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"Best" computer headphone rig for less than 500$

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,


I want to setup a headphone system connected to my PC. Thinking of buying a headphones, amp and dac.

Although I do not have nearby stores to audition the components. So I will be probably buying them online.


My musical taste is very eclectic. 

Indie, Punk and Post-Punk, Jazz, Electronica, 19th and 20th century classical, singer-songwriters.

I also love live and acoustic records.


Can you please give me your recommendation for a good setup for less than 500$.


Thanks in advance

post #2 of 9

umm... maybe get a dac+amp combo like Maverick D1, then spent $300 for headphone?

post #3 of 9

If you're looking for a headphone in that price range for that mix of genres, I'd recommend a Sennheiser HD-600 and an amp/DAC combo. if you shop around (and especially if you're willing to buy used) you can probably split the $500 50/50 for the cans and the amp/dac.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.


I have read that the HD-600(HD-650) are quite demanding. Do you think there is dac/amp combos for about 250-300$ able to "drive" those properly.


What you guys think about the nuforce uDac-2 + audio technica ATH-AD700 combo. I read lot of positive reviews for both and I guessing the uDac will be able to drive the AD700 properly.

Or you will recommend me to spend more and get HD-6xx and fitting Amp/Dac.

post #5 of 9

Unfortunatly I'm not the man to recommend amp/dac combos. I built my system before they became all the rage, using a dedicated soundcard (EMU 1212m) and an amp (perreaux SHX-1)


The soundcard cost me $200, and the amp cost me $300. You can probably get the same sound quality today for half the price from an amp/dac combo, but I personally have not auditioned any and I try not to recommend models I haven't heard. Check the amp forum.


As for being hard to drive, the Senns are actually quite easy to drive. Any amp is going to make them sound better than they are unamped, it's just a matter of how much better. My perreaux was all the rage for powering the HD-650 when I bought them, and the combo has done quite well for me over the years. I sometimes get the impression that the HD-650s have more in them than my $300 amp is bringing out, but it's a whole world better than my wife's un-amped HD-580s (although she doesn't seem to mind. to each their own). The 650s in particular you can keep eeking an extra bit of quality here and there by spending more and more on amps, until you have gone nuts and spent 5x the cost of the headphones themselves to really reach their true potential. That said, you get the bulk of that potential just by plugging it into an amp to begin with.


In your price range, you're not going to get everything out of a pair of HD-600s that they can offer, but you're going to get probably easily 90% to 95% of it, and 95% of the potential of HD-600s is pretty damn fine sounding music.


Edit: To clarify, you need an amp for the HD-580/600/650 series to really represent what they can do, but people who tell you that you need to spend $1000 on an amp and roll tubes to find a setup that can really push the cans are both correct and misrepresenting the necessity of doing so. Plugging them into a decent amp in the first place is going to get you a very significant portion of their ultimate potential sound quality, and the rest is just searching for that last 5% to 10%.


And really, that's where most of your money goes in this hobby, searching for that last 5% to 10%.

Edited by Skarecrow77 - 11/12/10 at 7:01am
post #6 of 9

I currently have a few rigs going on that might be in your price range:


Setup 1:

Laptop -> Fiio E7 + E9 -> Sennheiser HD 650


Setup 2:

PC (toslink, digital, usb) -> TubeMagic D1 -> TubeMagic A1 -> JBL E20, HD650, AKG K702


I've seen people use the following too:

NuForce uDAC/HDP, Matrix m-stage, Little Dot MK IV SE, Schiit valhalla/asgard


I think the HD650 is pretty good in any setup, but I also prefer my K702's for classical music :)

post #7 of 9

I have experience with a couple of setups like this. The K701 sounds great straight out of the TubeMagic D1, and the HD600 sounds great staright out of the Matrix Mini-i. The Mini-i is features a balanced DAC in addition to the headphone amp, and the bonus on the D1 is a tube preamp stage. For a little more money I have read great things about the HDP/HD650 combo, but no preamp or balanced out.

Edited by grokit - 11/12/10 at 12:20pm
post #8 of 9
Originally Posted by s0126471 View Post

Setup 2:

PC (toslink, digital, usb) -> TubeMagic D1 -> TubeMagic A1 -> JBL E20, HD650, AKG K702

I'm in a somewhat similar setup:

Teralink X2 > TubeMagic D1 > TubeMagic A1 > Insignia NS-B2111 / Beyerdynamic DT770


I will say that I really enjoy my rig. I've used it with music, movies and games and it doesn't disappoint. I'm sure I (you) could do with better headphones than the DT770 as they're kind of basic but I know my rig comes out at over $600. The D1 is an excellent way to get your foot in the door. It does everything but also expands and upgrades well. Not sure if I should share this or not but the D1 will be discontinued with a replacement sometime next year (maybe around February). The replacement will have a better USB chip (eliminating my use of the Teralink X2) and other improvements.

post #9 of 9

My absolutely favourite combination at the moment is an AKG K240 Sextett running through a Bottlehead Crack tube amp. Pair it with a budget dac and you should come in under $500.

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