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A Beginner Question: Never Had Amped Headphones Before

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

Recently I picked up a decent hi-fi speaker system. I got myself a pair of Kef Q-300 bookshelves, a DacMagic Plus, and a Marantz PM-6004 amplifier. This is my computer hi-fi setup.

 

I realise my DacMagic Plus has built-in headphone amplification, and I'm curious about expanding my setup so that I have a nice pair of amplified headphones. 

I'm really looking to figure out where I should set my budget at. I spent $650 on the amplifier, $650 on the DAC, and $650 on the speakers... but would $650 on the headphones to pair with the DAC be a good number? Or am I not going to see diminishing returns if I go more expensive? 

At this point, I'm trying to browse the market, and my first point of business is setting a budget parameter... so I don't look at everything under the sun from $200 to $1000. I want to determine what I should be looking at, and I really am not sure. I'm checking out articles and buyer's guides around here, but without even knowing where my budget should be, it's difficult. I feel like whatever the limitations of my DAC are might be what sets my budget.

 

I would be using the headphones primarily for general music enjoyment, however they would also be for music mixing (piano & other).

 

Thanks for any help!


Edited by PaulWog - 12/9/12 at 8:26pm
post #2 of 9

Basically how it goes is this... cheap headphones won't notice any difference between a crappy iPod source and a Hi-Fi set up such as yours. However, once you start to get into the $200-$1000 range, headphones will become more and more picky in terms of source quality. So with that being said, if for instance you get the Sennheiser HD800s, you won't be able to play them on anything but your set up. You pretty much need FLAC with an expensive DAC and amp to be able to listen to them correctly. However I'm not as familiar with speaker amps so I don't know how well they would amp a headphone.

 

What kind of music will you be listening to? Your response will help me recommend the appropriate set.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentCOPP1 View Post

Basically how it goes is this... cheap headphones won't notice any difference between a crappy iPod source and a Hi-Fi set up such as yours. However, once you start to get into the $200-$1000 range, headphones will become more and more picky in terms of source quality. So with that being said, if for instance you get the Sennheiser HD800s, you won't be able to play them on anything but your set up. You pretty much need FLAC with an expensive DAC and amp to be able to listen to them correctly. However I'm not as familiar with speaker amps so I don't know how well they would amp a headphone.

 

What kind of music will you be listening to? Your response will help me recommend the appropriate set.

 

I'm really an all-around listener. I've gotten back into piano (playing it), and I'll be using the piano as a synthesizer as well as just a MIDI source to record piano in the future... so that will be one use of the headphones. As far as music goes... I just enjoy a well-rounded sound source. I listen to a lot of things. I guess I don't listen to country music very often? But that doesn't say a lot.

 

As far as sound signatures go, I tend to like bass that is clean but capable of being as powerful as needed (often times when I hear "the bass has pop and is clean but not overpowering" that often translates to the bass being accurate in all regards, save for being too weak and thus still inaccurate). I like a nice wide soundstage, and I enjoy sound to be as detailed as possible... but again, that's pretty much just saying "I like expensive things".

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

 

I'm really an all-around listener. I've gotten back into piano (playing it), and I'll be using the piano as a synthesizer as well as just a MIDI source to record piano in the future... so that will be one use of the headphones. As far as music goes... I just enjoy a well-rounded sound source. I listen to a lot of things. I guess I don't listen to country music very often? But that doesn't say a lot.

 

As far as sound signatures go, I tend to like bass that is clean but capable of being as powerful as needed (often times when I hear "the bass has pop and is clean but not overpowering" that often translates to the bass being accurate in all regards, save for being too weak and thus still inaccurate). I like a nice wide soundstage, and I enjoy sound to be as detailed as possible... but again, that's pretty much just saying "I like expensive things".

 

Your taste screams AKG Q701. This is what they are all about:  "bass that is clean but capable of being as powerful as needed (often times when I hear "the bass has pop and is clean but not overpowering" that often translates to the bass being accurate in all regards, save for being too weak and thus still inaccurate). I like a nice wide soundstage, and I enjoy sound to be as detailed as possible..."

 

They are great stock, but if you can get ones that are re cabled for dual entry and a good amp you will have to pay a LOT more for anything better.

 

Another thing to bear in mind, your amp has speakers A and speakers B. You can connect your speakers to speakers A and your headphones to speakers B if you are VERY careful with the volume, you don't want to overdrive the headphones, and use something like this rig:

 

"On a lark, I decided to make up a 1/4″ stereo jack to banana plug adapter and drove my Etymonic ER-4S in-ear headphones from the speaker terminals. The Etymonic ER-4S are a high impedance design requiring watts rather than milliwatts to drive properly. The Black Magic 20 did a remarkable job as a headphone amplifier. The noise floor was very low and the dynamics outstanding. Bob Carver could add icing to the cake by providing a headphone jack on the front panel. There’s an empty spot calling out for one on the right. And lest you think I’m crazy, my mastering instructor uses a Bryston power amp for his headphones, and he has over 200 gold and platinum records and 10 Grammys to his credit."

 

http://www.ultrahighendreview.com/bob-carver-black-magic-20-stereo-power-amplifier/

 

I suspect that would blow your mind, especially with re cabled Q701 cans (+ and - for each channel = 4 wires that can be connected directly to the speaker binding posts and no adapter needed) and should comfortably sound better than the headphone output.


Edited by Hooster - 12/9/12 at 10:24pm
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. I'm looking at the AKG K702 since it seems to be more available to be shipped to Canada.

 

Is headphone.com a reputable website? I can't find any big-name websites selling these, and I want to make sure if I do order that it's from a website that doesn't sell fakes from time to time.

 

I don't think I'll be going to super fancy modifications / aftermarket solutions to make the headphones sound better. I think a basic stereo plug-in amped headphone solution is what will be best for me.

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

Thanks for the advice. I'm looking at the AKG K702 since it seems to be more available to be shipped to Canada.

 

Is headphone.com a reputable website? I can't find any big-name websites selling these, and I want to make sure if I do order that it's from a website that doesn't sell fakes from time to time.

 

I don't think I'll be going to super fancy modifications / aftermarket solutions to make the headphones sound better. I think a basic stereo plug-in amped headphone solution is what will be best for me.

 

I am sure headphone.com is ok, but have a look at the price for Q701 at Amazon. they should take good care of you. The AKGs are great stock, so no need for anything fancy.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post

Thanks for the advice. I'm looking at the AKG K702 since it seems to be more available to be shipped to Canada.

 

Is headphone.com a reputable website? I can't find any big-name websites selling these, and I want to make sure if I do order that it's from a website that doesn't sell fakes from time to time.

 

I don't think I'll be going to super fancy modifications / aftermarket solutions to make the headphones sound better. I think a basic stereo plug-in amped headphone solution is what will be best for me.

Your DacMagic Plus's specs claim for use with headphones from 16-Ohm to 600-Ohm, so I'm going to say to try for the Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium 600-Ohm (semi-open) headphones, $250-$350.

Or if you want closed headphones, Audio Technica ATH-A900X, $220-$250.

 

On your computer, have you updated to the latest audio drivers?

Have you tried using Foobar2000 for playing audio files?

post #8 of 9
post #9 of 9

Im just wondering how the synergy might be with the dac and amp. One can't know...?

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