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Need help/advice/recommendations for my new setup (headphones/amp/DAC).

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello people of Head-Fi.

 

I have been looking around on these forums for some time now, but haven't posted anything myself yet. I tried to provide as much information in this post as possible, so that i can really get some useful advice out of this. I hope the size of this post wont put anyone off, i would really appreciate some help.

 

 

 

 

Here is the situation:

A couple of months ago my previous headphone, a Grado SR60i broke down.

Since then i've been looking into a new (and better) headphone setup to use for long periods of time at my desk.

I will mostly use them to listen music, but occasionally to play some video games. 

I started off with absolutely no real understanding of how this stuff works, but i feel like i've gotten a decent amount of knowledge of what i'm going to need.

However, there is a lot i still do not understand. 

 

I'm looking to buy comfortable, full-size and open headphones(aswell as everything i need with it) with a budget of around 500 euros (680 dollars).

So far two specific headphones have gotten my interest, the Beyerdynamic DT880 (250ohm/600ohm) and the Sennheiser HD650.

Both of these seem to be very popular and solid headphones at their price range. 

From what i've found the DT880 is available for around 250 euros in my country (the netherlands), where as the HD650 goes for about 350 euros.

However, these are just the headphones i've looked into for a decent amount of time, other suggestions are welcome.

 

From wat i've read both of these headphones need, or atleast benefit from a good headphone amp. 

Since my main audio source will be my pc (FLAC/mp3), I would like to get a DAC too.

I don't know a whole lot about amps and DACs, but from what i've read on Head-Fi these two seem to be fairly good entry level solutions: the JDS Labs' O2+ODAC (220 euros) and the Schiit Magni+Modi Stack ( 180-200 euros). I've also looked at the bottlehead crack DIY tube amps, but they are too expensive for me right now (if i were to get either of the headphones listed above).

 

 

Here is what I'm not quite sure about:

Both headphones seem to have positives and negatives, so i guess i will list my thoughts on both cans seperately.

 

The DT880.

They have a nice and clean sound, a good soundstage (making them nice for gaming etc), great comfort and fantastic build quality (Which i can confirm having used my father's DT990s a couple of times). Overall they seem to be very nice headphones except for a few things. You cannot remove the chord from the headphones (although that seems minor, I'm really not a big fan of that since all my previous headphones had problems with chords, including the Grados) and Some people have said that they are not particularly exciting/enjoyable to listen to. Furthermore, they come in three version: 32ohm, 250ohm and 600ohm, I don't if i should go with the 250ohm version or the 600ohm version. I find independance kind of confusing, but i know that 250ohm+ stuff usually needs some kind of amplification, and that 600ohm headphones generally do much better with something like a tube amp. However, I feel like i would be wasting potential if i were to go with the 250ohm version. And with that I mean, if I eventually were to get a better (tube) amp, I will be stuck with a limited 250ohm version. And it seems that getting the 600ohm version with some mediocre amp like the schiit magni, would not do the listening experience any good either.

 

The HD650.

A lot of people seem to swear by these headphones. From what I have read they have amazing sound quality for their price, and you would have to spend an astronomical amount to get improvement over it. However the sound is also colored instead of neutral (I'm not sure if I like that) and personally i have never been very impressed by Sennheisers build quality, but i have never tried an HD650 either. They do have a removable Chord, but they cost a full 100 euros more than the DT880s.

 

The Amp/DAC.

Out of the two I've names previously I think i would prefer the Magni+Modi. This is because of two reasons. firstly, they're cheaper. Secondly, they're two seperate units. The latter might be considered a downside for some, but i'm not intending on moving around with this setup anyways.

The ability to just replace the magni with something like a Bottlehead amp if I ever want to is nice.

Two other solutions i've read about are the cheaper Fiio amp/dacs and the Maverick audio tubemagic.

Lastly I would like to consider the posibility of getting a Xonar Soundcard instead of a standalone DAC. Although my main priority is to get a setup that provides the best music listening experience, good surround sound support with something like the DT880 sounds pretty cool to me.

 

 

That's it. To anyone who has read through the whole post, thank you very much. I really hope to be able to make a decision based on the response to this post, and order my new setup ASAP so that I can stop using these damned  HD201 headphones :S

 

 

PS: if I forgot any important info or said something extremely stupid in my post, please tell me, I'm still a huge noob at all of this.

 

 

 

 

Edit: Maybe I should also add something about the music genres I tend to listen. I listen to a large variety of genres, Including Classical, Metal, Rock, occasionally some electrical etc. Metal/rock are definitely are definitely genres I listen too more frequently and I'm aware Grado does a very good job with those, but I want something that works well all around.


Edited by AMN7 - 10/19/13 at 2:42pm
post #2 of 8

Lower cost option

 

AKG K612 Pro headphones, 160 Euros

http://www.thomann.de/gb/akg_k_612_pro.htm?sid=4c7c3d4ee016334b5d6d5a352bf0ce66

Mixed reviews, but do you own research.

 

 

EPH-02 headphone amplifier, 99 GBP

http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/headphone-amplifiers/ehp-o2-portable-headphone-amplifier/

 

A used Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card. $?

(CS4398 DAC chip)

 

The Asus would be helpful for Headphone Surround Sound.

 

Or just get a (USB) DAC/Amp combo, the EPH-02D, 190 GBP

http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/dacs/ehp-o2d-miniature-desktop-headphone-amplifier-with-usb-dac/

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Lower cost option

 

AKG K612 Pro headphones, 160 Euros

http://www.thomann.de/gb/akg_k_612_pro.htm?sid=4c7c3d4ee016334b5d6d5a352bf0ce66

Mixed reviews, but do you own research.

 

 

EPH-02 headphone amplifier, 99 GBP

http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/headphone-amplifiers/ehp-o2-portable-headphone-amplifier/

 

A used Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card. $?

(CS4398 DAC chip)

 

The Asus would be helpful for Headphone Surround Sound.

 

Or just get a (USB) DAC/Amp combo, the EPH-02D, 190 GBP

http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/dacs/ehp-o2d-miniature-desktop-headphone-amplifier-with-usb-dac/

 

Thanks for the alternative options, but I'm already pretty decided on getting the HD650s or the DT880s (or atleast something from beyer/senn). AKG never really appealed to me. Would you mind explaining me what the DAC/Amp combo you linked has over the ones i listed in the OP? And what are the downsides of getting a sondcard instead of a standalone DAC (sound quality wise)?

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMN7 View Post
 

Thanks for the alternative options, but I'm already pretty decided on getting the HD650s or the DT880s (or at least something from Beyer/Senn). AKG never really appealed to me. Would you mind explaining me what the DAC/Amp combo you linked has over the ones I listed in the OP? And what are the downsides of getting a sound card instead of a standalone DAC (sound quality wise)?

The EHP-02D is the O2 with a built in DAC, I believe the same DAC chip that is in the ODAC.

 

Internal sound cards might pick up electrical noise that might be inside the computer case.

I would assume the ODAC has better audio quality, then the Xonar DX/D1.

But USB bypasses sound cards, so it might effect surround sound gaming.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:

But USB bypasses sound cards, so it might effect surround sound gaming.

 

So you can not have a soundcard in addition to an external DAC unit? Then are there External Dacs that provide those surround sound features you get with an internal Soundcard? thx

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMN7 View Post
 

 

So you can not have a sound card in addition to an external DAC unit? Then are there External Dacs that provide those surround sound features you get with an internal Sound card? thx


If you connect an external DAC using optical or coaxial, you can have access to the sound card's features.

It's the USB DACs (external) that bypasses whatever (internal) sound card your are using.

So when I plug my USB DAC into my computer's USB port, I lose all the features of my Essence STX sound card.

 

There are external sound card (come with a DAC and an audio processor), but usually an internal sound card offers the same (or better ) features for less cash.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 


If you connect an external DAC using optical or coaxial, you can have access to the sound card's features.

It's the USB DACs (external) that bypasses whatever (internal) sound card your are using.

So when I plug my USB DAC into my computer's USB port, I lose all the features of my Essence STX sound card.

 

There are external sound card (come with a DAC and an audio processor), but usually an internal sound card offers the same (or better ) features for less cash.

Ahh that makes sense now that I think about it, thank you.

 

I see that you also own the DT880/600/250, which are the headphones I'm leaning towards at this point. Anything you can say about them?

I'm mostly concerned with which version i should get.

 

I believe the 250ohm version would be better suited with a setup like the magni+modi stack or the DAC/amp you've linked, where as the 600ohm needs some kind of tube amp to really work well.

However, I'm a bit hesistant to just pick up the 250 ohm version because i feel like i would be wasting something if I ever were to upgrade my amp.

So would i do wrong with getting the DT880/600 with a solid state amp like the magni?

 

And do you maybe have some recommendations for cheaper tube amps which i could get instead? I saw some people talk about Little Dot Amps, and they seem reasonably priced.

 

Thanks :)


Edited by AMN7 - 10/20/13 at 3:50am
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMN7 View Post
 

I see that you also own the DT880/600/250, which are the headphones I'm leaning towards at this point. Anything you can say about them?

I'm mostly concerned with which version I should get.

I believe the 250-Ohm version would be better suited with a setup like the Magni+Modi stack or the DAC/amp you've linked, where as the 600-Ohm needs some kind of tube amp to really work well.

However, I'm a bit hesistant to just pick up the 250-Ohm version because I feel like I would be wasting something if I ever were to upgrade my amp.

So would I do wrong with getting the DT880/600 with a solid state amp like the Magni?

And do you maybe have some recommendations for cheaper tube amps which I could get instead? I saw some people talk about Little Dot Amps, and they seem reasonably priced.

Get the 250-Ohm version, unless you have both headphones at the same time to compare, your not going know the difference.

I was very lucky that a fellow head-fi lived with in driving distance, sold me his used DT880 Premium 600-Ohm headphones (I guess paying cash helped the price), for what to me was a very fair price.

(the foam inside the Velour ear pads had flattened out, so it was $35 for new ear pads).

The DT 880 250-Ohm and Magni/Modi combo should do the job.

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