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Sony A818, RSA hornet/tomahawk, + Shure IEM's

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello to everyone. This is my first post here at head-fi.org. After what was almost an all-nighter doing research here on head-fi.org as well as some other sites, I was hoping that I could get a little advice? I apologize profusesly in advance for the long post. I just have so many questions. I'm not even sure that this post is in the right forums. All i know is that im going crazy and I have tried very hard to research before posting.

I currently own a pair of shure e4c's and a sony a818 mp3 player. I am looking to upgrade (possibly) to a pair of shure se530's and or an RSA mobil amp like the tomahawk or the hornet.

As far as the music that i listen to, everything is ripped straight from cd in wma vbr format (averaging about 340kbps) I did this after doing quite a bit of research on the various codecs that my sony a818 would support. I did find several posts saying that the sony a818 was a good pair with the shure se530's. I actually came to the sony mp3 player because it was supposed to have superior sound output to all the ipods (especially the nanos). From everything I could find it was the best in the flash players at the $200 price point (at christmas).

I can't say im a true audiophile, I enjoy music very much and I think that i appreciate quality sound (albeit on a slight budget). I must have read 200 posts about amping versus not amping. Some people say that you dont need an amp at all for the shure se530's, some say you really do to makeit sound better. As far as sound quality, the sony is supposed to be good. The sound output is not an issue (it goes to 25 or 30, and the highest i've ever listened to anything was 18 or 19 (usually 13-16).

After reading all the great posts here at head-fi.org, I started to really get interested into the posibility of a mobil amp. I liked the reviews and all of the posts about the hornet m and the tamahawk. It is just that they are a pretty sizable investment, as you know. And while i have a little money saved up, i'm still on a budget.

I have no experience with amps whatsoever. For my home computer setup i just have a klipsch 2.1 set of speakers connected to an audigy 2 zs, so nothing fancy, just decent, budget stuff. I do use my e4c's at night when my roommate doesn't appreciate hearing my game/music playing at night.

I can't decide if I really need an amp, and if I can justify spending the money. I'm sure that it makes a difference, im just not sure if its enough of a difference? I would say that if i could swing a hornet or tamahawk, that i would use it mainly for mobil use, but possibly when im at home as well? (is that even suggestable?)

To anyone with e4c's, does a hornet give new lilfe to e4c's? I was also considering skpping the se530's for now and just purchasing a hornet/tomahawk instead to pair with me e4c's.

Right now I'm thinking of one of four options:
1) buy the se530's
2) buy the se530's AND a mobil amp (tamahawk/hornet) [wallet cries]
3) buy the tamahaw/hornet and pair it to the e4c's.
4) do nothing! (no fun!) [not a likely option]

Also, where should i buy the se530's? I was looking at headroom, (HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears I see a lot of people refer to buying from that website and I see that they are a sponser of head-fi.org. I was wondering if I should try and buy my headphones from them? I've had great experiences in the past with earphonesolutions.com and i can buy the se530's from them for 329.99 shipped. I saw some guy say he got his from headroom for 300! Should i try to reach this price point? How is it eve possible? Also, is the only place to buy the hornet/tomahawk from the RSA site?

Thank you all so much again, I'm looking forward to continuing my education and hopefully getting to know some of you. *trails off* ... notlooking forward to all the money you guys are going to get me to spend

Pulling my hair out crazy, getting ready to empty out my wallet,

post #2 of 5
Before you jump on the Shure SE530s, read over the Sleek SA6 thread. I have the A818, and the Sleeks match up very very well with the Sony DAP. The Sleeks are on sale until 7/7 for $199 at soundearphones.com (check the threads for the discount code you need to enter when ordering). Plus, Sleek is going to offer a wireless solution soon for the SA6s, one that won't break the bank from what I hear.

In all honesty, I have never heard the Shures, but the SA6s are a much more flexible IEM (again, read the threads). Also, some Shure SE530 owners prefer the Sleeks in a head to head comparison. Finally, from a fit factor POV, the Sleeks can be worn over the ear or straight down (my preference). The are also very comfortable either the supplied flanges or Shure olives. I don't need to get into details, just read the Sleek threads.

As for an amp, I have a MiniboxE+ and it's a great value at head-direct.com (under$200). But to be honest, I am using it less and less these days with the Sony DAP and SA6s. In fact, I almost never use it. I might even sell it off, since it's collecting dust. But if you are looking for a nice amp at a low price, the Minibox also gets good ratings from the amp experts on Head-Fi. Again, use search to find out more.

Happy shopping!
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much, tstarn06. I really appreciate the input! I'm off to research some more. Keep the advice coming!

post #4 of 5
I have tried the amp route pairing them with IEMS. Having had all of the items you are interested in, to me, it just isn't worth it to amp the a818. The headphone out of the sony is already very nice, and to my ears, it isn't worth it to get an amp unless you are doing heavy duty analytical listening..and even then you can probably do better. This is my opinion though.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Filipelli, thank you as well for your input! As much as I want to experiment with an amplifier and shure headphones, I think that at this point I cannot justify the purchase of an amplifier unless I have someone really change my mind or I get the opportunity to try a hornet or tomahawk myself.

Anyone have any suggestions as to where I should buy some shure se530's? Like I said I was thinking earphonesolutions for 329.99 and I am also planning on calling headroom on monday to see what they can do for me. Any suggestions on what I should expect for a price or what I should try and get? Thanks guys!

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