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Please Critique "Budget" Hi-Fi Desktop Setup ($5-700)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I'm so glad to be here right now! With some encouragement from a friend, and being moved into an apartment setting with roommates, I realized the "head-fi" route would be a great one for me.

 

To give you a quick idea of what I'm listening to now:

  • Alternative/Indie Rock (Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Dr. Dog)
  • Folk (Bob Dylan, Fleet Foxes, etc)
  • Post-Punk (The Cure, Joy Division, etc)
  • Hip-Hop (A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Wu Tang Clan)
  • Jazz (Miles Davis, Joe Pass)
  • Classical (Chopin, Philip Glass)
  • Electronic (Daft Punk)

 

As you can tell, my taste really is quite varied so I need a rig that can do pretty well across the board.

I am currently considering this set-up, for use with my iMac primarily:

 

  • HiFiMAN HE-400
  • Schitt Magni (Solid State Amp)
  • Schitt Modi (USB DAC)
  • Grand total (est.) = $550-600

 

I'm going to figure out the details as far as ripping existing CD's to lossless (FLAC perhaps) and acquiring new music in this format as opposed to all the MP3-based stuff I have now. I may add some vinyl (via turntable) in the future, but that's not a huge concern right now. If any of you run an iMac and would care to share your settings (software, etc), I'd love to understand what the best method of output would be for me.

 

I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions. So far I really like the HE-400's as opposed to some of the Grados I've tried (RS1 & RS2 and some of the SRs). 

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 10

I just bought a pair of HE-400 and I need an amp too, it looks like the one I was going to use is not working well with the headphone.  I read one review on the Magni being used with the HE-400 and he said it didn't have enough bass to do the HE-400 justice.  Here is the review, it's lined off of Shiit's website: http://www.headfonia.com/schitty-magni-and-modi/

 

Well, don't get me wrong, probably going to do as good a job as any $200 combo out there, but...


Edited by jmsaxon69 - 7/20/13 at 9:47pm
post #3 of 10
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I've considered the HD600 as well - but what are everyone's thoughts about the AMP/DAC combo?

post #5 of 10

Hey don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The HE-400s with the modi/magni is a solid set up. I like it a lot. The only thing you have to worry about after that is pads; there are a lot of options and opinions: HM5, Velour, Pleather, Jerg, Lawton Angle, etc. I don't even know... All I've tried is pleathers, which are good but I want to try something else. Lawton pads look promising.

post #6 of 10

  I have the Schiit Magni and Modi and both drive the HE-500's easily. However, I'm using a European Objective 2 power supply so maybe that's helping. The HE-400 has an even lower impedance (35 ohms) than the HE-500 (38 ohms) so I think you'll be ok with it. They are both (Magni and Modi) very powerful.

 

 

The HE-500 is so much better than the Sennheiser HD600 that I don't think they belong in the same discussion, but maybe because I've had so many pairs of 600's and 650's through the years I'm a bit jaded. 

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthere View Post

  I have the Schiit Magni and Modi and both drive the HE-500's easily. However, I'm using a European Objective 2 power supply so maybe that's helping. The HE-400 has an even lower impedance (35 ohms) than the HE-500 (38 ohms) so I think you'll be ok with it. They are both (Magni and Modi) very powerful.


The HE-500 is so much better than the Sennheiser HD600 that I don't think they belong in the same discussion, but maybe because I've had so many pairs of 600's and 650's through the years I'm a bit jaded. 

Why are you talking about and comparing HE-500? He never brought them up. Also, "The HE-500 is so much better than the HD600 that I don't think they belong in the same discussion" is such a "IMO" call that why would you even say it, the HD600 sounds "different" he may have never heard them and may think they sounded better because he likes a smoother presentation....
post #8 of 10

For a beginner setup, I can't recommend the Magni+Modi enough.  The Magni will have more than sufficient power to drive the HE-400, as that is what I paired with them when I first got them.  Those headphones aren't picky in terms of amping, but going from a portable device, to a portable amp like the Fiio E11, to the Magni showed overall improvement each move up due to the increase in output power.  It's still pretty amazing that the HE-400 can be driven off almost anything, though.  The Magni could also be used to drive the HE-500 sufficiently, but is has the minimum power requirements if you ask me - something with 2+ watts of output power will be more ideal there.

 

From my personal experience, I think the HD600 is a really fantastic headphone with one exception - I believe they need a really fantastic amp driving them to be at their best.  They aren't super picky or super dependent on an amp like the HD800 is, but pair them with a good OTL tube amp and they will sing.  Going one further, pair them with a proper tube amp and they will soar.  They're not going to be properly driven just out of a soundcard or DAC so something like the Magni would do the trick, though that would be sub-optimal if you ask me.  Schiit's Valhalla or Asgard 2 would be a better pairing in that regard, so perhaps you'd want to consider either of these setups if you are considering an HD600 (but they may be beyond your budget):  HD600, Schiit Valhalla (or Asgard 2) + Modi, -or- HD600, Bottlehead Crack and Schiit Modi (the Crack is a kit amp that needs to be assembled, if you think you'd be up to that).  

 

I would put the HD600 properly driven right up there with the HD-500, but they do things a little differently so I'd still choose the HD-500 personally.  When I first heard both, I got to hear them on a variety of amps to test (starting with no amp, SS portable amp, OTL headphone amp, speaker tube amp with headphone stage) and wow, was I impressed and really underestimating the HD600 the whole time previously.  I can see why it is a favorite around Head-Fi and why people build systems around them.  I felt the HD600, even properly driven, are a bit smoother, more relaxed and even a bit veiled in the treble when comparing them directly to the HE-500.  I'd still regard both as ever-so-slightly warm but almost entirely neutral.  On it's own though, the HD600 is one of the best headphones I've heard to date, and still a great listen with every genre I tried.

 

Also, consider that the HE-400 has a very unique signature (dark/warm but with sparkly highs, and fairly neutral frequency response with a dip in the upper mids) whereas the HD600 and HE-500 are going to be much closer to neutral, so no real emphasis on any one aspect.  The HE-400 is a really enjoyable phone in some genres (like some jazz and all electronic styles), but it may disappoint in others.  This is what I found from personal experience, and why I moved to the HE-500 - I can tell you that because of the harsh treble at times, the HE-400 with Miles Davis may be a bit intense and difficult to listen to.  We have similar tastes in music, and I think you'd probably find something more neutral to be a better all-arounder when moving genre to genre.  If you can swing it, the HE-500 will do just that effortlessly and flawlessly.  Of course I don't mean to discredit the HE-400 any, because at it's price it's one of the best values out there, and I wish I could have kept it for those times where it really shined.  I'd still consider it on it's own (like the HD600) to be one of the best values, and it will be the most cost-friendly setup that will destroy anything else in it's price range.

 

I know this probably doesn't make choosing your setup any easier, but I hope this helps some...I was in your same position once. tongue.gif My advice is to just continue researching all your options and read as much as possible if you are unable to test everything.  Also, check out Dave's 'Flagship' review thread for a well detailed analysis of each: http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13  I'd say his results are a pretty accurate representation of my experience with each.


Edited by modulor - 7/21/13 at 7:20am
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthere View Post

  I have the Schiit Magni and Modi and both drive the HE-500's easily. However, I'm using a European Objective 2 power supply so maybe that's helping. The HE-400 has an even lower impedance (35 ohms) than the HE-500 (38 ohms) so I think you'll be ok with it. They are both (Magni and Modi) very powerful.


The HE-500 is so much better than the Sennheiser HD600 that I don't think they belong in the same discussion, but maybe because I've had so many pairs of 600's and 650's through the years I'm a bit jaded. 

Hd600 is more than capable than going toe to toe with the he500.
Edited by TekeRugburn - 7/21/13 at 7:58am
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Interesting thanks so much for everyone's input. I was originally considering the HD600, but the HE-400's sounded quite good to me. I even tried the HE-500's on, but for some reason I really liked the sound of the HE-400's. I just wish I could hear the HD600 from Senn...

 

Appreciate any other input!

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