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Help me add a head-fi system to enjoy the Blu-ray collection

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

Hi Everybody

 

I took a long hiatus since my last post here more than a decade ago :eek:. Of course I have been a lurker all these years but not so much honestly.

 

Back then a 100 dollar headphone felt like a big decision. Things have since changed. The hi-fi audio bug that I caught here went into HD audio and video craze over these years. 

 

So currently my setup is as follows

 

Speakers - Focal 826W, PSB T5, SVS Subwoofer

Receiver - Denon 3312

Players - Dune HD D1, PS3, PC with Haswell 17 4770 + Asus Z87 pro board, Galaxy S3

Sources - Multiples of Bluray (concerts, music, musicals), HD Music 24/192 etc., High quality flacs, Some high quality MP3, Some DVDs where Bluray is not available

Storage - 4 Bay Synology NAS

Network - Asus AC Series Wifi router and client

Music taste - Pretty much anything that sounds good, but vocals are very important (Jazz, Rock, Western classical, Bollywood musicals, Flamengo guitars, instrumentals, Pop, Percussions, R&B, Ballads, etc.). I am not a bass freak and do not like to color the music in anyway. 

 

I just love the HD audio and videos and Blurays are my staple source. I have a lot of concerts and Musicals on Bluray and the TrueHD and DTS MA sound a lot better to my years than FLAC from CDs. 

 

I am happy with the system, though may consider upgrading in future.

 

My current problem is that by the time I am ready to listen to music in the evening, the family would like to sleep. This means that I cannot play anything at moderately loud levels which kills the fun. That's when I decided to rekindle my old interest in headphones which never took off really. I remember lusting for a Sennheiser HD 600 and Etymotics (those were the favorites here then) long back.

 

I started reading around and was pleased to find how the headphones industry have changed since. The entry of orthodynamic phones and new flagships where price is no factor has changed the game. So I started shortlisting the headphone candidates and the short list included the HD 600/650, AKG K702, AKG Q701, Beyer DT 880, AT 900x and the newer planars that everyone is raving about including HE 500, Audeze LCD 2. Budget started at $300 but I was soon intrigued by the planars. I had read elated discussions on the Stax back then and really wanted to try the newer affordable planars. So short listed the headphones to HD 600, HE 500 and LCD 2. Decided to go with the HE 500 because it represents a great value entry to the world of orthodynamic phones with whatever they promise. Budget is now $700.

 

Now the sad part is that where I live, Dubai, I can only listen to the Senns. So I have to basically purchase it from US and have it shipped here. The returns are costly options reserved only for a bad arrival. 

 

Having decided on the headphones, I thought all I needed was to plug it into the headphone port on my Denon and be done with it. A bit more reading and I was all for a desktop amp/dac so that I can just listen to the blurays and HD audio from my PC.

 

In the speaker world, I thought you spent the maximum on the speakers. But on the headphones it seems is not the case. The amp/dac solutions that started with Fiio, went up to Magni/Modi, O2, Pan Am, Schiit Asgard, Lyr +Bifrost , Burson Soloist SL, Woo Audio W7....my god what is happening to me? :confused:

 

Then I started thinking about the fact that none of the DACs mentioned here handle HD Audio. Or will they?

 

So that's when I thought I will seek the advise of those who are more experienced in this.

 

What is the best way to enjoy the music (visuals are OK, but not a must. I can just have the blurays or HD music play off my computer with screen closed while listening on my headphones) from Blurays and the like. How do a headphone DAC handle the HD audios? For the following scenarios what is the best recommendations? I know there are HDMI headphones but I am not sure of their sonic qualities. I am not interested in the surround part of HD audio like 7.1 TrueHD, but more on having best possible stereo audio.

 

DuneHD or PS3 > Denon receiver > ...........headphone

PC > DAC > Desktop Amp > headphone

Galaxy S3 > DAC > Amp > Headphone

 

Sorry for this long post. I hope someone can help.

 

Thanks for reading through and thanks in advance for any guidance.

post #2 of 42
Thread Starter 

Forgot to mention the budget. I was looking initially at about $500 for headphone + amp/dac. Now can go $1500. Don't mind getting used ones. 

 

Thanks.

post #3 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTV View Post
 

Forgot to mention the budget. I was looking initially at about $500 for headphone + amp/dac. Now can go $1500. Don't mind getting used ones. 

How is life in Dubai, enjoying the heat?

Anyway, personally I would run HDMI from everything, DuneHD, PS3, PC, into the Denon

HDMI can pass 7.1 (8-channel) of 24-bit/192Khz of  PCM (uncompressed) digital audio.

And plug the headphones into the Denon's headphone jack.

Any headphone in the 150-Ohm to 600-Ohm should work fine, AKG K6XX 120-Ohm and K7XX 62-Ohm should also work.

Does it matter if the headphones are opened or closed?

Open should be ok if family sleeps in another room behind a closed door.

 

I would assume the Galaxy S3 is used on the move, so maybe get some smaller folding headphones (JVC HA-S500) for the S3.

post #4 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Any headphone in the 150-Ohm to 600-Ohm should work fine, AKG K6XX 120-Ohm and K7XX 62-Ohm should also work.

 

Interesting cuz I asked a similar question about plugging 300-600 ohm headphones into a home receiver and was told that was a very bad idea,namely due to amperage?!

Care to clarify for me?

post #5 of 42
Thread Starter 
Dear PurpleAngel

Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Dubai is just coming out of summer and will go into winter with a balmy 24 degrees centigrade soon :-)

I forgot to mention that the PC is in the bedroom connected only on wifi. Streaming off dune and NAS is an option but it can choke on heavy Blu-ray despite the new AC series wifi.

I was a bit concerned with the afterthought called headphone jack on the receivers. Will something like HE500 be justified feeding off a Denon? Do planars sound good on such a setup?

An option to listen to music on PC is fine too. What would be the best option I'm such case?

I don't mind open cans. In fact I don't need closed phones because I need to keep tab on the kids and at the same I like the airy wide open sound.

I would confess that the DAC part has me most confused. At the same time I can't fine anywhere a headphone DAC claim stakes to be nice with HD audio. Is it frowned upon in head-fi world?
post #6 of 42
Thread Starter 
Sorry forgot to mention. I don't need portability. The Galaxy S3 would only be more used as a night time source at bed even I am lazy to navigate the PC. There are few iOS devices in the mix too. To me the idea is to get the best sound and I don't mind inconvenience on that account. I am sure I will happily bear a HE 500 on my head if it outdo the Focal by a fair margin.

Point is that bulk of the source is Blu-ray at the moment and reading at Schiit, it is blasphemous to even attempt at converting or down scaling the audio to make it play on the portable devices. Or is there a player or device that will play the hd stuff including video at native resolution and fidelity?
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by monsterzero View Post
 

Interesting cuz I asked a similar question about plugging 300-600 ohm headphones into a home receiver and was told that was a very bad idea,namely due to amperage?!

Care to clarify for me?

Now I'm an amateur audio enthusiast and there are many on Head-fi that are more knowledgeable then me.

But to me headphones in the 150-Ohm to 600-Ohm would seem to be the best choice for plugging into a receiver's headphone jack.

I would assume most receivers use the same amplifier that powers the speakers to also power the headphone jack (lowest cost way to power the headphones), so there should be more then enough juice to drive headphones.

It's preferred to have the impedance (Ohm) of the headphone to be 8 to 10 times (or more is fine) the impedance of whatever jack they are plugged into.

And my best guess is a receiver's headphone jack is going to have an impedance anywhere from 30-Ohm to 150-Ohm (really wild guessing).

I'm sure there are receivers (and pre-amps) that come with a dedicated headphone amplifier for the headphone jack and could have a low impedance, I would think you would see that more in the low volume higher price receivers brands.

Can't see any reason that a mass market receiver would have a separate dedicated headphone amplifier.

If someone knows more then I do about this subject, feel free to join in this discussion.

post #8 of 42

Not sure about the HE 500, but the Mad Dogs [Modded T50 RP] Planars seem to love Recivers, if you wanted you could invest in a a Hybrid Tube amp like the Little Dot 1+ [I new a guy running a Stax out of one, it has THAT many Amps pushing out of it] as the Planars are going to want a LOT of amps, over voltage. 

 

Or 

 

I assume your Reciver has a sound out put that you could use, Or even better your BluRay should have a sPdif out of some kind of audio out port, you could run that into a Amp [Full size or portable]  and enjoy your headphones that way

 

As to using your PC source I'd go that way, honestly I'd think the BEST way to get what you love from speakers, is to start with a fully balanced set up. Which Means you'd need something like a AUdio GD 10.33 $600 Balanced amp and DAC] you can source it from your PC via USB or sPdif, in addition I would then go with a Balanced Headphone, if your REALLY lucky you can catch something like A Beyer Dt 880 Fully Balanced for around $300 [which brings you up to $900 budget] not sure how shipping would change the price [if you order the AUDIO GD Amp new, you'd save a little on shipping since it ships from China to you]

 

But I would think fully balanced should get you close to your speakers performance 

 

Going back to the Reciver as an amp, I honestly don't know much about how safe that would be, as the specs vary so much 

post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTV View Post

Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Dubai is just coming out of summer and will go into winter with a balmy 24 degrees centigrade soon :-)
I forgot to mention that the PC is in the bedroom connected only on wifi. Streaming off dune and NAS is an option but it can choke on heavy Blu-ray despite the new AC series wifi.
I was a bit concerned with the afterthought called headphone jack on the receivers. Will something like HE500 be justified feeding off a Denon? Do planars sound good on such a setup?
An option to listen to music on PC is fine too. What would be the best option I'm such case?
I don't mind open cans. In fact I don't need closed phones because I need to keep tab on the kids and at the same I like the airy wide open sound.
I would confess that the DAC part has me most confused. At the same time I can't fine anywhere a headphone DAC claim stakes to be nice with HD audio. Is it frowned upon in head-fi world?

I'm assuming you use the PS3 for playing Blu-ray disk?

and the PS3 is connected to the Denon using HDMI?

 

I really do not know a lot about planar type headphones and how well they work in receivers.

Better to ask about the HE-500 in this thread

http://www.head-fi.org/t/551345/hifiman-he-500-he-as-in-high-end-please-post-your-impressions-proving-to-be-a-great-headphone-and-standing-the-test-of-time

 

I think "HD Audio" is used more like a marketing buzz word, then something that true represents good audio quality. "HD Audio" makes you want to replace your old audio stuff because it do not use the title "HD Audio". There might be a quality 16-bit/44.1Khz DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) out there that makes CD audio sound better then some low costing 24-bit/192Khz DAC.

But I would guess Blu-ray audio and music DVDs and newer HD Audio tracks does take advantage of audio greater then 16-bit/44.1Khz can handle.

I would guess a good 24-bit/96Khz DAC chip would make all your audio source(s) sound great.

Maybe get a separate external DAC/Amp for use with the PC?

post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Now I'm an amateur audio enthusiast and there are many on Head-fi that are more knowledgeable then me.

But to me headphones in the 150-Ohm to 600-Ohm would seem to be the best choice for plugging into a receiver's headphone jack.

I would assume most receivers use the same amplifier that powers the speakers to also power the headphone jack (lowest cost way to power the headphones), so there should be more then enough juice to drive headphones.

It's preferred to have the impedance (Ohm) of the headphone to be 8 to 10 times (or more is fine) the impedance of whatever jack they are plugged into.

And my best guess is a receiver's headphone jack is going to have an impedance anywhere from 30-Ohm to 150-Ohm (really wild guessing).

I'm sure there are receivers (and pre-amps) that come with a dedicated headphone amplifier for the headphone jack and could have a low impedance, I would think you would see that more in the low volume higher price receivers brands.

Can't see any reason that a mass market receiver would have a separate dedicated headphone amplifier.

If someone knows more then I do about this subject, feel free to join in this discussion.

 

Im not arguing with you Purple Angel,in fact I hope youre correct because I have a very nice Yamaha receiver that uses "Silent Cinema" technology which simulates 5.1 through your headphones.

I asked Dr.Sheep about plugging in some hi-end/harder to drive headphones (HD600,HD650s,T1s) directly into the Yamaha,and this is what he had to say:

"

V = IR, P = IV = V^2/R, so for 1Khz, P = (0.05V)^2/8 = 0.3125 mW and that's pretty weak.  Remember your RX-V861 is a receiver not an amp, so it can't and shouldn't drive headphones directly."

post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by monsterzero View Post
 

 

I'm not arguing with you Purple Angel, in fact I hope you're correct because I have a very nice Yamaha receiver that uses "Silent Cinema" technology which simulates 5.1 through your headphones.

I asked Dr.Sheep about plugging in some hi-end/harder to drive headphones (HD600,HD650s,T1s) directly into the Yamaha,and this is what he had to say:

"

V = IR, P = IV = V^2/R, so for 1Khz, P = (0.05V)^2/8 = 0.3125 mW and that's pretty weak.  Remember your RX-V861 is a receiver not an amp, so it can't and shouldn't drive headphones directly."

I thought you have a Denon 3312 A/V receiver?

So you also have a Yamaha RX-V861 A/V receiver?

The Denon 3312 is an $1100 receiver

My $500 Yamaha RX-V671 receiver drives my 600-Ohm Beyerdynamic DT990 headphones.

And I like the sound quality.

 

"Your RX-V861 is a receiver, not an amp", if it's not an amp (amplifier), then what does it use to drive speakers with?

 

If I'm wrong about stuff, then I'm wrong, but my idea of using your current receiver's headphone jack is not going to cost you extra, for driving whatever headphone you get.

If you do not like the sound of the headphones plugged into the receiver, you can then order any headphone amplifier you like.

post #12 of 42
Just as a suggestion, it would seem to me that the HE-400s might be more "fun" for movie watching than the HE-500s. Admittedly, I have only listened to the 400s. But this review describing the difference between the two is what influenced me to think that way: http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/blog/2012/02/08/review-hifiman-he-400-and-he-500-headphones

Looks like your Denon 3312 has a DVR out? Does that output work with your bluray player? If so, I'd think connecting a good headphone amp up there would be the way to go if the headphone output on the receiver is not enough to drive your new headphones well.
post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the delay in posting. Thanks for all who have posted so far with comments and help.

I only have a Denon 3312. The Yamaha came into picture from MosterZero's posts where he/she mentioned it may not have adequate juice for meatier headphones. .

The current setup is as follows

Living room

PS3 (for BD disc) -HDMI- Denon -HDMI- TV
Dune HD D1 -HDMI- Denon -HDMI- TV
Denon to Speakers
Synology NAS stores all the HD music plus most frequently watched BDs are ripped into the NAS
All four are wired to the Asus RT-AC66 router

Bedroom
PC >Ac-Wifi client to access the NAS

So to avoid confusion, I am thinking this way. The Denon has pre-outs for all zones (7.1 for Zone 1 + Zone 2 + Zone 3). Probably I can attach a headphone DAC/AMP there. Not sure about it as I have not ventured into the pre-out business. The Denon also has DVR out.
Here is the picture of the Denon back panel
http://usa.denon.com/Assets/images/products/AVR-3312/EL_AVR3312CIBK_E3_bk_000jpg.jpg

To avoid confusing myself, I am concentrating now on making the PC and/or iOS/Android devices as a source for a desktop setup at bedroom to listen while lying on the bed. Whatever that works with PC will surely work with the Living room setup, if need be.

Audio Features of the Z87 motherboard is as follows:

- Absolute Pitch 192kHz/ 24-bit True BD Lossless Sound
- DTS Ultra PC II
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- BD Audio Layer Content Protection

The more I read, it become obvious that 24/96 may be adequate and 24/192 may be not needed or detrimental.

What I need to know is:

1. How would a 24/96 DAC behave if given 24/192 signal? Schiit website says they religiously avoid upscaling or may be downscaling too. So to avoid any downscaling, is it better to have a 24/192 DAC on PC?
2. Are these DACs designed handle only 2 channel? Will say 7.1 24/192 audio stream coming off the PC SP-DIF to DAC be downmixed into a 2 channel audio by the 24/192 DAC?

Sorry if it all sound stupid. Some of my BD collection has both 2 channel 24/192 LPCM and 7.1 24/192 TrueHD for example. If I had no music with 24/192, I wouldn't bother now. But what challenges or comprises arises when 24/192 source is played on PC and fed to a say 24/96 DAC?

Lastly, I really thought about the option buying only the headphone first and then buying the AMP/DAC separately if Denon is not so sweet with them. it makes sense and might save money Then I considered other factors. Since I order from headroom, I save on shipping when ordering combined. If it is a direct retailer then it doesn't apply. Secondly I am really keen to make the PC/iOS/Android source to listen while lying on the bed reading. Hence all this considerations.
Edited by VTV - 9/10/13 at 3:34am
post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks cel4145

I did consider both HE-400 and HE-500 initially and both sounded attractive. But not able to listen and I thought I will go with more liked big brother. I was mainly going by those who have multiples or headphones or at least owned or listened to the ones I had in my initial shortlist. While all of the shortlisted ones are good phones, my desire for a planar and more than positive opinion from multiple can owners tilted the decision to HE-500
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mshenay..

You open up more food for thought and more reading to do smily_headphones1.gif I would need to read about the Mad Dogs as well. Expect me back with more questions as I haven't fully understood this balanced business smily_headphones1.gif

Can HE-500 be converted into balanced without much ado if I were to get the Audio-GD or other balanced DAC/AMP? I am justing thinking aloud...
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