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Rank in matter of importance

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I want you to rank your audio equipment (specific items) based on what you feel has improved your listening pleasure.  Be it a DAC, PMP, Headphones, Amp, equalizer, cable, computer media player, modification you made, tube type, etc...

 

Rank as many items as you want, and include a brief description of how the item improved your listening pleasure.

 

Feel free to include brand/model if u want.

 

Go.


Edited by Eargasmo - 9/6/12 at 10:00am
post #2 of 19

My rating:

 

Music

v

not gear related factors (mood, time of day, hearing etc.)

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

the unimportant stuff.             

 

 

 

 

the bottom part, strongly magnified, would look lke this:

 

Headphones

v

v

v

v

Hardware Equalizer

v

modifications

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

amplifiers & DACs

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

v

all the rest.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Intersting.  you put hardware equalizer way up there.  never expected that.  any model in particular?

post #4 of 19

I'm using an LA Audio EQ231-G, but I don't know whether there are great differences between Equalizers of similar quality.

 

The reason I ranked the EQ highly is because it allows me to adjust the sound whenever I wish to do so. True, all headphones, amplifiers and whatnot have their unique sound - but none of them are variable, they will always stay the same. The thing is that for different kinds of music I prefer to adjust the sound in one way or another to my preferences, instead of switching headphones. For me, the result is exceptional.

 

Now you might argue that I'm artificially coloring the sound.

Well, while we all talk a lot about coloration in headphones and other gear, most of us rarely consider the coloration that's already present in the music itself. There's really not much sense in trying to aquire a "netural" sounding setup, as no one will ever be hearing anything remotely neutral. Any recording is already being influenced by a monstrous amount of equipment, such as microphones, amplifiers, equalizers, mastering processors and whatnot. All these devices will influence the sound in one way or another - even in the highly unlikely case that no intended coloration is being added to a recording, the finished CD, LP, or whatever will not be identical to what has been recorded. And now even if someone could manage to put together a reproduction system that is actually neutral, the sound would still be altered by his own ears, his mood and other non-physical factors.

 

Taking all this into account, an equalizer is the most direct and, to me, the most reasonable way to adjust the sound to one's liking. I can't detect any degradations in sound quality as long as reasonable adjustments are made, and so I think that buying an Equalizer was one of the very few smart purchases I made. :-)

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

thanks for the thoughtful answer.  Equalizers have been one of the most controversial components in the audiophile community, iespecially in the stereophile community.

post #6 of 19

Heya,

 

Music Quality -> Headphone -> Everything else.

 

Very best,

post #7 of 19

I'd group headphones first, then music, then amp and dac.  I might even put music last depending on the differences in quality we'd be talking about.  Bitrate in general is severely overrated.  Anything that's 256 or 320kbps is fine, you don't have to kill your wallet trying to get uncompressed versions of every song you have-- chances are somebody wouldn't be able to 100% tell a difference between 320 vs uncompressed in the first place, let alone anything higher than 16bit audio.

 

Recording quality though, that's a different story.

 

Here's my list though.

 

1: sound signature.  9 times out of 10 when someone writes a glowing review of one particular headphone over another, they're liking it because its signature is more to their liking, and not the actual technicalities of the headphone itself.  EQs can definitely go in this category if they help you achieve your preferred signature

2: headphone.  well it's a headphone

3: amp. severely overhyped on head-fi, but having one is nice to have if your source is horrible

4. dac.  it's nice to have one if your source sucks, also prevents electronic interference

 

I'd liste cables and stuff, but those are so non-impacting that I won't even consider them.  They're audiophile jewelry.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

3: amp. severely overhyped on head-fi

 

I'd liste cables and stuff, but those are so non-impacting that I won't even consider them.  They're audiophile jewelry.

 

Heya,

 

Absolutely agree; and I had a great smile about the cables, love the comment about it being audiophile jewelry! bigsmile_face.gif

 

I think music is pretty important though. Quality of encoding aside, but the actual quality of the recording itself. There are a lot of high bit rate or lossless digital copies of recordings that suffer from loudness war, and just really poor recording quality in general; lots of noise, grain, poor signal, and they sound horrible on headphones yet sound passable on speakers. Then there's recordings that were done with absolute care and sound flawless, so quiet when it's supposed to be, dead silent, yet so complex and not just garbled together, with a clarity that makes you hear what crystal would sound like. A lot of genres are more geared towards having poor recording. Even with a relatively low end headphone, the difference between a really good recording and a really bad recording are pretty stark and eye opening. And with a bad recording, all the best gear in the world doesn't help. So it renders the entire concept mute. But a good recording shines even on relatively bad or simply low end gear and is even more amazing on higher end gear. The absolute source is the quality of the music, but more specifically, the quality that it was recorded with.

 

Very best,

post #9 of 19

Liking the answers here so far. normal_smile%20.gif

 

Here's how I would rank it. Things that are important in no particular order:

 

-Being in a good mood.

-Having a comfy place to sit or lie.

-Headphones. They must have agreeable sound signature/characteristics or one that can be reasonably EQ'd. They must be comfortable and ergonomic. Doesn't matter how good they sound if they feel heavy, insecure, are causing pain, have an annoying cable that gets in the way, etc.

-Parametric EQ. I have yet to try any headphone that didn't absolutely require EQ to be agreeable, and only one that doesn't necessarily need it but still benefits from it.

-Higher bitrate lossy files or greater (lossless).

 

Things that are not so important in no particular order:

 

-Amp. Assuming what you already have has enough power for your headphones, and lacks hiss, audible distortion, or any other issues. Even if it did have one of those things, unless it's severe enough it's still not as important. I do however prefer something with low output impedance for the greatest flexibility. Doesn't necessarily sound subjectively better with low impedance headphones, but it's a safer bet. If you ever felt like it you could try changing the sound by adding a resistor adapter to simulate higher output impedance, but you can't really do the opposite.

-DAC. Less ways of sounding different if at all that I'm aware of compared to an amp. Likely about as important as a pair of dingo's kidneys.

-Audiophile jewelry.

 

 

 

Good recording quality can make a big difference, but it doesn't determine what music I listen to or not. Most music I find sounds decent to good anyway. A small percentage sounds flat out terrible, and then some sounds really amazing.


Edited by manveru - 9/6/12 at 3:23pm
post #10 of 19

Top to bottom of importance


Music
Headphone sound signature
EQ
Headphone comfort
Source/Dac
music bitrate
Sitting place

Personally an EQ is a must have for all my music needs (usually a 10 band standard ISO band EQ, and no Ipod classics for me then) my friend however is a purist and ditches the eq. he calls it modlifying, i call it correction

amp? don't have any at the moment yet

personally i when i look for a headphone i choose one that has a good neutral base with soundstage to start off with, its okay if the volume of the frequencies are out here and there as i can eq it away, eq cannot improve soundstage that much or change a superbright analytical headphones into a basscan. i have been playing with the eq for about close to 5 years now and every pair i have has its own custom curve

just wondering hows the percentage like of those who use eq vs those who are purists?


Edited by streetdragon - 9/6/12 at 3:30pm
post #11 of 19

Intangibles play a very large role in my enjoyment of the music.

 

Significant Impact

  • Mood ties directly into the genre of music I want to listen to. Songs that I really enjoy when I'm happy (typically with an upbeat tempo) could be really iffy when I'm in a bad mood.
  • Time of day is another one - I don't really listen to EDM at work, and I like soft, lullaby-like songs when I'm about to doze off.
  • Physical comfort of the surroundings - Have never kept a headphone I couldn't wear comfortably for hours on end. I would much rather use ipod stock headphones on a sweltering day outside and take the hit in sound quality than let my ears wallow in sweat pools under something hot and pleathery. 
  • Headphone to Music fit - V-Moda Crossfades would not be my first choice for female vocals. M50 would not be good when listening to songs where you want pronounced mids.
  • EQ - I am a fan of EQ when used appropriately. It ties into the headphone to music fit. My Senn 598s are not great for hip hop, but if for some reason I wanted to marathon a few hours of the genre with the headphones, a bump of the lower end goes a long way in enjoying the music.
  • Headphones - Sound signature, ease of use and comfort as inherent traits to the headphones themselves are important.

 

Meh

  • Amp. Have not run into anything with ridiculous impedance yet that my Cowon J3 couldn't drive by itself. Some of the headphones do sound discernably better when I hook up an amp, but it doesn't mean their sound is unenjoyable without one.
  • DAC. Although my Desktops have always had somewhat decent sound cards. YMMV.
  • "Audiophile Jewelry". But it is pretty. I might scoff at it but I would definitely get it if cost was no object in my life.
  • Music Quality - I don't mean 128 kbps vs loseless. In such a case, the lower quality recording is extremely difficult to bear. But I for the most part am satisfied with 320 kbps mp3s on the go, and keep my lossless on my external hard drive. I have live recordings and whatnot down to 192 kbps on my Cowon J3, and a few rare recordings of songs that I manage to enjoy even at 128 kbps. Quality is important, but I'm not obsessively trying to label and perfect my lossless collection on a daily basis. 

Edited by HideousPride - 9/6/12 at 3:30pm
post #12 of 19

Certainly music -> headphones -> everything else

An amp can help drive the headphones properly and introduce a sometimes needed coloration, but the change is rarely drastic.

Often a DAC is very important though, if the source is really crappy.

post #13 of 19

Recording Quality of Music > Headphones > Bitrate of Music > DAC >>> Amp >>>>> Cables

post #14 of 19

This is something I am very interested in. I feel like, assuming the same bit rate track, that headphones have the biggest impact on quality sound / sound signature by a far margin. I feel like that is 90% of your quality. Am I right? I feel high end DACs and Amps are just a couple points tops. How big is the difference between a $1500 DAC and a $300 one? Isn't is just a couple points, tops? Don't you have to really listen to the difference? Or is it noticeable? 

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundFreaq View Post

This is something I am very interested in. I feel like, assuming the same bit rate track, that headphones have the biggest impact on quality sound / sound signature by a far margin. I feel like that is 90% of your quality. Am I right? I feel high end DACs and Amps are just a couple points tops. How big is the difference between a $1500 DAC and a $300 one? Isn't is just a couple points, tops? Don't you have to really listen to the difference? Or is it noticeable? 

 

 

When moving to a $30 to $180 soundcard I didn't notice a tremendous jump in quality, although certain artifacts were gone like some aliasing or something with sub-bass. I couldn't imagine buying a super expensive DAC having as big of an impact as spending that much more getting a better pair of headphones, but that being said you shouldn't have a crappy DAC if you expect high quality sound. And by crappy I mean basically just not on-board sound or coming from an iPod. I know any dedicated sound card you can buy nowadays is going to be at least decent, probably the same with external DACs.

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