Resolve's Headphone Ranking List

@Nuance Thanks, at this point, staying under $1000 may not seem as possible as I would like but that is okay since I would like to Endgame for a while. Im thinking Focal might be the move, I will add Clear to the list, Clear MG looks wonderful but the price kind of hurts my feelings to even consider it :sob: Radiance looks great but hard to find and no returns at all on Headphones.com

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I’d definitely recommend Elex or Clear. Didn’t mention it because you said you wanted warmer. But would work with your music most likely.

@Rhodey Radiance seems harder to find and just the idea of being stuck with a $1300 product sucks if I really dont love it… that said … it leads the race. I think I will continue searching for shops that have it.

You wouldn’t be stuck with it. You can easily sell them here or on other forums. Happens all the time with all kinds of gear.

Radiance is closed back. If you don’t need closed back then I’d look at the clear.

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First, all quality audio items have some residual value. If it’s a new release you can likely get 80% to 90% with a rapid “yuck” sale. If older, you can find used copies that others said “yuck” to, and buy/sell at a minimal loss. There are no absolute rights or wrongs in audio, just personal taste.

“It’s not how much you pay, it’s what you can sell it for.”

Also, regarding closed back headphones. They’ll sound great for an hour or two but then fatigue sets in. They can be dreadful over long listening sessions. Listen to @Rhodey and focus on open headphones if at all possible. The only time I choose closed headphones is when I’m in a noisy environment, and then often end up wearing basic airplane noise cancelling products (Sony, Apple, Bose, etc.)

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Interesting, I don’t mind the radiance for long periods. Same when I had Verite closed and stellia. It’s probably more of a personal preference thing.

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I’ll add a different perspective and mention that you could also look at different source chains (mainly amps) for different sound signatures. I have 9 different amps/stacks that provide different qualities and sound signatures on the same headphones.

For instance, tube amps generally add a good amount of warmth. Hybrid tube amps can be fairly “clean” and work with most headphones (in my experience anyway). A (relatively) inexpensive hybrid tube amp that is still one of my favorites and I still use quite often, is the xDuoo TA-10R. I have “higher-end” tube amps, but this thing still sounds awesome to me. I tend to like a warmer sound, and this adds warmth to pretty much any headphone. At $320 USD, it doesn’t break the bank. Also, you can “roll” tubes (buy different tubes with different sound signatures) and change how the amp sounds. I think I lucked out that my stock tube sounds exactly how I would’ve wanted it to! Also, make sure you don’t judge a tube amp immediately. They definitely need burn in time and sound better after around 30 hours.

With potential amp additions out of the way, I also recommend having different headphones with different strengths. You can build your collection over time and, as others have mentioned, you can sell things you don’t love. Also, I wouldn’t shy away from the used market!! I have bought 3 pairs of very high-end headphones used at serious discounts and have never been disappointed yet. Two of those, the Meze Empyrean and the Hifiman HE1000v2, are $3000 headphones that I bought for $2000! They were in perfect working condition with no real cosmetic issues. They are also both some of my favorite headphones!

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That’s very much so a YMMV thing. I often listen to closed headphones for 8 + hours with no issues.

It’s more dependent on the headphones, comfort, etc…

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I agree with @taronlissimore. I’m not discounting your experience, but it’s not universal. I often use closed back headphones for hours on end with no issues.

Of course my experience might be the outlier here, but I wanted to make sure that someone isn’t put off from buying a closed back because they read that statement.

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There are closed headphones, there are mostly-closed but vented headphones. There are dynamic drivers, and there are other drivers. These vary in fatigue potential. However, way way way way way back in the 1970s and 1980s people used plastic drinking straws with their (now retro) Koss full-sized closed headphones to create a vent between the pads and cheeks. I had this exact conversation in the 1980s with a really weird look on my face, as the concept had never entered my mind. They added vents because of pressure. Because of fatigue. The now classic wide open AKG K1000 Earspeakers were very influential. Before that…closed dominated…

While fully closed dynamic drivers reflect the worst risk of fatigue, I strongly maintain that closed backs present a far greater chance of fatigue than others. It’s absolutely not just me. If you are talking about mostly closed vented headphones, yeah, most all of us could probably be happy for many hours. But vented headphones are not actually closed headphones.

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How can I tell? What would a vent look like?

You made that generic (pun fully intended) statement to @Rynos, who was looking at the Focal Radiance. Is that closed or mostly-closed? I’ve not heard a Radiance, but my hours-long fatigue-free sessions have been with Focal Stellia and Celestee, which have similar designs to the Radiance.

I honestly didn’t think much when I added a closed headphone comment as an afterthought – this view absolutely didn’t start with me so I didn’t think the comment was remotely controversial. No offense intended for you, @taronlissimore, or others.

As I really disliked every Focal closed headphone I’ve tried, I haven’t investigated the Radiance specifically. I have heard that some of ZMF’s “closed” models have hidden vents. Others may too. And some people do indeed not experience much fatigue with closed or semi-closed models.

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Welp… Im sold, the road to Radiance starts now. I appreciate the help, a little over budget BUT thats okay. From all the reading and videos, they seem like an Endgame for me, at least for a while.

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Interesting :thinking: you have me intrigued and I like the retro look of that specific tube amp as well, it has been bookmarked. Ill have to do more research on tube amps for sure. Where do you suggest purchasing them from or brand?

As far as used goes, Ill buy new, that way my mind won’t “find something wrong” with them.

Buying used is one of the best things you can do for yourself in this hobby in my opinion. Don’t get into anything shady but there are so many here and elsewhere that trade gear very often to upgrade or just try new stuff and keep their gear in mint condition.

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I guess I’m not that picky on where I purchase from. As long as it is a legit seller/store. xDuoo has their own store, but you can get their stuff all over the place, including Amazon. Just look around at pricing. Drop also has tube amps at times. Linsol is another good store. And, of course, headphones.com!

Brand? I wouldn’t limit myself like that. It’s all going to come down to budget (mostly) and what you are interested in. There are some seriously expensive tube amps… in the multi-thousands. xDuoo is inexpensive and seems to have good quality control, reputation, and following. Schiit has an entry level model ($200), and that was my first tube amp that gave me the bug.

I have 3 xDuoo tube amps of different types. I also have 2 Schiit tube amps. My most expensive, and favorite, being the Schiit Folkvangr at $1,700.

I’m on my phone at the moment, but I’m pretty sure there is a tube amp thread in this forum.

The Stellia are vented. The vent is actually through the logo. If you look closely, it is screened. I believe all of Focal’s closed backs use this method. I’ll have to check my Elegia’s, but I think it has it too.

I too have listened to the Stellia for hours on end without fatigue, but I also understand and agree with @generic that closed, especially if not vented, can result in fatigue.

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I will continue to look around and research but I really like the red Ta-10r. I was asking about the actual tubes themselves like certain brands or stores that were of better quality so I could tube roll in the future.

The Classic. Sorry, I’ve never heard the XC, the closed-back version.

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:joy: Now I kind of feel like an idiot for not understanding. LOL

I too love the red with its bronze accents. It looks even better in-person (IMO) and is more burgandy. Also, while it has a DAC built in and sounds good to me, you can also use another DAC into this if wanted.

As far as tubes go, the possibilities are damn near limitless. They are also fairly inexpensive (unless you are going for some old and rare NOS (new old stock) sound signature). Also, I wouldn’t worry so much about brand of the tube as much as what it will give you. I mean, if it’s a $20 tube and you hate it, not much of a loss.

The key is making sure you are looking at the right tube for compatibility and then it’s about seeing what sound signature it has. You won’t always be able to know what result it will give you either. It can be fun to experiment though. I have found various recommendations through YouTube or forums.

I’ve bought several tubes from https://www.tubesandmore.com/

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