Why I chose my headphones: Elegia, Clear MG, LCD-X and Aeon Noire.

russraff

Well-known Member
I've broken down my journey into bite sized bits. If anyone wants more clarity, I'll be more than happy to expand:

Decision made:
I've had so many speakers that haven't done the trick - KEF Wireless 2's Monitor Audio Platinum and loads more. I guess over COVID I thought: maybe this is all wrong, speakers aren't right - I need headphones! For those that may find this useful,

AKG 702
So I got an ifi DAC V2 and dusted off my old AKG 702's and started to like them. Originally for gaming, the 702's are really airy and wide, but with little bass. I then learned of Equaliser APO and the useful EQ feature on Roon (when Roon worked) that helped the 702's perform way better.

Elegia
So I had to scratch the itch. After many weeks looking at Resolve and others extol the virtues of many headphones, I bought the Focal Elegia's and a dragonfly Red as I travel for work. Aaaaand.... They were a bit poor. I mean, they hit hard but this meant that I tired of listening after a while. The Elegia's needed EQ, badly, but still sounded a bit weird in the mids. And the image was so much in my head. So I sold them and would after a couple of months get the Clear MG's as these are open and much better, right. Right?

No.

Clear MG
They were just as off colour but in different parts of the freq range - high mids and treble. That odd pressured feeling was still there, with bass tracks (Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, for instance), making me want to stop listening. Then they developed a popping creak like noise in the left adjustment mech and for a £1150 headphone this wasn't on. So back they went.

LCD-X
Maybe it's a planar I need, then? So let's go all out. I got an RME ADI-2 DAC and LCD-X (2021) creator pack as a bundle for £1650. Aaaaand... Well, much better than the Clear MG, for sure. None of that unnatural response, and the cups actually fit around my ear. The weight wasn't an issue at all, at least not for an hour or so. But I wanted to use the kit downstairs with my 'phone as a source to get away from the home PC that I now use for work, too. In this use, there was horrific ground loop hum. The 702's were fine, though. Moreover, the RME wasn't that much better than the DAC v2 - maybe 5-6% ish?
After talking with the shop, we decided to sent them both back as they were a bundle. Or I tried. See, the mini xlr got caught in the cup insert and with little effort (as much as pulling on a hand break) the whole thing came out of the ear cup! all that is holding the insert in is a blob of glue, with a threaded insert being a push fit into a plain hole. No features like a bump or a raised ridge for the inert to grip on to (this is a moulding so can't be a thread, but there should be something).

Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noir
So they went back for refund as a part failure. I was going to give up (none of the local dealers are headphone-centric, so this was all done at distance). Then I stumbled across Dan Clark and the Aeon 2 Noir. closed back - like I originally wanted - none of the fatiguing bass pressurisation, portable. They just need juice to run them. So I took a punt and, damn, these are great. Massively comfortable, detailed, well-built. Fine soundstage, and they can be run off a dragonfly red, albeit not at their best. Still very enjoyable though. Perfect for train journeys. Cable is good, unlike the focal efforts. So I also got a Topping DX3 pro+ for the extra juice. With these 'phones, more of a jump from the V2 than the RME was.

So there we have it. Perfect match. Maybe there's something there for someone to look at and help them make a decision. I'm happy, now. Wish I could have been here years ago as I'd have saved a packet!
 
Last edited:

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I've broken down my journey into bite sized bits. If anyone wants more clarity, I'll be more than happy to expand:

Decision made:
I've had so many speakers that haven't done the trick - KEF Wireless 2's Monitor Audio Platinum and loads more. I guess over COVID I thought: maybe this is all wrong, speakers aren't right - I need headphones! For those that may find this useful,

AKG 702
So I got an ifi DAC V2 and dusted off my old AKG 702's and started to like them. Originally for gaming, the 702's are really airy and wide, but with little bass. I then learned of Equaliser APO and the useful EQ feature on Roon (when Roon worked) that helped the 702's perform way better.

Elegia
So I had to scratch the itch. After many weeks looking at Resolve and others extol the virtues of many headphones, I bought the Focal Elegia's and a dragonfly Red as I travel for work. Aaaaand.... They were a bit poor. I mean, they hit hard but this meant that I tired of listening after a while. The Elegia's needed EQ, badly, but still sounded a bit weird in the mids. And the image was so much in my head. So I sold them and would after a couple of months get the Clear MG's as these are open and much better, right. Right?

No.

Clear MG
They were just as off colour but in different parts of the freq range - high mids and treble. That odd pressured feeling was still there, with bass tracks (Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, for instance), making me want to stop listening. Then they developed a popping creak like noise in the left adjustment mech and for a £1150 headphone this wasn't on. So back they went.

LCD-X
Maybe it's a planar I need, then? So let's go all out. I got an RME ADI-2 DAC and LCD-X (2021) creator pack as a bundle for £1650. Aaaaand... Well, much better than the Clear MG, for sure. None of that unnatural response, and the cups actually fit around my ear. The weight wasn't an issue at all, at least not for an hour or so. But I wanted to use the kit downstairs with my 'phone as a source to get away from the home PC that I now use for work, too. In this use, there was horrific ground loop hum. The 702's were fine, though. Moreover, the RME wasn't that much better than the DAC v2 - maybe 5-6% ish?
After talking with the shop, we decided to sent them both back as they were a bundle. Or I tried. See, the mini xlr got caught in the cup insert and with little effort (as much as pulling on a hand break) the whole thing came out of the ear cup! all that is holding the insert in is a blob of glue, with a threaded insert being a push fit into a plain hole. No features like a bump or a raised ridge for the inert to grip on to (this is a moulding so can't be a thread, but there should be something).

Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noir
So they went back for refund as a part failure. I was going to give up (none of the local dealers are headphone-centric, so this was all done at distance). Then I stumbled across Dan Clark and the Aeon 2 Noir. closed back - like I originally wanted - none of the fatiguing bass pressurisation, portable. They just need juice to run them. So I took a punt and, damn, these are great. Massively comfortable, detailed, well-built. Fine soundstage, and they can be run off a dragonfly red, albeit not at their best. Still very enjoyable though. Perfect for train journeys. Cable is good, unlike the focal efforts. So I also got a Topping DX3 pro+ for the extra juice. With these 'phones, more of a jump from the V2 than the RME was.

So there we have it. Perfect match. Maybe there's something there for someone to look at and help them make a decision. I'm happy, now. Wish I could have been here years ago as I'd have saved a packet!
Congratulations, those are very good headphones. I really recommend you to try a dedicated amplifier for them and a balanced cable. Planar cans really like a big current to sing. It will be a big upgrade in terms of sound, I'm certain about it.
 

russraff

Well-known Member
Congratulations, those are very good headphones. I really recommend you to try a dedicated amplifier for them and a balanced cable. Planar cans really like a big current to sing. It will be a big upgrade in terms of sound, I'm certain about it.


I was looking at a satisfying upgrade to the Zen Dac V2. I did have the Can when I had the elegia but found (not balanced at any point) the Can to be a bit softer than the Dac plain, so sold it.
I think that may have been premature. In any case, I have been looking at the Neo/Idsd Black/iDsd sig. While the Topping is 'better' in that I can hear things more transparently, the ifi seems to have more push. If I can combine those, I'd be happy.
I have dragonfly red for travel, which is good enough, so just want a desktop solution I can feed with a 'phone as a system. Or perhaps a Roon/Volumio raspberry Pi.

So, any recommendations, would be gratefully received.
 
Last edited:

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I was looking at a satisfying upgrade to the Zen Dac V2. I did have the Can when I had the elegia but found (not balanced at any point) the Can to be a bit softer than the Dac plain, so sold it.
I think that may have been premature. In any case, I have been looking at the Neo/Idsd Black/iDsd sig. While the Topping is 'better' in that I can hear things more transparently, the ifi seems to have more push. If I can combine those, I'd be happy.
I have dragonfly red for travel, which is good enough, so just want a desktop solution I can feed with a 'phone as a system. Or perhaps a Roon/Volumio raspberry Pi.

So, any recommendations, would be gratefully received.

Topping is well known to be the most resolving gear on the market. We are going a slightly different direction with our products, we like to provide more musicality and emotion. Of course, it doesn't mean that our products can't provide exceptional details.

If you would like a basic solution that would work great with your headphones then the Zen DAC and the Zen CAN from the Signature line would be a good starting point. I'm using them myself in my office, with planar headphones.

Another direction is an all-in-one AMP/DAC. You have already mentioned the NEO iDSD, which is one of the solutions, another one being the iDSD Diablo. With those two, I would go for Diablo, without a doubt. It combines power, and emotion with detail and spaciousness like no other. It would also give you lot's of headroom to expand your headphone collection in the future. If that is something you are interested in.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I'm driving my planars with a Lehmann amp. They do a couple of amp/dac combinations. Just like stereo amps they do need to be auditioned something that can be done easily at a friendly dealer. The main problem I found was that the dealers closest to me carried very few headphone amps and I had to wait for my local AudioT to get enough in to make an auditioning session worth while.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I'm driving my planars with a Lehmann amp. They do a couple of amp/dac combinations. Just like stereo amps they do need to be auditioned something that can be done easily at a friendly dealer. The main problem I found was that the dealers closest to me carried very few headphone amps and I had to wait for my local AudioT to get enough in to make an auditioning session worth while.
I'm seeing that many Hi-Fi shops either focus on speakers or on headphones. Only the biggest ones are doing both. Smaller dealerships are choosing to specialise in one way.
 

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