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Introduction Only, Due to Empty Wallet so any Recommendations Would Be in Vain. However, I'm Loving this New Sound!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've already apologized to my wallet many many times personally but I wanted to write a short letter of apology to see if it will ever bless me with that "full of life" (or just full) look again.

 

I told Wally this time would be different. I wouldn't fall into the same path of fixation, research, purchases, upgrades, lateral moves, disappointments, more purchases, demanding the best, more research, selling off previous purchases and losing my a%s. I wouldn't have packages delivered to my work, carefully sneaking boxes in to the house to keep for future sales (see previous statement about misplacing my hind-quarters). I would be responsible and just choose to get better than average stuff and be content with my choices. I wouldn't compare my purchases with other forum members to justify by amount of spending because "Look at that crazy SOB! At least I didn't even come close to a $45,000 DAC, or having numerous $1500 plus headphones. Heck I don't even have one pair that nice."

 

But alas, I've lied to my wallet again. I was already pretty much broke or it would have been much, much, worse than it has been.

 

I am completely sorry Wally. You have my deepest apology for I have betrayed our trust yet again. I will reread Rich Dad Poor Dad, cut up the cards, delete the PayPal account, stay off the forums, and relinquish my self to my room. (With some Awesome Headphones On!). I think I just lied again! At least about the forums and the PayPal account. 

 

Hello my name is Matt and I have a headphone problem. 

 

No seriously, I just started to get into headphones recently even though I have been an avid lover of sound and music for my entire life. I'm 34 now and it all started with my Father. No deep Motherly issues here (at least about tech and sound anyway). My dad playing music on his Marantz 2270 to his huge box speakers. Then the Denon receivers started rolling in with upgrades to of coarse the TV and speakers. On to me helping him pick out his new home theater equipment consisting of B&W speakers and yet again a new Denon receiver to play with, admire, set up, and enjoy.

 

I was going through my own audio journey that started in my car. I had been working since I turned 15, with absolutely no bills and a great deal on a first car. My Dad's previous company car. Sold to us for $3,000 and my parents matched my $1500 so I purchased it well before I even had a license. A 1992 Oldsmobile 88. I had some extra money laying around so of coarse it was time to put one of those bumping audio systems in it. 2 15" subwoofers, 2 8" free air woofers, 2 5 1/4" door speakers, 4 tweeters (2 mounted in the pillars), a couple powerful amps, capacitors, better battery and alternator, cd deck, and eq later and it was official! I was one of the morons that had a system worth 3 times more than my car was worth. 

 

Moved out and got my first place at 18. Needed a nice system for the house because, well...... you all know why or else you wouldn't be here. Got some JBL horn based speakers, a cheaper 5.1 receiver by pioneer, and a decent TV. I would go visit my parents house and I would wonder why my Dad's system sounded so much better. How did he know all of the ins and outs on that complex receiver. Why were his speakers placed like that? The internet was widely available and I discovered it for what seemed like the first time. I researched for years and slowly upgraded every component of my home theater to it's current state that I am very, very happy with.

 

Oh...got married, had a couple of kids, moved a few times, but all of that is not important here. We were speaking of audio right?

 

When I was a young man I had a discman and some headphones and that made me a very happy boy. I could listen to that thing for days and I did. Then with all of the car nonsense followed by the home theatre passion the isolating, tender, personal, excellent sound from the headphones died with that discman when my basement flooded. 

 

Ok Ok moving to headphones now. But at least I've been talking about audio right?

 

6 months ago I found some BOSE (Do I capitalize all of those letters for bose? Doesn't seem right to me. Well at least their marketing deserves capital letters). BOSE headphones. Well they were my Dad's, long forgotten about for years. Wait BOSE makes junk. I've learned that through the years based on countless auditions, friends "New HI-FI" systems, and redoing some of my customer's systems, relinquishing them from the audio depression known as BOSE (I contracted cable and satellite and also did a few home theater installs for those customers throughout the years).

 

These didn't sound that bad though! Maybe BOSE aren't as bad as I thought. Or maybe......just maybe the sound I've been looking for, all of these years, exist in these magical devices called headphones. I was at the school bookstore (I'm going back to school at my tendor age), and I saw some Skullcandy Navigators on sale. I had some extra student loan money so why not pay $1,000 for some headphones after accrued intrest. Really it is just a drop in the bucket afterall. So I brought them home and they were a little better than the BOSE so I was happy for a couple of months. Then I did some research.

 

I found out most people's opinion on the Navigators were that they sound pretty good but are definitely not a super value leader, or considered even Mid-Fi. So I researched for what seemed like an eternity, convinced I was going to get a great sounding headphone for less than $100. Well I found some that I really liked and my research payed off in a big way! I made an offer on eBay for a pair of Denon DN-HP700s that were soon shipped out to me. 

 

These Denons are in an overused, abused, misused (but not here) word, AWESOME! They sound great, full, rich, with some really stellar mids, great detail, and a superb presentation. I didn't know headphones yet but I did know audio and what I liked. These were it.

 

I kept reading various threads about other cans and the need for amps and DACs. Amps this DACs that. Ohms, impedance, mVs, and the like were not completely foreign to me dealing with audio but this seemed like a much bigger deal with headphones than with home audio. In home audio you either have a low ohm or high ohm speaker that is either efficient or not. You either need power or you don't need a lot. Simple as that. This seemed like a whole lot of voodoo based on my experience with audio in the past. A/Bing speaker cables, HDMI cables, higher wattage receivers, etc, with little to absolutely no gain. Little did I know that my Denons were really the exception here and they do sound terrific out of all of my media devices. They don't need a lot of power and they don't benefit GREATLY with more power. Plus they pair up nicely with my home audio receiver's headphone jacks which really through me for a loop later on.

 

So I loved the sound I was receiving but I didn't and don't like the sweaty ears, and discomfort of these small ear pads on the Denons. They are good for less than a 2 hour listening session, but much longer than that and your ears are sweaty and they hurt from pad discomfort. They have been sent to their room.....errr...... my room while I listen to music or watch movies usually long after my wife goes to bed. They are closed back, sound great with all sources, and I don't listen to them for longer than two hours so they work perfectly for this function.

 

So......I needed a solution for longer listening sessions at the computer. The search continued. On an extremely tight budget now, (I get a small commissions check at the end of the month for my job that relocated to "fun" money) enter the Superlux HD681 Evo after some favorable reviews. Saw them on Amazon for $37 with my prime membership and I thought to myself that this was the perfect opportunity so I jumped on them.

 

Two days later they arrived. I wasn't as excited to listen to them as the Denons and it was because they were so inexpensive. They sound very, very good. Not quite as nice as the Denons and they do sound quite different in an okay way. More open for sure, but the mids of the Denons aren't there. The bass isn't as tight but is more abundant, and the detailed highs were pretty close but just short of the Denons. However, for $37 they sound phenomenal! I mean really? $37 and it blows the Navigators and the BOSE away. That is pretty good stuff right there. They are more comfortable for longer listening sessions and I actually prefer them for when listening to acoustic music due to the increase (ever so slight but still present) in sound stage. I get what the hype was about! 

 

But.............the Denons were back on my head most of the time and my ears mocked me as they perspired on themselves and ached after long listening sessions again. What was I going to do? I did some more research and some were saying the Superluxes really need a dedicated headphone amp/DAC to really make them sing. Did I believe it? Not really, but if I could improve upon the cans with a simple portable amp then the Superluxes could still solve my problem. 

 

Back on Amazon again! The Fiio E7 was my next victim (Pyle's rebranded version actually). Alright, another $50 experiment. Well, the last one turned out okay with the Superluxes so here goes. Why in the world would I need some $50 little box when I'm plugging them into a $2,000 big box? It just doesn't make sense. Well the little guy arrived and to my surprise it made a little bit of a difference. They sounded a little better out of the Fiio than out of any of my receivers or computer headphone jacks. Hugh.....maybe there is something to this headphone amp/DAC thing afterall. I mean if this little cheap thing sounds better than my $500 - $2,000 receivers then what will a really good one sound like? I still haven't figured that one out yet but I'm sure it's coming some time next year.

 

Back to the pages of eBay, Amazon, and Head Fi yet again! What I was looking for was a comfortable open can, with good sound, at a reasonable price. Next one to enter was the Sennheiser HD 558. Found a decent deal on Amazon and it seemed to get good reviews so I went for it. After it arrived I plugged it in to my laptop at work at was instantly hit with buyers remorse. Why? You ask. Well, the sound was tinny, bright, thin, shrill, and many other words to describe it that all audiophiles know and actually do a pretty decent job of describing sound IMHO. What the hell. I was told they didn't need an amp to sound okay to good. This was not even okay. I plugged them into my phone next. Well, they sounded okay then. I was really confused and finally figured out that they weren't plugged into my headphone jack correctly before and they sounded okay out of the computer as well. Different but okay none the less. They were comfortable and they had a slightly wider soundstage than I was used to with headphones. I did have to turn my portable devices all the way up for them however. What was the deal?

 

I plugged them into my E7 look-a-likes and they sounded marginally better but still not full, lush, or especially laid back as I heard them described on these forums. How was I going to fix this freaking problem? The answer was simple. The Fiio E10 has brought these cans to life. Unlike I've heard them sound on anything else I own the little E10 finally did them justice and I understood now why all the positive reviews of these were made. I also understood why when someone has a problem with a certain headphone that is usually unrelated to that can's signature sound that a helpful forurm member will ask about the source, amp, dac, and the complete chain. This isn't some well rehearsed skit. These are real questions from people who know what they are talking about and are trying to help you figure it out.

 

So great! Now I've discovered a hobby with infinite possibilities on sound, an unlimited amount of resources, access to all of the latest tech, a relatively unknown amount of sound quality that makes it kind of cool and mysterious, and a great forum with all of the drama of your afternoon soap opera. I'm going to sit back, enjoy these cans, but not too much that I don't strive for better, scour the web for great deals, learn new terminology, learn more about the unobtainable, and continue this abusive relationship with my wallet.

 

Sorry Wally

 

-Matt

 

PS I know you didn't read all of that but please don't feel bad. I wouldn't of either.

post #2 of 14

Did read it all. Nice read. As you'll likely know, this hobby is very individual. Many likes speakers over headphones but some actually like headphones better. You might be one of those:o

 

Can assure you that you have only seen the tip of the iceberg.. Hehe. I like the idea of starting on low budget and slowly expanding, build it up. 

I have found it very rewarding to get established in the hobby, research a lot (!) and then buy equipment at great prices whenever it turns up.

My newest purchase is some awful looking vintage earspeakers from Stax. Here they are:

 

Never thought I'd end up with Stax in the first place, and suddenly I own those. How, one might ask? Well, I got intrigued after seeing a Stax T1 amp and Lambda Signature for cheap in my local area. Researched and asked and found it was a great price.. Could sell them for the same if I didn't like. Well.. I happened to like them.. A lot. So I started reading more about Stax, and became active on the main Stax thread. Therefore I have a lot of background knowledge on the subject. Suddenly, I see those *cough* beauties *double cough* for what I found to be cheap - very cheap. And so I bought them from this nice lad.

Now, I can easily sell them for double the price, perhaps even triple if I really wanted to. But of course I won't, as it seems morally wrong to me. Anyhow, it makes for great satisfaction. Would never have ended there if I had just gone for an upgrading frenzy, going for the top. That was kinda how the hobby started. Me, wanting the best. Now, I want the journey... And frankly on has little to loose if he's prepared to wait and strike on the good offers, buying used.

post #3 of 14

welcome to head fi,

I read your post completely. I also come from speaker set up. I started this headphone hobby, because I have been moving a lot.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

davidsh,

 

Thanks for the welcome. I like different aspects of both speakers and headphones. My current headphones don't come even close to the base response from my home theater sub woofers. Wow Stax! To start even. I am enjoying the journey though, and even though you have started very high on the chain, with this hobby I feel like you can still enjoy less expensive alternatives and go for the most bang for the buck. I will be keeping my eyes open for good deals in the future.

 

rubinstein,

 

I love the convenience of headphones. Like in your situation of moving often, travelling, or not wanting to disturb your children or wife late at night which is the biggest positive for me by far. Thanks for saying hi!

 

I am unfortunately already looking at an upgrade although it will have to wait for a considerable amount of time due to my initial jump into this. I'm contemplating picking up some of ZMF's TR50Ps and maybe a M&M combo from Schiit. The Fiio E10 I got made all of the difference in the HD 558s, but I have pushed the envelope on either the headphones or the amp recently. They lost detail, couldn't keep up speed, sounded a little cluttered when I listen to them shortly at some pretty high volumes. They were being pushed hard however and I don't listen to music like that very often.

 

Feel free to give any other suggestions for hours more of enjoyable research. Am I the only nerd who likes reading instructions manuals? My wife makes fun of me all of the time because forums and instruction manuals are basically my only reading.

post #5 of 14
Heh, I didn't start with a Stax setup, but things escalated quickly :-)
post #6 of 14

hiya Matt, You could also consider Audio GD 15.32 dac/amp instead modi/magni. But you know it is very hard to control buying things :atsmile:

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubinstein View Post
 

hiya Matt, You could also consider Audio GD 15.32 dac/amp instead modi/magni. But you know it is very hard to control buying things :atsmile:

I will consider it. I have also been  looking at a unit by Onkyo recently that would take care of a lot of my needs for a desktop setup but I'm worried about how my 558s would sound with it. The Onkyo A-5VL has really caught my eye. I'm afraid the headphone section might be too powerful for my cans and the speaker output might be a little under powered for my somewhat inefficient pioneer bs21 I'm using on my desktop currently. But.... a headphone amp / dac / stereo speaker amp all in one for around 330 shipped on Amazon. Man, I don't know if I can resist.

post #8 of 14
The headphone Jack on just about any modern receiver is crap.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by lintonindy View Post
 

I will consider it. I have also been  looking at a unit by Onkyo recently that would take care of a lot of my needs for a desktop setup but I'm worried about how my 558s would sound with it. The Onkyo A-5VL has really caught my eye. I'm afraid the headphone section might be too powerful for my cans and the speaker output might be a little under powered for my somewhat inefficient pioneer bs21 I'm using on my desktop currently. But.... a headphone amp / dac / stereo speaker amp all in one for around 330 shipped on Amazon. Man, I don't know if I can resist.


I would suggest you to consider Audio GD 15.32 in the budget of 300 US$. I have ordered one with tcxo upgrade. I will receive that in Jan.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubinstein View Post
 


I would suggest you to consider Audio GD 15.32 in the budget of 300 US$. I have ordered one with tcxo upgrade. I will receive that in Jan.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread

Looks like an excellent unit. I hope you love it!

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

The headphone Jack on just about any modern receiver is crap.

I thought that as well as my initial post represents. My Denons sound pretty good on about any receiver headphone jack. I thought my 558s sounded horrible on my lower priced amps until I figured out what I was doing wrong not using the amps internal dac and bypassing the processing the soundcard's dac. This has made the Fiio 10 that I thought sounded great a strictly work amp/dac. The headphone jack on my Denon AVC-2000, Denon 1909, Onkyo 505, Onkyo 705, and my Onkyo 3007 all sound better than the Fiio. The 3007 by such a huge margin that it's scary good. This was a big surprise to me as well. The Onkyo unit I'm looking at contains a headphone jack that is powered directly off of the main amps and 2 of the 2nd best Burr Brown dacs. It has separate power supplies for each channel and will also run my desktop speakers. It is not your normal modern receiver in this regard. I guess my 3007 isn't either. If I could have that sound at my computer I would be thrilled to death. It sounded sooooo good with an absolutely massive soundstage, great detail, unfatiging, with no sign of strain at all. That is the sound I am looking for at my desktop. 

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubinstein View Post
 


I would suggest you to consider Audio GD 15.32 in the budget of 300 US$. I have ordered one with tcxo upgrade. I will receive that in Jan.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread

Originally Posted by lintonindy View Post
 

Looks like an excellent unit. I hope you love it!

You may want to consider Audio GD 15.32/11.32 seriously, if your future purchase would be ortho phones.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubinstein View Post
 

You may want to consider Audio GD 15.32/11.32 seriously, if your future purchase would be ortho phones.

Why would the Audio GD be superior for orthos to the Onkyo I am looking at?

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/621917/onkyo-a-5vl-a-game-changer

 

They seem more similar than different to me. The Onkyo does lack a USB input but can power my speakers. The AGD can support a higher bitrate after some free modifications. Is that it? I'm sure there is something I am not aware of that makes the AGD a better option but I'm not sure what that is.

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by lintonindy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

The headphone Jack on just about any modern receiver is crap.

I thought that as well as my initial post represents. My Denons sound pretty good on about any receiver headphone jack. I thought my 558s sounded horrible on my lower priced amps until I figured out what I was doing wrong not using the amps internal dac and bypassing the processing the soundcard's dac. This has made the Fiio 10 that I thought sounded great a strictly work amp/dac. The headphone jack on my Denon AVC-2000, Denon 1909, Onkyo 505, Onkyo 705, and my Onkyo 3007 all sound better than the Fiio. The 3007 by such a huge margin that it's scary good. This was a big surprise to me as well. The Onkyo unit I'm looking at contains a headphone jack that is powered directly off of the main amps and 2 of the 2nd best Burr Brown dacs. It has separate power supplies for each channel and will also run my desktop speakers. It is not your normal modern receiver in this regard. I guess my 3007 isn't either. If I could have that sound at my computer I would be thrilled to death. It sounded sooooo good with an absolutely massive soundstage, great detail, unfatiging, with no sign of strain at all. That is the sound I am looking for at my desktop. 

Ohh, there are actually receivers made with a non-discrete headphone amp circuit... Then, the receiver your looking at might be decent for headphones. It's just that most modern receivers have some kind og amp chip thing for headphones, usually very cheap and bad. Tapping directly from the speaker output or perhaps pre-amp is much better. If you really love your headphones and receivers, you should get some hard to drive planar magnetic 'phones and get a cable to use directly from the speaker taps :evil:

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