The Battle Of The Flagships

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

This is a very important aspect of a high-end headphone. First of all, you want your new favorite toy to be comfortable, so you can wear them all day. Secondly, they have to be durable and functional. Lastly, the quality of the materials and the overall design make for a more premium and more pleasant experience, and if you’re paying a couple of thousand dollars for a pair of headphones, you want only the best type of experience.

I need to note something here – I’m rating the combination of build quality and comfort. These two aspects can’t be rated separately, they complement each other and one is essential for the other.

The Crosszone CZ-1 is made mostly of plastic. While I can’t really say anything bad about the finishing, the overall feeling in the hand is rather underwhelming for a pair of high-end headphones. The comfort is somewhat okay, but the clamping force is pretty low, resulting in a very weird and not really secure fit. They could have scored 4, but they look so weird and just overly complicated. Oh, and the “levers” are just for aesthetics, they don’t move. I don’t understand this.

Oh, this one is hard. I really like the design and finish of the HEDDphone. It’s pretty german, solid as a tank, minimalistic and it looks like a piece of the engineering tool. However, this headphone is very uncomfortable after about 20 minutes of using them, resulting in a low score. The HEDDphone is the heaviest pair of the whole lineup, and its overall design doesn’t help that (lack of suspension strap, weight balance not perfect). If only HEDD Audio made an mk2 version with just an improved weight and a good suspension strap headband system…

The Diana Phi is potentially the best-crafted headphone from the lineup, well maybe next to the Elite. With its full-metal construction, perfect finishing and great quality leather it should score a lot of points, doesn’t it? Well…it would have, but the design of the Diana Phi is simply put broken. You HAVE to get the new V2 earpads from Abyss ($300) and some sort of headband sock or Dekoni Nuggets to be able to use these headphones. The headband has literally no padding and the original earpads are too shallow and just weird. Add a pretty significant clamping force and you’re getting a pretty horrible headphone when it comes to comfort. I’d actually go as far as calling the Diana Phi almost unusable straight out of the box without modifications. This is such an impressive piece of engineering and a beautiful headphone overall, but the moment you put them on your head…poof, the excitement vanishes.

This build is legendary. Mostly plastic, but it’s a good quality plastic, which together with a very futuristic and actually brilliant design makes for one of the most comfortable headphones ever. The earpads are huge, and the clamping force is pretty much perfect, so you can easily wear the 8XX for many hours without even noticing. I can’t rate it any higher however mainly due to its plastic build and the fact that they are pretty prone to scratching. Overall a mixed bag of great comfort, superb looks, and a somewhat cheap feeling. Still, for the price these are superb.

The Hifiman HE1000se is made of metal and wood veneer, and thanks to its overall size and brilliant suspension strap design, it is a very comfortable pair of headphones. While the finishing is not the best of the lineup (definitely worse than the Diana Phi and the Elite), it is nothing to be ashamed of. While Hifiman had some problems in the past, their current lineup (including the 1000se) feels quite solid and well-built in hand. The wooden accent is actually a veneer, and as I said in the review of the 1000se – it’s a great choice. I surely don’t want my wooden headphones to crack, and I’ve seen so many Audeze LCD wooden headphones with cracks, that I’d rather have a similar effect with no drawback.

This might come as a surprise. Overall, the D8000 Pro feels very solid and very “Japanese” in hands, with its fit and finish being extraordinary. However, this is NOT a very comfortable pair of headphones. The earpads are quite stiff and not as huge as the competitors, which together with its high clamping force makes for a semi-comfortable type of experience. While it’s nowhere as bad as the HEDDphone or the Diana Phi, the comfort leaves a lot to be desired. Also, the pleather headband strap doesn’t make me feel like it’s going to last 10 years without chipping or cracking. Overall, the build quality is outstanding, but the comfort is just okay.

Basically the same as the HE1000se with two differences. One is the finish, since every Susvara is hand finished and it really adds some character to the headphone. Secondly, the shape is way better, and it helps reduce that lower jaw pressure that might be present on the 1000se. Overall, the Susvara is a joy to wear for a whole day without any problems, as it is just a brilliantly engineered and well-executed headphone. It feels premium, comfortable, and durable at the same time, and that’s definitely what $6000 should give you. It doesn’t use very premium materials, but because of that, it’s rather lightweight and just excellent in terms of ergonomics.

Once again, the Meze Elite is the best-built pair of headphones in the world. Period.
The Elite is designed and built to be comfortable, reliable and to last many, many years without problems. It has it all, and at the same time, its finish and overall design are just extraordinary. The fit and finish are both just perfect, as you can see the CNC passes throughout every aluminum part of this headphone, and the closer you’ll look, the more impressed you’ll be. Additionally, the Elite is also wonderfully comfortable and you’ll be able to wear them all day with no problems. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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.