Looking for an upgrade to my HE-4XX

I am looking for an upgrade in basically every aspect to the HE-4XX. My two biggest competitors right now are the Sundara or the Koss ESP/95X. I listen to mainly Rock and Pop. To a lesser extent EDM and Country. I wan’t a headphone that has better bass than my HE-4XX. This might sound corny but I want it to play the old THX movie sound and make my ears tingle from the bass. PLEASE GIVE SUGGESTIONS

  1. Must be less than $400 (The only exception is the Koss ESP/95X)
  2. Must be Planar or electrostatic
  3. Must be good out of the box (I don’t do any form of headphone mods, not even changing or removing foam)

And yes, I did do a post like this about a year ago, but that old budget was $200 and this one is $400.

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What headphones do you currently have at the moment? Also hi again lol. If you are looking for that bass requirement, I would suggest not considering the 95x, imo they don’t lack bass but also don’t really have much impact and quantity that you are looking for. I hate to say it but I think you also might want to consider dynamics here as well

Master & Dynamic MH40 - didn’t like them, Philips SHP9500 - love them, Philips Fidelio X2 - Like them, HyperX Could Revolver S - love them, HyperX Cloud 2 - like them, turtle beach z22 and px22 - liked them, HyperX Cloud Orbit - like them, Hifiman HE-4XX - Love them and Monoprice Modern Retro - Don’t really use them. I power them all off of a FiiO K3

I have no point for dynamics. Planars have a certain sound that no dynamic I have ever tried can replicate, and I have tried $2500 dynamics.

Gotcha. Well, lemme start off by exceeding your budget lol and recommend a used edition xx, but that would be more than what you are looking to spend so this is just throwing it out there

After that I do think the sundara is solid and would most likely suit what you want well, but you might want to eq bass up a bit for more quantity

So another potential issue is that you would want a stronger amp, think like a magni 3+ or liquid spark and use your k3 as a dac for mostly any of the planar options I would recommend. With only the k3 most planars really won’t have much impact or slam for the bass, 4xx included

If you are really tight on the budget, I would actually just recommend getting a better amp and saving for other options later on

I only use the FiiO K3 as a DAC because I like the way it sounds, My amp is a Panasonic tower amp from the 90’s. It will blow out 1000 watt speakers if I turn the dial past the headphone settings and into the speaker settings.

It most likely doesn’t put out that power into headphones as typically they have resistors that step down the speaker output to a lower not as high power signal, but I don’t know the model to confirm

If you feel confident that your amp can deliver, then the sundara or edition xx if you could stretch would be pretty solid. The verum 1 is also another solid pick if you can find one

Is there a DAC/AMP that puts out more power than the K3 or would you suggest just getting a modern amp to put onto the K3?

I would just put a modern amp onto the k3, the k3 is fine as a dac. I think if you wanted clean good power for the money the asgard 3 without the dac module is pretty great for the price, and if that’s too much the aforementioned magni 3+ would be my picks (hard to beat for power + quality for the price imo)

Also this just popped up

I sadly don’t support Schiit at all so my options in my price range for a better amp are the ATOM AMP, Micca OriGen G2, Syba Sonic or Sabaj D3.

Ok, what about a monolith liquid spark? Also I think there is another forum member on here selling a gen 1 el amp for around the 100 dollar range

I need a amp that has a 3.5mm input, The spark doesn’t. Also I thought that the Atom and the spark were basically the same?

Pretty different sound wise, the spark also has more power. The spark is a bit warmer with a low end boost and a bit more smoothness in the high end, more punch than the atom from my experience.

Could you just use a 3.5mm to rca cable to connect the amp?

I could do that but I really thought that the Atom and Spark were basically the same. Also if its just an amp how does the Spark change the sound?

Not all amps sound the same, the spark was specifically designed to give a certain sound by it’s designer, as most all amps are. If you compare a magni heresy vs a jds atom, they sound pretty similar but the spark is a different beast. Also the extra power boost on the spark too

not to mentio significantly better build quality from the spark in comparison to the atom with a really smooth knob

I just like the pairing better with the sundara and the edition xx vs the atom in this case, as it would add a nice more subtle bass bump

So the Spark would compliment the music I listen to more than the Atom? And if thats the case I think I will be getting the spark and the Sundara’s (Don’t trust the build of the edition XX). At this point would you recommend a better DAC or a DAC/AMP Combo?

Personally I think that’s the case, sounds like a plan

For now in this budget I would just stick with the k3, it will get the job done just fine imo

all we really -nneed for the sundara is good clean power and the k3 and liquid spark should deliver things fine. the atom has numbers and linearity but the trade off is kinda bad build quality and less power. if you wanted it’s sound the heresy would be the pick but unnfortuantely schiit aint your shit