Car analogy doesn't work with audio. Expensive cars give you the luxury factor, while functionality is pretty much the same as cheaper car. In audio world, better transducer is much better in functionality (sound quality). That's why people usually go for the most expensive headphone.
To be honest, if you blow 3500 USD on dac/amp for a He-500, it will still sound worse (technically) than a 007 + KGSS and a 700 usd dac. Now I'm not saying the he500 isn't enjoyable - but if price/performance is your highest priority, it's better to go for the most expensive headphone you can afford (and like).
The point is not about potential. The point is given a same fixed budget, high end headphones, even when modestly amped, will most of the time sound better than a lower end headphone paired with an expensive amp. If you are budget-concious and want the best for the money ---> transducer is that way.
Now there are exceptions of course, for example the Hd600 scales sky high too, despite the deceptive price tag. But you're still going to get better bang for bucks with a Hd800 + mstage than a Hd600 + 1k amps. Also I wouldn't recommend the Mstage for orthos, if you're going budget with orthos, used speaker amp is where it's at.
But hey, it won't be called a journey if on day 1 you end up with a 009 + BHSE
Edited by khaine1711 - 5/10/13 at 8:12pm