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Please help a headphone newbie--any help is greatly appreciated

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I just bought the Shure srh840 on ebay.  I am extremely new to the world of quality sound, and I would like your opinions.  I have attempted to do a lot of research, mostly on this site, and I have found myself completely lost.  I would like any recommendations for how to maximize my sound without spending too much money.  Here's some information:

 

-I will mainly be using an mp3 player (http://www.amazon.com/Coby-MP620-4GBLK-Video-Player-Radio/dp/B0035P4C06/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364488806&sr=8-1&keywords=coby+mp3+player) with mostly 320 kbps mp3s.

 

-I do have some CDs (especially since I discovered how cheap they can be on Gohastings), which I would either play with my Dell laptop, my PS3 with optical output through my Turtle Beach DSS with Dolby bypass, a Sony stereo (I don't know what the model is, but it is probably at least 10 years old, and I doubt my parents would), or possibly my mom's Bose stereo (I don't know if there is a headphone jack, and I am away at college at the moment).

 

-I also bought a Fiio e11 amp.  What I have determined in limited listening is that I can notice a small improvement in sound quality, but nothing huge.

 

Here are some questions:

1. Should I go with a different amp?  Possibly one that has a DAC?  I have whatever integrated sound card came with my laptop, and I have no plans of upgrading unless it could be done cheaply.  I would prefer to have a portable amp, but I would be open to any suggestions.  Again, I do not want to spend a lot of money (under $100 would be great).  I care FAR more about sound quality than having a plethora of equalizer options.  I am always fine with how the artists recorded their songs (I don't ever change the bass with my e11--I guess I'm not a basshead).  I am not at all opposed to selling my e11 on Amazon.

2. I'm sure I am missing something, so is there anything else you would recommend for my situation?

 

I am extremely grateful for any replies, as this whole situation has been somewhat overwhelming.

post #2 of 14

Your source looks pretty crappy. Why don't you upgrade to a Sansa Clip+? And yes, something like an iBasso D-zero which has an amp and a dac would benefit sound quality.  

post #3 of 14

Hello!

 

Actually, you are good to start now! Give your Shure more burn in time; leave it playing music while you are sleeping at medium volume. Do try to avoid using MP3 files as I do tent to find SRH-840 ( & 440 ) to be unforgiving. Try searching around if you could find any FLAC files. Paying a few bucks for it, totally worth it! 

 

I think you are double amping when you paired E11 with your Coby MP3 player. So don't use an amp when you are with your MP3 Player. Since you have a laptop, you can either get a FiiO E10 or just drive ur Shure straight out of your Dell. 

 

Last but not least, it is usually hard to distinguish the differences in sound for starters. Give your ears sometime to listen more kinds of things and you should be able to quickly determine the difference in the coming future.

 

Hope this help!

Billson :)

post #4 of 14

Hi I see you have a nice starter system.  I would recommend building a system around your computer/PS3 as a start.  I have the original fat ps3 and it is a great transport going into a DAC.  A transport is essentially a platform to read the disc (CD in this case) and output it to a separate box  for D to A conversion.  I don't have any experience with the Fiio E11 or Shure 840s so I won't comment on how well they pair together.  Some quick googling reveals the 840s are quite efficient at 44ohms with a sensitivity of 102dB.  I have a pair of sennheiser HD 555s with similar specs (50ohms and 103dB sensitivity) and imo they didn't really need an amplifier.  If I were you I would invest your money in a DAC/Amp that's portable (If this is a desirable trait for you) to improve your sound now and give you room to grow should you buy less efficient headphones in the future.  I would also do some soul searching and decide when you will most often listen to your music.  I started with a portable rig and decided to go with a desktop system after having it for a year or so.  The only reason I mention this is because I am a college student as well and money is tight; the money I spent on the portable rig was ultimately money that could have gone into my current desktop rig.

 

What is it that you would like to change/improve specifically in your current setup? 

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmstrmbn View Post

Hi I see you have a nice starter system.  I would recommend building a system around your computer/PS3 as a start.  I have the original fat ps3 and it is a great transport going into a DAC.  A transport is essentially a platform to read the disc (CD in this case) and output it to a separate box  for D to A conversion.  I don't have any experience with the Fiio E11 or Shure 840s so I won't comment on how well they pair together.  Some quick googling reveals the 840s are quite efficient at 44ohms with a sensitivity of 102dB.  I have a pair of sennheiser HD 555s with similar specs (50ohms and 103dB sensitivity) and imo they didn't really need an amplifier.  If I were you I would invest your money in a DAC/Amp that's portable (If this is a desirable trait for you) to improve your sound now and give you room to grow should you buy less efficient headphones in the future.  I would also do some soul searching and decide when you will most often listen to your music.  I started with a portable rig and decided to go with a desktop system after having it for a year or so.  The only reason I mention this is because I am a college student as well and money is tight; the money I spent on the portable rig was ultimately money that could have gone into my current desktop rig.

 

What is it that you would like to change/improve specifically in your current setup? 

I also have a fat PS3.  What DAC would you suggest for use with PS3?  I would prefer a portable one, but I'm open to any suggestions.  I certainly will NOT be looking into a desktop rig, at least for the next several years.  However, I will still be able to use my laptop and PS3 for a while.  I am so new to this that I don't know what specifically I want to change.  I just want to get the most out of my headphones without spending a ton of money.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

I forgot to mention in my first post that I also have a Droid, which I have not yet used for music.  Would this be an upgrade over my Coby mp3 player?  I would really prefer not to have to buy a new mp3 player.

post #7 of 14

Probably. 

post #8 of 14
Quote:
I also have a fat PS3.  What DAC would you suggest for use with PS3?  I would prefer a portable one, but I'm open to any suggestions.  I certainly will NOT be looking into a desktop rig, at least for the next several years.  However, I will still be able to use my laptop and PS3 for a while.  I am so new to this that I don't know what specifically I want to change.  I just want to get the most out of my headphones without spending a ton of money.

 

I would look into the ibasso products and the headroom total bithead They are all around 100-200.  The connection to the PS3 will be through optical and a quick browse through the ibasso products reveals none of them have optical input.  I would also check out the Audio GD products, I don't have any experience personally but they are consistently cited as good bang-for-buck

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Okay, so now that I have done some experimenting, I feel I should post some updates.  I am definitely able to notice a difference between CDs (apparently this is my parents' stereo system: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-CMT-HP7-CMTHP7-Executive-Microsystem/dp/B00009L1RI) and 320 kbps mp3s that I made from those CDs.  I also really like the bass boost feature of my e11 amp, but otherwise I cannot notice a difference from plugging the headphones directly into the stereo.  I could certainly make the switch to CDs for a lot of my listening, but I will definitely keep the mp3 player for portability.

 

Now, my question is should I get a non-portable amp for this stereo, and if so, what are your suggestions?  Again, I like the bass boost feature of the e11, but it is not really worth $50 to me.

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbenrfan99 View Post

Okay, so now that I have done some experimenting, I feel I should post some updates.  I am definitely able to notice a difference between CDs (apparently this is my parents' stereo system: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-CMT-HP7-CMTHP7-Executive-Microsystem/dp/B00009L1RI) and 320 kbps mp3s that I made from those CDs.  I also really like the bass boost feature of my e11 amp, but otherwise I cannot notice a difference from plugging the headphones directly into the stereo.  I could certainly make the switch to CDs for a lot of my listening, but I will definitely keep the mp3 player for portability.

 

Now, my question is should I get a non-portable amp for this stereo, and if so, what are your suggestions?  Again, I like the bass boost feature of the e11, but it is not really worth $50 to me.

If you like how things sound, don't change :)

post #11 of 14

Perhaps the most regarded "cheap" amp is the JDS Labs Objective2.

post #12 of 14

As you can tell by the difference in mp3 and CDs, source quality is probably the single most important factor in quality sound; other than the headphones/speakers.  To this end I still suggest you get a DAC either portable or transportable (mine fits in a backpack in its case) and use this with whatever amp you can find around the house.  I would check for an old integrated amp. or receiver with a headphone out.  Once you have a decent source, you'll have a very nice setup for the money.  You can always go higher obviously but I feel until you get phones which really need some power behind them to shine you don't need to spend a ton more.

 

I would also suggest building your system around your computer, rip the CDs to a lossless format (FLAC, WAV, Apple Lossless, etc.) and it will be equivalent to the CD.

 

For the record my system is:

 

Mac > M2tech Hiface 2 > Nuforce HDP > Bottlehead Crack > Sennheiser HD 600s

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

If I were to rip all my CDs to my laptop with WAV format, and get the Fiio e07k (really all I would be willing to spend), would the USB sound be equivalent to listening to CDs on the stereos (Sony and Bose) that I already mentioned?  I have not upgraded my laptop's sound card.  Would the DAC in the e07k improve the sound to the level of a CD in a stereo?

post #14 of 14

It's likely the Fiio will be better than the Sony and possibly the Bose.  As far as I know it is impossible to upgrade the internal soundcard on a laptop so that's not an option anyway.  Based on the Specs I would bet that the fiio does well for the price and will beat or at the very least match the CD players you mentioned.  It should be noted that there are various steps into getting the best sound out of a computer.  I would check in the computer audio forum for more help on that as I don't have as much knowledge when it comes to PC vs Mac.

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