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the first step into audio enthusiasm?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
hehe, this one's for kelly...

when embarking on their lifelong journey of enlightened audio consumerism, noobs often wonder which component to upgrade first: headphones, source, amps, etc... often times, what ends up happening is that they spread their money out thinly and purchase mid-range (tho still good) products in several categories rather than concentrate their funds on buying top-notch components one at a time. well, i'm here to make a case for buying top-notch components one at a time, and to start that hunt with a pair of top-notch phones even if the source is ****ty...

my setup now (until my cambridge audio cdp arrives) are stax 2020's hooked up to... my sb audigy !! my old rig was klipsch promedia 5.1's hooked up to the audigy.

when i returned to the states, my promedias were broken so i had to send them in to get repaired. from day 1 this semester, i've been enjoying music and gaming thru my staxes, all the while knowing that if any fellow head-fier found out, s/he would think i'm loony (and some do and rightfully so). however, my klipsches just got back from the arizona factory, and hooking them up today i REALIZED HOW ****TY THEY WERE!! OMG!! I CAN'T BELIEVE I EVER LIVED WITH THIS QUALITY AND THOUGHT THAT IT WAS GOOD!!!

so... my point is... imho, i think ppl shouldn't try to "blanket upgrade"... i'm oh so glad that i didn't go with say, low/mid-end beyers, a portacorda, low-end audioquest ic's, and a new sony cdp, cuz now that i've saved up and bought a cambridge audio cdp, i'll have a great rig and not have to worry about selling lesser components to fund this rig... but more importantly is that, even tho with the staxes, i could definitely hear faults and flaws in my audigy, the music was ridiculously more enjoyable than with my promedias... with these phones, even soundstage was better presented than with my full surround-sound setup now...

well, this is just my opinion fashioned from my experiences, so yeah... feel free to differ (and i have no doubt that many ppl's different opinions will be well-grounded and probably will make more sense that mine). but from now on, whenever i see a noob rolling into here, my advice for them will come from my experiences in the past 3 months and in accordance with what i've written here...


ps, i'm kinda apprehensive about receiving my cambridge audio player, cuz while i totally dig music rite now from my audigy, i'm afraid that when the new cdp arrives, i'll never be able to listen to music from my computer again...

pps, now that i have something to compare my stax/audigy rig with, i can proudly say that i LOVE MY STAXES WITH MY COMP!! MWAHAHAHA!! ... ahh... having kept that feeling hidden in a closet for the past 2 months, that really felt good...
post #2 of 14
Wait, why was this one for me?

I think your approach to buying should depend on your ultimate goals and how much you intend to buy before stopping for a while. If you're planning to upgrade you CD player in a couple of months then it wouldn't make sense to buy a cheaper headphone now just to match it to your low end CD player.

The points I've made were more aimed toward spreading your overall budget into things that make sense to you. A lot of people spend money on expensive headphones then can't (or won't) afford a good source or amplifier ever. I don't personally feel like this is the best use of your funds. I've advised people with fairly moderate headphones to not bother upgrading headphones until they can afford an entry level amplifier.

But this is vague and general -- one rule does not fit for every scenario. I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I believed otherwise.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
haha, don't say u're sorry!! i only wrote that this one's for u cuz it seems that u usually stress to noobs the importance of amp, source, etc (which is good) to the point perhaps of encouraging blanket upgrading (which i dun think is good)...

yeah, i guess a lotta noobs aren't as hardcore about audio as i would expect them to be (since i was a relatively hardcore noob i guess? )... and amongst my friends, i'm known for often trying to impose my values on other ppl and also being quite good at it (tho it's not so bad these days... well, at least i'd like to think so)...

ah well... "different strokes..."
post #4 of 14
A blanket upgrade CAN be a good alternative for a newbie. Let's say right now someone has only a discman and whatever headphones came with that and he wants to buy something new. Almost everyone well yell "Sennheiser HD600!" and then he'll probably never even look at the web site again, no out to his local store, pay $350 for HD600 and be done with it. Then he'll be mad that he either can't get them loud enough, or that they clip, or maybe they'll be ok and so much better than his stock discman headphones that he won't notice the sucked out midrange and reduced sloppy bass that comes with running them with too little power.

Let's say on the other hand we'd recommended a META42 and the Ultrasone 650 headphones. Now he's still driving them from a portable but the sound is nice and clean. Not as good as if he'd had more money of course. But not bad, and certainly better than the HD600 from a discman jack.

Add more money to the equation and a source upgrade would have been in there too right? Just about any home CD or DVD player is better than the discman, but if you asked the average Head-Fi'er what to do with $500 he'd probably say HD600 and a Grado RA-1. Suck. The same money could have bought a Sony SACD/DVD player, a decent headphone (Ultrasone, Beyer DT250-80, etc) and a META42. Much better.

So what I'm saying is... you're right that blanket upgrading isn't as good IF, like you, the plan is to spend larger chunks of money later on. But a lot of people just want to get their headphones and be done with it. Not everyone enjoys this perpetual upgrade hobby that you and I share.
For those people, distributing your funds a little more evenly makes more sense.
post #5 of 14

Re: the first step into audio enthusiasm?

Originally posted by taipeileviathan

so... my point is... imho, i think ppl shouldn't try to "blanket upgrade"... i'm oh so glad that i didn't go with say, low/mid-end beyers, a portacorda, low-end audioquest ic's, and a new sony cdp, cuz now that i've saved up and bought a cambridge audio cdp, ...
OMG! are you having a go at my portacorda!
post #6 of 14
HD600 and a Grado RA-1. Suck...Sony SACD/DVD player, a decent headphone (Ultrasone, Beyer DT250-80, etc) and a META42. Much better.
Different, yes. Better, I doubt it.

Of course that all depends on some specific requirements. Closed vs. open, in particular. I would guess that anyone who is willing to spend a buck and a half on the Beyers or the Utrasones, plus get an amp, will eventually want to get a listen to the Sennheiser sound, even if they originally wanted/needed a closed can. It would be harder (or just a bit of a PITA) to have to sell the Beyer/Ultra's later.

Smarter purchases would be items that can scale with small upgrades later, if desired, and protect your investment. Why not get the Senn 580's for the same cash or less? It is easier to upgrade with a cable later. Used Clou's go for $50-75, well worth it. I think that most people will be happier with a good open can than even a decent closed one. It would be harder (or just a bit of a PITA) to have to sell the Beyer/Ultra's later. Get a META42 now and get better IC's later. Get the OBH-11 or HR Little and upgrade the PS later if desired.

This way, the basic system is a solid foundation - great in its own right - and is preserved with each upgrade rather than requiring a complete overhaul later.

As always, IMVHO.

post #7 of 14
I think you missed the last paragraph of my last post. Try it again. My point was for people who DO NOT wish to continue upgrading. In fact, that was the entire point of my last reply.

On a seperate note, I don't agree that the OBH-11 is a good choice in any context. The Little is only a good choice if you prefer HeadRoom's crossfeed filter and are willing to pay so much for it in an amp that otherwise isn't a very good value. Just my opinion, of course.
post #8 of 14

Look at my next to last sentence. Try it yourself.

I feel that my choices would be a fine basic system, and the Senns would be a better choice even before any upgrade (barring the closed vs. open requirements I also mentioned). I just disagree with your choices, that's all.

I only mentioned all of those amps which are approximately in the same price range to avoid recommending one specifically. BTW, where else is Joe Consumer gonna find a commercially produced amp at that price. Unless someone comes here, lurks for a while and gets the impression that we are all "fairly legit", who is going to trust a DIY purchase, or even know what to ask for? By then s/he will be in a whole 'nother ballpark.
post #9 of 14

I have the overwhelming feeling that you have never heard the other headphones and amps.
post #10 of 14
No I haven't heard the Beyers or the Utrasones. I have owned both the Sennheiser HD280's and the Sony 7606's. Both fairly well regarded closed cans. With that much experience, I do not feel that any closed can under $200 can beat an open design (For whatever that's worth).

So far the Utrasones are fairly mythic, given that so few actually own or have heard them (although I respect both yours and Jan's opinions). How many people here who have or had the Beyers were satisfied with them so much that they did not persue other cans? My guess (yes it is both mine and a guess), that it is almost none. And that goes more to taipeileviathan's original point about upgrading.

My opinions stands. Until I hear the Beyer DT770's coming soon

Later dude...
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Re: Re: the first step into audio enthusiasm?

Originally posted by taoster
OMG! are you having a go at my portacorda!
hehe, actually taoster, i was listing the components that i thought would be the wisest purchases in a low price range, so it's kind of a compliment to the portacorda... i didn't use the diy amps as examples cuz, since i was still in taipei when i was buying my gear, they weren't exactly accessible...

kelly, u make some pretty good points regarding noobs who just want their headphones and be done with it. i guess i never really considered those guys... cuz i dun really care much about them in the context of a head-fi forum anyway . omg, and ppl who come in, advertise their ebay listing, and never post again... grr.... that really irks me...

hmm... i find this quite interesting... so do u think that by encouraging a blanket upgrade to a noob who mite otherwise simply buy senn hd600's and be done with it, he'd start gaining more interest in all the other components too, and consequently stay on the forums to learn more and become more involved? i never really thought about that, and it's a pretty good point... however, i still think that, if the noob is gonna gain more interest, the best thing for him/her to do is make a more sizable investment in 1 choice component first, and if the noob simply wants to buy something and get outta here, then, well... i wouldn't really care too much for that guy... i know it's evil, but ah well... just the way i am... ...
post #12 of 14
I really don't know why some people get involved in the hobby and others just get their equipment and are done with it. My guess is that it weighs heavily on two factors: whether the individual has an obsessive-compulsive disorder and whether the indivudual is receiving treatment for it.

My favorite success story is Keiso. Keiso was the perfect newbie. He'd been auditioning the HD590 and HD600 and was considering Stax. After a couple of threads, he settled on the Stax Classic II which he connected to his home CD player. He posted an excellent review of them and then moved on to his other hobbies. I've emailed him and he's still really happy with his headphones with no intentions of upgrading further at this time. A part of me asks: Why can't I be like Keiso?
post #13 of 14
Duh! Because you're an audiophile.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
really?! keiso hasn't even upgraded his source or tweaked cables or anything??

man... i really need to be like keiso ... my lack of will power applies to almost every type of electronics in my room... terrible terrible stuff... i wish i lived in the stone age or something, when they didn't have electronics, or wallets even to be sorry about...
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