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What is better: a somewhat expensive pair of headphones, or a cheaper pair of headphones and a cheaper dac/amp?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'll preface this to say that my entire library is in V0. I'm not sure if I need a lossless library to fully appreciate purchasing some entry-level audio equipment when I currently use $30 speakers.

 

I have a $200 budget, and was trying to decide whether to go for a $100 pair of headphones (eg. the ATH-M50s) and a $100 DAC (eg. something from FiiO), or to just put all the money into a good pair of headphones.


Thanks!

post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnowl23 View Post
 

I'll preface this to say that my entire library is in V0. I'm not sure if I need a lossless library to fully appreciate purchasing some entry-level audio equipment when I currently use $30 speakers.

 

I have a $200 budget, and was trying to decide whether to go for a $100 pair of headphones (eg. the ATH-M50s) and a $100 DAC (eg. something from FiiO), or to just put all the money into a good pair of headphones.

What sources are you using for the audio?

 

Chances are you want to put a little more cash into the headphones, over any DAC/amp.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Samsung Galaxy S3. It's probably not the best DAP but it + a 64GB microSD card was the most convenient for me at the time.

post #4 of 11

Personal Opinion: put all your money into the headphones. $200 can get you a lot better headphones than $100. amps/dacs are not really not essential until you get to more high-end headphones that are $400+. Amps are only absolutely required for headphones that don't get enough power from the headphone jack. tho the M50+cheap Fiio dac/amp does have merits, I personally think a $200 unamped pair of quality headphones will give you more bang for your buck.

 

Closed/open? Sound sig preference? Music you listen to?

 

My $200 recommendation for a neutral audiophile headphone goes to AKG K550 (open) vs. AKG K545 (closed - I haven't heard this one yet). Of course, you might not like neutral/flat audiophile sound sig & prefer more bass...

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnowl23 View Post
 

Samsung Galaxy S3. It's probably not the best DAP but it + a 64GB microSD card was the most convenient for me at the time.

Maybe for now just get the JVC HA-S680 headphones ($81), plug them straight into the Galaxy S3.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post
 

Personal Opinion: put all your money into the headphones. $200 can get you a lot better headphones than $100. amps/dacs are not really not essential until you get to more high-end headphones that are $400+. Amps are only absolutely required for headphones that don't get enough power from the headphone jack. tho the M50+cheap Fiio dac/amp does have merits, I personally think a $200 unamped pair of quality headphones will give you more bang for your buck.

 

Closed/open? Sound sig preference? Music you listen to?

 

My $200 recommendation for a neutral audiophile headphone goes to AKG K550 (open) vs. AKG K545 (closed - I haven't heard this one yet). Of course, you might not like neutral/flat audiophile sound sig & prefer more bass...

 

Sound sig: I am as newbie as they come, so I honestly can't say. Music tastes: I generally listen to indie nonsense, your entry-level pop, rock, and electronic music that you'd find on terrible websites like Pitchfork. Apart from that, I've tried to branch out and I like samplings from a whole ton of genres, but I'm not trance and jungle-obsessed or anything like that.

 

In regards to closed/open, again, I don't really have a preference. I suppose they'd be mostly for home use, and that I'd use IEMs on the road (which I don't actually own a legitimate pair of either), so what could be gained from that information? Open?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Maybe for now just get the JVC HA-S680 headphones ($81), plug them straight into the Galaxy S3.

 

I just realized I've been horribly misleading. I'd be using headphones for my desktop, and I'd be using IEMs for my phone, which I still have yet to buy, and that I guess I'd be looking for advice on too.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnowl23 View Post
 

I just realized I've been horribly misleading. I'd be using headphones for my desktop, and I'd be using IEMs for my phone, which I still have yet to buy, and that I guess I'd be looking for advice on too.

Sennheiser HD558s headphones, $130

Asus Xonar DG sound card, $27

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Sennheiser HD558s headphones, $130

Asus Xonar DG sound card, $27


Good catch. I have yet to pick up a sound card. Thank you kindly, PurpleAngel.

post #9 of 11

Fiio E10 is a good choice as well. I had it and it was pretty decent.

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnowl23 View Post
 

 

Sound sig: I am as newbie as they come, so I honestly can't say. Music tastes: I generally listen to indie nonsense, your entry-level pop, rock, and electronic music that you'd find on terrible websites like Pitchfork. Apart from that, I've tried to branch out and I like samplings from a whole ton of genres, but I'm not trance and jungle-obsessed or anything like that.

 

In regards to closed/open, again, I don't really have a preference. I suppose they'd be mostly for home use, and that I'd use IEMs on the road (which I don't actually own a legitimate pair of either), so what could be gained from that information? Open?

 

I just realized I've been horribly misleading. I'd be using headphones for my desktop, and I'd be using IEMs for my phone, which I still have yet to buy, and that I guess I'd be looking for advice on too.

I would go for an open pair of headphones if you are planning on staying at home & aren't looking for really bass-heavy sound sig. the sound quality of open is generally better for the price, and you get greater soundstage not achievable on closed. the plus of closed is noise isolation & can get more bass from the reverberation & portables are always closed. Doesn't seem like those 3 criteria matter to you, so open would be great.

 

A highly rated open set is the AKG K701 at $275ish. This are top of the class performers. May sound bass-light when you first here it, but they are amazingly neutral headphones w/ a lot of detail & clarity. Giant sound stage.

 

For closed, you can go for the portable Momentums Over-Ears at $300 on sale from razerdogaudio (very solid audiophile sound w/ a slight bass boost that consumers love) VS. the non-portable closed AKG K550 for $220 (to save some money & have neutral audiophile-grade sound & get bigger soundstage & oh-so-sweet treble - note they don't have a lot of bass quantity which some people don't get used to) or portable closed AKG K545 at $200 from razerdogaudio (think bassier version).

 

If you have the $200-300 budget, you can get a lot of the top in the class headphones that are out of reach at a sub-$200 budget.

 

EDIT: lol... math fail. I see that you're max budget is $200. In that case, I would try for the AKG K550 if you are okay w/ non-portable & have an extra $20. The AKG K545 at $200 from razerdog would be my top recommendation. Those are actually closed, but I am actually not sure of many sub-$200 open headphones.


Edited by money4me247 - 12/18/13 at 12:35am
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryWA View Post
 

Fiio E10 is a good choice as well. I had it and it was pretty decent.

omg, please no. don't waste $75 on an cheap amp when your headphones can easily be driven out of a headphone jack. You can find a much nicer sounding headphone with $75 more especially when you are already stuck in such a low price bracket. Cheap amps can also make your music sound worse as your music only sounds as good as the weakest link.

 

Read this: http://www.headphone.com/learning-center/how-do-i-know-if-my-headphones-need-an-amp.php

aka understand that you don't need an dac/amp for sub-$200 pair of headphones designed for portable use that can be driven by a headphone jack. Amps are really for more high-end headphones such as the HE-500 that requires more power than the headphone jack provides. A good amp also does NOT color the sound, so you shouldn't really be hearing any sound sig changes. It might tighten up the clarity/resolution/detail & boost the soundstage, but those factors are limited by your headphone drivers, so it is much better to get headphones that already have better clarity/resolution/detail/soundstage as you cannot amp a pair of headphones past what its drivers can do.


Edited by money4me247 - 12/18/13 at 12:42am
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