Wall of Fame Full-Size Open Adjustments and Questions

While in the process of writing my LCD-4 review, I began to consider what qualifications a headphone should have to make the Wall of Fame Full-Sized Open Headphones. My general principles so far is that for each category page I need one or two headphones in each price range that I feel are the best performers. Generally speaking, I see the price ranges as: Under $100; $100-$300; $300-$600; $600-$1000; and $1000+.

The wicket gets a bit sticky sometimes, however. For example, I think it's reasonable to have a pick or two from each of the three major headphone types in the upper end of this category—dynamic, planar magnetic, and electrostatic. So rules are not hard and fast, but I don't think the list should get too long.

As I looked at the list and considered what changes ought be made, the one headphone that looked weak to me was the Philips Fidelio X2. I like this headphone quite a bit—it's small bass boost before roll-off in the lows and general tonal profile are quite good. But it also has a grainy character that grew ever more apparent to me over time, and I saw a lot of posts subsequent to my review that indicated folks thought I kinda blew it on that pick. In retrospect, they're right—especially with the new HE400S at the same price and its very good performance.

I almost took the Stax SR-009 off the WoF as it didn't really fare well at Big Sound 2015, but I didn't have an alternate pick I was comfortable with for an electrostatic headphone, so decided to let it stay on. It's a good headphone, but damned expensive. I really don't like the trend of manufacturers making ever more expensive headphones as the norm. On the other hand, despite how you or I might feel about it, there are folks with big, fat wallets that can easily purchase cans in this price range. Value has a completely different meaning to them, and they need to be served by the WoF as well.

Another problem with this WoF page is that it's missing any headphone entry for headphones less than $299, and there are no headphones between the $399 HD 600 and $1499 Ether. I don't like these large gaps.

It has always seemed to me the $500-$1000 area should be the hot price range for very good cans of this type, but as you can see it's completely empty. I think this is happening because the vast consuming public probably won't consider headphones above $500, and the enthusiast market is apparently more than willing to pay $1000+ for their pride and joy headphone. Manufacturers just don't need to go there. But I'd bet the first company to make a really great $699 headphone will make a killing.

Anyway, my question for you today, dear InnerFidelity readers, is what headphones do you think I should consider for these empty price ranges? I'm particularly interested in headphones that have a broad and strong consensus among enthusiast listeners. Looking forward to your thoughts.

thoailong87's picture

Have you considered the ZMF Omni and Oppo PM-2's for this range? Your review led me to purchase the latter and I liked them a lot.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
ZMF is mostly closed, probably should consider it for the sealed area.

Hm, yes, I'll think about the PM2. It's a worthy headphone in the missing price range.

grizzlybeast's picture

For the upper midfi range, there are quite a few headphones available but that section may need a little less scrutiny and more grace because there seems to be more polarizing tunings in that category or somethings that, to your personal tastes may have to be overlooked. Take the HE560 for example, it has a hard treble, thin midrange, and fast/controlled bass but is a bit dry sounding. However, technically it punches pretty high above its price and stares some totL headphones square in the face. That headphone, though not for me may deserve a WOF spot. Moving on to the closed back section you may be able to find some headphones that sound good but have awful fits etc. My personal favs for closed backs are the ZMF OMNI and THX00 both WOF material in my opinion.

ktmracer's picture

Here is what I'd like to see:

Open Dynamic 1:
Open Dynamic 2:
Open Planar 1:
Open Planar 2:
Closed Dynamic 1:
Closed Dynamic 2:
Closed Planar 1:
Closed Planar 2:
IEM 1:
IEM 2:
Custom IEM 1:
Custom IEM 2:

Have this format repeated for $1000-$2000, $500-$1000, $250-$500, $100-$250, and under $100.

Electrostats can have their own special section since only a few models are currently manufactured.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Nice precise view. Probably goes along with the Orange bike. :)
Thanks for the input.
ar's picture

Mathematically, money scales work better when you double.

So if you start at 100:
100 - 200 - 400 - 800 - 1600 - 3200 (which sorta matches the pricing you have now, with a few gaps).

I feel that you should not feel obligated to fill a "dot" just because there is one.
So if there isn't a good open sub-$300 headphone - no need to invent one and sacrifice objectivity. (like you did with Monoprice in closed ;) )

I'd simply want to know that "outstanding performers in space are..." and they cost what they cost.

24grant24's picture

Cans I've heard good things about, and should probably be investigated further
Takstar Hi2050
Philips Shp9500
akg k612
Superlux 668b
Audio Technica R70x

24grant24's picture

might as well throw these out there even though they probably don't meet the criteria for the wall in some way
Zmf Omni
Some you might reconsider
Hifiman He400i
Hifiman He560
Beyerdynamic dt880
sennheiser hd598
an open Audio Technica
one of the new mid level Stax

You should also visually separate the decommissioned headphones a little more, and reduce the size of their pictures. I might suggest that only a few headphones really belong on the wall of fame. I would really consider dropping the he-1000 since it got quite a few knocks in the LCD-4 Review, and maybe even the Ether since its review wasn't exactly glowing, with praise (although there is a new 1.1 update) I also think this would be a good time to re-evaluate all of the walls of fame. Ether C on the closed wof is a notable example

Impulse's picture

K7xx on Massdrop for $200 and DT-880 on sale for $200, sure, problem is Massdrop isn't always an option and that regular price of the equivalent K712 is over $300 (the Beyers often go that high too)...

At that point they run into the HE-400S and even the HD600 which sometimes goes on sale for $250... None are bad, they all have their merits, but the AKG & Beyer would be looking at a similar scenario as the X2 IMO.

What the list really needs are some options for well under $200 & $100, like the HD5x8, agreed on those.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
K7xx and DT880 did come to mind as alternate pairings for the HD 600, so good point there.

Ether C review in the works...it's pretty good.

donjoe's picture

One that definitely needs further investigation is the Superlux HD668B, a headset he evaluated and measured without burning-in, which lead to a strangely negative review (strange when taken in the context of all reviews that exist for these cans) and to potentially misleading measured responses which differ immensely from the GoldenEars measurements of the same cans:

- the frequency response turned out way less extended on Tyll's graph, going from about 35 Hz to 10.5 kHz along the 1 kHz "0 dB" reference line, whereas in the GoldenEars measurement it goes from 30 to at least 12 and even 17 kHz, if you ignore the localized dip shown for one of the cups; this is just what you would expect from a can that has been repeatedly said to be mediocre until you burn it in properly; furthermore, the brightness of the 668B extends with burn-in from a peak to more of a plateau and becomes quite a bit more tolerable because of this, which could remove some of the insistence one might put on how harsh they are and how important it is to equalize them for long-term use

- the impulse and step responses are incomprehensibly muddy, visibly worse than those of the Aurvana Live!, for instance, whereas in the GoldenEars measurements the reverse is true, again by quite a visible margin; it's not possible for both of these measurements to correspond with the reality of how many reviewers had words of praise for the 668B's fast transient response and how few reviewers said the same of the CAL.

recarcar's picture

This phone can easily be had (I think a couple times of year) for $600-$700. Yup, It's old, it doesn't have sturdy feeling build (though I have had not problems with its build quality), not flashy at all, but it is quite good IMO. It does what a lot of other much more expensive cans don't seem to do very often, namely, do almost everything well with few glaring weaknesses.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
ESP 950 is a great suggestion. The only problem I have with it is historical unreliability. I'd love to hear from folks whether or not they've had problems with it.
JE's picture

The annoying squeal issue, out of sudden, few days after receiving my pair (even though the pair was said to be working perfectly for years). And I am far from being the only one.

Otherwise, the quality of earpads is utterly disappointing (Sennheiser HD201 level or even worse). Ergonomics are far from perfect as well which actually harms listening experience (lack of proper seal due to imperfect earpad shaping + headband construction). The way earpads are attached to headband does not imply confidence either.

The headphone is really, really good... one of the best in its price range in my opinion. But I would find it foolish to recommend them to a broader public.

avens's picture

If reliability is a factor then all Audeze and Hifiman headphones should be off the Wall :P

Please do a review of the HD558-HD598 (same driver very similar design). The HD598's in particular are a extremely popular starters 'audiophile' choice, so it's a must review really (no matter that I dislike them quite a lot even at the $100 price they go for when discounted).

DrMason's picture

Hi Tyll,

I've experienced the squeal issue, but it's been mostly minor. The thing that gets me about the headphone is that the amp ("energizer") allows you to adjust the R and L channels independently. I've found with my pair that there's some channel imbalance, which makes me want to fiddle with the channel volume. R/L balance can be distracting, especially if there's only imbalance in certain frequencies.

But in terms of pure headphone performance, I've been very impressed with the ESP 950.

thefitz's picture

The only problem that I had with my Koss ESP-950 was once, and only once, I got very loud static from one of the earcups as I turned down the volume. As the knob went down, the volume did not, and when I hit 0, there was a loud hacking. Again, only once. I think the quirks are part of the charm - I adore that set.

acs's picture

I am a happy owner of ESP-950's and think that they are hard to beat in their price range, especially considering that they include an amplifier. They offer a lot of bang for the buck: they are at a point on the price/performance graph where improvement begins to exponentially lag behind expense.

I have had occasional intermittent squeal with the 950's, but it has not been persistent, and is not a deal breaker for me. Certainly other headphones on the list have reliability issues, along with sample variation that could be considered so unacceptable in their price range as to have them removed.

One factor that has gone unmentioned is that the ESP-950's have is a lifetime guarantee. Users have reported the guarantee to be iron clad and no questions asked. If reliability is a factor, then the guarantee should also be taken into consideration.

It would be interesting to take a look at the less expensive STAX system options (SRS-2170, SRS-3170) along with the ESP-950 to consider adding them to the Wall. The fact that they include an amplifier, which is a prerequisite for the other 'phones on the list, could put them in a lower price category than their actual price.

Perhaps you will find that none of them are worthy, but I think that there is enough merit in these lower end electrostatic headphones to warrant investigation, given the need for a worthy product for the Wall in their price range.

Thank you for your time.

acbaines's picture

Hi All,

I am a new member that joined the forum just a few moments ago after a link brought me to this thread. I am a long time owner of the Koss ESP-950 headphones. Recently, after a long absence, I decided to start enjoying my music again. My source is lossless ripped CD's and Tidal HiFi. I prefer jazz and the classic standards of the Sinatra genre.

After retrieving the 950's from my audio cabinet after 5 years, I noticed the ear pads were dry and peeling. (I should have stored them in their dedicated leather case). Koss sold me new ear pads for $6.00 plus their usual $9.00 flat shipping charge. When checking into my account Koss informed me that my set was serviced in 2010 because I accidentally stepped on them and broke the left headphone driver. A new set was sent to me for the grand total of a check for $9.00. What other Headphone manufacturer will ever take care of their customers like that?

I have never had this often mentioned "squeal" in either pair of my 950"s. Yes, these headphones are made of plastic but they are also as light as a feather for hours of comfortable listening. Last week I found a pristine Stax 323S amp for sale for $375.00, it looks like it was never used. I purchased a Koss extension cable from Darin Fong Audio through Amazon for $169.00. When I include both shipping costs I'm all in at less than $600.00. Currently my DAC is a sound blaster E5 via usb from my laptop. (This portable DAC gave me the ability to enjoy my music through the E5's bluetooth connection from my phone on the go with a good set of dynamic headphones). The 3.5mm line out drives the Stax amp through it's RCA inputs. That interconnect cable is better than standard but not exotic.

The sound that is being delivered from these Koss ESP 950's and the Stax 323s is almost magical. The difference between the Stax amp and the Koss E90 amp is massive. I'm now lost in the music now hearing subtle nuances recorded in songs I've listened to for decades. My newly purchased HD800's and unopened AKG K712's are right now offered for sale at auction. Listening to the HD800's modified with the Superdupont Resonator mod really opened my eyes to how good the Koss/Stax combination really performed.

I have read many negative posts concerning the Koss ESP 950's so I wanted to share my very positive experience. However this experience comes at the additional cost of the Stax adapter and Stax amp. If you are patient your investment will be $1200 to $1400 for the Stax adapter, Stax amp and Koss ESP 950 complete package. This combination, in my humble opinion will get you sound that rivals any headphone system in its ability to reproduce the human voice. Piano and other mid- range instruments are also stunningly lifelike in reproduction.

There is room for improvement, higher cost Stax amp, higher cost DAC, higher cost interconnect cables? But right now I will just settle into my listening chair and just enjoy the music.


Reticuli's picture

The one I sent you from Amazon had too much channel imbalance and a hum I couldn't get rid of. The gal at Koss on the phone was rude and then hung up on me, so I sent it back to Amazon. I wish they'd get the QC issues and customer service fixed there, because I quite liked the sound otherwise.

timb5881's picture

I purchased my pair of ESP-950 headphones way back in 1992. I sent them in for the first time this year to have E-90 amp serviced, the caps were old and I was getting the motor boat noise that many old audio pieces get when their caps need replacing. I have also replaced the ear pads a few times. I have listened to several headphones and in ear phones, and I always refer back to my ESP-950's as the benchmark to beat. Some have, but at a way higher price, even if the Koss's were at full retail.
Sooner or latter I am going to try a Stax amp with the ESP-950's, but even with the E-90, they sound so good. I never had any other issues with them. Listening to high resolution files, dsd and PCM, is ever so alluring with the ESP-950's.

ab_ba's picture

Just as there's a target frequency-response curve, there's also a target price/performance curve. It's a saturating exponential: rising sharply, then bending over to gradually approach a saturation point. Tyll has said he likes finding those rare exceptions to the price/performance rule: really good values, or notable underperformers. The question is, what's the target price/performance curve? Most importantly, where is the elbow in that curve? I'll bet it's right around $699 or so - that does seem to be about where you need to start paying a lot more for an additional increase in performance. Two different markets exist on either sides of that elbow.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Yup. Wouldn't quite know how to characterize the price/performance curve objectively, but I do think the knee inflection is far too steep above $600.
potterpastor's picture

Open headphones Under $100
Grado SR80e
Sennheiser HD 558 (now $99 on Amazon)

Under $150
Fostex TP50 MK3

Between $400-$1000
AKG 712pro
Sennheiser HD 700
Hifiman HE400i
Hifiman HE560
Oppo PM2

Maybe you could create a semi-open category too, if there are contenders.

I know you haven't always liked some of these phones, but they may fare better in light of the new pricing parameters. Best wishes.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
That semi-open thing is a pain in the butt. Not sure what to do about it.

SR80 is on-ear. 558 I should try. HD700 is horrible...way too piercing.

HE400i maybe, didn't think the 560 quite cut it.

JE's picture

I would consider adding HD558 as well - my favourite fullsize openback headphones in the price range actually. (My interest is primarily focused on more high-end offerings though.)

Since HE-500 is discontinued and PM2 is not far from it soundwise ( + delivers better looks and ergonomics), I would consider it as well in the end.

potterpastor's picture

558 is pretty decent for the money, kind of a efficient, low rent 650.
Audioquest Nighthawk is semi-open ans smooth sounding, but too dark and elevated in the midbass for me. 650 is as dark as we go!

JK's picture

Fostex TH-x00

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Heard some great things about the Massdrop Fostex, but it's odd availability makes it difficult to recommend to a broad market.
GNagus's picture

I own the HD580, but if i had to replace it tomorrow, I would replace it with the HD650, not the HD600.

The HD580 is my choice over my Grado SR225i for long-term listening, due to its comfort. I haven't heard the 650 yet, but most reviews praise its lack of listener fatigue. Even if its just a touch more refined in this area, then it would be just what I would be looking for: a comfortable headphone that disappears and lets me focus on whatever it is I am listening to.

The HD650 was removed from the WOF after being compared to the HD600. Despite their similarities, perhaps they should be judged on their own merits and intentions.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
That's a tough one for me as I do so prefer the 600 over the more expensive 650, but it's a good point.
lip_lip's picture

I recall reading here that budget cans don't sustain most manufacturer's operations, realistic prices start at 3 digits in a we-help-them-they-help-us kind of mindset..

So why not drop the >$100 and only make notable mentions if warranted. Then break price levels to $100-$200, $200-$400, $400-$600, ... I think for someone basing purchase decisions on WoF, this would be a more gradual upgrade path matching a person's disposable income growth.

As for the vacant $600-$1000, why not look into your database of measurements and pick one that matches the target response and fill the post for the time being?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I would really love to fill in the lower cost area. Actually just found a $79 can that's pretty good. The grunt work is tough though, just so many headphones to get my hands on.

Good point, it may be worth another scan of the PDFs. I'll do that.

logscool's picture

I'd like to suggest that finding an open back full-sized headphone in that closer to ~$100 range is probably important to have a recommendation for people who that is there budget. However the gap in between the HD600 and the higher end headphones is I think more just a result of how the headphone market has played out over time. It does seem that the headphones in this range were in lots of cases made just to fill the gap and really don't deserve the price they ask (HD700 come to mind). Not to say there can't be and aren't headphones in this range that are good (PM2?, HE-560?) but I don't think you should feel a desperate need to put something in there if it doesn't meet your standards.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thank you, that's exactly my thoughts and dissonance when I consider the post above. It's worth trying to find something, but if it doesn't fairly convincingly best the HD 600 then I have a hard time just slapping one in there to fill the hole.
Impulse's picture

Look at the retired list, the Oppos were there but he knocked them off... I'm guessing he thought they weren't worth the extra expense in between say, an HD600 & Ether/HD800.

Dunno, I think even if sonically they don't stand out against those they do bring something different, might've been worth keeping until something else between $600-$1,000 knocks it off.

There have been *some* attempts at that segment, they just didn't pan out (HD700?)... If you have money to splurge you don't care and if you don't you might buy one of the $1,000+ cans used instead.

Impulse's picture

Dunno why that keeps happening...

logscool's picture

Yes I remember when the PM-1 and then PM-2 got put up on the wall of fame. I also know Tyll is very unlikely to put up the HE-560 as he doesn't like it and had ljokerl do a review of it for him. I just thought I would mention what are viewed as a couple of the more successful headphones in this range.

I agree that perhaps the PM-2 should have stayed on the wall, although I haven't heard it.

I think what happened is the headphone world went from having ~$500 (at the time) headphones like the HD650, K702, DT880, etc. be sort of at the top of the range to when the HD800 came out and then suddenly everyone else saw the market for 1k+ headphones and sort of jumped past the $500-$1000 range. It seems like many of the headphones in this range are made purely to fill that gap.

Impulse's picture

It used to be more expensive, but it's commonly found at $99 now and sometimes $80-90.

Impulse's picture

I know this is fluid, but I don't necessarily agree with having an electrostat just to have one (or a Hifiman just to have one, etc)... Why should the consumer care about the tech?

SQ and even things like comfort, availability, ease of driving, etc should all come first IMO. Lay down that hatchet and cut down some more stuff that isn't there solely on it's own merit, it'll be easier to manage in the long run.

coastman25's picture

Greetings from Thailand

Its interesting you should be saying this just now, as I have been looking for some audiophile grade headphones for around the $100 -$150 range. Your wall of fame would suggest no such headphones exist under $299.00.

I have bought the Sennheiser HD598 for $130.00 including postage but think you should review the whole HD500 range. Another contender would be the Philips SHP 9500 which other reviewers seem to regard highly.

Many thanks for your great reviews

Kind Regards

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks. As I was thinking about it, I did look at the Sennheiser offerings, and the thought did come to mind to just try to get Sennheiser to send the whole HD 5xx line in for a listen and measure. You have no idea what a long shot that is.
potterpastor's picture

The 5xx series is a good budget series. They are comfortable, lightweight, fairly efficient at 50ohm, and do a good job of introducing the listener to the Sennheiser house sound.

The big difference between this and the 600 series is when you hook them up to a receiver and turn the volume up loud. The 5xx series drivers vibrate with distortion at high volumes, while the 6xx series is more high fidelity, it stays clear with the volume knob on high end sources turned up loud.

But plugged into a tablet or a MacBook or a phone, or at medium volume on a receiver, the 558 and 598 are pleasant. They sound very similar, the 598 is brighter up top.

veggieboy2001's picture

I was always curious about some of your updates. There are often headphones that get your juices flowing, yet they never end up in a review. (some of the Mr Speakers, HiFiMan, the NightHawk [I'm assuming...unless the jury is still out] ADL just to name a few)

I would think to myself that they didn't cut the mustard, fair enough,(that's always my assumption if you have measurements, but there's no review) but if there's nothing in that price bracket already on the wall, should they at least get a mention so we know what's out there in those price brackets? Not that you should review junk, but if they already caught your interest, there must have been something, no?

Either way I'll definitely echo the ZMF supporters...just a quick demo at a Head-Fi meet (maybe my 1st impressions were wrong, too) but they sounded to me like they play to your strengths.

I've heard some positive reviews of the Beyer 1770, but haven't heard them myself

Maybe the HiFiMan 560 for that open price bracket...

tony's picture

It's because it reveals what our Leading Authority feels.

We, any of us, can simply go to Head-fi to learn what the public says but we can we "rely" on the narrow experience of individual owners?

Big Sound proved the Stax 007 & 009 to be in the top 4 headphones ever. I've owned Stax and agree, they are the best, period. But they are too busy and complex for me.

In the Car Industry the Pagani, Bugatti, Corvette and maybe one of the Italians are the finest transportation devices the Industry ever produced. All are too busy for me.

The Wall of Fame is important because it's Tyll's Wall of Fame. Without Tyll's experience the Wall of Fame becomes a meaningless Marketing ploy, we might as well look to Jude's videos hoping to learn something worthwhile.

Bob Katz has his personal choices ( which are valuable and worthy ), I have my favorite Sennheiser HD series.

If you need something for $800, recommend previously owned HD800.

I consider Innerfidelty the greatest asset and useful authority the Audio Press ever produced. I hope you don't dilute it.

$800 might be a price point the headphone Manufacturers are purposefully ignoring. I'm noticing the Electronics outfits focusing on the $250 to $600 range as a 2016 "Sweet Spot" for new product release.

The Wall of Fame ain't broke..

Nice work,

Tony in Michigan

Impulse's picture

I assume Tyll is looking for suggestions so he can more efficiently manage his time and figure out what's worth listening to or re-listening to for WoF consideration.

It's not exactly easy staying on top of *everything* out there and the changing price points of older products. I'm sure he'd thoroughly evaluate anything before actually putting it up there tho.

Audioaddict's picture

I'd love to see a great 500-800$ ish headphone appear. I was hoping a few years ago the HD 700 would be it, but it wasn't. Once this page of the wall is fixed I feel like the IEM page needs a little love. It seems to me you don't love using IEM's but one line you should check out are the Flare AudioR2 line. I have the R2 Pro, and they slay the Shure SE 535, which is the top dog universal on the page. I've decided on the HD 650 for my open back purchase due to the Hifiman 400S not fitting me well, good luck with this page. I think it is good as is due to the lack of good headphones in the price range gap. A good amp and dac combo with a 400$ ish headphone gets you fairly close to what the 1000+ phones deliver, and I don't know what a few hundred over 400 can get you, even if manufacturers made those kinds of cans.

eric65's picture

Hi Tyll

Maybe not a headphones to $ 699 to make a killing, but a new Russian open electrodynamic headphones to $ 999 will certainly make the job; not to mention her big brother, iso(ortho)dynamic, certainly more expensive ($ 2,250) but that already ranks at top of the sound quality (across all prices) with the best current headphones: SR-009, HE-1000 and Abyss (note: voluntarily, I did not even put the LCD4 on this list). You do not have to believe me, but I invite you to check it with your own ears.

neo's picture

The Fidelio X2 shouldn't be there now. While it is a great sounding headphone, it has been marred by QC issues...

TheFox's picture

I was fortunate enough to get a pre-Gibson X2 (without ink-bleed, even) and thus avoided the whole mess with glued-on earpads, but I really hope they get their act together and produce a worthy successor.

And btw. as far as EU pricing is concerned (assuming the X2's manufacturing issues have been sorted out by now, of course), you can get them now for almost 100 EUR less than the 400S, so they might still be worth consideration.

ar's picture

I got a really early pre-gibson version also.
But had ink-bleed.
Had it swapped for a new one (not a refurb) a year later. Now ink bleed is back. Called them again. Waiting for response. Sad!
Still $300 on amazon in US. Now and then I see them for 280.

They sound better to me than 400s.

Impulse's picture

They dropped to $250 often around end of last year and start of this year... Even $200 at one point. I guess that might've been in the midst of the Gibson brouhaha? Or somewhat later?

The X1 started to drop like that too at one point but it was probably due to the X2 itself. Those shots make them more attractive but you can say that of a lot of other headphones around that level.

Even the HD600/650 go on sale for $250-300 at least a couple times a year.

Vuffy's picture

I feel like the Beyerdynamic T5p is a VERY good headphone in the $600-800 price range. (They run ~$800 new, ~$600 used)

Even though they're marketed as a portable headphone, they're not especially ideal for that, but they are still a fantastic headphone for a home setup!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I appears to be almost impossible for me to get beyerdynamic headphones. So frustrating, they've got a couple of cans I've been bugging them for more than a year to get hold of. :(
ar's picture

I heard 880 was fabulous headphone too.

Just ask users - someone will send it to you. Just for bragging rights. ;)

poleepkwa's picture

Sure its a bit grainy compared to the HD600 or 400S, but its does offer a nice bassy openheadphone with a build quality that shames those other 2 for less money (or used to be...)

Sorrodje's picture

Hi Tyll 600-1000$ range is IMO useless.

HD600 and 650 are better than any headphone I know in that price range so why bother. A few years ago the HE500 was the king in that price range but right now price increased and a great 700$ HE500 became a so so 1000$ HE560. I don't know one 600/1000 headphone that beats a well amped HD650.

Did I say "well amped" ? this is point that mess up things a lot. Stax Lambdas are definily my better candidates for a 500/1000$ range but with no amp, they won't sing that well.

Basically a HD6X0 is rounds circle around shitloads of so called total headphones but need some investment in the amp to shine at their best.

So, IMO, you should consider a wof organized accordingly to the whole budget. not only the headphone. Purrin suggested something like that on SBAF and it's the best approach... for example :

- You have 100$ to spend:

- KSC75 / Porta pro
- Jays V jays
- Senn PX100/200

And forget amp and sources. that does not matter.

300$ to spend ?

- HE400S from a phone
- X1/X2 from a phone
- ...

Still no need of amp and dac.

600$ to spend ?

- HD600 + Valié or Geek out V2
- HE400S + Jdslabs odac/O2

Amp is not mandatory but became useful and brings those headphones to a better level.

1000 $ to spend ?

- Entry level Stax combo
- HD6X0 + bifrost/valhalla 2 schiit stack

2000$ to spend ? headphone X + amp Y + dac Z or ...

and so on... those example are maybe not what you would choose but I hope you get my point. budget should be seen more globally.

Such a ranking would help us when a n00b ask for an amp or a dac to "improve" is headphone. Most headphones do not improve with 100$ dac or amp . that's the truth. before to worry about amp and dac, money is better spent on headphones themselves until we reach a point where the headphine is revealing enough to justify investment in the gear.

Cheers and sorry for my frenglish

Tyll Hertsens's picture
J'approuve ce post! Malheureusement, en recommandant des appariements de produits crée tant de permutations qu'il deviendrait horriblement lourd. Déception pour mon Googlefrench.
JE's picture

Hifiman HE-500 and Koss ESP950 are IMHO kings of 600-1000USD price range. The problem is that HE-500 is now discontinued while ESP950 fragile and too unreliable.

I do not see any currently manufactured headphones that would be worth your Wall in that particular price range, Tyll. Such a headphone should be able to deliver a complete experience, with no significant letdowns. LCD-2 and HE-560 are good cans but not great.

JE's picture

To extend my response down to 500USD mark, Hifiman HE-400i is a solid choice that many folks enjoy regardless of how potent audio chain is being used. This is not quite true with HD6x0 headphones - they require synergistic chain (tubes at best) to get their full potential really unlocked. Aside from HE-400i (and HD650 with a quality chain), I personally cannot think of anything else. Non-massdrop K7xx headphones (K712 Pro) are fine but IMHO not Wall of Fame material when compared side-by-side with existing competition.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks, good comment. Looks like I've got to try the HE-400i again.
MacProCT's picture

I very much agree that there's a huge gap between $400 and $1000 on the WOF and I find it very surprising since HifiMan has so many headphones in this price bracket that are so wonderful.

I've heard the HE400i, HE500 and HE560 and find them to be superb and I'm very surprised that there isn't at least one of them on the wall. To me, these 'phones are reminiscent of Sennheiser's best in that they have a very well balanced response, polite character, tremendous detail, high comfort factor and offer really good value. I think you need to seriously consider all of these models for the wall.

And above $1000, I think HifiMan's HE6 deserves inclusion as it definitely rivals the Sennheiser 800's in some respects. I listened to these two 'phones back to back at the 2015 NY hifi show and I felt the HE6 was a better value.

Since you have so many Audeze models on the Wall, perhaps you feel that they are better than HifiMan's offerings. But you might want to consider the comfort factor more heavily.... personally I could never live with owning a pair of Audeze. They feel like I'm wearing some contraption on my head. And I don't think I'm alone in that perspective. HifiMan's phones are a delight to wear.

-Chris Hart

Impulse's picture

Aren't most of those Audeze in the retired section? I think he could probably split off that section or delete their short description blurb and image and just leave the title + reason it was retired...

eric65's picture

I forgot to give you the brand of the headphones.
For headphones, over 1000 USD, the Kennerton Odin (with a planar Technology) considered by some as a "super HE-6".
For headphones, under USD 1000 (600-1000 USD), the little brother of Kennerton Odin: the Kennerton Vali (Full size open headphone with an electrodynamique technology) considered to some as very close to the Odin, despite the difference in technological choices), but this remains to be confirmed ...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I found the Kennerton cans to uneven.
eric65's picture

You refer to Kennerton Magister? (that you measured)
Indeed, all the headphones of a same brand are not at the same level (eg Sennheiser HD-700 Vs HD-800 Vs HD-800s)

tony's picture

Fiio released their little version of DAC/Amp ( similar to the the OPPO H2 ) for $70 Bucks!

Head-fi has a rather complete review.

$70 is the price of a decent bottle of wine.

Tony in Michigan

sheldaze's picture

HE400i - a well implemented headphone that competes way above its price. And its price has frequently been discounted to $299. Even at the regular price, it is still a great competitor.

elnero's picture

I think the AudioQuest NightHawk should be given consideration. Not only is it a great sounding headphone but it's also the most comfortable and there has been a lot of thought put into the design. I find it very odd that InnerFidelity hasn't reviewed it yet.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I find it too rolled-off. But other than that it has some extraordinary characteristics. (Very low distortion, excellent comfort.)
elnero's picture

It's interesting the differing opinions on it. I find the treble near perfect but then I tend to find most higher-end headphones to be on the bright side. The NightHawk paired with a Chord Mojo and Moon Audio Blue Dragon headphone cable has really hit the mark for me.

thefitz's picture

Resale values can be a funny thing - accurate and even they are not, but I simply cannot think of a better bargain than a pair of used HiFiMAN HE-400. For the (unavailable for purchase) "new" price there's a world of competition, but for the price they're going for used, I think they're a blast.

Is it really impossible to consider that there are no good open phones at the price range you're looking to fill? That is, open headphones you'd recommend over closed headphones at the same price point?

Also, maybe open up your "Stuff We Like" list for easy viewing as well. Of the HiFiMAN HE-560 you said "The only headphone I've encountered thus far in my audio journey that I would trade these for without a second thought is the $4500 STAX SR-009", yet it's not on any list of yours.

Stefraki's picture

One of my favourite headphone families, and amazing value for money. Always wondered why it gets so overlooked, but should be a shoe in for the WOF in my mind...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Definitely going to get my hands on the new Stax.
Dreyka's picture

Firstly, can you start measuring the ear pad dimensions for any headphone you have on the Wall of Fame.

Secondly, the Spirit Pro really shouldn't be considered an over-ear headphone. Make a specific inner ear pad size criteria for a headphone to be considered over-ear based on average US ear size for men. While you don't have to apply that criteria to the measurements database it should be applied to the Wall Of Fame.

Thirdly, can you include Amazon US pricing. The reason is that most have absurd MSRP pricing that is completely unrepresentative of the actual value they sell for. For example, AKG says the K7xx MSRP is $649 when it sells for $199. Perhaps just include a camelcamelcamel link if they are sold on Amazon US. The HE-400i has commonly sold for $299 in the US though EU pricing is far worse.

Full size open needs more budget offerings such as Sennheiser HD5xx line and Philips SHP9500. Getting a DT990 250Ω for measurements would be great though I don't ever see it on the Wall Of Fame with those treble peaks.

Sennheiser released a few more budget closed headphones such as the HD461 and HD471. Audio Technica updated their headphone line with headphones such as the 900Z.

There is a desperate lack of measurements for high end universal IEMs.

I have heard some people liking the Audio Technica EP700. Considering the lack of options for high end open on ear headphones it is worth trying to get.

Eli's picture

Hi Tyll,

I always found the AKG K530 very good, especially for its very low price (less than 100$). Unfortunately they are no longer been sold, except second hand. I own a white and a black pair and both sound different, the black one being much more rolled off in the treble. I always found both to deliver around 75-85% of the HD 600s performance for a bargain price. I do prefer the bass level and punch over that of the HD600/HD650s for example. They are close to neutral, but not quite as smooth and refined as the HD600s. They are semi-open, but can be considered open.
I also own an AKG Q701 and a DT880 600ohm, which I both only use equalized. They do NOT deserve the Wall of Fame because of their treble issues in stock form. Except equalized, maybe.
The Hifiman HE400i is definitely an interesting proposition, on short comparison I found it similar to the HE500 which you liked, just weighing much less. It has much better bass extension than the 400s, but unfortunately still seems to be too bright. But with a little EQ it could be very good. A review from you would definitely be interesting.

Generally speaking, I find it very difficult to find good open over ears. While the closed categories (IEMs, closed on ears, closed over ears) all have been offering great new products, the open over ear category just does not catch up and/or is too expensive for the quality.

By the way I found the new HD451 very peasant for a budget CLOSED. A little lacking in treble energy but very well balanced and natural sounding. Better than the HD471. I think this one could be a candidate for the closed back wall of fame. Would also be nice to see some measurements of the HD451, 461, 471.

Don't be too hard on yourself for recommending the X2, I think it is very good. It's biggest problem is that Philips still does not seem to be selling replacement ear pads.

avens's picture

I'd like to see a Bob Katz's Wall of Fame.

Or at least a list of what you and him actually use.

gibtg's picture

I don't understand the dislike for the Fidelio X2 other than maybe not it's current quality control issues stemming from the company changing hands... Otherwise, it's performance is amazing considering it actually isolates more than any other headphone near it. Also if you enjoy bass, a HD600 or HE400S (stock) just simply won't cut it.

Jim Tavegia's picture

I love my AKG K701 and got them at a great street price and I also love the Grado line and will buy a pair of 325's sometime this year. Mine below these I still love, just not a comfy as I like without the big cushions.

YugiRider2's picture

I know this is not in the price you're looking for, but have you tried the Edition X? A lot of people, including me, prefer the Edition X over the HE-1000. I have owned both and the two headphones are quite similar, with the HE-1000 being slightly more technical. However, I find that the HE-1000 is more sibilant while the Edition X is more warm and relaxing to listen to. At almost half the cost, the Edition X is definitely not half the quality of the HE-1000. Also lighter and far more comfortable to wear.

Tyler Schrank's picture

I think the HD558/598 are competitive in their price range. They give you a taste of the HD600/650 magic. Staging is pretty good. Some slight weaknesses include lower-end distortion and a potentially slightly bright character, but given the price and how often these go on sale, I highly recommend them to friends in the <$200 category.

The K7XX is not bad if you don't mind the slightly bright and uneven upper end characteristics. They do have a fairly warm, full sounding lower end that helps balance them out and makes them more pleasant than the other AKG 7__ headphones I've heard. I personally did not care for them for long-term listening, but I know many don't mind. You can also slap some additional damping on the front side to tame the treble.

You know me, and that I think it's better to spend $300-350 on an HD600/650 (pick based on tastes) than it is on any more pricey open headphone. Use the money you would have otherwise spent on that pricier headphone and save for a "TOTL" DAC and amp combo to drive them...something like the Gungnir multibit paired with a used Eddie Current tube amp or new Zana Deux S. I will argue over and over again that you will not find a more balanced sounding headphone for the price, and the better your rig, the more the HD600/650 will give (dynamics, resolution, staging, etc.). For those willing to mod, the HD650 is absolutely killer if you know what you're doing.

I am hesitant about the PM2 in the $500-1000 category. It's just a bit too dull sounding and not as hi-fi as it should be, granted a lot of that is due to the pad and internal damping choices, but the thick driver seems like it will always have inherent limitations.

The Ether is not too bad, just overpriced for the sound quality you get. However, the driver does have lots of potential. I found it in no way better than the HD650, save for lower distortion bass and slightly better extension. Also be warned that I have heard a few Ethers, and they all sounded slightly different (seems typical of planars, unfortunately).

Then there's the general hesitation I have towards planars in that most seem to have too much of a hard left/right stage, though this is often mitigated if the pads are thick and have a strong angle to them.

I'd rather take the Hifiman Edition-X over the Ether. The HE-X has one of the better tonal balances I've heard of any headphone. It's main problem is that it really starts to fall apart when you turn up the volume. The Ether's tonal balance is rougher and not as natural, but it does handle power much better.

It's pretty tough for me to recommend any open headphone after the Sennheisers. Sure, some of these pricier headphones might best the Senns in one or two areas, but taken as a whole, they falter in more areas. Just not as well rounded. And it's really, really tough to beat the Senns in resolving ability when you pair them with a TOTL setup. That said, if one is afraid of tubes, I don't care for the Senns from solid state amps usually (Black Widow being an exception, but still not ideal).

RazrLeaf's picture

I stand by the perspective that the $500-1000 gap should remain until a product worthy of that gap is found. Please don't be like manufacturers that simply put something in that gap for the sake of filing it.

One of the reasons I regularly reference the WoF is because I know that only worthy headphones make the wall.

MarcoGV's picture

It is hard to find inexpensive full-size open headphones under $100! If you consider street price, the three headphones that come to mind are the Philips SHP9500, the Sennheiser HD518 and HD598, and the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X. Of the ones I own or owned, I prefer the Philips SHP9500 to the Sennheiser HD598 and HD518. The SHP9500 (which cost me about $50, although it is rarely found at that price) is very good for orchestral music and does not have the uneven impedance curve that makes the HD5x8 series sound boomy (with an upper bass boost) when used with a high-output impedance amplifier. The SHP9500, on the other hand, can be used with good results without a headphone amplifier; this is important for someone who has a limited budget. I can see someone owning a good closed on-ear $50-range headphone (yes, there are several of them!) and the SHP9500 and covering a lot of ground for about $100. Another open headphone with good reviews often found for under $100 is the Audio Technica ATH-TAD500, but it has to be imported directly from Japan.

MarcoGV's picture

I meant "the Philips SHP9500, the Sennheiser HD518 and HD558, and the Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X." These are the two models of the HD5x8 line that often (usually in the case of the HD518) sell for less than $100 in the US. The HD598 almost always sells for more that $100.

gibtg's picture

I largely second the opinions of 'Hands.' I feel that the HD650 should still be recognized here on the site alongside the HD600 depending on the preference of the listener, namely if he or she prefers more bass. The HD650 at least has some sub bass presence, which the HD600 largely does not.

ADU's picture

I haven't had much success with this style of headphone (open/full-size), but it's interesting hearing all the suggestions and opinions being offered here.

Dunno if it's a contender for "the wall", but the open headphone I'm most interested in hearing more about right now is the Audio-Technica R70x... and I'm not even an AT fan.

I know the M70x was voiced a little too bright for some tastes. But the R70x looks better balanced and as close to neutral as any headphone I've seen (except in the low bass), based on the plots on another site.

Also, the Oppo PM-2 probably should not have been removed. It may not sound quite as good as Senn HD 600. But the HD 600 isn't planar magnetic, and the PM-2 is better extended in the bass...


Andrew Rieger's picture

I would love Tyll to review the R70X. I love mine and I would say that they are a really nice alternative to the HD600/650 at $150 to $200 less. The R70X is a super underrated can. Very comfortable, super light. They are a tad delicate but I think they are well made. Think of a ever so slightly less resolving 600/650 with noticeably more bass and that should give you a good idea of what the R70X sounds like.

crazywipe's picture

Hi Tyll! I think the new Fostex t50rp mkiii is an excellent buy for 140$ in the Open category ( I know It's semi open) it really delivers. Sound leakage is not bad like an open one, sound quality is phenomenal for the price. The mkiii really crush my m50x on many levels. I hope you'll insert them in the wall of fame as a cheap alternative to the hd600.

Gspolari's picture

How about the Grado PS500?

bfwiat's picture

I agree with a few others that if the Senn HD600 is up, the HD650 should be holding hands with the HD600. I preferred the 650, some friends prefer the HD600...lets call them even (especially if you are going to Amp them - the HD650's scale up a little better than the HD600).
I have been lucky enough to have an extended (3 week) loan of Audioquest Nighthawks - initially a little disappointed - too dull....but after a week or two, I found the Nighthawks quite magical in tone and detail... in fact other headphones sound shrill and hollow. So I think like a lot of people, the Nighthawks sound signature takes a while to sink in (it had fantastic bass, comfort and imaging from day one).
I now believe that the Nighthawks are a sound signature akin to a large speaker in a room rather than a nearfield monitor that is slightly hyper detailed.

so.... Senn HD650 + AQ Nighthawk are in my opinion worthy.



Cats_Paw's picture

Id say that in the 500 to 1000 dollar range The low end stax might be a killer (Is there a 207 review? I saw graphs on it but not the review itself, and the measurements seem to suggest its near ideal with the 507 pads).

The HE-560 looks a bit wanky in measurements and when I tried it at a store the treble felt off for me, so thats not one I like personally.

Currently Im using a HD600 and I am having trouble finding anything better than it (no matter the price) except the LCD-2 (but unfortunately its way too heavy for me).

The only HP I have not yet tested are electrostats.

hanshopf's picture

I'd suggest to open a new section which is independent of headphone category. As sealed headphones seem to get better I could imagine that some readers like to get an idea how for example Ether C compares to Ether or if Oppo PM3 is better than HD600 etc. I therefore find that it's time for an additional section based solely on sound quality.

ivanhagberg's picture

I have always found the Beyer headphones to be those I return to. I recently listened through the LCD's, Sennheiser hd800 and HE-1000, 400i, 500, 560. Well, they all sounded fine, but to me, they all lacked something. Either it was dynamics (he-1000), resolution (400i), not engaging, little dull (500, 560) etc. Note, these are my opinion ... A little later I listened to Beyer dt1770 (same music and amplifier) and purchased it immediately. A no-brainer. I needed closed headphones at work and it has this engaging character, bottomless base, resolution. To me it is end-game (for now :) ). And the price range is about $500-$600 But I think it would have been fair to have some of the new Beyers being reviewed. T1 2nd, t5p 2nd, dt1770. I can not imagine you Tyll, not being able to get some reviwew samples if you ask. The WOF is very nice to have, being able to direct new ones to a safe selection of good gears.Keep on the good work.

zobel's picture

First, good job, Tyll, with the wall so far! You know how many categories you could make (look at the selection tree at Headroom for example). You begin and end with audiophile quality sound. That eliminates tons of cans. The existing categories work well, and should cover any audiophile headphone. Some ideas, if we are talking here only about over ear open headphones on the WOF:

1) Contrary to Stereophile tradition don't start with the most expensive cans, which require expensive amplifiers,and may have reliability, comfort, price/value, and versatility/compatibility with recording and source issues.

2) List these cans according to your overall rating.

3) Give points to cans something like this;

Sound Quality;
100 points for perfect =(unobtainable)
95 - points = best sound available only, one set of cans.

The remaining sound point categories can include as many cans that apply in relation to the other cans;

90 - 95 points = nearly best sound
85 - 90 points = excellent, non-fatiguing
80 - 85 points = very good with very minor issues
75 - 80 points = good with minor issues
70 - 75 points = acceptable with some issues

Next; comfort and Fit;
Comfort and fit should be subjective, but noting fit for
Tyll's head and ears, giving pad inside measurements and a
heads-up for any cans that are snug for Tyll with his
slightly smaller than average ears.

Point system here could be like this;
65 - 70 points = Very comfortable, not too heavy, proper
clamping force, good breathable pads
60 - 65 points = Good comfort, can be worn for long periods
without fatigue (6 hours)
55 - 60 points = Some comfort issues, but wearable for fairly
long sessions (3 hours)
50 - 55 points = Issues of comfort that are always niggling,
limiting enjoyment to shorter sessions.

Next; Build Quality, Durability, Ease of repair, customer service
Based on overall build and part quality, modified by user
reports on durability, part availability, customer service.

Points could be awarded like this;
45 - 50 points = Best build quality available, easy part
replacement, great customer service
40 - 45 points = Very good
35 - 40 points = Good no major issues
30 - 35 points = Acceptable some minor issues
25 - 30 points = Some quality/service/reliability issues

Now the big equalizer; Value, Price/performance
Instead of trying to come up with a subjective criteria,
just add a penalty for price.

Points can be deducted from the overall score like this;
Less than $100 no deduction
$100 to $250 = 10 points off
$250 to $400 = 15 points off
$400 to $600 = 20 points off
$600 to $1000 = 25 points off
$1000 to $1500 = 30 points off
$1500 to $2500 = 35 points off
$2500 to $4000 = 40 points off
$4000 and up = 50 points off

Now bonus points for value;

No amp required, very efficient, works fine with portable
players = 50 points added
Not fussy about amplification, adding an amp optional and not
always needed = 40 points added
Included accessories, good storage case, extra cables, etc.
for values of $50 or more = add 20 points
for values from $20 to $50 = add 10 point
for values from $10 to $20 = add 5 points

Last, but not least; Style points
A subjective judgement of looks (Tyll's call)
Gorgeous = add 20 points
nice = add 10 points
meh = add no points
homely = subtract 10 points
clunky = subtract 20 points

Well what do you think? Is the weighting close? This same system could be used for each category.

Yeah, Sen HD518 now $49.99. It is something you can listen to with any source or player and if you don't have other cans to compare it to, you might just think it is audiophile quality. You become accustomed to the soft top end. It is comfortable, well made.

K7XX yep. $200 Massdrop, $270 Amazon. Good deal, but a bit hot in the highs, so a good source is needed, it likes an amp, but if you don't have to blast em, works okay without one. This is perhaps better than the HD600 since it has some low bass, and loads of good detail, and more realistic dynamics. You need to acclimate a bit to adjust to the highs, especially coming off the HD600, but once you are tuned in not much to complain about with these.
Both of these are good for bigger ears.

Andrew Rieger's picture

Hey Tyll, been a big fan of your site for a while. I'm still new to this hobby but I really recommend the Audio Technica ATH R70X for a good reference open back headphone. I don't see too many people talk about these but they hold their own against the Senn HD650's for about $150 to $200 less. I have seen some describe them as 600/650's with built in bass boost. They are not quite as resolving as the 650's but I enjoy them just as much, maybe a hair more because of the lower cost. They are light, comfy and have a really nice sound. Big thumbs up from me and a great starter can for someone looking to get into mid-fi headphones.

alphatak's picture

The HE400i is a very good choice for the 400-1000$ price range, but there's a better one. Replace the awful ear pads of the Fostex TH500RP by a pair of Hifiman Focus Pads and you will discover an outstanding headphone. Don't ask me why Fostex has chosen these stock ear pads which switch off the trebles and create boomy bass, it's a complete mystery...

sunnydaler's picture

I haven't try the newest revised version of EL-8(open), but I read people saying the big notch is gone now. How about asking Audeze for a pair?

jerseyd's picture

Not having an open full-size headphone on the wall in between the $399 HD600 and the $1499 Ether says to me that in your opinion, there is no model that sounds better then the HD600 without spending $1499. If that is your story and you're sticking to it, I have no problem with that subjective stance. However, I'm not sure you intend the Wall to be that much of a personal statement.

Some have advocated for the NightHawk which has many fine qualities at $600. Is it rolled off on top? Yes, but some of my customers absolutely love that about it. I think there is also a spot there for the Beyer T1 2nd gen at $1099, a full $400 (or 26%) less than the Ether, which I'm glad made the Wall.

As for the low end, frankly, there may not be a full size open model below $300 that is Wall-worthy. If you find one, by all means, let us know!

Twelvebears's picture

It might be a few years old but the AKG K702 can be found easily new for £115 - £120 or around $170 USD. Surely it has to be a contender for one of the best vfm sets of 'phone around? I still love mine and recently sold on a pair of Audeze EL-8 Open-Back, which I found to be congested and boring by comparison but x4 the price.

Brian Hom's picture

Have you tried the AudioQuest Night Hawks? I recently saw videos about them and heard many psotive impressions. I would like to see if it can help fill the void between 500-1000

Brian Hom's picture

Have you tried the Audioquest Night Hawks? I have seen many videos about their super smooth and rich mids. I want to see what you think about them. Hopefully it can fill the void for the 500-1000

JimL's picture

I think you should consider replacing the Stax SR-009 with the Stax SR-007 Mk II for three reasons. First, as you said in Big Sound 2015, it is more pleasant to listen to than the 009. Second, with a simple port mod, it is tonally more correct than the 009. And third, it costs less than half as much as the 009.

fpantalone's picture

JVC HA-S500 - Carbon Nanotube drivers - under $35 new/ebay. Unbeatable at this price ?? Ok ... spend a few dollars on for some HD25 replacement pads.Now unbeatable, and still under $50.