Headphone options under £500

I’m looking for some help in narrowing down my headphone options.

These are not going to be my “forever” cans, but need to be solid allrounders that will provide a comfortable and engaging listen on those occasions the kids/wife are in bed and I want to spin a few albums.

I’ve narrowed it down to a few contenders based on the headphone thread on here and reviews. They will be matched with streaming and vinyl sources through a SN3.

The top contenders are:

  1. Classic99 - Lovely design. Good balanced sound. Comfortable. Loads of positive reviews from other Naim users. Cheapest option!
  2. Amiron - Super comfortable. Neutral relaxed sound. Well reviewed.
  3. 660S - New model. Less comfortable for longer sessions. More coloured sound, but engaging and dynamic.

I’m sure any of these would be solid options so I’m really most interested in why I would select the Amiron or 660S over the Mezze given the relative prices?


Hi, can’t comment on the Amirons or 660S, but state you are looking for a “comfortable and engaging listen” my recently purchased Classic 99’s fit that bill perfectly, especially for the price. I now stop listening because I am done, not because I’m in pain or just uncomfortable.
Good luck either way.

Can I add a few words here… For clarity…?

  1. Meze Classic 99
  2. Beyer Dynamic Amiron
  3. Sennheiser HD660

I cannot claim any knowledge of any of these, but both Beyer & Sennheiser have been making 'Phones for many many years now.

I have Sennheiser HD424’s - bought in 1977.
My oldest piece of HiFi equipment - still going strong… :smile:

I’ve recently upgraded my elderly Sennheiser HD545 Reference headphones to the highly regarded HD650’s. Circa. £200 on the bay. A bargain.

They are high impedance though, circa. 300ohm, so you probably need a decent amp to drive them.


My Sennheiser HD424’s are 2000ohm - 2kohm - and are fine driven by a Rega Ear.

According to the Internet… HD660’s are 150ohm impedance - https://www.the-ear.net/review-hardware/sennheiser-hd660s-open-back-dynamic-headphone

But… Impedance is only part of the story - sensitivity is the real key.

If you are saying sensitivity and impedance characteristics are related then yes.


Thanks. I’ll be driving them from the Supernait3 headphone amp so should be fairly safe in terms of “drivability”.

If I end up spending significant time using headphones then I’ll no doubt invest in a dedicated headphone amp and better headphones.

Tending towards either the Amiron or 660S purely because I feel the open back design will provide a nice contrast to a couple of pairs of much cheaper closed back headphones I use for portable/travel listening.

That said the Classic99s do look very lovely…

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Err, no. Its more complex than that…

Doubling the Impedance will - Ohm says - halve the resulting Voltage. It then depends on what the Headphones Drive Unit does with that Voltage - which will also be affected by the strength of the magnets and/or the gap between coil & magnet - and probably more besides.

Taking my Sennheiser 424’s, at 2000ohms, they should be difficult to drive and be very quiet. They are neither - because their sensitivity is high… :smile:

“Err, no. Its more complex than that…”

I’ll pass then. :grinning:


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Amirons. Listening to mine now that I got half price on a pre-Black Friday deal and it’s the first headphone I can say that I now understand the appeal of listening at home on headphones vs speakers. Super comfortable (something I thought I would never say about any headphone), great relaxed but detailed and spacious sound, and they don’t seem to make my tinnitus worse (actually less noticeable at times). Open backed, but barely seem to leak any noise out, though don’t really isolate outside noise either from coming in, but it doesn’t seem to interrupt the flow of music. Hard to describe. Only niggle is the cans don’t fit back into the case without removing the cables form the cups, but that is a small thing. Bit creaky over eyeglasses as well, but that can be said of most cans.

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I own and often use both the Mezze 99 Classics as well as the Sennheiser HD 660s.

I love them both.

However when no one is in the room with me I always use the Sennheisers.

They bleed sound like hell but they give a more natural sound than the Mezze.

That’s not to say the Mezze is bad by any measure and if you like a bass punch they may be your preferred option.

The Sennheisers just seem a little more refined, sound more natural and airy.

At 150 ohm impedance they are harder to drive than the Mezze though. On my Star I need about 10 volume clicks higher than the Mezze and if you want to use them with anything that does not have a good headphone amp you may come up short.

I don’t have that problem with the HD650’s, I’m using them when my wife is in the same room and she never complains. I don’t play loud rock music though. :grinning:
The HD660s was developed from the HD650 so the sound signature is probably similar. They certainly look similar.
I’ve also started experimenting with the Parametric EQ in Roon which modifies the sound signature.


Depends on the music yeah. My wife stuck it out a long time but eventually I got the Mezze to solve that. It’s just not a crowd friendly pair of headphones.

I have the Amiron’s. Excellent headphones with a lovely natural sound. Decent bass, excellent mids and smooth pleasant treble but sound stage is probably their best strength. Personally, open back made a big difference to me as it made the listening experience more interesting and enjoyable so I ruled out the Meze’s despite their tempting looks. Amiron’s were more fun and involving for me than the 660’s.
All good options though - and the audioquest cobalt is an excellent addition if using laptop/iPhone as source.

Another vote for the Amirons. They are so comfortable you forget you have them on. Sound is natural and detailed even with the volume raised. I got mine from Amazon Warehouse well under list price.

Another vote for the Amirons. The Open back provides a wide sound stage with great sound. Very comfortable. The standard long cable was a requirement for me. These tick all the boxes.

Thanks for the help folks. Amirons ordered on a decent Black Friday deal.

Will report back on how I get on with them, but seem like a safe option.

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Hard to beat the Mezes for the money, and they are easy to drive too

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That isn’t a lie. I really love mine. Despite the fact that the Sennheisers beats them IMO. If they beat them by as much as the difference in price is a totally different discussion. I don’t think so.

Meze 99 classic, I wouldn’t say the sound is ‘balanced’. They very much have the modern sound with boosted mid-bass. Having said that, if you can live with that they’re the best sounding headphone I’ve heard. I’ve heard headphones double the price (Focal, forgot the model name) which didn’t sound better, only more neutral.

They’re also very comfortable, it took a little bit of getting used to their ‘sound’, but I love mine.

I also love my Alessandro’s (tuned Grado), but they leak like crazy, so consider, but only consider if you’re planning on listening being the only person in the room.

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