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$1000 Challenge - List your best amp/headphone pairing that can be had for $1000 or less

post #1 of 112
Thread Starter 

I'm all about getting the best bang for the buck. I get really excited when I discover a new pairing that really is greater than the sum of the parts. I think a lot of the fun in this hobby goes towards discovering different combinations of amps and headphones. So list what you've discovered so far, and found to really stand out!

 

Rules:

- Must be $1000 total or less (a reasonable price range for most)

- You can include DAC as well, though I find amp/headphone pairing to be more deterministic when it comes to distinct sounds.

- You can use sale or used prices, but make sure you mention what you paid for it, the condition if used, and the normal price.

- I'll be using the notation ($paid price/$normal price) when I bought something on sale, others can follow suit as well.

 

 

For me, this topic is especially personal for me. When I started this hobby, I naively dived into some higher end gear without knowing much. I purchased the Sennheiser HD700 and Woo Audio WA7 for $1000 each. While it wasn't a bad setup, I have since found combinations for half the price, and much better in sound quality.

 

One of my first value combos under $1000 was the Beyerdynamic T90 ($500/$650) + Bottlehead Crack ($300 shipped). This combo in my opinion was on par with the HD700 + WA7 for less than half the price.

 

Currently my Hifiman HE-500 ($550/$700) + Emotiva MiniX a-100 speaker amp ($170/$220) + Bottlehead Quickie preamp ($100) is really something else and goes way beyond headphones in the $500-$1000 range. I've listened to the HD800 through the Crack extensively for a week, and I honestly prefer my HE-500 setup. It was really this setup that inspired me to start this thread. It's truly something special in my mind. But I'm sure everyone has something they've discovered they believe to be completely out of it's price league, so that's why this thread is here for all to share it with the world!

post #2 of 112

Sennheiser HD 650

Bottlehead Crack 

ODAC

post #3 of 112

Signature Pro

Sony DAP < $50

post #4 of 112

Grado RS1i

MAD EAR +HD

 

Under $1000 as I bought both used  :p

post #5 of 112

Senn HD600/650 - Bottlehead Crack - DACport LX/HRT MS2+

post #6 of 112

I'll follow the trend.

 

HD650 --> 300 used

NFB 11.32 --> 250 used

BH Crack with speedball --> 290 for kit with BH sale

RCA cables + solder/tools  --> 50

post #7 of 112

--Removed --


Edited by TenMoonsNorth - 12/11/13 at 4:18am
post #8 of 112

For classical, of the readily available components: Marantz CD5004 > Objective O2 > K702 / DT880 / HD600. New: $775-925.

post #9 of 112

I'd wager the best sub-$1k setup would be a used HE-6 on a T-amp, or a speaker amp you already have. The BH Crack + Speedball with HD-6xx is another good one. "The Wire" BAL-BAL amp with a 50-300 ohm headphone could be very good too. $150 for an incredibly good measuring and balanced amp makes it a super value. The only caveat is that it's DIY only.


Edited by brunk - 12/10/13 at 10:01am
post #10 of 112
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

I'd wager the best sub-$1k setup would be a used HE-6 on a T-amp, or a speaker amp you already have. The BH Crack + Speedball with HD-6xx is another good one. "The Wire" BAL-BAL amp with a 50-300 ohm headphone could be very good too. $150 for an incredibly good measuring and balanced amp makes it a super value. The only caveat is that it's DIY only.

I'm tempted to try out the HE-6 with my Emotiva + Quickie setup, but not sure if the difference would justify the $600 going from HE-500. Hopefully I can get my hands on a pair at a meet. I've heard the HE-6 to scale even better and I'm not sure my setup does it justice even though I'm sure it's pushing the HE-500 well beyond its standard tier. If I got the HD800 today, it would be a waste of money driving it with only the Crack. I don't have the gear to do it justice and that's what I'm thinking also about the HE-6. When both your headphones and amp are getting pushed well beyond what is expected, that's when you got a special pairing imo.
post #11 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post



I'm tempted to try out the HE-6 with my Emotiva + Quickie setup, but not sure if the difference would justify the $600 going from HE-500. Hopefully I can get my hands on a pair at a meet. I've heard the HE-6 to scale even better and I'm not sure my setup does it justice even though I'm sure it's pushing the HE-500 well beyond its standard tier. If I got the HD800 today, it would be a waste of money driving it with only the Crack. I don't have the gear to do it justice and that's what I'm thinking also about the HE-6. When both your headphones and amp are getting pushed well beyond what is expected, that's when you got a special pairing imo.

 



Now you see why I have both HD-800 and HE-6. Great challenges that really make you step up your game smily_headphones1.gif
One thing is for sure though. The DA8 and First Watt F5 are here to stay for a very long time. I'm currently in the process of building "The Wire" BAL-BAL, just waiting for boards to arrive any day now. My BH Crack + SB will have a challenger for the HD-800. Who knows, I might keep both amps lol.
Edited by brunk - 12/10/13 at 12:44pm
post #12 of 112
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post



I'm tempted to try out the HE-6 with my Emotiva + Quickie setup, but not sure if the difference would justify the $600 going from HE-500. Hopefully I can get my hands on a pair at a meet. I've heard the HE-6 to scale even better and I'm not sure my setup does it justice even though I'm sure it's pushing the HE-500 well beyond its standard tier. If I got the HD800 today, it would be a waste of money driving it with only the Crack. I don't have the gear to do it justice and that's what I'm thinking also about the HE-6. When both your headphones and amp are getting pushed well beyond what is expected, that's when you got a special pairing imo.

 



Now you see why I have both HD-800 and HE-6. Great challenges that really make you step up your game smily_headphones1.gif
One thing is for sure though. The DA8 and First Watt F5 are here to stay for a very long time. I'm currently in the process of building "The Wire" BAL-BAL, just waiting for boards to arrive any day now. My BH Crack + SB will have a challenger for the HD-800. Who knows, I might keep both amps lol.

Conversely, this is the reason I cannot justify upgrading from what I currently have, other than a better DAC. I'm at a local maximum, and getting a better headphone wouldn't give better sound, at least not right away. I would have to spend more on the amp and do some exploration with various amps to find a great match, and that's much more expensive than the headphone itself. I know that's a certainty with the HD800. Not sure about the HE-6 since it's in the same family as the HE-500 and with the same setup I have it may sound better right of the bat.
post #13 of 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post


Conversely, this is the reason I cannot justify upgrading from what I currently have, other than a better DAC. I'm at a local maximum, and getting a better headphone wouldn't give better sound, at least not right away. I would have to spend more on the amp and do some exploration with various amps to find a great match, and that's much more expensive than the headphone itself. I know that's a certainty with the HD800. Not sure about the HE-6 since it's in the same family as the HE-500 and with the same setup I have it may sound better right of the bat.

I suspect that the HE-6 would sound pretty decent off your setup. However, assuming your handy, I would look into bypassing the pot on the EMO unit since you have a Quickie. I wouldn't be surprised if you lift a veil :)

post #14 of 112

Vali/Modi and a Paradox. 

post #15 of 112

Has anyone mentioned the Crack + Speedball +HD6X0's?   :D 

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