Upgrade path for user that is very sensitive to highs

Hey there!

Im brand new to this forum, but not that new to the audio game. Ive owned a few pairs of good headphones (HD58x, HE4XX, DT 990 Pro to name the majority of them), and 2 amp/dacs (Fiio e10k and Fiio k5 pro). Not the highest end stuff I know, but we work with what we got right.

Now, to my question/situation. My ears are very sensitive. Sharp noises have always fucked with my ears in “real life”, not just with headphones. Since I first got into the audio game, I noticed how much highs/sibilance hurt my ears. My first “good” headphones were dt990 pros (which in hindsight were a bad choice, I learned the hard way how sharp they are LOL), and didnt take much of a liking to them due to the harshness.
I moved to the HE4XX’s which were ok once I eq’d them A LOT. Before the eq the highs/sibilance were almost too much.
After those I jumped to the HD58x which I heard were much more mid forward and less sharp. Which was 100% true. I havent had to eq them at all and I really like them. Now where do I go from here? I like the sound of the 58x’s, but they sound slightly “veiled” (as Ive heard about sennheiser headphones before).
So maybe something with more clarity and smoothness, without hurting the ears of course. Im not looking to upgrade right this minute, but I would like to in the future. My budget will most likely be around 350-500 CAD. Any and all advice/help would be appreciated. Thanks so much!

Welcome to Hifiguides @Kayge hopefully some of these recommendations are helpful

Tygr 300R: newer headphone from beyerdynamic. Warm, smooth, Relaxed, wide and speaker like. Think the dt 990 but instead of all that brightness it is now almost completely balanced on the treble but keeping all that detail and smooth sound with a comfort to the point it disappears off your head. You can find my review on this one over in it’s particular thread 🔶 Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R

Nighthawk/Nightowl Carbons: Dark / warm bassy detailed veyr unique. Discontinued but can be found time and again… difference is open back and closed back I own the nighthawks and they are really incredibly nice and definitely good for someone who is treble sensitive

Fidelio X2 HR: philips made a pretty nice bassy headphone here again very warm very smooth bass may be seen as “muddy” they are currently making the X3 so this headphone could drop in price even more

Dan Clark Aeons: These are pretty unique as while they are a V signature they are by no means very bright. The treble is actually rolled off with mids not being very recessed. Very good tune to this headphone. Responds well to higher end amps and dacs as well as being balanced through a seperate cable purchase. Tuning pads allow you to adjust bass, treble, mids, and sound stage. Retuned and Massdrop open x are in your price range

Step ups from 58x are the 6xx, hd 600, hd 660 S and further up though each has a seperate sound I believe iirc 660 S was the brighter headphone though so may not be up your alley on that one.

Step up for the HE4xx would probably be the Massdrop Edition XX which is the ananda but not as bright and more warm

Audeze El-8 has multiple copies but they have a rolled off treble and are more towards a dark kind of sound. Still really nice sound.

you might want to consider the Verum 1’s. considered a warm headphone. you may want to check them out. Or maybe the Emu teaks also.

If you can try the Fidelio x2/hr before you buy. I was under the impression they are a warm bassy headphone but the pair I got is far from warm and can be fatiguing and sibilant. It’s more of a piercing low treble upper mid compared to the 8-9k treble peak of the 4xx, 400i, Sundara, edition xx, and Ananda. I adjusted to the Hifiman treble peak but if you are sensitive and don’t want to adjust to the sound you may want to avoid the hifimans I listed. The 6xx or 660s is a good option but it’s more of the same if you have the 58x.

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hmmmm honestly going into higher end i’ve noticed headphones really controlling treble without having to be warm. At the end of the day, for your amps and dacs make sure to get warmer sounding gear like Ifi etc etc. As for headphones, i’m not super familiar with most headphones lol. so i hope someone here recommends something! just keep in mind in the future to get more warm leaning amps and dacs! that should help ALOT

If you’re open to closed backs, something like the AKG k371 might make sense. It’s still pretty intimate, IIRC, but fairly refined. In the price range, it’s tough to beat the 58x. Are there any retailers available to you that might have b-stock of something along the lines of an LCD-1? If so, it might be in range for your budget. It’s more neutral than warm, but would have a step up in clarity over the 58x.

Or maybe a cheapo tube preamp?
FX-Audio Tube-03 comes to mind.

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Hey All!

I’m looking for a headphone with a pretty good soundstage and a warmer sound signature. I want a “relaxed” sounding headphone. What are your suggestions for under $500 ?

I currently have an Atom amp and a gsx1000 (saving the DAC upgrade for down the road). The headphones I use are the 58x, k240 studio, and k553 Mk ii. Of the three I mainly use the 58x for the comfort and their amazing mids/vocals.

Recommended headphones for treble sensitive ears (Some of these might be a bit expensive):
Audeze LCD-2 Classic
Audeze LCD-1
Audeze LCD-2
Aeon 2 Open/Closed (Use the included felt tunning pads to tame the treble)

Would not recommend for treble sensitive ears:
Fidelio X2 HR: V-shaped therefore emphasised treble (and bass). Not sure why people recommend this one.
Verum 1’s: Too much treble in the 6k-7k region. Not sure why people recommend this one either

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If you like the 58x, I’d consider a 6XX or 650 or 600, they’ll work fine with your existing amp, they are mid forwards, and IMO have better Mids that the 58X.
If you then pick up a reasonable tube amp (maybe build a Bottlehead Crack if you can), or pickup a used ZDT Jr or something of that ilk, it fills out the Bass and they become astonishingly good for the price.
I’m not a huge HD6?? fan on SS, but on tubes they are a different headphone.

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Thanks everyone for your help! Ill take your advice and keep an eye out

what would you call some good closed backs if you are into the sound of the 58X and 6XX and dont want something too bright

Focal elegia, Aeons, Shure 840, 177x GO, Meze 99(classic, neo, noir), Sennheiser HD 820, Modified T40RP, quite a few audezes as they are either more neutral treble or dark so el-8c(believe theres two closed variations now) LCD-2 closed back, Nightowl Carbon, HD598 closed back(not the greatest sounding but still alright)

I’m really interested in the dekoni blues right now. Affordable warmth and decent soundstage with the velour pads.

FWIW I really don’t like my Dekoni Blues, they aren’t a terrible headphone, but they have to my ear a discontinuity between the Bass and Mid Range, that I don’t like.
They’ll certainly sound different to what you have.

Warm eh not so sure on that… if you mean the bass then yeah. It’s a definitely V signature and sounds bright.

I’m getting a cavalli tube hybrid so hopefully it will bring it down to the relaxed sound I’m looking for. I’m not really looking for a flat or neutral sound, but something more fun. I use the 58x as my daily driver, and I’m getting the blues for when I don’t want to critically listen to music, I just want a different sound signature and to relax.

because it’s really not bright as the treble just has barily a peak on it with some roll off. The original X2 was the bright one. No courseness, no sharpness, no sibilance it’s smoothed and relatively more neutral treble. In terms of frequency it’s barily even a V signature… bass is raised just barily above it’s more neutral clean mids and the treble peaks just a a little bit but stays in line with the rest of the frequency. Nothing crazy

To my knowledge it’s a warmer yet slightly darker sounding headphone with a small peak on it. The treble descends in frequency

Potentially not. A pad swap could help probably more is its a fairly moderately present V signature with that brightness on the treble. Kind of the point of the Dekoni Blue in it’s signature. Argons are the warmer one you would probably want instead though I suppose if you want just a touch more in the treble the blues may be alright for you. You can always equalize them or modify them to your preference anyway

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I’ll +1 on the AQ Nighthawks. They are extremely comfortable and a superb chill headphone. I am also very sensitive to highs and I expect you can wear these all day comfortably for your head and ears.


This headphone needs so much more love it’s painful. Hated it when I first got it coming from dt 990s and 58x jubilee. Gave it a week and a half now it’s one of my definite unique favorites. Definitely great for the treble sensitive person.