Please, help me find my next headphones

Hello, fellow headphone lovers!

I am reaching out regarding my search for new headphones. While I am getting ready to visit Munich 2023 Hi-Fi expo, I would like to make sure I do not miss any brand/model you think might fit my needs.

Let me open by going over headphones I previously owned:

Creative Aurvana Live! AKA CAL1 :+1:

These are the ones that were sporting the same Foster 40mm “biodynamic” driver used in way more expensive Denon headphones. I loved the, and I killed a bunch of them. The main flaw was the poor build and non-removable cables which I tried to address with DIA 2,5mm ports I installed in each ear cup but ended up killing that pair as well.



Sund demo: [MEDIA=youtube]cMOvxo0TFNQ[/MEDIA]

Do you know if this driver is still used in any headphones today? I would buy it just for the nostalgia reference.

Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear (Android version)

The sound was ok, a bit bassy, the cable could have been better, took me a while to dind the right tips to fit in my ear.

Meze 99 Classics :+1:

Great sound, easy to drive, good removable cables,… I took them everywhere with me and lost them under tragic circumstances. :cry: It still hurts.


O2/Odac Combo :+1:


And at work - Sennheiser PC 8 USB

I tried Drop Sennheiser HD 6xx :+1:. I liked the sound, but they are open and I rarely enjoy music in a completely silent environment. Also, I felt like these would benefit from the sound is a bit more colored, perhaps by using a tube amp!?

I also tested Sennheiser HD 800 :-1: - I did not like their sound. I am one of the people sensitive to pronounced highs and I do not like my ears bleeding when listening to music. Maybe something I could fix via EQ but I would prefer headphones I can enjoy without doing that.

I own a new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with 512 GB storage so hope to use that as my FLAC storage/player on the go.

At home it comes to iPad to play streamed music, FLAC (from NAS), and movies.

Neither has a headphone port anymore.

So what’s the plan?

  • New closed, around-the-ear headphones, budget ideally under 500$ {900$ including any possible extra gear, new portable DACAMP, pads, cables).
  • Ideally, easy to drive*

*I could get something harder to drive but that would require DACAMP on he go, attached to my phone (BTR7?)

  • A sound signature like Meze 99 Classics. I was quite happy with the sound across different styles of music.
  • I haven’t tried balanced sound. That would be something to test out and perhaps switch to going forward…

Can you share your recommendations and what brands/models I should listen to while I attend the HIGH END Munich 2023 next month?

Thank you!


1 Like

First off, welcome to HFG! My rec for you would be the EMu Teaks. They have the same biodynamic drivers that the Denons and Fostex (and CAL) are based off of and the also have laid back treble performance. The only problem is ordering a pair. Drop sells them in the US, but you’ll probably have to email EMu and arrange a direct purchase. They don’t have an order page or anything, but you just email them from their website and tell them you want a pair of Teaks and they’ll sell them to you. I have done this with several pairs of their wooden cups and my friend in The Netherlands bought his Teaks this way. Alternately you could also seek out a pair on the used market or something.

I’m sure there are other good recommendations, but my own tuning preferences are a bit different than yours so I’m not super well versed in sub-$500 headphones that fit your desired sound other than the Emu Teaks which I own as my fun, bassy set.

Happy hunting and I hope you stick around for a while! :sunglasses:

Edit: I take this back, Emu now has an online order page so you can order the Teaks (or their other products) with much less trouble than you used to go through for $450 plus $30 shipping/delivery. The page has instructions for how to order a d pay via PayPal so that makes it really easy if you decide to go with the Teaks. FWIW, in my transactions with Emu I have found them to have great customer service that’s easy to deal with for any issues and they’ve always shipped everything I’ve ordered quickly.

Link: E-MU - Online Order


personally I wasn’t a fan of the 99’s and usually don’t like using closed backs :joy: but I’ll throw some things out
Sivga SV021 (aka Robin) from talk I’ve seen on these it’s very divided sound wise however build and comfort are above the 99 plus it’s cheaper probably worth a try (I liked these more and sold my 99’s after comparing them).
fostex wood cups (600 series), most are rare to find new but usually a few around on used markets, I personally had the Mahogany and loved them but upgraded to a Focal Radiance.