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Best sound impact for $400? Better headphones +amp or lesser headphones +DAC and amp?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I originally posted this on the full size amp forum by mistake. My bad.

 

I have $400 to spend to improve on my current setup - DB500s + FiiO6. I have been considering the AT A900X paired with the Magni/Modi stack.  OR - would it be better to spend the extra $100 on better headphones and skip the DAC. I will be playing these from my Acer laptop and listening primarily to Pandora - trance, electronic, pop/rock, indie, dance. Portability is not an issue. I will be making this purchase on Wednesday but am still researching and would really appreciate some expert advice. What would you do with $400 to create the best possible sound with my setup?  Thanks for your help.

post #2 of 9
I firmly believe that the sound generators (headphone/speakers) have significantly more effect on the sound than any other component - *if* the other components are adequate for their job. Sure, if the amp is complete crap and introducing huge amounts of noise or hiss, then replacing the amp will make a huge difference. But if both are driven by a quality amp, then switching from a good Sennheiser (or whatever) to a good AKG (or whatever) will change the sound much more than changing to a different quality amp. Changing the headphones gives you the opportunity to completely change the sound signature - from bassy to piercing, or congested to spacious, etc, etc.

If I had $400, I would buy Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs + a Magni amp. But that's me. I don't listen to trance and the other stuff you do.

Just my 1.5 cents...
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that input. I knew that headphones made a big difference but I am new to amps and DACs so wasn't sure what their impact was on the total sound image. Very helpful info to me for sure. Do the Mad Dogs have decent bass?  I'm not a complete basshead and have felt that the DB500s have been a bit much in the bass dept. - maybe even a little muddy which is why I decided to improve my setup significantly. Thanks for your help.

post #4 of 9
The Mad Dogs are neutral, with good extension - if there is bass in the music, they do a nice job reproducing it - it is not a one-note boom-boom. They are closed, orthodynamic 'phones - good for isolation, smooth mids and discerning subtleties in the sound, not as good for soundstage and thumping bass as open 'phones.

I'm not recommending the Mad Dogs for you - I honestly have no idea how they would work for your music. You could try asking in one of the Mad Dog threads.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the explanation. I have been reading through the Mad Dog thread and think these would be perfect for me so I do appreciate the suggestion. I also really like the idea of being able to upgrade them to something better down the road. I do mostly use the headphones for the music I mentioned but I also listen to jazz, classical, piano and new age but mostly pumped through external speakers. If I have excellent headphones then I would love to listen to those genres through them - I bet it would be a cool experience. Thanks again for your input.

post #6 of 9
Don't try to use an amp without a DAC. Plugging your headphone jack into the amp does nothing to bypass the cheap circuitry in the stock headphone jack. Amp and DAC must be used together.

EDIT: you might also want to look at the ZMF version of the T50rp. It's very similar to the mad dogs, but a little cheaper I think and some people like it more.
Edited by manbear - 11/17/13 at 11:27am
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that suggestion - I will check that out now. I will only be without the DAC for a few weeks - until Xmas.  Wouldn't the MDs with the Magni sound better than my current Sony DB500s and FiiO E6?

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by squeakez View Post
 

Wouldn't the MDs with the Magni sound better than my current Sony DB500s and FiiO E6?


Most certainly. 

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
@manbear - I just wanted to thank you for making the recommendation for the ZMFs. I ordered a pair of the V1s along with the Vali and Modi and the SQ is fantastic! I couldn't be happier. Thanks for taking the time to reply. You definitely helped to improve the quality of my life...well my wallet helped a little too smily_headphones1.gif.
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