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I want to try and get into this hobby, but I need some direction

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Two or three years ago my mother got me a pair of MMX 300s for Christmas. At the time I didn't think much of it, they were just a comfortable pair of headphones that were good to play video games with. As of about a month ago I started to seriously getting into music, which lead me to research headphones. I did a ton of research and ultimately decided on a pair of mdr-v6. I found that I am very interested in headphones, and I think that I would enjoy the audiophile hobby very much. Back to the topic, I have this pair of MMX 300s, which I read is essentially a pair of DT770s with a high quality mic, and I am curious as to where I go now. I can either get an amp,if I get an amp it is going to be a portable one, or I can get a pair of Grado SR255i (or other similarly priced open ear headphones). If I get an amp, it would have to be $200 or less. So what would be a better investment for my future audiophile endeavors?



Oh,I am going off to college next year, so most of my listening is going to be from my Android Razr Maxx or a laptop I still have yet to decide on.

post #2 of 11

I have no clue how good of a source the Razr would be but my gut tells me it wouldn't be a good source.  The source is the starting point of your music experience.  Then, depending on headphones used, you'll need or not need an amp.  If your two choices for a source are the Razr and the laptop.  I'd say stick with the laptop and look into a decent combo amp/dac to power your headphones.  Prices have really dropped on these.  Check out the Fiio E10 amp/dac as a starting point.  I haven't tried it myself but it seems Fiio is pretty popular around here as far as entry level gear goes.  You'd like to look into getting a DAC to improve on the sound performance of your source, in this case your laptop.  Your laptop's internal DAC isn't good for getting good audio output so you'd like to improve on this with an external DAC.  The amp/dac combo just makes things easier by also offering you an internal amplifier.  Then, if your budget is 200, look at getting some good high res music online with what's left.  Look at at hdtracks.com for example.  The e10 is supposed to handle up to 24 bit files so download a few of those to get a taste of how good things can be when you've got good source material and a decent starter amp/dac.  Download music you are familiar with so you can compare what you've been listening to against the new level of quality.  Once you've got all that working for you, you may, i'll rephrase that, you will feel the need to start upgrading.  BUT, the good thing is that now you have a good foundation where you can start to really hear each improvement you invest in.   
 

post #3 of 11
If you are like most college students, you will want to wear some phones around campus. Think "mobile."

To start, research the Sansa Clip+ and then how to Rockbox it. Many people feel that it has some of the best SQ: http://www.head-fi.org/t/571987/is-sansa-clip-really-that-good. You can buy a 16gb micro sd card for around $10 or $12 on amazon.

Now you have spent around $40, and you can carry with you a ton of mp3s and have good SQ. Or you an load it with flac files. However, the difference is not that great between high bitrate mp3s and flacs. You may find with a little testing that it doesn't matter that much to you for portability. And I wouldn't worry about 24 bit audio yet. You have to spend a lot of money on equipment before you'll get much benefit from it, and it cost more. So is it more important to have more music? Or less? I'm not saying don't buy CDs or wav files. But you might find that you'd rather carry mp3s on your player to have a larger music selection with you.

For portability, then get some IEMs to carry with you. You will be carrying books and maybe your laptop in your backpack. Some days, your backpack will be following along with you all day long from when you get up until bed. While full-sized headphones can be nice, it adds to what you are hauling around. Check out this review list of IEMs. Lots of reading for you: http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-269-iems-compared-rha-ma-350-added-01-22-13.

Now I love my Grado SR225i, but realize you can never use those in the library or in the room while a roommate is studying. And you'll be weird walking around campus with your music playing for everyone else to hear through open headphones. Think portability and isolation for you primary phones for college use. If you don't go IEMs, then get closed headphones.

Finally, if you want to improve your laptop sound for your current cans, just a headphone amp will help. I'm not saying a DAC wouldn't improve the SQ, too, but most laptops don't have built in headphone amps. You can start with that and then add a DAC as you can afford it later.
Edited by cel4145 - 2/2/13 at 11:17pm
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Wow, you guys are amazing. I really appreciate the responses. It is apparent you guys really thought through my request, opposed to just glancing over my post and giving me some half assed answer. As I type this I am pumped for reading about the Sansa Clip+ and the Fiio E10. I currently have an 8 gig i pod touch I received as a Christmas present a few years ago that I never use because of its requirement of i-tunes,perhaps I can sell it to one of my apple junkie friends to fund the Sansa Clip.On a different note, I have only done very limited research on amps thus far, primarily because the subject confuses me, but the little I have understood is that they all seemed very expensive. The fiio E10, at a glance, has me and my wallet very excited.

post #5 of 11

I used an iPod nano and some decent IEMs (Sennheiser CX 550) in college. I didn't know about the Sansa clip then, it would've saved me a lot of money which I could've used for better IEMs.

 

That said, the same may not apply to you. The iPod is a good source FWIW, and there's no need to replace it if you got one as a gift.

 

Portability is important, and since you'll be carrying your equipment around, its good to go for IEMs when outside, they're good at isolating noise, and small enough.

 

Not sure how your living arrangement is like, but I wouldn't want to use an open headphone with someone around.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

I used an iPod nano and some decent IEMs (Sennheiser CX 550) in college. I didn't know about the Sansa clip then, it would've saved me a lot of money which I could've used for better IEMs.

That said, the same may not apply to you. The iPod is a good source FWIW, and there's no need to replace it if you got one as a gift.

True. Although if he has never used it because he doesn't like iTunes, and it's in great shape, the iTouch might be worth some money on Ebay.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

I used an iPod nano and some decent IEMs (Sennheiser CX 550) in college. I didn't know about the Sansa clip then, it would've saved me a lot of money which I could've used for better IEMs.

 

That said, the same may not apply to you. The iPod is a good source FWIW, and there's no need to replace it if you got one as a gift.

 

Portability is important, and since you'll be carrying your equipment around, its good to go for IEMs when outside, they're good at isolating noise, and small enough.

 

Not sure how your living arrangement is like, but I wouldn't want to use an open headphone with someone around.


I-Tunes is not my only problem with the i-touch. It also only has about 7.5 GB of space, which seems a bit low. On the other hand,I am interested in the possibility of getting a portable DAC/amp to go along with my i-touch, apparently the Sansa Clip+/Sansa Zip become distorted when you use them with a portable amplifier. Would the Fiio E6 work well as a portable DAC/amp for my laptop as well as my i-touch? Or would it be better to stick with the not portable Fiio E10 to go along with my laptop?

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaRobster View Post


I-Tunes is not my only problem with the i-touch. It also only has about 7.5 GB of space, which seems a bit low. On the other hand,I am interested in the possibility of getting a portable DAC/amp to go along with my i-touch, apparently the Sansa Clip+/Sansa Zip become distorted when you use them with a portable amplifier. Would the Fiio E6 work well as a portable DAC/amp for my laptop as well as my i-touch? Or would it be better to stick with the not portable Fiio E10 to go along with my laptop?


You can use any amp with the iTouch using a line out. But mostly there's no need to use amps with an IEM, and there's nothing to be gained if you're headphones/IEMs are designed for portable use.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaRobster View Post


apparently the Sansa Clip+/Sansa Zip become distorted when you use them with a portable amplifier.

Never heard that before, and it didn't encounter that problem with mine, although I haven't really used it with one much because I don't need it. Doesn't make sense to me that the Clip+ would have a problem with that.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have been attempting to find the Head-Fi thread I was reading that said distortion occurs. From what I remember, the people in the thread were saying that since there is no dedicated outline jack on the Sansa Clip +, the amp that is in the Clip somehow messes with the portable amp, creating distortion. Maybe reading that thread was in a dream, because I can't find it anywhere now.

post #11 of 11
A dedicated line out will of course be better. But the Clip+ responds as well to amplifying the headphone output as other mp3 players.

That being said, Proton is right. You shouldn't need a headphone amp for the Clip+ if using IEMs unless you buy some that have very low sensitivity. I also find that the Clip+ drives my SR225i very well. It doesn't get super loud, but more than loud enough unless you are trying to damage your hearing. Since you are just getting into this hobby and so young, be wary of listening to very loud volumes with your equipment. You'll regret it later in life.
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