Under $400 allrounder headphones

Hey all!

So for my brother’s birthday I want to buy him a new pair of headphones. He likes to game on his PC, watches a lot of movies on his laptop and likes to listen to some music on his iPhone every now and then as well.

So i’m looking for headphones that can do all of these well. He would never use them outside of the house so an open back is definitely the better choice here. And I know he only wants over ear designs because comfort is king to him.

But, my budget is $400 max. So i’m wondering, is it best to look for expensive low impedance headphones that he can plug straight into his devices or look for a combination of cheaper high impedance headphones with a small portable amp/dac?

I really don’t understand the concepts enough to figure this out myself so any good advice would be most welcome.


welcome to HFG, Anton! where are you / your brother located?

at $400, you’d probably want to look at the HiFiMan Sundara…however you really would want a proper DAC / Amp to drive them, so I’d consider getting the iFi ZEN Air DAC, which is a combo unit with DAC and Amp.


A couple of questions

  1. What type of music does he listen to?
  2. Is he more of single player kind of guy or a competitive player?

While the Sundara is a solid choice like @Marzipan suggested, running them off a phone would be an issue in some cases, i’d say they need an amp to really be worth it. I would more lean to the warmer side of things with something like:

A. Harmonicdyne Zeus - a very fun and warm headphone, with overall excellent comfort, wide soundstage, great for Immersive gameplay (less so for competitive, its not bad but there are better ones for that)
B. Meze 99 Neo (Pad swapped to get the most out of them) - Also a very fun headphone, with great bass and an overall warm - less detailed oriented listen (though greatly improved with certain pads)

Both of these dont need an amp can be powered by pretty much anything, that being said using a an amp does improve them


Nm, how is the Senn HD560s for gaming? that would drop his headphone cost and let him include a DAC / Amp.

@Anton if you don’t find a combo unit at a price you can afford, then focus on getting him just an amp as it will make the biggest difference. you / him can get a DAC later on :slight_smile:

Hi guys!

thanks for the replies. In my research I kept returning to this Hifiman Sundara, it seems like that one is great value for money.

My brother plays both chill solo games and competitive shooting games. The music that he listens to is usually calm music from films. Big open sounds of orchestras and the like.

Listening to music on his phone is something he really doesn’t do that often so we can disregard that if necessary. How would the Sundara without an amp compare to these other 2 headphones (zeus/meze neo)?

If the Sundara is worth using without an amp I guess that would be the better option. If he wants to use it to full potential he can always choose to invest in an amp/dac later on.

Oh and we’re from Belgium


I’m not sure how they would be for games, but if going wireless with Bt, the Grado GW100 v2 will do movies and music justice.

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Yeah I came across that Grado and it seems great. But I don’t think he would want on ear headphones. He tried mine and found them uncomfortable.

Also, wireless really isn’t required here. I think he’d prefer a cable for quality :slight_smile:

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Very different kind of headphone, watching reviews would give you a more detailed idea of the benfits of each one

Out of the three Sundara and the Zeus trade blows (though i do think the Sundara is better overall) after and the Meze 3rd place, but each one has its upsides and downsides

The meze is more chill with thick bass, a darker sound meaning the highs are less pronunced which is good an bad, good in that its less fatiguing bad because you loose a lot of the energy in the highs), and they have an “in your face” kind of sound

The Zeus is very rich sounding, great sound stage , feel like everything is “bigger”, it is a little lacking detail but it makes up for it in enjoyablity.

The Sundara is the best balanced out of the 3, it has no real weakness, good detail, good sound stage, and has a very unique flavor to its sound.

Its kind like how much sauce do you like on your burger, the Sundara is a “normal” topping good balanced and always good, the other 2 are more personal taste oriented

i would say the Sundara needs an amp (like most plannars), but you can get something cheap and simple off amazon and befine 50 bucks and be find


Thanks for the in depth info!

I’m also very intrigued by the Sennheiser HD600. How would it compare to the Sundara?

Looking at the specs I assume it woud also need an amp, right?

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I’d avoid the HD600 (as the first step into hifi), its a ver solid headphone but very mid oriented headphone, and ya it needs an amp (in mostly shines with a tube amp, but that a rabiithole you dont want to go for now)


on-ear take some time getting used to, but many people pad swap to the larger and more open options Grado offers.

the HD500 are going great headphones for intimate vocals and orchestral / instrumental music. the only reason to start with them would be because they were one of the higher end models you demo’d and you took to them. in your case, you asked for an all-rounder and the HD600 are definitely not that.

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Hd660s are probably the best all rounder under 500 imo, really comfy, easy to drive, super detailed, good frequency, good imaging, all they lack relatively to other guys in the price range is soundstage(they do still beat most closed backs at this tho) and bass extension.

I always shill the 177x too, debatably as good at everything as the 660s while being closed (even soundstage), but they’re so effin heavy I’d pick the 660s if I could only have one, maybe look into the new dt700/900 pro x (but I’ve heard they’re worse than the 177x and might be just as heavy).

Planars are great but only if you’re planning on using them just on a desk cause they do need the amp.

Grado Hemp/325x

HD600 need some tube amping. Maybe HD560?