Your choices and buying pattern look much like mine. I am in Asia and have limited access to listening in person, so I buy things online after a great deal of research.
I was an audiophile decades ago, set it aside, sold the equipment and music, and moved around a great deal. Electronics geek in High School and College. Now that I appear to be in one place for a number of years, it is time to gear up once again. I had a pair of Mirage M3i's paired with a PS Audio, Audioquest speaker cable and connects, the classic Denon 3520 as a transport. I sold it all and miss it, but shipping 280 pounds of speakers all over the planet made no sense. Speakers I am building myself here as access is very limited but drivers and parts are easy to get - but that's another DIY forum. That I am starting small and moving on up as well.
First headphones I ever heard were probably a pair of mid-70's Koss' at an Aunt's house listening to prog rock. First pair I owned were with a Sony Walkman.
Good phones early on were the K240 and 880's, originals. As I recall they cost me one week's pay apiece. Those both wore out as I worked public sound and the smoke and wear took their toll.
Now I am in a very out of the way place, in so far as sound gear goes, and must shop and buy online.
The good thing is that I can get much shipped to me and tube gear here is beyond cheap.
Selection is limited in odd ways though and imports can be much higher than you pay in the EU, Australia or North America.
So the past few months I have been reading here and put together a list and just for fun I am beginning at the bottom of the price scale and working up.
Began with the Superlux HD-668 B which looks and sounds like my old K240's. Much greater detail and midrange than a $27/pair should ever sound. They sound similar to what I recall from the MKI's. A bit disconnected as the lows, mids and highs seem separate, but at this price who cares?
It's paired with a $31 headphone tube amp running 2 x 6J1's. It's the size of a deck of cards and it sounds good. Source is now computer files in all formats. I have a few CD's and very limited vinyl but rarely play those anymore. Many times the source is a USB or SD stick.
Lots of cheap tube and SS headfi amps I want to buy, just because.
Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1
FiiO E17 amp portable SS
Yulong U100 amp portable SS
FiiO E11 amp portable SS
Electric Avenues PA2V2
NuForce Icon HDP (High-end Headphone Amp, USB DAC, Preamp)
Many no name amps built by hobbiests and sold online, various tubes, low price.
The list of phones is this so far. I hope to buy a set each month or so and the idea is to do it in this order.
Most of these from reviews here. I am curious about the names that are new to me, that I have not heard, so I will
try to buy phones I have never heard. Never had a pair of Sennheiser, for instance. Fostex and Fischer and Ultrasone
I never heard of until I came here. Did not know Shure made cans, and never got another Sony set after the walkman.
Superlux HD-668 B
Logitech Ultimate Ears 500 Noise-Isolating Earphones
Creative Aurvana Live!
AKG K240S / K240 MKII
Ultrasone PRO 900 - Black
Fischer Audio FA-003
Audio Technica ATH-AD700 or ATH-M50S
AKG K 702
Sennheiser HD 650
Beyerdynamic [OLD] DT-990
Beyerdynamic DT 770
AKG K 550
AKG K 701
AKG K 702
Beyerdynamic [NEW] DT-990
Beyerdynamic Tesla T70/T70p
I had the 880's long ago, but reading all the reviews it seems there is quite a bit of apprehension about the BD 'sound'. I liked it back then, but I played all rock and club tracks so that bass sound would have appealed to me then. Now I appreciate upper-mids, detail, reverb, echo, and lower treble so I want to get a pair of the Grado's, they seem like a nice set.
If I go really nuts I will hit the high end, but I would really prefer to auditon these at length first before buying them cold online. Pairing them with a proper front end will take a long time.:
Hifiman HE-400, 500, 600
Beyerdynamic Tesla T1
AKG K3003 [earbuds]
Sennheiser HD 800
AKG KK K1000
I will also probably tire and burn out, but what the heck, right?
Look forward to lots of tinkering, mods and building my own.
Edited by marone - 4/6/13 at 11:10am