a very warm, relaxed headphone, and is super comfortable. Neutral with a great midrange with slightly rolled off highs and subbass. Very comfortable, and built really well. Massdrop (now Drop) sells the 6xx so that might be cheaper, but they are identical headphones.

If you wanted a bit more energetic sound but still the warmth, the HD58x is just that.

If you were bothered by the 990s, I wouldn’t really recommend the 880 because they may be too close for your liking

The Audio technicas can be uncomfortable to some for long time use, and can be lacking for music with bass, so that’s something to consider.

The Sundara is great, but kinda bright, and I don’t know if you would be bothered by that.

The K712 is pretty great for wide sound stage and detail, but might be a bit more fatiguing then the 650.

I would say skip the 599 or 559 and go for the 58x, as you will be getting better bang for the buck

The K5 pro could power them just fine, and you would have no issues whatsoever getting them loud if need be. Realistically you don’t need to spend more then this unless you want features like bluetooth. If you wanted a setup with separate components, the smsl m100 and jds labs atom would work great as well. Alternatively if you wanted a warmer sound, you would swap the jds atom for the monolith liquid spark.

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Thank you for your reply,

HD 650 are €317,- and I would prefer to listen to them before I’d buy something in that price range. (HD 600 = €289,-) But I’ll look into them.

HD 58X would cost €145,- if your lucky (no customs) but most likely around €185 to €200 when hit with tax and customs charges, Shipping duration and warranty is unclear to me. (Just send it in to Sennheiser Europe? Then why don’t the just sell it at €220,- on Amazon?)
Still undecided if I want to go for that, Watching reviews as I type this.
There’s also a second hand HD 580 available at €149,- from a pawn shop(ish) chain that I think they’re overcharging for.

The DT 880’s are out of the equation then.

Audio technica’s are as I said overpriced for there quality here so those are out two.

If the K712 is more fatiguing then the HD 650 there is probably no point in trying it out.

HD 559 at €76,- is less then half the cost of the higher end Sennheiser’s, Sure It may not be as neutral or suitable for music but it seams to be excellent for watching TV and stuff, Might still get it for TV use only.

As for the amp/dac:
FiiO K5 Pro is €179,- and the JDS Atom on its own costs about the same when you add shipping and doesn’t include a dac. (From the UK at £109,- shipping cost unknown or from Germany at €169,- + €15,- shipping)
The monolith liquid spark would have to be imported from the USA so not much value in that unfortunately.

Based on reviews the FiiO K5 Pro would appear to be the best choice at that price range, And is probably the brand I would trust the most out of all the Chinese manufacturers.
But I wonder if those toggle switches will hold up over time using it twice a day everyday to switch inputs. (Would prefer something bigger/easier to use because it will have to be used every day.)

SMSL M3 at €85,- comes with a button to switch inputs, But quality of the amp will be lower. Also not a fan of those tiny usb ports for power and data.
FiiO K5 at twice the price feels like a better investment.

A quality amp + dac with remote control would be around €500 or more I guess?
Like the Marantz HD-DAC1 at €649.- but that’s way out of budget for now.

This is getting way more difficult then I could have ever imagined.

How much is a 6xx from massdrop? Also the 58x is a massdrop exclusive. If you check the used market, a 650 can be had for a decent price (at least in the us)

Yeah dac amp combos with remotes can be pricey, but I think the topping dx3 pro has a remote for I think 200 usd

HD 6xx would be about €180/190 without tax and import fees, €250 with.
So the HD 600 at €289,- would probably be the better choice (Will be delivered the next day, and can easily be returned.)

As for amp/dac I’ll probably go with the FiiO K5 Pro, And get something to extend the input toggle switch so it’s easier to use everyday.

Gotcha, just know that the 600 isn’t as warm as the 650

Hmm, for info, the RME ADI-2 DAC could be interesting for you.
You can setup EQs for both left and right channels, for example.

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That would be a serious investment, But the ability to tone down every frequency my left and/or right ear is sensitive to would make it worth it.
Potentially the perfect dac/amp for me so I’ll have a closer look at it.
Thank you for bringing this thing to my attention.

€27,- difference between those two, Not really an issue.
The HD 660s is a different story, They cost about €100 more at €399,-

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I feel your pain as I have a virtually deaf left ear following 2 surgeries. I now have a Cochlear implant that bypasses the ear and communicates with the cochlear. It works well. Have you considered this as opposed to more complex less predictable surgery?

@poyungan, That’s unfortunate. I’m thankful for the fact that my hearing hasn’t gotten worse over the last 23 years.
A cochlear implant wouldn’t even be considered in my case because even though the malleus and incus have been removed, On a good day a hearing test wil result in a hearing loss that’s slightly above the required hearing loss for a normal hearing aid.
So beside doing reconstructive surgery (or not) there’s nothing else that has to be done with my left ear, It functions quite well without a hearing aid as long as I wear one in my right ear.


Thank you for your help.
Made a decision earlier this week and ordered the Sennheiser HD 559 (Something you tried to talk me out of :blush:) and the FiiO K5 Pro, Couldn’t be happier.
I understand that the HD 58x/6xx/600/650/660s are better headphones in sound quality, But what the 559 presents to my ears is exactly what I was looking for.
In the future when my left ear is completely used to this headphone I might try out a higher end one for music, But for now this is perfect for what I needed it most for. (TV/Movies)


Well that’s great :+1: Glad you found what you were looking for, hope you enjoy it