Note: Aussie buyer. Not keen on overseas purchases due to very weak AU dollar and warranty/return concerns. The deal would have to be exceptional to even consider it.
Since I don’t have access to brick and mortar stores to actually try out headphones I’ve earmarked, I have to rely on reviews. Given that sound is so subjective and can vary wildly from person to person, it’s honestly been a frustrating experience trying to narrow it down. For every review I read or watched that I thought finally sealed the deal, I’d hear or read something from others to put me off again.
My price range is $1000-$1200 for the headphones. I have already decided on the Element II ($700) as the DAC/amp combo as it seems to measure well and, according to reviewers I trust, will power mostly anything that isn’t very high end which I’m not going for anyway. I don’t need a highly versatile unit as this will purely be used for headphones for use on a computer, though if you have other suggestions for something else you consider better around this price range, I’d be happy to hear it.
I like to listen to rock, alternative, classical, some modern music, soundtracks (so instrumental/orchestral) and movies.
To give you an idea of my very underwhelming headphones to date and an idea of my tastes, I recently got rid of the 990 pro (256ohm version) as I found it to be a very flat, boring headphone but this could have been to it being under-powered. My current M50x’s I find mostly agreeable even though they are seemingly panned in circles like these. I lean towards more dynamic, bass-leaning (but not unclean or distorted; I found Beats to be awful) cans, and am not particularly sensitive to bright cans (I didn’t find the 990 unbearably bright or anything like that).
In short, I’m preferences are probably close to the Harman curve.
I was initially drawn to Planar headphones (like the Hifiman XS) but have heard they’re not the most dynamic (at least in my price range) or bass-leaning. From everything I’ve heard or read, they’re more clean, balanced and seemingly geared towards neutrality. I like a lot of things I’ve heard about them such as their soundstage, detail and not a very forward/shouty sound etc but still my tastes hold me back on biting the bullet. Audeze options at my price point seem more agreeable than anything from Hifiman, but they all seem to require EQ and every review I’ve read/watched on them seem to have a lot of criticism for tonal/balance qualities before EQ.
Given the above, it might seem odd that I was seriously considering the DT 1990 Pro. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and don’t think the brightness would be overly concerning to me, but haven’t heard as much about its dynamics or bass that I would like. The 1770 Pro would seem more like my taste, but that DMS review really put me off them. Bass is good, but not enough to completely upset the balance of everything else.
In terms of price, at the top end I was considering the Focal Clear (on sale @ $1450, but still consider it difficult to pull the trigger on something that expensive that I’ve never heard) and on the lower end would be the Hifiman Sundara.
Any help or suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks all _b