Dec 5, 2018864 views

If You Can Only Have One Headphone...

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...what would you choose and why? Obviously, I'm speaking to those who have multiple headphones. The main rule of this post is that it must be a headphone that you own (bonus points for picture!). Also, in the context of this post, this would be the only headphone you would ever have! The headphone in question can be of any type: over-ear, on-ear, or IEM. For me personally, if I was being more rational about it I would pick the Sennheiser HD 6XX for its scalability, versatility (actually makes surprisingly good out-and-about headphones), and ability to make everything sound good. However, I just don't love the HD 6XX like I love my LCD-3; its sound just hits all the right buttons for me.
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Duncan, Johnny Tsunami, and 6 others
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Yeah! Headphones from Ukraine! :)))
Like you I'm going to be irrational on this one... Sony MDR-1000 X, Noble K10u or Focal Elex should be in the running as they work in significantly more situations. But for me nothing has beaten the HE-500 in pure sound enjoyment. Yes it takes a beast of an amp to sound it's best and it's far from comfortable/portable but I don't think I could live without it.
ElectronicVices
Here's to us mate
Then I'll think it be time to hop to speakers instead XD
phoenixsong
Two reasons why I can't get into speakers:
  1. Current living space makes having speakers prohibitive.
  2. Money (a complete, quality headphone system, even a high-end one, is a lot cheaper than an equivalent speaker system)
For me it would be the Argon Mk3:
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I love my STAX L300 Limiteds, but overall the Argon Mk3 is more practical and useable. Subbass extension seems slightly more than the L300 Limiteds, but subbass impact is a little less. Mids are beautifully weighted and full sounding and highs are detailed yet relaxed. My absolute favorite planar, because it is not like any other planar... extremely punchy and lively sounding yet not fatiguing. And that sense of space the sound occupies is quite interesting, really adds to the experience. And it pairs absolutely wonderfully with the Gustard H10 amp.
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ThinkSound ON2 Headphones. Why? They're stylish, made of high quality materials, very good sound quality, and surprisingly don't make your head hurt. They're on on-ear headphones so that's a real concern. Noise fatigue doesn't set in until I've kept them on for hours at a time, so that's another plus. I think the main draw for me as well is that they're versatile. I don't need an amp to use them - they're designed for use with laptops and such. So that combination of factors puts them at the top for me.
Earphone OK? Etymotic ER4. The only IEM/ear/headphone that provides an accuracy figure of merit. They literally wrote the book on the diffuse hearing model (seriously, check out their patent and research history). They are the most accurate consumer monitors that exist today.
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If I needed to choose a headphone, I would think less in terms of absolute accuracy and more in terms of a platform for physical modification. In this way, one headphone can become many. With that in mind, the Fostex T50rp would be the only real choice :)
GiantHeadphoneSquid
IEMs are perfectly valid choice. Granted, I just don't like IEMs in general (I hate having things in my ears. I don't even like earplugs much but I wear them out of necessity).
Last week I might have struggled to answer this, but now: Having the best mix of SQ from any source, isolation, build quality, and comfort I have ever experienced is Focal Elegia hands-down. I can't praise it highly enough. If there is something out there that checks more of the single-headphone boxes, I'd love to know what it is. The only nit I have to pick is the terrible damn cable that they come with. Even that is good quality but it is so damn stiff!
Heefty
Guess it's time to put the Elegia on my "to audition" list. I'm in need of a closed-back anyhow.
For me it would be the HD6XX / HD650, it does so much so well.
Hi everyone. It is very hard to stick with one can as endgame preference, almost impossible. It is the same like stop the time! New models are coming, the signal processing has changed.I have started my hobby from 3 cans. One for joy listening-warm and midway dedicated Sennheiser 6 series or Audeze, another for mastering -analytical and sharp HD800S or Beyer dynamic DT1990, another for copy bass and drum players AKG 712 ( Plaing in band twice a week). But slowly have found it is not enough, so, slowly got a lot. Look my setup under another discussion.
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In this case the statement like ''the most universal'' headphone will be more accurate. If this is what do you thin, I will stay with Sennheiser 6 series. Regards, Kim
kimdeug
Yeah, it's more of a rhetorical/food for thought question. I flip back and forth on this all the time personally. All my headphones get some head time.
Audioquest Nighthawk, because it sounds like butter .... always. I know perfectly well they aren't analytical, but analytical is not what i'm looking for when i want to enjoy listening to pretty much anything. And the comfort is second to none.
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I didnt even know they existed :D I Love openback.. So that might be a more viable investment. Thank you :)
I wouldnt sell my Nighthawks for anything in the world.. Id might trade my future wife to have them instead x'D
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For me, that's easy: the Focal Elegia. They are arguably the best closed back reference headphone I have ever sampled. And while they may miss a few beats to purely at-home reference sets, the fact that they are portable and very easy to drive is a HUGE plus. The fact that I can take this quality of sound with me anywhere, and power them with anything, while offering good isolation puts the Elegia solidly at #1 for me. Not to mention, the build quality and accessories are great and when going balanced, the Elegia just kick it up another notch (they "scale" well).
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And since I am a huge IEM guy, I would have to give that nod to the Campfire Atlas. I have not enjoyed an IEM as much as I enjoy these and promptly reach for them more often than not. And while they're not perfect, they offer a unique, meaty sound that I don't get from anything else (nor did I know I craved). Also, dat bass.
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Under the radar? I don't know about that. Most European companies don't tend to over-hype & usually depend on reputation. Focal has been one of the best raw speaker manufacturers in the world for some time now. Their drivers go into a lot of different brands & kits. They might have had a bit of a learning curve when they decided to enter into the headphone market with the psychoacoustics & design of headphone listening but trust me, it was a short trip! Personally, I've got my fingers crossed for a blacked out Massdrop version of the Elegia in 2019! ;)
MaverickAH
Well, for the Elegia they didn't do any pressers ahead of time or anything like that despite them being in development for a while. They did a good job of keeping the secret close as they were announced right before RMAF. Campfire did something similar prior to revealing the Solaris during a show in Japan. I'm also quite the Focal fan as my local dealer sells A LOT of their speakers so I tend to pop into their showroom from time to time just to check out the new stuff. Not to mention, I have owned and sampled just about everything in their lineup except the Utopia. My dealer is still working on that setup but I am quite excited to get some ear time with them myself. To say the least, Focal has easily become one of my favorite headphone manufacturers right alongside Campfire Audio. Between the two, it's as if they were making gear tuned just for my ears, ha.