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Looking for most logical and economical upgrade(s)...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I didn't know where to post this exactly as it's about upgrading my headphones and amp...

 

 

I haven't been on here in quite some time, but have recently gotten back into headphone listening and am considering doing some upgrades, but want to see which upgrade path to take.

 

By looking at my signature below, you can see what I have. My focus for this thread is the Sony cans and LDM+ amp. The other two are pretty much put on the back shelf for good as far as I'm concerned.

 

Sony MDR-7506

The 7506's date back to the late 80's and still perform flawlessly. About 6 years ago, I replaced the stock deteriorated ear pads with Byer 250 pads. Not only did these improve comfort, they also improved the sound quality of the 7506's. I guess maybe because they fit and seal better. Other than that, they are completely stock and have literally thousands and thousands of hours on them.

 

I have had DT880's (250 ohm), HD 600's and 650's (twice!), K701's, SR325iS's, and currently have a pair of I think inferior ATH-A700's. The 7506's seem to do just about everything right and obviously I have preferred these over any of the others hence why I still have the Sony's and have sold all of the others, minus the ATH-A700's which are actually my brother's. The A700's have somewhat sloppy bass, recessed midrange and slightly forward treble. They are also rather microphonic, allowing quite a bit of outside noise in.

 

The 7506's are fairly even throughout the entire range as they should be. That's how they were voiced. True, they can get a tad bit bright at times, but I wonder if that's more of an issue with my amp (LDM+) or the recording itself. I think their bass depth and detail are excellent, though sometimes I think they could be missing just the faintest bit of extremely low extension. I have to say though, from my experience with the past HP's, I'm willing to say that the 7506's have the most realistic, natural and detailed bass of all of them.

 

The midrange is a bit difficult to explain. Again, I think the reason for this is the recordings themselves and not the headphones. Sometimes the midrange seems a bit thin, yet other times it seems a bit too full, chesty even. Likewise, sometimes it seems a bit too forward while other times it seems just a tad bit recessed. Dare I say, even sometimes the midrange seems to be a little "cupped" sounding. Like I said, I think this is the recordings doing, not the 7506's. It's great that these HP's can show that kind of detail in various recordings, but at the same time it makes listening a little tiring, but not necessarily fatiguing.  

 

Little Dot Micro+

I love this little amp, and as of right now I have been running it for about a total of 15 hours from a charge put on it the last time I used it, roughly 5 years ago!!

 

I'm not sure if this amp has a sound signature of its own or not. A lot of people in the past used to refer to it as "wire with gain". It doesn't seem to add anything to the signal at all, just amplify what's already there. Bass extension and control is excellent, providing plenty of detail and separation. That's the only real thing you can notice when listening to this amp compared to the signal straight out of the source. The bass is just a little deeper and tighter. Being so true the original signal is probably why it's such a great partner to the Sony's.

 

And speaking of the signal, I'm just using the stock 3.5mm to 3.5mm phono cable that came with the amp. So yes, I use the headphone output of the source unit, which in this case is either an iPhone 3G, 4G, original iPad or iPad2. Pretty much whichever one is at arm's reach at the time. To be honest, the iPhone 3G and original iPad seem to sound better than the two newer units. This is probably because the 3G as over a thousand hours of use as the source as well as the iPad having nearly a thousand hours on it as well. The 4G and iPad2 have hardly any listening hours on them at all.

 

 

As for music, I listen to a lot of classical, pipe organ, blues, old and new jazz, including stuff like the Yellowjackets. I've also gotten into some new stuff like M83 and oddly enough, dubstep. As you can see, all of this type of music is very dynamic and has extremely low bass content around and below 20Hz. I wouldn't exactly say I'm a bass head, but I do enjoy copious amounts of proper bass when the music calls for it.

 

 

Anyway, as for my question, where should I start? Should I upgrade the cable to one that uses the LOD output of the iPhone/iPad? Should I be looking at new cans? Should I be considering a new amp with built-in DAC?

 

I don't want to go crazy on this little endeavor either, About $150 max. I really like the idea of rechargeable battery powered amps with DAC's, so I'm mostly looking at portable units such as...

 

FiiO's E7 or E17

iBasso D-Zero

Headroom Total Bithead

Or any other suggestions?

 

 

As far as headphone upgrades, I'm really not sure. Open, sealed, semi-open, whatever sounds balanced, smooth treble, natural midrange and great bass extension, off the ears and very comfortable. I don't want to exceed more than $250 on these.

 

Sennheiser HD598

Ultrasone HFi-780

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro

Or any other suggestions?

 

Sorry for the huge post and many thanks in advance for the help!

post #2 of 10

Heya,

 

So you love your Sony and your LDM+.

 

Why or what are you actually looking to do here?

 

Your budget doesn't allow for much of an upgrade. More of just something "new" to play with.

 

Try the Fiio E7 with a KRK KNS 8400, AudioTechnica A700X, AKG K550, K271 MKII, K272 HD, K167, SHR840.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi there and thanks for the recommendations.

 

I guess what I'm looking for is a little more "relaxed" sound with a little more oomph on the bottom end with a more solid, up front midrange. Think of the Senn HD600 or HD650's with stronger bass energy. I want the amp to be able to extract more information from the source, hence having the built in DAC.

 

I suppose after thinking about more, the Sony's and LDM+ combo is rather sterile and/or analytical.

 

Does that help? 

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chops View Post

Hi there and thanks for the recommendations.

 

I guess what I'm looking for is a little more "relaxed" sound with a little more oomph on the bottom end with a more solid, up front midrange. Think of the Senn HD600 or HD650's with stronger bass energy. I want the amp to be able to extract more information from the source, hence having the built in DAC.

 

I suppose after thinking about more, the Sony's and LDM+ combo is rather sterile and/or analytical.

 

Does that help? 

 

AudioTechnica A900X

AKG K167

Sony MDR1R

Sennheiser Momentum

Mr Speakers Mad Dog (modded T50RP)

 

Very best,

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks again! I'll check those cans out shortly.

 

Now I'm also looking at the FiiO E17 since it is supposed to have the sound signature I'm looking for. So how do you go about using the DAC in them? All I'm seeing are iPhone plugs to 3.5mm stereo plugs. All of these adapters are just delivering the analog output of the LOD, not the digital signal to be converted in the FiiO's DAC. Am I missing something?

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chops View Post

Thanks again! I'll check those cans out shortly.

 

Now I'm also looking at the FiiO E17 since it is supposed to have the sound signature I'm looking for. So how do you go about using the DAC in them? All I'm seeing are iPhone plugs to 3.5mm stereo plugs. All of these adapters are just delivering the analog output of the LOD, not the digital signal to be converted in the FiiO's DAC. Am I missing something?

 

To use the DAC of the E17, it's primarily going to use the DAC more if you connected via USB to a computer. For a portable setup, you're not really going to use the DAC as much. Some DAP's have line level output that can be plugged into the E17's input, but most do not have this. I would not stress it though, the iPod's internal DAC is fine for a portable setup.

 

Very best,

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

 

To use the DAC of the E17, it's primarily going to use the DAC more if you connected via USB to a computer. For a portable setup, you're not really going to use the DAC as much. Some DAP's have line level output that can be plugged into the E17's input, but most do not have this. I would not stress it though, the iPod's internal DAC is fine for a portable setup.

 

Very best,

 

Well if that's the case, then why not save a few bucks and go with the E11 instead? I don't plan on using my laptop at all.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chops View Post

 

Well if that's the case, then why not save a few bucks and go with the E11 instead? I don't plan on using my laptop at all.

 

Exactly. Save your money, go E11.

 

Very best,

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

 

Exactly. Save your money, go E11.

 

Very best,

 

The E11 it is then. BTW, I just ordered the Mr Speaker's Mad Dog with all the goodies. biggrin.gif

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Just another update, I ordered the E11 with extra battery and charger. Also got the 20" LOD cable. I like to have a little movement slack. tongue.gif

 

Thanks again for all of your help! I really appreciate it!

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