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Need some advice (headphones + amp/dac)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

As of right now I am using HD555s with the foam mod and just my motherboard's integrated sound. I bought the Titanium HD the other day (when it was $110 on amazon) and have been playing around with it today. Performed several blind tests with various quality songs (from 120kbps to FLAC) and have noticed some, but not a huge, difference in sound quality (I also performed the test with 3 other people and everyone had about the same opinion). With the HD I find that there is a more punchy/pronounced bass and that the sound is overall *cleaner*, but it is not a large difference and I will probably sell the HD on ebay.

 

I've spent the last week doing tons of research prior to testing out the HD and reading up on headphones, sources, amps, etc and am now looking for some advice as to what to do. I've had the HD555s for 3.5 years and am finally at a point where I would like a better pair of headphones and an overall better experience.

 

I spend about half of my time at college and half at home so my listening is split between my desktop (home) and my laptop (school). After thinking about it that way, I decided that it wouldn't be worth keeping the titanium HD when I could only use it half the time and the sound quality wasn't a big enough difference. However, I would still like to improve my system. At this point, I am considering the schiit magni/modi (so that I could bring it to and from school) and a new pair of headphones.

 

I listen to pretty much every genre of music except rap and country. I would say that most of my music is alternative. I like more emphasis on mids/vocals than bass although I still enjoy a punchy/tighter bass. A huge factor is how *clear* the sound is for me. I cannot stand muddled or tunnel like sound and would like a large soundstage with my headphones. I have enjoyed the HD555s for the last 3.5 years, but I have found it lacking in these areas a little bit. 

 

My overall budget is $420 for both the headphones + the source.

 

1) Would the magni/modi offer a better experience over the titanium HD to the point where it would be a large difference in SQ?

2) What would be some recommended headphones given what I have said above (I do not care whether they are open or closed back). They do not need to portable either.

3) Would I be better off forgoing the dac/amp and just buying headphones?

 

If there will be a huge difference, I might be able to stretch my budget slightly. Overall I am looking for a major upgrade over what I currently use. I really need to be blown away to justify spending the money.

 

Thanks in advance and sorry about being so picky!

post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinru View Post

My overall budget is $420 for both the headphones + the source.

 

1) Would the magni/modi offer a better experience over the titanium HD to the point where it would be a large difference in SQ?

2) What would be some recommended headphones given what I have said above (I do not care whether they are open or closed back). They do not need to portable either.

3) Would I be better off forgoing the dac/amp and just buying headphones?

 

If there will be a huge difference, I might be able to stretch my budget slightly. Overall I am looking for a major upgrade over what I currently use. I really need to be blown away to justify spending the money.

 

Thanks in advance and sorry about being so picky!

 

Heya,

 

The Titanium HD is nice. But not portable at all. So it would probably be in your best interest to get a mobile "stack" so to speak, or relatively mobile desktop solution. The Magni/Modi is the new kid on the block (there's one for sale in the for sale forum for $175 right now actually for both together). It's solid. There's also the well known Fiio E70k & E709k or E17 or E10. There's also the JDS ODAC/O2. But some of these will cut deeply into your budget and really are not needed honestly anyways. I would return the soundcard, or sell it if possible. Use all your budget to simply get a great headphone and a simple but functional DAC/AMP that is mobile enough to go with you and be used on any machine.

 

Based on what you described, here's a few recommendations:

 

Beyer DT880 250ohm

AKG Q701

Hifiman HE-300 r2

Hifiman HE-400 (latest)

Sennheiser HD598

Sony MA900

AudioTechnica AD900

Shure SRH1440

 

And most of these will actually run pretty well honestly from a simple Fiio E10. If you want something more robust, the Modi/Magni is really hard to beat for it's price (and it's classy looking and will have a good re-sellability if you choose to let it go later) and has a great warranty.

 

Overall from the above, based on what you're coming from, it sounds like the DT880 or HE-400 would be the two I would really try for.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions. How much of a difference would you say there is between the DT880s and the HE-400? Obviously the 400s are a great deal more expensive and I would not be able to afford a DAC/amp with it (maybe just a cheap amp like one of the fiio). 

 

How much of a difference is there between the DT880 250ohm vs 600ohm vs 32ohm? Do you truly think the magni/modi combo would be worthwhile vs no dac and just an amp vs a cheaper fiio solution?

 

The magni/modi + dt880 250 would push my budget to $450 which is really the max I would want to go. That said, it would have to completely destroy what I am currently using, would you say it does?

 

Of the other headphones you listed, how are the shure's in comparison with the he-400, I don't see a lot of mention on them in the forums. I also forgot in my first post to say that I don't want to buy used, I would waaaaaay prefer that I buy new (most likely from amazon).


Edited by Kinru - 1/1/13 at 5:04pm
post #4 of 20

Audio Technica ATH-A900X headphones

Fiio E10 or E07K portable DAC & Amp.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Audio Technica ATH-A900X headphones

Fiio E10 or E07K portable DAC & Amp.

Not sure I'm a huge fan of the wings. Seems as though they will be less comfortable than a full regular headband. I also forgot to mention that I tend to listen for several hours at a time and need something that won't easily fatigue me.

post #6 of 20

i presume u are using laptop in school...:P

i like the dacportLX, it is a small cigar-sized, portable dac that u can plug a headfone directly into....

super clean sounding, black background n powerful...loud enough on my DT770/600ohms.

Better to pick a closed can for school...no?

 

http://www.headfonia.com/cheaper-better-the-centrance-dacport-lx/

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinru View Post

Not sure I'm a huge fan of the wings. Seems as though they will be less comfortable than a full regular headband. I also forgot to mention that I tend to listen for several hours at a time and need something that won't easily fatigue me.

I personally find the A900X very comfortable.

 

Maybe ask about them on this website.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/608889/review-audio-technica-ath-a900x

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinru View Post

Thanks for the suggestions. How much of a difference would you say there is between the DT880s and the HE-400? Obviously the 400s are a great deal more expensive and I would not be able to afford a DAC/amp with it (maybe just a cheap amp like one of the fiio). 

 

How much of a difference is there between the DT880 250ohm vs 600ohm vs 32ohm? Do you truly think the magni/modi combo would be worthwhile vs no dac and just an amp vs a cheaper fiio solution?

 

The magni/modi + dt880 250 would push my budget to $450 which is really the max I would want to go. That said, it would have to completely destroy what I am currently using, would you say it does?

 

Of the other headphones you listed, how are the shure's in comparison with the he-400, I don't see a lot of mention on them in the forums. I also forgot in my first post to say that I don't want to buy used, I would waaaaaay prefer that I buy new (most likely from amazon).

 

Heya,

 

The DT880 & HE-400 are fairly similar. Just look at plethora of reviews here at Head-Fi, they're two staples in hi-fi at this point. The HE-400 is faster, better sub-bass extension, better mids. The DT880 is half the cost, still excellent in all ways. I just give the HE-400 a nod in every aspect as being better, except in construction & comfort, the DT880 is built better and feels more comfortable, the HE-400 has the better overall sound (technically), but that doesn't mean it's better to your ears--everyone has a preference after all. But again, the DT880 PRO 250ohm generally is half the cost of the HE-400, so there's that to consider.

 

The 250ohm and 600ohm DT880 are the ones to consider really, they are virtually the same, they measure so much the same that it's not worth really worrying about. I would suggest the 250ohm because it's more easily matched with all amplifiers at there.

 

You could get a DT880 250ohm with a Fiio E10 ($45) instead. Much cheaper. The Magni/Modi is something you could do for a "through the future" type thing. But if on a budget, I would say that honestly you are going to get great results with the E10 without breaking the bank.

 

Destroy is not a term I would use. Everything in this game is subtle really. People just like to use words that sound night & day, when none of it really is. Your preference could be simply 1~2% more towards something else and it's enough to make you happy compared to something else. You'll just have to listen for yourself. Better headphones doesn't always mean better sound to your ears.


The Shures are very neutral, but also kind of anemic. They're there simply if you were looking for something more like that. I personally don't care for them, as I like more warmth and sub-bass ability (hence my recommendation of the DT880 & HE400).

 

Very best,

post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

One of the other headphones I had been reading a lot about were the Denon d2000. Unfortunately since they are no longer being made the prices have gone way up. That got me looking into their newer line (which I have read is a slightly controversial topic as people seem to have mixed reviews about them). I found the denon ah-d600s online for $330 from a reputable site. What would be your guys' opinion on these?

 

Also, would the fiio e10 be able to drive the dt880 600ohm? I only ask because I might be able to find the 600ohm for cheaper (prices seem to fluctuate a lot).

post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinru View Post

One of the other headphones I had been reading a lot about were the Denon d2000. Unfortunately since they are no longer being made the prices have gone way up. That got me looking into their newer line (which I have read is a slightly controversial topic as people seem to have mixed reviews about them). I found the denon ah-d600s online for $330 from a reputable site. What would be your guys' opinion on these?

 

Also, would the fiio e10 be able to drive the dt880 600ohm? I only ask because I might be able to find the 600ohm for cheaper (prices seem to fluctuate a lot).

 

Heya,

 

The D2K is a fantastic headphone, but discontinued. The newer D600, well, it's a good headphone, but I don't think it's a $330~400 headphone. More like a $200 headphone. But they're pushing their new line of "fashion" phones, rather than keeping up with their older classic series which still has demand. But their research put them onto this decision, more money can be made with the masses than the audiophile crowd, which is much smaller. So, that's that. At that price, I would more likely say go for a Mr Speaker Mad Dog (and maybe get some 007 Stax pads for it).

 

The E10 and the DT880 600ohm can work. I've done it. It sounds good actually. Some will say it's not being driven to it's fully potential. Technically that's true, but I will argue that if it sounds good, you shouldn't worry if something technically is or is not, and instead, simply enjoy the sound. I still would suggest the 250ohm, but if the 600ohm is significantly cheaper, it will work out. And it leaves you room to go for a bigger better amp down the road as your taste expands.

 

Very best,

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

 

Heya,

 

The D2K is a fantastic headphone, but discontinued. The newer D600, well, it's a good headphone, but I don't think it's a $330~400 headphone. More like a $200 headphone. But they're pushing their new line of "fashion" phones, rather than keeping up with their older classic series which still has demand. But their research put them onto this decision, more money can be made with the masses than the audiophile crowd, which is much smaller. So, that's that. At that price, I would more likely say go for a Mr Speaker Mad Dog (and maybe get some 007 Stax pads for it).

 

The E10 and the DT880 600ohm can work. I've done it. It sounds good actually. Some will say it's not being driven to it's fully potential. Technically that's true, but I will argue that if it sounds good, you shouldn't worry if something technically is or is not, and instead, simply enjoy the sound. I still would suggest the 250ohm, but if the 600ohm is significantly cheaper, it will work out. And it leaves you room to go for a bigger better amp down the road as your taste expands.

 

Very best,

Hmm, ok. I would rather not get the mad dog hp though because I would prefer unmodded headphones (for the time being, unless I decide to mod myself down the road). I also am in favor of buying from a company with solid warranty/support just in case something happens.

 

So far I think I am leaning towards the DT880 250ohms (looked online and couldn't find the 600 version for less), but am still up for more considerations. As for the fiio e10 vs the magni/modi, I'm leaning towards the e10 for now unless something convinces me that the schiit is worth the extra $$. I don't have any problems shelling out the extra money, but there has to be a noticeable difference in quality. 

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post

You could get a DT880 250ohm with a Fiio E10 ($45) instead. Much cheaper. The Magni/Modi is something you could do for a "through the future" type thing. But if on a budget, I would say that honestly you are going to get great results with the E10 without breaking the bank.

 

Adorama has raised the price of the Fiio E10 up to $52.99.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Adorama has raised the price of the Fiio E10 up to $52.99.

 

Boo! I guess too much attention at the $45 price so they finally started to up it.

 

Very best,

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

How do you guys think the AKG K550 would compare to the other headphones mentioned?

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinru View Post

How do you guys think the AKG K550 would compare to the other headphones mentioned?

 

It's sound stage does not surpass that of open headphones.

 

Very best,

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