Originally Posted by disastermouse
Start with a Magni/Modi. $200 and you're done for awhile. What are your sources and what sort of files are you using?
I can't tell much of a difference between a high rate MP3 and FLAC/ALAC - but I can certainly tell a difference between a high rate Spotify stream and an iTunes ALAC rip.
Regarding the need for a discreet DAC, it has a lot to do with the rest of the noise in your PC and how well insulated the card is from the rest of the system. A discrete DAC removes your audio processing from the noisy background of your PC, and since most PC makers don't put much thought into their audio, it's likely that the surrounding noise WILL affect your chain.
You have headphones that are good enough that you'll notice subtleties in music that you haven't before, and the weaknesses in your chain will be revealed even with the wondrously forgiving HD 650. Don't be surprised if the HD 650s change your tastes in music subtly over time either. A well recorded and produced analog performance has infinite variety that electronic music rarely matches, as much as I like the 'Whiz-Bang' of sonic textures. You'll also become aware of artists that use crap samples, although my HE-500 did this more for me than did the HD 650.
Also, I heartily disagree with a tube amp for the HD 650 unless you're moving to brighter cans or HiFiMan orthos in the future. The HD 650 is honey thick as it is and although a tube amp needn't be slow or warm, they often are (from what I've heard).
I will be using mostly 320k MP3s and some 192k. I'm not a spotify user, is their high rate stream really that good?
I'm already not a fan of electronic music, so I guess that won't be a problem ;)
You're the first one saying tube amps aren't a good match for HD 650's. Interesting. I've been reading about the warm sound of tubes all over the place, but since I'm new to this I really don't know what to think of it. A warm sound sounds like something I would like, but how can I know really. Is there any song you can refer me to that has a clear, warm sound as opposed to another song that doesn't? Then I might get more of an idea what the term warm actually means.
Edited by gs12 - 2/21/13 at 2:17pm