Looking for recommendations under 250

Hi! I’m looking for some recommendations for headphones (open or closed idc) that are under 250€.

I have used the dt770 for a few years now and I’m still really happy with them but I think it’s time for an upgrade.

Main use would be listening to music at my desk setup (currently SMSL AD18 maybe going to upgrade there as well) and occasionally on my phone (LG V40). I listen to most genres but mostly Rock and Pop I guess.
I also play some games so probably wouldn’t hurt if they also do good in that department as well but that isn’t first priority.

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Sennheiser HD560S and Hifiman HE400SE have to be by default on top of your list. If you are willing to pay about 350, Sundara and Harmonicdyne Helios and Verum Audio One Mk2 are exemplary. If I were you I’d go for the 350 euros ones unless you can’t afford them.
Its better to upgrade than to sidegrade
(HE400SE, Sundara and Verum One Mk2 need large amount of current to be properly driven)

Have you considered IEMs? They are unbeatable at lower prices.

I think it’s a bump-up on budget, but what does Harmonicdyne Zeus run there?

Welcome to hifiguides!

Stepping up from dt770 is where I started 2 years ago. It’s a good starting point.

A few questions:

Any thoughts on open vs closed back? Part of this is if you are listening in a space where people around you won’t mind hearing your music as well. Open back will be audible to anyone near you. But they do tend to have a more realistic soundstage.

Do you want to keep a similar sound signature to the dt770? They are typically considered V shaped. Or do you want to try something different that is more neutral or mid forward?

Any thoughts on amp upgrades? If you want to upgrade both at the same time it’ll open up more headphone options.

With the V40 phone, is your use case waking around? Or sitting stationary? Weight and “douchebag” appearance can play into this if you’re out and about. Unless you’re like @wavetheory who would pull a tube amp on a wagon behind him if the extension cord was long enough. j/k!

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If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times! The tube amp goes is the wheelbarrow out front. The GENERATOR goes in the wagon behind! :rofl:


I tried IEMs but I don’t really like the feeling of in-ear headphones. It just feels uncomfortable in my ear.

I didn’t find a shop here in Germany/Europe that sells the Harmonicdyne Helios or the Verum 1, only the Sundara. I could afford them but that would leave me with less budget for my amp/dac and I don’t know if my AD18 is enough to power them.

They look great and I would be able to power them, right? Could spend a few more bucks if I won’t have to upgrade my dac/amp right now.

At that price you’re just getting sidegrades if coming from the 770 tbh

Open back is no problem when I’m at home and I could still use my DT770 if I ever need to.

I’m not really sure about the sound signature. I liked the way they sound but I guess I could go for something more neutral.

I don’t wanna spent too much money right now so I haven’t really looked at amp upgrades. I thought I could get headphones first and the smsl ad18 would be enough for now.
If I really need to upgrade my amp first could you recommend me something?

Walking around with a tube amp sounds a bit impractical. I guess I’ll pass.

Yeah seems like it. Think I’ll have to go for something around 350.

You only order the Verum 1 and Harmonicdyne Zeus online

If you are looking for something more neutral at around 350 I highly recommend the Sundara. That’s the way I went from my 770 and I am impressed. You can find my detail thoughts in the Sundara thread here :large_orange_diamond: HiFiMan Sundara 4th post from the bottom can’t miss it :sweat_smile:.

It will probably work ok with the smsl for now but you will really want something more powerful in the future. I am driving them with my Liquid Spark and they work very well together.

I really recommend the Verum 1. It is hand-built and unique

This is an interesting little amp. In general my advice is to upgrade headphone first, then follow with amp later. But looking more closely at the SMSL AD18 I might propose putting a little bit of budget first into a DAC/AMP that is more focused on headphones than speakers. This device is definitely more of a speaker first product. The headphone out put is 53mW into 32Ohm. This is on the lower end for most headphones you are looking to upgrade into. They may get loud, but without a little more power you won’t get the performance you hope for. Headphone impedance will vary over frequency, and in the lower frequency range having more power will give the amp better control over the driver. Everything will tighten up with a better amp.

My 2 cents: get a schiit magni/modi stack, or an atom DAC/amp stack, or something similar. Even a DAC/Amp combo like a Schiit Fulla, or Fiio K5 pro will do the job. Even your current dt770 will sound better on these. And then you’ll be in good shape to get Sundara, HD6xx, or whatever you want to try next. Tons of great next step options.

Also worth thinking about is the used market. On this forum you can get entry level DAC/Amp for a good price, which will leave some $$$ for the headphone purchase.

On the headphone side, either the Sennheiser HD6xx or HD58x are interesting next steps. The Sennheiser sound on these is definitely different than the dt770, more neutral (not really a neutral headphone, but more that way than dt770). Getting the HD6xx is an interesting option because so many people have it, it is often used as a reference in their reviews.

Sundara are a great introduction to the planar magnetic sound with an overall neutral sound and good bass extension (not elevated bass, but quality bass).

Going a completely different direction, but interesting to get a better sense of what sound you like, you can try the Grado SR60 or SR80. SR80 have a slightly more elevated bass region, which may fit your taste coming from the dt770s.

If you want some cheep thrills, try the koss kph30i ($30 on Amazon). They will sound great on your current amp, and will blow your mind when you upgrade. $$$ per unit fun, these can’t be beat. I pull these out from time to time and question when I’ve spent so much on other cans.


Alright, thanks for the help!

I’ll buy a dac and amp first. Going to look at some reviews for the stuff you mentioned.

For the headphones I’ll get the Sundara once I have the dac and amp. It’s the only one I don’t have to import so it’s easier to return them if I don’t like them.

For now I’ll probably get the KPH30i to keep me satisfied until I get the Sundara.


You’ll be glad you did - almost any of the modern basic entry level dac/amp combo units will be a nice option for you. If your target is the Sundara (in my opinion, great choice), try to make sure the amp can produce at least 1W in 32Ohm. Not a hard limit, but in general you’ll be glad you did.

Let me know how these go for you! These $30 headphones surprise me every time I put them on. They are genuinely comparable to headphones 10x the cost.

You can try SIVGA Phoenix, though over $5 for your budget.
Good look and warm sound, it’s a great choice at this price range.
32Ω low impedance is easy to drive.
Of course, with a good player, the sound will be better:)

Neutral and open you could try to get your hands on ATH-AD700X or 900X or 1000X new or used. I’d budget for some Brainwavz xl pads to replace the stock ones. The good thing is that they are super easy to drive, even from a phone.