I'm planning on 3 separate systems for all my audio needs. A home headphone setup, a loudspeaker setup, and a travel headphone setup. I've read around the web and on this forum, posted a bit, but I still wanted a consolidated thread for opinions on my choices. I'm spending a good amount of coin here, so it never hurts to be sure and get some more advice.
Home Headphone System:
1A. Audeze LCD 3 Headphones
I choose these based on reading alone. Plus I never owned any high end over the ear headphones before. I could stand some more reading to fully understand my choice, but the conclusion is already reached to choose either the LCD 2 or LCD 3.
Between the two, I gather that the LCD 2 is 80% of the the LCD 3, but the LCD 3 has better upper end clarity and sound, and is a slightly more refined version of the house Audeze sound. If money becomes an issue, I will have no problems living with a LCD 2 purchase, but I figure once you are spending 1K on headphones, you might as well go all out. Plus I will have nothing to upgrade to if I get upgraditis (at least for now). I can't wait to try them, this should be my first and last home headphone purchase.
Still, the urge to save a thousand dollars and go with the LCD 2 is strong. But not quite strong enough yet. More reading is required, but I expect to stick with the LCD 3 which also has improvements in comfort and I like looks of the dark brown leather and zebrawood.
This review was a factor:
I debated the HD 700 and HD 800 as well. Discounted them both based on descriptions of the pros and cons. The Audeze family seems to be more of a surefire choice for all types of music, better bass, and the possible cons don't seem to be as big as the HD 700 or HD 800. I would go into reasons and sonic details, but I am afraid I might misuse the terms. I can tell you in the past I loved the Westone ES5 alot, beat the pants off of my Shure 535SE IEMs. For loudspeakers I loved the B&W 700 or 800 series I demoed in the store. Never bought them tho. I used to own NHT SB3 speakers in the past, great sound for the money but lacked a certain high end energy and flavor I liked about the B&Ws I mentioned. Down the line from that, I owned a pair of Von S. VR-1 loudspeakers, which I regret selling cus they are no longer made, possibly the best sound making thing I have ever owned so far, details and sound was perfect for the price of 1K, tho they lack the deepest bass and kinda need a sub. Had a Nad C 372 intergrated amp at the time, it was the best I've owned thus far. Here is a VR-1 review:
So I lack some of the terms and meanings of the terms (but I get by), and lack in ultimate comparisons and demo experience, but I know what I like in an a-b test, what sonic flavor I like, and I know what good sound sounds like. And I know that I am forever spoiled by the high end audio I have owned and heard. And that my sister will never understand if I told her the prices of these things. I bought her Shure 425SE IEMs, she liked them, but swears I wasted too much on her present.
1B. Burson Conductor Headphone Amp / Pre Amp / DAC
I have long wanted a 3-1 piece like this. I would love a power amp built in, but then the headphone amp suffers. I need a good DAC Headphone Amp combo as my high end custom PC is my source of lossless music and high quality Blu-Ray rips. A decent pre amp is a plus, allowing me to control everything from that one piece and just buy a poweramp. There is a focus on stereo over surround sound, but I'd rather spend all of my budget on high end stereo than dilute my cash on more channels. Of the 3-1s on my radar, the Burson HA160, Burson Conductor, Grace M903, Centrance DACmini, the Burson Conductor seems to be the best for my needs. And better built.
Home Speaker System:
2A. Kef LS50 Speakers
There are many rave reviews on the LS50 speakers, I think that they seem perfect for my needs. along the lines of the NHT SB3 and Von S. VR-1, but better, yet not too pricey compared to B&W. I want something for movies, TV, and music during the daytime, use the LCD 3 headphones at night or when I want a more personal high end sound. As I live with others for the forseeable future, I need something that will not piss off roomates, I have not heard these however, but they seem to be the bookshelf loudspeakers to get. However, I could be happy with a like model from B&W or Von S. if they are not.
2B. Burson Timekeeper Power Amp
Being as I want the Burson Conductor, seems like a natural partner. The stereo channels are bridgeable, so one unit give you two channels with 75 watts each, two of them in monoblock mode gives you 300 watts a channel. Not sure how they get the huge ass increase, but more power equals more control and quality even at lower levels, so I want two of them. Otherwise I am a bit lost. Normally I would just buy the NAD C275BEE 150 watts x 2 channels power amp, but I am not sure NAD is high end enough for my other equipment, or bang for the buck vs the others out there. I may need to branch out to other brands. So I am hoping the Burson Timekeeper will just knock it out of the park.
Travel Headphone System:
3A. JH16 FreqPhase or Westone ES5 IEMs
The Shure 535SE was a great purchase, but the Westone ES5 blew the Shure away. Best sound quality in headphones or speakers I've heard? Possibly. The VR-1 loudspeakers where pretty good, but the ES5 was right up there. However my Westone ES5 came in wine pink instead of wine red, so I returned them. I was ready to just reorder the Westone ES5, as it had just the right sound for me, slightly warm, detailed, delicate, tight bass, air, energy, high end awesome. but now I am conflicted. This new report says the JH16 Freqphase is a big step forward, see here:
I toyed with the idea of the IE 800, but discounted them due to the design of the cord, and I think I will be happier with customs more. They will isolate more, stay in better during a run, and the ES5 was perfect in sound quality anyway. I'd wager even better than all that tech in the IE 800. But is the JH16 FreqPhase edition better?
3B. iPhone 5 / iPad 4 / 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina
Jelly of the Note 2, love that device, but other than that I have found the iPhone 5 to be the perfect on the go system. Really I just want an iPhone with a bigger screen. That or an iPad 4 or 13-inch Macbook Pro Retina in combo with the iPhone 5. If I get the Macbook Pro, I would want to get a Centrance DAC Port (USB powered DAC and Headphone Amp), however I'm not yet keen on using other portable amps / DACs with my custom IEMs / iOS devices. The hassle does not seem worth it unless you bring the laptop bag and sit down to use it like. On the go, I travel light.
So hit me up with some thoughts. It always makes the purchases feel more secure, or it helps me decide on another path.
Edited by Neo Zuko - 2/3/13 at 10:02pm