Which Headphone? Upgrading from Alpha Primes

Hi everyone,

I’d really appreciate some guidance. I’m a long time lurker, but recently set up an account here and am keen to get stuck in as a community member.

I appear to have a conundrum in need of solving… I have Gumby, MJ2 & Mrspeakers Alpha Prime HPs as my main rig.

I’ve tried a number of HPs over the past 18 months (with different dac/amp combos to what I have now) that include Philips X2HR & X3, D2000, Argon Mk2, Alpha Prime, and most recently a loan ZMF VC.

Every thing I’ve tried so far, just hasn’t “done it” for me. The VC was good, but not detailed enough, and the Primes just seen so much “cleaner” with a blacker background that sound comes from.

I think I need to go planar, rather than dynamic, and the HP will need to be slightly dark, non-fatiguing treble. holographic, and a very low reach bass wise.

With my limited experience of other planars that aren’t T50RP modded models, I’m not sure what to go for. Happy to consider new or preowned. Will need great synergy with Gumby & MJ2.

I’m not limited by having to have isolation, but I am aware that possibly closed HPs may suit electronic music/EDM etc. I listen to all sorts of music, but mainly electronic, ambient, EDM, trance etc.

Budget max is £2000, but I am not (yet) convinced about the merits of spending more than £1000/£1500 for that last 5% performance.

Any ideas welcome. Thanks!

What is it that you enjoy from your current setup? As that may give a better picture as to what your preferences are with the gear you have and what stands out to you in terms of the music you enjoy on them.

Possibly also what you didn’t like on your past setups for your genres of music would also be helpful. Depending on the headphone you decide with, you might possibly also want to consider selling the Schiit stack for a different stack with better synergy.

I know dynamics may not suit you the best, but I do see quite a few ppl enjoy the Eikon for EDMs which according to Zach has pretty decent sub bass

Focal Clear OG/MG is decent but might not have rolled-off treble for your taste

The Kennerton Gjallarhorn is also pretty fun with EDMs

LCD2PF is also well regarded here, a natural upgrade would possibly be LCD3PF and LCD24 but the latter two probably need better source gear

On the planar side, I have almost no experience so can only throw a few names:

  • DCA Ether 2, supposedly a natural upgrade path from Alpha Prime
  • Hifiman Arya
  • Hifiman HE1000v2 but likely need to upgrade the rig
  • Abyss Diana v2, same as above

Hi Kron,

To give you an idea, this is one of my all time favourite tracks - Lost Frequencies feat. James Blunt - Melody (Klangkarussell Extended Remix) - YouTube

I love the fullness in bass, there is a seamless transition from lower bass to mid bass, without a mid bass hump that can fatigue me and there is a really solid punch. I love the way the music moves around me from left to right, front and back - like I’m right in the middle of a holgraphic 3d surround.

The mids are smooth yet very detailed, and there is a natural tone without sounding fuzzy. There is clear separation between all of the piano/organ, brass, percussion, and the vocals on prime are gorgeous. It’s a headphone that has fast transient response and decay and is detailed. The treble on prime is rolled off slightly so it’s not bright - but you can hear absolutely everything.

In terms of Gumby & MJ2…Gumby is slightly warm, very detailed yet really musical. MJ2 is powerful enough to really get the Prime singing in a way that Lyr 2 and Project Ember just could not get near.

In all honesty, I’m rather hopeless at describing this kind of thing in the way that an audiophile review would…which is part of the reason I think why I’m struggling with upgrading.

The only thing I would say could be an improvement to the Alpha Prime in terms of sound, is if there was just a little more bass with some songs. Though I guess a Schiit Loki could fix that (I’m not into software EQ at all),


Hey Mochimashu,

In terms of whats I didn’t like with previous setups… I found D2000 too much in terms of treble fatigue even at low-medium volume, it was also mid bass heavy which was overbearing (a bit like Atticus).

ZMF Atticus was too fuzzy, lacking the detail/resolve of the Prime. It also does not reach as low as Prime and the presentation was too intimate/congested. It sounded brighter with MJ2, and a warmer tone with the Feliks Echo.

ZMF VC was better than Atticus for Sub bass, and more neutral, but it lacks in detail and separation from the mids upwards compared to Prime. I liked that the mids were more forward than Prime.

Argon MK2 had very recessed mids compared to Alpha Prime and lacks in detail and the Prime reaches lower.

I think Eikon still have the ZMF fuzziness/lack of resolve just as Atticus & VC has. Think I’m done with ZMF for the time being.

I’ll read up on the Focal Clear as that is one I have not considered.

Also need to read up more on Kennerton.

I have thought about LCD2PF, though am concerned about driver failure and the repairs becoming fazor drivers…I have not considered LCD3 or LCD24, but I’m not sure I want to be upgrading my source gear (yet).

Out of the Ether 2, Arya, HE100v2, and abyss Diana V2…I like what I’ve read about the Diana V2 the most…

Yeah I get that, I don’t feel like I am the best at describing what I like from a headphone much at times :sweat_smile:

Tbh from what you have been saying, I feel like a Focal clear would almost fit your preferences very well. I say almost since it can get a little sharp if you turn up the volume too much, but that was at volumes that were too high for me anyway. It is actually a neutral headphone, but when borrowing a pair, I found that they work really well for songs that require a lot of impact and they were able to do this better than any headphone that I have heard so far. They also have a very nice holographic presentation especially when paired with a RNHP or Little Labs Monotor and BF2.

It may also be worth looking at one of the closed back Focals like the Radiance as from what I have heard, it has a very nice bass presentation.

Have you tried out an Audioquest Nighthawk? It wont be as resolving as the headphones that I have mentioned, or the Verite, but it is much better than any t50 mod that I have heard, is super comfy and has a very nice bass presentation.

I am surprised by this, from my experience the t50 can only really go so far in terms of performance. The Atticus was much better when I had one, it was around the performance of my lawtons although I preferred the presentation of my lawtons.

Diana v2 would have been a suggestion from me, as it is one that I am very interested in upgrading to (currently on a HeKv2) but you’d really need to upgrade your source to be able to take advantage of it.

Lol, I guess so much is subjective and personal even in the face of FR graphs etc.

Okay interesting about the Focal - I will read up on the Clear & the Radiance.

I’ve heard of the Nighthawk, and seen that they are popular but I have not tried them.


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I was initially shocked about how Atticus sounded (mid bass hump, too intimate, congested) - but this was largely with Modi Multibit & Lyr 2. Gumby & Feliks Echo improved things. They are nowhere near the comfort levels of Alpha Prime either - I almost forget the Primes are on my head they’re sooo comfy. I get easily irritated/distracted from the music by even small comfort annoyances.

I appreciate what you are saying about the pure technical performance limitations with a T50RP driver, however Dan Clark did a great job and I think he took the T50RP as far as it would go and further than anyone else did.

With Diana V2, what could be good source gear?

Xi Audio Broadway comes to my mind, and whatever DAC that goes well with it

Yeah, my Atticus definitely wasn’t intimate so definitely needs better source gear than that, I have wondered what the Gumby & MJ2 would be like myself as I like the form factor, but I think I’d rather go higher end at this point.

Yeah I get that, I only ever seem to have good comfort with headphones that use a comfort strap. My old t50 with alcantara pads was on par with the nighthawks for comfort, although now thats what I prefer IEMs for, the HeK is also very comfy.

Yeah I get that, I only went as far as the mk2 argon and t60 before deciding to not go any higher with the t50s, it just wasn’t worth it to me.

I haven’t personally looked enough into source gear for the Dv2 yet as I don’t quite have the funds for one yet. But for example, the HeK is supposed to scale really well with better source gear, I’m hoping to go for something like a v220/v281 & Soekris dac with it to get most of its performance.

Thanks will read up

Gumby & MJ2 is a great stack - loads of fun. Versatile, plenty of power (e.g 5W into 50 ohms which is what the Alpha Prime like so much), Gumby is detailed but smooth and slightly warm. I also love the size of them - it’s based on a server rack type size… MJ2 runs in class A mainly I believe, and reverts into AB.

Plenty of folks say BF2 is 95% of Gumby and Jot2 is 95% of MJ2, but, there is definitely something special about Gumby & MJ2. There are folks out there who are running Gumby that say it’s quite a bit ahead of BF2. Again though, I guess personal preference and subjective thought.

You know… I’ve had my eye on a V281 for some time now already…I’ve heard of the Soekris dac but don’t know much about it.

I was hoping that Schiit would release a MJ3 and Gumby upgrade, but looks like theyre only gonna do the Gumby.

V281 is supposed to be very nice, Soekris is usually the default recommendation of dac to pair with it as they both bring out eachother’s strengths

It sounds like you probably need a pair of non-T50 planar, and I know quite a few who still own it here so I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Rev 2.2 to be specific. It should pretty decent for your source gear, just concerned that going higher on HPs may mean an upgrade to the source gear

Shame the MJ3 will never happen. I think the Cali wildfires & covid killed their component supply chain and they thought fk-it and canned it.

Regarding the Soekris, having just jumped into a rabbit hole, it seems that Gumby & Soekris owners think that they are almost identical in sound. I guess I could potentially pick up a V281 & run with Gumby…

I think the main reason they gave was that they thought the jot2 was 95% of the Mjolnir line

Yeah you could likely try out the v281 for a while first on the Gumby and if you don’t like it as much, swap the Gumby for a Soekris

Yeah I’d be interested hearing an LCD2 PF. I am also wondering how close an LCD2 Classic (no fazor) would be to the 21.1PF or 2.2PF.

GS-X MK2 (and GS-X mini by extension) is very good with the diana v2, not sure if the gumby would synergize well with it or not (it likely would i think). V281 is a good choice as well but I personally prefered the diana on the headamp overall


Hey guys, I wanted to let you know that I’ve just bought Audeze LCD-X. It was a total outlier and not on my radar, but I was recommended it and I love it.

It’s a lovely sounding HP, spot on for me.

Apologies for pointing to an alternative forum, but the info here can explain subjectively & objectively what makes the LCD-X so good. I can heartily recommend it.

Audeze LCD-X (2021) Measurements and Review: Audeze Strikes Back | Super Best Audio Friends