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What Headphones Do You Actually Use?


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As a group of veteran audiophiles who have repeatedly espoused the sentiment that "end-game is the point of the game", I'm curious what that actually looks like. What air vibrators consistently end up strapped to your noggin? Or have you all abandoned headphones in favor of speakers and whiskey?

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I submit an R10 icon

Circa 1996.  Sony MDR-CD1700. I modified it recently for a balanced amplification.  Stock is single-end only with wiring going into the left earcup.   The CD1700 is seriously awesome after the mod.  I

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Headphones ordered roughly by decreasing frequency of use:

  • Audio Zenith PMx2 (really convenient!)
  • Stax SR-007A (mid-2015 revision) (paired with a KGSSHV Carbon or KGST)
  • Campfire Audio Andromeda
  • JH13fp (of course)
  • Oppo PM-3 (for closed use, often when playing (digital) piano)
  • Sennheiser HD600 (mid-1999!)

Still consider the HD800 an excellent headphone albeit one that benefits more from EQ than any of the above. Heard many current-TOTLs, consider most of them underwhelming or flawed compared to the above. Curious about ZMF products, never had a chance to try one unfortunately.

Speakers, including inexpensive ones, surpass all of the above by a large margin, but I don't live alone so can't rock them too often.

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I choose a different earphone from my collection every week but for some reason I always go back to my 007

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In decreasing order of use, more or less

Koss Esp-950                                     -  effortless & forgiving, mid-range to die for, not as resolving as Stax

Spiral ear SE5-way U                         -  nearly perfect for portable use

Stax SR-007A                                      -  can't listen to poorly recorded albums. but so resolving with the right material

Beyerdynamic DT-990 (600 ohm)    -  for a change of pace, were my primary phones for years. sparkling top end

Beyerdynamic DT-1350                      -   HD25 killer that now gets abused, worn in the rain, around the garage

Etymotic ER4                                       -   superb isolation, uncomfortable for extended use but ideal on airplanes

 

 

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While i had 727II with SR-009, SS Dynalo with HD800 was getting most of the playing time. After getting the the RME and its parametric EQ, the SR-009 almost got sold as i did not really see the point of owning it. If i did not find the SRX+ and decided to build one for myself, they would probably be gone already.  Bought 95x locally and for cheap, decided to use it for backup and testing. HD800 took a step back to the SR-009. After that i got an itch and decided to build the Carbon. Now i generally use the 95x. Carbon removed a good part of that gap and they are a lesser pain in the ass somehow. I think i need the 007s..

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For me, and endgame headphone needs to achieve two things: it needs to be balanced and natural enough to be enjoyable with a wide range of music (also very easy to tweak the rest of the chain) and it also needs to be magical (ipad jokes incoming). Some headphones do one thing well, HD600 comes to mind for the first, HE90 for the second.
Luckily, for me, the SR-Lambda scores a double hit. 

After the first try in 2009, somehow along the way, I lost sight of how unremarkably amazing it was, but all is well since 2012. Flirting with other headphones is jolly good fun, in that sense, there is no endgame headphone. But in this case, it's only about keeping the relationship stable and everlasting 😏

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These days I spend more time listening to earphones more than my full size headphones.  With less time for listening at home, I spend more time listening at work.  I can use a full size cans at work but I prefer a more discrete device 

1.  Sony IER-Z1R.  Seriously good sound for an IEM with really good isolation.  Wearing comfort is a top notch to me.  So a preferred choice while listen at work.

2.  Sony MDR-EX1000.  This is a really lovely sounding earphones.  Isolation is rather poor so I use it a little less than the IER-Z1R but the sound quality is top notch.  In many ways I do prefer them over the IER sound wise.  I like both the EX1000 and the Z1R more than my JH13Pro....so the the old 13Pro FP isn’t used much anymore.
 

3.  Senn HD800 reterminated with a Furutech 4.4 mm.  Most top end DAPs are now very capable of driving the HD800 very well now.....so I listen to them more than ever around the house.  Whenever possible, I fire up my ECP Ravenswood/DSHA-4 or L3 to really hear what they can really do.

 

4.  Stax SR-009 is now forth on the list.  I use it mostly with the Headamp Aristaeus for simplicity.  I also listen to Wachara’s HE90 Clone as well.

 

Edited by purk
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Not the RAAL but I did try the Empy thanks to Justin.  The sound is bassy and beautiful.  I found them warmer than neutral but very refined; however, they still sound like most plannars to my ears and not transparent and airy enough.   Hate to say it but I thought the Susvara was super wonderful sounding.  It was transparent and very musical out of Justin’s GSX mini.  Since I don’t like how Hifiman conducts their business, the Susvara is off the table for me. 
 

 The SDR mod HD800 has really grown on me the last few years.  They are very robust, durable, and sound really good out of my modified Sony NW-WM1A walkman.  They are within the striking distance to the Susvara and the 009 when driven by Doug’s  L3.  This is same pair of the HD800 that bought from Justin for $900 back in 2010.  I reterminated all of my headphones including the R10 with 4.4 mm balanced plug so I can use them with my Sony Walkman.

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When I joined Head-Fi back around 2005, I had my trusty AKG K340, which I bought new in '83. Since then I've tried numerous models. Liked many, disliked many. But once I tried the AKG K1000 I knew I'd found my headphones. They're still my go to headphones, and I seriously doubt that'll change in the foreseeable future. Are there technically better headphones? Sure. But there are no other headphones with the presentation of the K1000. It's that quasi speaker like presentation that still pulls me in. I do miss the Pioneer M22 driving them, but my Exposure 2010S does a fine job of pushing these power hungry drivers.

When I need a little more privacy it's generally the Senn. 580, but the Senn. 650 for more punchy material.

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Honestly I just use the HD650 something like 95% of the time. It's like mom's chicken noodle soup, or a pair of old fuzzy slippers, headphone comfort food that won't knock your socks off but is just pleasant and relaxing and nice, without doing much of anything wrong. These days, with so much crap going on in my life and outside of it, that's pretty much all I'm looking for most of the time. And the FR is damn near perfect.

Other headphones are the Stax L700, which has some faults but is just so damn musical, the Utopia, which sounds great but is a bit fatiguing so I might ditch it, and the SR-007. The latter won't fit my head properly, I more or less have to hold the earcups in place so it gets next to no use, but damn it sounds great when everything works out. If only Stax updated the ergonomics...

On the move I use the Westone UM Pro 50, for similar reasons to the HD650, though I do EQ it a bit. But then again I EQ everything.

Might get some RAALs at some point, but have concerns over brightness/fatigue.

I'm not very bright, and neither should be my headphones!

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On the go it's airpods pro.  They're wildly convenient, though hardly great-sounding.  At home it's HD800s, vintage Grado RS-1s, or JH13s if I need privacy.  Looks like the Raals are the new hotness, so I will probably grab those.

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OoOo.. I only considered music I have two additional items I use everyday. 

Purity ones for on the go YouTube videos and podcasts. Sound quality for these is irrelevant. They cost $20 which is the main thing because I lose one or both every other month. 

Sennheiser gsp 670 for gaming. Sound quality is good but not great. I really love these because can get up to get food and still talk in discord and they BT to the phone since I'm on call all the time. 

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3 hours ago, MexicanDragon said:

You gonna use them with the Bluetooth setup?

Was only joking. Again, not a fan of Hifiman as a company so I will not support their products.  I admit loving the Susvara though.

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