Trying to Figure out my Next Headphone

Been looking around for my next headphone and want it to be an open back design.
The natural progression I suppose would to go up from My Stellias to a Utopia but I’m not really interested in that given the reviews (though I hear my chord dac pairs Extremely well with them.

My options are For immediately affordable:
Focal Clear (professional, I have balanced cables on my stellia and I’ll swap them)
A ZMF headphone - Something I’m interested in but have trouble figuring out the sound of each of their product stack because everyone seems to have very differing opinions of them depending on their amps and headphone pads.

On the SAVE UP FOR IT line:
The Meze Empyrean
The Final D8000 Pro edition (which for some reason is proving hard to track down)
Or some other planar brand like AUDEZE or Hifiman

I mean what sonic signature are you after here? Like what are you looking for in a headphone for this next pair

I tend to listen to an extreme mix of songs going from acoustic and slow to hard and electronic. So something that can cover a wide range very well or excellently (if such a thing exists.)
I want stage and imaging, doesnt need to be like… Massive stage but wider would be nice
good bass (does not need to be a bass canon but nice and resolving in detail)
detailed in the highs without being sibilant (sibilance is an issue it seems for me)
A natural midrange where things like instruments feel accurate.

So I would already say the d8000 pro isn’t most likely up your alley, more intimate v shaped headphone, good all rounder and very detailed without fatigue but doesn’t sound like what you are looking for in terms of stage and midrange/naturalness.

I think the clear is pretty nice if you plan to use it for studio use, but I don’t know if that would be different enough and would be a step down capability wise from the stellia, so idk if it would really offer too much for what you are after.

The empyrean is a good all rounder with a warmer more pleasing sound, but generally imo for the price I think it’s lacking in technicalities and really isn’t as high of a performer as it should be, so personally that’s not something I would really recommend when they tend to sell for so much

You might really like a lcd 24 imo, that would check most of your boxes and is really worth a look, going to be wider, smoother, nice midrange with solid timbre, but also maintains the resolution and capabilities of a higher end headphone

I also think you should def check out a diana v2 imo, that would give you a very well rounded and refined experience, really complete sounding headphone, would be what I would suggest instead of the emperyan as I kinda think I prefer it on almost all fronts over the meze besides the bigger sense of largeness the meze has (but the meze doesn’t have as much stage depth or accurate placement)

For the zmf, I think you would want to look at a zmf auteur or verite closed imo, very organic sounding, the auteur has very natural timbre and good bass punch, the verite is lighter with more resolution to be had with a bit better stage depth (but both are average width wise imo). But for this can I think you might want to consider a nicer tube amp to go with them for your sonic goal.

Regarding the hifiman, I don’t know if any of them really sound super up your alley because of potential treble, but they are pretty wide and grand sounding, something like a he1000se would be nice, but I think with the amp you have it might get a bit bright, although I can’t say the midrange or naturalness is their strongest strength but they def have the stage you might be looking for and are good all rounders


Yeah, okay. Cool. Some follow up questions

I’ve been looking at the 24, but am having trouble finding a place that sells it in canada (I can always buy from Adorama, but todays annoyances with having to pay fedex duties over the phone for my new Stellia Pads is something I want to avoid)

What’s your thoughs on the Phi vs the V2?
I’ll put the auteur and Verité closed on my list (though whats the difference between this and the open version)

As for very difficult to Power Planars, I’m gonna wait until reviews and impressions of that New FluxLABS amp comes in before I even consider getting one

Never Mind. Found the 24s for Sale in Toronto:

(this was supposed to be an edit not a new post. What lol

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The phi is a large upgrade performance wise over the v2, but it’s also preference here. The v2 is smoother, a bit wider, more relaxed and forgiving, a bit warmer as well, also less source dependent. The phi is unforgiving with crazy good technicalities and another tier of refinement but it can be fatiguing if you are sensitive and listen to poorly recorded stuff. But generally the phi is more demanding amp and music wise but def rewards you way more. But personally my train of thought would just say why not go for the 1266 at that point which is a whole nother tier for not much more in the grand scheme of things as the 1266 is another leap ahead of the phi and might be even bigger of a jump imo

Generally I mention the closed because you get more impact and a bit more fun sound in exchange for a slight reduction in stage width, but I think it’s worth it imo.

I also see these

Both the v2 and audeze are actually somewhat efficient so I wouldn’t worry too much there, but other options like the phi/1266 are super needy, the he1000 also appreciates power as well.

Also I should mention that the regular d8000 would prob be worth a look, it’s wider, more relaxed, a bit of a more bass and midrange focus to the sound, smoother, it’s pretty solid. But personally if you want that I lean towards the lcd 24 more

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You’ve likely got more time in higher end gear than I. I will say, though, that having gotten the LCD-24s recently, they do seem to be a good all rounder. Lots of low reaching bass detail without bleed, a little bit of mid focus, and present and detailed highs without sharpness. The timbre isn’t perfect, but it might be the closest I’ve found, especially for a planar. Soundstage is open and fairly wide and has some height, with strong imaging. Many songs feel like you could be in the room, and you get a lot of the natural spacial resonances I feel are lost with other headphones.

Just my 2 cents, but I haven’t heard any of the others mentioned, and don’t have the most elaborate DACs/Amps to truly put TOTL cans through their paces.

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Sort of a Follow Up. I think I’m gonna get the diana V2, preferably ordered from Abyss Direct with a second set of pads with the DMS mod on them. I’m just waiting on finishing this script and invoicing and the storyboard freelance

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I think… If the Flux Labs new Amp doesnt pan out for powering hard to drive planars. I might save up and buy something directly from abyss if I ever decide to get the 1266.
Maybe the Woo Audio WA33 JPS LABS edition (or perhaps something straight from Woo audio direct)
I know a lot of folks power these kinds of headphones through their power amps but I honestly worry about damaging my headphones if I do that

If you decide to spend that much, I would highly recommend the Viva egoista 845 or trafomatic primavera imo, I personally find it a more satisfactory experience than the wa33 (and it should be a similar price of a jps edition and less than the elite jps)

I tend to base my larger purchases on any Script sales I can make. So I’d probably buy it (along with a higher end dac and the 1266) if I can sell a feature, So I’ll definitely consider those

If I were to buy a speaker to headphone adapter (not really into building one) What are some reputable brands?

I’ve found these two from Xynsonix

And I know Hifiman makes one. But I’m not sure if there are any else

I have a speaker tap to headphone cable from them for the susvara/he6se, ideally you get the best sound that way, but just make sure you have a good preamp and aren’t stupid about it. Regarding the boxes I’ve only ever really had enough time with the hifiman one and the ampsandsound one

Yeah. I really don’t want to go like… over 60 watts. that seems excessive
Huh they also sell this

What speaker amp would you be using?

I have this from them

I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I’m leaning towards a Zen Mystery Amp from Decware if I want to go Tube or a Parasound or possibly Hegel if I want to go solid state

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Gotcha. If you go tube, the converter box is the way to go to make sure the tube always sees a load, but for solid state honestly I would say go right off the taps

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Ampsandsound looks like an interesting company

They make some pretty great stuff, but the one gripe I know of for them is that they are super prone to picking up interference easily and are picky about incoming power quality