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Buying rig $400-500, compiled my findings seeking reflections

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey, first off this post is all over the place so I had no idea what forum it belongs to so please move it if it needs moving. This is my first post on head-fi , I have been lurking on and off for a while starting back when I bought my ad700’s about 2 years ago through recommendations here. Now however I am looking for an upgrade and have been reading for the past couple weeks learning about everything I could to make an informed decision but there are some many different avenues one can take and differences of opinion I haven’t been able to figure out quite what to do.

 

To start off my budget for the rig is around 400-500 dollars. I am willing to spend more if I am getting better value. I will probably buy used or whatever avenue gives me the best value. The other reason I don’t mind spending more is because it seems as long as you treat your gear well you can resell it for little loss which I find intriguing. I would also prefer to have upgrade opportunities (another reason I may buy higher if it allows for easier/cheaper upgrade path.

 

I am a nooby so I can’t describe the exact sound signature I like etc but what I do know is...

 

- I listen to mostly hardcore techno, hardstyle, electro house, and other electronic genres, but am interested if the upgrade will allow me to appreciate other genres more (somewhat not a big deal, find most other stuff kind of boring to listen to except some rock etc)

 

- Home rig: My music is all digital however if I have to burn them into cds to attain higher value or quality I can do it.

 

- I also play some games but the ad700’s can be used for that if need be just thought I would mention it.

 

My current setup is foobar: flac/v0 mainly ->my computer which is using an onboard sound card -> ath-ad700

 

For my requirements some of the different routes I have heard suggested are: Headphones: dt770 or dt880, m50, ultrasone 750(?), srh840, hd600-650, there are more also some dennons but you get the picture.

 

At this point I am wondering at what pricepoint/can am I going to need an amp/dac/sound card etc. Which is where I start to get overwhelmed. I have found a deal on a used pair of hd600 with rega ears amp. I am wondering if this is a good deal or if my money is better spent elsewhere. If I were to buy these where is the weak link in the chain. Would I need a better DAC to support this should I look into a sound card. Should I sell the rega ears and buy a different amp should I look elsewhere maybe grab an hd 650 off of ebay or one of the many other suggested cans. Then there are amps/dac choices. I have heard bad things about the rega ears. I have seen combos like the nuforce icon hdp which does everything but is a little pricey (but doable if the value is there). There are also options like the sonar stx essence with its built in amp. A third option I have seen was the Focusfire Saffire Pro 24 DSP but I have just skimmed the surface and I am sure to have overlooked many many better combos.

 

So as the wall of text crits for over 9000 I am asked for advice with my situation as to how to proceed the most difficult part I am having so far is figuring out what would bottle neck me in the variety of can/dac/amp/etc combinations.

 

As this post was long I am sure I have left some things out but please help me ;D.

 

tldr I need rig for 400-500 dollars, for electronic music at home.

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

I can't find the edit button but the hd600 + rega ear amp were sold before I could get them so that deal if a no go.

 

edit: found the edit button sorry for double post

post #3 of 7

To get the easy one out of the way first - if you have music in a digital format, burning them to a cd isn't going to increase the sound quality.  A 128kbs file cannot be truly up-converted to a 320kbs or a FLAC file; it's my understanding that it can be converted to the larger format, but retains the same sound quality as the original 128kbs - you can't recreate data once it's lost.

 

As far as amps and DACs, you don't need them; most full-sized headphones on the market now can be adequately driven from a decent discrete sound card (note: not on-board sound).  An amplifier and external DAC will often improve the headphones being used, but that's where it gets into a more complex scenario in weighing costs, respective strengths and weaknesses for different setups, synergy between components, etc.  The safest way to do things is to buy the headphones you wind up deciding on, and giving them a listen - using a portable media player or a computer, whichever you're going to be using to play music.  If you enjoy the way things sound, money saved - no need for an amp.  If you think there's room for improvement, then you can start looking for amps and DACs, or a combination amp/DAC.

 

I've never heard of the Rega amp, so I can't comment on it's sound quality.  Assuming it's a good amp, the weak link there would be your source - if you don't have a sound card with RCA outs, you'd likely have to use a 1/8" mini to RCA cable using the mic out port on the sound card.  While adequate, it's far from ideal.  The most efficient way to use that setup would be to buy a DAC with a USB input (there's a plethora of them; some poking around in the Dedicated Sources forum would be more helpful than anything I could say, and would give you a decent list of sources to pick from), and connect the amp to that.  Alternately, you could get a good sound card with either optical or coax out (typically referred to as S/PDIF, although optical and coax are physically different), and run that into a DAC, and thus into the amp.

 

All that aside (tl;dr, right?  heh), I'd recommend picking up an Audio-GD Sparrow or FUN (combined amp/DAC, both which accept USB, optical, and coax in) and HFI-580/780, Phiaton MS400, Shure SRH750DJ, Aiaiai TMA1, or Sony XB700 headphones.  Audio-GD makes very solid products and combo amp/DACs are typically a better value than discrete units, and all of those headphones have good bass quality and quantity without adversely affecting the rest of the spectrum.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DemonicLemming View Post

To get the easy one out of the way first - if you have music in a digital format, burning them to a cd isn't going to increase the sound quality.  A 128kbs file cannot be truly up-converted to a 320kbs or a FLAC file; it's my understanding that it can be converted to the larger format, but retains the same sound quality as the original 128kbs - you can't recreate data once it's lost.

 

 


Actually every time MP3  is converted it loses quality. So if you started off with a 128 kbps file and upconverted it to 320 kbps it would actually sound worse. This is one of the many reasons to rip CD's in lossless as lossless doesn't lose quality when it is converted to different formats.

 

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Yeah thanks for your concern but if I were to burn them onto a cd I would make sure they were all lossless. I was wondering if a cd player would be a better idea over a dac. I understand that lossy to lossy conversion degrades the quality but thanks for your other recommendations I will look into it.

post #6 of 7

If all your music is already digital, a DAC would make more sense, because you wouldn't have to burn all the music you wanted to listen to onto cds.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xToNx View Post

Yeah thanks for your concern but if I were to burn them onto a cd I would make sure they were all lossless. I was wondering if a cd player would be a better idea over a dac. I understand that lossy to lossy conversion degrades the quality but thanks for your other recommendations I will look into it.



 

post #7 of 7

I would suggest buying some thunderpants on the for sale forum, they can be bought for around $400-500.

You don't really need a dac if your soundcard is at all decent.

As for an amp, you may be able to power the thunderpants from your soundcard, but if not any cheap integrated amp with a headphone jack will do fine (ebay) or a t-amplifier would be good.

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