Headphones (or, why I hate this forum :0))

The Dan Clark Aeon 2 I mentioned above have been compared favourably to the Audeze XCs and have the advantage of being light and foldable for portable use.


Focal are a good partner for Naim

I recently got a Sennheiser HDVA600 amplifier that I’m using with my HD800S 'phones and using Roon’s DSP (source is nDAC). I’ve not listened through speakers for about three weeks now, it just sounds a little less ‘absorbing’ (but the room I use is probably too small for the speakers anyway).

As Simon says… be warned…

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That may well be true for headphones. It’s not been my experience for speakers (yes, even the new ones) - though I know many others like them. However, the Focal 'phones get rave reviews both in the press and on here…

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Hi @xcentric,
May I recommend that you have a chat with Wendy at the Hifi Lounge in Biggleswade?
Paul runs the hifi part and Wendy runs the headphone part of their lovely operation. Wendy has the best selection of posh headphones that I have seen anywhere.

Hope this helps, BF


That is where I got mine from.

+1 for Wendy @ HiFi Lounge if you can get there. Paul & Wendy are lovely, helpful & interesting people; no pressure just good advice. They have a comprehensive list of headphones and gear to demo them so would expect to cover all dates & budgets.


Yes Hi-Fi suitable for headphones seems to be gaining popularity, and there is amazingly performant equipment out there.

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What would be useful would be recommendations at price points. Clearly one can go from free, to £x0,000’s - but for those in the know, there are great combinations at certain price points… you can assume I have a source and a Roon end point, so either with or without DAC, plus headphone amp and 'phones - what would you get at key price points (am trying to avoid specifying them because for certain things there are clear boundaries, and I don’t know what they are in this space…

For headphones, I’d say the price / performance points are

Up to £200
Up to. £600
Up to £1500
Up to £3000
Over £3000

Though at around £3000 territory you can probably reach end game territory.

For DAC and amp I would suggest up to 4x price of headphones… though this price banding might be problematic, as most headphones above £200 are really boosted by the quality of the DAC and amp.

and your recommendations then?

currently thought are: endpoints to be Rossini in the main room plus (mostly guesswork) R pi + chord mojo dac for the bedroom, + …?
what headphone amp and 'phones at the price points, ideally able to work with both. Probably open back…

Tricky, as with quality headphones it become such a personal thing due to the almost unique nature of everybody’s auditory system, and although most quality headphones follow the Harman Curve there are design variations.
There is also the matter of comfort.

For me at the up to £200 I enjoy my Sennheiser HD450. Enjoyable but ultimately limited in resolution. Great for cheaper DAC/Amps like the Audioquest Cobalt.

For me up to £3000 I enjoy my Meze Empyreans. These are hybrid magnetic planar phones and in my opinion phenomenal … but I use Meze silver plated leads option for the Empyreans to create a brighter character for my taste … (part of that personal thing). I have been using a Chord DAVE headphone DAC/ amp to drive… and it’s bliss.

For both I tweak the eq to match my hearing preference.

I have tried other headphones such as the Focal Utopias, and good as they are they fall short for me… and simply dont match the sheer sonic performance of reality and presence the Empyreans can give… but this why it’s so important to try, as it’s such a personal thing with high end headphones…


You can probably get this information on the head fi forum. But everyone’s ear canals and head are different, so you really need to hear for yourself. The amplifier synergy is important too.

slight thread resurrection: with Amazon Prime Day(s) coming along, I’m still peering at headphones, but have thought that my headphone listening kit is likely to be (for bedside listening, so no need to be portable) either:

  • Raspberry Pi running Roopiee or Hifiberry or similar, into some form of DAC and headphone amp. The IQAudIO one looked good but is old now and out of stock, the HiFiBerry DAC2 seems ok. Can anyone with experience recommend something for this style of setup?

  • Android tablet (Fire or old phone) into DAC - Dragonfly Red? Chord Mojo?

Which way would you go?

Likely feeding open-backed headphones in the £500 region, but they may be slightly tricky to drive.

Or do I go down the Schitt route and pick one of the rather pretty and well0-reviewed valve headphone amps they do?

(and I know it’s 'phones first, but some of the kit may be on Prime tomorrow so may be worth a punt (given their returns policy)…

My bedroom rig is currently. Raspi 4 powered by a 5v 3a Battery pack with Ropieee, to Ifi Nano iDSD BL DAC that feeds a Schitt Magni 3 Heresy amp with Meze 99 Classics. Its a great combo. I used to just use the Nano but wanted a bit more grip and adding the Heresy gave it that. Dragonflys are ok but lack oopmh to drive difficult phones. I had a red and cobalt, recently sold them as they where getting no use.

Likley when finances allow ill swap the the lot for a Matrix Audio Element M as Its a streamer/dac/headamp and will cut down on all my extra stuff or I just might get another RME as its bloody amazing dac/headamp for the money. No need to change the headphones as the Meze already hit way above their weight and sound great with the RME downstairs.

Do listen carefully… I have yet to find a valve headphone amp that does top end headphones justice, but each to their own.
THX AAA analogue signal processing for headphones might be worth looking at, though top end THX systems such as the Benchmark HPA4 are quite an investment.

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There are a number of much affordable options that are gaining a very good reputation amongst headphone communities from Massdrop, SMSL and Monolith all using THX AAA tech.

Indeed, though of course you do pay for what you get… only a very few products use the higher end performance THX AAA chipsets such as the 888, of which the HPA4 is one.

I find with very high quality headphones, they can be very discerning in limitations in the electronics… more obviously so than speakers in my experience. But get it right and the rewards are superb.

Not always I have found, there are some very good equipment that does not charge premium prices. All these use the top tier THX chipset. The Monolith is reputed to get very near the HPA4 performance and it beats it in some areas for 10x less so I know where I would put my money even if I had 3400 to spend.

this one?