Mid-Fi or Hi-Fi?

Just sitting here on a Saturday and as usual thinking about buying headphones. I have been into headphone collecting for about six years now. My collection has progressed nicely and I am very happy, but of course I am always on the look out for something different. :grinning:

Am I into Hi-Fi? Many would say no. I have posted pics of my collection on several forums/websites and commonly hear that I need to give up on all that entry level/mid-fi stuff and get some REAL gear.

I see the same thing here on Hifiguides, but is more by example than stating any facts. Guys who used to have gear like mine are getting multi-thousand dollar amps to go with multi-thousand dollar headphones.

Cool if you have the money, but I don’t. I also doubt that I have the refined hearing needed to appreciate the added clarity.

I have had a ton of fun this year buying used, sale and open box items. I also think that maybe I am quite content in entry/mid-fi. I think I prefer quantity (good to very good) over quality (great). I love the novelty of putting on a set of 'phones that I haven’t used in a month or more. It is like getting a new set of headphones every 5/6 weeks. :grin:

Now to bring this rambling post to a point. What entry/mid-fi level headphones have impressed with value and sound?

My most expensive headphones retailed for $600.00US (Grado GH2 and Elex), but most cost much less. I love my Sundara’s, my Senn HD660’s, my DT880’s, my Meze 99 Classic’s, the re-bought HD600’s and even my Fostex TH-610’s.

On my radar is the:
CFA Cascades (used or a Really good sale).
Audeze LCD-2 Classics (again, used or a Really good sale).
On the economy side, I am curious about:

  1. Sivga Phoenix
  2. Sivga PII
  3. Audeze LCD-1
  4. Avantone Pro’s

Anybody want to add some overlooked/unknown gems that most of us don’t know about? Not supercheap, but a great value. My value collection above (own and wanted) runs in the $250.00 to $500.00US range.


Hmm, I wouldn’t try to place a label on it. I think everyone is in a different stage of their lives and have different priorities. Others are particular with their preferences in sound.
If you are enjoying your equipment, that is the most important thing.


I would say my level is JUST slightly higher with some and not others… My chain staring with the Schiit BF2 and feeding The Asgard 3, Monoprice Liquid platinum, Meier audio Corda Jazz, and my Koss esp95x electrostats is probably as High as I may go source wise for headphones.
Headphones are LCD2 pre fazor, DCA Aeon 2 open, My Nighthawks as well as everybody’s number 1s Koss Portapro’s, Kph30i’s and Ksc75s. A few lower end IEM’s and that is about it. To me these are all multi-thousand dollar sounding and I am good with that.

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What some call Hi-Fi other would call High-Fi. As in you’ve got to be high to pay as much for a pair of headphones as a lot of people might spend on a decent used car. lol

If it works for you then it works for you, enjoy what you have and buy used, buy open boxed and trade/barter and you can move up the scale as it suit you and your wallet. There’s no timeline on how long it should take to get from point a to point b.

As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that most people that are buying multi thousand dollar amps and multi thousand dollar headphones will tell you that they enjoyed the hobby just as much when they were buying four or five hundred dollar headphones just like you’re planning to do.

Enjoy the journey.


This one is on my list:

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I never even noticed them and I was on the HiFiGo website looking at Sivga’s.

well, then one very important question: do you also own some decent AMP/DAC? If not, you should focus on this next, to get the most of you current gear, and not just buy another headphone.

But if you do own a decent AMP/DAC, then i would also say: you might be more statisfied by spending more this time. I.e. i recently bought myself a Focal Clear für 999 €. I had a very bad feeling about spending this much money, especially after having spent so much already on mid-tier HPs like my NDH20s, HD700s, HD600s, Audeze EL-8C, B&W P9 and several IEMs. But i have to say: this thing really is on another level then the others. It’s just so much more refined. Or let’s say: after spending a grand on HPs, at least the placebo is really strong. If you buy another mid-tier HP, you’ll likely say “oh yes, this sounds great as well!” … and after a few months, it’s just another headphone, the magic is gone. I guess the same will happen to me and my Clears, but i’ll still wear a grand on my ears and that really makes it special to me. I know that’s wrong on SO many levels, but… it is, how it is. I love my Clears.

I have a decent DAC and several good amps.
I love my Elex’s and have been told the Clears are better. New Clears in Canada cost 2K. I am not spending 2K on a marginal improvement.
That is not to say I will never buy a used set, but it is not in my immediate or near future.

The purpose of my post was just to (A) state that I am very happy with mid-fi and (B) to try to find some more “hidden gems”.

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ok sure. Actually quiet sad, that there are no better deals for Clears in Canada. Maybe the whole KOSS treatment would give you a bit of fresh air? Do you already have a KPH30i etc.? Or, speaking of KOSS, how about the ESP/95X for something really different this time? If you like bass, i can also recommend the Neumann NDH20s as a really beefy headphone with a unique “good bye outside world” factor. These seal like nothing else and it’s part of the sound engineering.

If I still had a desktop rig (I have been strictly portable/transportable for 6+ years now), I would get the Neumann NDH20 for sure, as I’d love to (again) have a neutral, very resolving set of cans (albeit not very comfy for long listening sessions, from what I hear). $500, but just don’t make sense for me as I have zero interest building a desktop rig.

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I already have the Koss ESP/E95X system and am currently trying to sell it. Not my thing.

I found the NDH20’s on Amazon.ca and the price is pretty attractive, but I am not a huge fan of studio headphones.

well, then i would cross out the Avantone Pro’s as well. Wat is it you don’t like specifically about “monitoring”-labled headphones? Do you think they are too flat and not entertaining enough? You might be surpised by the NDH20 about that. It really has strong bass and is quite intense due to the effective seal. Do you have a sound preference? Thinking of really different, the B&W P7 also come into mind. They have a sound signature and looks you really have to get used to, but after that … great stuff imo.

I find most studio headphones flat and neutral, as I suppose they should be for studio work.

I had P5’s years ago. I liked the sound but the clamp was crippling.

As far as sound preferences go, my original post mentions headphones that I like.

I LOVE mids, especially vocals.
I really like bass, but am not a basshead.
NOT a fan of big treble, just whatever is necessary.

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Love this thread!

There are many undiscovered gems - I personally spent weeks or even months tracking down every worthy headphone… but there are way too many to mention every single one, so here are a bunch of them

iBasso SR2 just released one of the best, if not the best 500 USD product of the year. Everything about that headphone puts higher priced cans to shame - including build quality & cable.

Some less talked about cans (can’t call anything a gem if I haven’t personally heard it) are:

Quad ERA-1 (planar magnetic)

Direct Sound EXTW37 (I forgave the lack of horizontal rotation just due to the amazing sound performance - the best wireless headphone I have heard)

Gold Planar (planar magnetic) - just look at their new models… pretty impressive

Phonon (dynamic driver) - Japanese company that focuses on making headphones for music producers/engineers or just in the studio space. They are just about to release their long awaited new model: SMB-01L

Avantone just released the Planar headphone model (planar magnetic) - definitely interesting.

Sivga as a whole company.

Kaldas Research RR1 Conquest (electrostatic) - the price, the company, the founder, way too much to be admired. You would truly need to read every single page on two different forums to fully understand what this one is about.

Cleer Next - engineering at its best… IMO one of the best looking headphone to be ever made. In terms of sound, I heard that they are very detailed.


The only things I can think of would be a used LCD-2.2 PF ($650 ish) or maybe do the full Lawton mod on your TH-610. Otherwise I think you pretty much have the sub $1000 range covered.

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NICE post!

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Kind of, but never really done. :laughing:

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@voja dude’s just slamming out like 10 HPs i’ve never heard of :joy:

@ShaneD posting here just got me to listen to my P7s again, switched from Focal Clear… and i’m really appreciating them. I actually missed these. Comfort might not the best, i agree… though i don’t have a problem. But dat deep bass and B&W coloration tho … just tasty. They sound as they look. If you liked th P5 a used P7 might really be worth a consideration. Generally accepted as the best B&W headphone afaik.

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Changing headphones between long intervals is always a treat.

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dude, dafuq. I have a perma-eargasm atm. Maybe cause it’s 3:26am and i’m tired. Maybe cause i haven’t heard the P7 with my THX amp enough. Maybe the P7 just does everything different then the Clear. WTF. Wow.