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For 2K, assuming that you already own at least one source component ...

For starters?

- HiFiman HE-400S planar or Sennheiser HD-600 dynamic (as long as you don't need closed-back, noise-isolating headphones). $300 for either. The HE-400s is much easier to drive than the HD-600 is, so keep that in mind if you ever plan on using a portable source for amplification. Either one of these headphones can provide you with a *comfortable, non-fatiguing, pleasing tonal balance* (very important!) when driven by a very good heapdhone amp.

It would be hard to get significantly better headphone sound for under $1000. However, a pair of Beyerdynamic Tesla T-1 (V-1) on clearance (now that V-2 has replaced it in the Beyer lineup) might just do the trick.

- For versatile and seriously good amplification, I'd look at the Decware CSP3 OTL tube preamp/headamp for $1279. Obviously, I don't recommend scrimping on amplification as it can make a crucial difference in headphone listening. With the CSP3, you will probably NEVER feel the need to upgrade your headphone amplification ever again - unless you get onto the really difficult-to-drive planars made by the likes of Audeze.

BTW, I don't like most planars because they can feel very heavy on the head, mostly because they ARE. The HE-400S planar, however, is a bit lighter than most...

This might leave you with almost $400 left over for aftermarket cable upgrades, should you wish to go down that route. If you go with the Tesla T-1, fuggedaboudit, you're at your budget limit but probably won't regret it.

If you decide to go with noise isolating closed-back headphones, I would recommend going for the best there is, those that typically cost over $1000. This would also leave you with much less to spend on decent amplification. To my ears, all but the best closed-back headphones have a "closed-in" sound that I don't like. In contrast, decent open-backed headphones have a much more "open", airy and natural sound.

And Hey, let us know how it goes...

Edits: 05/02/16 05/02/16 05/02/16 05/02/16 05/02/16 05/02/16

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