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

Appreciate the suggestions. The amp I was originally looking at, the Z10e, is capable of playing both. It seemingly checks a lot of boxes. So, I’m not limited to one vs the other.

I’m sorry, but what??

I said in my last post, “I know that no one can tell me what to buy and be 100% guaranteed to be accurate, and that’s absolutely not what I’m asking anyone to do.”.

I was simply hoping to have a discussion and ask about a few things. I thought this was a forum for that. I don’t see how I was asking you to spoon feed me anything. Additionally, I stepped away after my first post, and after returning, started typing a reply. Then, got pulled again, and completely forgot to reply to yours specifically and unintentionally.

Finally, I don’t understand why you’d insulate that I’m privileged and exploiting hobbyists. I started a company from nothing, and built it up, working my ass off, created lots of jobs, etc. Nothing about what I’ve done with my life has been from being privileged. I’ve only come in to this forum with respect, but I’m quickly starting to find that maybe I’m in the wrong place. I didn’t think I’d expect this type of response from this anyone in this community, and my lack of specific reply to you, or anyone else, wasn’t intentional.

Also, as a follow up, I happened to email headphones.com last night (in addition to another), and headphones.com was super respectful and nice. That’s completely unlike my experience with the other.

Hey everyone, friendly moderator here with a reminder that this place is in about tone in more ways than one.

I see a simple misunderstanding here that I’d like us to move past before things have to get more…moderated.

Many thanks!

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I would not recommend the Z10E. Most people who know estat also wouldn’t recommend it.

I would also not recommend going estat as your first foray into headphones imo, I think it might be too niche and better to experience a TOTL planar or dynamic instead. Estat is very divisive among the community.

There are many great threads here, I agree with another recommendation to look at Torqs Top 10 list for headphones, DACs, and amps. There are mostly threads on all of them in this forum, you can go on and read through, as there is lots of valuable information in there and you can start to triangulate your own idea on what you think you want.

Even that CRBN + Z10E you linked is $10k, but you still need a DAC so that will probably bump your cost up to $15K if you want a higher end dac.

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Thanks so much for this feedback! I am happy to hear this amp isn’t recommended as I haven’t been able to find anything to indicate this based on the few reviews I was able to find. In speaking w/ the dealer I was speaking with, they recommended the BHSE, and from what I’m reading, it seems like it’s pretty amazing.

Additionally, I appreciate the feedback on electrostatic vs planar. I hadn’t heard this, and will look to research more about this. I am not really sure where to start, but will start exploring this. However, the dealer seems to have an incredible return policy, so in some sense, I might be able to explore this a bit.

RE price, I had expected to be over $10k+ w/ that bundle and a DAC. I just haven’t locked down a DAC yet, so it’s up in the air. I was looking at the Chord Qutest, but I want something I can stream to if needed (but, I do have a ton of devices that could be setup for this, or a raspberry pi would work).

Pardon.

I’ve noticed a trend of people coming in, “flexing”, asking for purchase advice, then crapping all over that advice and the people who gave it, then playing victim and abusing return policies when nothing sounded good enough, kicking up a ton of drama in the process. I read your post, got triggered and directed my angst at you.

Perhaps you could talk to Taron or his staff at headphones.com. They’ve more than earned my trust and business, and I’m sure you’ll find the same.

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Thanks for this. So, funny enough, Torq is the one that wrote the raving reviews about the CRBN’s, and based on that, and from what I can tell of his incredible experience in this community, it was enough to push me to want to try them. However, I didn’t know he had another list. But when he spoke a few days ago about the CRBN’s, he placed them at the top IIRC.

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Appreciate the clarity. I tried to apologize for the perception of flexing, it wasn’t my intent. I had hoped to convey that I was serious about this type of hobby (as, in many home theater groups in in, many people aren’t), and had hoped that explaining that I have invested a lot into home audio would indicate that I am not just a kid kicking a can, but someone that has a history of deeply engaging with high end audio, is passionate about it, and really care about the hobby. But, with all things online, it’s likely that it could be read and perceived quite differently.

Moving forward, I had reached out to two dealers last night, and another rep from headphones.com replied back in a very helpful and respectful manner. The other one treated me with disrespect like they couldn’t be bothered with me and have lost all future business. At this point, I’ve been very happy with headphones.com, and will continue to engage with them.

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There is always a newness factor, even for people like @Torq. When the RAAL Requisite’s came out there was a honeymoon period also. Others have had honeymoon effect with Rosson when it came out, and the whole forum seems in love with ZMF Verite Open, which I’ve not heard. Not in a good location for high end stores or CanJam attendance.

Additionally, as others have pointed out there is a synergy question, which can be particularly noticeable with high end headphones and electrostatics in particular. Torq recently has been comparing the BHSE and a KGSS HV Carbon CC from Mjolnir with the CRBN and STAX headphones.

I can’t address your TOTL questions because I have not yet decided to go TOTL. My view from a tier or so down is very favorable to electrostatics (I have the Nectar Hive) and a range of other headphones. As said before, electrostatics can divide the community, but I suspect that in many cases it is a synergy question.

Welcome to the forum.

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So, I completely agree with what you’re saying, and tried to explain that in my 2nd post (the really long one) above. I’m hoping to find patters in feedback, and based on those, trust that I’m making a good decision. Maybe it won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t have to. I absolutely hate analysis paralysis.

Furthermore, YES, you hit the nail on the head regarding my thinking here… I might make a mistake, but it’ll be a great way to learn more about what I like and dislike over an extended period of time. And, I can’t imagine that there’d be anything that I would dislike so much that I wouldn’t want to use (or be blown away by). Not at this level. I’m literally coming from a set of Apple AirPod Max’s. And, for their use, they’re fantastic. But, I have no illusions about their audio reproductions capabilities. And that said, I’d still buy them again if needed. There’s nothing better for traveling IMO.

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Thanks for the feedback. I had no idea, before 30 min ago, that there was a significant divide regarding the electrostatics. And, I wonder how the CRBN’s would fall into this considering that (from what I’ve read from Torq) they have low end that competes with the LCD-4’s (which seems to be well regarded in that area).

Do you have any personal feedback you can share as to why you like electrostatics (and what might be the main reason others don’t)?

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That’s why I have my own Maxes. Perfect for the plane.

What may be the latest and greatest does not equate to the best, there is a lot of energy/noise around new products, for example the CRBN you have fixated on. It is so new that folks who ordered them only received them in the last few weeks, and/or they heard them at SoCal Canjam two weeks ago. I have no idea how the CRBN is, nor am I dissuading you from your primary choice. It is important to keep in perspective there is always something that new and shiny and everyone raves about it, then the collective find another item to swoon over.

As someone who is about a year+ into this lovely hobby we share, you will make mistakes, you will dislike certain combos, and there is no magic bullet. If you ask 10 different people on here what they think is the best, you are likely to receive 10 different responses.

There is an ample amount of folks who have heard a lot of headphones, amps, and DACs and there is likely very few who will agree on the same setup chain. This is important to keep in mind as you research and explore options, it is important to read what you can within previous posts and not necessarily this thread as it can be very broad. You will see folks explain the why behind what they like, and what they don’t like, you will read professional and semi-professional reviewers too, and you may come across a few posts by jack-asses like myself.

One important question, what do you value when listening to your music? Share these values, and it may help folks guide you along the right path. There is no set package, there will be regrets, there will be mistakes, and if you are lucky you may get to that point of musical bliss.

EDIT: Please be considerate, don’t use generous return policies to demo equipment. I say this because it has been dropped a few times, many may disagree and that is their prerogative.

If one can afford to play, then one should be ready to pay

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Yeah, all true…but think of what’s happening to the audio hobby more broadly. The newbies who ask questions on this or another forum reflect maybe 2% or 5% of all newbies. Those who are not communicative and/or aggressive about entry into the hobby likely end up with weird, unsuitable, low-quality, or overpriced equipment and not even know it. Many mediocre vendors survive through marketing, and by exploiting first-time buyers. Those who come in and vocalize strong opinions sometimes prove to not be worth the time, but others do listen and learn. You can’t always tell in advance. All of these discussions can serve as case studies for the 95% who lurk, read the exchanges, never create an account, and then use what they learned to buy appropriate stuff.

I’m Mr. Brightside today.

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This is why rushing into this is a bad idea, as is purchasing based on one person’s experiences. As already mentioned, e-stats can be divisive, so I recommend finding a Stax dealer and demoing something (another well regarded e-stat manufacturer). You can have all of the money to invest in this hobby, but if you don’t actually put in the time, you won’t achieve success.

Try finding some of these headphones and listening to get a baseline for what you like. I realize some cannot be found easily, but if you’re friendly with the forum members, perhaps someone will invite you over for a listen. There are also tours to partake in, as well as meets (CanJam being the largest).
Good luck!

  • Focal Utopia
  • Audeze LCD-4 and LCD-5
  • ZMF Verite
  • Stax SR-009S
  • Rosson Audio RAD-0
  • Hifiman Susvara
  • Hedd Audio Heddphone
  • Sennheiser HD 800S
  • Final Audio D8000 Pro
  • Meze Elite
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Qualitatively, the CRBN have better bass than the LCD-4. In fact, they beat every other headphone I’ve heard in that regard, excepting perhaps the HE-1. And the CRBN are on par with/ahead of the LCD-4 for impact/slam.

Quantitatively (i.e. in terms of level), they’re neutral - so you’ll need to EQ the bass level up if you want it at the same level, relative to the rest of the frequency spectrum, as you’d get with an LCD-4.


As for the Z10e … unless you’re going to regularly use all of its functionality (i.e. drive speakers, as well as both conventional and electrostatic headphones) and/or must have a single unit to do so, and really want tubes involved in all of that … then if it was me I’d pass on it.

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Which amp(s) would you recommend in that case?

Alright, I’m going to throw this out there.

I thought that the Moondrop Blessing 2 would be my endgame IEM. It’s very good, and it’s better than the other IEMs I have tried. However, I feel like there’s still something missing when I compare it to my beloved HD660S headphones, even on the same source gear. In short, the Blessing 2 feels dry and clinical by comparison, and I feel myself wanting more fullness, lushness, and presence.

But maybe what I want doesn’t exist at this price point? If I just had to stick with the Blessing 2 I don’t think that would be terrible because it’s obviously an excellent IEM. But I have this itch to see if there’s something I would like more. I also found the Sundara too clinical and lifeless, for example, and I fear I have the same problem with the Blessing 2.

I also like the HD650 when I want something more relaxed than the 660S. The HD6X0 series is basically my goal sound, and I’d like something ideally for $350 or less.

Right now I’m considering:

  • Fiio FD5 – my main concern here is that it’s semi-open and won’t shut out noise as well and the whole point of an IEM for me is that I can walk around with it (at my desk I can just use the 660S).
  • 7hz Timeless – this gets amazing reviews, but I’m concerned the planer sound here would disappoint me the same way the Sundara’s did
  • O2 – might do the job since it’s a single DD like the HD series. I hate hate hate the angel logo on it, but I suppose that’s minor in the grand scheme of things and I could cover it up.
  • Dunu Falcon Pro
  • Etymotic Research ER3SE – maybe?

Any other suggestions of what I could try?

IEMs I’ve tried before and thought were inferior to the Blessing 2:

  • Mangird Tea
  • Fiio FH5
  • Campfire Honeydew (I did like the impact and warmth of these, but the fit was not great and the bass could be a bit much on some tracks)
  • Ikko OH10
  • Moondrop Aria
  • Blon BL03

Give a try to Sennheiser IE 300.
I love my HD660s too and while the IE300 are a portable solution I feel very satisfied with them.
Consider tough I’m far from being an IEM expert.
The IE 300 satisfied my needs for mobility and they’re not crazy expensive.
Great bass and good highs (with Sennheiser’s soft inserts with foam).

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