HELP! Which of these headphone options does the group recommend?

I currently have the HIFIMAN He400se with a good 6w amp. but I want to update and what I’m looking for the most is that it has good sound amplitude for video games and good sound and image detail for high fidelity music in .flac and MQA. I listen to a lot of classic rock, heavy metal, and soft indie rock.

I like to accurately feel the detail of each instrument and voice and to feel an amplitude and image, that is, I am looking for headphones that are very analytical and at the same time fun.

I really like my hifiman he400se but they are just very analytical and their image is not that good. so I am looking for an upgrade or another hearing aid for my needs. and searching I found all these headphones and I would like to know from your experience which one you recommend me to buy. Like I said, I’m looking for a lot of detail in music with excellent image breadth and analytical sound but also fun for music and games. My maximum budget is 250 dollars I found these options but I do not trust the criticism of youtubers.

That’s why I want you to recommend me with your experiences.

1: Sennheiser HD 560S

2: Philips Fidelio X3 (on sale for $169)


4: Monolith M565C

5: beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium Edition 600ohm

6: Monolith M1060

7: SIVGA Phoenix

8: Philips SHP9500

9: Meze99neo

Which of these options do you recommend? or do I keep the 400se?


I find all planars to be great for music but not good for games (competitive) at all. For reference of your list, I own(ed):

  • Sennheiser 560s, 58x, 600/xx
  • Beyerdynamic 990 (250), 770 (80), Tygr, 900 PROX 880 (600)
  • Phillips shp9500
  • Hifiman sundara and edition xs

In terms of your requirements I would recommend nothing from the list from what I’ve owned. You probably find the 560s and 880 to analytical aswell and the image of the shp lackluster.

I would recommend the shp9500 just because of comfort and overall usability and value if you can get it cheap. Its not that great for gaming but it is more than fine for the price.

For gaming I would recommend this in particular order:
tygr300r, 900prox, 770, (6xx/560s) The 6xx does well enough for me in close quarter comp games and is honestly allround the most enjoyable for music except for the edition xs (which is out of budget and not great for shootergames)

For music (metal, punk, rock, alt) its:

XS, 6xx, sundara, 900prox, tygr.

Would really recommend trying out the tygr for what you describe as your needs (imaging, excitement and detail) if you dont mind recessed vocals a lot. for a more tame experience the 900prox is a good HP. I use my 6xx the most as its good enough for everything (for me) with some subbass boost. But you could very well find the excitement, detail and imaging from the tygr suit your needs better.

Best allrounders (game/music) for me:

6xx, 900prox, tygr, SHP9500

Hope it helps!


Of the cans you mentioned, the 560s has better detail and slightly more bass extension than the HE-400se. It also has a treble peak that offends some but could satisfy you since you’re looking for a lot of detail.

Still, the HE-400se is one of the best headphones under $250, period.

Don’t get the SHP9500, dude. A definite downgrade from the HE-400se. Lackluster bass, very grainy treble. Good soundstage and decent imaging, but the crispy treble and thin bass aren’t pleasing.

The Meze 99 Neo are dark and bassy. Exactly the opposite of what you seek. Avoid.


If you want to go up a level, the Aeon R/T closed or open would be an excellent recommendation.
It costs twice as much but would be a very reasonable upgrade.
And it’s also great for gaming and TV, as well as listening to music, of course, if you have the drive for it on your amp.

The M1060 is supposed to go more in the direction of Audeze Classic, which is not bad either.
A slightly darker tuning is sometimes more pleasant for the ear when gaming.
Because the sound stage is usually very bright when gaming, the sounds come through better.
And it’s also supposed to be good for listening to music.
But it doesn’t quite reach the level of the Lcd2 Classic.

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I own the HE400se, SHP9500, and HD58x.

I have listened to most of the under $500 Hifiman headphones, and the stage and imaging are pretty close on them. I think the recessed upper mids make them meh for gaming.

The SHP9500 I kept as a gaming headset, and were my gateway into headphones. I have a V-MODA BoomPro mic on mine, and it works well setup like that. After owning the HE400se, they sound grainy, but they are super comfortable, and have solid imaging. They are difficult to recommend given what you have. To clarify, I didn’t unpack them after my last move. They are in the box on a shelf.

I actually find the HD58x to have nice tonality with some bass, but the stage and imaging are pretty meh. I have a desktop mic and have used them for gaming, and they are ok, but not great. I am guessing the 6xx would be better for gaming, but I find them dull for music ( I borrowed a pair and just felt they needed something ).

I have never been a fan of the Beyer sound, a bit too bright for me, but people love them. I am guessing folks that know them will chime in. They seem like they would be good for gaming.

Meze are usually way too dark for gaming, so I would skip those.

If you are looking for stage and imaging the AKG K612 Pro is the headphone in your price range that might be the best known for it, but the least talked about. If I am in a store that has these, they are always a pair that I listen to, and I really should buy a pair. I got into IEMs right around the time I was thinking about getting these, and went hard down that rabbit hole.

For gaming one of the best options is cheap, the Koss KSC75 is typically under $20, and probably better for gaming than most of the serious headphones. I keep a pair of these in my laptop bag, and when I worked in an office, I kept a pair there too. Drop has a version with microphone too.

If I care about the imaging for shooters and the like, I tend to use the KSC75, otherwise I tend to use the HD58x.

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Thank you very much. so i’ll go for the 560s

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Agreed, I often wonder since planars take EQ so well, if there isn’t a good way to EQ the HE400se into a better gaming headphone? I assume that fixing that hifiman dip in the mids would help some.

Comfort is probably the biggest reason I don’t like the HE400se for gaming. I have a Sennheiser Headband Pad velcro’d to mine to make it slightly better, and the weight is noticeable on long sessions.

I totally agree about the SHP9500, it is great gateway into this hobby, or at least it was for me, but I still think for the $65 I paid at the time, it has been great. It does sound better with an amp, but it doesn’t compare well when you start moving listening to higher end gear.

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I see mostly “sidegrades” listed here. I was coming to suggest an HD800s, but I understand budget. I think the 560s is probably not the last word in “fun” for many. Was thinking the TYGR might be a good one.

What amp do you have? I’m assuming it is balanced, which isn’t likely to make good friends with 880-600.


Good points. The HD 560s is not a “fun” headphone. It’s not colored. It’s not detailed. It’s very revealing, so it will show all the warts on shitty recordings.

But the HD 560s is one of the flattest, most neutral cans with good imaging, detail and soundstage under $200. But yeah, I never reached for mine for “fun” listening, and I eventually sold mine because I didn’t use them that much for that reason. Plus, the treble peak hit my pretty severe tinnitus at just the wrong spot.


Here’s a “fun tuned” headphone that has been noted to have ample soundstage and imaging characteristics. Harmonicdyne Zeus. I’m not sure all that mid-bass warmth is competitive gaming ideal (not my bag), and they’re over budget, but it’s something to consider.

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Where are you based?

All the options you mentioned are good, but not exactly outstanding.

I highly recommend you to look into the second-hand market or the classfields section of Head-Fi. You can find many good deals, especially if you know what you are looking for.

Sennheiser HD6XX for $180: Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -
iBasso SR2 (my fav headphone to date) for €330: IBasso SR2 | Headphone Reviews and Discussion -

HD6XX and SR2 are two completely different headphones. I own both.

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I use $15 Chinese headphones for Xbox, but is the HD 6XX really a good gaming headphone? It has very narrow, “in your head” soundstage and only decent imaging. Fantastic mids, but is that crucial for gaming?

Aren’t those two strikes against it being a good gaming can?

School me if I’m wrong, please. Always trying to learn more about this great hobby.

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The case of the Sennheiser 6__ series as a gaming can is a fascinating discussion that I watch from afar. It seems to completely polarize people. Some swear by them. In my view they seem terrible, high-impedance, narrow stage, slightly warm tuning, imaging that tends to be three-blob (although this is less precise it is very clear from main directional perspective). I think because they are overall a good headphone with wine proliferation - there are fans. 660s perhaps is the best of the lot for it?

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I dont find a very noticeable difference in gaming performance compared to all the beyers I had. The difference is slighty worse probably, but my 6xx’s never held me back in gaming compared to the beyers. They do sound a lot better for music and the differences are pretty big there. Way more transparant. The beyers sounded a bit muffled due to a lot of dampening compared to the 600/6xx. I a/b’d almost the whole beyer collection vs the hd600 and 6xx for about 2 weeks in music and gaming. Sold and/or returned all my beyers after and never looked back. from all the beyers the 990 did the best and was actually really good for competitive but would never rec it as an allrounder since treble… hd800s is probably the only can that is going to make a significant difference compared to all the midtier headphones that are decent for gaming. They really don’t differ much if you ask me. what suprised me is that every planar I tried were terrible for gaming. Imaging on tracks was great but enemies in games were just all over the place. Dynamic is where its at for the allrounders imo.

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It all depends. Gaming subject is a highly complicated one because you cannot measure soundstage and imaging precision — the two most important factors in gaming. What’s more, how can you measure whether the soundstage is artificial or accurate?

HD6XX is a bitch to power, so anyone who doesn’t have a proper amp to power those up should avoid them.

I’ve been using the HD598’s for gaming for over 6 years. I swear by those and don’t plan to change them any time soon.

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Thanks for the education, fellas.

I LOVE my HD 6XX for music because of the great mids and relaxed tuning. But I thought those two qualities were somewhat contradictory to a good gaming can. I thought something hyper-detailed like a Beyer or something with pinpoint imaging would be better.

Sennheiser HD560S, then Meze 99 Neo.

I have the HIFIMAN HE-4XX…

DT1990, HD800, SHP9500. Competitively I play CSGO (1400+ faceit matches, 6000 hours+)
DT1990 - bad, hard to hear position of footsteps, I need to move right-left to hear enemies/shots/sounds and not always can help me, mediocre spatial awareness. Works better with a DAC with small soundstage
HD800 - very bad, when I hear a sound, I don’t know if it came from left , right, up, down, it’s very sterile and the sound fades way too fast. The distances of sounds don’t reflect on what i hear, it sounds far away and the sound is actually near me. Sometimes I hear a sound I’m 100% sure it came from left, but actually it was from right side, so there is that. It’s tricking me.
SHP9500 - very good, EQed to Harman target with oratory1990 settings, very precise positon and I just feel the game, I’m aware of everything in the game. The timbre is grainy so I don’t recommend it for music. I need EQ, otherwise it’s unusable. So make sure you set up Equalizer APO + Peace GUI if you consider getting this.
SHP9500 have a soft timbre, it’s not metallic, so even if it’s loud, it doesn’t create any ear fatigue.
SHP9500 has this ability to make sounds louder, so they are easier to hear. So all sounds are obvious and easy to be heard. And sounds have a long decay, so the sounds fade slower, so you have more time to hear the details, compared to an analytical headphone which is the opposite. So SHP9500 is a grainy headphone and personally I’m not a fan, but it’s the only headphone that helps me play and I don’t even need to focus, I just feel the game.

So from your list, I would choose Fidelio X3 even if I haven’t heard it. And buy something else for music. But, remember that if you buy a similar priced headphone as yours, you won’t actually get an upgrade, mostly a different sound signature and a different type of soundstage/imaging. Maybe try and get STAX L300/L500. Because even HD800 sounds like a headphone for music. Myself have L700 but I don’t use it for CSGO even if it’s very good, it’s just clunky and don’t want to use it for gaming. L700 have a reverb when shooting guns, which I haven’t heard on HD800. Hearing that reverb doesn’t actually help at anything, just a thing I noticed.

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I myself play Rainbow Six Siege, and I cannot tell whether it’s in-game bad sound design or my headphones, but more often than not a sound sounds like it’s coming from upstairs or downstairs, but in reality it’s not either of those. As mentioned, I used Sennheiser’s HD598 headphones.

I used to play some CS:GO, and HD598 is the only headphone I could bear. Any other headphone in CS:GO didn’t sound right. AWP (weapon) is the weapon I used for reference, but other guns also sounded weird. Is it burn-in? I have no clue.

However, I always had pin-point precision with the HD598’s in CS:GO. Could often hear things on the other side of the map, and more often than not heard things nobody else heard.

Whathever choice the OP goes with, I think they will be fine. Ears get adapted to anything, especially after a long while of daily usage.