A different headphone for every situation?

I was wondering what you guys think are the best headphones for different situations, like listening to music, watching movies, gaming and maybe other things too.

Perhaps you even have several favorites within each category, like music: one pair for classical/jazz and one pair for rock/metal or gaming: one pair for competitive gaming and one pair for immersive single-players.

Either way, I’d love to hear what your favorites are and why :slight_smile:


I think that it would drive me crazy. I’ve relied upon the maxim;KISS-Keep It Simple Stupid. Life is too complicated for different headphones for different music. I’ve had the Sennheiser HD 600’s for years. Unless I can find a way that a headphone(or and amplifier or a music source( will be soooo much better,I will stick with my present combo.


To use a car analogy, the HD 600 is kind of like the Honda Accord of the headphone world. It’s well engineered and reliable, it does pretty much everything you need a headphone to do and in the right trim it’s even got a bit of excitement (more than say a Camry). When you go beyond that in price, you start to get into more specialized stuff that excels in one area but has quirks that limit it in other ways. Like you could get a Toyota Land Cruiser which has amazing off-road capability and massive cargo capacity, but isn’t much fun to drive on regular roads, or you could get a Porsche Boxster which is fast and fun but not so useful when you need to pick up gardening supplies at the hardware store and has no chance of going off road.

Once you get into more specialized vehicles, it becomes tempting to keep multiple of them, so maybe you buy the Land Cruiser for the weekday commute and the Boxster for weekends and dates with the missus. But of course the Land Cruiser isn’t so great for the commute because the fuel consumption is horrible and driving something that big can be awkward in town. Plus, when was the last time you actually went off road? And the hardware store rents trucks at $20 an hour for when you buy something really big, and in truth you wouldn’t throw rocks or dirt in that immaculate leather interior anyway. And the missus doesn’t actually like going on dates with the top down in the Boxster because it messes up her hair. Oh, and now that you have multiple cars, you need to make space for them in the garage, not to mention pay insurance for all of them. Eventually you find yourself kind of missing your old Accord and wonder if maybe you shouldn’t have just kept that…

On the other hand, maybe you’re Jay Leno and you’re just really into cars and have the means to collect and work on a bunch of them, and it brings you joy.


I’ve had a set of HD-600s for years, and previously approached headphones much like you describe. Then, I tried higher priced headphones and reversed my views. Headphones are ultimately too simple for the specialty car analogy. To an extent you do indeed get what you pay for, but you must sort through the marketing hype and reviews from people with different tastes.

My usage varies by situation type, and I use the best quality headphones possible:

  1. Quiet, organized, sedentary location: my best full-sized open
  2. Noisy, organized, sedentary location: my best full-sized closed or semi-open
  3. Long-term noisy environment (e.g., airplane): noise cancelling closed
  4. Lots of movement/exercise/heat: Bluetooth IEMs

There are a few exceptions: with bright sources I’d choose warm headphones, and conversely, I’d choose bright headphones (e.g., Grado) for a few sources and genres. However, 90% of the time I want the cleanest, widest sound profile available.

My Focal Elex are better than the HD-600s in pretty most every way (they are heavier, but have less of an uncomfortable “clamp”). They reveal more source flaws, but offer a more pleasant profile overall. And the (sometimes harsh/fatiguing) HD-600s now sit in a drawer most of the time.


I personally moved past the HD 600 as well and have since gifted them to my brother-in-law. To strain the car analogy even further, if my HD 600 is an Accord, my LCD2C is a Lexus sedan. I can use it for all the same stuff, but it’s nicer in almost every way.


I admit… I am at the Honda Accord of Headphones. But it is really difficult to compare in today’s marketplace.


Great question. Also, when to use the headphones versus when to listen to speakers - in my case, comes down to my specific mood.

All of my headphones are Open, except for a set of noise cancellers and a set of IEMs…comfort is a paramount issue for me. I am breaking in a new set of Audioquest Nighthawk Carbons…liking them thusfar for different types of music.


I don 't feel the need to swap headphones too much, but I do have an open back, a closed back and a pair of IEM’s for commuting. So I guess there is 1 for every occasion.


I keep three fundamental groups of headphones, each of which fits a broad category of uses. There’s the open-back stuff when I want the best performance, the closed-back units for when I need isolation (usually just listening in bed), and IEMs (and similar) for mobile/portable use.

I only use headphones/IEMs for listening to music (and the occasional audio book when walking).

For gaming and movies I only use speakers…

And my selection of headphones in each category is down to finding a) a primary headphone of that type that performs the best, overall, for the widest possible band of genres and then b) adding alternatives for different flavors and to exploit their specific strengths with particular styles of music.

So, for example, among my open-back headphones the best “single” or “overall” headphone I know of is the Focal Utopia. To that I’ve added an LCD-4, which is primarily used for female jazz recordings, and other very intimate productions. I have the Abyss AB-1266 Phi for larger scale productions, music with heavy fast bass/sub-bass elements, and when I want some added “excitement”. And HD800S for raw resolution, stage, and transient performance with very fast, progressive or complex music (e.g. full orchestral works/classical pieces).

The HD650/HD6XX and HD660S are kept mostly for comparison purposes/review references and for use in determining system synergy amid components at different price points.


I am a bit of a collector but not to too much of an excess. Compared with some I have a relatively small assortment. I have a set of AKG 550 mkII closed back. For open over ears I have the HD650 and HD800. As for in ear I have around 10 pairs which include Shure se846 and Campfire Andromeda these get the most ear time in my in ear rotation. As you can see there’s a bright and a darker set with my over ears and iem pairs. A good contrast I feel as it covers most bases.

Although I don’t sit there swapping them over time and time again. I will pick up the set I feel will go well with the genre. But to be honest all music sounds pretty damn good through these quality headphones/iem’s.


My answer to your question:
For gaming its usually the HD700, easy to drive from a sound card and one of the most comfortable.
TV/movies its usually a HD6XX out of HT receiver since my old Sony EX receiver seems to have good synergy with higher impedance headphones.

I do have a variety of headphones (dynamic, planar, e-stat) but since they all sound different I tend to listen to what every genre I have on at the time with what ever headphone I think might give it a good presentation but I will also grab a few other (2-3) different sounding headphone at the same time and swap back and forth between them during a listening session since I then get to enjoy a song presented in a unique manner by each.


Since I started tube rolling with the Lyr 2, I’ve started making notes of what headphones sound good with what tubes. I listen almost entirely to classical music so YMMV.

The very best combos I’ve found so far are, in rough order:
Foton early 1960s triple mica 6N3P with HE-560
Telefunken E188CC with HD600
GE 5670 triple mica Five Star with HD650
Tesla 6CC42 pinched waist with Focal Elear
Ken-Rad 6C8G with T1.2

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So my wife has a Rogue, but wants an Infiniti QX50 with all the options.

What headphone should I get her?


I concur.

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Whatever the general wants

I’m kind of a simple guy. My choices are getting iem and open back headphones. After careful research and trialing them when I get them, I decide if they are what I like. If not I send them back. That’s why research and the valuable info this forum are integral parts of my purchases.

Oh! Did I mention, I continue to keep an eye out to start this journey all over again. It’s a very tiresome chore looking for the “Holy Grail” , but it sure is fun.

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Definitely a Mazda CX 9

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Well, she does use her car as a headphone. I drive an Infiniti Q50S (License plate “AN BEYND”) and she got to try the QX50 when I got one as a loaner. The Mazda looks a bit larger, maybe QX70 sized.

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Avoiding the car analogy because it’s too far away…when it comes to ‘clothing’ audio consider the personality. My wife won’t be seen in public with any headphones at all. Small and discreet or nothing. Her fleet ranges from in-ear Bluetooth, neck-cord Bluetooth, to a very cheap set of earbuds with panda bears on them.

I gave her two sets of my bulky BA IEMs to try, and she appreciates the quality but doesn’t care enough to use them in public. Around the house she’ll use my headphones from time to time and absolutely hears the differences. She happens to prefer brighter, cleaner stuff like Grado and HE-560s (for classical music mostly). The HE-560s are fantastic with classical.

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I’m certainly a collector and reviewing doesn’t help as more cans in the collection means more relevant points of reference for comparisons and impressions

But like @Torq I also observe the 3 basic categories

Open back for the best quality
Closed Back for the Isolation First then Quality
An Smaller/Lighter Stuff for Portable use

Though my everything headphones would be as follows

HD 800 for an Open Back
Eikon for my Closed Back
An my Modded Audio Technica ES10 for a portable - I’m still looking for something “stock” that betters my ES10. An while I really liked the Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Closed… it has some challenges in terms of use and overall portability that the ES10 best it at

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