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Upgrade headphones or buy amp

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi, I have a pair of Grado sr-60's. I was thinking about buying a portable amp, for use on my computer and with an ipod, but I wasn't sure if I should get an amp or upgrade headphones. If upgrading would be the case I'd love another pair of Grado's, but it's one or the other. I do not have the money to upgrade headphones and buy an amp to power them.

The amp I was looking at was the P-51 mustang.
post #2 of 28
I think you would be better off buying new phones. I honestly don't think amps make sense unless (1) you're using inefficient phones or (2) you've already bought your optimal phone and want to squeeze the most potential out of it. Otherwise, a good soundcard will work fine. On the other hand, if you're using a motherboard for amplification, an upgrade to a good soundcard like an essence or an emu 0404 usb would be helpful.
post #3 of 28
The Grados aren't terifically difficult to power properly, and I think you'd realize better performance by selling the 60s and moving up to a higher model -- SR-225 or above.
post #4 of 28
I see that you're using a computer and iPod as the source. The cheapest route is up the bit rate on your files if they're not at least 256. I've never owned the P-51 mustang, but I heard it's a well regarded amp, and if the quality of the source isn't up to par, the amp and/or headphone will only make the sound quality worse.

Assuming the source is up to par, and given the choice, I would go up the Grado ladder and get the SR125i or the Alessandro MS1i (either one new or used), and if your max price is based on the cost of a P-51, get a used amp with a built in DAC.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well right now I am running off of the motherboard's audio (gigabyte ex58 ud5's realtek to be more specific) and all of my sound files are already lossless. So I guess basically what I'm asking is, will I see more improvement in upgrading to headphones that cost about as much as the p-51 (around $375) or buying the p-51 with my sr60s.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
And do I need a DAC for my computer, or would it be sufficient running off of the line out?
post #7 of 28
A dac/amp is probably a better investment than any of the above. I'd rather listen to the SR-60s out of, say, an Audio-GD compass than the RS-2 out of a soundcard.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
So if I got the p-51 now and wanted to upgrade headphones later, it would be sufficient enough to power most headphones around the 500 dollar range, right?
post #9 of 28
I dont know much about the P-51, but the DAC component in any system cant be underestimated - many will tell you that the improvement is minimal, but I'd advise them to go back to onboard sound for a week and tell me whether they still think its 'minimal'.

An amp, as mentioned earlier, will only amplify the deficiencies in your source, be it the files on disk or the processing those files undergo in the conversion from digital to analog. I have some 128K iTunes rips that sounded OK out of my iPod Touch, when I didnt have anything to compare them with - I'm now at the point where I need to delete every one of those purchases and buy the relevant CDs to re-rip them.
post #10 of 28
+1 on upgrading the headphone.
The SR60 is quite easy to drive in the first place, so the improvement when going external amplifier would most certainly be minimal. Less than if you upgrade the headphone.

..or do both!
post #11 of 28
Originally Posted by Sherwood View Post
A dac/amp is probably a better investment than any of the above. I'd rather listen to the SR-60s out of, say, an Audio-GD compass than the RS-2 out of a soundcard.
This is arguably the best advice. If you get the compass, it has been said to be able to drive the K701 and HD650 to a pretty nice level, so it has power to scale with you for a couple more sets of phones (given you do not make a big jump). Plus, Grados are not that hard to drive, so to just amp something would be rather stupid, as it will provide minimal improvement (and draw attention to source deficiencies). I would see about getting a Compass for around $350 with the sale right now, and then maybe a $150 ish pair of headphones. Used, perhaps? That way, you get the amp to scale, the DAC, and, if you are patient and shop diligently, a pair of headphones that probably retails for about $200-250.

post #12 of 28
yes, you will not realize an improvement using efficient headphones out of a crappy source amplified with a nice amplifier. this will only allow you to better hear the deficiencies in the rest of the chain. source is way too often underestimated on this forum, in lieu of more glamorous purchases with 'street cred' like your P-51 in your situation. IMO you should listen to sherwood here and get yourself a DAC/amp, which the P-51 is not. If you need portable, I recommend the ibasso D10 (with or without upgraded opamps). less money than you are planning on spending too. so you will have a little left over in case you may want to sell on the SR60's and make an incremental upgrade to some SR125 or something. although I would say hang on a little and get a more substantial upgrade. then if you get some less efficient headphones later, the D10 dac only mode via its AUX/line out can sound really quite acceptable plugged into a more powerful home amp.

BTW I thought my D10 (topkit opamps) sounded better than the compass at the latest Sydney meet
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok, thanks for the information. I guess now I will change to searching for the best portable amp/dac. So besides the ibasso d10 what else would any of you recommend?
post #14 of 28
IMO, the D10 DAC/AMP is about the best you can get for the money!
post #15 of 28
yeah. not really a point recommending anything else:P
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