Planars - Where to draw the line?

Hey! Long time lurker, first time poster. Firstly I’d like to say that this forum is great. It seems friendly and I find reading through the discussions very useful - so thanks to all that contribute. With that said, I’m finding my next headphone purchase tricky to identify, even with having read through a few of the discussions on here, and so need your help!

I’ve been through a good bit of gear recently and have decided I wish to purchase a set of planars for music listening exclusively. Since getting back into audio and dropping some cash into my set-up, I’ve found that listening to the lighter end of my music collection to be particularly rewarding. However, if you had to pin me down to a particular genre, I like heavy rock and wish to find a set of cans that do my favourite music justice. The first tracks I audition gear with are: Tool ‘Lateralus’, Oceansizes ‘Catalyst’, Smashing Pumpkins ‘Cherub Rock’, A Perfect Circle ‘Weak and Powerless’, Pink Floyd ‘Time’, then some variety of Bjork, Mew, Mute Math…

To add further detail to my problem, a little about myself; I studied sound engineering at university (although that degree has gone largely unused since!) and have been a drummer and drum technician for most of my adult life. This means that I have had a tendency to go for anything described as linear as I wished to hear the music as intended and am particularly critical of the presentation of drums. I have recently come to the realisation that I have largely been barking up the wrong tree. While I can appreciate what linear gear can do, I’m after something more fun for listening to music. An over-ear headphone. Something that is capable of accurately representing how instruments were recorded and mixed to a reasonable degree but something that has a little more thump in the low-end (I’ve always been one to turn bass down on regular consumer audio equipment, bass done badly ruins most music in my opinion). I’m also after good-sized soundstage and decent imaging.

For points of reference, here are my brief thought on some headphones I have experience with:

HD560s - Great all rounder. Great imaging, sound stage acceptable but would prefer it a little more three dimensional. Missing low-end impact for me but frequency response otherwise pretty agreeable for my tastes.

DT990 600 Ohm - Really like the sound signature of this headphone for a lot of the music that I listen to. Sound stage has the three dimensional feel that I desire. However, sometimes these sound congested when a song gets real big; something like the end of Oceansize’s ‘Massive Bereavement’. A little too hot in the high-end with some vocalists but I have found this to be pretty rare.

I have heard what I assume is “planar speed” from cans like M560, Pandas, T50RP mk3, Sundara and thus think that picking the right set of planars may be the answer. I want a kick drum to kick me! Low-end control, definition, and impact = “planar slam”? If so, then I want that. Sound stage too. I think I’m reasonably treble sensitive though, and so wouldn’t necessarily mind a darker headphone. I wish to spend as little money as possible but understand that there will be a certain cost in delivering what I’m after and spending less would lead to compromise.
A lot of the newer Hifiman budget/mid-fi offerings seem to tick some of these boxes but not all of them. From what I can tell, the most reasonably priced headphones that apparently deliver what I’m after are the M1570. If I were to throw caution to the wind, from what I can gather, LCD-X or LCD-2C would be a way to get what I want. If the consensus here is that I should save my pennies go for something high end, then I will heed that advice. However, is there anything in the sub-£500 category will do what I want, new or used? M1070? M1570? HE400SE? Any input would be appreciated.

I’d be running any headphones I purchase through either my Aune X8/X7s or my SMSL SU-8/Singxer SA-1 combos.

Thank for reading and sorry for the essay!


First of all.planar bass is way different from dynamic bass. Dynamic bass is slower but sounds more traditional. Planar is fast quick and you feel it more I your chest. You can kind of feel it with the sundara but that bass in the sundara is on the lighter side of things. I have not hear the 1070 or 1570
But will warn you the 400 series while some may perceive slam is very bass light and requires modding or super heavy eq to get much bass.

So bass. If you want kick, DD is where to go. I spent months trying to find the right slammy planar. The best was the lcd-xc. And this headphone is tied for #2 spot in my list with the drop ether cx. The lcd-xc has a more fun and dynamic tuning. The drop ether cx is neutral with absolute quality.

What’s #1? LSA HP-2 Ultra. Slams and rumbles like a demon without compromising everything else. It’s liquid smooth and detailed. Most fun headphone I have heard while remaining audiophile competence.

But, also, Timeless IEM. If you want a fun planar, that. It outfuns every planar I have heard. It’s not close.

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Yes, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
It sounds a bit harsh now, but many people always want to have top sound and spend very little money.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.
With planar headphones it’s a bit more difficult.
There would have to be a good headphone amplifier to make full use of the planar headphones and give them the power they need.

Rough example Hifiman Sundara would be a Lakepeople G103 or Schiit Bitfrost not wrong, better a Schiit Lyr3.

To meet your needs, the Aeon R/T closed would be ideal.
If the drive is right, it sounds really good with rock music.
And it would even be recommended, even if it is a bit over your budget.
But then you have peace of mind if you like it.
Maybe a used one will do for you.

Hifiman might disappoint you, if not then the Ifi Signature Pack, which was tuned for Hifiman, would be good.
But many say it sounds a bit metallic

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Have to agree here…there are decent planars on the lower cost area…but depending on the senistivity of these and others…you might need a decent amp to drive them well…check the impedance and sensitivity rating etc…

I love this!! There are many cans DD and planar that will produce very good “kicks”…but dont think that a headphone will make an anemic “kick” be any better if its not in the recording etc…not going to happen the way you might want or like.

Better save up for something that will do this well, especially if your a musican,the tone and timbre should be of concern to you as well…

All the best in your search!


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Too long didn’t read but at this moment I’d urge everyone looking into sub $500 stuff to wait for reviews of the new hifiman edition xs, I think it could be the new king of that budget segment by a long shot…

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If you like rock…maybe a set of Grados, the rock and roll headphone!! Might be something to look at…they have several headphones in this price range…325is’, 500’s…

Not planars though…very efficient.

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If you want something accurate, personally I think DT1990 is a great studio pair (I’m not in the music industry, but transparency and accuracy, I assume, is important for mixing and recording). My only issue with it is the treble, but after swapping pads, it tamed the treble comfortably in my opinion ymmv.

I’ve not tried DT990 nor M1570 so I can’t comment much. However I read up extensively on M1570 and was extremely close to getting it at one point. From what I gathered, I got the impression that its a little coloured and warm, so I’m not sure that’s what you’re looking for if you do not wish to lose the accuracy.

My personal favourite pair is Hifiman He6se V2 which you can often get on sale at 599 or 649 USD. Plenty of comparison between M1570 and He6se v2, many commented that he6se v2 is better, that’s why I did not get the M1570. IMO I’ll like a little more bass from He6se v2, but again that’s subjective to individual

Ps if you’re considering he6se v2, may have to look into your setup as well as they are extremely hard to drive.

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Yup the issue with these notoriously hard to drive headphones might not give you that “kick” you want.
Unless u do have a decent amp…
These and the Susvaras and some low impedance Aeon 2’s are indeed hard to drive without adequate power.

Yea I may not be giving my He6se v2 enough power as well, thus IMO I want a little more bass, more slam. Don’t really see comments from other owners with regards to the bass, so it could be a problem with my setup. And I’m no bass head

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There is bass, accurate, tight, well defined etc then there is just that boomy loud weighty bass thats often electronically generated that hip-hop and rap have in them…

Hearing a kick drum right up close in real like is a very sharp, staccato like experience…it can hurt!
So the transient response of the headphone to reproduce these fast transients is very important as well as being able to keep the tone and timbre spot on…

The way a recording is mic’d has a profound influence on this…

Planar’s are a funny thing. I hated my HiFiman HE4XX’s. I thought the Sundara’s were just OK and I was underwhelmed by the Drop Edition XX’s. I bought the M570’s from Monoprice and returned them very quickly. A few months ago, I bought the Monoprice M1570’s and sold them this morning.

I bought the Fostex T60RP’s and liked them. I them sent them to Modhouse to be Argonized. These are a headphone that I like even more now. Fun headphone.

Then I bought the HiFiman HE6se V2’s. I now LOVE planar’s. Holy crap! If you have the amp for it…Wow!!! :star_struck:

And that is my planar story so far.

PS: None of my top 3 headphones are planar.


Final Audio D8000 Pro…#1 for me.

They should be for that price. :grin:

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Totally agree :+1:

The Aeon is not too difficult to drive on a solid state amp.
It doesn’t matter if it is R/T or not.

The important thing is that the amp can handle low ohm headphones, that’s all you need to know, then it works.
Even if it would give 1 watt at 32 ohm it doesn’t mean that it stays distortion free, you have to test it or ask somewhere before.
Mostly directly from the manufacturer.
I could imagine that the Schiit magni IE could work.

I use the R/T with the Singxer Sda 2 and Nuprime hi Mdac without any problems.
When it comes to enjoyment, a hybrid amplifier would be good.
But the market is a bit thin in that respect.
Little Dot 1+ is quite good,xudoo Mt 02 could fit.Schiit Vali2+ if it should go more towards Magni 3,or Schiit Lyr 3.
The cream of the crop will be the Monolith Liquid Platinum, I suppose.
Then it already ends.

For an Otl amp that doesn’t support low ohm headphones, you’re plagued by distortion, even dynamic headphones.
In general, you have to be careful with planar headphones with tube amplifiers like Otl.
Some work, some don’t.

Back to the topic:

If it’s going to be cheap and a Hifiman, and to stay within the £500 range, I’d probably go for the Sundara or the He 400 paired with the Ifi.
So this one

If the budget can be stretched a bit then the Sundara.
But I don’t think the Ifi has a Dac on board if I read it right.
If need be, a Dac dongel would also do the job well.
It depends on the person who started the discussion on what equipment he already has and what he doesn’t.
Then you could also recommend a dac/amp combination.

I had the Aeon 2 closed backs here for a month and sold them…

From a recent post:

A “meant to be portable” headphone shouldn’t be that hard to drive…
Aeon 2 Closed’s 92 db/mW is too low. The very low impedance of 13 ohms is also problematic because the headphone requires too much current to achieve the sufficent power (Power= (current^2) x (ohm). Many source devices state suitable headphone impedances something like 16-300 ohm, 13 ohms is out of the range.

SPL (db/mW) and impedances of the other popular closed backs:

Audeze XC: 100 and 20
Audeze LCD-2C 101 and 70
Focal Elegia 105 and 35
Focal Stellia 106 and 35
Sennheiser HD820 103 and 300
Campfire Cascade 100 and 38

All of them are significantly easier to drive. They sound decent enough from a smartphone and sound at their near full potential from a DAP.

Food for thought…

NOTE: A good rule of thumb to select an amp or DAC to pair with AEON is to check power at 32ohms and 16ohms. If power doubles from 32 to 16 ohms and is at least 200mW at 16 ohms it’s probably fine. However, if power is 100mW at 32 ohms and 120mW at 16 ohms the amp has a weak power supply and may not be be a good pairing. These days most devices I’ve checked roughly double power as impedance halves from 32 to 16 (it could be 175% instead of 200% and still be OK). From Dan Clark.


Side track a little. Just out of curiosity, what’s your top 3?

  1. Grado GH2

  2. Focal Elex

  3. CFA Cascade

  4. HE6se V2


The GH2’s are a sweet looking headphone!