Headphones with a DAC-V1, thanks


I want to buy headphones for some listenings and intend to use them with the DAC-V1’s output.
What type of headphones matches the DAC better? I know there are all possible types, but first high or low impedance? I tend to prefer closed types, but accept any type of suggestions.

Thanks very much,

I don’t think the DAC V1 is going to ‘match’ specific headphones (or not). Looks like a reasonable spec on the output to me. Comes down to personal preferences, budget etc. As usual a demo is pretty essential in my view, not just for (suprisingly divergent) sonic characteristics but also comfort, which is very individual.


HD 600s work well.

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Thanks to both. Bruce, I meant about high or low impedance. But yes, the DAC has a single-ended Class A headphone amp onboard, so it’s down to personal taste as you say. My dealer has a lot of headphones so a demo will be easy.

I have these and they are a good safe bet. However, after a few years running these on the end of my DAC-v1, I was curious to hear what I could with a more modern design for under £1k. Focal Clear MGs were slightly out of reach.

My local dealer let me home demo three sets against my HD600s - Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd gen) (open back) Beyerdynamic T3 (3rd gen) (Closed) and Quad ERA-1 (open).

I try to recall the detailed results but the Quads were streets ahead (overall) for me in terms of:

• resolution and texture - you could easily tell minor differences between each drum type in a kit;
• dynamic range - a fuller, slightly more expansive soundstage, with an instant ability to scale in louder passages;
• musicality - prat retained, good engagement and sing-a-long factor the best of the four. :grinning:
• better defined bass - less warm (coloured) than Beyerdynamics but still punchy.
• excellent engaging mid-range vocals;
• visceral sound signature on rock guitars which I like.

The HD600 sound was very good but the other three took it to another level with non-classical. I felt the T3s were closest in ranking to the Quads but in all areas the Quads were more preferable (and cheaper to boot!). Ranking: ERA-1; T3; T1; HD600 (albeit my pads and headband are pretty well used/tired and will be replaced).

Quad comfort is the only area that is ‘marmite’ per audio press written reviews, however I wear mine for 3-4h at a time and find them extremely comfortable and slightly prefer the lamb skin pads (velour also supplied in the box) for sound quality. They are nominally fairly weighty but I don’t find them at all uncomfortable. In fact they soon ‘disappear’ on a number of fronts!

As you can read I am very pleased with mine (had them a year from new) and highly recommend them to shortlist for the DAC-V1 and dare say other Naim headphone outputs. They are very easy to drive and go plenty loud enough without ‘collapsing’ under pressure. They are a planar design and imho good looking and of good construction quality.

I imagine* they would be very close in overall SQ to Clear MGs, however a tad further behind Stellias and Utopias (but these are 5-7x the price of the Quads), but sense the Naim headphone amplifier may become the limiting factor.

  • Focal Clears heard through AtomHE; Other 2 through Nait 50 fed by ND5XS2. Same track used that I remember the musical engagement well. This was at Bristol Show ‘24.

I would recommend a home demo of your shortlist and wish you well in your choice. Please let us know what you choose and why, when you make the decision. I enjoy my DAC-V1 and don’t think I lose much compared with the HE except the built in streaming board. However, my newly acquired ND5XS2 more than makes up for that and my future system steps.



See my above reply - hope it’s useful.

My DAC-V1 drives my ageing HD600s very well for a high impedance set. However, my very low impedance ERA-1s sound much better all round and go much louder without collapsing - so no fear of the easier to drive compatability compromising overall enjoyment.


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What is your budget?

I had Quad ERA1 too, when i first started 'serious ’ headphone listening. I tested them against several others including Sennheiser 800 and found them just more enjoyable. The Senns were technically better (and more expensive) but I found myself listening to the music more with rhe Quad, and the headphones more with the Senns. If that makes sense! Others love the 800 (and 600) of course.

I have got rid of them as I have spent more, and added a good headphone amp etc.

I have a soft spot for Grado, having owned several models. The RS1 is a sweet spot in the range, again not technically the purest but very much a toe tapping and engaging listen. Try to audition if you can. The comfort is ‘odd’ but you do get used to them!



Can wise, i have Senny HD600 and 25s. And Focal Clear Pros ( red pads and 5m coily cable). To be fai the Focals are wired with a balanced cable most of the time. But, they have been used via the 1/4" TRS jack into the V1.
So yes, the Focals are better than the HD600, ( 32 ohm as opposed to 600ohm), but i was slways inpressed how well the v1 drove the hd600s. I have heard the HD600s sound dire from £300 headphone amps.
So will the v1 make the HD600s sound sound good? Yes. And new headband and ear surrounds are cheap for the HD600s too.

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Yes, the HD600s are a safe bet at the modest price and reward a ‘strong’ headphone amp like the Headline and that in the DAC-V1.

In fact, prior to the home demo the Beyerdynamics walked all over the Senns at the dealers. They (Senns) sounded like ‘cheap toy ‘phones’ and that was via a Qutest into a (same form factor) Chord headphone amp (sorry I forget the model, except together they were over £2k).

Worried, I was relieved when my DAC-V1 restored my faith and enabled me to properly audition the demo sets in my home system, and whilst the HD600s sounded very good as I was used to, the others were better and especially the Quads.

The OP should hopefully avoid compatibility issues as the Naim headphone amp proves it can cope with a wide range of hard and easy to drive sets, unlike some of its near competition :grinning:.

I agree with Bruce on Grado headphones. I use the ‘limited edition’ Hemp 'phones with my Nait50, which I imagine must be pretty similar to the DAC- V1, and they’re bloody good.

I have a soft spot for Grado too, in general - I also enjoyed their cartridges, but love for the brand is not universal…
I’ll check a few of those suggested. Thanks to all for their help.

Around €500?

If you are prepared to take a punt there are often good s/h or open box ex demo headphones around to save a bit.


Thanks. I can stretch some if I find one I can’t let go…

Twas ever thus!

With Grado definitely try before buying, great headphones but I couldn’t get on with how uncomfortable they were on my head……

My dealer is exactly halfway between home and H, where I have Radiotherapy. I’ll stop by @ the shop tomorrow on the way back and will listen to something.
Reports coming.

BTW - Nobody mentioned Denon…

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