What headphones do you have in your collection and why?

So I’m a bit of a nut with headphones, I have some for many occasions and some for very specific occasions. I think at this point, it might be more of a headphone collection given how many of these headphones, I use for the same occasion but I like to cycle my headphones around.

Fostex TH-900 (mk1): Music overall but especially EDM! These headphones have the best bass quality that I’ve ever heard in a headphone. They’re all around terrific headphones that I can use for anything! They’re great for gaming, movies, TV, you name it! I would use them all the time if I wasn’t paranoid about them breaking/wearing out especially since I’ve read the mk2 version doesn’t sound as good.
Clear: Music and just a wonderful pair of cans.
Sony Z1R: These are such an odd headphone for me, I really only use them for specific music genres like acoustic and classical music.
HiFiMan HE-6SE v2: Music and Gaming but the weight can be fatiguing.
Elegia: These are my current work headphones.
Radiance: I use these in my bedroom when I want to watch a TV Show or Movie
Stellia: These are my movie headphones but I can really use them for anything.
B&O H6: I use these when I’m traveling.
HD58X, HD598, HD599, X2, SRH1540: I use these around the house when I want to listen to YouTube/Podcasts while on the go or doing house work. If my wife asks to borrow a pair of headphones, I usually give her one of these.
PC-38X: I use these mainly for phone calls around the house.
HD700 / DT-880 (600 ohm): PC Gaming!
HD800S: TV or Anime.
Klipsch HP-3: TV or Anime for when I get tired of the HD800S.

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Pretty new to this world but I suppose it was always inside of me;

Sony MDR-V6 paired with a Panasonic Shock Wave CD player
My old man took me to a Circuit City for my birthday and said “choose your gift”. This pair was my first dive into better than average sound. Lugging around batteries was a bitch though. Kind of wish I still had this pair. First love.

B&W P7
This was a birthday gift to myself to pair with my iPod classic 160GB. When I first heard the warm lows, I felt that musical nirvana was achieved. They were stylish as hell too. Coming back to them now, I find them very hard to listen to. A classical “V” shape headphone but comfortable and a decent sound isolation. The damn metal rod snapped a couple years ago. Beautiful design but flimsy build.

During the pandemic, I stumbled upon a reviewer on YT talking about the DT1990 Pro and that this was the best $500 headphone out there. I haven’t upgraded my gear in such a long time, I decided to come into the 2020’s

BD DT-1990 PRO
It looks sexy…that’s it.
I’m kidding. Every pair of cans has ears to go onto, I can’t bring to sell them because I do enjoy the bass response but they thirst for EQ. My wife hijacked them for gaming mostly. I will say that they are extremely comfy for long periods of time, also, they were my first step into a larger world…so, sentiment?

HIFIMAN Sundara
The YT rabbit hole went deeper and I stumbled upon Resolve and Metal and I’ve never been more fascinated with the hobby after a few hours with them. I learned about planar magnetic headphones and the Sundara came highly recommended( at $350, a fairly safe gamble). After a review for the A&K SR25, I pulled the trigger on both. Holy shit, this blew me away but there was only so much power the DAP could produce. I picked up a Magni/Modi 3+ stack. (I live about 10 min away from the Schiiter) and yeah…heaven.

Moondrop Starfield
The SR25 needed something it could drive without any problems, once again Resolve came through with a recommendation that seemed safe to try. This combo made my hikes a lot better. This IEM/DAP combo did for me what the MDR-V6/Shock Wave did for me decades ago. I felt like I was hearing stuff for the first time all over again.

Audeze LCD-XC (Carbon)
My first “big boy” purchase last week. A bit of EQ and I’m blown away all over again. I feel like the Modi/Magni aren’t enough though, so I ordered the Magnius/Modius stack and can’t wait to fool around a bit with them. I know that there are better options for just a little bit more money but I’m curious and don’t mind taking baby steps to find myself, so to speak.

Thieaudio Monarch
Coming tomorrow!!! Super excited and hope that it will “endgame” my portable situation. If anyone paired it with the SR25, I’d love to hear feedback from you.

Oh, I forgot. Around 2009 I did headshots for an IT company that represented Monster Cable. They had boxes of Beats Studio Pro and I happily accepted the free gift. To be honest, I rocked those for a solid couple of years but the B&W P7 reduced them to paperweights…sexy(2009 sexy), heavy paperweights.

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Put my daughter to show how big they are but super comfortable. These are like 1266 of stats. It doesn’t have has much bass impact but you have other qualities of that headphone. It’s not same tuning. Negative is balance issue but having Stax amp solves it. Wish I had BHSE still too compare. For 1200 bucks this beats Voce and can give Stax a run for the money.

These are Rock from Perun out of Russia a DIY made of wood and Lambskin

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Sennheiser HD650 - Heard these at a head-fi meet in maybe 2013 and fell in love. Bought some HD600’s for a very good price, and while I liked them, they weren’t exactly what I wanted. Found a nearly new pair of 650’s for sale for an insane price and bought em, but distinctly didn’t like how they sounded. (2014 manufactured revision). I sold those and found the guy whose pair I’d heard at the meet initially, his were from pre-2012. Later on, he ended up selling them and I bought them around 2015. Have had this pair ever since.

Audeze LCD-2F - tried these at a meet and fell in love. That planar bass was intoxicating. Got money for a pair mid last year and snagged em. Due to comfort and the need to EQ, they didn’t get much use until a month ago when I updated the headband and applied Oratory1990’s EQ. Now I listen to them most every day.

DCA Aeon 2 Noire - after one of the previously mentioned meets, which happened to be on my 21st birthday, some of the regulars wanted to get dinner to celebrate. So these regulars and Dan Clark himself, who had been showing off the Ether 1’s, went to a steakhouse with me to celebrate. Had great conversations with him about audio during the day and dinner and really respected his design philosophy. Found out about the Noire’s recently when looking for a semi portable close back, and fell in love with the look. Had to buy em.

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Great collection and great choices.

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I’ve been thinking about buying those Denons. I’m glad to know your opinion of them!

Last year and this year has seen me shift strongly from solid state to tubes. I’ve always been a huge ZMF fan but given my tube amps (Pendant SE and Kenzie Ovation), I’ve doubled down on the brand and high impedance in general. I really don’t know if there’s anywhere to go from here, as I’m not wanting for anything, other than the occasional curiosity that fades after a few minutes of listening to my current setup. Speaking of which, here are my headphones, all driven by either a Holo Audio Cyan PCM (NOS mode) and Bifrost 2 for dacs, and the aforementioned Pendant SE and Kenzie Ovation amps:

ZMF Atticus: My beloved. If I had to pick just one headphone to live with this would be it. It matches my preferences so closely it’s scary. It’s like Zach scanned my mind and made a headphone that perfectly matches me like a tailor made suit. I’ll listen to it with anything and everything, and find it best with my low production quality metal music. But again, anything sounds sublime with it.

ZMF Eikon: Nipping at the heels of the Atticus is my Eikon. Besides my shifting preferences towards tubes, my musical tastes are also shifting towards Blues and Jazz. And the Eikon really nails those genres well for me. I love the extra treble extension it has over the Atticus for blues guitar like Buddy Guy or Albert Collins. And the subbass is to die for! A year ago I would not even consider the Eikon for my only headphone, but now it does challenge the Atticus for that coveted spot. Time will tell…

ZMF VC: I’m hard on the VC, and often sound like I don’t like them. But anytime I actually consider selling them, I make myself listen to them for a week, and after that, I back up and say no way in hell they’re going anywhere. The problem is they’re revealing, and don’t match my preferences as well as the two above it. The issue with being revealing is I love music with horrible production quality (metal), and the VC is atrocious with it. The two above smooth things over and are forgiving enough and exciting enough that I can enjoy the music. Not so with the VC. But man the VC out of the Ovation with some quality Blue, Jazz, or Classical and i’m in heaven. These are more of a specialty pair for me, and don’t get nearly the time the two above do, but I still love them.

HD650: The venerable classic. Not much to say here, they sound great, love tubes, and work with anything I throw at them. Like the Atticus, I’ll listen to just about anything on them, and love every second of it. They get very little time in such esteemed company, but still hold a special place in my heart. No way they get sold, unless i’m going bankrupt. Who knows, maybe i’d be the first homeless guy with an HD650 on my cart…

The following two are in production as we speak:

ZMF Auteur: I owned a Teak Auteur for over a year and absolutely adored them. At that time I was fully entrenched in solid state gear and desperately wanted to try tubes. When a used Pendant listed for cheap, I sprang. That started my tube shift. But to finance that purchase, something needed to go. The Atticus wasn’t going anywhere, so the Auteur was sold. I bitterly missed that headphone, and told myself I’d get another down the road. Well the Wenge LTD Auteur was too beautiful to pass up. I adore how balanced and natural sounding the Auteur is overall. All the other ZMFs have an inherent coloration that’s fun, but quite noticeable. The Auteur to my ears is the definition of natural sounding. It reminds me of listening to live instruments more than any other headphone.

ZMF Aeolus: I have heard this one a few times and always though it sounded too similar to the Atticus to spend money on. Yeah it’s slightly different, but enough to warrant that much $? Well after avoiding them for ages now I figured why the hell not.

That completes my ZMF lineup. I won’t get the VO as I found it too similar to the VC after many listens. And the VC is the least used in my lineup. If it was only $1K maybe, but $2.5K? No, that’s new dac money, sorry.

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I’ll pre-empt this post by revealing that these days I use some varying level of EQ with all my headphones.

In order of purchase:

HD650: My first serious foray into headphone listening, previous to this I was a speaker only person. I bought them blindly at the time (13 years ago), as they seemed to be the darlings of the HiFi media & forums. I wasn’t impressed - way too warm for my taste and after a decent amount of time trying to get used to them they sat on a shelf for the next 10 years and I went back to 100% speaker listening.

HD600: Curiosity got the better of me and I tested and bought these 5 years ago. Damn! I wish I had bought these in the first place. Despite the bass shyness, I now knew what sort of sound I liked. For some reason, never quite as comfortable as the HD650 but they have served me well.

Hifiman Ananda: I decided I needed something with a bit more spaciousness in the soundstage for certain genres compared to the HD600 without having to sell a kidney. I use these mostly for soundtrack material and my limited jazz collection.

Focal Clear Pros: I went for the pros as I preferred the colour scheme over the standard grey, both aesthetically and for long term cleanliness. With a touch of EQ to take away the slightly nasal vocals I hear, these are great headphones. 'Nuff said.

Hifiman Sundara (2020 Revision): Yep - my cheapest headphones were my last purchase and I bought them after owning the Anandas, which is the opposite to how it goes with most people on the forums. I auditioned these when I bought the Anandas and really liked them, so much so that I eventually went back and bought them, even after buying the Clears. Comfort-wise these just disappear on my head and I can just throw them on without any sort of fine adjustment or fiddling to position them. Yes the Clears are great but the Sundaras with a really nice aftermarket balanced cable are my “go-to all rounders” that I reach for more often, especially on longer listening sessions.

All my headphones are open backs and I haven’t really found a closed back that I really like enough to buy. There are a couple of models such as the Denon AH-D9200 in the post above by @Lothar_Wolf that intrigue me but they aren’t available here in OZ and it’s a lot of money to take a punt on - especially as I don’t NEED a closed back.

I can see an Audeze (with EQ) in my future, either an LCD-2 or the latest revision of the LCD-X.

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They too were my first serious headphones. The bass gets a lot better with a strong amp, and often more balanced with a tube present. I think the 600 would be more popular relative to the 650 if better headphones amps had been common when it was released. I still use my 600 for easygoing listening and/or background music.

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Sennheiser HD800S: Because it has the biggest soundstage of them all, and because when it’s right it’s MAGIC. I love this one for classical/orchestral, soft vocals, and light jazz (for bigger vocals and harder jazz I prefer the Verite). This was the headphone that gave me my first “AHA!” moment, and I can’t imagine ever parting with it.

Hifiman Arya: Because Arya’s deep bass extension and airtight bass response coupled with its crystal clear imaging & detail make it IMO the best planar under $3k. With a 3db sub-bass shelf it is spectacular for electronica. Not so great for vocals. I also love how open it is and how it can make live recordings sound like the musicians are actually in the room with you. My intention is to see how this set holds up for the next 3-5 years and then if all goes well maybe upgrade to a Susvara.

ZMF Verite: Because it’s almost like a hybrid - the speed & clarity of a planar with the physicality of a dynamic driver. I love how physical and visceral it is - sound on the Verite has real weight and impact. You don’t just hear the difference in sound between a trumpet and a saxophone, you really feel the difference in their size in a way you just don’t with other headphones. And of course it’s incredibly beautiful to look at. :heart_eyes: Currently all of my other headphones are mad at me because they have been thoroughly ignored since Verite showed up about a month ago. It’s unclear whether this infatuation is because it’s shiny & new or if this is true love. Time will tell.

Thieaudio Monarch: Because I need something for when I’m on the go, and Monarch specifically because it has powerful bass (I’m sort of a basshead when it comes to IEMs specifically) and crystal clear mids & treble. I like the tri-brid sound. Monarch is excellent for electronic music, which is mostly what I listen to on the go, but its tuning isn’t ideal for acoustic, jazz, or rock, and it can be fatiguing as hell with modern pop. I’m undecided whether I’m going to be keeping these or replacing them soon. I can’t quite wrap my head around spending as much on an IEM as I would on an over-ear headphone that would live permanently in the safety of my home, though, so maybe the price/performance ratio on these is about right despite their relative imperfection.

At the moment, these 4 really fulfill all of my needs and I can’t really see myself adding another headphone unless I someday decide to venture into the world of electrostats.

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What can you tell me about the Forza Noir Hybrid. I’m thinking of buying one for my ZMF Auteur and would appreciate anything you could tell me. Thanks.

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