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What are the most expensive headphones you own or have listened to?

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#1
What did/do you think of them compared to cheaper ones?

There seems to be a consensus here that there are no audible improvements for amps and DACs once you go past around $100 for each, so I'm wondering what the prevailing opinion here is for what the ... let's call it "audible threshold price limit" (ATPL) is for headphones. In my experience, the HD800 made a lot of other things hard to listen to. I feel like there's a significant character it keeps that make it better than other headphones even when it's EQ'd. I don't like how bright the stock HD800 is, at all. Yet, I'd have to take it over the lower-priced Audezes despite in a sense enjoying their flavor more. So in the Audeze line, I'd find it very difficult to live with an LCD-2 or 3, but I could be very happy with the 4. Currently, I've put an embarrassing amount of money into my headphone choices, while seeing no reason to go past the $200 for the basic Atom/KTB stack.
 
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majingotan

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#3
Heard these quite a few times Raal SR1a, Stax SR-009, Dan Clark Voce, Focal Utopia, HEDD AMT, Focal Stellia, Sennheiser HD800S. IMHO, I only consider the Stax SR009, Raal SR1a and the Dan Clark Voce on the same level or slightly better than my Yamaha HS7 speakers (listening near field on axis, 2 feet away from tweeters). IMHO, decent active speakers for less than 1K USD are the cheapest way to reach those multi kilobuck headphone sonic quality for my preferences.
 

Eurasian

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#4
Stax Lambda Pro Sigs still sound great to me. They were about $1200 in 1990 with the dedicated amplifier.
 
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#6
Undoubtedly the Audio-Technica ATH-M50.

They are, after all, what started me on the audiophile headphone hobby.

After 8 years, mine are still going strong. They have survived my personally owned Grado SR80, Hifiman HE-400, Hifiman HE-400i, HE-560, a STAX system, a couple of tube amps, three solid-state amps, in addition to visits to stores auditioning headphones like the Senn HD800, Beyer DT1990, $1000+ Audio Technicas (and most recently, the Final Audio Sonorous VII), because of how simple and fuss-free they are.

I still recommend the ATH-M50x to listeners who just want to upgrade from the free earphones that come with their mobiles. I actually know many who really love music and are happily listening with those free earphones, but I'd consider the M50x to be an 'objective' quality upgrade.

Can it get better technically? Objectively? Definitely.

They can get the Fostex T60RP, Audio-Technica ATH-R70X, or ATH-M70x, all of which cost less than $400 USD. This, IMO, is the real point of diminishing returns, where they are pretty much bottoming out the 'musical' detail available in the source files. After this, it's just a matter of detail 'emphasis' and presentation.

Then I dissuade them from joining asinine on-line audiophile communities and forums*. :cool:

I'd recommend they take a one-month vacation and travel, get that iMac/Macbook Pro/Gaming PC they always wanted, or buy a motorcycle, or a car, instead.

*Except maybe this one.
 

Martin

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#9
Listened to: Focal Clear on a Burson Conductor 3 and Audeze LCD-X on a Benchmark HPA4, both at the Florida Audio Expo last month. I loved the LCD-X.
Own currently: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro on a Topping DX7 Pro.

Martin
 
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frogmeat69

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#12
Audeze LCD-3f, got them on sale in a package deal with the iFi Pro iCan amp from Adorama 4 years ago.
Refuse to listen to anything more expensive, don't want to be tempted, not that they would sound any better, it's just that I'm weak, lol.
 

cjfrbw

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#13
After many expensive headphones ( I own Sony Z1R and have have a few Stax) I think Sennheiser HD580 and it's variants are fine sounding. I think the sweet spot for sound/price would be the Sony Z7, which can be found for less than $300. Z7 is a much underestimated headphone with very high quality.

For electrostats with their special qualities, any old Stax with an amplifier converter box will sound great. You don't need them to be the newer high bias ones. However, even old Stax have gotten much more expensive due to used demand, so I wouldn't call any of them cheap. I got a pair of Stax SR 3 with converter box on ebay many years ago, with upgraded diaphragms, for $80, but I don't think that kind of bargain exist any more. They sound wonderful.
 

Patrick1958

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#14
Sennheiser HD 800, AKG K812 with the AKG having my preference a tad more. On the other hand i also enjoy listening with the Senn HD 600, HD 650 (with additional EQ'ing after Solderdude measured mine) Philips X2HR, Beyerdynamic 1990 analytical earpads and an eq'd Senn PX100 II for on the go. The Shure SRH 1540 imo best closed headphone in it's price range.
 

solderdude

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#15
What are the most expensive headphones you own or have listened to ?

Listened to: Sennheiser HE-1
own: HD800 (with EQ)
Cheapest, best sounding alternatives to me a.t.m.:
Open:
Philips X2HR (modified)
Closed:
DT1770 (modified)
 
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#16
I was wondering how long it'd take for someone else who'd listened to the Sennheiser HE-1 to chime in. I couldn't help but get my hopes up before putting them on and proceeded to not be blown away. Good, sure, but not instantly and clearly better than my HD800. The bass was impressive, I'll give them that.
In quick listens the Focal Utopia was more noticeably different, but not better. I think I've strapped on some Audessy cans that fall in the same camp, Abyss underwhelmed. Jerry Harvey Layla impressed me a little more, but none of the above gave me any upgraditis itch at all. Off the top of my sleepy head, the cheapest headphones that slid into my wide "good enough, I could be happy with these" tier were the Periodic Audio Be. I'm realizing that I'm not nearly as critical a headphone evaluator as I am with speakers.
 

Fluffy

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#17
In headphones, the diminishing returns diminish slower than in electronics. 300-400$ can get you endgame dac+amp, but for headphones I think this is only where the good stuff starts. Transducers are just harder to build and perfect, and especially headphones where you can't truly trust any measurement you make (because of the issues with HRTF).

I've heard most of the high-end headphones in various shows and stores (abyss, stax, Sonoma, etc). My ATPL is probably around 3000$. But that's for strictly unable to hear any improvement. Upgrades below that are still very subtle. The difference between 1500$ and 3000$ is very miniscule, for example. That's why while I think the Focal Utopia sounds better, I own the focal clear because it's third of the price, with 95% of the sound.

Some types of drivers have advantages over others. I see the appeal of electrostats, but they are inherently much pricier than planars and dynamics, and this cost Is not always justified. Other things like the insanely priced ABYSS AB-1266 Phi or the Sonoma model one are just not worth it. These headphones are the equivalent of high-end boutique electronics that out-price their performance.
 

solderdude

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#18
I was wondering how long it'd take for someone else who'd listened to the Sennheiser HE-1 to chime in. I couldn't help but get my hopes up before putting them on and proceeded to not be blown away. Good, sure, but not instantly and clearly better than my HD800. The bass was impressive, I'll give them that.
I had quite a lot of time with the HE-1 and could compare them on the same music source to the HD800S and (at that moment the first HD660S).
Didn't have any expectations from them which may have helped and could freely switch between the headphones and (quite limited) amount of music I wasn't familiar with.

Indeed bass was excellent but in all other aspects it also beat the HD800S and HD660S. I am quite familiar with the HD800 (albeit with EQ) and while it is my favorite headphone (I find it to sound quite 'effortless') the HE-1 was even more 'effortless'. It just sounded incredibly good.
It didn't sound E 57.000.- 'better' though, but was superior... and should be for the price.

The Sonoma model 1 wasn't that far behind IMO but clips at 'impressive' levels.
10x cheaper though and could not compare to the HE-1 so is from memory but could compare it directly to my EQ'ed HD800.
 
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#19
In headphones, the diminishing returns diminish slower than in electronics. 300-400$ can get you endgame dac+amp, but for headphones I think this is only where the good stuff starts.
I disagree, but only in a sense. There are several considerations:

Price, particularly with 'high-end audiophile' headphones (and audiophile products in general) is more of a marketing/positioning consideration, rather than a technical one.

Then, there is preference. Different people like different sound signatures, aesthetics, and sonic characteristics (dynamic vs. planar vs. electrostat).

Finally, there is the simpler and more technical question of whether a transducer (headphones in this case) can reproduce recorded music with hi-fidelity.

From a practical perspective, I say yes, this is possible in the $300-$600 range. I just happen to prefer listening to music on professional monitors rather than boutique audiophile products.

I couldn't care less what the Orpheus, Abyss, or Utopia sounds like. I just want to hear what the music is meant to sound like.
 
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wje

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#20
Highest price of headphones I've owned - the Focal Utopia. I've also owned the Clear, Elex and Elega, too. They all had their unique points. I only sold the Utopia after a few weeks because I didn't want to be limited to listening in the corner of my bedroom at the computer - or, at least at that time.

I've had a chance to listen to Stax headphones in the past at current headphone meets and have enjoyed the the amps produced by Justin of Head Amp - especially the Blue Hawaii. (Sorry, no heart emoticon present here.)

A local audio shop has the newer Sennheiser Orpheus system on display. But, I tend to shy away from listening to devices that are out of my price league ($55K) to avoid crazy thoughts from entering my mind. :p

At the moment, what am I enjoying? Simply the Drop version of the HD-558 Jubilee as well as the Drop version of the Meze 99 classic. I'm content.
 
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