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Live Stream Replay – Multi-Test Headphones

Conclusion

We have listened to twelve headphones; ten over-ear and two in ear monitors, in a price range of € 299 to € 5,999. This multi-test is not meant to select a 'best', but much more to share with you the differences and similarities. That's why you can also listen to the different types with the exception of the in ears.

We are even more aware of what a quality leap has been made in headphone/head-fi/personal audio. There are already very good performing planar headphones for € 349. Not so long ago it was Oppo with the P3, that was a game changer. That was a closed back planar for € 695; Hifimans Sundara goes well below and sounds excellent. Not only in quality, also in quantity the offer is enriched. Headphones of € 850 and more were more exception than rule a few years ago. That's different now. We also see many more personal audio related peripherals such as portable amplifiers / DACs, portable audio players (DAPs), headphone cables and headphone stands.

These developments are supported by new companies and come from almost all over the world; China, Europe (especially Central Europe), the US, Australia. We didn't test Audeze here, but this is also a relatively young company. Hifiman was founded in 2008. FIR in 2018 (but had a past at 64Audio). What is striking is that these companies have a specialism. Hifiman makes planars and three electrostatic states; FIR in-ears with a specific driver technique. Dan Clarke (MrSpeakers) also focuses on planar technology. Final audio makes mainly in-ears where the design and use of materials are special. These are companies that radiate a certain identity.

We enjoyed all this earcandy! The Meze 99 Classics is a nice sounding headphone for € 299; warm and full and easy to drive. As far as we're concerned a much better choice than a similarly priced Beats or Bose where the basses dominate so much that they push the rest of the music away.

With Hifimans Sundara begins a journey to the head-fi Nirvana that leads to the top model Susvara. We've heard quite a few Hifiman types in this test and that's because the series shows the quality leaps as we go a step higher (in quality and price). The Susvara may be the best, but only if you connect a headphone amplifier that knows how to tame this thoroughbred. $ucce$.

Listening to the Hifiman Jade II electrostats we realize how unfortunate it is that these types of headphones are so hard to find. Electrostats seem to be made for headphones (if executed properly). Speed, dynamics, phase cleanliness; the picture is correct. The Hifiman Jade II is practically unbeatable in price and quality, or it must be the comparable Stax set.

And then in-ears. We only listened to two of them. An in-ear experience is totally different from over-ear headphones. Were the higher priced ear monitors mainly the domain of professional stage artists and sound engineers, now they are increasingly finding their way to a wider audience. Both in ear monitors (final B3 and FIR M5) were pleasant and offered a spatial reproduction. It's a bit like watching a movie with 3D glasses on; we're part of the music, we're literally in the middle of it.

Live Stream Video - With samples

Contents

Brand Type System Price
Meze 99 Classic Closed back, Dynamisch 299
Meze Empyrean Open back (hybrid), Planar 2999
Final B3 In ear, dynamisch 485
FIR M5 In ear, dynamisch 2899
Dan Clark AEON Flow 2 Open back, planar 999
HEDD Phone Open back, AMT 1699
Hifiman Sundara Open back, planar 349
Hifiman Ananda Open back, planar 899
Hifiman Arya Open back, planar 1599
Hifiman Jade II Open back, Electrostaat 2899 (incl amp)
Hifiman HE1000SE Open back, planar 3499
Hifiman Susvara Open back, planar 5999

 

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