Hello! My name is Edward (obvious enough from my account name?!), and I've been lurking here for the past couple months on Head-Fi, but decided I might as well finally take the plunge and join, since I have a few questions related to headphones and music that I thought maybe you guys could help.
Quick background about me. I'm 26 and live in Washington, DC. I started listening to music through headphones around the time I went to college. I researched which headphones I should buy on the Internet for a little bit, and settled on the "entry-level audiophile" Grado SR-60 headphones (I don't believe I have the SR-60is, but the older SR-60s, although I could be wrong). I actually really liked these headphones, other than that they are uncomfortable after wearing them for over an hour, and I still have and use them.
In terms of a source, I didn't even own a cell phone until my senior year of college, so I never had an iPod and iPhone to listen to music till until after college. I am somewhat of a collectionist, in that I love owning physical CDs. I probably have upwards of 300 CDs, mostly rock and popular music (I tend to listen to music from the '60s and '70s), but also spanning other genres, such as instrumental soundtracks, hip-hop, jazz, classical, and some electronic music. So basically I like to listen to good music of ALL genres (and I actually mean that!). I listen to music on a portable CD player (I believe this is the model I have, although I'm not sure exactly what the model name is--it's Sony), which I connect to my Grado SR-60 headphones.
One of my main questions is: Is playing music off a portable CD player like that hurting the quality of the music I'm listening to? I know that the headphones tend to matter more than the source, but that the source is also very important (for instance, MP3-quality music will show its limitations when played through nice headphones or loudspeakers). I prefer music on CD rather than downloaded, for a variety of reasons, but especially for the fact that I own it in a physical sense. What kind of set-up should a beginner try to put together for a CD-listening experience? Would a headphone amp help? I know it probably wouldn't with the Grados, but I'm considering stepping up and getting the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s, which I've heard can benefit from amping (although not as much as other headphones, obviously, but one day I will probably step up from the M50s to something like Sennheiser HD600s or something of the like). Is there even a point to a DAC when I'm listening to CDs?
I'm not sure how much of a difference there is between CD players when it comes to sound quality. I like the idea of a portable CD player, especially because I live in a smallish apartment, so that I can listen to music wherever I want, but I'm also considering getting a non-portable one one day. Do they sound better on headphones than portable ones do? I don't see many articles or posts at all on here about CDs--everyone seems to be playing music digitally these days, even audiophiles, so I thought I'd ask.
In terms of other headphones I have, I have the Bose QuietComfort 15s (for travelling and isolation), Klipsch S4As for plugging into my Samsung Galaxy S4 when I commute (the headphones are some of the few with Android controls, as opposed to iOS ones), Sony XBA-S65s for working out, and Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphones for work (cheap, but not bad).
When it comes time to actually listen to a new album, I almost always use my Grados through the CD player, though. That's how I like to "experience an album" for the first time. I'd much rather listen to the CD than download it and listen off a computer (this way I'm not constrained as to where the computer is). I might also start using my Bose QC15s occasionally for this task, but the sound on the Grados is probably a little bit better, since it doesn't have the noise cancelling going on.
Anyways, this is my introduction. I'm very happy to join this site, and I'm sure I'll have a ton of questions in the future. One thing that confuses me about audio technology in general is that it's just that--technology. I don't get parts of the technical side. The idea of when to use a headphone amp versus when to not use one, the differences between headphone amps or CD players for instances--all that stuff can be a bit intimidating. For instance, is there a huge difference in sound technology between a home CD player and a portable CD player?
Anyways, thanks in advance!