Moon Audio's Top 6 Headphones for Audiophiles

Drew Baird with 6 headphones on his arms Fostex TH900mk2, Focal Utopia 2022, Focal Stellia, HiFiMan He1000v2, Meze Elite, HiFiMan Susvara

Drew's 'Desert Island' Headphones

If you didn't get the memo, Moon Audio Founder Drew Baird, P.E., loves headphones. They're why he created Dragon Headphone Cablesto ensure that he and everyone else could enjoy the best possible sound from their favorite cans. Moon Audio's curated collection of audiophile headphones from brands such as Audeze, Focal, HiFiMan, and more is a testament to Drew's love of head-fi. Drew's has listened to every headphone that Moon Audio sells—and then some: dynamic driver headphones, planar magnetic headphones, open-back headphones, closed-back headphones, you name it. As with any collection, there are some headphones that rise to the top for Drew. These are his "desert island" headphones, the ones he'd want to have if he were stranded in the middle of nowhere. Come to think of it, that sounds lovely.

Drew takes many things into account when choosing his favorites: comfort, build quality, sound quality, and a certain "X" factor. He enjoys critical listening, which means he favors—but doesn't limit himself to—analytical-sounding headphones. So without further ado, here are Drew's favorite audiophile headphones.

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Fostex TH900 mk2 Headphones

Drew says: "An excellent bang-for-the-buck headphone. The TH900 mk2 is very well-balanced from top to bottom, and it just disappears on your head."

The TH900 mk2 is Fostex's flagship closed-back headphone. Its neutrality has made it a popular choice among customers from recording studios. This dynamic driver headphone is pretty linear from top to bottom with a slight midrange dip. Bass is robust and well-extended but nicely controlled, and highs are sparkly and detailed. The sound is spacious for a closed-back headphone, and it's easy to drive with most any device. The TH900 mk2 is versatile genre-wise, although Blues, Folk, Country and EDM sound especially good. The ear cups are made from Japanese cherry birch wood and finished in a stunning red lacquer. And can you say comfort? As far as Drew is concerned, the TH900 is about as comfortable as it gets—perfect for long listening sessions. Click here for the full TH900 mk2 review.

Sound signature: Neutral, uncolored
Standout genres: Blues, Folk, Country, EDM
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable will enhance the powerful bottom end and smooth out top-end energy on the TH900 mk2.

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HiFiMan HE1000v2 Headphones

Drew says: "The HE1000v2 is very fast and dynamic. Thanks to a large, thin, lightweight diaphragm, it can get lower in the subharmonic bass frequencies than just about any other headphone."

The natural and dynamic sound of the planar magnetic HE1000v2 from HiFiMan is both relaxed and resolving. The patented “Window Shade” grilles help achieve a wonderfully wide sound with excellent imaging and clarity, while the Nanometer diaphragm makes for excellent speed and resolution. The top end is prominent but not fatiguing; mids are slightly forward; and bass is deep and well controlled wihout being big and bloated. While not a warm headphone per se, the HE1000v2 is warmer sounding than its more analytical sibling, the HE1000se. The HEHE1000v2 features large, oval ear cups with a wood veneer and a perforated leather head strap to help with heat dissipation.  

Sound signature: Detailed, dynamic
Standout genres: Blues, Folk, Country
Cable recommendation: The Silver Dragon Premium Headphone Cable is going to keep the bottom end controlled while enhancing clarity so you can enjoy every last detail in your music.

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Focal Stellia Headphones

Drew says: "This is essentially a closed-back Focal Utopia that can provide privacy and isolation from the outside world. Talk about getting lost in the music!"

The Stellia is Focal’s flagship closed-back headphone. This headphone uses Focal's full-range M-shaped speaker driver with beryllium, which lends an analytical and detailed sound. But the Stellia is anything but clinical sounding. It’s detailed and energetic, with a relatively smooth top end. The closed-back design means you’re going to experience more depth and height to the soundstage as opposed to width. The Stellia's low impedance makes it easy to drive, so you can the headphones with a portable device and enjoy amazing sound without compromise. The full-grain leather on the headband and ear cups is soft and cushy, and the sophisticated cognac and mocha coloring gives this headphone a rich, one-of-a-kind look.  

Sound signature: Analytical, detailed, resolute
Standout genres: Classical, Jazz
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable pairs nicely with more analytical-sounding headphones. It adds warmth and weight to the low end and makes the midrange sound more musical.

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Meze Elite Headphones

Drew says: "An improved-upon Empyrean. Who would have thought? The Elite has more top-end resolution but still amazing bottom-end weight. It's also one of the most comfortable headphones on the market."

The Meze Elite is an open-back planar magnetic headphone that, in Drew's opinion, goes above and beyond the Meze Empyrean—no easy feat! It's still warm and spacious, but the sound is more forward and has more top-end resolution. It reminds Drew of the Focal Utopia, but it has more bass and not as much resolute. Bass is clean, deep, and tight. Mids are on the forward side, with great vocal texture and nuance. Highs are smooth and pretty. The Elite has a gloriously big and wide soundstage with a good amount of height and depth. The wide sound and warmer signature will suit a variety of genres, particularly Classical, Jazz, and Folk. Despite its larger size, the Elite is a really comfortable headphone, with ear cups that mimic the shape of the ear. Click here for the full Elite review.

Sound signature: Neutral-warm, detailed
Standout genres: Classical, Jazz, Folk
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Silver Dragon Premium Headphone Cable is a good match for a warmer headphone like the Elite. It will help tighten up the low end while supporting maximum resolution in the upper frequencies.

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Focal Utopia 2022 Headphones

Drew says: "The Utopia is a rare bird, being both analytical & warm and musical. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Utopia makes my ears smile."

Drew fell in love with the open-back Focal Utopia when it was introduced in 2016, and now he's head over heels with the second generation. The Utopia was the first audiophile headphone to feature a full-range speaker driver, which lends an amazingly dynamic and detailed sound. Thanks to the beryllium in the driver, the Utopia is one of the few headphones that can provide both an analytical and a warm and musical sound; usually, it's one or the other. The Utopia 2022 is warmer than the original, but it retains the amazing resolution. An updated voice coil design also gives this headphone a smoother top end. The updated styling is quite striking, with the Focal "flame" logo on the ear cups along with a subtle yin-yang detail. Click here for the full Utopia 2022 review.

Sound signature: Analytical, detailed, resolute
Standout genres: Classical, Jazz
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Silver Dragon Premium Headphone Cable is a good match for warmer headphones. It will help tighten up the low end while enhancing detail and clarity in the upper registers.  

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HiFiMan Susvara Headphones

Drew says: "Extremely hard to control without the aid of a very powerful amplifier. But with the right match it is an end-game headphone with just insane dynamics and punch. Wow!"

The Susvara is HiFiMan’s top-of-the-line planar magnetic headphone, and it's definitely got a certain "je ne sais quoi." The Susvara’s sound is neutral yet musical and exciting. Your music is going to sound bold, expressive, and impactful. Detail and instrument separation are top-notch. The bass is deep, textured, and well controlled. Mids are rich and realistic, and highs are non-fatiguing but plenty sparkly. The Susvara is a power hog, so you’re not going to drive it using portable gear. You will need an ample desktop amplifier. The Susvara weighs just under a pound, and it’s definitely a larger headphone, with big ear cups. The metal and wood design echoes the sound signature: natural and exciting. Click here for the full Susvara review.

Sound signature: Neutral yet exciting
Standout genres: Rock, Heavy Metal
Dragon Cable Recommendation: The Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable will add warmth and weight to the low and midrange frequencies for a more immersive listening experience.

Dragon Cables

Understandably, most audio manufacturers put the bulk of their R&D into their core products, with cables becoming an afterthought. But audio cables are an integral part of any audio setup, and you want cables that are going to make your headphones and other audio gear sound their absolute best.

Why Dragon Cables?

Generally, stock audio cables are manufactured with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose. Inconsistency and lack of quality control in stock cables can lead to poor sound quality and a veiled sound vs what the musician intended for you to hear and feel from the music. Dragon cables are handcrafted to the highest standards and made to order according to your specific needs. At Moon Audio, we create a custom cable for you using the highest quality UP-OCC silver or copper conductors that can be manufactured. UP-OCC metals are void of impurities and are optimized for signal transfer and sound quality. We have one of the largest collections of audio and headphone connection options available online and we create limitless audio cable options depending on your specific gear and needs.

Silver Dragon Sound Signature: The Silver Dragon is our flagship cable. Silver strands clarify instrument separation, increase the soundstage, and find previously lost high and mid-frequency sounds. Transients appear more cohesive and the bass tighter for a more controlled sound. The detail and clarity of the Silver Dragon make it a perfect match for classical music and other genres with many nuanced instruments, and for audio systems that lean warm or dark-sounding.

Black Dragon Sound Signature: The Black Dragon is warm and smooth with a musical presentation. Copper strands enhance the body, shape, and immediacy of the music. The detail and expansiveness of the Black Dragon make it a flexible fit where a broad range of musical genres are played. It can also improve bass frequencies on bass-light headphones. The smooth, musical quality makes it a perfect fit for headphones that tend to sound a bit edgy or bright.

Blue Dragon Sound Signature: This copper-based cable combines the neutrality of the Black Dragon with the clarity of the Silver Dragon at a lower price point. The Blue Dragon is a good fit for improving dynamics without adding coloration. Its calm and neutral sound make it a great place to start with Dragon cables.

For more information on finding your signature sound, visit our Sound Signature Guide.

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