I am thinking of spending 1k on audio equipment for use on my stationary computer and cellphone, what are the best i can get, also what do i need? I obviously need some headphones but do i need a dac, amp, or what? I'm totally new at this and really care about the sound of the music so would be nice if you guys was replying in a noob-friendly way! :)
- productAKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Linetagged by nightmancometh, 9/27/13
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1000$ budget, what to buy?post #1 of 319/12/13 at 10:44amThread Starter
Gear mentioned in this thread:post #2 of 319/12/13 at 12:42pmWelcome to the forum nissen1502. If your computer has a dedicated sound card you could plug your headphones directly into it. However if your card is low end or integrated sound then the quality may not be great. You could buy a DAC like a Fiio E17 and combine it with a headphone amplifier like the Fiio E9. Although these are relatively inexpensive. I like Sennheiser headphones HD600 for neutral sound or HD650 if you prefer a more colourful , smoother, bassy sound. Beyerdynamic's DT880 headphones are also very neutral. A cellphone unfortunately won't be able to drive these sorts of headphones, IEMs would be a better choice for a phone.post #3 of 319/12/13 at 1:43pm
It certainly depends on what type of music you like, if you have a preference for a certain sound signature, and do you want one headphone/amp/dac or a variety to listen to.
Knowing what I know so far, if someone handed me $1000 to spend I would get a Modi/Magni ($200), Q701 ($233), DT990 ($173), CALs ($79), HA-S400 ($26), GR-07 bass edition ($179), A161 ($69), MH1C ($40) for $999!
That said, the other approach would be the Modi/Magni ($200), a set of HE-500s ($699), and RE-400s ($99)
Either way it'd be fun to spend and then listen! :-)post #4 of 319/12/13 at 2:04pmThread Starterpost #5 of 319/12/13 at 3:15pmQuote:
But in all seriousness, we'd need to know what you'd like in a headphone. Do you want to to have a pair that would work for both home and portable use, or do you prefer to have a portable pair and a home pair? What genres of music do you listen to? What headphones do you currently have? What type of sound signature do you like? Can the headphones be open-back, or are closed-back headphones a requirement?post #6 of 319/12/13 at 3:35pm
The others have made some good points here. In particular, home use headphones tend to make poor portable headphones.
Then there's the matter of preferred sound signature, what you're going to be using it for (particular music genres, movies, gaming), so on and so forth, along with particular comfort factors (pad material, clamping force, earcup size, circumaural-versus-supraaural, etc.) that boil down to personal taste.
Sure, with a $1,000 budget, I could just tell you to buy a Stax setup (that could easily cover a Lambda-series set and a dedicated amp), but that doesn't mean I should without knowing more about your preferences and intended uses.post #7 of 319/12/13 at 3:52pmpost #8 of 319/12/13 at 4:20pmQuote:
Just a personal preference. Truth is many different brands / models provide high-quality sound with different 'signatures'.
I listen to different music genres on different 'high value, mid-fi' headphones/iems (i.e. Rock on Grados, Classical on RE-Zeros, Hip Hop on Atrios, mixed genre on TF10's or DT990s, etc.).
I'm even doing this with Amps now...having recently purchased two 'budget' amps (Bravo tube & Magni solid state) instead of one 'mid-fi' amp (Asgard 2). For me, these two amps provide more overall enjoyment than the one.
My next purchase will be either the Q701 or HD600; either is an excellent value and a 'gateway' headphone to end-game gear like the HD800. However, I don't see myself ever getting an end-game headphone unless they come way down in price.
I never get bored and it's like a new experience every time I switch to another set of headphones.post #9 of 319/12/13 at 4:28pm
The Magni doesn't really seem to push my LCD2's to a desireable level. I would shoot a little bit higher if you're going to get the HE500. Upgrading to a Lyr or something would probably make a world of difference.
Edited by Gnomeplay - 9/12/13 at 4:36pmpost #10 of 319/12/13 at 4:59pmQuote:
Nice to know and I'm sure good advice if he goes the higher-end route!
For me, when I get some Planar Magnetic headphones, I'll probably buy the HE-400 instead of the 500; so the M/M stack should pair well with them.post #11 of 319/12/13 at 5:13pmpost #12 of 319/12/13 at 5:25pmQuote:Originally Posted by GearMeQuote:
Nice to know and I'm sure good advice if he goes the higher-end route!
For me, when I get some Planar Magnetic headphones, I'll probably buy the HE-400 instead of the 500; so the M/M stack should pair well with them.
Planars are much more difficult to drive than dynamics. Regardless of the model, I don't think the M/M stack would drive planars that well.post #13 of 319/12/13 at 6:28pmQuote:
Seems to be the general consensus regarding drivability of most planars.
However, there are several comments on the M/M threads saying there's no problem driving the 400s (even a few that report no issues with the 500s). This makes sense given the efficiency of the 400s compared to the rest of the Hifiman planar line.
Per the Hifiman site (http://www.hifiman.com/Products/?pid=115)
"What makes HE-400 special is:
1) it is 92.5DB efficient so it can be driven by virtually anything including an iPod.
2) It has the familiar HiFiMAN sonic signature which means it is very detailed yet warm
3) It is only $399 MSRP. We price it at such a price because we finally figure out a way to mass produce hi-end sound quality planar driver headphones in a much easier way than before."
Besides, it's probably a year before I buy those...am planning on a Q701 or HD600 for my next 'major' purchase.
Edited by GearMe - 9/12/13 at 6:38pmpost #14 of 319/12/13 at 9:08pm
As I've found out recently, the amount you spend does not always equate to the level of sound quality. When I first started out a couple months ago, I wanted the "best" for a certain price range. I ended up getting the Sennheiser HD700 ($1000) and then later a Woo Audio WA7 amp/DAC combo (also $1000). For $2000 the sound was good for sure, and it sits at home as my home setup. I just recently finished my work setup at about half the price of $1000, and it's a good 30-40% better than my home setup at half the price.
My work setup is Firestone Audio Spitfire HD DAC -> Bottlehead Crack amp -> Beyerdynamic T90 headphones. Also have the Speedball upgrade for the Crack, haven't installed yet.
A couple words of advice:
Wait for a sale for everything!
When I started out, I bought the HD598 for full price of $250. Then I bought the HD700 at $1000. Now I see the HD700 on sale for as low as $750 quite frequently. The Beyerdynamic T90 is normally $650, but I bought it on sale at $500. The Bottlehead Crack is $280 but I bought it during a promotion where they were giving away the Speedball upgrade ($120 value) for free. The Spitfire DAC is normally $300, but I bought it for $200. It's a decent DAC, but I got it for having both USB and optical. Plenty of decent DACs even cheaper if you only need USB. Schiit Modi at $100, ODAC at $150. So for under $1000, I bought a $1350 setup.
DIY if you can
I heard great things about the Bottlehead Crack early on, but was hesitant to get own hands dirty into soldering. I finally pulled the trigger when they had a weekend sale that included the Speedball upgrade for free. The guide that came with the kit was really easy to follow. I've had a little experience on soldering in the past, but really anyone can do it with the guide. I got it all working on the first try too. And for about a quarter of the price of the WA7, I can say it is definitely on par, if not better sonically. It really makes you realize how much markup is added for labor, professional construction, and aesthetic exterior design on products. Note that the Crack only works well with higher impedance headphones (>120 ohm).
Right pairings can really shine
Amps and headphones are really one of those things where the phrase "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" can really apply. When I first got the T90 headphones, I haven't built the Crack yet. I compared it to the HD700 and I thought the HD700 was better. But when I paired the T90 with the Crack, it was out of this world. I also tried the HD700 with the Crack, but to my surprise, it didn't really get an improvement. In fact, I like the sound of the HD700 from the WA7 more. Both are above 120 ohms impedance: T90 at 250 ohms and HD700 at 150 ohms, so they both work within the Crack's specifications. Still the combination of Crack and T90 is way better than Crack and HD700 to me, and even better than WA7 and HD700. And this is without the Speedball installed. You can read more about my experience with this pairing here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/607079/beyerdynamic-t90-d/930#post_9780801post #15 of 319/12/13 at 9:50pm
So what kind of music do you like? Need to know that before recommending you anything lest we recommend a headphone weak with the genres. Similarly portable headphones don't usually make the best home use ones. Best to get a DAC/Amp and headphone and maybe an inexpensive but good IEM for portable usage.
Example set ups
Magni + Modi + HD600 (relaxed and good all rounder - rock, blues, indie, folk, acoustic etc)
Audio GD 15.32 + HE-400 (great deep bass and fast sound electronic, rock, metal, hip hop etc)
O2/ODAC + Q701/K70#/DT880 (Detail lovers paradise classical, ambient etc)
Add an IEM to that and you could then have both a home and portable set up.
- 1000$ budget, what to buy?
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