Need to build a headphone system

I'm looking for advice.  I need a headphone system for an apartment.  I am  overwhelmed both by the variety of headphones and amps out there and the difficulty of auditioning them.  My budget is about 8.5K for amp and cans.  I listen to lots of chamber music, solo instrumental and other small group stuff, so I appreciate detail and responsiveness.  But I shy away from analytic - my main system amp has beautiful glowing tubes.  Although I stream a lot, I also listen to a lot of vinyl.  I wear oticon behind the ear hearing aids.  Music sounds noticeably darker and less detailed when I take them out.  So certainly not in-ear!  Any expertise on listening with aids is greatly appreciated.  


Bring your own music and headphone amp/DAC if you can as it’ll help you get the most out of your visit.  Definitely listen to the Hifiman HE1000SE or at least the HE1000v2 if they’re available.  I own the Arya Stealths and I’d recommend listening to them too, but by all accounts they aren’t at the level of the HE1000 models although I’m quite happy with them driven by a Singxer SA-1 amp and Musician Pegasus R2R NOS DAC.  FWIW…

BTW, I’d recommend using one of these parking services to secure a spot in a parking garage as it’s highly unlikely you’ll find street parking in that area.  Check both as they cover different parking venues so one might get you closer or give a better price.  Have fun!


For chamber music, small ensemble, and solo instrument, Sennheiser HD600 or its upper series with DHT SET (singled-ended design as opposed to push-pull) amp will be fantastic. 

I build my own tube amps as a hobby and use DHTs such as 71A, 45 with excellent result with these types of music over headphones. Not sure what is available commercially, but want to mention that tube amps have different designs. Singled ended design with DHT tubes sounds best to my ears.

I would like to recommend what I have , for headphones I would go for Sennheiser 800 and for head amp the Luxman P - 750u which is an absolutely stonking setup. It is so clean and clear that nothing gets between you and the music. Yes I know it doesn't have little glowing bottles but it blew away every lit up box that I auditioned.

Simply noticed no mention of Manley Labs.  I've owned and enjoyed several of their pieces, not this one.  Not a headphone guy, but admire their approach and versatility of concept.



I am going to sell the BEST headphone amp for the RAAL SR1a and CA-1a, the VM-1a amp. I am going to use a CODA #16 2-channel amp with these phones instead. It is not as good as the RAAL VM-1a but close enough and I want to raise funds for a second 2-channel amp for my new speakers.