One Headphone Collection vs Two Headphone Collection vs Three Headphone Collection Selections

As we close the year following CanJam SoCal and recent flagship releases, it may be an opportune time to visit our chosen/aspirational headphone collections.

List out your selections for the following categories of headphone collections:

-One and done headphone
-Two headphone collection
-Three headphone collection (perhaps a primary headphone, fun/enjoyment oriented headphone, and highly incisive/detailed headphone)

I realize some of us may have four headphone collections or greater, but let’s stick to three for purposes of this topic.

Take into account the required amplification, including whether multiple amps are required and likely to be actually purchased.

Indicate whether (i) currently owned or (ii) aspirational (may or may not be currently owned; try to include only those that are “goals” more likely than not to be actually purchased, versus less probable “dreams”). People vote with their wallet.

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I’ll start.

Currently owned:

One and done headphone: Rosson RAD-0
Two headphone collection: Rosson RAD-0; Sennheiser HD 580 Precision Black Silk
Three headphone collection: N/A

Aspirational:

One and done headphone: already currently owned
Two headphone collection: already currently owned
Three headphone collection: Rosson RAD-0; Focal Utopia; Audeze LCD-5 or Final Audio D8000/Pro TBD or electrostatic or ribbon or Sennheiser HD 580 Precision Black Silk TBD

*Subsequent revisions denoted in italics above.

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-One and done headphone= LCD -XC (already own)
-Two headphone collection= LCD-XC & E-MU Teak (own both)
-Three headphone collection= LCD-XC -Technical reference daily driver-, E-MU Teak -For fun, because BASS!- & Verite Closed -all around listening pleasure- (VC Coming soon to a headphone stand near me) I would happily insert the HD800S or LCD-5 in this last position if closed backs didn’t work better in nearly every situation.

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Currently owned:

One and done headphone: Audeze LCD-2F
Two headphone collection: Audeze LCD-2F; HiFiMan Ananda
Three headphone collection: Audeze LCD-2F; HiFiMan Ananda; Sennheiser HD6XX

Aspirational:

One and done headphone: Audeze LCD5
Two headphone collection: Audeze LCD5; Meze Elite
Three headphone collection: Audeze LCD5; Meze Elite; DCA Stealth

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Currently owned:

One and done headphone: Audeze LCD-5
Two headphone collection: Audeze LCD 5; Focal Utopia
Three headphone collection: Audeze LCD 5; Focal Utopia; ZMF Verite Closed

My runner-up, which could dethrone the ZMFs on the right day with the right music: HD800s

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Well this will be obvious lol :joy:

One and done headphone: ZMF VO
Two headphone collection: ZMF VO and VC
Three headphone collection:ZMF Verite Open, Closed and Stellia/HD800(SDR mod)

Aspirational:

One and done headphone: already currently owned
Two headphone collection: already currently owned
Three headphone collection: Same as above… but maybe getting the SR1A back in house would be nice… but, near field speakers pretty much cover this use case for me now…oh, I would love to get a pair of Rad-0s at some point as well! Love those!

Thanks @bpcarb this is fun

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Currently own:

  • One & Done - Hifiman Sundara (home, open-back planar)
  • Two Headphones - Hifiman Sundara (home, open-back planar) & Campfire Satsuma (work/commute, IEM)
  • Three Headphones - N/A

Aspirational (based upon my limited experience):

  • One & Done - Audeze LCD-X (home, open-back planar)
  • Two Headphones - Audeze LCD-X (home, open-back planar) & Campfire Andromeda 2020 or Ara (commute/work, IEM)
  • Three Headphones - Audeze LCD-X (home, open-back planar), Campfire Andromeda 2020 or Ara (commute, IEM), & Audeze LCD-XC or Focal Radiance (work, closed-back planar or closed-back DD to increase variety)
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One = RAAL SR1a
Two = RAAL SR1a + HEDDphone
Three = RAAL SR1a + HEDDphone + a quiver of Apple AirPods (do these count as headphones here?)

Might reset to this:
Three = RAAL SR1a + Audeze LCD-5 + the quiver of Apple AirPods

I’ve debated adding a pair of EIMs for mobile and bedtime use, but find the Apple AirPods fine enough in those contexts. When I just want to chill out with some tunes. I use the AirPods Max for travel.

I use the RAAL HSA-1b for HEDDphone amplification.

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Three + and done: ZMF VC, Auteur, HD800. Didn’t include IEMs.
Amps mow: Kenzie Ovation, Violectric V550. (Well, and a C9)
Amps done: probably sell the KO

Future: Turning all my attention to the music.

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3 headphones is where I’m headed:

  1. Utopia
  2. Verite
  3. Susvara

I already own the first two, and spot #3 is currently occupied by Arya but will eventually be upgraded to a totl planar. This could turn into a lcd-5 or 1266 TC, it depends on what day you ask me. But today I’m leaning toward Susvara.

A two headphone collection doesn’t work for me, because one would have to be dynamic and the other planar, and that means I would have to choose between Utopia and Verite and that is a thing I cannot and will not do. I steadfastly refuse. :wink:

If I absolutely had to pare back to just 1, gun to my head, it would honestly probably be MEST mkii. It’s a solid all arounder that never offends and is convenient in any situation.

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Current:

  1. Verite Closed
  2. Verite Closed, Aeolus
  3. Verite Closed, Aeolus, HD58x/PortaPros ← Cleaning/Working out (respectively)

Aspirational

  1. Verite Closed
  2. Verite Closed, Rad-0
  3. Verie Closed, Rad-0, Verite Open

Next upgrade will be a custom OTL amp, so will plan to keep with the ZMF high-impedance theme for the near future. Long-term would love to get a SET amp or higher-end SS to drive a Rad-0 (or LCD-5?). Planar-curious.

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  1. My 3 ZMFs.
  2. My 3 ZMFs and the HD650.
  3. My 3 ZMFs, the HD650, and 3 more ZMFs.

Something like that.

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Good question to pose, the second part is a tough one given the aspirational may be a headphone already owned or on the way!

I will say, what is listed below vs a year ago are items I would never have listed out of sheer ignorance. Had it not been for the generous members of the forum, those of you out there know who you are, I am grateful. [1]:

Currently Own [2]:

One and done: Verite Open
Texas Two Step: Verite Open, and Senn HD650 (audio palate cleanser)
Mozambique: Verite Open, Senn HD650, and MrSpeakers Aeon Flow Closed (only because I had to list three, not because they are worth keeping)


Aspirational* [3]:

One and done: Utopia
Texas Two Step: Utopia, and RAD-0
Mozambique: Utopia, RAD-0, and either Verite Open and/or Final Audio D8K (not theD8K PRO)

What I have learned about my preferences have changed in the past year, hell they have changed in the last six months. As Eddie Vedder sang it, It’s evolution baby!


  1. Headphones listed below have been listed to at some point in my journey, either for in home demo or at a meet up. ↩︎

  2. What I currently own is in flux, and is also based on what is on hand vs being part of a collection 1-3 headphones ↩︎

  3. In reality it is my expected lineup of headphones likely to be in my collection within the coming year,. ↩︎

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Difficult difficult question. I’m not a TOTL listener, so I don’t want to put down something I don’t know. But I do have a reasonable selection, and not counting IEMs or near IEMs like Audeze LCDi3…

One and done. If I had to have only one.
Nectar Hive eStat
Obviously, that means one good estat amp also, and limits movement.

TWO headphones
Nectar Hive eStat
Koss Porta Pro with Yaxi Pads
This gives me all the portability and easy drive and comfort that I don’t get with one alone

THREE headphones
Nectar hive eStat
Koss Porta Pro with Yaxi Pads
Grado RS1e with Beautiful Sound earpads. I really use this headphone a lot. Great comfort, excellent soundstage. Can be driven easily, no DAC, Audioquest DFC, iFi xDSD, Bifrost 2 and Lyr 3. It scales well. My only gripe is the thick cable. I can listen to this headphone for hours and hours. It is NOT shouty or whacky treble, ye detractors of the Brooklyn Brand.

I presently own all of these choices, along with various Senn, the Hifiman HE-560, and assorted lesser phones.

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Currently Own:

  1. ZMF Verite Closed
  2. ZMF VC and ZMF Auteur
  3. ZMF VC, Auteur and Fostex Th900 (Verite Open runs a close 4th)

Aspirational:

  1. Currently Owned
  2. Currently Owned
  3. ZMF VC, ZMF Auteur, Audeze LCD-4/5 (I have heard the 4 but not the 5, but everyone’s impressions of the 5 seem favorable).

@bpcarb cool idea for a thread- really makes you think about your current stable and I like reading everyone else’s take.

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This is fun, great idea, thank you! A few weeks ago, and in anticipation of receiving my Vérité Open, I’d have expected to list the following:

1: Clear
2: VO and HD 800 SDR
3: VO, HD 600, HD 800 SDR

The rationale for these choices was:

1: The Clear serves as solid all-rounder, with decent technicalities and a nice tuning
2: complementary darker, more engaging and brighter, more analytical headphones
3: the HD 600 replaces the Clear because the other headphones provide the technical performance; the HD 600 offers a nice contrast in the form of a beautifully tuned, highly engaging experience

Here’s where things get complicated. Originally, my aspirational future would have simply involved upgrading my DAC and amp, with the latter being a Starlett since it would pair nicely with all of the dynamic driver headphones.

Now that I’ve got the VO and find it to be slightly brighter and more fatiguing than I’d expected (mine are the harder/denser, African Blackwood), my perspective is in flux, and I’m not sure if the above rationale works any longer. Originally, I’d have said that I’d replace the HD 800 SDR with the SR1a. Now I’m wondering about:

1: VO
2: [darker headphone: LCD-4, VO in a softer wood, RAD-0?] and SR1a
3: [darker headphone], HD 600, SR1a

But all this is far too tentative. I need a lot longer with my VO to figure things out. And I’ve yet to hear the RAD-0, among other headphones.

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Currently own:

  1. Utopia
  2. Susvara
  3. V.O.
    Tomorrow I should be receiving my LCD-5’s.

My Auris Nirvana is enjoying playing music through all of them. I will be putting the ZMF’s up for sale, though. Beautiful headphones and they sound great, but they just do not move me like the others (or at least Utopia and Susvara - haven’t heard the LCD-5 yet).

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With apologies to @bpcarb for stretching his rules a little…

Currently own:
One and done: ZMF * (although some days, it might be the RAD-0)
Two headphone collection: ZMF* , Rosson RAD-0
Three headphone collection: ZMF* , Rosson RAD-0 , Focal Stellia

Aspirational:
One and done: ZMF*
Two headphones: ZMF* , planar that I like more than Rosson RAD-0 (which is unlikely but you never know)
Three headphones: ZMF* , planar that I like more than Rosson RAD-0, Focal Utopia


* Whichever ZMF headphone I am in love with at any given time. This week, it is the VO, next week it might be the Aeolus. For the aspirational version of this, I would own one of each model. I don’t need more than one of each since I’m obviously not a collector.
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This!

I need to add Rad0 to my aspirational list.

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Currently owned:
1 - Focal Clear Pro (OG)
2 - Sennheiser HD 800 (early SN), Focal Clear Pro (OG)
3 - Stax SR-L300 Limited, Fostex TH900MK2-SB, Sennheiser HD 800 (early SN)

Aspirational:
1 - Stax SR-X9000
2 - Focal Utopia, Hifiman Susvara
3 - ZMF VC, Stax SR-007 MK1, Focal Utopia

@bpcarb This is fun but also very hard at the same time. I keep looking at my headphone wall thinking “I got too many. I should sell 3-4 mid-fi ones and get something from a higher tier”. But the mid-fi ones are so good in their own way. Mmmm! This is so hard :man_facepalming:

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