The Battle Of The Flagships

Welcome to the Battle Of The Flagships 2022 by Ear Fidelity.

This category reflects how well these headphones handle different music genres and different qualities of mastering. This is an incredibly important aspect of every kind of audio gear. Sure, you can kind of rate this by just looking at the frequency graph, but in MY OPINION, it won’t give you a full picture.

See, different music genres, types of production, different brands all have different flavors that are often quite surprising. That’s why I always say that it is essential to test a product you’re potentially thinking about buying with your favorite music, not those sound demos available from different manufacturers. There’s no perfect loudspeaker or headphones for every single type of music, that is just impossible and will probably never be achieved (at least in a form of a single tuning), and yes, Harman target isn’t that as well. Try a perfectly neutral pair of headphones with German Power Metal like Helloween – I dare you.

This one is as simple as it gets – the CZ-1 does sound incorrect and simply weird with every single type of music and type of masterings there are. What’s incredible is that it doesn’t sound good even with ambient, which is a type of music that gains a lot from good reverberation in my opinion. Yes, “good” is the key here. Audio-Technica W5000 was a horrible headphone, but it did have a rather coherent reverb aspect to it. The CZ-1 doesn’t. I’m sorry.

Here’s the deal. The Diana Phi is an incredible headphone for some metal and electronic music. Which ones to be specific? Well, this question is impossible to answer, to be honest. The tonality of these headphones is so uneven, that paired with its highly aggressive and hyperdetailed sound gives you a rather slim chance of the music actually sounding “bearable”. If it does, then you’ll be absolutely amazed by this headphone, but if it doesn’t, then you actually might be better off with something like the HD6xx or Sundara.

This one is weird as well. There’s a catch to it – don’t go for vocals, and the 8xx might actually be a great headphone for you. If you like electronic music, or basically anything with no vocals and (preferably) no natural instruments, the vast soundstage with great physicality of the sound of the 8XX could be just perfect. However, due to its poor midrange, the 8xx can’t really sound natural nor pleasant with most music genres.

The Hifiman HE1000se is a slightly bright headphone and it could lead to some problems with poorly mastered albums or some music genres. As far as the music you’re listening to is at the highest level of production then you’ll get a high-contrast, dynamic, and insanely detailed type of sound that could be just next to unbeatable by any headphone in the world. But, most of the Indie scene (low-budget mastering) doesn’t sound too good on the 1000se. Because of that, it can’t score more than 7 points.

The Final D8000 Pro is a highly neutral headphone that is just a hair bright, not as much as the HE1000se, so it scores a point higher. Basically, the D8000 Pro is a jack of all trades but master of none. It does every music genre exceptionally well, but none worth calling the best in the world.
The HEDDphone however has that lovely tune to it that is not as neutral, but it does do many things beautifully, especially male vocals. It “adds” things to the music, but in a very, very good way.

The Hifiman Susvara scores 9, as it is almost perfect with most music genres. Almost, because it tends to sound a bit anemic with some heavier tracks. When listening to metal or electronic music you definitely want that bass impact and kick to the sound, and the Susvara just doesn’t do that. It always sounds exceptionally smooth and natural, but it doesn’t do “fun” as much as it could have.
Other than that, the Susvara is just a masterclass for rock, indie, jazz, classical…basically everything that is meant to sound natural and pleasing.

This is the most impressive aspect of the sound of the Elite – it just sounds wonderful no matter what you’ll throw at them. Every music genre, every level of production, the Elite does it all with an unparalleled level of refinement. This is the headphone to get if you’re looking for a “do it all” type of experience. Also, it does sound fantastic with both high-end and budget-friendly devices and it needs basically no power to be driven properly. Fantastic.

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Contenders
Page 3: Presentation
Page 4: Build Quality & Comfort
Page 5: Tone
Page 6: Detail
Page 7: Soundstage
Page 8: Bass
Page 9: Midrange
Page 10: Treble
Page 11: Musicality
Page 12: Value
Page 13: Results


  1. Great review! Pitty so many are missing – LCD-5, CRBN, DCA Stealth, Staxxes, Utopia, T+A Solitaire…

    • Thanks Peter!

      Yeah, but I’ll get all of them eventually and will constantly update this 😀

      Thank you again and enjoy your time here.

  2. Great idea, well executed, but one small item please. Why not use the real Sennheiser HD800S as it is a headphone that many folks in the headphone community know and love (or hate) but at least it is a widely known data point. The Drop is comparatively unknown and had a lot of poor reviews due to the many variations in tuning. This has ruined your hard work and effort, sorry.

    • Hi Ian!

      Thank you very much for your comment, I really appreciate all the feedback 🙂

      While I definitely wouldn’t call that it “ruined” the hard work, I might get the 800S eventually to include it in the comparison as well. The more, the better. The 8XX is a rather fresh release and I’ve got it here, so it was natural for me to include it and see how it scores.

      Thank you for your feedback and hopefully I’ll be able to get the 800S in the future. Enjoy your time here 🙂

  3. This is one hell of a comparison of top and upermost earphones around. Keep up the highest mountines of our ears Pawel!

    • Thank you Kris, I’m glad you like it! I’ve mentioned this article so many times to you that there was quite an expectation I believe haha 😀

  4. Dear Pawel,

    It was a refreshing read of a comparison. I was in the market to see if I wanted to get one of the headphones you compared here and your article just made the decision for me! Keep up the great work and looking forward to future updates on this summit-fi shootout!

    • Thank you very much Kelvin, this really means a lot to me!

      I’m glad it helped you with your decision. What headphone did you choose in the end?

Comments are closed.