If You had to Choose Just One

Monogamy. Some species are happy, mate for life, and never look around, like lovebirds.
Then there are the bonobos. They’ll try anything, not just once, but all the time.

Audiophiles seem to be more bonobo than lovebird. But what if were a lovebird, what would you choose? Source excluded, chain - DAC, AMP, cable, and of course the one device that produces the sound for your ear. Not speakers. Headphone, IEM, or other extreme nearfield source.

Post your thoughts and choice for one and only love here.

I’m leaving the beach today. Was here for a work meeting. Ocean City, MD. It’s been beautiful.

Sitting on the balcony, I connected the L&P W4 DAC/AMP to my iPhone, a silver Hart Audio Cable to my Audeze LCDi4 sort of IEMs, and was astonished all over again at how good they sound. I use foam tips, they stay in fine, yeah they’re weird, bigger than a regular IEM, but they have soundstage and bass. But they travel, are lightweight, and with the Cypher cable that comes with them can even be used to take calls.

I don’t know, but I could live with these if I couldn’t have anything else.
But take a walk on the beach, and you sort of envy the bonobos.


Honestly, my wife, even after all these years…


You’re touching on a topic that I’ve been thinking about seriously since a phone call last week with my headphone dealer, who is now a good friend.

I mean, if someone is called an “audiophile bonobo”, I’d certainly be in the front row as a member. :joy:

It occurred to me: what exactly is an excellent pair of headphones, earphones or speakers?

The “best of the best”, so to speak.

There are countless, sometimes exorbitantly expensive devices on the market that try to outdo each other in terms of technology.

But are they really the best? :person_shrugging:

I thought about which of my pairings I just can’t get out of my head, makes me lose track of time, costs me sleep because I want to hear the next song and then another and another…, doesn’t overwhelm me even after hours of listening sessions because everything sounds smooth and nothing bothers me, offers balanced tonal satisfaction across genres, has the necessary comfort to feel good, makes me think about enjoying this combo again as soon as possible.

And I actually landed relatively quickly on a pairing that I had a lot of fun with lately and that I would definitely use a lot in the future, because of its ease of use and all the attributes I mentioned above.

Namely the following:

If I could only bark one pairing, this would probably be my choice.


But since all of this is only hypothetical,



I will probably continue to search restlessly for the holy grail of sonic fulfillment.

:innocent: :wink:



We all do, we all do. One day :purple_heart:

If I had to commit to a partner like crows do, my pick would be my HEDDphone Two.
I had other close calls with different headphones, but when I tried the Two at Canjam London 2023, my first reaction was “don’t care how much, I need them in my life”

The only other headphone which caused a similar reaction so far was the susvara.

And the mojo 2 is an excellent choice I also have to agree with. It’s a WOW device, if you get past the weird controls.
(Wish I could throw some of my own images into the post too, but for some reason the website keeps rejecting every attempt at uploading an image :sweat:)


Oh wow! I didn’t know you could get Meze Empyrean II in colors! :heart_eyes:

Tough choice for me. My immediate response is my Focal Clear with Schiit Lyr+. It’s just such a nice all-rounder combo.

But then I start thinking about leaving behind my Sennheiser HD 800 S and Schiit Folkvangr. :cry:

Nope. Nope. It’s the Focal Clear. Sometimes I just gotta have dat phat bass punch!


I don’t even own a pair right now, but if I had to have only one, personally it would be Verite Opens. I keep coming back to them. They’re like a nice warm ear blanket. And I’m a planar fan for the most part.


Nor did I, but I was able to find this after some searching:

Still not sure whether Lothar’s are Emp, Emp II, or Elite. They’re special, though. So, what’s the story, @Lothar_Wolf ?

There are currently exactly 3 Ltd. Editions of the Emphy 2 in the portfolio.

Since I have a good connection to Meze’s European distribution partner, I was able to secure the Sunset Boulevard model at a reasonable price.

Then there is the Dark Mystery:

and The White:


All three models are also available as Elite.


The Phoenix is ​​not yet available in the Emphy 2 version, that would be too expensive anyway, as it was actually hand-painted by a Japanese artist, so these models are all unique.

However, there will probably be an LTD. Edition by this artist for the Emphy 2 soon.

We’ll see.


If I could only have one, the it would involve a lot of compromise. It wouldn’t actually be my favourite or the best at anything in particular.

My preference is Speakers > Headphones > IEMs

However, you said no speakers and as much as I prefer headphones, it is just too hot here for headphones in summer. I also travel a lot and with all the stuff I end up needing to take with me, headphones take up too much space.

So that leaves me with IEMs…

I have sets of IEMs that I prefer for certain things, those that I feel are “best” at something (out of the ones I have tried of course), but I really don’t think I would pick any of them as a “only” set. I listen to so many variations of music that I would aim more for a “jack of all trades, master of none”.

So I need:

  • Something comfortable for many hours

  • Something that I can wear in public without worrying about them looking expensive (even if they are not) because I travel to a lot of port cities which are many times not the nicest of areas

  • Something that doesn’t irritate me with badly recorded music but also does justice to well recorded music

  • Something that I can throw in a bag and not worry about losing or damaging it, basically not too expensive and not irreplaceable

So, considering all those factors (plus the fact that I am not willing to just have some TWS), from what I own (and have heard) I would probably pick the Sennheiser IE600.

As far as source, I would need it to meet the same criteria as the IEMs, along with not being too large. I discard DAPs because they take up space that is already at a premium. I also discard the Gryphon, as much as I love it, for the same reason.

I would pick a dongle and out of the ones I have tried, it would either be the Questyle M15 or the Aune Yuki. I like both but with the IE600, I would probably go with the M15.

That leaves just the cable, which I am not too fussy about, as long as it is decent. I would like a cable that is not too thick, is not rubbery and is not the same cost as both devices chosen above. The problem is finding one that fits with the IE600 (due to those stupid mmcx connectors). Seeing that I am saving so much by cutting back on gear, I would probably go for something custom made (and break my cost rule), if possible by Viking Weave 'cos they are great guys and make great cables.

That was a lot of thinking out loud (or typing while thinking) and it has brought me to a conclusion that I wouldn’t have guessed.

Phone/Tablet/PC > Questyle M15 > Sennheiser IE600

However, I reserve the right to change all of that to a Cayin N7 + Storm (if I ever get to hear Storm and win the lottery :wink: )


Yep, good choice :fist_right: :fist_left: :+1:


Thanks. I could find these at the Headphone.Shop, but not in the Meze site store or the usual U.S. sites. Maybe they’re special limited editions for Europe?

:+1: Nice to know people like that.

Precisely. I generally prefer speakers too. It gets hot here, and humid. So I understand the issue with headphones. That’s why my compromise is sort of an IEM, although with the size of the planar drivers, most people don’t consider it a true IEM. But that is at least part of what gives it soundstage unlike most in ears.

1 Like

I am seriously considering these IF they are Empyrean 2, but the Headphone.shop lists them as “Empyrean Sunset Boulevard”.

@Lothar_Wolf can you confirm they are the newer Empyrean 2 based? Thanks in advance.

I know it is pretty boring, but for me it is the Focal Utopia OG


My speakers would be my first choice but since that’s not allowed, headphones it is.

Ignoring transportable requirements since I do 99% of my listening at home, it would easily be Susvara.
For the chain driving it - my current is the best I’ve heard Sus with (Lampizator Poseidon DAC, Riviera Levante amping from the speakers taps in the back).
For cable - must be DHC Chimera.

If it has to be something I can take with me - probably Woo Tube Mini and Diana MR with a Chimera Mini cable (or the new DZ although I don’t have enough time with it yet to replace MR as my pick).

I have a mojo2/poly combo incoming and a Mest MK2 to use with it, might be an IEM option but this was bought blind.

Si, yes, ja, hai……. :+1:

1 Like

If I could only pick one, it would definitely be an IEM.

I think I would take the IE900 as my first pick if I could use EQ.

If I couldn’t it would be the Moondrop Kato.

I have a few expensive IEM’S like the Elysian Diva 2023, Volur, Monarch mk3, Blessing 3, IE600 etc and I always come back to the Moondrop Kato or the IE900.

Kato for its punch and fun sounding with no eq needed and the IE900 for its bass texture (problably best bass in any headphone or IEM for me) and its detail even after EQ.


There are different versions available to different regions. The LTD editions for North America sold through quite some time ago, unsure if any vendors still have stock kicking around. We used to have an Empy 1 Phoenix that we would bring to CanJams but I believe it was sold to a lucky Craigslist buyer last year.

Interesting thread opener. Many directions could be taken.
But I’ll stay on topic.

My one and only? Well, at this time it has to be my one and only, as that it is all I now have indicates I like it more than what came before.

Dac/Amp: iFi xDSD Gryphon
Cable(s): Effect Audio Fusion 1 and Code 23
Inear: Sennheiser IE900

Wonderful cases came with each of the two Effect Audio cables and one of them accommodates both cables and the IE900s, the other accomodates the Gryphon. There is also room for a couple of usbc cables and several additional pairs of ear tips.

The one sonic issue I had with the IE900s has been easily remedied. The PEQ in JRiver Media Center (Macbook Pro) and in dbPoweramp Player (android phone) has two different PEQ options entered. So between the choice of cables and choice of EQ or of no EQ, I am ready to tune my portable auditory/emotional enmeshment to genre and my mood.

I could go into detail of how wonderful these two iem cables are, one pure copper to the max, the other technical detail, realistic natural timbre and smooth through the whole frequency range courtesy of copper, silver & gold in a unique cable architecture. And they both have options for both terminations including the Senns proprietary MCMX.

This combo was specifically chosen to be able to take high quality audio with me when I travel and has turned out to be what I default to for headfi listening to at home too. Especially in the summer when the tubes in my two channel amp and pre-amp pump not only great audio but heat into the room. Great for winter when at home, headfi rests.

1 Like

You can use EQ. You’re on the right track trying to settle on one for everything. The Bobobos are wanting one love for home and one for travel. Probably one for north and one for south. That’s not the question.

There are many headphones I love more than the ultra portable Audeze LCDi4. But an e-stat for everything and nothing else? Or my Auteur Classics with the OTL amp?

As Seuss would say “No no no no no, a stationary setup is not how to go. You might want to move, to boogie and groove, to go to the beach and that cord just won’t reach.”


Choosing just one from everything I own would be extremely difficult. Practicality would have to be the deciding factor in this decision, so one my least expensive pieces of kit would have to be my choice: Apple AirPod Pro 2. I can use them anywhere, they work with almost everything, and they don’t require an expensive source to sound good.

Honorable mention would be my least costly “audiophile” headphone: Sennheiser HD 600. I keep coming back to this thing and am still amazed at how good it is - whether compared to Audeze, Meze or Focal, it still impresses. It sounds great with almost everything, but I’d probably drive it with the JDS Labs Element III MK2.

But, since I’d be chained to a desk while listening to the HD 600 and I have to choose just one, I think the APP2 is my default choice.

Wow…I just both shocked and amazed myself.

P.S The true deciding factor is that I cannot take an Empyrean II, LCD-X, Focal Clear or HD 600 to the gym, outside when doing yard work or going for walk/run, to work, while I travel, etc. APP2 gets 70% of my ear time, so that’s gotta be the one.