Long time member but due to inexperience in this area never really contributed. Which is why I'm here now, because I need help but feel this is all way over my head.
My interest in headphones has started recently with a purchase of Sennheiser's IE80 (for gym/running) and IE800 (for office/work). I was extremely impressed with the IE800 and started thinking about full-sized headphones for use at home, with my laptop.
I recently auditioned the HD800's and was really impressed. I'm no expert but I thought the quality was really good, it reminded me of the times when I had a separate DAC/CD player and listened to a lot of music.
So I spent a couple of weeks looking into reviews and trying to find a good amplifier/dac combination as the intended use is at home by my desk, using my MacBook and lossless music files.
The HD800 I demoed was using a Pathos Aurium headphone amplifier which is a hybrid (using 6922 tubes). The source was some weird looking high-end CD player. I was very happy with what I heard and was sure I'd get the HD800 and the Pathos. However I'd need a DAC started looking at those and other possible alternatives to the Pathos. The two that I 'liked' the look of (based on what I read) were the Naim DAC-V1 and the Sennheiser HDVD800. Both seemed to offer what I was looking for (USB at 24-bit/196kHz etc), but as they were both amp/dac devices I thought it'd be overkill to get the Pathos too.
After spending more time looking/reading/getting confused, I came across a lot of chatter about the Audeze LCD-3. I'd heard the name before of course but that was it. So out of curiosity and the desire to get the best for my money I thought I might as well read more about them. From what I've read I'm extremely impressed. I hope to be demoing these in a couple of weeks but I'm already so certain that these are what I want! Crazy, I know.
Obviously I'm now looking at a higher price point too, but if I like what I hear, I'm definitely willing to pay that little bit more.
This leads me to the next dilemma - due to the deviation in my plan I also started looking at other DAC's and amps that I'd never considered before. But again due to my inexperience in this area, I'm not sure what goes well with what. And I'm hoping someone with knowledge and experience in this can help me out.
These are some of the amps I'm currently looking at (based on aesthetics and reviews):
- Pathos Aurium :: £850, 3.6W @ 32ohms
- Woo Audio WA6-SE :: $1190 ($1500 with upgrades) - I like this but not sure about the split boxes
- Woo Audio WA22 :: $1995 ($2645 with upgrades) - I REALLY like the look of this. If I got this I couldn't afford the upgrades (at least not right away), so it'd be the basic model. Though I may be persuaded to get one of the upgrades
These are some of the DACs I'm considering:
- Arcam irDAC :: about £400
- Schiit Bitfrost :: $519 with uber analog and USB gen 2 upgrades
And DAC/amp combos:
- NAIM DAC-V1 :: £1295
- Sennehsier HDVD800 :: £1495
It's impossible to demo al these devices and combination, so what I'm looking for is for Audeze LCD-3 owner's to let me know if they are familiar with these devices and what they think are a good match for the LCD3. Or if there's anything I have overlooked, please let me know. I'd like to spend no more than £2000 (or $3000) on the dac/amp setup.
This probably means I shouldn't consider the WA22 :( .... but I like the look of that so much :(
anyway, look forward to your advice.