Let's talk high end headphones for lossless digital

I have HD800S (used to have HD800 but sold them) as well as ZMF Aeolus (2), Auteur and Verite Open. If one of them had to go it would be the Senns. If you get a chance to audition them they are great headphones. Wood cups that are individual works of art.

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I take it that since the cups are wood then the ZMFs are closed back, except for the Verite Open. The HD800S are open back and substantially less money than the ZMFs, nonetheless I understand and respect your preference for the ZMF headphones. And the ZMFs are visually stunning.

Another brand with visually stunning headphones is the Italian made Spirit Torino and they sound pretty good too!

The Aelous and Auteur are open back, however, they don’t leak as much as many other brands. My closed headphones are from Dan Clark (Ether CX, Noire, AFC) and Focal. Don’t own any closed ZMFs.

The Aeolus base model is $1200. The mid level Auteur @$1500 would be the best price match to the Senns. They are relatively neutral compared to the Aeolus, which are a touch warm. I like the HD800S but they tend to get shelved in favor of my other headphone options.

That’s what I love about the headphone hobby - one can try many different types and brands of headphones for much less money (and space) than speakers. I also find it fascinating that each person may like or dislike different headphones than other people. I tend to prefer headphones with dynamic drivers (Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Focal) but also enjoy planar magnetic headphones (Dan Clark Audio, HiFiMan). And then there are electrostatic headphones, such as the Sonoma Model One system, which is one of my favorites. It’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

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I have 15 sets of headphones. 4 sets of IEMs and six headphone amps. Truthfully, too many, since I tend to get lazy and only use the two or three sets I have out. All of the headphones will work with the various amps, except for the HiFiMan HE-6se which need a little extra power. Burson Conductor 3X Reference, GSX-mini are the only two that I trust to deliver two full watts at 50 ohms.

I find that headphone feel and comfort plays as much of a role in my enjoyment of the particular headphone as does its sound quality. It’s a great hobby. :grinning:

I’m somewhere at or above that level with 6 desktop headphone amps, 2 portable headphone amps, around 2 dozen headphones and 2 sets of IEMs.

At the moment my wife and I are making plans to attend the 2023 CanJam in Singapore, which I’ve been told is not to be missed.

I think now that Roon ARC has been released it’s time to start a thread about headphones and IEMs for portable use :grin:

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I also have two DAPs. It’s an addiction! At least it has been for me. I’ve been laying off purchasing for the last six months.

I wonder how much data Roon ARC would use. I have a limited data plan. 9 GB per month.

Which is your favorite headphone amp? My favorite is the Sparkos Aries. Awesome piece of gear.

I also have a DAP, a Sony NW A45 with a 400GB micro SD card, that I use with my Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. This combination allows me to use Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec, which has much better audio than the SBC codec on the iPhone. Apple’s refusal to offer better sounding Bluetooth codecs is really the limiting factor when using Roon ARC.

It’s a tossup between the Oppo HA-1, which has a balanced output, and the Benchmark DAC3-HGC, which is just superb. Both are capable of driving any headphone I own or plan to own. I also use convolution filters when listening via Roon. While the Benchmark is well known and highly recommended, the Oppo, which is sadly no longer available, is very much underrated. The balanced output on the Oppo sounds really good and makes the sound of the Oppo on par with that of the Benchmark.


Two AK DAPS (SE200 and Kann). The SE200 is Roon Ready. I have a DAC3 HGC as well. Benchmark is a solid company with great service.

Any tubed amps?

Good advice but read the post a few up there ae simply no distributors in South Africa who hold stock let alone who will open boxes to let you listen. There are a handful of dealers who will buy in the “Box” from the US at a price, unseen, unheard !!

I tried years back to get a listen at the HD800 / 700 but eventually had to get Sennheiser themselves to send their demo versions to a local dealer . The dealers wouldn’t broach his stock boxes for resale reasons

Shopping is not easy in South Africa. We do have a Company who specialize in importing from Amazon but jack the price so much I won’t use them.

My ears are aging and with the new amp I am more than happy with the HD800

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I currently run Focal Celestee via Meridian Prime/PSU, but I’ve never really taken to the sound signature of the Celestee. For my musical tastes they’re ‘too polite’.

With a brand-new set of replacement ear pads, I’m likely to put them up sale - with the proceeds likely to go towards a pair of Meze Liric cans.

Just posted this to “Headphones thread (show us yer cans)! [2021-01]” - Bathys
For those looking for a relatively simple way to enjoy lossless, high resolution digital via headphones.

Hifiman Ananda. Chain is Schiit Bifrost 2 to a Loki to a Jotunheim 2 (run balanced to Ananda). Lots of Schiit 2s I guess. Best sound system I’ve ever had

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I’ve had a bit of a purge recently. I just had too many pairs of headphones and IEM’s that weren’t getting used.

I’ve recently gotten rid-of: Sony MDR-Z1R, Beyerdynamic DT1770 PRO, Beyerdynamic T5P 2nd Generation & Sennheiser IE800S.

This leaves me with: Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic DT1990 PRO, Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation, Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless, Sony WH-1000XM3, Sony MDR-1A, Sony WF-1000XM4, Sony XBA-N3 & Shure SE535’s.

STILL too many bloody pairs! :crazy_face:


That’s still a nice collection of cans. What were the Sony MDR-Z1Rs like and why didn’t they make the grade? Just curious is all.

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Very good Bluetooth headphones and highly underrated. The fact that they a full sized and lack active noise cancellation does hurt them a bit. The MIY app does help these headphones sound quite good.

The Z1R’s were good, but they just didn’t ‘Wow’ me in the way I thought they would? I think there are better closed-back headphones out there, and the Beyer 1770’s were preferable to the Sony’s IMO.

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I too think there are sorely underrated. Connected via AptX HD, they sound sublime IMO, and are a real challlenge to some of my wired cans.

My only criticisms would be that they are a little bass-light for my personal liking, and the maximum volume is a little limited. But otherwise they’re the best wireless cans I’ve heard.

I’m very tempted by the B&W PX8’s, but I’m holding-off at the mo’. I’m not sure for how long though… :money_mouth_face:

Still too many !! No such thing

I have 3 main ones that sound like yours , HD800, WH-1000XM4 and my old but trusty Bose QC 25 , my wife has my cast off QC15’s . I have a cheapy pair of JBL450 BT for the gym

I still have the Sennheiser Noise Cancelling (can’t recall the model) but OLD and buried in a drawer somewhere

I must admit the SONY XM4 are very good , Android Phone , USB Audio Pro + Sony on BT is my “power cut” and holiday source

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The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are pretty much the equal of the new Focal Bathys wireless on sound quality via Bluetooth. In my view the Bathys are better portable headphones since they are slightly more compact and offer active noise cancellation that doesn’t adversely impact the sound quality. Plus the Bathys also have a “DAC mode” which allows one to connect them via a USB-C cable to a mobile device without the need for an external DAC. Meaning that the mobile device is feeding a digital signal to the Bathys, even high resolution digital audio, up to 24bit/192khz. However no MQA, which many also consider to be a plus.

Please understand that I’m not making any judgements about the sound quality of Bluetooth versus wired nor CD resolution versus high resolution. I’m just pointing what is available. It’s up to you to decide what works best for you.