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Diary Members' Audio Gear: What You've Got, What You Want

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

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?

 


 

I'll start.

 

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.

 

 

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75

 

 

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:

 

AK120

Cavalli portable amp

 

Canal Works L05QD

Jerry Harvey JH13Pro

Shure SE846

Tralucent 1Plus2

Ultimate Ears Reference

Widing ME10DX

 

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:

 

http://www.fritzspeakers.com/sound.asp

 

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
post #2 of 18

I need to hear the Abyss again sometime, but it's a bit less tempting to me atm due to my lack of an amp as powerful as the Au.

 

Anyways:

 

Custom PC -> Stello U3 w/ Aqvox PSU -> NAD M51 -> EC Electra -> SR009

                                                                           -> EC Balancing Act -> TH900's or HD800's

                                                                           -> Lehmann BCL -> HD600's

 

^ All of that is powered by a B.P.T. BP-1 Signature

 

Same PC -> Matrix X-spdif w/ ifi iUSB (in the mail) -> Burson Conductor -> modded LCD-3's

                                                                                                           -> Yamaha Receiver -> PSB Imagine Minis w/ Sub Series 1

 

^ That's the stuff I usually have out, at least. 

 

I like the convenience of computer audio as well as the ability to dick around online as I listen.  I intend to get a vinyl rig sometime, but probably not in the immediate future.

 

I'll talk about my setups based on the headphones at the end of each:

 

SR009's:  I haven't used this setup a whole lot yet, but so far it's been rather contradictory in how engaging it manages to be while having this sterile undertone that would be a deal breaker in anything less detailed, nuanced, and fast.  My initial tube rolling managed to get rid of, like, half that sterility, though, so I'm hoping I'll strike a happy balance with more tube rolling to come (I still have 2 of the stock Tung Sols in there for the input stage). 

 

TH900's or HD800's:  This is probably my most tried and true setup at this point.  The TH900's feel more immersive to me while the HD800's are larger, cleaner, faster, more detailed etc.  While my HD800's are stock, using them with a balanced cable through the BA does a lot to tame the nastiness I'd hear in other setups. 

 

HD600's:  I just use this when I'm on Skype or watching YT videos in bed and don't feel like turning on the tubes, but man do the HD600's scale up!  I actually think I could be happy with this setup if I ever lost everything else.

 

LCD-3's:  I like the Burson Condictor as a secondary on-all-the-time setup by my TV and **** and my modded LCD-3's have the best synergy with it.  The mods add detail and speed at the cost of some soundstage.  Overall they sound like "Super Paradox" to me in that they have the Paradox's balance in the FR, but are better in most other regards.  The soundstage loss seemed pretty drastic to me at first, but I'm starting to warm up to it given all the other positives.  The soundstage they have now is a bit more coherent, at least.

 

Speakers: Eh, they work and the whole receiver and speaker setup cost less than many pairs of headphones I own.  I would like to upgrade all of this someday, but I'd rather have a very, very good idea what I want before changing anything.  In the meantime, though, these are better than you'd probably think. 

 

Thoughts on the more voodoo-ish elements:

 

USB -> Spdif's w/ power supplies:  Any USB -> Spdif that's bus powered will show very, very marginal gains.  The PSU's I have listed up there (or similar ones) are pretty much required if you want to make this sort of transport upgrade worthwhile.  The gains can be pretty significant once you get both elements together though!  I had a battery powered JKSPDIF MK3 in the Conductor setup for awhile that sounded really great in its own right, but I got tired of dealing with the 6-hour time limit it imposed.  Likewise, any solution that has thei nterface and some kind of good power supply built in is probably phenominal, but they all cost a million dollars and I didn't feel like spending big money on this component, especially as I have no way of knowing just how they compare to something like Stello U3 w/Aqvox since people don't review these things with accessories like that. 

 

B.P.T. PSU:  I think it made my bass sound cleaner?  I'm honestly not sure if it does anything sonically.  I never have ground loop issues or anything, though.

 

 

 

Portables:

 

iTouch -> Leckerton UHA6S MK2 -> Paradox, ESW11's, or a bunch of IEMs (check profile)

 

I think the ES5's are the most coherent multi-driver IEMs I own and are the best all-rounders, but the others all have their strengths.

 

The Paradox kicks all kinds of ass with an amp, but sounds a little flat off just an idevice. 

 

The ESW11's are just really light and convenient.

 

I used to think the DAC in the HP-P1 made more difference than an amp, but I'm finding that's not the case anymore;  I'm thinking of selling the HP-P1.

 

 

Headphone things I want to look into in the future:

 

SR007 MKI

Some guy's HD800 mod kit

Abyss

Liquid Au

other custom IEMs

Cavalli portable (heard a prototype and liked it a lot)

 

IDK, none of this is a major priority right now since I need to stop being lazy and get a job/a life again :/

 


I might add more to this later since people keep ******* interrupting me right now.


Edited by driver 8 - 8/13/13 at 4:15pm
post #3 of 18

iPod 5G -> silver plated copper cable dock -> (SR 71B | UHA-6S) -> copper litz cable -> NT-6 Pro. The wires are homemade.

 

That's about it, really. The home system's been mostly unused for months, and is about to be packed up for a while. My office is the hottest room in the house by a significant margin; the big amps running with high class-A bias made it intolerable. Lately when I've got headphones on at home, they're an old pair of MB Quart QP 160 plugged directly into the computer. Good enough for youtube videos and such.

post #4 of 18

I listen mostly to music from my ipad or my computer. My computer is connected to an old amplifier, the AKAI AM-U11. This amplifier isn't especially good with speakers, however, it does an outstanding job with headphones (but there's a hiss with sensitive headphones). I've been looking at other options to upgrade to but I'm in no hurry (been looking for a good deal for several years now, but when I've found one I couldn't afford it, and when I could afford it, there was none) - this works well with my headphones now and the synergy between the amp and the D2000 and the Pro 900 is spectacular (imo) and far better sounding than my fiios. 

 

As for headphones, I mainly use the D2000 or the Pro 900 with the amp, although I just bought the XB-500 for that fun sounding bassy experience.

 

As for listening on the go, I mainly use a Cowon J3 or my ipad, both of which are connected to my fiio e11 (which I'd also like to upgrade, maybe to a stepdance, uha-6s mkII or a headstage arrow) and as for headphones, I usually go with HD25, IE80 or X10.

 

What I'm looking to buy in a near future is my first FAD, which I've came to the conclusion that I want the Heaven V (with help from Mupps). I've also given RE-400, GR07 and a few circumaural headphones (beyers, AKG, Fischer Audio, Fostex/Alpha Dogs ...) some serious consideration and plan to invest in within a year or so. The biggest obstacle in upgrading is my mental health which has been deteoriating in a fast pace lately, and will subsequently affect my income (and it's not cheap being ill). 

 

Some pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

post #5 of 18
First thanks to Muppet for welcoming me in the group.

I have no home rig so I always use portable rigs, even at home.
My two main rigs are going to be :
Ak120 > silver gold Tralucent > 1plus2
Tera Player > Beat Audio Cronus > Spiral Ear Se5

I also sometimes plug the se5 on the ak120. My other iems I use more sparsely, for flavors or specific moods.

I kinda like the Tera rig in bed. It is very natural sounding and smooth, sohnds great with well recorded acoustic folk.

The 1plus2 rig is awesome on the go with modern punchy music.

All in all it depends on album. I buy tens of albums and listen to each at least 3 or 4 times at first, and alternate rigs to see how these albums fare depending on the gear...and the mood.
post #6 of 18
I'll make sure to read all the posts that I skimmed, but I'm curious with the AK120, that even some of my budget-minded anime guys; at least those that are convinced they can here differences in DAPs and have tried it; are lusting for it. I'm not going to ask whether it's worth it or not, as that's as subjective as "what's the best headphones overall", but wondering in what "tier" does the AK120 is at, spending capacity wise. Pardon the weird wording, as I don't have any idea how to convey it lol.
post #7 of 18

I have to say I'm really curious about the AK120 as well.

post #8 of 18
Well let me give you my 2 cents on the ak120. If you compare to ak100 modded at 800 dols, I would say ak120 is worth 1k approximately for the benefit in SQ. Paying it 1.3k is a bit steep.

With the DX100, they are comparable in terms of SQ with iems. The AK120 has a more musical sound to my ears but the dx100 has more power and authority so I guess it is better with cans. The AK120 is however much smaller and prettier than the dx100, with better UI, larger capacity, longer battery and it does not pop nor heat. So a much better compromise to me.

I did not listen to the 901 but kkcc says it needs the balanced amp card to truly beat the ak120, and that for all the same reasons as with yhe dx100, yhe ak120 is overall a better portable solution. Gavin told me the 901 is more different than truly better.

One important thing is that like the dx100, the ak120 changed a lot with FW. The 1.00 was way too dark and congested but the latest 1.32 is great to my ears.

The DSD sounds truly nice but I do not care about it as others do because there are so few albums available and at a high price. On the other hand I really like the USB DAC feature, I can listen to music from my computer with nice SQ.

I have recently listened to rsa71b with the ak120 and it does sound nice...the form factor is perfect and the rsa adds that extra bit of power and authority that makes the ak120 perfect to these overly large ears. I am still hesitating though as the added amp and the cable and the temptation to go balanced are a hassle to me...
post #9 of 18
What I want : Fitear 435, Hidition NT6, upcomimg JH TOTL. Also the Uber cable and yhe DHC fusion.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

I guess for me my main interests in the realm of CIEMs these days have to do with unique designs and implementations, stuff like the L05QD with its quad of full-range drivers or the interesting dual driver setup from Custom Art. I've lost interest in stuff that tries to cram as many drivers or crossovers as possible into a shell. The UERM with its three drivers has just cemented the fact for me that it's quality [of what you do] over quantity.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuppetFace View Post

I guess for me my main interests in the realm of CIEMs these days have to do with unique designs and implementations, stuff like the L05QD with its quad of full-range drivers or the interesting dual driver setup from Custom Art. I've lost interest in stuff that tries to cram as many drivers or crossovers as possible into a shell. The UERM with its three drivers has just cemented the fact for me that it's quality [of what you do] over quantity.
I partly agree with this. But comfort also plays a part....after silicone I am none to keen to try non Fitear acrylic. I hope the new JH will not just be a JH25...
post #12 of 18

My turn, my stuff isn't all accounted for yet and I'm currently waiting on a couple of new acquisitions to soon be delivered as well as a pre order to be fulfilled. Until I have everything present and accounted for and had a chance to spend some time with the new stuff I'm just going to list everything. Once I've get it all worked out in the wash I'll do a proper entry.

 

 

Headphones:
-----------------
AKG Q701
AKG K 240 Sextette MP
Fostex T50rp Alpha Dog (Pre Ordered)
Fostex T50rp Paradox (shipping)
Grado SR 60i (cloth removed from cups and comfies replaced with bowls)
iGrado
Sennheiser HD25-1 II Adidas (modded)
Sony MDR XB 700
V-Moda M-80-SHADOW Crossfade
V-Moda M-100

 

IEM's
------------
Earsonics SM64
Heir Audio 4A Custom In Ear Monitor
HiSound PoPo
J-Phonic K2 sp
Meelectronics A161P
Monster Turbine Pro Coppers
Sony MDR EX 600
Ultimate Ears 700
Ultimate Ears Tri-Fi 10
Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (shipping)

 

Amps

------------

-ALO Audio RX MKIII - B (Electra)
-ALO Audio RX MKII (Itoru)
-DIY 2 9V battery, 3 channel balanced ground, 3 x buffered gain switch, bass boost, opamp rollable have op amps RC4560, OPA2227, AD823 (Marilyn)
-iFi Audio iCan (Margaret)
-Leckerton UHA-4 portable DAC/amp combo with AD8610ARZ opamp (Sally)
-Leckerton UHA-6S MKII DAC/amp combo with op amps 8610ARZ, OPA209AID, OPA627AP (Eva)

 

Source

--------------

Acer Aspire AMD Phenom II X3 laptop
Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Solo -db (Raven)
HiSound Rocoo Studio V 3rd Anniversary Edition
iPod classic 160GB 7th gen
iPod touch 3rd generation 64GB
Sansa Clip+ 4GB
Sony NWZ-B163F 4GB

 

A more involved entry to follow at a later date.

post #13 of 18

Mind talking about the different op amps you have for the Leckerton?

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by driver 8 View Post

Mind talking about the different op amps you have for the Leckerton?


Well lets see the UHA-4 has the 8610ARZ which I also roll into my mk II. It has pretty nice extension on both ends but not as much clarity because it has a hint of warmth in it's sound signature. My op amp of choice is the 209AID. The 209 has nice clarity in the mids but I find the sound stage is very slightly smaller compared to the 8610. The 627AP is a pretty colored op amp IMO. It's nice to have around when I'm bored and want a change but 90% of the time I stick with the 209. Now that I think about it I haven't rolled any op amps into my MKII in a good 2 or 3 months, the 209 has been in the amp all that time.

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalFreak View Post

Well lets see the UHA-4 has the 8610ARZ which I also roll into my mk II. It has pretty nice extension on both ends but not as much clarity because it has a hint of warmth in it's sound signature. My op amp of choice is the 209AID. The 209 has nice clarity in the mids but I find the sound stage is very slightly smaller compared to the 8610. The 627AP is a pretty colored op amp IMO. It's nice to have around when I'm bored and want a change but 90% of the time I stick with the 209. Now that I think about it I haven't rolled any op amps into my MKII in a good 2 or 3 months, the 209 has been in the amp all that time.

 

I think I have the 209, but since the NT-6 Pro is my main earphone of choice, I lost my motivation to continue rolling op-amps in the UHA-6S after powering up with the OPA627.

 

I personally think the 627 is the best possible match for the Hidition, they complement each other so well.

 

However, the 627 makes the Heir 4.A sound dead -- spacious, but without dynamics or treble. It's unappealing when compared to using the 8610 with the 4.A.

 

It's an excellent demonstration of how essential equipment matching can be. If only I wasn't using custom earphones, I could show others how much this matters, too.

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