Dec 5, 201815661 views

If You Can Only Have One Headphone...

...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.
Matt R, Lesbusa, and 32 others

It has to be the German Maestro GMP 8.35 mobile for me... These cans sound really fine and are really built to last a lifetime. Plus I love the rugged feel and industrial look.
My Lcd4’s are amazing. Price and Weight are the only two things I would change
My AKG K702 65th anniversary editions they sound great (especially with tubes) and are so comfortable
Same here, just the normal K702.
hifiman ananda, for that sweet chi-fi gold
Etymotic ER2SE they make any other headphone sound so weird haha... why listen to a screwed up frequency response if one can have the true uncoloured sound for cheap?
I travel with the 6xx but I listen to the LCD-3 at home. I have a THX 789 and a hybrid tube amp for home and a Monolith THX portable for the road.
Massdrop Edition XX for me at $599. Love them. They sound so spacious with good bass.
RHA CL2. These sound so big and full of clean punchy frequencies. The Bluetooth is even great.
My choice .. Focal Clear..

Senn 6xx with the cth+sdac = almost heavenly
I have that same combo l, and for me the 6xx didnt wow me until i tried them with the darkvoice.
For me its the dt 770 pro, dt 177X Go now !
Meze Empyreum Why? If you have eyes, it's self explanitory.
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It is an unconfortable and extremelly heavy brick. Listened to it for an hour and ended up with a headache. I like only the name of that headphone.
I use LCD2C's so heavy bricks are right up my alley >_<
I have to update my previous post which hinted at fostex 00s. Today I got my verum ones, and it's end of story. These things are fantastic, and now I have fostex, focals, 1mores, Sennheisers, and alaras that are now for niche listening when I feel like something different (if that happens). I would be happy with having only the Verums for the rest of my life, and I didn't think I'd say that about anything. Seriously, there will be technically better headphones out there, but I'm not interested because they would be a lot more money for incremental improvement and bragging rights. These are great, and if you need more, then I respect you, but you do have a problem. Not that there's anything wrong with that. ✌️
To be honest. You could say that anyone who needs anything past the 200-300 dollar bracket has a problem. It's all incremental changes after that step. Between the offerings here, you can have any base covered. PS- I also have a problem. But I won't go past 1K.
Without second thoughts, the HD 58X could be my only pair. Their price to performance ratio is (in my opinion) paradigm shattering. My brain ear just loves that exact sound formula. It's not just their frequency response and their tonality, but also the aural characteristics unique to them that untrained or damaged ears could miss. God bless!
I have the recent Stax 507 earspeakers with the 1980s Stax SRM-1/MK2 transistor amp. Oh my, the sweetness of the electrostatic drivers! I love to turn them up because they don't hurt my ears with distortion no matter how loud I set them. The bass is a little thin, but somehow I expect abdominal cavities to respond to bass when the sound is this good.
Why ? They are expensive and not protable !
LcdX creator edition- best performance per dollar for all types of music, no major weaknesses.
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Complitelly agree with your point. But I was in the shop 3 hours, choosing between LCD2, X,3,4. Was listening side by side. Money was not the issue. Originally was planning to buy LCD4, but after very intensive listening, with different amps decided to go with LCDX creator pack as my sound preference. Later have bought LCD2C , because of promotion price 599$, you can't go wrong with it:)) For my ears LCDX can do few things better than LCD3, but this is a prefference choice.
I also personally didn't feel the 4 was that impressive when I heard it. I can see a person who'd love the sound, but to me it sounded like it had 90% of the 3's liquidity, musicality, and naturalness in deliver with 90% of the X's clearer treble and articulation.
RHA CL2 Planar iem's Nuff said
Very hard to choose one:((( Probably Focal Elex or Mr Speakers Ether C Flow. BTW this is my setup, and I love them all

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Hi my friend. Defenitely LCDXc is very attractive peace of art. I had listened LCD2C closed long time ago. But as I remember, my expectation was little bit higher. So, it did not trigg me to buy it, even I was looking for closed back cans. And after Mr speakers CX came on drop, which I am very happy with. Seems like LCD took LCD2C model and made closed back without any tunning, while MrSpeakers CX is accomplished product with the best tunning results. If LCD will do the tunning to LCD XC it will be interesting, if not - it will be another LCD2C closed. Now, 2 days ago I have got Pathos Aurium amplifier and ZMF Auterus cocowood Limited edition. Seems like I have another favorite brand now. Really looking for ZMF Verite. Both Items I have bought from my good friend as 1/3 of real price. And both are only around 20 hours used, when 3 hours from that it was me in his house :)) My friend has international business and hardly at home, that's why only 20 hours. And I am mostly looking after his gears when he is off. So excited. He is upgrating for Cayien HA 300 and ZMF Verite. Hope I will get the chance to listen them both soon. Regards, Kim
Thanks for reply. I don't own any pairs of ZMF but they just seem too complicated on which pair to own. Each pair has multiple wood materials which all change the sound signature. I do feel they probably make the best looking headphones with best wood designs.
AKG K812
Massdrop/Focal Elex
I would think that this would be an almost impossible question to answer for most of us. Unless you only listen in one environment, you need multiple cans for different applications. Upwards of 50% of my headphone use is outdoors & I live in the NE meaning that I deal with all types of weather conditions. Am I going to take my hi-end open backs outside? Hell no! They may be the best I have but sometimes getting the best sound isn't the only consideration. Durabilty, portability & the ability to store safely are also important. Home: Quad ERA-1 Portable: Clear Tune Monitors VS-3 I guess that if I had to pick just one for all-around use, I'd probably take my Sennheiser PXC-550. They sound good, are closed back, portable, can be used wired or bt & their sound profile can be tailored with the accompanied app. I forgot to add that they also have good active noise cancellation.
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Think of it like the headphone police are coming and they say you can keep two sets and you had to pick .
Yep good follow-up question/point. I've got one "best" low-impedance headphone for hooking up to any source (laptop/desktop/phone etc) - Fostex TR-X00 Mahogany I've got one "best" headset with a mic - Sennheiser PC-37x I've got one "best" wireless/small form factor for business travel and walking around without a cord - Sennheiser HD1 on-ear And I've probably got two "best" higher-impedence, power-hungry, open-backs for at-home-tethered-to-the-amp, but if I had to pick one I'd pick Audeze LCD-2Cs. If you make me narrow that down to two I'm keeping: The Fostex TR-X00 for low-impedance (at the office) usage and my Audeze LCD-2C's for "best performance"
  • I don't game that much, and those HD1's (and maybe Bluetooth generically) just aren't very impressive/good...
If I have to narrow things down to *just one* as OP asked: I gotta keep the Fostex TR-X00's, because having a really high-quality comfortable pair of low-impedence cans is just more useful and versatile for me than something that *needs* amplification. I love the way those Audeze's (and my Sennheiser HD-6XX's) sound, but when I'm at home and *can* use them, they have to compete for my free time with a whole lot of my other interests (Home Theater movies, Sports fandom, Grilling, and last-but-not-least, just playing/spending time with my kids come to mind...) I can enjoy these Fostex's while doing things that I *have* to do, in addition to while I'm doing things I *want* to do... they're more versatile.
Mr Speakers Ether C Flow.
For pure sound for pound then it has to be the Audeze LCD-X For Wireless portability And Sound I love my B&W P7 Bluetooth Wireless IEM,s then for the ridiculous Low price and just an awesome sound then it has to be my Sony MDR-EX650 best value headphones for the Money Joint first place:- sennheiser HD58X Jubilee and the Hifiman HE4XX Planars. Second place :- Sennheiser HD6XX Third Place :- Just For Sound alone the Monoprice Monolith M1060.
I know what you're saying about the 6xx. It's realistically all you need, upscales brilliantly, and is a bargain. If I had to have just one pair of headphones it would be my focal elex, because they're the best I have, and it would be a rational decision. But since we're all into this crazy music stuff, I don't know if I could live without my fostex th-x00s (purple hearts or ebonies), because they make me feel stuff, not just appreciate how technically good my headphones are. Maybe when my verum ones arrive, all this will change.
I think it might be the Hifiman Ananda after testing some headphones.
I'll publicly declare the Utopias to be my one and only headphone and try to smuggle the K10 Customs past any inspection points that aim to ensure my compliance. ;-)
The Utopias deliver the most balanced, astonishingly clear presentation I have ever heard out of any headphones. I can drive them with aplomb out of my AK380--the pair delivers a world class reference sound that I have used as a check against 2-channel systems that run into tens of thousands of dollars and beyond. They have enabled me to evangelize HiFi on the road to dozens of friends, family members, coworkers and even a few strangers. Want to know what drives crazy audiophiles to drop exorbitant amounts on gear? Here, put these on. Now what kind of music do you like? Although in real life there are valid reasons to own multiple high-end headphones, under the rules of this thought experiment I'd wave a tearful goodbye to my K10 Customs to be with Utopia forever. They are more isolating, more portable and more comfortable than Utopia, and they are amazing for IEMs, but they just can't keep up with the intoxicatingly perfect sound of the Utopias.
I personally think the Utopia is a must-try for anyone looking at top of the line cans. They absolutely excel in technicalities.
I've got a bunch of headphones, and use different ones in different circumstances. However, if I had to come down to one and one only, it would be the Sennheiser HE90. You need a better amp than the HEV90 to get the most out of it, but so far it's the best I've heard.
Er, I'm sorry but I'm scratching my head at this post. The HE90 (the original Sennheiser Orpheus) comes as a amp and headphone unit. I have NEVER heard of anyone who wants to take the headphones off of the unit and try it on various amps. This is ignoring the fact that electrostat amps are hard to find and expensive, and will likely not yield more synergistic results (since the HE90's amp unit is designed specifically to work with the HE90 headphomes). Oh, and let's not forget the ridiculous price AND rarity of the HE90.
Actually, there are more headphones than amps in existence, which could be due to the HEV90 having two headphone jacks. Further, Sennheiser made 25 of the HE90 headphones (but no new amps) in 2004 and sold them through Meier Audio in Germany to members of Head-Fi. That's how I got mine. The HE90 uses a bias voltage of 500 volts, but does work well with any Stax amp with pro (580 volt) bias. There are still amps made today with 500 volt and 580 volt options for both Sennheiser and Stax cans, but those are few and far between and the 500 volt bias is not really necessary (although a Sennheiser to Stax connection adapter is). In any event, something like HeadAmp's Blue Hawaii SE makes the HE90 sing. It's a much better amp than the HEV90 for the headphone and is available commercially. It's not that the HEV90 is a bad amp (it indeed sounds very good with the headphone), but it tends to limit dynamics and fast transients. The sound is too "tubey" for me (and I love tube amps). My own amp is a custom build. All put together at a fraction of the cost of the new Sennheiser Orpheus headphone/amp that recently came out ($55K retail in the US).
ATH M50X. They sound great no matter which genre I listen to.
HE-500... hands down the best sub 1000 dollar headphone... and possibly one of the best hadphones ever created (sound quality, not build quality). I cannot describe how incredible it sounds. It ALWAYS impresses me even after 1000s of hours of listening to it. It always blows me away.
Focal Utopia and when these die I’ll buy some Focal Utopias (again)

I can see why people like these headphones; technicality-wise I haven't found anything that can match it.