• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Which flagship headphone has fantastic soundstage/imaging und bass?

Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
Hi all,

I am looking for a flagship headphone (up to 5k) with a wide convincing soundstage in with and depth along with precise imaging within that soundstage.
I will use it mainly for movie watching and gaming.
Second most important Charakteristik would be to have an (within headphones limits) as much subwoofer‘esque bass as possible. It should have authority/physicality to it, slam good and go all the way to 20hz in a convincing manner.

Third most important would be comfort

Fourth and least important would be detail retrieval ability.

Right now my favorites are the hifiman 1000se and the zmf atrium. Does anyone have experience with those and can tell how well they fit my criteria compared to each other?

Are there any other headphones that would excel in those areas? (They don’t have to be perfect in all of them)

My budget is up to 5k.

Thanks a lot for your time!
 

DVDdoug

Major Contributor
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
3,082
Likes
4,062
Very few people get a realistic soundstage illusion with headphones. Headphone Soundstage Survey

Comfort is a very personal thing. ;)

There is almost no correlation between headphone price and sound quality (you can sort the reviews here by price or "recommended"). It's unlikely that your favorite headphone would cost $5000 (if you didn't know the brand or price).

And there is a link to a video by Dan Clark (headphone manufacturer) somewhere on the forum and he mentions that distortion is often described as "detail"!!!
 
Last edited:
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
I tried some Arya’s a while ago and I can definitely perceive soundstage with (to the sides) but there was not much depth (front to back). I feel like most headphones lack in depth but many sources say both of these have outstanding depth (especially the atrium with a good tube amp).
 

kemmler3D

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3,573
Likes
7,309
Location
San Francisco
If you want soundstage from headphones, my advice is:

  1. Go to an audio show and listen to every headphone available to demo. If you are lucky, one of them will match your particular ear shape and give you good soundstage naturally.
  2. Get any headphone with good bass extension and low distortion, then EQ and use crossfeed. (this is what I did.)
I can tell you Audeze LCD-XC has amazing bass and very low distortion so it takes EQ easily. After adding some crossfeed, the soundstage becomes perhaps not wide beyond my head, but subjectively deeper and more continuous, like L| | | | | C | | | | |R instead of L|| ___ ||C|| ___ ||R without it.
 

Dunring

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2021
Messages
1,318
Likes
1,422
Location
Florida
This is a contradiction you mention. Headphones like the Sennheiser HD800s have a wide and deep soundstage effect because of the open back design. Headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 250 ohm for example, extend the bass down and since they're closed back you get great deep bass in music that has it. Trying for subwoofer like bass and huge sound stage effect just contradict each other.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
Well then I at least want one which gets as far as possible in both departments. It doesent have to be perfect in all departments. I would be willing to give up some bass ability for example if all the other criteria are met.

The hd800s soundstage is very wide all the time. I rather prefer one which can switch between wide and more intimate depending on the input and is good at layering sounds rather then having them very far away all the time.

Crossfeed is an interesting suggestion, I will try it out! Also good to know to look at bass distortion to see how well eq‘able the bass is. Makes a lot of sense.
 
Last edited:

majingotan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
1,543
Likes
1,831
Location
Laguna, Philippines
Trying for subwoofer like bass and huge sound stage effect just contradict each other.

Have you tried the DCA Expanse and Stealth? Both pull off these big bass and soundstage effect with ease
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
I appreciate the suggestions. The lcd x seem very good for bass and , although maybe not the absolute best in the soundstage/imgaing department. Since I sometimes game for many hours I fear they would be to heavy for that.

I haven’t heard much good about the DCA expanse but will check it out again along with the stealth but I will check them out again. Has anyone here experience with the atrium and can tell how it relates to my preferences?

I appreciate your time!
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
3,359
Likes
5,327
Location
Nashville
If you want to watch movies over headphones, buy the Audeze or HD 800's and get a Smyth A16 Realizer, then get a measurement of a great speaker system, and experience Atmos, DTS-X, and Auro 3D over headphones. Better to spend $1000 on the phones and $4000 for the Realizer than buy a $5000 set of headphones. And, as a Realizer owner who has a 24 channel measurement of Dutch & Dutch 8C's made in a recording studio, I can tell you it's literally light years better than just buying a $5000 set of headphones and listening to a two channel feed of a movie. Absolutely no question about it.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
I wish I could demo the smyth realizer somehow. It looks to offer exactly what I am looking for. Problem is it costs 6k here in Germany :/. That’s a lot of money for something that’s so hard to judge if you haven’t heard it yourself and is not measureable, as much as I trust your judgment!
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
3,359
Likes
5,327
Location
Nashville
I wish I could demo the smyth realizer somehow. It looks to offer exactly what I am looking for. Problem is it costs 6k here in Germany :/. That’s a lot of money for something that’s so hard to judge if you haven’t heard it yourself and is not measureable, as much as I trust your judgment!
It is a big commitment, but if you want to hear movies in multichannel, and not have the sound inside your head, it's unique. I use it everyday, and when I watch movies, I hear a sound field as wide as my room, and I hear it in front of me, to the side, behind, and above in front, side and behind, as well as movie level bass. If you can find a way to demo it, you absolutely want to. There is a shop in Paris, run by Gilles Gerin called "Club Realiser". The information can be found on Head Fi when the Realizer has its own dedicated thread. Anyway, that shop has Realizer's to demo, and will if you ask them nice, possibly make a replica measurement of the in shop speakers. You can then do quick A-B's of the Realizer emulation and the actual speakers playing in the room, and you will find the two are nearly if not completely indistinguishable. There's nothing else like it.

 

johny_2000

Active Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2024
Messages
142
Likes
65
Location
Suburb of Seattle
This is a contradiction you mention. Headphones like the Sennheiser HD800s have a wide and deep soundstage effect because of the open back design. Headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 250 ohm for example, extend the bass down and since they're closed back you get great deep bass in music that has it. Trying for subwoofer like bass and huge sound stage effect just contradict each other.
I understand what topic starter is looking for in the headphones. I'm doing the same thing and still can't find a replacement for my HD650 which doesn't have sub bass.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
Right now I am rather leaning towards the HE1000SE because of its imaging capabilities along with the wide soundstage and detail retrieval abilities and then boost the subbass.

Only thing holding me back is that some people claim the atrium has even more soundstage depth when driven of a good fitting tube amp. It isn’t quite as good in imaging and detail though.

I might get the he1000se first and then maybe find a way to try the atrium.
 

hex168

Senior Member
Joined
May 29, 2020
Messages
401
Likes
342
There are intermediate solutions less effective but cheaper than than the Realizer but better than simple crossfeed. Reputedly, have not heard them. The top BACCH solution for headphones might be in the same league; haven't heard it either and can't find it on their website.
Possibly helpful threads:
 

Mr Swing King

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2023
Messages
78
Likes
197
Location
Jutland
Looking for soundstage in headphones is like fishing for sharks in the Sahara or similarly trying to measure biceps on bunnyrabbits.

What can give a larger sense of scale pertaining to headphone listening, in my opinion anyway, is the size of the cups. Also jives fairly well with headphones supposedly heralded for their large soundstages; HD800, K7XX series, eggshaped Hifimans and so forth. All come with very large cups.
It doesn’t really change the soundstage other than perhaps giving the sensation of something more ‘grandiose’ because of those enormous cups.
The previous rec regarding the Smyth Realiser though is the only gear I’ve ever tried that successfully portrays a real speaker experience and gives you a realistic soundstage.

Out of the two headphones you’ve mentioned, I’d go for the Hifiman - most especially if you’re going to try the Smyth or a similar thing. Low distortion is a great starting point if you’re going to season the listening experience via EQ/DSP.
 
OP
G
Joined
Oct 4, 2023
Messages
88
Likes
13
There are intermediate solutions less effective but cheaper than than the Realizer but better than simple crossfeed. Reputedly, have not heard them. The top BACCH solution for headphones might be in the same league; haven't heard it either and can't find it on their website.
Possibly helpful threads:
Thanks a lot for recommending those, I appreciate it!

Thanks all for your insight, I will try to find a way to compare both.
 
Top Bottom