I have a vintage Marantz 2225 that I really want to put into a decent sound system and need advice on picking headphones, speakers and DAC to complement it within a ~$500 budget. My most pertinent question for a headphone forum is: which headphones (preferably open, full-sized, circumaural in the $100 to $200 price range) would play well with a Marantz 2225 receiver? I'm considering the Sennheiser HD 558 for $130, but I have no idea if the impedance matching is right or whatever else it is I'm supposed to consider.
Details and Additional Questions:
I purchased a Marantz 2225 (a circa 1976 stereophonic receiver) and serviced it as a hobby (replaced capacitors and fuse lights and re-biased circuits). I enjoyed the project and the receiver seems to be working great, but I don't have the proper equipment around it yet for quality audio. I approached this project more as an electrical engineer and random fan of older audio and radio equipment, but now I want my Marantz to actually put out some nice sound!
I am not an expert on combining sound system components yet and have several questions on how to pick equipment that would complement the Marantz within a reasonable (~$500) budget. I'd greatly appreciate your advice on any or all of these three topics:
1) Headphones. Many headphones require or recommend an amplifier. I typically see this as a designated headphone amp as opposed to part of an integrated amp or receiver. The Marantz 2225 Receiver has a designated phones jack on the front, so can I safely treat my Marantz 2225 like a headphone amp? If I were to buy a pair of headphones like the Sennheiser HD 558 ($130), would it play nice with the Marantz 2225? This thread over at audiokarma (http://mail.audiokarma.net/forums/showthread.php?t=512826) suggests a vintage Marantz will work well as a headphone amp, but I'm still confused on the details of properly matching headphone and amplifier.
2) Speakers. I'd like to couple the Marantz 2225 with a pair of shelf speakers for regular use in my room, but I could potentially make space for floor-standing speakers. I've read good things about both the shelf speakers Audioengine P4 ($250) and the floor-standing Pioneer SP-FS52 (also $250 for the pair). I've currently hooked up the receiver to an extra pair of JBL Venue Series Arena speakers (a bulky pair of shelf speakers that sound okay and can certainly go loud, but I'm not a big fan of them overall). Would any of these make for a good match to the Marantz 2225? I've also tried the Marantz with a pair of floor-standing Sony SS-F6000 speakers, and that sounded much better to my ear than with the JBL Arena speakers, but those Sony speakers are tied up elsewhere in my house.
3) Audio Source. I occasionally play vinyl records with my Audio-Technica LP60 turntable or listen to the AM/FM radio on the Marantz receiver, but most of my music is digital (mostly 256 kbps mp3, some lossless) and comes from either my PC or mp3 player. I'm looking into getting an external DAC since my PC sound card is lousy. The DAC will typically stay attached between my PC and Marantz receiver, but I might want it to be versatile enough to work with an mp3 player or directly source a pair of headphones. Would the Fiio E17 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier ($140) combined with the FiiO L7 Line Out Dock ($10) be a good choice for this setup?
My listening habits: I listen to a very wide variety of music, most of which is in my 10,000+ mp3 files of mediocre bitrate. I listen to classic rock and folk music the most in this manner. When I take the time to really listen, however, the music that really gets to me and for which I really care about audio quality are mostly female vocals (e.g., Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Adele) and classical (e.g., Beethoven symphonies and some cello and piano sonatas). So if I start upgrading for audio quality, I'd rather keep those in mind as opposed to the rock music. I'm less finicky about the audio quality for my rock music... for the most part. I like my music to sound full and warm if that makes any sense, filling the room and seeming to wrap itself around me. Because of that, I'm also a huge fan of the "wall of sound" production technique as found in a number of Spiritualized and Beatles tracks.
Thanks for any help you can offer! I know that's a lot of questions for one post. Any advice you can give on any part would be much appreciated!