New to headphones, need advice

I am looking for advice on my first good set of headphones. I have a good pair of IEMs Campfire Orions which are great when I am mobile but I would like a set of comfortable headphones for relaxed listening. I have a budget of $1000.00 but am not sure of what type would be good for me. Any advice is appreciated

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First, a bit more info on what “relaxed listening” is for you. Do you have a preferred sound signature? What kind of music will you be listening to? By “relaxed” do you mean laid back and gentle (vs. analytical and detailed)? Preference or need for Open-back or closed-back? SO MUCH good stuff under $1000, but it’s individual tastes and preferences that bring aural happiness. Do you have a local spot that will let you auditio headphones?


You say your first “good” set of headphones. What do you have currently that you don’t consider “good”? What do you like or dislike about them?

Relaxed listening… Do you need portability if not mobility? Will you be streaming, or plugging into some non-mobile home stereo or theater? What music do you like?

As @tonyfromchicago says, there is a lot out there. And the choice may be more than simply headphones - you might want or need a headphone amplifier or a DAC. Or you might not, depending on your choices.

What you WON’T find here are people just hawking or recommending or shilling some brand they have a personal stake in. Or giving advice without finding out what’s important to you.

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Do you have a headphone amp? With many higher end headphones, it’s a must to get the best performance. Sennheiser HD800 (base version) can be had for under $1k. Considered by many to be a high quality headphone. If you are not in a hurry. visit your local dealer or a even can-jam and try a few different headphones. Comfort is just an important as sound quality in my book.


Yes, this is sooo true. I’ve taken $3,000 headphones for a spin and realized that even if I had that kind of money I wouldn’t buy them because even though they sound amazing that doesn’t matter if my head is hurting after 10 minutes.

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Headphones? My end-game are the Sennheiser HD600 - hard to beat value. The massdrop Sennheiser HD6XX for $199 (not always available) are a bit thicker sounding and an incredible value.


I was also going to mention the Massdrop Sennheiser HD-6xx, along with a DAC or amp, but I was waiting to hear more from @tonyfromchicago about what he already had and what he likes. I recently picked up the HD-6xx and compared them with my old HD-580s, which are also available on Massdrop as the HD-58x, also a great value. (The 580, 600 and 650(or 58x for 580 and 6xx for 650(from Massdrop))are very closely related(from thinnest to thickest(I never programmed in LISP))).

But the Sennheiser sound is one thing, if not suited to @tonyfromchicago 's tastes, he might find joy in $300 to $600 Grados or in Planar Magnetics like HiFiMan. Or careful shopping for a recent STAX driver and maybe an SR-L500 earspeaker, if he’s willing to set up his listening chair and not needing to move all around.

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BTW, I was a responder and not the inquirer, but glad to share. Enjoying an Audioengine amp/DAC that Santa brought me. It will drive pairs of Beyer-Dynamics DR1900s, my beloved Grado GH1s, or my workhorse Sony(podcasting) MD7506s. I was thinking the BDDT1900s would fit the bill, but some Sennheiser 6xxs might be preferred? Grados great for LISTENING, but don’t think I’d recommend for relaxed listening. Personal needs, tastes, fit are all huge factors.

oops! Didn’t scroll up quite far enough! We still need to hear from @oregonduckman.
But I’m glad that someone has some higher quality Grados. I’m a fan of their sound.

totally agree on the massdrop hd6xx or 600s…according to others the hd6xx scale well, too.
many with $$$ rigs even have one of these pairs as a backup…so that says something.
and if you find headfi isn’t the game for you then you haven’t lost all that much.

also look at grados (their lower end series has alot of love too)
…if you’re not a basshead then their sound sig can be quite fun, too.
but they’re a love/hate set of cans.

but bottom line, as others have suggested: try to listen before you buy.

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I’ve had the HD650’s a few years now and even tough I have technically better headphones I always keep going back to them. So easy to listen to. They continually surprise me.

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Proven headphones such HD600 or HD6xx are the best bang for your buck. That’s where diminishing return starts. One guy once wrote: better three headphone for $100 than one headphone for $300. Going with the sweet-spot gear leaves money for experimenting.

The problem here is that we have not heard back from @oregonduckman. He says his “first good set of headphones”. Maybe he is at that midpoint in the hobby where he has the HD-600s, and really wants to see what he can get for a grand. Maybe he has a good DAC and headphone amp. We just don’t know.

So far, I haven’t paid more than about $650 for headphones - my HiFiMan HE-560s were on 2017’s pre-holiday discount price, not at the inflated $999 retail. I think my next more expensive set will be STAX SR-L700s, but I’m tempted by $350 to $500 Grados, before that. I agree, that I too would be happier with Massdrop Senn’s and midrange Grados than spending $999 on something else. (But $999 won’t buy my STAX),