Fairly raw newbie here... first post, first real foray in to the hifi headphone world. Be gentle! (Or not. I suppose it's all up to you.)
To set the stage for the questions that come next: for better or worse I am an iOS user and am generally pretty happy with iTunes. I have a fairly sizable library built up, which started growing exponentially when I began replacing mp3 encodes with FLAC-converted-to-ALAC lossless encodes.
Acknowledging the limitations of iOS playback ( http://cypherlabs.com/blog/post/bit-rate-frequency ) as well as the fact that 16/44.1 or 16/48 don't really represent "limitations" as far as the human ear is concerned ( http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html ), I think I'm ok sticking with my iPhone as my primary playback source. I currently have a 4s and will likely move to a 5s in the next couple months.
Given this starting state, I've been focusing on DAC/Amp units that allow direct digital extraction from the iPhone.
One last bit of background information: while I've not yet truly ventured in to the hifi world, I'd rather skip the tentative "baby steps" and jump straight to a point where I can be happy for a good long while to come.
So, my proposed combo is:
CEntrance HiFi-M8 XL4
Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 (with Neutrik single 4-pin male XLR)
This combination is actually over what my budget ought to be, but even a newbie like me is familiar with the "sorry about your wallet" tagline associated with this place. :-)
At any rate, on to the actual questions:
1) I guess the main thing I'm looking for is general feedback about the selections - am I on a good track? Given a hard budget limit of $2000 (it should really be more like $1000, but *eh*), is this combination getting close to the best a person can do? (Or, phrased another way, is there a reason I shouldn't go with this combo?)
2) Can anyone speak to the build quality / warranty / expected life of this equipment? Can I reasonably expect to get 10 years out of them?
3) While I kinda like the idea of a portable DAC/Amp, the reality is it likely won't leave my desk very often. Are there desktop DAC/Amps with digital audio extraction from iOS that are competitive/better in terms of price/quality to the HiFi-M8? (I do a lot of my listening at work, where I'm not supposed to store music files, so even if it's a desktop DAC/Amp I'll still be using the iPhone for playback.)
4) With regards to listening using an iPhone... has anyone been able to establish a "minimum safe distance" between the iPhone and a DAC/Amp to prevent cellular/wifi interference (assuming that's an issue)?
Thanks in advance for any feedback you can offer, and feel free to answer any of these questions with a link to another place where the question has already been covered in detail.
P.S. The posting guidelines suggest mentioning something about the sort of music you listen to. I struggle with proper genre labels, but for whatever it's worth my listening tends to focus on the hard rock / industrial / electronic spectrum. If I had to pick a favorite all-time artist it would probably have to be Nine Inch Nails (which, when you include all the Halos, cover that entire range of music).
My just-right-now favorite would probably be Celldweller, who has a couple tracks that blend electronic and orchestral material that I really like (such as "Elara"; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p5paopfZ6E ). Saltillo has some good tracks in this vein also (e.g., "A Necessary End"; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEvby-c1WnI [I could do without the voice-overs, but love the rest]).
I just remembered: when it comes to describing musical tastes, Pandora (which I only very infrequently use) can do a decent job if you ask it "Why was this track selected?" a couple times and combine the responses: "Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features hard rock/electronica roots, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, varying tempo and time signatures, extensive vamping and intricate melodic phrasing."
Edited by nhelder - 9/19/13 at 9:35am