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Rank your headphones

ninetylol

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Hey, I thought it would be interesting to see your own subjective ratings and experiences of all the headphones you own or have owned.

Since we all upgraded or sidegraded more than a few times or even ran full circles (yeah guess I´m guilty) maybe we can save others from the same fate. :D

I will begin with headphone experience in chronological order:

DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm 6.0/10 (not bad for a starter headphone, build like a tank)
Philips Fidelio X2 6.5 (pretty good fun headphones, build very good)
Audioquest Nighthawk 4.5 (strange sound, was fun at the time, but I wouldnt listen to them today - very good comfort)
Audioquest Nightowl 5.0 (better sound than nighthawks but unemotional)
Fostex T50rp 7.5 (pretty darn good but bad comfort)
Fostex T60rp 7.5 (pretty darn good but bad comfort)
Beyerdynamic DT1990 7.75 (they also look quite good)
Beyerdynamic DT1770 3.0 (they sounded so bad, maybe my unit was DOA but worse then 770)
Audeze LCD-2 Classic 5.0 (bad comfort, average sound, not my cup of tea)
Sony WH1000XM3 8.5 (soundwise a 5/10 but if you need the ANC its a 10/10 to other headphones - my most used headphone)
AKG K371 5.0 (good tuning but lacking emotion and comfort)
AKG K361 5.5 (better than K371 but still not very exciting to listen too - good for the price)
Shure Aonic 50 4.0 (sounded weird and metallic. ANC was pretty bad)
Hifiman Sundara 9.0 (everyone favourite headphone, its awesome, just lacking a bit comfort)
Beyerdynamic TYGR 7.5 (pretty solid)
Audio Technica ATH-R70x 8.75 (very natural and easy sound, great comfort)
Hifiman Deva 7.5 (Sundaras little sister with Bluetooth)
Sennheiser HD560s 7.75 (very good for the price, great comfort just lacking some emotion)
Hifiman Deva Pro 8.0 (a bit more detailed than original Deva)
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless 5.0 (stuttering BT and a bit bloaty but natural sound, ANC not that good)
Hifiman HE-400se 8.25 (sweet for the price, Sundaras little Brother)
Hifiman Edition XS 9.5 (best I`ve listened so far, comfort much better than all other headphones I tried, but giving a 10/10 would be unethical :p)

Damn that took some time to remember them all, also yes I like the planar sound :D
 
Last edited:

rolloj

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I like your list. Personally I sent back the Hifiman 400SE for quality control issues. Waiting for a pair of AKG 361, need closed back headphones.
If those don't work, I will probably follow your list and get the Sennheiser 560s.
 

Rayman30

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Sennheiser PX100 5.0 (To Dark)
Koss PortaPro 5.5 (Boring but good)
Apple Airpods Pro 5.5 (Plays it safe with a warm tonality)
Sennheiser PX100 ii 5.6 (Like a mini HD650)
Apple Airpods Max 5.7 (Needs EQ, good balance after that)
Grado SR80e 5.8 (Bright, but somewhat detailed)
Sennheiser HD-555 5.9 (Veiled, but warm tonality)
Sennheiser HD-497 6.0 (Cool neutral, good detail)
Sennheiser HD-555 mod to HD-595 6.1 (Less veiled, warm, uninteresting sound)
Beyerdynamic DT880 80 Ohm 6.5 (Big stage, to bright)
Audio Technica M40X 6.6 (Bassy, fun, scooped mids)
Sennheiser HD-600 6.7 (This could be your only headphone, amazing)
Senheiser HD-650 6.9 (Warmer, more interesting version of HD600)
Hifiman HE4XX 7.0 (Punchy, dynamic, good enough detail, best under $200)
Hifiman Sundara 7.3 (Brighter than HE4XX, needs EQ, likely same detail as he4xx, better build)
Audeze LCD-X 2021 (Without EQ) 7.5 (To dark, veiled mids, very rich tonality, sparkly treble)
Hifiman Ananda 7.8 (Midrage is the star here, slightly shouty, big vertical stage, decent imaging, FUN!, slightly thin)
Audeze LCD-X 2021 (With EQ) 8.5 (Details for days, small/med stage, unreal imaging, punchy bass, tonally warm, slight mid recession)

Rated on sound quality and uniqueness of sound presentation only,
 
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Lynxairsound

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I have tried all headphones. I have or had them. Among several I have made A/B comparisons with different musical genres (pop, dance, acoustic, soundtracks, rock...). I will only value over ears.

Source:
Spotify in maximum quality or Tidal (using HIFI, not MQA). Both method I have used an ifi amp/dac.

I divide the ranking into simply 3 categories. A (best audio) to C (worst audio). I will only add 6 more subdivisions to differentiate them better, these will be A+, B+, C+ and A-, B-, C-.
To be fair, I'm going to divide each headset into technical aspects and separate the tonality. Very important, assessing the tonality better or worse is purely subjective. Watch out for that!!!

-Technical aspects include sound scene, image and audio resolution (detail) and I make an average. I'll call it "TECH".
-The tonality will be called tonality. Remember, it is subjective.
Important!!. The comfort, construction materials, design and necessary energy will not value it.
-I add an extra that I like to highlight. It will be something positive.


RANKING
- Senheiser HD560s. --------- TECH: B TONALITY: B+ EXTRA:Versatility in everything.
-AKG K712pro. ---------- TECH: B TONALITY: B- EXTRA:Soundtracks and classical, it's good!!
-Hifiman SUNDARA --------- TECH: B+ TONALITY:B EXTRA:Smooth as silk
-Hifiman EDITION XS. ------ TECH: A TONALITY: A- EXTRA: Its good soundstage
-Fostex T20RPMK3. --------- TECH: B+ TONALITY: B EXTRA:Ideal for movies due to its bass and cleanliness.
-Fostex T50RPMK3.--------- TECH: B+ TONALITY: B- EXTRA:Neutral, ideal for mastering.
-Sivga ROBIN. ----------------- TECH: B+ TONALITY: A EXTRA:Live and soft sound at the same time. all rounder!!
-Beyerdynamic DT1990pro. --- TECH: A+ TONALITY:A EXTRA:Resolution
-Sony XM2. ------------------ TECH: C TONALITY: B- EXTRA:The bluetooth thing is obvious but I would say the isolation.
-Monolith M1060. ------------ TECH: B TONALITY: A- EXTRA:Soundsdtage and fun.
-Philips X2HR ----------- TECH: B- TONALITY:C+ EXTRA:Budget
-Philips SHP9600 ------------ TECH: C+ TONALITY:B- EXTRA:Movies!! good scene
 
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3125b

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With or without EQ?

Some of the standouts and why:
Most used: HD 600 (just a great allrounder, very long-lasting, mine is 20+ years old)
Technically best: Ananda (good tonality too, but just not my favorite for some reason)
Worst overall: HD 206 (paid 5€ and that‘s still too much, build quality and sound just terrible)
Worst comfort: HD-330 (can fit Beyerdynamic pads, but those make it sound just like one too)
Biggest EQ impact: HD-668 B (really, really good for 10€ I paid, selling it was a mistake)

… and a bunch of others of varying uses and enjoyment depending on EQ. But I rarely, if at all, use most of them anymore. I‘ve sold quite a few, might sell all except HD 600 and Bose 700 sooner or later.
 

majingotan

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A repost of mine and still relevant to my subjective opinion: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...headphone-or-iem-tier-list.21820/#post-724806

Here's my IEM and headphone list:
Caveat Emptor: it will always be subjective opinion. Stock tuning, no EQ evaluation

S Tier – summitFi, world best headphones
and IEM

CA Andromeda CK Pacific Blue

+ Tonality (for some it's the polar opposite)
+ top tier soundstage, depth and width in IEM classification
+ nice dynamics and punch
+ tonality suits all genres IMHO
- there are IEMs that have better dynamics subjectively

Focal Utopia
+ Tonality
+ unparalleled layering, depth, instrument separation (best I've heard yet subjectively, noticeably better than HD800S IMHO)
+ excellent dynamics and punch
+ Tonality suits all genres IMHO
- slightly less soundstage width than HD800

A Tier – HiFi experience

Sennheiser HD800S

+ Tonality (never sounded harsh/fatiguing to my ears even at 100+ dB SPL listening with No EQ)
+ Unparalleled soundstage (only the Raal SR1 can match its soundstage width)
+ excellent dynamics and punch
- Tonality does not suit all genres
- Imaging can be artificial (after A/Bing with Focal Utopia)

HEDDphone
+
Tonality (not harsh sounding at all)
+ Excellent layering, layering, depth, instrument separation (just shy of Focal Utopia, slightly better than HD800S)
+ Excellent Macrodynamics
+ Bass sounds so godly with these
- slightly less soundstage width than HD800

Sennheiser HD650/HD600/HD6XX
+
Tonality
+ Great Imaging, depth and layering
+ nice dynamics and punch
- Detail retrieval has been surpassed with newer headphones at or above its price range

B Tier – good headphones

AKG K712

+ A Tier soundstage
+ Decent tonality (suits classical music really well)
+ nice dynamics and punch
+ Good layering, depth and instrument separation (works so good on gaming) but clearly behind A Tier
- Detail retrieval is B Tier
- Bass extension is lacking compared to even the HD800S
- Tonality does not suit all genres

CA Vega (2016 edition)
+ A Tier layering, depth and instrument separation in IEM classification
+ Bass extension
+ Nice dynamics and punch
+ Can be found at 1/3 its MSRP thus I consider this now in B Tier, but C Tier at its MSRP
- Tonality is subpar for its asking price
- Andromeda is much better in every aspect of sound

C Tier - okay headphones

Airpods (not the Pro)
+
A Tier tonality/tuning, never harsh, great for audiobooks and podcast streams
+ Okay detail retrieval
+ Perfect for background listening while performing other tasks
- No bass
- Lacking dynamics and punch

F tier – I do not recommend

Sony MDR-7506
+
clear sound, great for tracking
+ built like a tank
+ Dolby headphone DSP works amazingly well with its stock tonality
- lifeless tonality
- bass doesn't have depth
- 2D soundstage
- It's a headphone solely made to not enjoy listening to music IMHO
 

bluefuzz

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I have Sennheiser HD58X, Sennheiser HD560S, Sony WH1000XM2, Philips X2HR, AKG K271, AKG K371, AKG K701, Beyer DT990 Edition and an old Beyer DT48.

For sound quality without EQ only the K371 really comes close to a proper tonality. WH1000XM2 second (with all the active gubbins and NC enabled etc.) HD58X and HD560 joint third.

With EQ they are all equally fine except for the old DT48 which has massive driver mismatch and no bass however you EQ it.

For comfort probably K701, HD560S and HD58X in that order are the best but it's very close. X2HR is comfy but heavy. WH1000XM2 is also very comfy but it pinches my ear on my glasses frames after a couple hours.

With EQ I could live with any of them except perhaps the DT48. Without EQ they are all kinda meh ...
 
F

freemansteve

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Austrian Audio HiX15:
Comfort - 11/10
Build - 9/10
Sound - 6/10
 

Jose Hidalgo

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Rating headphones without EQing them is pretty meaningless to me, even more in 2022 where most people have easily access to EQ.
To emphasize the importance of EQ, here's a ranking of my main current cans with and without EQ (range 0-10, 10 meaning absolute perfection) :

With EQ :

Sennheiser HD 600 : sound 8, comfort 7.5
  • Sound : even with EQ, bass could be better and distortion spikes. Soundstage is small and basic, but that's great for acoustic, vocal jazz...
  • Comfort : they are comfortable although very basic (not even a suspension system). Earpads are nice but could be softer.
Audioquest Nighthawk : sound 7.5 (maybe even 8), comfort 9.5
  • Sound : bass is linear down to 20 Hz, distortion is flawless, but its internal resonances prevent it from being as "natural" as the HD 600.
    Even with EQ, sound is quite different from the HD 600 or the Sundara, but not necessarily worse. It's surprisingly good and charming.
  • Comfort : possibly the most comfortable cans one can find, regardless of the cost. Suspension, rubber earcup supports, perfect placement.
    People should NOT focus only on sound. Comfort has become a real deal-breaker for me for several headphones, including the Sundara.
Hifiman Sundara : sound 8, comfort 6
  • Sound : very close to the HD 600. More versatile, bass is linear down to 30 Hz, but I still prefer the HD 600 by a short margin. Call me crazy.
  • Comfort : their main issue for me. 43% heavier than the HD 600, they clamp a little and earcups don't swivel. We could expect much better.
    Of course some people may find the Sundara comfortable. To me it can only be because they haven't tried more comfortable cans yet.
Meze 99 Classics : sound 7, comfort 8.5
  • Sound : good, although not as good as the three others. Plus they're fully closed which is a challenge in itself with its own issues.
  • Comfort : their suspension system and their light weight makes them really comfortable, although less than the Nighthawk.

Without EQ :
  • Sennheiser HD 600 : sound 7 (really lacking bass, the rest is of course great and very close to the Harman curve)
  • Audioquest Nighthawk : sound 5.5 (dark and warm, one gets used to it and it's good for long listening sessions, although far from neutral)
  • Hifiman Sundara : sound 7 (like said, a more versatile version of the HD 600, with a bigger soundstage, but lacking bass too without EQ)
  • Meze 99 Classics : sound 5 (dark and warm, with a hole in the midrange - some call it "fun", but it can really use some EQ)
Here's a comparison chart of these four headphones, with their natural sound on top and their EQed "Harman sound" on bottom.
Harman (AE-OE 2018) curve is linearized, hence represented as a flat horizontal green line.
For the curious, the thin yellow curve is the Optimum Hifi target curve.

Tableau courbes.jpg
 

Vortex

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Can't wait somebody mentioning the Takstar Pro82 (either with or without EQ).
I'm just curious what would be the next level up from here, jumping big. I have this one and I'm very satisfied so far, without EQ.
(Topping E30 + DIY OTL tube amp).

Sry didn't want to be very offtopic.
 

Veri

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(Note: VERY subjective)
Sennheiser HD650 A with some EQ they sound very correct. Superb for jazz/instrumental.
Sennheiser HD600 A+ over time I appreciate the less murky/'veiled' sound over HD650
Sennheiser HD800 A- they do a lot right, super wide. but ultimately not my cup of tea..
Audeze Sine A (after EQ). closed-back planar which I use at work, love 'em.

Hifiman Ananda B+ very good planar sound.. but I prefer the timbre and bass of a dynamic.
Audio Technica AD2000 B really nice for female vocals, not for much else..
AKG K702 B- never really got into these. would summarise as "boring".

I guess 'S' rating would go to some upper high-end Stax model or something ;)
 

Jose Hidalgo

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Hey @Veri , could you specify if all your opinions are with or without EQ ? You've only mentioned EQ for the 650 and the Sine A, so it's a bit like apples and oranges...

I too tend to prefer the 600 over the 650, but that would be only with EQ. Without EQ the HD 650 goes clearly lower, and we can't just dismiss that for many types of music, right? :)

Besides, even if we all love our HD 600s, could it be that you're being a bit too generous by rating it "A+"? As you know, crinacle rates it "A-" which leaves more room up there for a number of better headphones. If your ranking was translated down accordingly, it would look like this: HD 650 = B+, HD 600 = A-, HD 800 = B... which is essentially what crinacle says, except for the 800. ;)
 

RayDunzl

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Let's see...

I won an 8 transistor RCA AM pocket radio around 1963 for my bicycling skills. It had an earpiece that worked. Don't remember feeling cheated compared to the speaker in the unit.

Had some Radio Shack phones around 1969 to go with a tape deck, they had puffy inflated ear cushions. They were comfortable but don't remember if they had a "sound".

Bought a Sony FM Walkman sometime in the 80's which came with some little over-the-ear-hole phones. They weren't bad sounding, lost it all on the motorcycle one day.

And a CD Walkman in the early 90's, with similar phones.

Then traveled less mid 90's and started the home system, and bought some Sony Headphones for $125 or so which were very unsatisfying, and ended up just rotting on the shelf.

Now a pair of Sennheiser HD650 from 2013 which are all the headphone I need, and if they don't suffer spontaneous discombobulation they'll probably go with me to the end of time.

The HD650 are surely the best of the bunch by far, rank the others however you like from my descriptions.

I guess it's obvious I'm not that much of a headphone guy.

Sorry to interrupt, now back to your regularly scheduled postings...
 

f1shb0n3

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Here's my list ordered by preference with my rating out of ten:

Apple AirPods Pro, rating: 9.5
This is and amazing piece of technology, the headphones I use the most by far. Not built for sound quality as main goal, but sounds pretty good anyway. Where it shines is convenience, comfort and integration in an Apple ecosystem. I can wear them for hours, even forget I have them on when transparency is enabled. Seamlessly switch between Apple devices - iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple TV. Rating them as 9.5 in anticipation that probably Apple can improve them eventually in v2. Not sure how.

Sennheiser HD 6XX, rating: 9
This is my favorite over-ear headphone so far, my daily driver for music and video conferencing. Oratory's EQ makes it superb. Balanced sound, smooth highs, earlobe-vibrating bass. Probably the low end is a tad distorted with the EQ boost, but I like it that way. Comparing it with the undistorted bass of Aeon Closed X with the same FR target, I find the Aeon a bit underwhelming in the low end, like it's missing the punch.

Dan Clark Aeon Closed X, rating: 7
This is the headphone I use in the office - very good sound isolation, sounds good without EQ, although Oratory's profile is definitely an improvement. Clean and "gentle" sounding headphone, missing some punch and excitement compared to HD6XX, but good nonetheless.

Sennheiser HD 58X, rating: 6.5
This was the headphone that lured me into audiophillism. Probably the most sub-bass out of the box for a Sennheiser. I was happy with it until I heard HD6XX and realized how harsh the upper-mids and highs are on the HD 58X. Now it's serving as a gaming headphone for my PC EQ'd with Oratory's profile and very happy with it for the purpose.

Moondrop Aria, rating: 6
Most affordable in-ear tuned very close to Harman target. Sounds pretty good, but I don't like how they feel in my ears, especially compared to AirPods Pro, so it stays in the box unused.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80ohm, rating: 5
Good bass, harsh highs, comfortable earpads. It was a good upgrade from the cheaper headphones I used before it, but can't compare to a good Sennheiser for music.

Sennheiser PC 38X, rating: 3
Ordered it as a gaming headphone candidate, but after some testing I realized this headphone does not reach the SPLs I desire - it starts to audibly break-up and pop way way earlier than 6XX and 58X and the sound felt "sterile" even when EQ'd. Returned.

Hifiman HE-400i (2017), rating: 1
No bass and piercing highs. Can't tolerate listening a full song on this thing, even after many attempts to improve with EQ.
 

Sombreuil

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Grado SR80i:
- Confort: It feels like a torture device. Negative/10.
- Sound: Not too bad for classical music.

Sennheiser HD 598:
- Confort: By far the most confortable headphone I've ever tried.
- Sound: Soundstage's really cool, super boomy (which I like). Though, it doesn't sound super tight, if that makes sense.

Sennheiser HD 58X:
- Confort: Average, clamping force is high and I'm harving a hard fixing it.
- Sound: Once the peak around 5K has been fixed, it's really great. I hate its narrow soundstage but voices sound amazing.
 

itz_all_about_the_music

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Hey, I thought it would be interesting to see your own subjective ratings and experiences of all the headphones you own or have owned.

Since we all upgraded or sidegraded more than a few times or even ran full circles (yeah guess I´m guilty) maybe we can save others from the same fate. :D

I will begin with headphone experience in chronological order:

DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm 6.0/10 (not bad for a starter headphone, build like a tank)
Philips Fidelio X2 6.5 (pretty good fun headphones, build very good)
Audioquest Nighthawk 4.5 (strange sound, was fun at the time, but I wouldnt listen to them today - very good comfort)
Audioquest Nightowl 5.0 (better sound than nighthawks but unemotional)
Fostex T50rp 7.5 (pretty darn good but bad comfort)
Fostex T60rp 7.5 (pretty darn good but bad comfort)
Beyerdynamic DT1990 7.75 (they also look quite good)
Beyerdynamic DT1770 3.0 (they sounded so bad, maybe my unit was DOA but worse then 770)
Audeze LCD-2 Classic 5.0 (bad comfort, average sound, not my cup of tea)
Sony WH1000XM3 8.5 (soundwise a 5/10 but if you need the ANC its a 10/10 to other headphones - my most used headphone)
AKG K371 5.0 (good tuning but lacking emotion and comfort)
AKG K361 5.5 (better than K371 but still not very exciting to listen too - good for the price)
Shure Aonic 50 4.0 (sounded weird and metallic. ANC was pretty bad)
Hifiman Sundara 9.0 (everyone favourite headphone, its awesome, just lacking a bit comfort)
Beyerdynamic TYGR 7.5 (pretty solid)
Audio Technica ATH-R70x 8.75 (very natural and easy sound, great comfort)
Hifiman Deva 7.5 (Sundaras little sister with Bluetooth)
Sennheiser HD560s 7.75 (very good for the price, great comfort just lacking some emotion)
Hifiman Deva Pro 8.0 (a bit more detailed than original Deva)
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless 5.0 (stuttering BT and a bit bloaty but natural sound, ANC not that good)
Hifiman HE-400se 8.25 (sweet for the price, Sundaras little Brother)
Hifiman Edition XS 9.5 (best I`ve listened so far, comfort much better than all other headphones I tried, but giving a 10/10 would be unethical :p)

Damn that took some time to remember them all, also yes I like the planar sound :D
What's "...lacking emotion"? Can a design "be over emotional"?
 

solderdude

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Sennheiser HD 58X:
- Confort: Average, clamping force is high and I'm having a hard fixing it.

This trick does not work ?
For it to work it does require the metal parts have to be extended though.
index.php
 

Sombreuil

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No it doesn't, or at least not as much as I expected. I guess it's the way it is or I'm just too used to the HD 598.
 

majingotan

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2022 Update:

Here's my IEM and headphone list:
Caveat Emptor: it will always be subjective opinion. Stock tuning, no EQ evaluation

S Tier – summitFi, world best headphones
and IEM

Oriolus Traillii JP

+ Tonality (especially on treble frequencies)
+ Absolute best soundstage, depth and width that I've heard in IEM classification (a clear step above CA Andromeda in this regard)
+ Focal Utopia level dynamics and punch
+ tonality suits all genres IMHO
- Not as good sounding as HiFiman Susvara subjectively

CA Andromeda CK Pacific Blue
+ Tonality (for some it's the polar opposite)
+ top tier soundstage, depth and width in IEM classification
+ nice dynamics and punch
+ tonality suits all genres IMHO
- there are IEMs that have better dynamics subjectively
- just having a slightly less top end "air" (BA driver limitation when compared to quad ESTs from Oriolus Traillii)

Focal Utopia
+ Tonality
+ unparalleled layering, depth, instrument separation bested only by HiFiman Susvara
+ excellent dynamics and punch
+ Tonality suits all genres IMHO
- slightly less soundstage width than HD800

HiFiman Susvara
+ Tonality
+ unparalleled layering, depth, instrument separation
+ Tonality suits all genres IMHO
- Less punch than Utopia unless it's powered by speaker amps
- HD800 still has a wider soundstage

A Tier – HiFi experience

Sennheiser HD800S

+ Tonality (never sounded harsh/fatiguing to my ears even at 100+ dB SPL listening with No EQ)
+ Unparalleled soundstage (only the Raal SR1 can match its soundstage width)
+ excellent dynamics and punch
- Tonality does not suit all genres
- Imaging can be artificial (after A/Bing with Focal Utopia and Susvara)

HEDDphone
+
Tonality (not harsh sounding at all)
+ Excellent layering, layering, depth, instrument separation (just shy of Focal Utopia, slightly better than HD800S)
+ Excellent Macrodynamics
+ Bass sounds so godly with these
- slightly less soundstage width than HD800

Dan Clark Aeon X Open / Aeon 2 Open (Filterless only)
+
Tonality (S Tier to my taste, absolutely no filters)
+ Excellent layering, layering, depth, instrument separation (Similar to HEDDphone but slightly less "holographic/airy" on the top end)
+ Excellent macrodynamics and punch
+ HD800S resolution/details
- Wish there is more "air" that is clearly heard when demoing Oriolus Traillii, HEDDphone, HD800S, Focal Utopia and HiFiman Susvara
- Included filters are unnecessary and detrimental to its sound IMHO

Focal Clear OG*
+
Tonality suits most genres
+ Excellent layering, layering, depth, instrument separation
+ Excellent macrodynamics and punch
- HD800S and DCA AXO has better resolution / details*
- Wish there is more "air" that is clearly heard when demoing Oriolus Traillii, HEDDphone, HD800S, Focal Utopia and HiFiman Susvara
- DCA AXO is better in tonality and details* (need to reevaluate since I didn't have a direct A/B comparison with DCA AXO, just memory)


B Tier – good headphones

Sennheiser HD650/HD600/HD6XX
+
Tonality
+ Good Imaging, depth and layering
+ Good dynamics and punch
- Detail retrieval has been surpassed with newer headphones at or above its price range (K712 has better details)

AKG K712
+ A Tier soundstage
+ Decent tonality (suits classical music really well)
+ nice dynamics and punch
+ Good layering, depth and instrument separation (works so good on gaming) but clearly behind A Tier
- Detail retrieval (particularly microdetails) is B Tier
- Bass extension is lacking compared to even the HD800S Bass light sounding but bass extension is very good after reevaluation
- Tonality does not suit all genres

CA Vega (2016 edition)
+ A Tier layering, depth and instrument separation in IEM classification
+ Bass extension
+ Nice dynamics and punch
+ Can be found at 1/3 its MSRP thus I consider this now in B Tier, but C Tier at its MSRP
- Tonality is subpar for its asking price
- Andromeda is much better in every aspect of sound

C Tier - okay headphones

Airpods (not the Pro)
+
A Tier tonality/tuning, never harsh, great for audiobooks and podcast streams
+ Okay detail retrieval
+ Perfect for background listening while performing other tasks
- No bass
- Lacking dynamics and punch

F tier – I do not recommend

Sony MDR-7506
+
clear sound, great for tracking
+ built like a tank
+ Dolby headphone DSP works amazingly well with its stock tonality
- lifeless tonality
- bass doesn't have depth
- 2D soundstage
- It's a headphone solely made to not enjoy listening to music IMHO
 
Last edited:

D00M

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My headphones ranking, from highest to lowest, along with my life story ;)

Hifiman Sundara (9/10)
I don't need to provide my review, as there are tons of review online. I love this headphone. Can be used as-is without EQ. Optional to boost bass depending on personal preference. I'm cheapskate, so I have not looked into anything more than $500. Sundara is the best sounding headphones I have owned. Around 20 years ago, I did listen to a Stax that my brother owned. But at the time, I don't know my head from my ass in audio. I just recalled that Stax looked ridiculous with rectangular earcups. I believe my brother paid >$1200 for that Stax. Although Sundara sounds 10/10 to me, I rate it 9/10, simply because I'm sure there are more headphones out there. So need to reserve 10 for end-game.

Sennheiser HD560S (7/10)
Also very popular and many reviews online. Neutral to slightly bright. Great for FPS gaming: excellent imaging for directionality and positioning; decent sound stage. For music, I do prefer some EQ so it is not so bright. Good all-around headphone.

Hifiman Deva (6/10)
This was my first entry-level "audiophile" headphone. Deva sound is a bit unusual. Wide; vocals a bit recessed; still has good enough details and instrument separation to be enjoyable. It was night and day when I heard Deva, compared to mass consumer headphones/earphones I had. I heard details in the same songs I have listened to for 10-20 years. But Deva's value is questionable. With bluetooth, it cost same price as Sundara (around $300). If someone absolutely want bluetooth, then there is no comparison. But for the same price, Sundara is a better buy. Then wired version without bluetooth, Deva cost $190, which is slightly more than HD560S.

Sony MDR-CD900ST (4/10)
This is Studio monitor for Japanese-market only. I bought it in Japan more than 15 years ago, while on business trip. Later, it was imported and available in US. I tested this in electronics store in Japan and I enjoyed it. Well balanced, good vocals (for mass consumer headphones). My brother had MDR-7506. Online, many suspected CD900ST and 7506 are same headphone, just for different markets. No, they are not the same. Both my brother and I liked CD900ST better. At the time, I don't know on-ear vs over-the-ear. I found out this headphone pinch my ears against my eyeglasses. So I sold it to my brother.

Shure AONIC 50 (4/10)
ANC Bluetooth headphone. I find the sound profile much more enjoyable than Sony 1000XM3/4/5 and Bose QC. Still cannot compare vs entry level wired heapdhones. Got it to work-from-home at beginning of COVID.

Audio Technica ATH-A700 (3/10)
After I sold MDR-CD900ST, I wanted to buy another headphone in my following trip to Japan. Japan electronics stores (e.g. Yodobashi Camera) are awesome. They have 50+ headphones on demo. And all are working and hooked. Unfortunately, that particularly time they were playing Jazz. And Audio Technica ATH-A700 sounded great with Jazz music. Good bass, good treble, good soundstage. And it was a good deal, only around $120 in Japan. There was also bunch of Sennheisers on demo. Since I just had comfort issue with Sony MDR-CD900ST, I was sensitive to comfort. I found Sennheisers had more clamping force, whereas A700 had large earcups and lower clamping force. After I bought A700 and I tried it with my music, I realized the sound profile is super v-shaped; vocals sound thin and recessed. There are no returns in Japan. I don't even know what Sennheiser models I demo'ed. I probably would have been better off with any Sennheiser over A700.

Bose QuietComfort 2 (1/10)
Around 15 years ago, United Airline Business class provided Bose ANC headphones for use. I didn't know any better at that time. And dumb me bought into Bose marketing. I got Bose QC2 for its ANC capability. It cost an arm and a leg at that time. Very poor value for its sound quality, just like today's Bose QC and Sony 1000XM3/4/5. And I found out later that IEM can do better job on blocking out all noise, including crying babies on airplanes. My Bose QC2 earcups pivot point broke. Bose has good customer service and warranty and sent me replacement. I sold the replacement QC2 for good $ on eBay. Shure IEM was my savior on airplane flights.

Beyerdynamic DT700 PRO 80ohm (0/10)
I don't know how to describe this headphone and why it had such a negative effect on me. It sounds dark and bright at same time. Very harsh metallic sounds stood out. After 15 minutes, my ear started ringing. After 30 minutes, I was getting splitting headache (possibly from the sound and also clamping force). I tried to give it time and mental burn-in. I listened to it at least 3-4 hours each day for 2 weeks. It just didn't work and I had to return it. Beyer sound is not for me.
 
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