Per request. I'll add to the list or make adjustments as we go along. Too hard to do. Personal preferences are different. There's the ortho vs. dynamics thing which cannot be reconciled. Throw in the source or amp first people in this argument too. Then there are people more sensitive to timbre in the low-mid treble, which takes me out of the running from many TOTL planars. But then again, I shouldn't speak because I'm OK with the funky upper-mids of Grados, which many people are not. And then there are people who get annoyed with timbre of metal diaphragm dynamics. About ten or more years ago, some guy on Head-Fi wrote a big comparison on various headphones. What he wrote really hasn't changed much. Sennheiser HD600/HD650 Pick your poison. Brighter or laid-back? Both headphones do little wrong, but they really don't dazzle. People with TOTL SET amps swear by them and talk about how they scale, but 95% of the audiophile population think these "toob amp first" guy are nuts, mainly because the latter have never experienced them how fine the HD600/HD650 sound from decent gear. This for audiophiles who like the sound of plankton, if you believe such a thing exists. Many audiophiles find these headphones boring and low-tech. Sennheiser HD660S1/S2 Don't bother with the S1. It doesn't do anything and it scales far worse than the HD600/HD650 because of its 150-ohm driver. The S2 sounds like an interesting proposition because the driver is back to 300-ohms again. However at $500, not sure anyone cares considering how good the HD600/HD650 already are. Sennheiser HD560S/HD558 HD558 is the poor man's HD600/HD650. It's actually decent. Just not as resolving, not as clear, and a bit dirty sounding. HD560S is still HD558 class, but extends the lows and pushes up the upper-treble, and costs a lot more. One step forward, one step back. PCX37/38 are the gaming versions of the HD558 with slight tweaks to the FR and a microphone. Sennheiser HD800/HD800S Take the above, but shelve up the highs for extra plankton, and put drivers in front of the ears for the best headstage of any headphone. There is a reason why there is endless talk about getting the best from the HD800S. Here's my take: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/best-amps-for-hd800s-2023-edition.13859/ Cheap to Mid-Fi HiFiMan Planars (Deva, Sundara, Ananda, HE-560, HE-400) Great value. Easy to drive. Sound decent from most entry level amps that won't explode from HiFiMan's low impedance designs, which are guaranteed to kill a chip based amp if the Loki's bass knob is cranked up. There will be treble spikes and other oddities like sounding underdamped, but timbre is likely to be decent, at worse maybe plasticky (higher up) or the other way, slightly grainy (entry level). General transient performance and low end performance (extension and distortion) will be better than dynamics. HE400se: https://superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-he400se-measurements-and-review.11038/): Sundara: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-sundara.5730/ and https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-sundara-measurements.6520/ Deva: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...a-and-the-assumptions-behind-the-he5xx.10106/ Ananda: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-ananda-thread.6550/ and https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-hex-v2-measurements-and-quickie-review.3187/ HE-560: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...hifiman-headphone-compendium.1685/#post-42319 Super-Hi-Tech Planars (Meze, HFM, Abyss) The current darling of what audiophiles with money strive for. Thin diaphragms get these awfully close to the "fast" speed of electrostatics, but with better slam, but they are still a bit weaksauce compared to the most slamming dynamics (with the exception of the Abyss which is a bass canon). Some people find oddities with the timbre in the highs. Others don't hear it. The trick is pairing with components that give us the best balance of slam and good timbre. Definitely the most exciting listen of all of the headphone types. SUSVARA and (older models): AB-1266, Empyrean @wbass - HFM Susvara: I've been championing these lately. IME, they're the most complete HP out there. To my ears, they're more detailed than any other flagship, except maybe the top-end Stax, but they have much better bass response than those e-stats. Many say the Sus is "ethereal," but I find that, well-driven, they can thump. They don't have the heft of old-school Audeze, true, and they can be a touch dry. But they don't lack for bass response, including sub-bass. The super HD600. Big downside is amping requirements, which I think are real. You can get the Sus for $3800 (refurb) direct from HFM now. Another $2k for a used Ferrum stack, and you're at a higher level than HD800 and a summit tube amp for similar or less money. Sus doesn't stage as well as HD800(S), but it layers better. And its tone is already right enough that you don't have to futz with mods or EQ. They can be slightly polite dynamically, but I don't think they majorly lack in this area either. Not a perfect HP, but the most complete I've heard. @wbass - Meze Elite: A very solid planar option. Strong bass and resolution. Not top of the class in any attribute, and pricey, but sensitive enough you don't have to go nuts on an amp. Super comfortable and well made. Susvara is better, but if someone just wanted to get something close enough to TOTL and pretty fuss-free, I might well steer them to the Elite. @wbass - Meze Empyrean: Similarly well made and comfortable, but too dark. This doesn't work for me. If you want dark, you might like this, but I think most would do better with the Elite. @wbass - HE-1000SE: Good bass, great detail and layering, tall and wide soundstage. These do have the softness some (or many) experience in HFM planars. They're bassier than the Sus, but the bass isn't as good. Don't need a heavy duty amp though. The big downside is that the SE's are bit wonky in frequency response, mostly up top. Some EQ this out and don't worry about it again. You can get these B-stock from HFM now, which makes them a compelling option, value-wise, if you're okay with a slightly softer, slightly compressed presentation. IME, Sus doesn't have these issues, if well amped. Basically, the HE-1000SE is a slight step down from Sus in all categories, except stage width maybe. I had fun with these, an open-box pair direct from HFM, but after a 30-day trial, sent them back to HFM (who were fine and accommodating with a return). Re-issue Classic HiFiMan Planars An attempt to recapture the classic HiFiMan planars. The HE5SE/V2 and HE6SE/V2. They seem to user the higher tech thinner diaphragms, maybe not as good as their TOTL. Thus they don't have quite the heft as the OG versions, but they are also faster sounding. With very simple mods (pads) and/or fabric, can tune out the peaks in the highs. These are hidden gems. They also do not need a pair of monoblocks to drive them, unlike the OG models. Audeze Laid-back (upper midrange dip) house sound that has been consistent over the years. Not quite as electrostatic-like as the above Super-Hi-Tech planars, but more hefty in the lows. Audeze is synonymous with hefty lows. Moving up the line gets us better clarity and plankton. LCD-4 (or whatever the replacement model is now) can hold up with the best of them. LCD-X is their most "neutral" and a standout. The LCD-2C is their entry level and darkest sounding model. I'd have a Audeze if they didn't feel like oversized ear-muffs with lead weights attached to them. @wbass - LCD-4: The highest expression of the old-school Audeze sound. Wet and fat and a little rolled up top*, but still detailed and resolving. Staging is slightly wider than Utopia OG. LCD-4 is incredibly good for electronic music. Somehow captures more of the texture and growl of synth bass than any other HP. Layers well with a sense of front to back staging even on solid-state amps. Speaking of which, needs some power. Ferrum stack seems to bring out some magic. (I want to hear it on the BHA-1 and speaker amps.) LCD-4 variance across models seems to be a thing. I heard one pair that was a bass monster and others that are still hefty but not as big down low. Don't know how this maps across various revisions. Pads have changed, which could be part of it. Still, I've not heard a bad pair of LCD-4. They're heavy, but the suspension headband works for me. Comfort-level is similar to Verité Closed, for me, but you should try the fit yourself. *Even with EQ. Btw, these EQ very well, and I only listen to them with Audeze's Reveal plug-in via Roon. Maybe *needs* EQ to sound un-wonky, but I like these so much, I don't care. @wbass - LCD-5: New-school Audeze sound: balanced, bordering on neutral. Heard these a few times and didn't fall for them. For better or worse, they don't have the magic. (Neutral-heads might find this a good thing.) A bit forward, not lush. Fit is just okay. Pads too small. Headband too small, though I think they've fixed this and/or offer a larger headband if you bought the smaller one. Rosson Audio Design The RAD-0 is where you want to be if you long for the OG Audeze sound which is thicker and more slamming than the current direction Audeze is going. @ilikebananafudge - recently got the RAD-0 and I feel like it captures a lot of what made the LCD-2r2 special while having much better resolution (not to the level of the Utopia or Verite Closed, but somewhere around the Atrium, I think). It is thick without being too thick and it's got more macrodynamics than most orthos that I've heard. Final Audio D8000 The driver is on the small side, so not the cleanest or hefty in the lows, but like the SR1A, its transient response, particularly, it's bass articulate more than makes up for this. The mid-treble is tizzy, so be prepared to EQ this down. However, the driver is well dampened without sounding overstuffed. The D8000 really does sound like the next coming of the 70s Yamaha and Fostex orthos. It's got a lot of the old school ortho timbre! I was very tempted to purchase this for myself. Partially because it's a product from an oddball Japanese audiophile company that don't suck CanJam's corpo balls. These definitely deserve a lot more attention. @wbass Final Audio D8000: Heard a couple of times and was intrigued. Met a few folks who've moved from Sus to these. Denon AH-D7200 A more mature version of the prior lineup D2000/5000/7000. The D7200 is now the middle of the line with the 9200 and 5200 above and below it. Doesn't have the treble peaks of the prior Denon lineup or the Fostex TH900. Warmish signature, slight W like Massdrop's TH-X00 but to lesser extent, no boom, can still thump, slightly hotter top end than HD650 (not as mellow or smooth). On par with Fostex TH900 in resolution. Super sensitivite, don't need a amp. Closed woodie that is well damped inside. Finally biocelluse driver material (hard to explain how it sounds like but once you hear it, you get it). Fostex TH900 Take the Denon above, shove up the bass below 60Hz a ton, and add a sharp lower treble spike. On par with respect to technicalities, resolution and transient response to the Denon AH-D7200. I think the TH900 has cleaner bass despite it being a bass canon. Definitely the basshead dynamic. Sharp edge can be tamed with DNA amps or a good OTL like the EC ZD. The cups are definitely something special. Don't be a goober and replace them with Lawton cups. With respect to TH900mk2, don't know anything about the mark 2. Grado Lively and super sensitive. If your amp is noisy you will hear it with Grados. Grados are super sensitive because there's barely any mechanical or electrical damping. The driver reacts and just goes, especially in the upper mids. Think of Grados like the old school Porsche 911, when they were small and light with the motor way in the back. Moving up the line brings better refinement, less dirty sound, greater clarity, and increased resolution of fine detail. People like Grados for their crunch, charming (or gross) upper mids, and punchy midbass. Many younger audiophiles don't like Grados because the pads feel like the cat is licking your ears. Variety of pads allow us to tune the tonal signature. The latest RS series woodies are at the very least interesting and don't seem all that pricey anymore given movement of personal audio toward ORFAS. Love 'em or hate 'em, read about them here. Metal Driver Headphones (Focal) Sort of like Grados, but with super advanced French tech. We get more extended lows with their high excursion drivers. Instead of funky Grado mids, we get metallic timbre. Some people are driven nuts by this. Other people are totally fine. Some people say the right amp cures this. Other people say that's bull. If you can deal with the metal timbre, the Focals have the combination of speed, plankton, slam, reactiveness, and plankton. Utopia is still one of the best dynamics around. OG Clear and Utopia were slightly laid-back and slightly upper-mid forward respectively. I found both easy to work with with respect to component synergy. New Clear and Utopia pushed both more toward the laid-back direction, maybe too much for the Clear. The closed models sound weird with totally uneven frequency response, so let's not talk about them. The Elear is forgettable, but the Elex is a very good alternative to the HD600/HD650. Beyer Don't get their T1 or high-tech Tesla driver stuff because it sounds worse with more screwed up peaky highs. Their classics are still worth mentioning. DT770 can be modded into bass canon headphones for cheap. The DT880 with the higher impedances (250-ohms and 600-ohms are more resolving and sound decent with only a small smooth bump in the highs. The DT990 is very U-shaped and fun, but get the higher-impedance model. Original complaint is that they had a metallic timbre, but it's nothing compared to the Focals. ZMF Best to think of these as bespoke because Zach will take a consultative approach to find you the right mesh, pads, and wood for your needs. A consistent house sound that is laid-back but isn't laid-back. In other words, trying to EQ them to a measured flat response makes the headphone sound worse. All ZMFs have a wood cup resonance and reverb thing going on, some more, some less. Standouts are Atrium (hits like a freight train), Verite Closed (closest thing to a Sony R10, but rich sounding instead of bright and thin), Calera (the ortho for people who like dynamics or ZMF tuning), and a revised Auteur Classic (neutral). There's on old ZMF Compendium here. @wbass: As for the Verité Closed, Caldera, and other ZMF models, I have thoughts, largely positive, but there's plenty of info on here already. I own and enjoy the VC. It's impressive for a closed back: good detail, good bass, good staging, great isolation. Where it shows its closed-back nature, to me, is in busier tracks, where it gets a bit congested. Still, on the right album, these have plenty of magic. AKG Does anyone even own a K701/K712 anymore? The K240 Studio at $85 is the way to go. Koss PortaPro, kind of like a mini-Grado. Dirt cheap. ETA The Mini-C is the only closed dynamic headphone with close to neutral frequency response. I'm dead serious. Basically supersedes the Audio Technica ATH-M50X which is significantly shelved below 300Hz. Special mention may be the HD439, but the HD439 is kind of "weak" sounding (very obviously lower end). The icing on the cake? No amp needed. Works great from the laptop out or phone dongle. RAAL Have only heard the SR1A. Basically two ribbons mounted in front of the ears with a thingamjig mounted on the head so it don't slide off. Those who have heard RAAL ribbons in speakers know what they can do: electrifying transient response (pun intended). Now take this and let the RAALs run full range and you can image. Open baffle bass doesn't extend the lowest and distortion is rather high in the lows, but the transient response more than makes up for it. Pair with the passive box and big monster amps with explosive dynamics and mellow tonal signature for best synergy. The passive box is a 6-ohm load that sucks up several watts (continuous) in typical use. In comparison, most 88db speakers are 8-ohm loads that maybe typically suck tens of milliwatts. This is supposed to be ridiculous. @nojwe - on interfaces: They discontinued the resistor interface box, which is what you mentioned. It required a fairly beefy power amp to drive it. They now have two transformer boxes which both sound significantly better than the resistor box and have much more accessible power requirements. @nojwe - SR-1A: My experience for anyone who might be interested. I listen primarily to classical music - orchestral, chamber, and opera. I had the SR-1A with the TI-1B for about a year and loved it. Drove it with the iFi iCan Pro Signature. My only gripes were the bass distortion and that I could never get the angles quite right to get a cohesive headstage, it always sounded like two blobs of sound. Imaging and timbre were particularly impressive. @nojwe - CA-1: I trialed the CA-1, also with the T1-1B, and loved it. Slightly narrower and shallower headstage, but feels entirely cohesive. Much more bass and better bass texture. Having two ear pad options to tune the sound is fun on occasion. Timbre is the same as the SR-1A. These are the most realistic sounding headphones I've ever heard. The CA-1 is now my only headphone and I don't feel much need to have anything else, especially for the price difference in picking up a Susvara or Utopia. Picked up a used Aegir here and am now using that in to the TI-1B and wow is it incredible. Warmer tone, feels way more controlled, tons of micro-detail, and slams plenty hard for my tastes. Have a Freya+ arriving tomorrow that I'm really excited to try. The iFi is not that great as a preamp, it's pretty noisy. Kind of want to try monoblock Aegirs too, just for kicks... @Soups - Good to see I'm not the only one who has switched from the SR-1a to the CA-1a, with my rationale being very similar to yours. The CA-1a's do seem to resolve a tad bit less than the SR-1a, but I was fine to forego what feels like the last 5% of plankton to gain much improved bass and cohesiveness. I also use a Lokius in the chain to try to flatten out the mids & treble. I also don't care too much about "wide-staging" with headphones, which I never felt like the SR-1a's presented as well as headphones that specialize in it, like the HD800. Also started with Aegir, but moved onto the Tyrs, which I recommend trying if you like what the Aegir is doing. While maintaining that warmer tilt, I'd say the Tyrs offer a noticeable step up in almost every technical aspect. And they better, considering how much more they cost! Dan Clark Audio Dan Clark's headphones seem to exhibit fiery opinions. The argument heard most often (and I've heard this more at large shows and meets than on SBAF) is they are overpriced. This is a personal matter. Is the C8 Vette with the OHV motor overpriced? Are 4x4s overpriced? Probably. The Stealth is a nice sounding planar that follows the Olive target somewhat without overdoing it. It has low distortion throughout and is well damped without ringy peaks. I have not heard the Expanse, but being an open design to the Stealth, I would expect good things. The middle of the line Ether 2, is laid back in the upper mids (counter to the Stealth). It was received mostly positively here. The entry level Aeon 2 Closed and Aeon 2 Flow are worth mentioning. There's a general sense that DCA headphones are too damped, especially if the application of the "doggie treat" kits that even out the peaks and/or push down the highs. This approach is the opposite of Grado which some can find too lively. An explosively dynamic sounding amp goes well with the DCA headphones. @rfernand - Expanse: Same profile as Stealth with two important differences: (1) soundstage is perceivably taller and a bit wider, and (2) bass boosted presumably to compensate for open ear design. @rfernand - The Noire may deserve a mention as they are indeed an evolution in the Aeons that performs well. They used to come with three pads (now four?), so people can tune a bit to suit preferences (2 notch white for me + Jotunheim is the perfect “while working” combo, not distracting, pleasant). It’s like a planar 650, if that makes sense. --- Inspiration from Battle of the Flagships by David Solomon https://www.head-fi.org/threads/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared.634201/ Nice nod to Changstar back in the day!