Originally Posted by rigodeni
I love my HD 600 but I was wondering if there is anything out there that is a worthwhile upgrade, while still being a great value. I looked at the Q701 and DT990 but those seem more like a side step, or even a step down. Has anyone upgraded to something that they feel is a significant improvement in sound and value?
As an ex HD600 owner (as well as former K701, Q701, SR325i and current DT880 owner) - IMO the K/Q701, DT880 and similar are a step sideways. Definitely worth sampling (I really appreciated being able to own the 3 former flags at the same time -K701/HD600/DT880) - but they are different rather than being an improvement. If you are looking for a step up from the HD600 - you're actually pretty limited on options unless you start looking at the flagships.
There are 2 exceptions IMO. As others have mentioned - the HE500 looks to be a definite step between current HD600 and flagship. You can get these for around the 550-600 dollar mark second hand. I haven't heard one yet - but will do one of these days.
The other option is the SRH1840. I know it was slammed for measurements by some people - but it can be picked up for around 500-550 second hand, and IMO is actually a step-up. I own one (paid 525 for it). Build is good, very lightweight and strong. Comfort pretty good - one wish is that they would get the headband 100% right. Sonically it is very neutral, no mid bass hump. Sound stage similar to HD600 - not excessive. Where it does stand out for me is in imaging, separation, and clarity. To be honest I was not wowed in the first week of owning it. But over the last couple of months I've come to appreciate what a great headphone it is. It's not as natural sounding as the HD600 - but for me remains a viable step up.
Originally Posted by rigodeni
Thanks for the insight guys. I think maybe I should look at amplifiers vs another headphone then. Right now I have the Fiio E11 and Bravo Audio V2. Both budget amps, they have enough power, but I wouldn't say they improve sound all that much vs driving direct from my X-FI or iMac. Would you guys say a good $200-300 amp is worthwhile, can you actually hear a difference when compared to decent sub$100 amps? If so, what would you recommend? Or should I look into a DAC first?
I was thinking about the Little Dot MK III if I go the tube route, I don't have the confidence for a DIY project. Maybe there's tubes that make the amp sound more neutral? Because I think I prefer the cleaner more neutral sound of solid state, but I like the look and additional power of tubes, and the idea of rolling. I would need something with a pre-out. I would consider buying used also. DAC wise I was looking at the ODAC.
I know I mention this particular DAC/amp a lot - but it's because I think it is incredible value for money. Definitely consider the Audio-gd NFB 15.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB15.32/NFB15.32EN.htm). USD 235.00 plus shipping. Well implemented dual Wolfson WM8741 and powerful class A amplification (DT880 600s are no problem).
It's probably not the be-all and end-all in resolution - but for the price it must be 'up there' in the value chain as a bang for buck option. Although I've steadily progressed from SRH840 > SR325 > DT880 / K701 / HD600 > SRH1840 - I've never felt the need to seriously upgrade my source yet. And with all the inputs/outputs - it's also an easy unit to isolate the DAC (dac out RCAs) and add a tube amp later (I now also use a LD MKIV).
I earlier had E7/E9, E11 etc. And to my ears my NFB-12 (15.32 is equivalent NFB 12 with upgraded USB implementation) was a significant upgrade on the Fiios.
As with all of above YMMV - that's just my experience.
Edited by Brooko - 8/28/13 at 2:26pm