What phones do you keep coming back to?

As we get a decent collection of headphones and IEMs, what do you find you keep coming back to for just plain old enjoyable listening?

I’m beginning to think that the Massdrop Koss KDE 250s were the best $59 I’ve spent in a long time. A bit fiddly to get started with, I find that they are not as annoying as any IEM. The sound is surprisingly good. When I’m traveling, and don’t want to fuss with fancy equipment, these are what I go to, I never thought they would be in this category. It used to be my Sennheiser PX-100s that are long since broken.

For critical listening, it’s still my old STAX SR-5N, very lightweight, very fast, maybe a tad less bass than modern planar magnétics like my Hifiman HE-560, but I just prefer the trade-offs. Still need to pull the trigger later this year on some modern STAX.

Next rank below the above, Grado SR-60i with the pads for 225s and the electrical tape pad surround mod. Also the Sennheiser Massdrop HD-6xx, usually with the cable that lets my xDSD DAC do it’s dual=mono thing.

What am I not listening to? The 1More triple drivers (unless I’m making phone calls - still the best for when I need the mic), The Hifiman HE-560 - I use them when I want high quality, but don’t want to be tied to the upstairs battle station. (Yeah maybe someday I’ll clean up enough to take battlestation photos), Sennheiser HD-580s - no particular reason. I know them so well I don’t need to listen. KZ-ZSN great for a cheap IEM, but I’m not partial to IEMs,

So, what’s your set of comfortable old jeans and flannel shirt combination?

ZMF Eikon.

Sure, the Auteur is more neutral. The Verite faster and has oodles of dynamic characteristics. The hd650 is still a classic. EMu Teak is the definition of fun.

But that warm, rich, Eikon just keeps reeling me back in.


For me it is my Grado GH2’s. I am currently testing my new amp (Loxjie P20), with my Beyer T5p.2’s and all I can think about is how great my Grado’s sound with my Burson Fun.

A few months ago all paths led to my my Beyers out of my DAP in balanced mode.

I know that I need to get the HE4XX’s out to make a decision on them, but the top two just do it all, closed and open.

I have other headphones on my shopping list, but honestly, if I could only have these two 'phones, I would be just fine.:smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Shane D

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My first totally successful headphone was the Fidelio X2. I’ve gotten a number of pricier headphones since then, some of which I still own. But I keep coming back to the X2s for an occasional jolt of pure musical enjoyment.

The other headphone I keep revisiting is the ZMF Ori. It’s a power-hog of a planar with crushing bass. That was love-at-first-listen. Both the Ori & X2 align perfectly to my sonic preferences…

And I agree that the ZMF Eikon is a killer design. Physically beautiful & a sonic thrill-ride.


Sennheiser HD650. It’s the only pair of headphones I’ve never even considered selling, and I’ve owned a frick-lot of headphones.

The pair on my head right now is ~7 years old. I tend to go through gear in less than a month.


For me, that Koss has the right balance of comfort, weight and sound. It’s far from my best but it’s quite good enough and it’s convenient. I still miss the old Sennheiser PX-100s. Someday I’ll find a worthy replacement.

@ShaneD, I confess I have not heard higher end Grados in over 20 years, and before that only briefly. They were excellent, and despite all of those who don’t like Grados here, every time I listen to the cheap SR-60i’s they bring a smile to my face.


For me, its the Hifiman HE560 and, as dumb as it may sound, the Yincrow X6 ear bud. It’s less than $10, but it’s just comfortable and enjoyable.


I’ve got to agree with you regarding the HD650. It’s one I keep coming back to. Just so easy to listen to.


Maybe it is just because I have spent so much time with them but as soon as I put on the M40x with angled pads, it just feels like home :slight_smile:

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I have four high quality sets: The two that get most of the work are Audeze LCD-X and Mr. Speakers Ether 2.


With proper power, HE-560s perform amazingly well. They are ‘right’ in almost every way (but certainly not in build quality). I can’t honestly justify the need for more, but I’m not honest…

HD-600s were my first serious headphones, but sound quite a bit slicker/smoother to me than when I started. This is partly a result of training my ears, and partly from upgrading the signal chain.


HD650 for me.

It’s a classic, as is it’s sibling the HD600, for a reason. So much so that the only way Sennheiser could get away from it was with the HD6XX program with Massdrop.

It’s the one non-flagship headphone that, if I was forced to live with on a one-and-only-basis from now until eternity, with wouldn’t consistently disappoint me. Even with all but one of the (non-electrostatic) flagship cans in my personal stable, it still gets a meaningful amount of use.


Audeze LCD2C. The stock frequency response is not great but works okay for rock, choral and orchestral music (strange mix, I know), but they’re the most technically capable headphones I own with great bass impact and clarity, low distortion across the range, and decent damping. Their technical chops sometimes peek out from behind the veil of the stock frequency response, but with EQ their strengths become readily apparent. I’ve never managed to settle on the “perfect” EQ for all kinds of music, but I keep getting close and enjoy the process.

EDIT - Oh, the deep angled pads and large diaphgrams create a large, enveloping sound that never fails to draw me into the music.


I have to second your choice on the Sennheiser cans. Although, when push came to shove, while truly appreciating the HD600, I have to say the HD650 is the phone I would not give up (and never have).
That might not seem like saying much for someone who owns but a few pair. But I’ve tried many, with a great chain of gear behind them, through meets for shorter periods and through a good friend who owns many pairs, for longer periods of time.
Although able to appreciate many sets of cans, especially the Sennheiser HD800 and LCD2. Along with less impressive pairs, for myself at least, like the rather disappointing AKG702, some higher end Grados and the Sony 3000 (plus others I won’t list here), I never heard a pair that sounded altogether better and seemed worth the extra amount of money they cost over the HD650.
One can likely tell by the list that forward sounding headphones, especially those with exaggerated top-end, are hardly my preference.

Granted, I’m not a “collector” and I’m retired and don’t have a lot of disposable income.
But I’m also somewhat of a minimalist and tend to stick with what I know and like. And I know the HD650 and like that it never displeases me.

The only thing I might miss or want on some rare occasion and with a particular album or song, would be the bass on the LCD2/3 cans, and/or the treble articulation/extension and upper mids on the HD 800 series.
But while the HD800 was tempting for it’s huge soundstage and treble extension, the lack of bass just seemed a real shortcoming in what was an expensive headphone at the time of their release.
And although the midrange might have been as good, the lower mids and bass especially didn’t seem as good as what I had become accustomed to from my balanced HD650s.

I realize one can likely get as much from an excellent SE setup, but the 650s, for whatever reason, seem to especially benefit from even a $500 balanced amp, with a decent source behind it.
I haven’t had a chance to hear some of the newer, very expensive phones (and to be honest, am not sure I want to :wink:
After many years I still remember how knocked out I was by the Sony RS10, which at the time I heard them sold for 5000. That seemed insane in 2007 and seems only slightly less so now, even though quite a few cans are presently selling in that range.

I’ve said elsewhere that I regret selling a pristine set of HD600s (especially for $200 CAD). But I know the person who bought them was grateful to get his first pair of excellent sounding headphones at that price. Grateful enough in fact, that he insisted on giving me an extra $20 because they were in a condition that was beyond his expectation.
There is something very satisfying about selling someone something they’ve wanted (and set aside hard earned money for) at a price they’re more than happy to pay.
The HD58X I purchased fairly recently might not be quite as articulate as the HD600, but they’re pretty darn close. They might even sound better in some ways and they’re certainly easier to drive from a portable set-up.
So I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere any time soon either (and certainly not for the buck and a half they cost). :smirk:



Man, I keep coming back to the HD800 Bottlehead crack combo… I still need to put my Speedball together and install it…


Me too. Hah

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How are you liking the Aeoulus and Verite with your Crack? I get my Aeolus this week! and the Verite in the next month or so! so stoked! Both in Zericote wood, the Aeolus with Brass fixings and the Verite will be Black grills with brass rods… hopefully it looks dope! Bevin said if I don’t like the combo they can send me black rods lol…

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Very cool choices for the grills! Both of mine are ziricote as well. It’s my favorite wood. I think you’re really going to enjoy both headphones!

The Aeolus has the same magical affinity for tubes as it’s older brother, the Atticus. I don’t know what it is about that driver that loves OTL, but it’s a great pairing.

I prefer the Verite with my Black Widow 2, as I think it’s technically more capable, and that shines through on the Verite.

I’ve also been loving life at work with my Eikon / Mjolnir 2 combo. The slam and impact that combo has is kinda crazy.


Also, the Verite needs a crap ton of burn in. I assume that’s been mentioned multiple places. Worth repeating though. I should be done burning in mine by the end of this week. Just in time for my ECP 3F to arrive. :smiley: