lol we are talking budget-fi, and your suggestion is to spend more money. ironic much?
So I only got the HE400 d/t the $300 black friday sale & I only got the bravo v3 b/c i found em for $65. So for less than $400, I own an ortho pair of headphones and a tube amp. pretty cooolio :)
Pretty sure I already hit the biggest bang for my buck right here. To upgrade my headphones, I'll have to go up to $700 for the HE500. To get a DAC, I'll have to throw down $100 at least. To upgrade to another tube amp, at least $200 (for project starlight) up to $400 (for lyr). So basically any equipment upgrade I make will be at least 25-50% of my current total cost, and I know for a fact that DACs/amps will not give you a 25-50% boost in sound quality ...so like you said: diminishing returns.
however, tubes are relatively cheap. you can find some for $10. So they only need to improve the sound by 3% to be worth while for me. That is why I am asking about tube rolling/tube suggestions. I am actually perfectly happy with the sound already. Just want to be rollinggggg, because that was the whole point of buying a cheap tube amp. So I could try tube rolling & see what all the fuss is about w/o spending too much $$$.
The nice thing about the HE400 is that it is easy to power (aka don't need an fancy expensive amp). don't really need a DAC for them either for them to sound good. They aren't like Sennheisers HD600/650 or Audeze or HE-500/HE-6 that people say require more high-end equipment to sound good. I was browsing the HE400 forums, there are pretty of people who experience silibance w/ HE400 paired along with $400 DAC/amps. The reason that there is a treble spike at 12k. You EQ that away, the issue isn't really noticeable anymore. I've actually only noticed the silibance on two tracks in my entire collection so far from 4 days of listening, so I imagine it is more a problem w/ the source than the headphones. They are a lot more revealing than my previous headphones, so that is why I never noticed the distortion before. I've also discovered a lot of songs in my collection are poorly recorded lol...