General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

Welcome @PastorOfMuppets to the forum. Do you have the HD 6XX right now? What’s your current system (DAC and amp)? I ask because this information will help us to answer your questions with better advice.

You’re entirely right: the usual recommendation is to invest, first and foremost, in the transducer, then the amp, next the DAC, and eventually, once you’ve ascended to a certain, high level, the source. The HD 6XX/650 is tricky, though, because it scales so very much: an HD 6XX out of a totl amp is supposed to sound glorious and can be endgame for some (I’ve not heard such a setup but I can attest to the radical improvement of these headphones with superior amps). The upgrade path for the HD 6XX thus gets complicated by amp and DAC pairings. The Clear, by contrast, don’t necessarily scale as much, but they arguably perform better out of humbler setups.

I’ll defer to others with more experience: the Bifrost 2 is very highly regarded, but my understanding is that it’s slightly on the warm side of neutral, and I’m not sure if pairing it with a warm headphone like the HD 6XX would be an ideal match, although this will, of course, be determined by which amp you’ll be using. The overall system synergy is what matters.

I think you’re on the right lines in considering the Clear and Aeolus to be upgrades to the HD 6XX.

For planars, you might consider the Audeze offerings, with the LCD2-Classic, the LCD2, and the LCD X or else the Dan Clark Audio (formerly Mr Speakers) Aeon, or the HiFiMAN Ananda or Arya (although I don’t recommend HiFiMAN because of its notoriously poor build quality). Full disclosure: I have the LCD2-Classic and am conflicted and ambivalent about it: it’s a great rock headphone, and it’s good for electronic music, but it’s not an all-rounder; acoustic instruments, for instance, won’t sound great on it. I’ve had mine for 10 months now and still can’t decide if I’d like to keep it long-term.

Keep an eye out for Black Friday sales, especially if you’re in the US. I picked up my LCD2-C for $200 less than the retail price last year directly from Audeze.

Finally, you make an interesting point about the upgrade paths, or leaps, for over-ear headphones vs. IEMs. Just a couple of years ago, new over-ear releases in the $500-1000 range, with the Aeon, the LCD2-C, the Elex, among others, generated a lot of excitement precisely because, as you note, there was little else between the affordable and high ends of the market. I have to say I’d found that until very recently, the last year or so, the leap beyond $200-300 IEMs has been even more daunting. There were very few offerings until you got to the $1000+ range, with something like the Campfire Andromeda. Now, it seems, there are quite a few more mid-range options with the Thieaudio, the MEST Mini, the Moondrops, and others. It’s great to see this market open up!

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As already mentioned, please provide your current setup. It wasn’t really clear if you already own the 6XX, Clear, or Aeolus or not? What amp / DAC?

More importantly, what are you wanting to improve upon sonically or in features with future purchases?

Also, the HD650 and 6XX are outliers in that the headphone is almost two decades old.

If a higher MSRP/price helps you determine value (and it shouldn’t), consider that I spent $600 on my HD650 (15+ years ago), and Adjusted for inflation that’s over $800 today.

:thinking: :blush:

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The 600/650/6XX do indeed scale well, but they do have technical limits. They are smooth and slick but not very dynamic. The Clear is on another level for presenting 2nd and 3rd order details and nuances. I like them both and use them both regularly.

I was you a couple years ago. Same musical views, same Black Friday deal, and same mixed feelings. In addition, the treble was piercing and they were extremely uncomfortable on my head and jaw. I rarely used them so I sold them after about a year.

Given that this is a recurring pattern with the LCD-2C, I now wouldn’t recommend them (or HiFiMan). Dan Clark yes.

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The 600/650 price got pressed down by a lot of forces. Product age, competition, and Sennheiser itself needed room for the 800, 800S, and then the 700 and 660. The Mass(Drop) 6XX inadvertently brought the price way down too – it was originally to be limited to 4,000 or 5,000 units – the current sales total is 112,100.

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i haz an hd6xx with a magni 3/modi. using the he4xx on that stack. ifi zen dac in my spare office space, used with an er2xr and fiio fh3. earstudio in my car. fiio btr5 and topping nx4 somewhere around. mdr-v6 in a cabinet somewhere.

Welcome! The “usual” tier upgrades in this range also include the following: HE4XX, HD58X, HD6XX, Sundara, Elegia, Elex, Ananda, and then beyond. If you already own the HE4XX, I could see it still being worthwhile to upgrade to the Elegia/Elex/Ananda rather than jumping all the way to the Aeolus/Clear.

See these current (smashing) deals:


Master of Puppets is an all time great album. Good luck.

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I had tacos al pastor the other night and so I missed, at first, the album reference, the mind instead going to kermit in a tortilla with some pineapple…

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I would have said that a couple years ago. Now I’d say stay with the 600/6XX/650 and upgrade the amp, or just jump to the Clear. I tried HiFiMan, Audeze, Focal Elex and balanced cables/amps too. All the headphones between the 600/650 and Clear have relative flaws and limitations. I spent as much money on work-arounds as on the Clear outright (i.e., <$1,000 street as open box or used).

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An excellent al pastor sometimes has that effect! The kermit with some pineapple is a reasonable association.

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I could see that and good point on relative flaws/limitations in this range, although I’m not sure if I’d personally go from the HE4XX to the 600 series if I already had the 4XX in hand. It might depend on the ultimate intended can and chain in the short and long term.

@PastorOfMuppets has both the 6XX and 4XX in hand:

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Ah, thanks for pointing that out. I hate it when I miss the fine print. I’ll assume haz is current tense, not past tense – in which case I’d agree with your suggestion(s). It’s a similar path that I took/evaluated in going from the HD650/HD6XX to the ZMF Eikon.

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it’s not easy being salsa verde

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Nice. I also prefer salsa verde and Thai green curry over the other types.

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Hello everyone,
My question regards comfort and heat build up inside the ear pads of closed back headphones. I am looking at either the Focal Eligia or the Sony MDR-Z7m2 or the Sony Z1R. Unfortunately I do not have a store near me to try them. I have some old Sennheiser phones and noticed how hot and clammy the area around my ears became and they started to feel heavy. This became a problem after about 10 mins.
Will this condition be the same with those models I am interested in?
Thanks for any advice.

I found the Elegia clamp pressure to be a touch much, especially after longer sessions.

For comfort in my closed cans, I’ve pretty much stuck to my Mr. Speakers (Dan Clark Audio) MASSDROP Ether CX. I find them to be comfortable.

I can’t speak to those particular cans, but I find suede/velour pad contact on skin to be more comfortable than leather/lambskin - and may help address the hot and clammy issue.

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Peoples,

Been reading about headphone tube amps, and the general note I have seen is that in order to enjoy the tube amp you need “hard to drive” headphones. So can you confirm that “hard to drive” are going to give me a better tube experience? I have found my current headphones (Drop HD58x @ 150 Ω, Focal Elegia @ 35 Ω, HIFIMAN Ananda @ 25 Ω) max out with very little volume, and can get harsh if I push it.

Can someone explain how I determine if a headphone is hard to drive? Is it specifically the impedance? I know I have seen that the HD600/650/6XX/800s are considered hard to drive at 300 Ω. Does that mean the Focal Clear are easy to drive at 55 Ω? What other headphones are “hard to drive”? I am looking for something < $2,000.

Thanks!

Edit: Just realized I don’t think I ever tried the HD6XX on my existing tube amp. They are 150 Ω so might be able to handle the tube amp output better. There is no switchable impedance on my tube amp :frowning:

I’m not an expert but to get the ball rolling, from what I read it’s not a matter of easy to drive or hard to drive.

The critical issue is that the amp and headphone are a proper match electrically. In other words, for a given headphone there are amps that will work well and amps that are not a good match.

Let’s see what the tube amp folks have to say.

Hard to drive? HiFiMan HE6se or Susvara 83.6db spl. You’ll need at least two watts of amp power to drive them correctly.

My tubed headphones run everything else pretty well. Know the specs of the amp and the headphones before you acquire them. I use my headamp GSX-mini for those hungry ones.

The tubed headphone amps I have are from ampsandsound. One has an 8/300 ohm option, the other a 32/300 ohm option. The New Kenzie Ovation has a five headphone impedance matching option.