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Headphone pairing with Bottlehead Crack w/Speedball upgrade

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all. First of all, let me quickly introduce myself. Im a 26 yr old who has just been bitten by the audiophile bug a few days ago. I took study leave(im a doctor) and spent all that time researching the net for pre-amps, amps(tube vs solid state), DACs(and do i really need em?!?), sources etc. While i was doing that, i read a great review about Bottlehead crack and found that they were offering a free speedball upgrade(which was supposedly going to make it better). So I placed the order. Thats my very 1st amplifier purchase. Now i have a budget of £1000(i live in london) and i was thinking if I should invest it in a good set of headphones or a headphone + rest of the money for other accessories? My questions are:


1. Beyerdynamic T1/Sennheiser HD650/any other headphone to pair with the Crack? I listen to mostly classical music, some pop and rap, alternative rock and some hard rock.

2. Any good places to learn more about this hobby from other than this excellent forum?

3. Any good places to Learni more about  electrical engineering at a basic level to help in modding and understanding audio electronics.


The source im going to use is my Macbook pro and the audio files are mostly CD's i pop into the player or lossless audio ive downloaded from HDTracks. Id appreciate your help. Im going to go catch some sleep. It's been an exhausting yet exciting 2 days! Looking forward to your responses!

post #2 of 11
Heny Now,

Welcome. I use a Crack w/Speedball and aftermarket tubes (Sylvania) with my HD650s and find it extremely enjoyable and non-fatiguing. Building the Crack was a fun project. Things sound better when you make it yourself 8^).

You should use higher ohm headphones with the Crack. I've used a pair of AKG K601 (120 ohm) with good results and my ER4P with a APureSound 'S' cable (100 ohm I think), that sounds good for an IEM, very resolving. Enjoy the Crack.

Finest kind,
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi Chris!


Yes, soon as I saw the Bottlehead deal, I went for it. I love DIY and im not that bad with a soldering iron. Plus a lot of DIYers say the step-by-step manual with the bottlehead is amazing. Im thinking of the Sennheiser HD 650 as it's from £275 pounds on amazon vs Beyerdynamic for about £770. The dilemma is this: Should I go with the Sennheiser HD650 and "train" my ears or should I buy the best within my budget (the T1) and develop my listening skills along the way, appreciating it more everyday? I called my dad up yesterday for advice(he's an engineer and an audiophile) and turns out he has 5 or 6 amps of Pioneer, Marantz, Yamaha and Denon lying in his garage alongwith JBL Ti series speakers. All audio equipment dating from 1983 to 1989! Only the Yamaha amplifier he purchased recently. So i'm excited about heading back to Oman(where my family lives) and enjoy his equipment! Probably run off with an amp under each arm when I get the chance ;) So i need to buy a headphone asap before i head back mid-July!

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

So here's how my current setup's would look like(at the moment):


Macbook pro(Fidelia)>Bottlehead crack>Sennheiser HD650 or T1


Any additions or changes? And any specific optical OUT cable i should use? I just realized i know next to nothing about cables so if anyone can recommend any good cables I should buy, i'll place the order. I dont think the bottlehead crack comes with cables. I wouldnt know till the package gets here.

post #5 of 11

You'll need an external dac if you want to output from the MBP via optical. I'd recommend the Schiit Bifrost for this. The Bifrost's balanced presentation is a great match for the HD650 imo and I find its optical output to have better clarity than usb so you can save some pennies going the non usb version. You'll also need a mini toslink to toslink cable.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

What about the ODAC?

post #7 of 11

I had great result with a HD650 and Eastern Electric Minimax dac.  The dac is one of the best bang for the money.  Kind of miss tthat combo since it provided great detail amd soundstage.

post #8 of 11
Wait who is offering a free speedball upgrade?
Looked at bottle heads website and they are still charging?
Edited by TA98 - 6/16/12 at 6:34pm
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by TA98 View Post

Wait who is offering a free speedball upgrade?
Looked at bottle heads website and they are still charging?

Here is the information.


But it's already sold out, one heck of a deal.



post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

There were 25 in all and they sold out in a day and a half. I have paid them but they havent contacted me yet regarding the shipping. Do they ship to UK? And another noob question: What cables do I need to connect my MBP to the Crack? This is my very first foray into audiophile territory. Im also looking at either the Arcam rPAC(for portability) or the M1 DAC. What dyou guys think?

Edited by sanadsaad - 6/17/12 at 11:03am
post #11 of 11


Have you got an update to post on your Bottlehead/headphones/dac setup?


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