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Frustrated and Desperate: An Amp/Dac for the Grado 325is / 325i up to $400 - Page 2

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by f00fighters View Post
Thanks for the feedback Semi, your responses are always welcome. Do you have any ideas as to what amp would suit my needs? The D10 didn't cut it.
nope, i usually look for amps that tame that high/shrillness. the shrillness usually comes from poor dac or improper amping.

since you said you want a larger soundstage, i would suggest a tube amp. but you don't want to tame the highs, which they do. so instead i'd suggest a SS amp instead. something like the gilmore lite comes to mind. it's very transparent and has a nice soundstage as well.

did you sell your XO already? if not, try using the D10 to feed the XO. that might work.

Mids aren't exactly the the strong point of the SR325i. only thing i can think of to bring out the vocals is experimenting with opamps/tubes.
post #17 of 38
the ibasso OEM
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5989091-post239.html
post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by f00fighters View Post
Throughout the months I have been trying out different amps in an effort to find the perfect suitor for my Grado 325is. Since then, I have been able to better describe each time, what sound I am looking for. The 325is have a bit of a stinging shrill sound that I like from each time an acoustic guitar is strum, that I feel adds to the realism and gives life to the rock music that I listen to. It also brings vocals so close to your ears, that you can hear them breathe in before reciting each lyric. That is what I love about the Grado signature.

I recently tried the iBasso D10 and the Grado RA1, which were both wonderful amps, but ill suited for what I was looking for. The D10 stock, I felt had good bass and wide soundstage, but it definitely diluted some of the detail, and pushed the vocals back, giving it a bit of a concert hall sound, instead of the upfront sound that I like. I tried many different opamp rolling variations with the provided kit as well as kits by HiFlight. With the provided kit I was able to come up with a combination that I liked, but after over 200 hours of burn-in the sound just changed, and I was never able to get it back to that one climactic point.

Then came the RA1 which added more transparent volume, which I expected, but it made those shrilly guitar sounds that I like, silky smooth.

What I want:

I do not want the shrilly guitar sounds to be made silky smooth. I want them untamed, or tamed the slightest, barely noticeable pinch so that they may be heard at a higher volume with less fatigue.

I want vocals upfront and personal with such clarity and detail that I can notice the artist's breathing before or as they recite each lyric. Not slightly pushed back, as the D10 did.

I would like a larger soundstage, a better separation of instruments, but I still want that upfront and personal sound, but I don't want the vocals to be compromised as a result. I would like to feel the dimension of front to back as well. Believe it or not, on some John Mayer tracks I was able to achieve this on the D10 for a short period of time, until the sound of the amp changed. It was very engaging, and I would like to get that feeling again. But again, I don't want that concert hall feeling. I want to be standing right in front of the band, or be playing in the band.

Let me stress this again, the D10, provided a great soundstage and bass, but there was something unrealistic about it. And the vocals were pushed back somewhat, and the realistic shrill sound I like was compromised.

Many people don't like that acoustic guitar shrill sound, but that's what gives it realism. When I play the acoustic guitar myself or hear someone play it right in front of me, I hear that shrill sound with each strum. I'm looking for an amp that "DOES NOT" give me a balanced or neutral sound, because when you hear a live performance, the sound is anything but balanced or neutral. I want realism. So far the Grado unamped gives me that, on a much smaller scale. There is still plenty of room for improvement. Believe it or not, I thought the bass was perfect on the 325is when there is no amp at all. It's not overbearing and it's not inadequate. But some amps, either give too much bass, or take it away too much but give you more detail.

I'd prefer to spend $350 or less, but perhaps $400 is a possibility. I have an optical out or ministereo on my Mac Pro tower, which will be my primary source. and my iPhone 3GS will be my secondary source via LOD cable. I would prefer to achieve this with a portable amp, but I will go desktop if the sound improvement is that much better. This is primarily for the my Grado 325is and that is the only headphone that should be considered with this amp, although I will mostly likely use it for my Shure SRH840's, as well as possibly the Shure SE530 or the Westone 3's.

So far, I have to honestly say, that I prefer my Grado's unamped coming from my Apple Mac Pro tower compared to the D10 and the RA1.I'm growing tired of all this amp experimenting. I'm frustrated with the stress of having to return or sell amps back. I want that perfect amp, and the price point that I am looking for. Please, if you think you can relate to the sound that I am looking for, then give me your suggestions. I'm tired and of these postings Oh yes, one more important thing, although I want insane detail, I DO NOT WANT to experience HISS. Please give me your suggestions. I'm desperate!
LOL the bolded text makes no sense, real life is totally natural and neutral there is nothing more neutral. but because of the added air and vibrancy of real life as opposed to recorded material, you may define it differently. it sounds to me like you want something that is ever so slightly boosted in the highs; I know the sound you are talking about; more apparent with acoustic guitar. perhaps iqube wold fit the bill, but its oput of your budget; as with Lisa III. sorry I cant be of more help, but unless yo are prepared to up the budget, there may not be any more portable options, perhaps buy used?? home amps are a while new ballgame; so you need a dac/amp or just an amp??
post #19 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp View Post
LOL the bolded text makes no sense, real life is totally natural and neutral there is nothing more neutral. but because of the added air and vibrancy of real life as opposed to recorded material, you may define it differently. it sounds to me like you want something that is ever so slightly boosted in the highs; I know the sound you are talking about; more apparent with acoustic guitar. perhaps iqube wold fit the bill, but its oput of your budget; as with Lisa III. sorry I cant be of more help, but unless yo are prepared to up the budget, there may not be any more portable options, perhaps buy used?? home amps are a while new ballgame; so you need a dac/amp or just an amp??
I wouldn't mind going with a desk amp. When I say neutral, I think balanced and no particular focus. Maybe I'm not defining it properly. I just want the sound to be so intimate and realistic that for a moment, I could be fooled into thinking I'm there. That's what I want. What are your suggestions. I'm looking for either a dac/amp all in one, or just an amp. I don't want to purchase an amp and dac seperately.
post #20 of 38
My all time favorite amp with my 325i is my Headamp Gilmore Lite + DPS. Without the DPS it is pretty awesome too, and fits your price range.
post #21 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by .coco View Post
My all time favorite amp with my 325i is my Headamp Gilmore Lite + DPS. Without the DPS it is pretty awesome too, and fits your price range.
I'm considering the gilmore lite as well, but do you think it fulfills the criteria that I mentioned when I started this thread?
post #22 of 38
I can tell that my Gilmore Lite has great synergy with my SR225. This amp definitely does NOT tame the highs... if you like bright and shrilly, I think it's a good fit for your SR325.
post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
Can someone suggest a good dac/amp comob? Pico doesn't have the optical/coax, and from what I've been reading, too many people are saying that the d10 optical is better than the pico usb, which is unacceptable; because I did not like the sound of the d10, I can only imagine how I might feel spending the extra money on the pico. I also prefer portable, but I will consider a desktop set up. Remember, it needs to fit my criteria as closely as possible as mentioned in my original posting of this thread.
post #24 of 38
your best bet would be a Pico dac/amp, best dac/amp for my Grados in a tiny package
post #25 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKu View Post
your best bet would be a Pico dac/amp, best dac/amp for my Grados in a tiny package
Have you compared the pico to the D10? Do you know if they sound similar? Because I was very unsatisfied with the D10. I am also considering that Pico Slim, it sounds very exciting. I hope it's not overpriced like the rest of the bunch. I'm guessing it will be, though.


So, I'm clear... Grado is typically a "Bright" phone, because of the shrill (high treble) type sound... right? Is that what bright means? And does "warm" mean, that the highs are more tame? I know there was a glossary of terms on here, somewhere. I still have a hard time, describing sound.
post #26 of 38
post #27 of 38
f00fighters, I don't understand what your problem really is.
You say that it sounds fine without an amp ... these headphones don't even need an amp (~32 ohm) imho. But you still insist on buying an amp, why?
And secondly, an amp isn't supposed to change the sound in any way and RMAA measurements prove that (exceptions may be noisy tube amps or annoying bass boosting amps).

edit: You also describe the sound you'd like to get out of these cans, but maybe they just can't do _that_. EQ/mods/other headphones?
post #28 of 38
Has anyone suggested a 1-box Gamma1/CKKIII yet? I assume a desktop amp is OK, because you mentioned RA1. That and flat pads should do the trick.

Edit: on second thought, maybe flats aren't for you.
post #29 of 38
I wouldn't be frustrated or desperate at all, having that budget and a Mac.

Get an Apogee Duet and call it a day.

Do I have to remind you of the importance of a good source? Good.
Also, the slightly analogue-sound of the Duet should be a very nice combination with the slightly shrill SR-325i.
The Duet integrates perfectly with the Mac, and you can always get a dedicated amp in the future. But with the Grados you won't need one. Do some research, check it out.
post #30 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comfy View Post
I wouldn't be frustrated or desperate at all, having that budget and a Mac.

Get an Apogee Duet and call it a day.

Do I have to remind you of the importance of a good source? Good.
Also, the slightly analogue-sound of the Duet should be a very nice combination with the slightly shrill SR-325i.
The Duet integrates perfectly with the Mac, and you can always get a dedicated amp in the future. But with the Grados you won't need one. Do some research, check it out.
Finally, Guitar Center actually has something useful, I can demo. They have the apogee duet set up on mac in store. I'm going to head over there in a few minutes, take my wife's macbook pro, my 325is's, my ra1, and have a field day with that sucker. I will also put some lossless music on a thumb drive.

I know my Mac Pro tower's internal dac is more powerful than a Macbook Pro's internal dac. So, I'm not sure if the duet is going to sound the same out of both computers. But since it's going through firewire it should sound the same right - with apple lossless?
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