Originally Posted by smeggy
I thought about the Aria myself but suspected it may be not to my liking based on what I've read. I'm going to try the Ray Samuels Hornet with the mod to make it less 'in your face' and see how I do with it. The modded version should be better suited to the Ety whereas the unmodded is probably better for the laid back HD-580's.
Don't read too much into my decision...
I still think that this combo delivers more sound per dollar than anything I've ever heard. But it lacks in many areas compared to what I'm used to with my home rig (there's a big price difference too!). And remember this is my first round with head-fi -- I doubt that any amp at this price would fair any better.
Regarding your comment about in your face: This amp is not in your face. If anything it comes off reserved at low to moderate volumes. Bring the volume up a bit and the sound is very good (considering the price). It's just not enough to float my boat after living with my home rig.
So it comes down to this: I am finding this combo does not satisfy my audiophile needs, and it’s overkill for casual listening, where I find the stock iPod / Etys do just fine.
My only meaningful nit for the Aria is the blue LED. Jan has addressed this in another thread, so all things considered the Aria will likely be tough to beat for the $.
I plan to give it another day or so before making a final decision.