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Headphones + amp + DAC ~$2500

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I started with a pair of ATH-AD700's about three years ago, added a FiiO E7 last year, and then grabbed a pair of AHD2000's in June. Now I'm looking to invest a bit more money into this.

 

My computer is my source. Output options are USB, coax, or optical from my onboard sound. Depending on when I ripped/purchased my music, it varies between FLAC, 320 kbps, and 192 kbps. I'll be working on replacing all the music I still listen to with FLAC over the next few months. I primarily (by a large margin) listen to folk and indie rock, with an occasional mix of just about everything else depending on my mood.

 

My hope is to purchase the headphones and dac/amp within a few months of each other, though I could manage to get them at the same time. I intend to spend ~$2500, but that is somewhat flexible if it seems justified.

 

My current research is leading me towards HD800's, Schiit Bifrost, and either Lyr or Valhalla. I am open to any and all suggestions.

 

I tend to wear my headphones for long periods of time, but I usually don't keep the volume terribly high. I would prefer to purchase the headphones first, but could go the dac and amp route first if the headphones I ultimately decide on need more power than my E7 can deliver.

post #2 of 11

Heya,

 

Dare I ask, are you sure about all that equipment? A $2500 budget is a good budget for a serious headphone setup. Why the HD800? What about it makes you think you want it? Have you listened to it? Have you listened to any high-ends or flagship level headphones? Why do you think taking the leap to flagship level audio equipment is worth it over your current setup for the kind of music you're listening to? Can you describe more of what you're looking to achieve with this project? What sound are you looking for? Try and be very specific.

 

As it is, the HD800 has a massive sound stage, good balance, but a lot of treble, very bright headphone. It's not going to play nice at all with poorly recorded music or compressed stuff.


Before going flagship, I would really suggest you get your music collection in order. Get flawless music. Not just flawless, but well recorded music too. It's amazing how you can have lossless audio that sounds bad because really it was just recorded poorly and has all kinds of noise, hiss, and just poor everything going on. I would focus on this big time before spending more money on audio equipment.


Very best,

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post
Dare I ask, are you sure about all that equipment? A $2500 budget is a good budget for a serious headphone setup. Why the HD800? What about it makes you think you want it? Have you listened to it? Have you listened to any high-ends or flagship level headphones? Why do you think taking the leap to flagship level audio equipment is worth it over your current setup for the kind of music you're listening to? Can you describe more of what you're looking to achieve with this project? What sound are you looking for? Try and be very specific.

 

As it is, the HD800 has a massive sound stage, good balance, but a lot of treble, very bright headphone. It's not going to play nice at all with poorly recorded music or compressed stuff.


Before going flagship, I would really suggest you get your music collection in order. Get flawless music. Not just flawless, but well recorded music too. It's amazing how you can have lossless audio that sounds bad because really it was just recorded poorly and has all kinds of noise, hiss, and just poor everything going on. I would focus on this big time before spending more money on audio equipment.

Thanks for the response.

 

The reason for the jump is easy. I used to travel a lot for work, and no longer do. Now I can have a larger DAC and amp, and I don't have to worry about what will happen to my headphones in my suitcase. I can afford $2500 spaced out over a few months, but never was in a position to actually use what that could buy me. If that is completely unnecessary for my situation, then I don't need to spend that much.

 

The rest isn't as easy. I live in a small town in western Colorado, so I imagine the listening before buying won't be possible. With Amazon at least, returns are easy if I simply don't like the sound. It's really a shot in the dark backed by the many reviews I've read here. http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-50-headphones-compared#user_HD800 is what really sealed it for me as being enough to start this thread for further info. It's the same method I used for my other equipment, and each ended up being a good purchase. I'll admit that $100 > $300 > $1500 might be a bit crazy.

 

The vocals and acoustics are most important to me. I enjoy a slightly warm sound, but not overly so because I do like to listen some music that wouldn't go well with that. This purchase probably won't be right away, so I will already have a good start on my music first. As it is, I have some of my favorites in FLAC already.

post #4 of 11

You can get a lot for 2500.- if you are happy to buy used stuff.

My current set up HE500--Audio GD Phoenix---Eastern Electric MiniMaxPlus cost me 1500.- and I am not finished exploring more gear/configurations.Most of the fun with this hobby is trying new things and this is best achieved buying second hand.
 

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by asyork View Post

Thanks for the response.

 

The reason for the jump is easy. I used to travel a lot for work, and no longer do. Now I can have a larger DAC and amp, and I don't have to worry about what will happen to my headphones in my suitcase. I can afford $2500 spaced out over a few months, but never was in a position to actually use what that could buy me. If that is completely unnecessary for my situation, then I don't need to spend that much.

 

The rest isn't as easy. I live in a small town in western Colorado, so I imagine the listening before buying won't be possible. With Amazon at least, returns are easy if I simply don't like the sound. It's really a shot in the dark backed by the many reviews I've read here. http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-50-headphones-compared#user_HD800 is what really sealed it for me as being enough to start this thread for further info. It's the same method I used for my other equipment, and each ended up being a good purchase. I'll admit that $100 > $300 > $1500 might be a bit crazy.

 

The vocals and acoustics are most important to me. I enjoy a slightly warm sound, but not overly so because I do like to listen some music that wouldn't go well with that. This purchase probably won't be right away, so I will already have a good start on my music first. As it is, I have some of my favorites in FLAC already.

 

Heya,

 

If you're set on the HD800, then I would suggest you start looking around in the High-end forum (Summit-Fi) for a better suggestion pool for your DAC/AMP selections based on what you're looking for. Try to think about whether you want to stay as neutral as possible, if you want to warm it up, if you want treble to be hot or if you want treble to roll off a little (darken). Those answers will help determine which amp will suite you best. Same goes for the DAC, but it colors (at least to me) to a much lesser degree than the amp does without getting too complicated and technical about it.

 

Instead of Amazon, maybe consider Headphone.com (HeadRoom). Lots of shops on Amazon actually are 3rd party and won't allow a return easily. HeadRoom has definite no-question returns.

 

Also a big note, if you're buying it all "in parts" over time, you're going to have issues. Any headphone purchase you get will be initially heard on whatever equipment you have now. It will change as you get more equipment. Your initial impressions of a headphone like the HD800 on nothing but a Fiio E7 may be a rather poor result, and leave you feeling weird, knowing you just dropped $1500 on that headphone, only to hear something perhaps not even as pleasing as you're used to. I would instead suggest perhaps that you spend a lot of time researching what you're looking for and get it all together, after saving up enough for it, so that you can experience your flagship headphone properly and not from sub-par entry equipment. You may like the idea of hearing "$2500" when you listen to it, and not just the weakest link in your chain if you part it out initially. Just a thought.

 

Lastly, I take it you're not interested in planar magnetic (ortho)? The Hifiman HE-6 with a speaker amp may just be calling your name...

 

Very best,

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

I am not settled on the HD800. I was looking at the tube amps with the hope of warming the sound up a little.

 

I've always come to this forum, and never even realized there was a high-end forum. I'll research through there tonight after work.I'll also take a look at headphone.com. With Amazon, I believe you can return at long as Amazon handled the shipping, but I could be wrong.

 

I would have likely bought the dac and amp first because of those reasons. If I get it all at once, I'll probably just do it around Christmas time.

 

The HE-6 is one I have looked closely at, and am still considering.

post #7 of 11

Hmm - $2500

 

I would buy the lcd2.2. Gung(no usb) and Mjol.

 

JMO

post #8 of 11

Any decision made?

post #9 of 11

with that money you can be looking at the stax electrostats. SR507 is 1100.

post #10 of 11
If you go HD800, which I highly recommend, take a look at Crutchfield. They often have factory refurbished HD800s that are flawless, have a full 2 year warranty, plus a 60 day return window for $1100. For around another $1100, you could look at the Nuforce DAC-100 which is a DAC and amp combo that has been said to have near perfect synergy with the HD800.

If you DIY, the Bottlehead Crack is an incredible value that can be built, fully loaded for about $500. Add a Resonessence Concero and you have a supremely high value, high quality system.
post #11 of 11

I also started with the AD700's a few years ago, and now I have the Concero -> SA-31 -> T1, which is a combination that fits nicely in the $2500 budget. The T1 would probably fit the OPs music a little bit better than the HD800, being just a little bit more fun and forgiving, and with the SA-31 it's possible to adjust the sound for "warmth" and "musicality". The T1 is also extremely comfortable.

 

An alternative to the SA-31 could be the amp section from the Woo WA-7, if it's ever released as a stand alone product, or the Bottlehead Crack. 

 

It's true, though, what people say, that source files are very important, so important that one's taste in music may start slowly shifting toward whatever music is well-recorded... and a second pair of headphones may be needed for not-so-well-recorded material. 

 

I realize the thread is a little bit old. What's happened, asyork - have you started shopping for gear?

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