Looking for Planar Magnetics that don't necessarily need an amp


So, I’ve recently been looking at some planar magnetic headphones and I’m thinking of finally taking the plunge.

As far as I know, most planar magnetics need an amp and a DAC to even run somewhat decently.
Unfortunately, as I am very new to the world of high-end and especially planar magnetic headphones, I really don’t know what to look at, so my question is, if someone could recommend any planar magnetic headphones that would be fine to run without an amplifier (just from my pc, for example)?

I understand that either way, these kind of headphones will sound better with an amp and everything but I would like to get something I could start of at without any extra equipment and afterwards if I decide I could buy extra equipment at a later date.

To end this, my budget is around 400$ max and sound wise I prefer a bit more bass, then again, the only comparisons I have are my CoolerMaster MH751 and a pair of Razer Blackshark V2, that I was gifted, and I am completely fine with the amount of bass the CoolerMasters have.

Hopefully someone could help me out with this.

Used Hifiman Edition X? I think the V2 and the Ananda sell for a bit more used than your budget. They were marketed as not needing an amp and are all pretty similar. I use the Ananda straight out of a ps4 controller sometimes lol.

The 4xx or 400i is probably good enough though.

Admittedly the mass majority of planar I can think of will really either require or extremely benefit from an amp, to where I wouldn’t suggest one without an amp imo

So generally something more warmer leaning overall? In the budget range you are thinking of, I can’t think of many warmer leaning planar imo. The used edition x @RenEH would fit your preferences most likely (or a used massdrop edition xx if you can find one) but again I would at least pick up an amp like a monolith liquid spark or a magni 3+ as that will be a sizable improvement (you can grab a rca to 3.5mm cable and feed them using your motherboard dac or phone dac).

In the price range new, I would most likely consider a hifiman he400se (it’s fairly balanced but not something I would call super warmer or relaxed) or he5xx (it’s like a warmer v shape) for what you are after imo, and then grab a liquid spark to go along with them to really get good quality out of them


If you’re not going to use an amp, forget planars. The physics of the driver design require high current. You’re not going to get that without an amp.

Sorry to say but all the planars I’ve tried need an amp there was the special exceptions of audeze mobius and penrose but these are gaming headsets. Iirc panda may work and I know aeon 2 is portable but that ones very expensive.

That one is super power hungry tho lol

I guess the lcd 1 might work without a proper amp but that’s a fairly meh can for the money imo

Which is weird… you’d think portable they’d be easy to drive

aeons are very high current headphones. i could almost max out my liquid spark sometimes on quiet songs. i would recommend hifiman planars . although all planars will benefit from power. maybe edition X or xv2. used aeon closed but will need amp to go with,

More than aware aeons need an amp… I own them and use them very very often.

I used KPH30i on phone today without my dongle and was left wanting.
I would not consider buying planars without an amp.


Maybe I’m missing it, but what would you be trying to run it off of? If it’s a phone, you can forget about it.

Well, as unfortunate as this is for me, it wasn’t really unexpected. Kinda hoped there would be something that I could start off with without an amp but it’s fine.

My own top pic for some time have been the Hifiman Sundara (the Hifiman brand itself is a bit easier to acquire in my part of the world) but the headphones themselves are already almost at the top of my budget and they definitely seemed like there’s no real point of buying if not paired with an amp, so that has always held me back in regards to them.

However I did recently see Zeos review the 2020 version of Hifiman H400i and those have peaked my interest, because as I understood from that review they are a warmer but not as detailed pair of Sundaras.
They are also significantly cheaper so buying an amp isn’t that much of a problem anymore.
Has anyone had any experience with these headphones? Would the H400i be a good enough starting point or are the Sundaras worth the long term investment and step up from H400i?

Oh, missed literally the first message that also suggest the H400i, my bad.
Well, in any case, the last question still stands, would something like the Sundara be worth long term investment over a pair of H400i?

The sundara most definitely needs an amp.

Well I’ve only heard the HE400i so I can’t compare them for your.
However if you plan to get an amp in the future anyway, what I would do if I were in your shoes is buy an amp (and maybe a dac or a combo instead) and the HE400i. Then after corona you go to a shop that sells the Sundara’s, see if you prefer those and if so you sell the HE400i. The HE400i will easily fit in a $400 budget with an amp and dac or amp/dac combo.

BTW the HE400i is discontinued AFAIK, the HE400se is the new kid on the block. No idea how they compare the the HE400i though.

If you dont mind something “Dirty” you could go for the Gold Planner 400, they are on ear which is annoying but manageable, they are 80$ they give a small taste of what planner is, and that leaves enough to get a AMP and DAC - so if you like the sound when you get a better budget you could get something better

I bought both version (long story) and the open one is way better.

It seems like going the cheaper headphone but buying amp/dac right away would be the better way to go.
Are there any other brands that offer budget planar magnetics similar to the HE400-i (maybe something from Europe, could be cheaper for me) or is Hifiman currently the go to brand for entry level planar magnetics (it just seems that when talking about this price point, Hifiman products are very prevalent)?


I think the 400i 2020 or 400se are great starting points imo, that also gives you ample budget to get a nice amp (and dac if you want) and later on move to the sundara if you feel the want to.

Hifiman kinda has the budget planar market nailed down at the price point you are thinking imo

Since your using gaming headphones you’ll love the Hyperx Cloud Orbit S, its a closed back planar magnetic headphone that has a built in dac and amp so you don’t have to worry about buying those. Plug straight into computer and your chilling. Another option is Audeze Penrose for wireless, they should sound about the same. I personally use the Hyperx Cloud Orbit S and its was my first planar coming from my first gaming headphone the Hyperx Cloud Alpha

Do you have any mechanism to peruse a used market? I’ve bought a lot of headphones used for tiny amounts compared to new. Perhaps particularly during pandemic due to decreased interest in this corner of market.