What do you recommend for infrequent use? My Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 ohm are somewhat disappointing, bass light with a distinct “inside the head” sound. Any suggestions up to £400 or so? Sound leakage is not an issue so open back would be ok.

Meze Classic 99 are bass heavy :slight_smile: Too much for my liking actually, but still very good and I find myself using them a lot.

Depends what’s driving them? I’m a big fan of grado headphones and the older senheisere like hd600’s. If it’s just for casual listening and flog to be a hobby then provided you can amp them well hd600 or 650’s would be my choice followed by grado RS2’s on that kind of price range.

If you want that expansive soundstage planars like audeze sound great to but are more money…

If your seriously just wanting a casual listen I’d just get some good Bluetooth phones like the Sony wh1000s or whatever the current version of them is. My other half had some and they sound great…

I spent a long time considering headphones but with the situation earlier in the year couldn’t demo any.

Plenty of people rate the Meze 99 Classics and I just took the plunge.

Personally I love the sound, yes a bit full but I’m happy with that. Detail is v good and compared to B&W P5s I have there is a world of difference.

I have a ifi zen headphone dac and that brings improvement from my Mac and iPhone. I’m considering getting a balanced cable.

My usage is occasional, 1-2 hours max a week and I think for the money they are great value.

Overall, every time I listen through them I am impressed, much more engaging than my main system, mainly because I play that at low levels.

I always think Headphones need to be tested first - fit is everything.
Having said that I have used a pair of Sennheisser Momentum 3s for a few years now.
Bought them to use on planes when doing long haul for their noise cancelling abilities, but they are excellent. Now use them to listen to the F1 & Rugby over bluetooth (so the boss doesn’t have to hear it!)
Sound wise they are very detailed with great bass & just play music. You can pick them up for about £300.


If you have a dedicated HP amp, the AKG 701/702 or Beyer DT250/250 are excellent VFM.
I wouldn’t spend 400 on cans unless good amplified.

The trick is to hear and wear them before decision, thats sometime a challenge.

I recently demo’d 4 pairs and was really surprised at how different they all sounded. Grado SR325e, Meze 99 Classis, Focal Elegia and Quad ERA-1. I came away with the Meze as I felt they were the best value and the closed back came in handy.
I run them off a Chord Mojo, but also tried them on the dealers Atom HE :sunglasses:

It will depend on the headphone amp.

A great sounding, relatively easy to drive set of 'phones are the Hifiman 400i or Sundaras. These will work off a portable too.

Rather less easy to drive, but something of a standard bearer are the Sennheiser HD600s.

Either of these should fall within your budget.


Worth noting that there could be some Black Friday deals around on outgoing models etc in the coming week. Obviously it’s usually more mass-market stuff, but there can be the occasional gem to be found.

I have an Ifi Zen Can headphone amp.

I reckon that for your budget it’s hard to beat the value offered by Hifiman. I have been using a pair of HE400is as my office headphones for a few years now and they’re brilliant - thanks to an easy impedence, they sound great regardless of what they’re plugged into, which is just what I want with this as they see duty on everything from an Apple MacBook Pro to an 80GB iPod Video, to my iPhone all the way up to a Unitiqute and my various DAPs.

I do love the Senn HD600s though. I’ve owned a pair since they were first released 20 odd years ago and while they are not so easy to get the best from, when you find a great match they can be amazing (especially if you can drive them balanced). However, get it wrong and they will underwhelm and disappoint, so nowhere near as universal as the Hifimans.

Beyond the HD600s you’re into the realm of Focal’s lovely 'phones but you’ll need much deeper pockets…

As Clare says above, Black Friday is almost upon us so you could pick up a nice bargain.

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Worth noting that the HD600 are less than stellar when driven by a Uniti device… unless possibly the new Atom HE (which I’ve not heard) but as the OP has a 202, I can attest to them working great off a Rega Ear headphone amp. It’s not expensive. Pairs brilliantly with HD600. And can be upgraded with an after market PSU if desired.

Really wish I’d not given mine away.

I traded my beloved Senn HD650s for AKG K701s due to wanting more involving highs, without the shrillness I experience with other popular brands, especially all Grado models I have tried.

It is true I found the HD650s really benefitted from better amplification, which was not a problem for me.

No regrets five years later.


Tech Radar tested the HD 600 with the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, and was impressed enough to award it a rare ‘Recommended’ award:


There some great out going range of Grado cans that can be had for really good prices at the moment. Admittedly not the most comfortable of phones, but they do sound great, are easy to drive, and built to last. I use a pair of SR325e’s with my SN3 and they really do sound rather excellent.

I have a pair of the SR325e’s (amongst others) and they sound great with my Superuniti and my Marantz 2275. I am in the throes of acquiring an ex demo SN3 and pleased to hear that the Grados sound “rather excellent” with the SN3.

I also have a pair of Grado SR80e’s, which I think are great value; B&W P5’s, which are used for bedtime listening and for travelling; and B&W PX’s, which I haven’t quite got to grips with yet.

Thanks for all the tips and pointers!

Plumped for the HD600s and they sound very good already. You mentioned running them balanced which I can do with the Zen Can, any idea where I could obtain a suitable DIN to 4.4mm balanced plug?

You’ll need a replacement cable. If you’re handy with a soldering iron then you could make your own. You can buy the replacement HD650 cable for under £15 (just as it is this is a worthwhile upgrade over the HD600 cable so well worth getting) and then fit your own balanced plug. Otherwise companies like Custom Cans offer a range of cable solutions. Be warned though that running balanced is not automatically an upgrade and does depend on the device or amp, some performing better single-ended.

I’ve seen the replacement headphone cable advertised, the bit that concerns me is the connection from my NAC202 to the 4.4mm balanced input on the Ifi Zen Can headphone amp. Will this be a bespoke cable? Who could make up such a cable?