Need guidance in choosing over-ear headphone

Hi, I like to own a hi-fi system and experience sound-stage & imaging. Initially I was checking for amp/speakers, but there was a lot of factors made it difficult to choose (reasons listed below). Now I am aligning headphone after knowing that Open back headphones can produce sound stage/imaging and better audio quality for comparatively lower price. Please help me in choosing a headphone as I really want to experience hi-fi sound.

Considerations for headphone selection:

  1. I use headphone for music, movies and youtube videos (personal home use and long listening hours). My budget is $500.

  2. I like to experience good soundstage, imaging, details, and decent/good bass. I am more of immersing myself into the music and movies, than being critical/analytical. I sometimes sing/hum along with the music.

  3. In music, I like Soft Rock, Country, Jazz, Blues and Pop. I like acoustic instruments and vocals.

  4. I don’t like boomy bass. But I like articulate bass where bass goes along with the music and doesn’t overpower.

  5. My music source would be digital i.e. phone, laptop, streaming, etc. I have music collection in FLAC and MP3 format.

  6. I own AT M40X. I like the sound, but I have some concerns.
    a. Ear pain after long listening hours. I think, it is due to closed-back design and pressure within cups.
    b. I used it mostly for movies and youtube videos. Music listening, I didn’t do for long hours. Not sure about the reason.
    c. It sounds nice and I think it is close to being bright to my ears. Bass is good enough, no complaints.
    d. When I watch movies, I sometimes reduce volume during action sequence (rumbling sound).

  7. I had apple earpods and I loved it. Later I owned many in-ear headphones (AKG, Sony, Sennheiser, Symphonized), but didn’t like them as much as apple earpods. The reason I think is, apple earpods gives good music and doesn’t close the ear canal. But with other earbuds, I hear inside my head, sound of cable rustling, my breath, my voice when I answer to someone or munching sound when eating (microphonic?). I couldn’t hum the song with these in-ear headphones.

Reason for not choosing amp/speaker combo:

  1. I live in rental house, I move places and have kids. So portability, system setup and equipment safety are the issues.
  2. It will be my first hi-fi system and I had to entirely rely on youtube/forum reviews, recommendations and sound demos. I don’t have much choice/chance to listen and choose the system, as I live in India.
  3. Speaker/Amp either not available or costs double in my place.
  4. As it will be my first hi-fi system, I may need help in setting it up. No one in my vicinity have knowledge on hi-fi. The best I hear is “Soundbars produce great sound”.

Please suggest a headphone. If any additional info needed, please let me know.

Thanks in advance,

Harmonicdyne Zeus fits parameters pretty well.

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Hands down edition XS.

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One question do you have an Amp/DAC or should it be included in the budget?
For a no amp solution a sigva Phoenix could work, just not sure if it could be a tad to bright or to small if you have a big Head :stuck_out_tongue:
If a DAC/Amp is also on the table it would open many more possiblities

Not sure if their bass is a bit to boomy for his tastes ?


I don’t have an amp, but I am open to options.
My ear to ear width is 5 inch. So I can say my head size is medium to large. :slight_smile:

Edition XS
I am good for planar headphones. Many reviewers have commented that Hifiman has QC issues especially related to drivers. What is your view on that?
In headphone reviews, 400i, Sundara, Arya and Ananda are recommended. Where do you think Edition XS stands in this lineup?

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Not sure if the xs do need an Amp but @Pokrog should haven an idea about that :wink:
Otherwise a used shiit or atom stack should go for 100 to 150 bucks if you’re based in the us, new a bit over 200
If you want to try planar, a hifiman 400se and an Amp/DAC should be in your budget

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I’ve had probably 40 hifiman headphones over the years and have never had an issue with any drivers. I’ll get back to you on if they can be run without an amp.

plugged directly into my pc they get plenty loud but they really sound like they could use more power for control.

i personally think the sundara and ananda are bad examples of hifimans for a lot of reasons and i personally think the XS is better than the arya in almost every way. 400i isn’t very good either and i wouldn’t recommend the 400se for general use.

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You can also consider the Amiron home from Beyerdynamic. It can be found used for a very good price for what you get. I bought mine new on sale for $300

I would call them musical so not analytical sounding. Has a smooth warm neutral sound. Very good detail and definite improvement in soundstage compared to the m40x. The bass is impactful and clean imo. The amiron home have a very full sound if that makes any sense. Some people have issue with the highs being a bit sharp or sibilant but I personally dont have any issue with them.

I can use the amiron home on my lg v60 without issue. They do benefit from higher quality dac amps so if you decide to upgrade, the amiron homes will also benefit from the upgrade.

These would also be much more comfortable compared to the m40x unless you enjoyed having a clamp on your head. They kind of feel like having slippers on your head.


It’s possible, but his existing reference isn’t without some bloom. Zeus hits some of the other elements extremely well. And you rarely find anyone who actually owns them to find them to be really bloated. I know how it graphs, but…

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I will go through all 4 headphones recommended.
Beyer Amiron Home, Harmonicdyne Zeus (liked the metal design), Sivga Phoenix and Hifiman Edition XS.

I was aligning towards Senn-HD6XX, Senn-HD58X, Fidelio X2HR and Hifiman Sundara, after reading many reviews. Now my view is changing.

Can you please tell me my music preference in hi-fi terms, from the given examples if possible (like V-shaped, flat, boosted treble, etc.).

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As someone who owns Sivga Phoenix, my concern is comfort. At times, the clamp and almost on-ear design can cause fatigue — a big no, no for movies or long listening sessions. Besides those two, Phoenix is a great headphone with head-shaking bass.

HD6XX is a great headphone but requires quite a serious amp. It is extremely power-hungry, so I highly advise you against going with it. HD58X or HD598 are much better choices, and ones that you should greatly consider. Speaking from experience, HD598 is probably the most cozy and comfortable headphone I own. Never had a chance to put the HD58X on my head, but as I own the HD6XX, I can tell you that the comfort and the pads differ quite a lot from the HD598. Just like the HD6XX, planars need a lot of power to be driven properly. You could go with either of these headphones, but you will not be getting the most out of them. If you want to make a future-proofed purchase and are open to buying a proper AMP/DAC in the future, then go for it! However, if you know for a fact that you don’t want to be spending any more money down the line, be highly aware of this.

My personal recommendation is iBasso SR2. I almost always recommend this pair of headphones, but when it comes to immersion, I haven’t heard about another headphone that does everything that the SR2 does for ~$500.

Since the SR2 comes along with two pairs of ear-pads, you will be able to choose the one you prefer. The stock one will give you the more immersive experience, providing physical sensation of rumble (greatly appreciated in movies), and will also provide a vacuum-like seal (great to isolate yourself from the surroundings). If you want a more open-back-like experience, you can always change the pads to the larger perforation ones.

It’s a fairly sensitive headphone which doesn’t necessarily require a powerful amp, but definitely benefits from one!

That’s my 2 cents. If you want to know everything I think about this headphone, you can find my review on Head-Fi (I go by the same name “voja”, I expressed all I had to say in it.

While I have nothing against the Harmonicdyne Zeus, I highly doubt that Harmonicdyne put as much effort and resources into the Zeus as iBasso has done for the SR2 — don’t take this too seriously, as though I could be very wrong (I’ve never heard the Zeus). What I know is that iBasso puts a lot of effort into their products and you are almost always getting twice the value of what you are paying.

P.S. I am not sponsored by iBasso, just love their products :wink:

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Hi, I need to know how to express my sound preference in terms of Bass, Mid and Treble. I have given an example from recent listening below. Can you please help. It will be helpful in my hi-fi search.
I was listening to a sound demo of Hifiman headphones (video: Hifiman Headphones Compared | Which do you like best? Sound demos - YouTube) with my AT M40X. In video, I liked the sound of headphone #2-HE4XX. One concern is that in song#2 female voice felt little sharp/hissy at the top end.