I am fairly new to Head-Fi and am a newbie to the audiophile world. Need some insight from the more experienced folks. I've had my eye on the Sennheiser HD650s for quite some time now and finally pulled the trigger on a pair which arrive tomorrow. Need some help in pairing up my musical needs with a desktop amp and DAC, as well as with my budget. First my source info and listening requirements...
Source: Samsung Laptop, playback via Foobar (FLAC), VLC (FLAC) and iTunes (The majority here are 320kbps MP3 CBR files, LAME codec rips) - USB output.
Music Genres: Widely varied - Classic Rock, Indie Rock, Punk, Electronic, Dance, Ambient, Classical, Folk, Live concerts, some Jazz, Blues, Vocal.
Side note: I enjoy a good deep bass as well as a good soundstage and clarity. I like a little bit of everything, hence the HD650s.
Upgradeability: I would like to avoid "upgrade-itis" and get the best Amp/DAC setup I can that I will be happy with for years to come, as well as be able to possibly enjoy an ortho setup, such as the HiFi-MAN HE-500s, in the future.
Desktop Setup only (portability not needed), but desktop space is an issue in the short-term.
My budget is about $1000, but I would be willing to stretch that a little, say to $1300, if the justification was there. After spending the last 5 months on this forum, I've gathered the following as some of my options. I think I am sold on the tube amp route for sure, but I don't see myself rolling tubes often.
1.) Schiit stacks...too many to mention. Quite lost at the moment. Was initialy thinking Uber Bifrost/Asgard2 ($519/$249) would make a good SS starting point and would be a "safe bet", but I think I want tubes, so the Valhalla ($349) and Lyr ($449) are in the picture now.
2.) Woo Audio - WA7 Fireflies ($999) - All in one solution, small form-factor, within my budget.
3.) Woo Audio - Getting crazier here now....WA6-SE ($1190) - Great reviews, but expensive and quite large. Not sure I can fit these on the small desk I am using now. Sophia Princess tubes?
4.) ALO Audio PanAm ($499) paired with the Uber Bifrost ($519)
5.) Some Burson SS amp unit, such as the Soloist SL ($649) paired with the Uber Bifrost ($519)
We all know it is about personal listening preference and getting a "return-on-investment" which makes sense to our ears and our wallets, but I value the opinions of more experienced HD650 owners/former-owners who have similar listening decision points as I. What I am looking forward to is an outstanding listening experience at home for a newcomer to this "hobby/way of life". I want to be "WOWED" by my home setup...mind you I am coming from a cheap $50 gaming headset and Klipsch S4 image-II IEMs. Anything will be an upgrade for me at this point. My next set of questions will be around going to a balanced setup, getting decent USB and interconnect cables, etc.
Thank you all for your time. Looking forward to the input. Also, I may make it out to the NYC area meet on 11/9 and try some equipment then, but I would like to have something before then.
Edited by M76NYC - 10/15/13 at 7:51pm