The Battle Of The Flagships

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

Oh, the objective way to rate all these Summit-Fi headphones. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on a pair of headphones then you definitely want to hear all the little details there are in the mix.
For years this has been a major difference between a normal pair of headphones, and something truly high-end. We all heard the sentence “You’ll hear things you’ve never heard before in your favorite tracks”, and this basically says it all. I believe there’s nothing more to say.

Oh, the CZ-1 just get destroyed in every single category, it actually makes me a bit sad for the Japanese brand. However, the comparison has to be fair and square, and I’m not going to go easy on anything.
So, the detail retrieval of the CZ-1 is just bad. It’s by far less detailed than the $500 Hifiman Edition XS, and having in mind the $2500 price of the CZ-1 as well as the rest of the lineup, 1 point actually sounds more than fair for me. It is hard to distinguish any fine detail with all the reverberation and utterly bad frequency response.

The Sennheiser HD800 has been known for its great detail retrieval for more than 10 years now. However, the 8xx is slightly less detailed, mainly because of its somewhat recessed midrange presentation and objectively worse frequency response.
It is still a fairly detailed headphone, scoring 5 points while being the most affordable from the entire lineup surely means something. Nonetheless, the rest of the contenders are just better in this regard. Still, it is the midrange where a lot of fine details are not represented well enough.

The Elite is a highly musical and easy-going type of listening experience, and detail retrieval is definitely not its strongest aspect, but I don’t think it was meant to anyway. The Elite is still a highly detailed headphone (definitely a great upgrade to the Empyrean) but it sacrifices a bit of the detail retrieval for that beautiful tone and super pleasant listening experience. While listening to the Elite I never get a feeling that I’m “missing out” on essential details, just the tiniest bits of little sounds. I want to say it loud and clear – the Meze Elite is a highly detailed pair of headphones, just not AS detailed as the best there are.

We have three different headphones scoring 8 points in this category. It is because I feel they are all just equally detailed. The D8000 Pro has the most detailed treble response, the Diana Phi has the best detail in the midrange, while the HEDDphone has the best detail retrieval in the bass category.
All of these headphones get to the point where they sound incredibly detailed, falling a bit short only of the most detailed headphones on the planet. This is the type of detail retrieval that would make everyone happy. Trust me, you really don’t need anything MORE detailed than this anyway, unless you’re just craving for details more than everything else in audio.
What’s worth mentioning is that the HEDDphone scores the same as the D8000 Pro and the Diana Phi, being 2x less expensive than both, which is really impressive.

The HE1000se is definitely one of the most detailed headphones on planet earth. It has that incredibly detailed and open sound to it that just gives you so much information. This is the greatest example of that “You’ll hear things you’ve never heard before in your favorite tracks” sentence when you put the 1000se on your head and you immediately start to hear things you’ve never heard before.
Additionally, the 1000se does sound astonishingly detailed even from a high-end DAP. It does not need a very powerful amplifier to get everything out of it like the winner of this category which is…

The Hifiman Susvara is the most detailed headphone I’ve ever listened to. It’s not a huge leap over the 1000se, it can actually sound less detailed if you won’t power the Susvara correctly, but when you do…you’ll get such an immense level of details that it’s hard not to be amazed. I believe the detail retrieval of the Susvara is matched only by the Stax 009, which for some sounded a bit too detailed back when it was released. The Susvara sounds just as detailed while also being much more tonally accurate and rich sounding. This is a detail masterclass and another 10 points scored by the Susvara. Such an extraordinary headphone.

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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