An Afternoon of Headphone and Amp Testing


Testing over dozen headphones with different amps.

I spent the afternoon with Patrick and company testing out all of our headphones and amplifiers. For me, the takeaway was that a high quality pair of headphones make the biggest difference… and most of the amps sounded relatively close to each other. Here’s a list of all the gear we brought out (though I don’t think we tried ALL of them):


Shure SRH-940
Shure SRH-840
Shure SE215
Sennheiser HD-558
Sennheiser HD-598
Sennheiser HD-600
Sennheiser Momentum 2s
Sennheiser HD-650
Etymotic ER4PT
Ultimate Ears UE 900s
Ultimate Ears UE 9000
Ultimate Ears Triple-fi 10
Ultimate Ears UE6000s
Logitech G633
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm
Fostex TH-X00 Ebony
HifiMan he-400
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7
Audio-Technica ATH-AD990
Ultrasone HFI-700


Schiit Modi Multibit
Schiit Modi 2 Uber
Schiit Magni 2 Uber
Schiit Fulla 2
Schiit Vali 2 (stock tube)
Schiit Modi (gen 1)
Schiit Magni (gen 1)
iBasso d2+ Boa
FiiO e17 / Fiio e9
FiiO E17K
JDS Labs O2


Raymond listing to my Sennheiser 650’s.

The popular choice for headphones were the Sennheiser 650’s for open cans. Everyone felt like they were neutral and provided fantastic quality.


Blind testing DAC/AMPs.

The popular choice for closed headphones were the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro. It was surprising how much quality they offered. Normally closed headphone quality starts falling apart when you play music loud, but the DT-770 were solid.


Patrick comparing different DAC/AMPs with his Sennheiser 600’s.

For me, it was really hard to tell which amp was which. However, we discovered that if you listen to music loud enough, you could start to see a difference. In the case of Patrick, he listening things so loud that an AMP was absolutely required just to generated enough sound.


Schiit AMPs stacked on top of each other.

After listening to the different amps, I’m not sure if you need more than something entry level. I’m sure that there’s a difference between the higher end hardware, but it wasn’t night and day. You’d literally have to listen to them back to back in order to hear a delta. The return on your investment will diminish so quickly if you go down this path. Nonetheless, the Schiit amps looked beautiful… and I’m sure that they probably offer better quality—the question is, how much more quality do you really get?


Headphones everywhere.

If you’re in the market for buying headphones/amp, get together all your friends and test them out. I think I got lucky with my Sennheiser 650 purchase 3.5 years ago.

I’m hoping we can get the gang together again to test out other equipment. This was a great way to spend an afternoon.