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Name the best headphone rig you have ever heard (all components tied together!)

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

What is the best rig you have ever heard?  If you want to list more than one for different genres that's ok:-)


Be sure to include:

  • The headphones, the amplifier (as many tweaks as you can remember), the source, any cables you can remember as well
  • Which music you listened to specifically
  • What made the sound experience extra special in this instance for you
  • If you were/are the owner and if not, who was (unless it's a secret ;-)
  • How much time you spent with the rig
  • If it's not a rig which you own, how much time has elapsed from your last "wowed" impression of this specific rig
post #2 of 63

Best rig I heard is my friend's rig in Prague.


It consist of top Czech diy components.

Dac is build by Tomas Tichy, it should be comparable to dacs around 3000 Euro, according to few reviews on Czech forums.  

Amplifier is Dispre-JFET build by Pavel Macura, here is page about this amp in English: http://web.telecom.cz/macura/dispre2-jfet_en.htm

Source of signal is M2tech hiface with batery mod, connected with Blue jeans digital coaxial cable.

Signal cables is diy build from Andrew Heliax with WBT conectors.

Power cables is build from Supra cable.


I used my JH-13, my friend own HD800, but I simply prefer JH-13 to them.


It simply sound amazing with my test tracks, especialy with This is Halloween from Nightmare before christmas OST, this rig is awesome in terms of soundstage and it show all its strengths with this song. Only negative of this rig is weaker dynamic.


I live near him, so I listen to this rig quite often.

post #3 of 63

My headphone rig in its last high-end state, before I sold parts to cover closing costs on a house.


Furman surge protector > Sony XA5400ES > EAR HP4 > HD650


Best sound I've owned/heard thus far (which is admittedly rather limited in scope)

Everything sounded great on it if it was a good recording to begin with.  I was especially impressed with how it handled Immolations' album Close To A World Below.

Its not my favorite album or anything like that, but it is the most dense recording I've heard, and it sound like a sloppy glob of chaos on everything else I've heard it on.

Here I could actually make out all the guitar overdubs and finally gained a deeper appreciation for the dissonance they use throughout.  

I also believe better tonality was allowed to peak through.  It really is a dense, fast record with no space around the instruments to breathe whatsoever.


I haven't heard this rig in well over a year, though I do still have the Sony unit which has migrated to my home theater along with the Furman.

The headphone rig previously used a Bel Canto Dac3 for ~ 2 years before switching to the Sony.  I probably used the Sony with it for a year or so before selling.  Hard to recall for sure.


I have no illusions that it can't be bested, I just have a limited exposure to high end equipment.  Had a blast while I owned the stuff.


When I get back in the game soon I will either go speakers or stax or both.

post #4 of 63

I think the biggest leap is between having nothing and having something.  After that, it's all incremental.  So I would nominate my 1969 system:


A used Garrard record changer chassis bought from a pawn shop and mounted in a home-made plinth, with a ceramic cartridge with a sapphire needle, wired to a generic (literally no-name) mono tube amp (a standard Mullard UL design), with no-name stereo headphones wired tip-to-ring across the speaker output (no resistors.)


It was fantastic.

post #5 of 63

Meridian 808.2 CDP >> Apex Pinnacle >> balanced HD800's.  Connected with Cardas Clear.


Simply amazing.  Had the Apex on loan.  Still saving up to buy one myself.

post #6 of 63

At CanJam 2010. Dr.Gilmore's T2 amp, my Stax O2 mk2, whatever CDP he had playing, listening to John Coltrane. I was very familiar with the recording, so I did not need hours to deduce the quality of what I was hearing. The room was dead quiet at that point as well.


I listened to all of the other high end stat offerings at the meet, and this was the clear winner. Any dynamic rigs I have ever heard, CanJam included,  were not up to being in this class. I do admit to liking the whole electrostatic experience from the beginning, long ago. YMMV.

post #7 of 63

Meridian 208 > Stax DAC X1t > SRM-T1 > Omega Mk1


Playing various Chesky CDs (Sara K, Anna Caram), Jenifer Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" and various Erato releases of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra with Ton Koopman.


This was in the early nineties. I'm not sure if it was the magic of the DAC X1t atsmile.gif or that I'm getting old, but I've never heard such a musical headphone rig since then.


I must add to this that I have not heard the latest Stax Omega with a recent High-end DAC..........

post #8 of 63

I think I like my electrostatic rig the most of everything I've heard.  I built it based on prior experience with the amp and headphones, so I had a good idea of the sound going in.


Accuphase DP-75 -> Blue Hawaii -> Stax SR Omega/Omega2


All cables are monoprice right now; I might do some testing with more expensive cables to see if they actually make a difference sometime in the future but I'm in no rush.

post #9 of 63

That's an easy one, Justin's BHSE set-up at the LA Canjam.  I don't recall the cd player, but I listened with a 007Mk1, my 007A and my Sigma/404.  All sounded superb in slightly different ways.

I was able to squeeze in about 1/2 hr and brought my own cd's.

Edited by edstrelow - 11/18/10 at 4:27pm
post #10 of 63

You all need to hear the r to r tape based system of "Ironbut". Using one off master "Tape Project" recordings, the source is so good it elevates everything else in the signal chain to an entirely new level. Using Jade electrostats and a reworked McAllister amp this system was clearly in a league of it's own at the last northern California meet. 

post #11 of 63
Thread Starter 

I'm going to say....


The best system I have ever heard to this date is a tie.  I have never been to a meet.  I will be going to one Saturday.


But this is the best system I've ever heard:


The amp: TTVJ Millett 307a

The source: MSB Platinum DAC III

The headphones: LCD-2 (recabled balanced APS V3)

The amp: Apex Pinnacle

The source: MSB Platinum DAC III

The headphones: HD800 (recabled balanced APS V3)


The amp: TTVJ Millett 307a OR Apex Pinnacle

The source: MSB Platinum DAC III

The headphones R10 stock balanced


The interconnects in all cases were Single Power balanced XLR.


Those are the 3 best rigs I have ever heard.  The Omega 2 rig I heard did not come close to any of those.  If I spend more time with my HE-6, I may put that on the list as well. The T1 were also amazing with the Pinnacle, I liked it better with the Pinnacle than 307a.  

post #12 of 63

Absolutely nothing sounds quite like an HE90, especially when fueled with as much power as possible from a deliciously yet subtly colored ac-coupled amp

post #13 of 63

something like:



HEV90 > HE90

Some kicking amp > R10

post #14 of 63

Maybe I'm biased but I'm in love with my current set up:

Unison research Unico CD > Zanden 7000 300B> 3### serial K1000

Ive listened to all kinds of music; all sound awesome but very good recorded music really stand out while poorly recorded music sound meh in comparison. Im guessing Ive had about 50 hours of listening time. (CD player is fairly new)

The soundstage, the fullness and body of the music while having excellent clarity.

Edited by aRRR - 11/19/10 at 7:09am
post #15 of 63

Headphone wise, I'm still learning and listening but for right now:


24/96 Foobar>M2Tech HiFace>A-GD Ref. 7>Nordost Red Dawn IC>Rotel RB 1050>HE-6

Edited by Happy Camper - 12/25/10 at 3:23pm
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