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Good Starting Place?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Before I get into this, I'm relatively new to the whole audiophile world (and a first time poster) so I apologize for any noobness! I am looking for a rig to get me started, but I also want it to be something that I won't be ashamed to still use a few years down the road. The very top of my budget (which is where I am looking right now because why not?) is ~$200 for cans and ~$200 for an amp/DAC plus some money for an LOD and decent USB (if need be). Right now I am listening to a lot of alternative rock, indie rock, and, well, just rock, but my tastes range anywhere from Jazz to Soul to Reggae to (some) Rap and Electronic. I am coming from a music background and have always wanted to get more depth out of my sound, but have not, until recently, had money to drop on gear. The majority of my listening will be on my computer (FLAC), but I will also be doing a fair amount of listening on my iShallnotspeakitsname (320k).

 

Okay so the setup I am thinking about currently:

Grado SR225i

Leckerton UHA-4

 

Has anyone heard this combo?? My thought was I would get a USB Amp/DAC combo so that when I upgrade/sidegrade (whenever that may be), I will still have something that is portable if not reference grade (by a long shot from what I understand). That being said, is the UHA-4 versatile enough to pair with a potentially wide range of cans (assuming that I am able to convince someone I am working for any extended period of time) or is there another Amp/DAC combo in the price range that would be more accommodating? For now I am looking for something that will both respectably bypass the soundcard on my computer and the amp on my portable while still being small enough to fit in a pocket.

 

As far as the Grados go, I liked what I heard when I tested them out at a local shop and figured that at some point I would want something a little more neutral, but with my current tastes where they are, Grados are a good place to start.

 

In the future I am thinking about (though I haven't had the chance to test yet) a set of AKG K702s and maybe an O2+ODAC for dedicated home listening. I know that the K702s aren't that much more than the SR225s, but $200 is literally the top of my budget right now and I want to get some listening in ASAP!

 

Sorry if I posted this in the wrong place and thanks for any input!

post #2 of 6

I have extensive experience with Grado headphones and if nothing else I highly suggest not going with Grado.  I have tried everything from the SR-60 up to the RS-1i and they all were very uncomfortable, had a small soundstage, and were frankly over priced.

 

For headphones I would start with the Audio Technica ATH-M50 or for something a little brighter the AKG K240 MK II.  Both of those are leaps and bounds more comfortable and better sounding than any Grado up to the RS-1i.

 

For a decent setup the O2 amp and ODAC would be an awesome start.  The K701 is a tad thin on the low end and I highly suggest the Q701 over it.  The Q701 has a much needed bump up in the low end to bring the bass in balance with the other end of the spectrum.

 

At Headphone.com the Q701 runs $269

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/akg-q701-quincy-jones.php

 

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is sealed and much more portable so if you plan on using your headphones as you travel the M50 is the way to go of the two I have listed.


Edited by NA Blur - 8/15/12 at 11:58am
post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

I have extensive experience with Grado headphones and if nothing else I highly suggest not going with Grado.

Made my day, lol.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

I have extensive experience with Grado headphones and if nothing else I highly suggest not going with Grado.  I have tried everything from the SR-60 up to the RS-1i and they all were very uncomfortable, had a small soundstage, and were frankly over priced.

 

For headphones I would start with the Audio Technica ATH-M50 or for something a little brighter the AKG K240 MK II.  Both of those are leaps and bounds more comfortable and better sounding than any Grado up to the RS-1i.

 

For a decent setup the O2 amp and ODAC would be an awesome start.  The K701 is a tad thin on the low end and I highly suggest the Q701 over it.  The Q701 has much needed bump up in the low end to bring the bass in balance with the other end of the spectrum.

 

At Headphone.com the Q701 runs $269

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/akg-q701-quincy-jones.php

 

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is sealed and much more portable so if you plan on using your headphones as you travel the M50 is the way to go of the two I have listed.

 

Awesome, thanks for the input! Any thoughts on whether getting a portable Amp/DAC to start off with and planning on upgrading to a desktop unit later on is a good idea or not? It seems that the general consensus is that desktop equipment sounds better than portable, but I am trying to get some mileage out of everything that I buy, i.e. I would rather get something decent that has enough versatility to be easily portable in the future in the event that (read as: when) I want to upgrade my home listening setup. Obviously I am very new to this so I would love to hear what you guys have to say though!

post #5 of 6

As you expect going with a separate DAC and Amp unit for home listening is the way to go.  You generally receive more noise isolation by having the components separated and using their own power sources.  That said there is nothing wrong with going with something like a Total Bithead from Headphone.com.  It is what I used for years and still use when I listen to music as I fall asleep.  Of course that leaves some room for upgrading later which is what I did.  I ended up with a Headroom Ultra Desktop Amp and a Grace Design m903 monitor controller and hear improvements over the Bithead with both units.

 

Unless you use your headphones a ton on the go you may want to save up for a good home unit.  Depending on your needs the O2 Amp and ODAC may suit you well for many years.

 

My highest recommendation is to try the gear before you buy it or at least go with a company that will allow you return/exchange it.  This way if you end up not liking it you can move onto something else.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the feedback, it's great to get some input from someone that has some experience!

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