The Battle Of The Flagships

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

While the presentation is not as crucial as the actual sound quality, we still have to remember that we’re testing the Summit-Fi level of headphone audio, and in a multi-thousand-dollar price bracket, even the slightest details are important.

The presentation is everything about the first contact with the headphone. The unboxing experience, the overall feeling of seeing the product for the first time. Believe me or not, after working in audio for many years in the past I got to understand that this aspect is important to a lot of people.

Also, I’ll be rating the unboxing experience AND accessories included, so cables are rated as well. Having no accessories at all won’t help you in this category.

The overall presentation of the Crosszone flagship is rather underwhelming. The headphone comes in a large cardboard box with next to no accessories. The included cables are not really good and everything seems a little bit cheap and old-fashioned. This headphone tries to give you that classic Japanese approach to minimalism, but it does it poorly. Having in mind the price of the CZ-1, its presentation and included accessories (or lack of) are disappointing. Final Audio is Japanese as well, and their product is miles ahead when it comes to presentation.

Slightly better than the Crosszone CZ-1, but still nothing great. The better score is given mainly due to a better cable included and slightly better finishing of the box. Additionally, I feel that this box is much more secure, so shipping the 8XX overseas might be safer. It’s worth noting that this headphone is more than two times less expensive than the CZ-1, and it still is presented better. A typical German approach, there’s nothing bad to it, it just isn’t really interesting.

This is basically the same as with the HD8XX, but bigger. The HEDDphone is a behemoth of a headphone and the box reflects that. Additionally, the included cable is pretty decent, but certainly not the best ever. I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty German, just like the HD8XX. While I totally understand this kind of approach to the presentation of the product with studio heritage, I still can’t rate it any higher than 4 points.

Here we get a much nicer, leather box. It feels sturdy and quite premium, not luxurious though. Three cables are included, and even though their design is rather controversial, I must admit they are quite comfortable and good sounding. Definitely a more “audiophile” approach than the previous ones. It can’t score any higher, as I get a feeling that this is trying to feel more premium than it actually is. The 1000se is a decently presented high-end headphone, nothing more in this regard.

Abyss is well…unique. The included bag is a nice touch when it comes to its quality (it’s really well-made), but it’s still a canvas bag…it doesn’t really offer any proper protection to use it. I’ll give them points for actually trying, for execution and originality, but the idea itself is rather a miss. I would never use it personally, as it’s not sturdy enough to make me feel like the Diana Phi is safe, and as for the style…well, not my type. Also, the included cable is pretty bad, and it uses proprietary connectors, so bye bye good aftermarket options for a reasonable price.

Susvara scores a point above the HE1000se, simply because its leather box is slightly better, and additionally you’re getting a hardcover book that is just a brilliant touch. The included cable is once again, pretty okay, but it feels a little weird in the hand. For the $6000 asking price, Hifiman should have included something nicer. Not great, not terrible. It scores the same as the Diana Phi, as the leather box is much more secure than the canvas bag, and the cable uses standard 3.5mm jack connectors, but there’s a certain lack of originality.

A first really nice presentation here. The D8000 Pro comes in a multi-layered box, and the proper one is made of fake crocodile skin. Included are two very high-quality cables, especially the silver one. One big downside though (highly subjective) is that the silver cable is both very long and very heavy, so it’s basically unusable for me near my desk. I wish Final have gone with a 1.5m MAX. On top of that, included is a very nice carrying case that I actually use a lot, mainly for traveling with my Susvara. This is what a high-end type of unboxing experience should be like. Unless…

…The Meze Elite is just a pure masterclass when it comes to the overall presentation. It comes in a rather standard box, but underneath there’s…an aluminum suitcase. This is just perfect, elegant, and very secure at the same time. Very easy to carry and you actually feel like you’re the president carrying his nuclear suitcase around. Next up, the accessories. You’re getting two pairs of earpads, both of absolutely top quality, and a very nice included cable. In terms of the presentation, the Elite plays in its own league. Best unboxing experience I’ve ever seen with headphones.

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?

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