Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Need Help Choosing Headphones/Amp/DAC/Cables
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need Help Choosing Headphones/Amp/DAC/Cables

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello Head-Fi!


I just joined this forum and hope to learn and contribute as much as possible.

 

I have decided to take the plunge and get some 'audiophile' level equipment for my headphone "system". I am running B&W speakers and an SVS sub through a Denon A/V receiver via TOS Link from my custom PC.

 

I want to get a great set of headphones, an amp, a DAC, and some really good cables.

 

So, I have narrowed them down to the following and would appreciate any good advice on this.

 

Headphones (in order of priority):

  1. Sennheiser HD800 (from Colorware with custom colors) - $1,499
  2. Audeze LCD-3 - $1,945
  3. Beyerdynamic T1 - $1,099

 

Amps (in order of priority):

  1. Woo Audio WA22 - $1,900
  2. Woo Audio WA2 - $1,090
  3. Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear - $1,149
  4. Woo Audio WA6 - $620

 

DAC:

  1. Schiit Bifrost - $349
  2. HeadRoom UDAC - $1,199

 

I have no idea about cables so would really like some suggestions. I think I want the "balanced XLR" cables but want awesome quality.

 

Price is not that big of an issue but I do not want stuff that is much more than the price range listed above (so no $10k etc.). I am willing to spend a few hundred on the perfect cable(s) as well. Perhaps I should get a "balanced XLR" cable and a 'regular' one as well(?).

 

I am somewhat particular about getting the HD800 first (will get all three as I want to start my headphone "collection" but not at the same time!). So if I do get the HD800, which amp would you guys suggest? Someone I talked to recently raved about the Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear amp but it looks very ordinary; of course, performance takes precedence over looks but I really dig the way the Woo Audio amps look, especially in matte black! For the DAC, I would prefer not to have to spend $1k; will the BiFrost from Schiit suffice or is it a subpar product? As I said, I want great quality and performance followed by aesthetics but I don't want to go overboard (re the price).

 

Oh, and the stuff I listen to varies widely. I listen to Indian classical, western classical, Indian pop (movie songs), oldies (Sinatra, Fitzgerald), rock (Disturbed, Mudvayne, Linkin Park, ), rap (Tupac), ambient (Above & Beyond), and some other stuff. So I suppose a headphone/amp/dac/cable combination that will best suit those types of music.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 13

Does your computer have a sound card or is the optical running from the motherboard's optical out?

If your graphics card has HDMI out and the Denon has HDMI input, why not run an HDMI cable between, I believe HDMI can pass more audio then optical.

Is the DAC-Amp-Headphone going to be connected to the computer, coaxial, optical, or USB?

 

Monoprice sells "premium" cable for a low price.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 7/5/12 at 3:37pm
post #3 of 13

Can you go to a meet (we have a whole forum for them) anywhere and try stuff out first?

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Does your computer have a sound card or is the optical running from the motherboard's optical out?

If your graphics card has HDMI out and the Denon has HDMI input, why not run an HDMI cable between, I believe HDMI can pass more audio then optical.

Is the DAC-Amp-Headphone going to be connected to the computer, coaxial, optical, or USB?

 

Monoprice sells "premium" cable for a low price.

 

My computer is running the optical cable from the motherboard directly. I don't have any available PCI-E slots for a soundcard - I am running 4-Way SLI for graphics cards.

 

HDMI is not something I want; I use dual-link DVI cables for my GPUs and don't want the "HD Audio" drivers (garbage) from NVIDIA. My current speaker setup with B&W speakers and SVS sub sound awesome for games and the music I play on it. I want to also get a great set of headphones, a great headphone amp, and a dac, and some awesome balanced XLR cables for the HD800.

 

The DAC/Amp I thought will be connected to the A/V receiver which gets the signal from the computer (via optical cable) ?..

 

Monoprice? I didn't know they sold "audiophile" stuff. I suppose all of you get your cables from there?

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Can you go to a meet (we have a whole forum for them) anywhere and try stuff out first?


I suppose.. I will look into that but I would prefer to go to a store that has these headphones/amps/dacs and try them out.. I know of a couple of "audiophile" stores around my area (bay area, CA)..

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baasha View Post

 

My computer is running the optical cable from the motherboard directly. I don't have any available PCI-E slots for a soundcard - I am running 4-Way SLI for graphics cards.

 

HDMI is not something I want; I use dual-link DVI cables for my GPUs and don't want the "HD Audio" drivers (garbage) from NVIDIA. My current speaker setup with B&W speakers and SVS sub sound awesome for games and the music I play on it. I want to also get a great set of headphones, a great headphone amp, and a dac, and some awesome balanced XLR cables for the HD800.

 

The DAC/Amp I thought will be connected to the A/V receiver which gets the signal from the computer (via optical cable) ?..

 

Monoprice? I didn't know they sold "audiophile" stuff. I suppose all of you get your cables from there?

Monoprice sells no-name OEM cables, I'm more into decent quality then ultimate quality.

Beside I would not be surprised if that high price name brand cable come from the same factory that makes Monoprice's low priced "premium" cable.

at least that is my thinking.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baasha View Post


I suppose.. I will look into that but I would prefer to go to a store that has these headphones/amps/dacs and try them out.. I know of a couple of "audiophile" stores around my area (bay area, CA)..

Check out the website BAASnotes, Bay Area Audiophile Society, $20 a year to join.

post #8 of 13

I would definitely try headphones at the meet first if possible before buying so that you can decide which headphones you like most cause some people including me prefer T1 over HD800 and some think opposite way. I also heard LCD-3 and while sound way better than LCD-2 for me i don't think they are worth extra you pay over T1

post #9 of 13
Which Denon receiver do you have? If it's fairly competent, it'll drive your headphones fine (but I get the sense that isn't what you're looking for, and you're more interested in spending more; I don't know how to say that less abrasive-sounding redface.gif I'm not trying to offend though); you don't need to spend kilo-buck money for efficient cans. Basically I think you can drop a few thousand dollars off this affair and end up in the exact same place.

Regarding the cables - oh boy, where to start. "balanced XLR" makes me nervous to read - there's XLR cabling which you can use to carry balanced signals, but you need a balanced output from a source, and a balanced sink, and so on. If you're going to run balanced into the headphones, you need a balanced amp, etc. It's not just some arbitrary "here's where we can drop money" thing. With something like the Lehman that you mentioned, XLR cabling is impossible.

Now as far as the hooking up of things - does your Denon have a digital return on it? If yes, you could feed another converter. If not, that's probably a bit of a problem (because cheap AVRs do not convert digital to analog for their record/multi-zone feeds); you could get a splitter or find one of the relatively few DtoAs that have repeaters (to feed the receiver). Alternately, you could add a USB audio controller (there's quite a few) to the PC, and ignore the Denon, or similar. I'd also say that depending on the rest of your gear, you really don't need an outboard DtoA.

Finally, I agree with everyone telling you to go try stuff out instead of just dropping $5000 into a hole.

PurpleAngel,
Yes, HDMI can carry up to 8 channels of LPCM compared to the two that S/PDIF can carry. The downside is that HDMI can be more of a pain in the neck depending on the equipment involved (driver, handshake, HDCP, etc issues; they don't characterize it, but it's not as plug-n-play as RCA or S/PDIF).
post #10 of 13

if money is NO OBJECTblink.gif....

 

let me predict,

u will end up with all the above shortlisted items by the end of this year..lol

 

 

================================================================================

 

Lehmann is really good...whatever "good" is..i will never let mine go.tongue_smile.gif

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

if money is NO OBJECT:blink: ....

If that's the case, why bother asking for input? Just buy everything. Share your experiences after. tongue.gifbiggrin.gif

Oh and take pictures. L3000.gif
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Which Denon receiver do you have? If it's fairly competent, it'll drive your headphones fine (but I get the sense that isn't what you're looking for, and you're more interested in spending more; I don't know how to say that less abrasive-sounding redface.gif I'm not trying to offend though); you don't need to spend kilo-buck money for efficient cans. Basically I think you can drop a few thousand dollars off this affair and end up in the exact same place.
Regarding the cables - oh boy, where to start. "balanced XLR" makes me nervous to read - there's XLR cabling which you can use to carry balanced signals, but you need a balanced output from a source, and a balanced sink, and so on. If you're going to run balanced into the headphones, you need a balanced amp, etc. It's not just some arbitrary "here's where we can drop money" thing. With something like the Lehman that you mentioned, XLR cabling is impossible.
Now as far as the hooking up of things - does your Denon have a digital return on it? If yes, you could feed another converter. If not, that's probably a bit of a problem (because cheap AVRs do not convert digital to analog for their record/multi-zone feeds); you could get a splitter or find one of the relatively few DtoAs that have repeaters (to feed the receiver). Alternately, you could add a USB audio controller (there's quite a few) to the PC, and ignore the Denon, or similar. I'd also say that depending on the rest of your gear, you really don't need an outboard DtoA.
Finally, I agree with everyone telling you to go try stuff out instead of just dropping $5000 into a hole.
PurpleAngel,
Yes, HDMI can carry up to 8 channels of LPCM compared to the two that S/PDIF can carry. The downside is that HDMI can be more of a pain in the neck depending on the equipment involved (driver, handshake, HDCP, etc issues; they don't characterize it, but it's not as plug-n-play as RCA or S/PDIF).

 

I have the Denon AVR-2805; an older A/V Receiver that I purchased in the beginning of 2005.

 

Since I am new to this whole "Audiophile" scene, I definitely want to take things a step at a time. I did go to an audio-store yesterday and the friendly people there let me try out the HD 800, LCD-2, LCD-3, and T1. After listening to various types of music, I am pretty set on the HD 800s. They are supremely comfortable and the music sounds phenomenal. The LCD-3 have wonderful bass and sound as good, if not better, than the HD800s but the comfort level was rather low (too tight around the ears and heavy).

 

The rep at the store also recommended I take things slowly and was honest in saying that they're willing to sell me stuff I don't need! biggrin.gif

 

He said I should first try to run the HD 800s from my Denon, which has a headphone jack in the front. The source is the TOS link cable (optical) from the motherboard of the computer.

 

So, should I just get the cans and nothing else for now? Not even upgraded cables?

 

Also, I found this site called AphroditeCU29[dot]com but it keeps saying "unsafe site" or whatever; they supposedly make some great aftermarket cables(?).

 

Appreciate any further advice on this.

 

Thanks.

post #13 of 13
No idea about that site - I avoid anything my filters kick back though. redface.gif

On everything else - I actually agree with the salespeople (sounds like you've actually found a good sales person!) - go with the cans from the 2805 and see where it gets you. IME most headphone amps are a terrible value proposition, and as long as the receiver's amp/headphone drive sections are quality (and in most higher end products they are) it should be fine. Wouldn't bother with cables unless you need them; if that makes sense.

As far as connecting other components - like another DAC or headamp, here's the rub:

Even if the Denon has a TOS output (it probably does, I'm not able to look it up right now), it would have to be powered up to use that feature - which is kind of a PITA imho. I'd probably look at throwing a sound-card in the PC if you're going to go that route (I'm just assuming the analog out from the motherboard's integrated is probably noisy; on a lot of PCs it tends to be). Take analog for one, and digital for the other (you want to use the same interface for usability; if you go with a USB device for one and the TOS for the other, you'll have to switch devices within Windows everytime you want to change from headphones to speakers). Finally, the Denon will downsample surround inputs to the headphone jack (it may not have Dolby Headphone though), which means you can feed 5.1 into it and have it process that, OR have the PC do that kind of processing and feed it out as a stereo signal. With a stereo DAC/amp you will have to make the computer do that processing (a soundcard can do that for you).
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Need Help Choosing Headphones/Amp/DAC/Cables