Headphone Recommendation

Hi All,

I’m looking to upgrade my Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. I have a Schiit Jotunheim 2 Headphone Amp on the way. My budget is $1,500 but would like to keep it around $1,200. The below is what is currently in the running with MSRP and not what is currently on sale.

Hifiman Arya Organic $1,299
Focal Clear MG $1,499
Sennheiser HD 800 S $1,795
Audeze LCD-2 $995
Audeze LCD-X $1,199


I just listened to the Focal Clears and the Stellia and found them a little too bright for my taste. The Sennheisers were good all around, but allowed a lot of external sound in.

I then tested a Mr. Speakers (now Dan Clark Audio) Ether Flow demo set. They were very comfortable, resolving, good but not overpowering bass, and good soundstage and imaging. I preferred them to the Ether C (closed back model) by a smidge because the C has a lightly narrower soundstage. I fell in love with the Ether Flows and took them.

These have been upgraded to the Ether 2 now and are above your price range, but USAudiomart has a used pair of the Ether Flows for $625.



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The only ones I own or have heard from your list are both of the Audeze’s. I love the LCD-X’s, but it has been a while since I’ve used them. I like their soundstage and found them to be more neutral than my LCD-2’s. I love the bass of the LCD-2’s and they were my introduction to cans of this level, but they are heavy and can be quite the head vice depending on the size of your noggin. The X’s are lighter and more comfortable (I also sprang for their carbon fiber headband).

I have not heard the other cans on your list, but if you opt for the Focals you should check out Accessories4Less. They sell refurbished Focal gear (along with Marantz, Denon, B&W, KEF, Yamaha among others). I got a great deal on a pair of Focal Stellia’s last year that was too good to pass up. They had a Black Friday sale on top of their discounted prices. I also bought a Marantz Pre for my home theater from them and had no issues (factory authorized and full warranty).

On a side note: I’ve been very happy with the Platinum cables from WyWires on all my headphones that get regular use.

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What attributes are you looking to upgrade/change compared to the HD 650? Something warmer, more “air”, wider soundstage, or anything else?

I mostly listen to classic rock and blues. Some Jazz and classical as well.
My preferences in a headphone would be detail followed by separation, soundstage, depth, crisp high’s and a good bass punch.

I own the previous generation Focal Clear (not the MG) and have only heard the HD800S at a Canjam show. I thought the HD 800S had great soundstaging, separation, and detail but I found the bass a little too restrained for my taste. The Focal Clear doesn’t have much soundstage but I would call it exciting and energetic; from reviews I gather the MG tamed the highs and warmed the lows a bit.

Though I haven’t heard any of the planars you listed, other planars I have heard tend to excel at detail, separation, and highs.

I recommend attending a Canjam, or other head-fi event, where it’s easy to audition dozens of cans. You could even bring your Jot2. Most vendors are happy to let you audition using your own gear. Happy hunting!

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I love my HD 800 S. Recommended. I use mine with my Decware CSP3 preamp with all the Anniversary mods, and a Decware ZROCK2 which allows me to flesh out the bottom end a bit. Blissful listeneing!

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If you dial in your chain, hd800 fits the bill nicely. If not, it can be disappointing.

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Hi all, I ordered the Hifiman HE1000 V2 Headphones - Stealth Magnet Edition​.


Have fun!

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