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What do I need to buy to have an audiophile setup?????

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I currently play My Audio Technica M-50s through my ipod's headphone jack, with lossless files. I know that the analog out hurts sound quality, I also hear that noise cancelling hurts sound quality. I want to build an audiophile setup. I don't know exactly what to buy, or how to even hook it up.



I want to buy a nice cd player, an amp, and high end headphones. I don't know about Dacs. Should I buy a high end cd player with a good dac, or ad an external dac instead? Also, how would I hook my headphones up to the cd player for best quality?


Budget is $1000


Can you guys build me a setup for $1000 to give me an idea on what I need to buy? Thanks

Edited by 3reach - 7/20/11 at 8:46pm
post #2 of 16

What music preferences do you have? Do you like warm/bright headphones, neutral headphones, or dark headphones.

post #3 of 16

I would buy an NFB-10WM (I use the computer alot) from audio-gd and a pair of Sennheiser HD600. A little over 1000$ with transport, but I think it will keep you very happy, even on the long run. 

Edited by UtzY - 7/20/11 at 9:38pm
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by T-Willi View Post

What music preferences do you have? Do you like warm/bright headphones, neutral headphones, or dark headphones.

I like neutral. Bright hurts my ears and warm is muddy for metal music. My M50s are pretty neutral, I want a high end headphone that in neutral as well. I just don't understand how I would hook up all these things for the best sound...what cables would I need? Also, would I buy a cd player with a nice dac, or buy a ok c dplayer with an external?

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

bump please help

post #6 of 16

Would you prefer listening on a computer, to have all your music on the hard drive, or you'd like the idea of using a CD-player with or without a DAC?

post #7 of 16

My advice to you would be to spend as little as possible on the gear.  Maybe 10-20% of your budget and no more.   Gear makes very little difference in sound quality compared to head phones.   In my experience most people have a VERY hard time hearing any difference between gear (amps dacs etc...).  


For example I've made 3 upgrades in my audiophile life so far.  The first was a jump from a $30 headset that i used for gaming and music to some $100 Sennheiser HD555s, the difference was night and day and well worth the money.  The next was a jump from the $100 HD555s to some $350 HD650s again the difference was night and day and is also the reason why I am currently saving every dime I have for the $1000 LCD-2s.  The final upgrade I made was a jump from a $25 Creative sound blaster sound card to my $200 Maverick Audio DAC/AMP, the difference in sound quality was VERY minor and only audible after many hours of music play back and only on loss less high ress music. And i have very good ears, i can tell differences is SPL as low as .3Db reliably.


Basically what I am saying is your money is much better spent on whats actually making the sound because the Headphones themselves probably determine 90% or more of the sound quality.   


For 200 the maverick D1 is a great DAC/AMP combo.  http://www.mav-audio.com/store/index.php/tube-magic-dac-d1.html?SID=p1t8136mk9n1kspt2seoed1r62  It's got USB in so you can hock it up to any PC via USB and get GREAT sound.  And you cant go wrong with some Sennheiser HD 650s. That combo will sound great with EVERY type of music and put you well under your budget. 


If I could do every thing again and had $1000 cash I would buy Audzes LCD-2 headphones and worry about getting an amp/dac latter on down the road. Again after market amps and DACS don't really determine your sound  quality they just make the most of what your headphones can do.  And there only really worth the money once you already have the phones and are VERY serious about sound quality. 



post #8 of 16
If you want high-quality neutral, start with the Sennheiser HD-600. Used ones are around $200 and usually in great shape. Buy used.

A neutral and extremely high quality amp is the Dynalo/Gilmore Lite. Loads of power, no caps in the signal path and exceptionally clean. They run $300-$400 depending on the make - there are several out there.

Next, find a decent DAC for a few hundred. I'm not up on them and can't make a recommendation.

That should get you in under budget and with great sound.

Also, be sure to rip everything you have into lossless. This is important.
post #9 of 16

Here it is :) Even if it has Elpac brick and not a dedicated power supply, it is still a wonderful amp, just like UE said.


I would use a Sennheiser HD650 with this amp though... 

Edited by UtzY - 7/21/11 at 12:39am
post #10 of 16



Matrix Cube DAC + Ultrasone 2900's or HD600 or HD650 or Grado 325.


And never look back.


The Cube DAC has a built in amp that drives any headphones and is quite good at it. I did an A-B test and some blind comparing it to my Little Dot MK III and honestly couldn't pick which was which enough times to say they sound different enough. It's got a pretty good amplifier. The DAC is very good, and it has all the inputs you could want. It can upscale everything to 24b/192hz on the fly. It's very stylish and not huge, but not tiny. It can also feed another amplifier, and you can monitor from both amps from the Cube at the same time, so you can have two sets of headphones hooked in listening to whatever it's processing which is really fantastic if you like to try out several headphones or want someone else to share in. It's a very versatile DAC with a built in AMP.


You don't need to spend $1000. More like $600 to get a very good setup. Instead, spend the rest of the budget on your second pair of headphones (because you'll want more!).


Very best,

post #11 of 16

CD Player - (Not sure on the best value/performance models here, Sony, Denon, Pioneer etc.)




Dac/Amp - (Matrix Cube, Matrix M-Stage, Yulong D100, Yulong A100, Yulong U100, Zero DAC, Fostex something)




Headphones - (Shure SRH-940, Beyerdynamic something, Ultrasone something, Audio-Technica something, Sony something, Denon something) <- depends on your taste which model to pick here.





CD Player - (Pioneer with optical, analog (RCA) and coax out)


Dac/Amp - (Yulong D100)


Headphones - (Audio Technica AD2000)




Good luck!



post #12 of 16

Id just do what most everyone is saying. Pick up a decent dac/amp combo or dedicated dac & dedicated amp setup whichever you prefer. And if you want highend and neutral just pick up some 600/650s or some 325s especially for metal, and Im sure if you find the right deal you can snag some nice and cheap 600/650s. Just yesterday I saw a pair of 600s for 213 (converted from euros) and if I hadnt just bought an amp I would have been allllllll over that haha.

post #13 of 16

For PC use i will recommend this setup ALO moded AKG K702+Matrix M Stage+Asus Essence ST(RCA use).

post #14 of 16

Endless possibilities...Some ideas:


Marantz CD 5001- ~$200 used (good value CD player with nice analog output)

Schiit Lyr- $449 (as much power as anyone needs) or opt for the Schiit Asgard for $249 (still very nice)


After shipping costs are added in, that should leave around $300 for the headphones & you have a TON of options in that price range especially if you buy used.  Try to audition some of the following if you can:

-Sennheiser HD600 or HD650 (good all rounders)

-AKG K701 (nice detail & exceptional soundstage)

-Denon AH-D2000 or AH-D5000 (closed designs= good for bass lovers; OK amp-less)

-Grado 325i (great detail & can be used amp-less)


Many other HP options...too many to mention...headphone choice, in particular, is a very personal decision & there's no real substitute for choosing with your own ears.


Good luck!!


post #15 of 16
Originally Posted by 3reach View Post

I like neutral. [...] My M50s are pretty neutral,

The M50s are not neutral at all. They have emphasized bass and highs, and not just a little. So maybe more neutral phones such as the HD600 might not fit your taste at all, if you perceive the M50s as neutral


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