Whether to upgrade Philips X1?

Currently have the Philips X1s paired with a Dragonfly red. Not sure if it’s been all the extra free time and reading of this forum, but I have been wondering if there are other cans and dacs/amps I should be eyeing?

I definitely enjoy the setup I have, but as you all know, the rabbit hole is deep! Was looking at the Liquid Spark for and amp (running the df red as a dac) and maybe looking to add a planar headphone to the mix.

Anyone have any recommendations below $500 that would be an improvement over my current combo? I listen to a mix of everything but mostly hip-hop and edm. Thanks!

What do you like about the x1, and what would you want to change?

I like how wide they are and how they are a “fun” sounding can. Not super far into this whole audiophile thing as these were my first decent set of headphones. Maybe something a bit more revealing? Not really sure as I haven’t had the chance to really try anything else out.

Gotcha, well you have many options, would you want to keep the more fun and wide aspect of it all?

Doesnt have to have those characteristics. I think maybe what I’m hoping for in a recommendation is if there is something that’s a staple in most people’s rotation that is different from what I have.

Also on the dac/amp side, not sure how the dragonfly red compares to something like a Schiit stack or just using the dragonfly as a dac and adding an amp? Many improvements to gain there? Or is that a more lateral move?

So what I would do for most of the stuff I would recommend is just use the dragonfly as a dac and then grab an amp (amp would depend on the headphone used)

Well, if you wanted to try out something neutral, accurate, planar, and enjoyable the sundara would be pretty sweet imo, really would showcase the differences of planar and a real solid all rounder. I would pair this with a magni 3+ or asgard 3

If you wanted a really interesting headphone, something like an audioquest nighthawk carbon has some pretty unique staging and spatial recreation, along with really good biodyna bass and midrange (impactful, natural, and really enjoyable). I would pair this with either a liquid spark if you wanted even warmer from stock, or a magni heresy if you would want to compensate for it’s slight lack of treble energy

If you wanted to try out an estat, when it comes back on sale for 400 the esp95x is really great for the price, extremely fast and detailed for the price, with impressive separation for a lighter sound. This comes with it’s own amp/energizer so you are good on that front

For what you mainly listen to, I would say the 3 are solid for different reasons, I think that if you wanted to prioritize bass performance and fun then the hawks are your pick, if you wanted to get something enjoyable yet accurate and solid overall, the sundara makes sense. If you want the most detail and speed for the price, the 95x is real solid here (but might lack impact for some hip hop and edm)

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed post! Definitely leaning towards a planar I think. How similar are the he-400i and the Sundara? The Sundara’s are going for $500 up here in Canada, but the 400i’s are about half of that. Also 400i’s vs x1? Lateral move again quality-wise?

Imo not that similar, a fairly large step forward in terms of quality in both sound and build imo, but they are both a tad brighter

I would say it’s a slight upgrade but also different as well. It’s going to be a fair bit cleaner, not as bassy but have tighter bass, more detail, is going to be similarly v shaped I would say, similar width, and be a quicker sound. It does need a stronger amp though imo

Ok, I think I’ve settled on the Sundara’s. What other amp would you suggest to pair with them? I was looking at the Magni 3+ but it’s going to cost a small fortune to get it over the border with custom fees and duty plus exchange rate.

Amps I can see on amazon are the liquid spark and Topping a50. Are either of these comparable to the Magni?

Ah so I wouldn’t go for the topping a50 mainly because of the high output impedance, but the liquid spark is very nice, it’s going to be a bit warmer and smoother than the 3+, also a bit wider, but lacking a tad of impact that the 3+ can deliver

Sounds like it might be worth it to just bite the bullet and get the Magni?

How much is the 3+ over there? If it’s over 150 USD it might not be worth it imo

It’s $99US (direct from Schiit) which works out to $130 CDN but then there is shipping which is $42US plus any brokerage fees at the border. I’d be in for $200+ CDN - which is the price of the liquid spark on amazon ($193). 3+ vs liquid spark, prices being close, 3+ still better?

If the prices are close, then for the sundara I would prefer the 3+

Would the 3+ benefit the X1’s much? They’re not super hard to drive, but some added value there might make it easier to pull the trigger on all if this.

I mean I would say any solid amp would also improve your x1, not by a massive margin but a noticable difference

Perfect. Thanks for all your help! Really appreciate it. Will definitely report back once I get all this sorted, lol.

Got the Magni 3+ today, Sundaras should be here in the next couple of days. Really like how the Magni tightened up the X1’s! Hard to describe with my limited audiophile vocabulary, but everything seems a little more controlled and punchier if that makes sense.

What’s the best way to burn in the Magni? Or is that not needed? @M0N

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I would just use it as normal, you can just leave it on if you really want to burn it in, but you really don’t need to, glad you are liking it with the x1 so far :+1:

Yeah, you were right on the money, not massive but noticeable improvement for sure. Down the road, what dac would you recommend to go with the Magni and the sundaras? Would eventually like to be able to just use the dragonfly for on the go listening.

You’ve been a huge help, thanks again!