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HE-500 (or LCD2) Questions + Amp and DAC matching

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm going to buy a HE-500 system for my brother for Christmas since his K701s broke and he's interested in getting a nice headphone setup.  I would get him the LCD-2 but he wears glasses fairly frequently and the LCD-2 just doesn't play well with glasses users.  Comfort is important to him so I think, unless bending the headband makes a massive difference, the LCD-2 probably isn't a good idea unless someone here (who wears glasses normally).  I actually would prefer to get him the LCD-2 rev2 based on the great audition I had of the cans, but my concern is its wearability.

 

He listens primarily to acoustic, electronica (trance), and rock (alternative, folk, and progressive).  The headphones would also be used a lot for watching TV series and movies, and occasional computer games (though he doesn't care how it sounds in computer games as long as it's functional).

 

He is fine with used gear.  My budget for this headphones+amp+DAC system is $2000.  I was originally looking at the Schiit Lyr + Schiit Bifrost, but after finding out that he's open to used, I think there are a lot more options out there.  SS, hybrid, or tube are fine... any suggestions on pros/cons with the HE-500/LCD-2 matching would be great.

 

I had a few questions I was hoping to get help for:

 

1) Is it possible to get the LCD-2 to actually feel good for someone who wears glasses and is comfort-conscious?

2) What is the market price for a used 8-9/10 quality HE-500 or LCD-2?

3) What amps (new or used) should I be looking at?  Anything better than the Lyr in the price range?

4) What DACs (new or used) should I be looking at?  Anything better than the Bifrost in the price range?  I know it hasn't been formally reviewed yet, but I'm going to assume Schiit has got its... stuff... together, and that it will compete well against $600-700 DACs.

 

Thanks for any help :)  I don't know the $500-1000 range of amps and DACs very well, and I'm thinking there are probably a lot of interesting used options in the $1200ish price range.  I'd prefer separate amp and DAC units.  One last option is just giving him the gamma2 and buying a $1200 amp, but I have the gamma2 marked for someone else and would only do that as a last resort if the price-performance argument makes sense.

post #2 of 19

1) Yes. I wear glasses (thin frames). No problem with either LCD-2 or any HiFiMAN. If he wears big bold designer style frames ... I would think any headphone is a problem.

 

post #3 of 19

Heya,

 

I'll just say, you're an incredible brother... haha.

 

Anyhow, the HE-500 is a great headphone. I went with it over the LCD2 myself, primarily due to comfort, I have to have velour, and modding the LCD2's ear pads would have changed the sound, and that defeats getting that headphone (for me). And I'm completely satisfied with the HE-500. I wear it and it doesn't bother me with my glasses. It's a solid headphone, not light, it has some weight to it, and I like it.

 

1. Relative, one man's comfort is another's torture. I know a few people that sold LCD2's because it just didn't feel right on their head. So, go with your gut here.

 

2. I see them both often for $700~850ish. An HE-500 went for $650 a little while ago. But also, go for $800 (and all between). LCD2 tends to fetch the higher price, usually closer to $800ish.

 

3. I've paired up with the Lyr and I absolutely love it. The HE-500 needs power, it's not as inefficient as the HE-6, but my Little Dot MK III could not power the HE-500 properly (it played volume and all but I had some clipping on some low notes). Put it on the Lyr and all that went away, it sings and dances. In the price range, it's going to be hard to find something that outputs this power, it was designed for an ortho. Plus it has a great warranty, can't go wrong with it.

 

4. I'll be getting a Bifrost next month, so maybe I can let you know then. Currently paired a Matrix CUBE with my Lyr and HE-500 and it sounds wonderful. But an upgradable DAC with Schiit's warranty for that price is going to be very hard to content with at that price.

 

Very best,

post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loevhagen View Post

1) Yes. I wear glasses (thin frames). No problem with either LCD-2 or any HiFiMAN. If he wears big bold designer style frames ... I would think any headphone is a problem.

 

 

I wear thick frames and I find the LCD-2's pretty uncomfortable. They clamp down hard on the frames, and it takes lots of fidgeting to get them to the point where it's bearable. Obviously, it's not a deal breaker for me (as I'll just take off my glasses most times), but if comfort is a huge factor then I'd look elsewhere. 
 

 

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the great comments! :)  He's gotten me very thoughtful gifts in the past, too, so I'm hoping to get him something memorable.  He really liked the O2s I recently acquired, so I wanted to get him something similarly nice, and I think a high-end ortho would be promising.

 

The comments on the wearability are strongly swaying me towards the HE-500.  I'm pretty tolerant about uncomfortable headphones, having used DJ headphones and Grados for awhile, and even the LCD-2s were so uncomfortable for me that it took effort to concentrate on the music.  Knowing him, I'll go with my gut instinct and opt for the HiFiMan.  He didn't like my SR225i at all because he considered them too uncomfortable.  The LCD-2s sound great when everything is properly fit so I am pretty worried about changing how it wears, since I've noticed even slight adjustments on high-end headphones cause audible changes.

 

I appreciate the price check.  I think I'll shoot for a 8-9/10 HE-500 for low $700s.

 

I haven't had a chance to listen to any Schiit gear, but it sounds like the Schiit is competitive with gear that costs x1.5-2, which is why even new Schiit gear seems like a good deal (particularly given that I don't see much depreciation on the used models).  If the Lyr pairs that nicely with the HE-500, it makes sense to just assume that they designed the DAC to play nicely with the amp, and the entire system will be nicely matched.  I was thinking that maybe I was missing out on some nice $800-1200 DAC that are several years old, but would've been the hyped equivalent of a W4S2 around 2007-08.  I've seen some cheap beta22s (sub-$1000) but the chasses are very unattractive, and I have a feeling the Lyr tubes would match very nicely with orthos.


Edited by Elysian - 9/19/11 at 1:05pm
post #6 of 19

Yes, but:

 

-hugo-boss-eyeglasses-0143-color-shiny-brown-demo-lens-color-code--prp00.jpg

vs.

 

boss_0103u_Blk.jpg

 

...should make a difference.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loevhagen View Post

1) Yes. I wear glasses (thin frames). No problem with either LCD-2 or any HiFiMAN. If he wears big bold designer style frames ... I would think any headphone is a problem.

 



 

same here.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loevhagen View Post

Yes, but:

 

vs.

 

...should make a difference.


The glasses in question are closer to the thinner frame in the first, so I'm afraid the Audeze Jaws-of-Life-2 probably would not gather a favorable reaction.

 

Just read about possible amp destruction from Schiit Asgards and Lyrs.  Looks like those are out.

 

What other amp+dac pairings are around in the $1200-1300 price range?  Should I default to another HeadAmp GS-1?  HA-160?  Find a used Grace m903? tongue_smile.gif

 

Would the Lavry DA11 or W4S2 work well with the HE-500 without an amp?


Edited by Elysian - 9/19/11 at 1:21pm
post #9 of 19
More than most headphones, the LCD-2's would be highly influenced by the thickness of the frame. In the case of the LCD-2's, it's not even really the pressure, so much as the distribution of the clamp that can make them uncomfortable. It's not an even pressure, but more front loaded toward the temples. This would make them increasingly less comfortable as the frames get thicker and less flexible.

FWIW, I wear thin wire glasses, and the clamping pressure doesn't bother me. Well let me rephrase that: the glasses don't make the clamping pressure any worse than it is without them. Positioning wise though, I don't notice much, if any, difference in the sound with the LCD-2's when worn in any halfway sane position. I think the massive planar driver plays a role in that.

Edit: It's probably worth mentioning that my primary headphone prior to the LCD-2 was the K701. So assuming he found the 701s comfortable, and has a larger head, then he'd most likely find the LCD-2's comparably uncomfortable from a clamping perspective. The headband is more comfortable though IMO. (K701's "pads" in the headband create pressure points on the head.)
Edited by Kwisatz - 9/19/11 at 1:51pm
post #10 of 19

I never wear glasses normally with headphones so this is never an issue. The two headphones where I sometimes forget to not wear them normally is the AD 700 and HD 800. Velour is generally better then leather in this regard as suggested. My glasses do break the seal somewhat on the HD 800. The AD 700 doesn´t have a seal so there is nothing to break lol.

 

But otherwise do your brother do marathon sessions in gaming? If so you may get comfort issues with the heavy weight orthos anyway. I doubt that even if the HE-500 is better it take any reward here compared to the lighter dynamics. 

post #11 of 19

Just something for you to consider, how about a Burson 160d. Should fall nicely in your price range second hand and it drives the he-500 and especially the LCD 2s wonderfully imo. Another option would be to wait for the upcoming Schillt balanced "minimalist" stuff. Should be really good too.

post #12 of 19

I wear glasses very flat thin and wide frame and does not make differences w/o glasses.

But LCD2 is not comfortable compare to my Denons or Ultrasones.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

He occasionally does long gaming sessions, but he's pretty tolerant about a reasonable level of discomfort so I don't think headphone weight will be a disqualifier.  It was mainly the clamping pressure that concerned me.

 

Okay, you guys have convinced me... after rereading the return policy on Headroom, I checked in with him and he's fine with going with the LCD-2.  If the comfort level is problematic then we'll just take advantage of Headroom's commendable return policy (100% refund except for shipping within 30days, no questions asked) and get the HE-500 instead.  I was considering the HD800, too, but I think the amp and dac requirements for the HD800 are far beyond what he'll invest in for a headphone setup anytime soon.

 

The last question I have is whether Headroom is likely to be doing a large sale before 2012?  I saw Moon Audio did a 10% off on the LCD-2s during Labor Day and I'm kicking myself for missing that.  Can we expect to see something similar from Headroom around Black Monday, Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas, etc.?  I like Headroom because of their return policy, and I've found Tyll's posts informative and thoughtful.

 

The 160d is definitely on my list to consider.  Out of curiosity, given how easy it is to drive LCD-2s, is a good DAC or amp a higher priority?  If the LCD-2 sounds good without an amp, I'm  tempted just to find a new or used W4S2, or some comparable DAC.

post #14 of 19

I've been using the FiiO E7/E9 to drive my LCD-2's.

 

To my ears they sound fine, but they're probably not powered to their "potential".

 

I do plan on getting the Schiit Lyr and Bitfrost myself though.

 

You can get the E10 while saving up to upgrade or something. tongue.gif

 

Tweet by Headfonia!

 Headfonia

 
"E10 + Audez'e LCD-2: also awesome."
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

He occasionally does long gaming sessions, but he's pretty tolerant about a reasonable level of discomfort so I don't think headphone weight will be a disqualifier.  It was mainly the clamping pressure that concerned me.

 

Okay, you guys have convinced me... after rereading the return policy on Headroom, I checked in with him and he's fine with going with the LCD-2.  If the comfort level is problematic then we'll just take advantage of Headroom's commendable return policy (100% refund except for shipping within 30days, no questions asked) and get the HE-500 instead.  I was considering the HD800, too, but I think the amp and dac requirements for the HD800 are far beyond what he'll invest in for a headphone setup anytime soon.

 

The last question I have is whether Headroom is likely to be doing a large sale before 2012?  I saw Moon Audio did a 10% off on the LCD-2s during Labor Day and I'm kicking myself for missing that.  Can we expect to see something similar from Headroom around Black Monday, Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas, etc.?  I like Headroom because of their return policy, and I've found Tyll's posts informative and thoughtful.

 

The 160d is definitely on my list to consider.  Out of curiosity, given how easy it is to drive LCD-2s, is a good DAC or amp a higher priority?  If the LCD-2 sounds good without an amp, I'm  tempted just to find a new or used W4S2, or some comparable DAC.



I do game with both the HD 800 and LCD-2. HD 800 score high regarding comfort surely. It´s not that hard to drive but like the LCD-2 it´s a revealing headphone. It make details stand out a bit more then the LCD-2 due to it´s treble peak I suspect. However just like for music personally I do preferr the LCD-2 and more often then not sacrifice comfort for the sound I enjoy most. HD 800 don´t do much wrong though and is good when I don´t want to be involved that much. Which is not often though.  Soundstage is very good better then the LCD-2s.

 

Last weeks I have been obsessively running through AC 2 and brotherhood. both the HD 800 and LCD-2 make my other headphones look bad for this game :). For me the LCD-2 is certainly no dealbreaker regarding comfort but I am going around with a stiff and compressed neck despite my relieving periods with the HD 800. I just about always find the LCD-2 more enjoyable and immersive though.  If your friend has issues with that the HE-500 is just as heavy.

 

Source first for both LCD-2 and HD 800 is my experience. But then I have been able to enjoy both the LCD-2 and Hd 800 straight out of an Ipod. You won´t hear what they are able to do on such a setup.

 

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