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Help me buy happiness

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I might sound mentally challenged saying this, but what I want is a set of cans so good that I either feel like crying or feel like I'm stoned using them. I want aurally induced euphoria. Coincidentally, an Amazon reviewer of the HD 800's compared their user experience to a combination of the 70's, kush, and Pink Floyd. So this is the set I'm eyeing out for now. But I'm open to suggestions!


Currently I use a set of AKG 550's plugged directly into my laptop, for which treason I am confident I someday will burn in hell. But where do I go from here? I wish to continue using my laptop and my WMAL collection of music.


Can I just buy a set of HD 800's off Amazon and plug them into my laptop as a start? The cans are expensive as ***, so I don't think I can afford a proper amp right now unless I can get one for only a few hundred dollars.


My questions are thus as follows:


- Are the HD 800's even a good choice? What other headphones should I consider?

- What are some good amps that I can use as a DAC through USB?

- 24/192 - do I need it?

post #2 of 6

I think K 550 does not need amp to drive them. Are you only considering HD 800? have you seen this thread,

If you are considering other headphones, you can look HE 600. With the budget of HD 800, you can buy HE 600 and also a dac/amp to drive HE 600

Edited by rubinstein - 11/16/13 at 7:12pm
post #3 of 6

The HD 800's are great audiophile class cans.  See:


However, you won't get your money out of them unless you have audiophile (or at least nearly so) equipment (starting with your music files/sources) feeding them all along the chain.  Exactly what that can/will look like depends on what you feed them.  For me it's SACD's, CD's vinyl, blu-ray & DVD.  That set up is different from someone playing music files from a computer.  In my case it's a ususally a Sony or Oppo player plugged into a Burson, Audio-gd or Schiit headphone amp.  The amp in turn often feeds the HD 800, LCD-2 or HE 6.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses!


So my first question is, is WMA Lossless ripped from CD's good enough? I'm afraid that most of my music isn't available in better quality than 16-bit. I listen to a lot of popular music such as Green Day and Muse, and even pop (Katy Perry etc).


Currently, the HD 800 is the only headphone I've found that doesn't have some immediate drawback, other than being meticulate about which amp it needs. The only thing that worries me is that I listen to pop music a lot, and I am aware of how badly much of it is produced. But on the other side of the fence, I'm a sucker for soundstage, treble and mids.


So I'm wondering, could I, for a short period of time, use the HD 800 directly from my PC? And then, could I buy, say, the HDV600 amp and be good to go? Or do I need anything else between my PC and headphones?

post #5 of 6

I'll make my best ;)


Well, it is not recommended to plug high impedance headphones directly to a normal Laptop, and it is not recommended to pair a high end ultra detailed headphone with a cheap on-board DAC/AMP combo. This will result in a noticeable loss of sound quality. In this case is better to choose cheaper headphones and getting a separate DAC and Amp.


To answer your question about WMA Lossless I think this is something important you need to know:


Then you don't need to care much about how your music is digitally stored in your laptop, just be sure of having good transcodes. I think good Mp3 (320Kbps) is a great place to start; improvements over this format are not easy to perceive and if that is possible, then you won't find a huge sound quality improvement.


That said, the recording quality (which depends on how music is produced) is a really important link in the sound quality chain (as important as the headphones itself)
You can read about "The Loudness War" and here you have a great Dynamic Range Database where you can sort albums by artist:

I've found all this information really useful in my way of getting that WOW factor that you are looking for.

Sometimes it is quite hard to accept that the music you used to listen is not properly produced, and you can't get enough transparency, separation or high quality timbres out of that recordings, no matter how good your setup is.


Another important thing to decide is what sound signature fits you better, bright headphones pair well with high quality recordings but not with most modern, over bright (and/or) highly compressed recordings. That is probably the main reason why there are so many people complaining about sibilance on DT880, DT990, K701, HD800, T1, etc.


It is a common error to think that more expensive and technically superior headphones will simply sound better. Pairing a detail monster with wrong recordings make you feel you have spent a lot of money for an awful sounding experience. It is really important to choose the correct sound signature for your recordings and tastes.
Another thing you should try once you have headphones with big soundstage is high quality binaural recordings.


Best Luck!

Edited by Me x3 - 11/17/13 at 9:33am
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Wow. Okay. This seems to not be as clear cut as I'd hoped. I kinda already knew there are cans better fit for loudly produced music. But the thing is, pop isn't the only thing I listen to (like 40%). Creedence Clearwater comes to mind, as does Steve Jablonsky.


To make things worse, I see myself getting into amateur music production as well, and the headphone rig I purchase would be my studio monitors (because of noise). This is more or less why I landed on the HD 800. I'm afraid a headphone better fit for pop would be worse for soundstage/other genres. I hope they won't be too awful for bright, poppy stuff (I have a pair of SRH 940's which are pretty bright, and they work well with pop IMO). My ultimate question is, is it safe to buy a HDVD 800 and the HD 800's, or do I need something else inbetween my PC and headphones? Is there another headphone that can compare sonically to the HD 800, but be better at poppy, bright music? Maybe the LCD-3?

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