Resolve's Headphone Ranking List

I already thought we were pretty close in our sound preferences. We are super close for open backs. On your closed back list…it is like you were peeking at my notes. My top three is identical to yours. Outside of that I would probably rank the Radiance (I owned it) below the Celestee and bring the Fostex TR-X00 Ebony up a few spaces behind the Celestee (?) and ahead of the Radiance. Outside of that, we are in lock step. I recommend the song “Big Balls” by AC/DC from the Dirty Deeds album. Because, you got 'em.

Okay, I would totally understand why you would not want to, but PLEASE consider posting this list on Head-fi. Even if just for my individual entertainment. :smiley: Nice work.


I had narrowed down my TOTL collection to one open back and one closed back, and decided to go with the VC & LCD-5 based on reviews and comparisons (before seeing this post just now.)

Had a nice sense of validation based on his list here… Not that there’s ever a last word in this hobby – but if there was one, Andrew would probably be it. :wink:

I also have an MDR-Z1R as a unique guilty pleasure. Tho, we’ll see how much head time those get moving forward.


I think resolve seems like a really earnest guy and a nice guy and I know that these things are all completely subjective…that said any list that doesnt include the abyss Tc and the sr1a at the very top doesnt compute to me…I have or have heard all of them other than the stats and to me it doesnt compute…that said as I said it is all subjective


Resolve’s list seems to factor in comfort, take a look at the comments for the AB1266, SR1a, LCD-5, and LCD-4.

Not everyone has a powerlifter’s neck or stands/sits upright and stationary while listening.


I get the comfort thing, certainly important but when I see the list of HP’s he puts ahead of the TC and sr1a I scratch my head…I saw his review where he says that the susvara had a more spacious larger soundstage than the TC and right there I knew something was off…I do not say the TC or sr1a is better than the susvara which I own, that is a matter of choice but to not have these HP’s even listed seems kind of strange…makes me take everything else with a grain of salt…just one mans opinion


Lists such as these allow one to review/understand the reviewer’s ears and determine if preferences are aligned.

We all can listen for, listen to, listen with, value, tolerate different things.

Unanimity and absolutes can’t be expected, which makes this hobby interesting/dynamic and why we don’t all own the same gear.

Where EQ gets a designation, it may be informative to also have a similar designation for tube/speaker amps.

Is it possible to distill this tier listing to a 2 or 3 headphone collection?


Awesome post!! Thanks @Resolve .
Will be great a ranking list of IEM in the future ( no pressure… next year maybe :wink: ) .


Great list Andrew!

Not sure I understand the “I can see it…” category.

Where is the Elegia?


I’ve recently gotten the mdr z1r and they are such a great pair of closed backs. Seem very polarizing though.


This is a cracking idea @generic. I would love to see it.


Well then you’ll hate this next statement: I didn’t find the sr1a to have a particularly spacious stage either haha (not that it was poor or anything, just nothing crazy). I tend to think soundstage descriptions can be highly influenced by psychoacoustics - which is a very real thing (like a feeling of openness or a particular FR characteristic). But if you look at the FR of both of those headphones there’s also a plausible explanation, neither have the slight dip before the strongest part of the ear gain that the Sus has, as does the hd800s. In fact on the TC that’s where the boost is, and the SR1a is also a bit forward there. This region can have a considerable influence on perceived width and space. Hence the description of the experience I had with them.

Now before someone says “I don’t care, I’ve heard those headphones”, let me say that’s great, but I didn’t hear them that way and I think this is a potential reason as to why. But as you say, just one man’s opinion.

To be clear, I’m saying maybe you aren’t as influenced by the FR related effect on soundstage as I was, or more affected by something else… You get the idea.

But as for this list in particular, those two are only held out of tier 1 for reasons of convenience and ability to EQ, which I personally would feel the need to do with them. But if their tuning works great for someone else then I’d imagine they’d be up there.


I can see why people like them - as in I can understand the appeal, but they’re just not my picks for one reason or another.


I see in videos and streams you have the Elear with the Elex pads, are the Elex/Elear/Clear really that similar to one another? Or do you just prefer the Elear with Elex pads?


I used to own the Elex, demoed the Elear, and own the Clear. In my experience the Elear/Elex are “the same” other than pads. The Clear is a different beast, and far, far, far more nuanced and delicate. The Elex/Elear have greatly exaggerated dynamics and can be extremely fatiguing and piercing. The Clear is generally not fatiguing to me, but fails only on an edgy/analytical amp/DAC.


Well I’ve been considering or potentially looking at an upgrade from my HD600 but like I find it hard to. It seems I’m justifying a reason to upgrade without actually having one.

The option I was considering was an Elear or Elex, but damn the HD600 as being a complete package is hard to beat IMO.


I went down that path myself. My older journey is described in my Utopia, Clear, Elex, and HD 600 back-to-back comparison. In 2021 I added the HD 800 S, and it falls between the Clear and Utopia on technicalities. Its timbre, amp requirements, and overall character are more like the HD 600 than anything else I own.

The way to avoid being unhappy with your setup is to avoid A/B comparisons. Dive into music and forget that other products exist. Ignorance can be bliss and habituation to what you have can be bliss. When I don’t compare to other models the HD 600 is still fine.

Edit: I prefer my HD 600 over the Elex, and indeed sold my Elex. I still love the Clear for its easy-on-the-ears treble and easy-to-drive character. No plans to sell.


If you’re happy with the HD 600, don’t sweat it. If I were to pick any of my headphones as a “one and done” pair, it’d probably be the HD 600. I have the Clear and the HD 800 SDR (similar to the HD 800 S) and like them both a great deal. But there’s something to the tuning of the HD 600 that appeals greatly to me. The Clear are faster and more resolving. The HD 800 SDR have much better technicalities - not just speed but also yet more resolution - and they have that wonderful, expansive soundstage, but I find them thinner and brighter than the HD 600. So, all three have a place in my collection.

If anything, I’d consider upgrading my chain rather than my HD 600. I picked up a Bifrost 2 and a SW51+ amp in 2021, and this setup with the HD 600 could well be all I’d ever need. The HD 600 works wonderfully with tube amps, especially SET ones.


Yea, I think I’m gonna try tubes on my 600 rather than getting a new HP. I kinda of don’t like saying this, but from my experience, the HD600 is extremely good and very hard to beat. I love it too much and I love my music with it, I do EQ it slightly in the sub and mid bass but other than that its perfect. I’m a complete moron with tubes and know nothing about them. Maybe something to increase the stage if possible?


No OG sennheisers… No 580, 600, or 650? No, white papers, black papers, or black silks?

(This is a joke… Please, no one get their panties in a bunch. I enjoyed the list and agree with most of it.)


As individual as the list is, it’s clearly appreciated. Abyss have made it clear both in an email to me and on their youtube channel that there is no such thing as the DMS pad mod for Diana from them.