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Which $500 Headphone/Amp combo?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am ready to drop .5k on a new set of headphones and a new amp.

I think a DIY amp would be the best value. I need a loop out, and most amps do not come with that. Plus I like the idea of having something that wasn't mass produced in a factory. After owning a LDII+ and LDII++, I want to get a SS amp, no more tubes.

As for headphones, I have no idea what to get. I really like the Grado sound, but they are $$$ considering a HD650 costs the same as a MS2i. I am not opposed to owning two headphones. I would go for the MS2i, but I am afraid they might be too bright and fatiguing for classical music after owning the 325i.

Any suggestions?
post #2 of 16
There's an M^3 + STEPS in the for sale forum. Match that with perhaps a pair of Goldring DR150 and I think you might be pretty darn happy.

Dunno, anyone else have other suggestions?
post #3 of 16
yeah, for that price range, SS usually offers better performance IMO. Though the Darkvoice amps I heard at the recent head-fi meet sounded good for their price. Still, untill you get into the $800+ range, SS gives more impact. Not sure what you're willing to spend on amp, so maybe headphone is the most important thing right now.

Since it seems like you have your heart set on being a Grado fan, I'd say the most balanced Grado I've listened to thus far has been the HF-1. It should have enough bass and soundstage for some. Of course, I'm a Sennheiser fan, so I find it tries to mimic the HD650 Haven't listened to the MS2, but the MS1 wasn't too impressive to me. Generally, while Grados are bright, I find them well balanced. IMO, if you pair them with a tube amp, they can get enough bass for classical. The 325i does have some impressive detail in the treble ranges, and can be balanced out with the right amp/source.

I remember you said you don't like the HD595 for being boring, but it's a well balanced/ neutral headphone that really opens up with good SS sources. Certainly good for rock and classical genres. Or if you want to try something different, the A900 is similar.
post #4 of 16
SR225 or DT880 with a DIY amp of your choice?
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
I really like the sr225 and 325i. I have the MS1 right now, and am a bit underwhelmed by them (It could be the comfies, I tried all the pads with the sr325i and preferred the bowls.)

I've owned the following already... K501, k601, SR80, SR225, SR325i, E2c, HD580, Darth Beyers V1, PX100, ATH-D1000.

Out of all of those the Grados and HD580 were my favs. (the HD580 was the first nice pair of cans I had, so that might not hold true now)
post #6 of 16
Well I have the k501 and just find it anemic in tonality....so it's not good for much IMO. Sennheisers have a full range, but can sound laid back or muddy on a warm system. So Grados can sound better on such a system. If you're undecided about going back to the HD580 or going full Grado.....that says HD595 to me. It's a good inbetween of the HD580 soundstage/ bass and Grado's upfront detail. Since it's also neutral, it goes well with many systems and can scale up. Sounds like you should stick with one headphone and work with sources/amps since you're going through so many headphones
post #7 of 16
How do you like the K-501? If you're looking for more bass, the K-701 might be what you're looking for. You might also like the Beyerdynamic DT880.

For an amp, are you planning to build it? The Dynalo is always a good choice for a build. You should also consider the M^3 and two new offerings over at AMB: the Beta22 and the Cavalli-Kan Kumisa III. You can find AMB here:

http://www.amb.org/

I haven't heard either yet, though I almost ordered the boards yesterday. The Cavalli-Kan looks pretty affordable... I might just have to pull the trigger on that one.
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnewport View Post
I am ready to drop .5k on a new set of headphones and a new amp.

I think a DIY amp would be the best value. I need a loop out, and most amps do not come with that. Plus I like the idea of having something that wasn't mass produced in a factory. After owning a LDII+ and LDII++, I want to get a SS amp, no more tubes.

As for headphones, I have no idea what to get. I really like the Grado sound, but they are $$$ considering a HD650 costs the same as a MS2i. I am not opposed to owning two headphones. I would go for the MS2i, but I am afraid they might be too bright and fatiguing for classical music after owning the 325i.

Any suggestions?
For using two sets of phones the route I am taking is MS2i for everything but the biggest of the classical pieces and the HD600 for classical and pipe organ music.

The MS2i is on the cool side but certainly not bright, just not as suited for classical, as the soundstage is a bit congested and the bass doesn't quite hit the lower registers required for organ music. They do a great job with the smaller classical pieces such as string quartets and smaller choirs as well as most chamber music.

After getting the HD600 later on this month, I may find it moving a bit into what I think will stay in MS2i territory, but I'll know that when it happens!!

I would certainly second the Dynalo for FYI, or it's close cousin the Gilmore Lite with it's discrete transistors rather than op amps, and loop out. The Glite, at $300, is close to your price range if purchased with the simple wal-wart PS rather than the much more expensive dedicated power supply.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Davesrose View Post
Well I have the k501 and just find it anemic in tonality....so it's not good for much IMO. Sennheisers have a full range, but can sound laid back or muddy on a warm system. So Grados can sound better on such a system. If you're undecided about going back to the HD580 or going full Grado.....that says HD595 to me. It's a good inbetween of the HD580 soundstage/ bass and Grado's upfront detail. Since it's also neutral, it goes well with many systems and can scale up. Sounds like you should stick with one headphone and work with sources/amps since you're going through so many headphones
I forgot, I've owned the HD595 too . I didn't care for them, but at the time I had a mediocre amp.

Is it uncommon to go through this many headphones?

The HD580 is such a good bargain, that I could easily pick one up later when I have a hunkering for sound stage.

BTW doesn't a DT880 + Glite sound like a very fine transistor radio?
post #10 of 16

Hd595 + Headfive/arietta

The Hd595 + headfive (the market version is the Arietta on Jan's site) combo suits well your need if you like classical AND rock. The H5 really emphasises Hd595's strengths while adding some bass slam to it. The combo might not have the excitement factor some grados have but won't be lean either.

Worked out for me .
post #11 of 16
I use a DT880 + RSA Hornet and it's pretty decent, and very convenient. With a couple of interconnects, I can transport it anywhere I happen to be working. The Hornet is portable on its own of course, but the DT880's are too heavy on my head to be moving around in them.

The Hornet is good. The DT880's are, to me, a nearly perfect combination of comfort, build quality, detail of presentation, deep bass and smoothness (for the price).
post #12 of 16
HD650 + Little Dot Micro Tube amp = ~ $500
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
How do you like the K-501? If you're looking for more bass, the K-701 might be what you're looking for. You might also like the Beyerdynamic DT880.

For an amp, are you planning to build it? The Dynalo is always a good choice for a build. You should also consider the M^3 and two new offerings over at AMB: the Beta22 and the Cavalli-Kan Kumisa III. You can find AMB here:

http://www.amb.org/

I haven't heard either yet, though I almost ordered the boards yesterday. The Cavalli-Kan looks pretty affordable... I might just have to pull the trigger on that one.
Thanks... yeah the Cavalli-Kan does look interesting.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnewport View Post
I forgot, I've owned the HD595 too . I didn't care for them, but at the time I had a mediocre amp.

Is it uncommon to go through this many headphones?


At least based on your postings I think you're not sure what you're looking for Might be why you're going through so many headphones. I actually started off with the HD580 myself.....tried out other brands, appreciated Grado.....but am sticking in the Sennheiser camp. To my ears, they're the most neutral/impactful headphone. So maybe settling with the HD580 or HD595 (the 595 is more upfront and fun) and working on your system. I can say that the 595 scales and opens up with source and amp. It needs a good amp to get impact. On my Single Power it sounds like something else
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Time View Post
HD650 + Little Dot Micro Tube amp = ~ $500
After owning two Little Dot two products with lackluster quality, I'll pass on the LDMTA+++.

Has anyone heard these new β22³ and Cavalli-Kan Kumisa III???
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