Hi all, this is my first post and introduction to the community. I apologize for asking any previously answered questions—I will try to be as specific to my situation as possible.
Some background info:
I am a full-time student in dental school at UIC-Chicago. I commute daily so I listen to a lot of music. My first experience with quality gear was borrowing my fiancé’s Shure IEMs. I was instantly hooked (compared to my stock phone earbuds) and began my quest to find pure audio-bliss.
What I listen to:
I listen to mostly electronic/house music (two of my favorites are Underworld and anything mixed by John Digweed). I also listen to a fair amount of alternative rock (Tool, NIN). I don’t limit myself to a single genre--I appreciate classical music as well.
I am also an avid PC/console gamer.
My current equipment/setup:
For my daily commute I use Shure SE215’s with a Sansa Clip+ loaded with FLAC files. I am very happy with the sound quality and isolation. The file size is becoming an issue, so I am debating if I should convert them to 320kbit. I use dbPoweramp. Would I notice a significant change in quality?
At home I have a Pioneer VSX-820 receiver/amp with an Energy 5.1 system (bookshelf speakers and a stand-alone woofer). This is hooked up to my PC via HDMI from my video card. I do not have a dedicated sound card, but my understanding is that with the higher-end video cards connected with HDMI, a stand-alone sound card is not necessary.
I also have another PC that I use frequently for gaming and music. I would like to use my new headphones with this PC. I have a decent graphics card with HDMI output, but no DAC or amp.
1. I am looking for my first pair of quality headphones. They should be comfortable for longer sessions and I would prefer larger over-ear (aesthetics/looks not a concern for me). My budget is under $200. I am fine with used if they are in excellent condition. I am leaning towards the ATH-M50s as I have heard they are good for electronic music.
2. The PC that I use frequently for gaming and listening to music does not have a dedicated sound card, but does have a decent graphics card. Should I be using a DAC and amp with this setup? If so, can you recommend a good entry-level setup?
3. Are there any other resources (other than Head-Fi) that you would recommend for me to educate myself about basic audio/acoustic principles? I would like to be able to look at the specifications of audio equipment and objectively evaluate their properties and sound qualities.
4. How many sets of headphones do you own? I am curious if it is more typical to have one or two good pairs or do you find it beneficial to hold on to many sets?
Thank you in advance for any advice/suggestions!