Looking to buy my first audiophile headphones

Hello everyone

I am looking to buy my first audiophile headphones, after doing some research I found 3 headphones that peaked my interest:

  1. Beyerdynamic DT 1990 pro
  2. Sennheiser 660s
  3. Beyerdynamic 177x Go

My main purpose is to enjoy the music that I hear, I want to feel in Awe when listening to music, to experience the details in an enjoyable way and not very technical way, to enjoy it to the fullest.
I listen to almost every genre of music, and I do NOT intend to use the headphones for gaming. like I said I want to enjoy my music as much as possible.

what I gathered from reading and watching reviews for each headphone I mentioned above is that:

the sennheiser is clear and has good mids, however it could sound a bit “bland” and more technical than exciting or mesmerising.

the Beyerdynaimcs 1990 pro has a bit more bass than the sennheiser however it has some problems at the high end, and I am not entierly sure about them but the reviews are not very consistent, some like them and some critisize them heavily.

and for the Beyerdynamic 177x, I wanted to actually know if the closed back is actually worth it for my mentioned intentions to use the headphones. and if the lower impeadance makes a difference.

I would also like to know what do you think is the better choice between the 177x and the 1990 Pro. or if the sennheiser actually better than both.

I am also open to any suggestions from you guys, and I would be thankful if you also could suggest the best amp I could use with any suggested headphones.

I apologize for the long post, I am relatively new to this topic and I am sure that your expertise will be very helpful.

thank you all in advance.

I trust Sennheiser, and I am biased when it comes to Sennheiser. I have been using my HD598 for probably round 7 years - still going hard.

If you have access to Drop, the Sennheiser x Drop HD6XX is also a very good option

What sort of environment are you going to be listening in? Do you need them to be portable or is this purely for desktop use? And what headphones do you use currently?

I appreciate your input, what type of amp are you using with them ?

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Having portable headphones would definetly be a plus, although it does not matter to me at all, all I care about is a great experience listening to music.
I don’t have any headphones actually. the only thing I have is a pair of Marshall earbuds, and a pair of Jaybird x3s for the gym.

Got it. So in my opinion, an open-back set of cans would serve you best. I’m a big fan of the 600 series and think they work well with most genres of music. If you have access to drop then I’d urge you to consider the 58x or 6xx purely for the value you’d be getting. I’m quite treble-sensitive and as such not hugely keen on most Beyer stuff. Ofcourse, everyone hears differently and if at all possible you should audition a set of headphones before fully committing. Appreciate this is pretty difficult given the global pandemic mind you. Have you considered something planar like the Hifiman Sundara?

Interestingly enough I have used the HD598 with no amp for the most of the 7 years of usage. For music listening I use the EarMen TR-Amp which just brought out the life out of them - otherwise, they aren’t hooked up to an amp since they are my main gaming headphone.

If you do go for something like the HD6XX, you will definitely have to invest in a good amp in order to drive them correctly - so keep this in mind. HD6XX are very hard to beat for the price - however do expect cheaper build quality and a cheap cable. These factors shouldn’t affect your music listening experience, and you can always invest into a cable later.

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not familiar with the Hifman Sundara, the Problem is like you said the pandemic is not making it easy to choose without actually trying the headphones on. so I am just relying on your experience and recommendations. I can only say that I like the look of the 1990 pro best, and have read that they have much pronounced bass than the Sennheiser. like I said, reviews vary a lot.

thanks a lot for your replies.

Hmm yeah the bass does roll off on the Senns. If you can get the 58x, they do ~90% of the 660s for under half the cost. Easy to drive also. They punch way above their weight. I would recommend the Sundara for sure, they are neutral-bright in signature with very nice imaging and speed. Perhaps also look into the other Beyer models i.e. 770 880 990. But if youre sensitive to treble then they might not be a good shout.

In my opinion you can’t go wrong with Sennheiser, but that’s not everyone’s opinion :man_shrugging:

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I personally can’t stand closed back headphones. The open backs just sound better and more natural imo.

You have some very good suggestions here.
I would also toss in the Focal Elegia at the closeout price that happens periodically.

I would also not discount picking up a decent amp.
I ran with the DT770s for about 6 years without an amp and then bought an entry level Schiit Magni 3 and I was surprised at what I had been missing.

I then moved to the Drop HD6XX which was another big step up in performance…the mids…the mids.
Falling further down the rabbit hole, I picked up a Schiit Asgard 3 and the HD6XX really came alive.

I am now using the Focal Elegia with the Asgard 3 and I love the combination.
I would like to try the DT990s and the Sundara at some point due to their reviews.


Do you want to enjoy the music in itself or do you want to enjoy what the headphone does to the music? Headphones that are designed to act as clear windows onto the recording are relatively rare. It’s a hard thing to create for technical reasons. Headphones that emphasize certain aspects of the recording are much more common, especially since the average male consumer gobbles up bass by the truckload, so such headphones sell well.

The word audiophile comes from the loudspeaker world and has gathered the connotation over decades of having a strong preference for transparent un-coloured reproduction. In contrast, the headphone enthusiast community is full of people who unashamedly want to own multiple headphones, each with a different flavour or set of flavours. Headphone enthusiasts often consider purely accurate headphones to be relatively boring in comparison.

  • The DT 177X GOs are particularly skewed away from transparency, having a big bass boost and an equally pronounced scoop of certain frequencies on the border between the midrange and the highs (called upper mids). The word GO in the 177X’s name is a cue that only people who consider themselves to be go-getters and trendy need apply, grin.

  • The DT 1990 PROs come with two different sets of ear pads, one of which provides more of a bass plus lower midrange boost than the other. But both have the same strong emphasis on a particular high frequency band in what’s called the sibilance range. This annoys a minority of people who are extra-sensitive to that band. But it is useful to recording professionals to help them eliminate this annoyance in the recordings they make. Equally, the word PRO in the 1990’s name is a warning that they cater to professionals over consumers.

  • The HD 660S is relatively neutral/accurate in comparison but makes little effort to create a larger sound stage than the small and right-in-your-head sound stage that is natural to a headphone.

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Like others have mentioned, a good headphone amplifier makes a world of difference.

I would throw the AKG K-712 in the race aswell. Soundstage and sound signature are perfect match for accoustic or symphonic music.

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I own these and I like them a lot but they would not be my primary recommendation for someone’s first headphone for enjoying music. I use them for “general” use - which does include music - but I like to take advantage of their low impedance and closed-back form factor so I can listen to a podcast/YouTube/music while working, hop on a meeting, etc.

Obviously it’s very amp dependent, but assuming you were able to drive them properly, I would go with the 6XX/650 or 660s for music. If I had to choose, I would basically always pick my 6XX over the 177X if it was to only listen to music.

I can’t speak to the 1990 as I’m sensitive to treble.

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I’ll throw in the DT880, They sound pretty fantastic and more of a balanced overall headphone compared to something like the Sinn 6xx. The 6xx have a ton of clamp on my head and don’t feel nearly as comfortable to wear compared to the Beyerdynamics. I frequently take off the Sinn and flex them a little bit to make them more comfortable. The Beyers I can listen for hours.

I don’t find the DT880 to be sibilant compared 1990 or as bass boost like the 177x. It is more of the goldilocks (just right) headphones IMO.

The sound stage is larger compared to the SInn 6 series as well.

I do like my 6XX, but they aren’t my listen to every genre headphone. I find they shine on vocal heavy tracks where you’re focusing on a voice or specific instrument like guitar solo… etc.

The Beyerdynamics images instruments better and brings it all together in a more well rounded way that allows me to enjoy tracks where there is multiple sources are fighting for attention like more modern music.

If you are used to IEM then you might want to consider closed backs as you’ve been listening with some level of noise isolation. Open back, at least really good open backs can still produce bass and increase the sound stage, which also helps give space for better imaging… but the trade off is you can hear a cotton ball drop.

If you live in an environment that has much background noise ( kids, tv playing, even you typing on a noisy keyboard) you can/ will hear it …

just something to consider

Edit: The DT880 are semi-open back which doesn’t let in as much ambient noise… so again the goldilocks zone to me.


I have never tried open back headphones. looking forward for the experience.

Thank you for taking the time.
I cannot doubt the mids that the Sennheiser provides, however I am looking for a more wholesome experience, and from what I gathered, it seems that the Sennheiser are a bit bland, and too transparent. granted I am only basing my knowledge on reviews and not actual experience,

thank you also for providing your experience with the amps, do you think that the Schiit Asgard will be good enough for a 250 ohm Impeadance headphone like the 1990 pro ?. any experience with DACs as well ?

Thank you for a very informative reply.

I am not looking for an overly analytical sound, I am looking for pure enjoyment, and appreciation of the music itself, I am not looking to edit or mix any music, from your description I think I should stay away from the Sennheisers because they are neutral or transparent…
so I guess that makes the 1990 pro my choice.

Thank you for taking the time.

I have watched a review on the 1990s which explains how the treble can be managed with an equaliser and some pads if needed, I am looking for more enjoyment than transparency in perceiving the music. and from what I am reading, the Sennheisers seem to be “too transparent”. any recommendation for amps with 250 Ohms impeadance? any recommendations for DACs as well ?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

the dt880 has 600 Ohms impedance, which might make it a bit harder to drive, and I would prefer to invest more in the headphone itself instead of an amp to drive them, I am aware that there is a version with less impedance, but I think a higher impedance will be better for less distortion.
I haven’t tried a lot of headphones yet to form a personal taste, but looks wise… those 1990s look very sexy and high quality to me.
as for my enviroment, I live in a quiet enviroment so external noise is not going to be an issue. I have heard a lot about the experience of an open back headphone, so it’s about time I tried them.