This is a thread wherein we share what our current music-listening entails. In other words, share a description of the gear you use primarily at home and on the go.
But wait, there's more! Describe your feelings about the gear in question: what you like about it, what you don't like about it, the connection it gives you to music, etc. How do you see your current setup? Do you have plans for upgrading or sidegrading? If so, where do you want your setup to go from here?
Main home rigs:
MacBook Pro -> Invicta DAC -> Liquid Gold -> Abyss AB-1266 & modded Audez'e LCD-3
MacBook Pro -> Invicta DAC -> Liquid Lightning 2 -> Stax SR-007, SR-Omega, HeAudio Jade
Let's see... I'm lazy and find computer audio to be a lot more convenient than dragging out physical media, especially when you're talking about a few terabytes worth of music. I still prefer physical media overall however, and I generally try to own a physical copy of everything. To that end, one of my goals for the coming year is to get back into vinyl. I've got a room full of records that are going unplayed, and that makes me sad. Then again audiophile vinyl can be a ridiculous money sink. You can spend several thousand dollars on a cartridge alone (the little needle that travels along the record grooves).
The Invicta sounded really nice, extremely detailed but a bit laid back. TBH I can't really tell too huge of a difference from one high end DAC to another, at least not to the extent that some reviews seem to indicate the differences run. They sound more alike than not often times. I didn't want to spend too much since new DACs and upgraded technology are coming out like every other week (as opposed to amps which are much more stable). I like that the Invicta has an SD card slot and built in headphone amp (which is surprisingly good). It can run as an all-in-one without a computer even.
When it comes to amps I tend to prefer a good tube implementation, as I've found they typically have more interior depth, micro detail, and a more effortless and natural sound (but not one that's mushy and overly warm as is often the stereotype). Put another way: it's easier to get lost in the music---wrapped up in it---as all these little details surround you, but in a way that seems natural and integrated as a whole rather than disjointed and laid out in front of you like a map. Despite this I use two solid state amps primarily. LOL. Really though, I think it's largely about implementation when it comes to experienced amp designers working at this level.
As for fullsized headphones, I guess I'm just a planar kind of person. I love me some 'stats and orthos for different reasons. The SR-Omega still impresses me the most of any Stax, especially in its gorgeous midrange that materializes out of thin air and sounds so refined. Unfortunately the overall tonal balance is too upward titled for it to be a continuous listen. The SR-007 is like the most agreeable headphone ever, beautifully balanced and refined, and when properly driven I think it's ever bit as good as the SR-009, maybe better in some respects (if the prices were flip-flopped I think folks would be a lot more vocal about the SR-009's flaws relative to the SR-007). Unfortunately Stax are a little... limp. They lack a certain sense of weight, not just in bass, but across the whole sonic spectrum. Of individual notes. A sense of presence. The Jade is probably the best stat in this regard short of the Orpheus HE90, and when modded it's actually more linear than any Stax, but the build quality is so terrible. Both sets I've had have had buzzing stators.
I still really like the new Jecklin Floats, the QA. They have a presentation really unlike anything else out there. It really puts you in the midst of a performance like no other. Like you're a phantom haunting the stage, and the performers are walking right through you. Or maybe coming in and out of your head like there was a door in it. Like that psychedelic priest, Rudi, from The Mighty Boosh.
I need to find a decent speaker amp to run their power supply however. The upcoming Schiit Ragnarok might just be the ticket.
The Abyss has the best bass response of any headphone I've ever heard, period. It's also among the fastest, most articulate, and best at conveying musical layers. Detail is about on par with Stax. It just lacks the Stax refinement in the upper mids and treble, but it sounds more natural and musical to me. The LCD-3... well, when I sent it off it wasn't really doing much for me. Too thick and wooly, especially in the mids. I'm hoping some extensive modding will bring out the best in it, as I think it has a lot of potential (the drivers are excellent from an engineering standpoint).
The only headphone I want that I don't have right now is the R10. I miss it. The mids---strings in particular---were some of the most emotional I've ever heard on headphones. They just had this musicality to them, it was uncanny.
Portable sauce: AK100, DX100, A865 and F806 Walkmen
Portable amp: Leckerton UHA-6S
Stuff I stick in my ears the most these days: AKG K3003; Final FI-BA-SS; FitEar Private C435, Parterre, and MH335DW; Jerry Harvey JH16Pro; Ocharaku Flat4-KAEDE
In the works:
Cavalli portable amp
Canal Works L05QD
Jerry Harvey JH13Pro
Ultimate Ears Reference
In-ears are preferable for me in a lot of ways, namely because they're tuned with more finesse I feel. It's just the nature of the beast. I think with IEMs, one gets more "flavors" or approximations of neutrality, if that makes sense (it does to me at least). Basically, variations in sound signatures that still fall within the realm of what I consider fairly neutral.
I find I'm listening to IEMs a lot more in the summer months, just because it's so damn hot.
So yeah, I want to get back into vinyl. I'd probably go with a turntable from Basis to replace my Rega P7.
I also want to get into speakers. I'm still eyeing the Mini Maggies from Magnepan, along with a nice subwoofer to flesh out their bottom end. However I'm kind of swaying toward something from Fritz:
For the money, I think his stuff is hard to beat. Ultimately though I'd be saving up for something from Sanders maybe. I just worry about the lack of weightiness.
Edited by MuppetFace - 8/15/13 at 9:31am