Hey people, I'm in a bit of a dilemma here. I recently purchased a near new pair of Sennheiser HD-555 - they are barely used, and have had the mod made on them ( I have opened both to check ), but I am not quite happy with how they sound. I would probably guess they haven't been used more than a few hours - by the looks of them so burn-in ( actually lack of ) might be an issue here also.
I'm no audio gear freak, so my equipment is not quite top-notch to use with the headphones to begin with so bare with me a bit.
Right now my "audio gear" means :
1) A home PC with a PCI Herculess Fortissimo IV ( chipset VIA Envy 24HT(Vinyl) and Wolfson WM8776 + Wolfson WM8766 DACs ) + Pioneer AV Receiver ( via analog 3mm to RCA ) to power up my home speakers and also use as a HP amp.
2) Dell Precision M6300 - with SigmaTel HD Audio CODEC
3) iPhone 4 - for portable use
I also own a few other headphones except the Senns 555:
a) Everglide S500 - Actually gaming headphoes ( I mostly never game ) - but they sound surprisingly good on music ( for their value )
b) AKG K181-DJ - a bit unconfortable to wear for hours but great sound
c) Brainwavz ProAlpha - mostly for the portable use - I simply love these little fellas.
Now, getting to my little issue, the Senn HD-555. Please excuse the non-audiophile terms :) I wasn't quite pleased with how they sound when I got them. First I tried them on my iphone 4 as I was on the road. I realized the phone kinda struggles to power them so I figured it comes down to that. I got home, plugged them in my Pioneer as I usually use the headphones anyway, and noticed the bass was kind of dull and some lack of highs and clarity compared to my AKGs which, by any standard sound better, at least on my setup. The bass on the AKGs is a lot punchier and they also sound a lot cleaner overall. If I pump up the volume, it seems that the Senns tend to distort on a punchier music ( such as tech / minimal ) compared to the AKGs that could keep up with whatever volume I throw at them until you feel your ears pop out :) The same thing happens if I use the iphone. While the iphone is not quite capable of driving either of the 2 headphones to their true potential of course, the sound on the AKGs does sound cleaner with better bass and especially crisper highs.
I know almost everyone loves the HD555/595 but I failed to be impressed and let's be honest the AKGs I put them up against, are not quite a top-end model or an audiophile oriented product.
The laptop's internal audio card is simply awful, a lot of noise plus overall really bad quality. If I ever get some new music on my laptop I have to first transfer it on the iphone so I can listen to it at an acceptable quality level. The quality difference between iphone output and laptop output simply cannot be described in words :) I also have a Dell Adapter with a coaxial optical output if needed to use an external DAC. I also have a coaxial and optical output on my PC.
The music I listen to varies from Electronic/Tech/Minimal to Jazz/Blues and Classic Rock.
However I have decided that the best option for me would be to get an external DAC/Amp ( USB ) to use with my headphones both at home and with my laptop which is usually used as a desktop anyway especially when some music listening comes into play. I would be interested in a cheap solution - under 100$. I truly hope that I will be a bit more happy with my Senns. I mean I want to like these headphones, they are very comfortable, I used them for hours and they are great and I hope the reason why I haven't loved them that much is the source I plug them into.
I have read very good things about the cheap Behringer UCA202 ( or 222 ) as a USB DAC solution.Maybe pair it up with a FIIO amp if needed but I have read that it does a great job on its own. Especially cause the Senns are 50 ohms so it shouldn't be a problem for the UCA202. I know is a very cheap product and everyone says you should not be fooled by it's low price tag but I would really like to know how it compares to other FIIO similar products in terms of SQ ( especially on the DAC part ) and if it's able to drive these Senns. I have also taken the FIIO E7 into consideration - but now that the FIIO E10 is almost available I might wait for that instead. Although the FIIO E7 is portable, I am more than pleased with the quality I get from my iPhone + ProAlphas without and amp so portability problem is pretty much solved the easy way :)
So to sum this huge pile of thread into a few questions :
1. How is the Behringer UCA202 compared to FIIO E7 in terms of sound quality?
2. If I got for the Behringer, would I also need an amp to drive the 555s ?
3. How is the E7 compared to E10 sound quality wise - should I wait for the E10 or go straight for the E7?
4. Why do some people pair the E7 with the E9 amp - why isn't the E7s amp enough.
5. Are there any better/cheaper solutions considering I also have coaxial digital output on both my PC and laptop ?
Thanks for "bearing" with me :P