Which headphones/mic/dac to purchase? Need help please!

Hello Hifiguides, I’d love some help finishing my project. I’m new to audiophile equipment and will take any advice you can give. If you have any questions, please ask them.

Budget: ~$600 CAD all included- mic, dac/amp, and headphones. But I’m also flexible if It’s really worth the value.

Use: Mostly casual gaming, but I can’t help but get competitive sometimes. I need to be immersed. I also love listening to music. I’ll also watch a few movies.

What I’m looking for: Planar magnetic driver, closed back, little sibilance (not overly bright), great imaging and soundstage, and it must not make any noise (static, hissing, white noise, needs very low noise floor), I’d prefer if the mic wasn’t on my desk.

Some things to know: It will be run on a 3.5mm extension cable to my pc. My pc has an ASUS PRIME Z270-A motherboard, and I don’t have a sound card. I also have a USB extension cable I can use. I will also use simulated surround sound from my pc.

I’ve already tried the Audeze Mobius, I really liked how they sounded, but returned them because they had static white noise, which was really distracting. I also tried the Beyerdynamic DT990, but returned them because I didn’t like their sound. They might have sounded better if I hadn’t run the 250ohm version from my motherboard. Oh well.

This is the equipment I have been recommended and am looking at so far:
Meze 99 neo/classic, Aeon flow, Fostex t60rp, Beyerdynamic mmx300, Schiit hel, Mayflower arc, schitt Fulla 1.

Thanks for reading!

Looking for a planar alone is going to be a bit much as good planars can be quite costly. This bundle here is slightly above your price tag but it gives you an amp/dac, modmic uni, and a Aeon RT which is a harman curve(or subtle V signature tuned) planar magnetic headphone with large soundstage and good imaging.

not a planar. rather narrow soundstage

not a planar.

pretty demanding on power you’d need an amp ideally and it looks cheap but modifications are what jacks the price tag up. also these are semi open back

That bundle on dan clark audio was the exact same thing I was looking at, too. I want to make sure they will work well for me because all bundle sales are final, and I can’t return them, if something goes wrong, I’m screwed. The three things I need to know would be that there is little sibilance, which by your description of the sound says there shouldn’t be much. Also that there won’t be any static/hissing/white noise. And that I can play them loudly without fear of blowing them out. Other than that they sound really good, and should be great value, right? I don’t mind stretching the budget as long as it’s good value. By the sites description, 40% off sounds excellent.

I didn’t know the Mezes weren’t planar, but I did hear about their lacking in soundstage, so they’re out of the question.

The mmx300 was another I was looking at because they were closed back and had good soundstaging. Between the mmx300, Fostex, and the flows, which one would have the better soundstage? It seems like my mind is already made up though, because the bundle meets the most of my requirements, and I won’t have to go searching for more dacs and mics.

Edit: I also have only one 3.5mm and one usb extension cable, so I may need to buy another 3.5mm, or would I just plug both the headphone and the mic cable into the dac, and then plug the dacs one cable into the pc?

Thanks so much for the help.

Yeah that is the tricky part about Aeons. I can vouch for them though they are fantastic and scream luxury feel on their design. You may be able to find someone offering some kind of return policy to check them out but that’s a bit of a toss up. RT versions of aeon are only available through Dan Clark unless someone specifies they are selling the RT version on like ebay(it will still have the new DCA logo and everything on it). Open-X is only available through drop or someone selling it. Don’t bother with the original flows there’s a good reason for the two retunes.

that deal is quite excellent in my opinion but you can indeed get all that stuff cheaper if you dig around the used market. I have seen aeons go for $400, Schiit hel go for $130, and Uni are only typically like $40. Of course that’s if you dig around and can find the Retuned version of the aeon for that cheap alongside the schiit hel. Your hissing and white noise sounds like your computer. The thing about owning an amp/dac is that the dac helps at solving this issue. On board audio runs the risk of weird buzzing, hissing, or just some weird white noise in the background of the sound due to the sound of the inner components leading to some interference… Regardless of what motherboard you use this is a general concern for using headphones on the pc.

As far as sibilance goes, the treble is raised but not by much I have very little concerns with that on this headphone as I own the Open-X variation it’s a little more neutral than the RT versions. No issues with hiss or anything on my end but I would highly recommend a dac to solve that issue entirely. And of course you can play them loud… just don’t crank the amp to a ridiculous degree no reason to blow your eardrums out. Haven’t had any issues with my aeons being loud and I have my plugged into a Liquid Platinum(quite expensive) amplifier that gives it a ton of power.

You wanted a closed back so the Fostex would be out they they have a larger soundstage as expected of one that isn’t fully closed. MMX300 may be a bit too bright for you as they are essentially the DT 770 with a microphone and some minor alterations to the sound despite this they have a large soundstage for a closed back which is quite nice. Aeons naturally have a good size soundstage but I think DT 770 may edge out just slightly more especially if you change the 770s to a thicker pad my only concern is that the mmx300 is a bit bright and everyone has their own tolerances on treble.

It is convenient I will give it that. Gives you everything you need for a good setup… Granted I wouldn’t call the Modmic Uni all that great I prefer the USB as it isn’t as sensitive. Not like you couldn’t switch over later on.

Considering its the schiit hel. Both the headphone and the microphone will plug into the Schiit Hel unit and the schiit hel will plug directly into your PC. Modmics have cable crimps so you can just attach the cable onto the aeons cable make it a bit easier on the cable clutter. Personally when I have done that I get some braided cable loom and put it around the cables makes it look nicer and easy to handle.

I’m pretty sure the hissing noise was not from my computer. As I said in my first post the Audeze mobius and HyperX Orbit S both had white noise. I could unplug them from everything, turn them on by the battery and still have the noise. The amount of noise didn’t change when they were plugged into the pc, and the DT990s didn’t make noise when they were plugged in. I just need to know the headphones themselves have nothing inside the cups that make noise other than the drivers. If there’s no noise I think I’m good, especially with a dac it shouldn’t be an issue.

So lets say the mmx300s aren’t planars, and are a bit too bright, as I’ve heard Beyers are, and the Fostex is semi-open. So they’re both out. I’ve gotten a closed back planar with the right sound signature at the cost of a bit of soundstage, right? But the Aeon’s soundstage and imaging is by no means crappy, just a bit less? And in comparison to the Audeze Mobius, would these be better, less, or the same in soundstage, imaging, and sound quality? I’m just trying to figure out what qualities are being traded, and whether it’s at all equivalent to what the Audeze was. I liked everything about the Mobius except the hissing, so if I can get everything the Mobius was and better, and without the hissing, I’d be euphoric.

Are there any other headphones under the sun I should be considering? I’ve emailed many companies like Grado, Audio Technica, Sennheiser, and Audeze, and they haven’t given me the anything noteworthy.

And I shouldn’t have any problems using surround sound software through the dac/amp, right? nothing will conlfict?

Thanks again

Pretty much and no… the aeons soundstage and imaging is not bad. Beyers just tend to have ridiculously good imaging and large soundstaging in their entire lineup. Even their ear buds the soul byrds actually have a big sound to them. Not to mention beyers being built like a tank.

mobius is a pretty dreadful headphone just in general not just gaming. The soundstage isn’t really large by any standard if anything its relatively average or slightly under, the sound quality is poor, the latency for a wireless headphone is dreadful(theres a reason they created the penrose), the quality control problems exist by a large margin, 3D head tracking is niche as hell, and the imaging is decent at best. For what… $400? I would have a world of other headphones to recommend before I even remotely recommended that one. The most redeeming quality it has is the fact it has built in amplifiers into its earcups and it can change its sound with equalizer presets. Aeon walks all over that headphone in entirety however, it has its own sound signature(tuned to harman curve but still relatively a V signature in other words… more bass more treble but not sibilant) granted it can be equalized quite well you definitely want an amplifier to do that properly not to mention aeon isn’t particularly the easiest to drive so you may need that extra power anyway. It’s one of those headphones that can sound better based on what you have it plugged into. It also now has pads from Dekoni who just recently released different pad varieties for the headphone.

Depends on the setting you used for audeze on the equalizer. Aeons have better soundstage, better imaging, better and clearer sound quality, more detail, more texture, the soundstage is more around your head instead of just left to right like the mobius likes to do. Audeze are known for the “house sound” which is one of the presets rather youd know as the Default. Everything that preset does can be done on an equalizer. Audezes however tend to have a warmer, richer, thicker, darker sound but mobius definitely isn’t a great representative of that.

May want to look at Penrose at that point. Might fix your issue and keep that sound you prefer.

Only certain brands carry planars. Hifiman, Audeze, Monoprice, and Dan Clark are more of the well known with a few special exception alternatives here and there… Audeze are crazy expensive and more than likely outside of your price bracket for their good headphones as they typically start at $600+ just for the headphone. Hifiman has huge quality control problems but also tend to tune their headphones to be bright which seems to be outside of your scope. Monoprice is a hit or miss but M1060 comes to mind I would say M560 but I hate the pads.

I normally, never recommend using this stuff. Even in the case of Dolby Atmos or Hesuvi it just loves to destroy sound nonetheless, you should be able to use it just fine as its pc software. Much like you can program Peace APO to equalize your headphones to your preference(provided you have an amp and give it more/less power when you change something)

So now it’s the Beyer mmx300, Aeon flows, and possibly the M1060, but the closed version. Hit or miss doesn’t sound too appealing, and I don’t feel like messing with pad switches and other modifications, which people say m1060s need. Wireless tech means nothing to me, I used the Mobius with the cable and don’t feel like dabbling with Audeze again.

If I didn’t like the DT990’s brightness, would I mind the mmx300’s? This is a bad question as I’ve realized I powered the 250ohm version from my motherboard, which could’ve affected it. But really all it’s down to now is wide soundstage, or an easier treble, unless there’s any other qualities that really pull weight.

How big of a difference is a larger soundstage and imaging when it’s used for games and music and movies? I guess this is all your opinion now. And with large soundstage, sound isn’t all just moved farther away, but more of a difference and easier to tell whether the sound is near or far, right?

I would still need to find a dac/amp for the mmx300s, so could I just buy the same Schiit Hel, or would another dac/amp sound better? How much could I customize the mmx300s if I didn’t like their original sound, with Peace APO?

Does WavesNX destroy sound like you said? So how else besides a full speaker setup do I get that sort of experience? Would enough imaging and soundstage recreate the effect?

I’m looking into the reputation of the companies involved in the bundle, how returns and warranties would work and whatnot. How are your experiences with Dan Clark audio, Antlion audio, and Schiit? Has anybody you know had issues?

Thank you

yeah pretty much, modders friendly kind of headphone. Guess you can cross that one off then.

So heres the thing. The DT 990s are just extremely bright but also less refined and smooth in the 250 ohm variation. Of the 3 beyers, DT 990, DT 880, and DT 770(or mmx300) respectively the 990 is the brightest followed by the 770 followed by the 880 being the least bright. It’s a bit of a hit or miss factor when it comes to comfortable brightness and goes on a case by case basis with a person. Like, I have next to zero issues with high amounts of treble and others I know have issues with even the slightest bit of brightness… were all different so it makes it hard to really gauge if this will be okay as only you yourself know the extent of how sensitive you are

Unfortunately, the only closed back with good sized soundstage without that brightness from beyer is the Custom One Pro Plus but I normally don’t recommend that as I personally feel it’s just a bad version to the DT 770s just without all the brightness. Their house sound is just usually bright. Recently, they have started to break off from that and dabble into warmer sounding headphones but nothing really all that great for closed backs yet outside of maybe the 177x GO which is much more neutral U shaped if anything and definitely not as bright as 770 or 1770. Still, none of these are planar which is outside of what your looking for.

It really depends on the person. For me, a large soundstage compared to an average size stage is like the difference of standing in a living room listening compared to standing in a theater. There is a good difference. However, closed backs definitely will not have as big or as much as a surrounding 3d style soundstage as something such as an open back.

Imaging is the one that can tell you where something is near or far. Soundstage is how far away and close something can be. So if something is far enough away you need large sound stage to pick it up in sound and imaging to properly place the location of that sound.

The mmx300s are essentially a low ohm DT 770 as such you really don’t technically need an amp to drive them though it does help as you can expect from any headphone. Schiit Hel is nice but considering its $189 new I would just recommend a dedicated amp and dac at that price point. Seeing how you can get something like a Liquid Spark amp for like $70 and a Topping D10 for $100 or less. Considering the low ohm it may be a little more fussy than something that can take more power. You run the risk of more distortion or blowing the headphone based on how much power you pump into it. You can definitely equalize it by a good amount but you need power to back that up otherwise it won’t sound right.

It really depends on the application. Some games this software can just absolutely destroy your audio and others its respectable and sounds alright. Big soundstage can help but it won’t have that particular effect. Open backs get even closer and are more natural as you have a lot of air surrounding that sound. There really isn’t other ways to create that effect outside of this and the software like waves, dolby atmos, hesuvi, and other programs of its caliber.

Dan Clark? Great service actually. I have messaged them quite a few times just asking questions such as pads, cables, return policies, whatever and they were happy to help even so much as to clarify the differences between open-x the drop model to their new RT model as some people get confused and think they are the same headphone. I own the open X and plan to own aeon 2 hopefully soon

Antlion has fantastic customer service but the products such as UNI can be quite a bit too sensitive in some setups and requires some tinkering. They do however allow you to switch products out happily if you go through them and are more than happy to help if you have issues. I own their USB microphone and had it switched out from UNI

Schiit is a bit more questionable. They have had some issues with quality control but nothing completely off the wall and extreme. It does take them some time to get back to you and may be more influenced by the pandemic. They do have good policies in place such as the 15 day returns when you order through them and they will answer your questions if you have them on their products. I own their asgard 3 and have tested with their magni 3+. No issues to speak of personally

I would assume there will be proper warranties on the entire bundle from the companies in the event you have any issues with any of the components

I’ve been thinking a lot, and it’s driving me nuts. You’ve been a massive help so far.

The only reason I was intent on planars was because I was basing what I liked and should be looking for off of the mobius, and needed a reason to quickly narrow down my search. I’ve been looking at the difference between planars and dynamics, and it seems like a hotly debated topic for just about everything. So the next question would be how much of a difference between planar and dynamic is there? Is planar worth it over large soundstage?

Also, would a Schiit fulla work as an dac/amp for the Beyer mmx300? I’ll look at the liquid spark and topping D10.

Thanks

That’s a pretty large debate and a bit out of my area of questioning due to my own lack of experience. I would recommend asking the others their thoughts on that one and what they feel are the key differences and what not. As for planar worth it over large soundstage? There are planars with large soundstages so I am rather confused by this question… Sundara and Argon just to name a couple have a rather large and above average, for an open back, soundstage as it is and they are both planar.

It would but after I had spoke to M0N about that particular amp combo I am more in agreement to tell somebody to pick up a amp like a spark, jds atom, magni 3+, or other $100 amplifier unit of this particular power bracket and just get some rca cabling for your pc to use it as a dac. This way you still get the benefit of the amp. Granted this method runs the risk of some buzz or hum or some other sounds from using onboard dac still having the proper amp really goes a long way and you can grab the dac later.

As for combo units though? yeah schiit fulla 3 is alright alongside soundblaster g6, in some cases for budget fiio e10k, and Ifi Zen Dac.

however, mmx300 is designed as a gaming headset as such its at 32 ohms and should be able to be ran without an amp/dac.