For a couple of years now I’ve been in to IEMs. I currently own and use EarSonics’ SM3 (universal) and EarSonics’ EM6 (custom). My next goal has pretty much been to find a superior universal IEM and I’ve been considering the FitEar To Go 334.
However, since the FitEar To Go 334 is one of the most expensive universals, and some people always seem to claim that full size hi-end headphones always sound better than hi-end IEMs, I felt I needed a full size headphone reference before pulling the trigger on the 334. So, I bought the Sennheiser HD 650, and what a treat it is was!
For the time being I’m having a love affair with the HD 650, and it didn’t take long before the thought that I might be able to make it sound even better rose in my head, and this is where I need your help!
This is my current computer based setup with the HD 650:
- Media player: JRiver Media Center 18
- File format: FLAC files (mostly 16/44.1 but also some hi-res 24/96)
- DAC/AMPs: “CEntrance DACport” (1 ohm modified + CEntrance’s ASIO driver) and the “TTVJ Portable Slim”.
Comparing the DACport and the Slim I think they sound very similar. The only difference that I think I can hear, or rather sense, is that the Slim may be a little more relaxed (laid-back?), somehow a little friendlier. However, the difference is really, really minor and may actually be all psychological. I haven’t been able to take a blind test. I don’t think I would pass.
Comparing my DAC/AMPs to my iPod generation 5.5 (Wolfson chips) connected directly to the HD 650, the difference is a little more palpable. With the DAC/AMPs the bass feels a little more defined (tighter?), the mids a tiny bit more realistic, and the treble a little more shimmering (extended?). However, in general terms I would still say that the difference is really minor.
So, the questions stand; what kind of DAC/AMP solution do I need to significantly improve the overall SQ of my HD 650? And, is it even possible?
To give you some sort of chance to be able to answer my question, I guess I must try to elaborate on what “significantly improve” means to me personally. If I were close to 100 years old and half-deaf, the only reasonable advice probably would just be to raise the volume. If I were a 16 year old audiophile with golden ears, a +0.5 dB change at 16 kHz might do the trick. Now, I’m neither half‑deaf nor an audiophile with golden ears. What I can easily hear (and would pass a blind test) is the difference between my current headphones. So, that is what I’m looking for, something that will make me definitely say; this is an improvement of the overall SQ! Mind you, I’m not looking for a revolution of improvement, or even as big a difference as between my headphones, but I really don’t want to end up thinking it might all be psychological.
I would consider it painful to spend more than about $1500 (US) to accomplish my goal However, if an improvement of the overall SQ is indeed possible, it would be really nice too if it were a portable solution. I guess I shouldn’t forego any suggestions, but for the DAC part I’ve had my eyes on the all new “Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo –dB”. When it comes to the AMP part, I have no idea.
Any suggestions or comments would be greatly valued!