Please suggest upgrade over HD599SE and FiiO BTR5


I am new to the Audiophile zone.

My Gear:-

    Sennheiser HD599 SE  
    FiiO BTR5
    Mac Mini M1
    Apple Music Lossless (Mostly Rock, EDM and mixed instrumental music)

My budget is at the max $400 or stretched to $500.

I think the HD599 being open back headphones, they lack bass. I want little improvement on bass otherwise they sound good for me. I am not seeking absolute true audiophile experience and enjoy some more bass.

I only listen on desktop.

Can you suggest any upgrade to my equipment? It could be anything such as DAC, AMP or headphones.

For e.g. 
1. Buying a nice DAC/AMP (around $400) which will improve bass or overall sound quality on 
    HD599SE and wait for headphones till the finances are sorted out.

2. Buy a headphone (around $400) and wait for DAC/AMP. Preferably open back because of sound stage but will be fine with closed backs too.

3. Buy a headphone and DAC/AMP altogether (around $500).

Thank You,

A few questions

  1. what do you listen to?
  2. what kind of headphone are you looking for close back/ open back/ what ever
  3. Are you looking for something moblie?

In general i’d say look at other headphones, the BTR5 is a rather capable little amp dac even for desktop use, of course there are other amps out there - but i’d say focus your budget on headphones first

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Another helpful piece of info to have would be what you are willing to spend. Cause we can throw out a list of good upgrades for you, but I’m assuming you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars. :rofl:

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Thanks for the clarifying questions. Can you please revisit my post?

Thanks for the clarifying questions. Can you please revisit my post?

My budget is max $500.

It’s BS anyway, enjoy the music that’s the important part :smiley:
There are a few headphones and a few combos that you might want to look at

  • Harmonicdyne Zues Elite - very new on the market but by all accounts better than the original Zues, and i own the Zues its a very enjoyble headphone plenty of bass, lots of sound stage, I havent tried the eilte yet myself but if the original is anything to go by its worth a look (370-400$)

  • Sivga Luan - also rather new but a solid choice, the sub bass is a little lacking but IMO i think its a solid headphone, the sound is smooth and separation is excellent to to mention the comfort is outstanding (one of the most comft) (300$)

  • Beyerdynamic DT 900 pro x - solid all around, i tried it for a bit personally it wasnt for me but it was solid performer

  • FIIO FT3 - Only tried it very brefily but it was a rather interesting sound, worth a look

All these headphone will do just fine on the BTR5, so if you dont want to spend more that’s fine, if you want to look at a desktop setup i’d start with the IFI zen DAC (despite the name is an amp/dac combo), its a great all rounder and Xbass button is just awesome (its also a setup you can easly upgrade adding the IFI Zen Can)

If you want to still want to upgrade you amp but still stay under budget the Harmonicdyne Athena and the Thieaudio Ghost (highly recommend you pad swap them to these pads) will pair nicely with the IFI zen Dac, and still stay under budget

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Since you’re looking at full desktop use, replacing your DAC/amp would be the most logical upgrade to me.

First of all, just a bit of nitpick, open-back does not mean that the bass would be lacking. There are plenty of open-back cans with ample bass, and there are closed-back cans with less bass. There might be some difference in bass texture, but otherwise it’s all about the implementation.

HD 599 actually does have quite an ample midbass, but it does need some extra amplification to open up; BTR5 might not suffice. I would suggest something like Fiio K7 at $200, and maybe a pad change to your 599 to something like a full leather pads to lift up the bass response a bit. After that, you might be able to save up a little more for HD650/6XX (around $200), or even higher upgrade to Hifiman Edition XS ($500, but often discounted) further down the line.

Does HD650/6XX have better bass than HD599 without swapping ear pads?

That’s quite some new information. Will do research on your suggestions.

Thanks! Cheers.

You mentioned above that you want them for Rock, EDM, and instrumental. I’m going to point you towards a good planar. You have options in both the Hifiman HE400SE and Sundara.

Both will have excellent bass extension for EDM, and have good technicals for instrumental music. The 400SE can be had for just $109 right now, and you can get an open-box Sundara from for $249. Leaves more than enough to also upgrade your DAC/amp, which I’d recommend you do if you go this route. Specifically, look at iFi’s products. Their bass boost options tend to work well with Hifiman/rock, metal, EDM, etc.

The Questyle M15 is also a sleeper. Don’t let it being a dongle fool you. It’s an amazing little DAC/amp. You could absolutely use it as a desktop unit.

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I think HD650 has a way better bass texture and overall a more detailed headphones compared to HD599. The bass amount is roughly similar. Again, both of them require a decent amplification regardless, so I would still upgrade the DAC-amp setup.

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for less than 500$ you could get the IFI Zen DAC V2 - dac/ amp & Verum1 mk2 open planars