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Best cheapest setup to drive my AKG Q701's

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

 

Intro to me-

 Long time audio lover but first "real" audiophile grade headphones here. A little back ground of my listening devices life span. Well I started out with some Beats Studio when they first came out (not good quality I know now, dont worry). Then I had some Phillips earbuds (model doesnt matter cause they sucked but were suppose to be their top of the line), then I moved up to some Shure SE215s and I think they are amazing for the price and I love them! I also have some good sounding but cheap Koss earbuds as my back up pair. Now I have finally bought a pair of my dream cans, the Q701s. I opted for the Q instead of the K because of the cheaper price and detachable cable. Not a huge collection or amazing that I own but I have had a chance to listen to other great entry audiophile cans, the Grado SR80i, Audio-Technica ATH-M50, Sennheiser HD 598, to name a few. I will say I dont know what is the best sound but I do believe I have heard enough quality drivers to know what kind of sound I like.

 

So lets get started-

I like warm sound with smooth mids and highs (I am not a fan of most Sennheisers cause they have such a crisp high is seems harsh to me).

I love bass but I respect true bass, so it doesnt have to rattle my head off as long as it still gets the point across.

I listen to trance, electro, rock, classic rock, and related genres.

I use the 701s on my computer 98% of the time.

 

So whats the issue?-

Well, as must of know you need to have something to drive your cans to get the best sound. But I dont know which point to start at, Amp or sound card.

 

What I looked at for my options-

So my computer can run the headphones but it is turned up all the way to 100 and the headphones are about 65-70% of what I want, and lower volumes lose all detail. 

My options for the sound cards I like is one currently http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Beamforming-Microphone-SB1500/dp/B009ISU33E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1387857462&sr=8-2&keywords=creative+sound+blaster+z Creative Sound Blaster Z

 

So that is an easy choice, but the choice is if I should go with that sound card first over an amp? I do want to be able to take the headphones to friends to have them listen to the cans with a respectable presentation.

 

Amps-

I know I want a tube amp and it can not be more then $200. I love the way the look and I know they can produce great sound. 

A Decent DAC is a plus but I dont think It is a requirement, (But if it has a DAC it just bypasses a sound card right?)

I did most of my research here with Skylab's thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/402585/review-summary-a-ranking-of-32-tube-and-tube-hybrid-headphone-amps

 

I have narrowed my choices down to these amps-

Qinpu Q-2

Xduoo TA-01

AUNE T1

HiFiMan EF2 (worried about that gain at higher volumes)

 

So what are your suggestions? Recapping my question is two part, should I go with a soundcard first or an amp, and what amp would be best given what I am looking for?

 

Thanks guys! 

 

Ill post a pic of my setup when I am allowed to post pictures. I can also provide links to any of the amps if you want. 

post #2 of 19

Hi IamLoki,

 

Welcome to Head-Fi!  :smile:  Sorry about your wallet.  :o

 

First of all, as a fellow Q701 owner, I know exactly what you're going through... and yes, you are going to need an amp.  That much is for sure.  Second, as for the sound card, I would skip that in favor of a USB DAC.  It basically takes the place of your sound card, and can be used with pretty much any computer or laptop you see fit... which is handy given the rate at which computers need to be upgraded.  Based on all of the above, I suggest that you get the following:

 

Schiit Modi (USB DAC) - $99 - http://schiit.com/products/modi

Schiit Vali (Tube Amp) - $99 - http://schiit.com/products/vali


Home of the Liquid Carbon, Liquid Crimson, Liquid Glass, Liquid Gold and
Liquid Lightning headphone amplifiers... and the upcoming Liquid Spark!

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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Warren, thanks for the reply and thanks for the information on skipping over the sound card. That is what I was thinking would be the best choice. Plus I hate how most sound cards you manually have to switch over from speakers to headphones in the software cause it is not auto, unlike my built in sound. 

 

The Schiit's look like they would be pretty good but dont have that zazz im looking at and I dont like that I cant replace the tubes in the Vali in-case I want to try different sounds later down the road. On top of that I would prefer to stay away from $200 currently if I could. I will def add those to my list though! 

 

Do you have a preference on any of the amps I listed? Or have you heard any of them?

post #4 of 19

​Bravo Audio V2 or similar would be my cheap amp recommendation, but you really do need a DAC at that point, if even a cheap one…  Best of luck to you :)

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. I just bought the aune t1 and will try it out. I have heard nothing but good reviews from it and people say it works better in its dac form. I will update how good or poor my choice is when it comes in and I break in the tube. Im excited to be able to get some good quality power for my 701s!

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by IamLoki View Post
 

Warren, thanks for the reply and thanks for the information on skipping over the sound card. That is what I was thinking would be the best choice. Plus I hate how most sound cards you manually have to switch over from speakers to headphones in the software cause it is not auto, unlike my built in sound. 

 

The Schiit's look like they would be pretty good but dont have that zazz im looking at and I dont like that I cant replace the tubes in the Vali in-case I want to try different sounds later down the road. On top of that I would prefer to stay away from $200 currently if I could. I will def add those to my list though! 

 

Do you have a preference on any of the amps I listed? Or have you heard any of them?

 

Gotcha.  :smile:  I have not heard any of those amps.  :(  But if I personally had to pick blind, I would have to say the Aune T1.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IamLoki View Post
 

Thanks guys. I just bought the aune t1 and will try it out. I have heard nothing but good reviews from it and people say it works better in its dac form. I will update how good or poor my choice is when it comes in and I break in the tube. Im excited to be able to get some good quality power for my 701s!

 

Lol, problem solved!  :D

 

Actually, now that I think about it, my friend and fellow Audio360.org writer Arly has a Aune T1 and Q701.  He might be a good person to ask about this.  He is known here on Head-Fi as DigitalFreak.


Home of the Liquid Carbon, Liquid Crimson, Liquid Glass, Liquid Gold and
Liquid Lightning headphone amplifiers... and the upcoming Liquid Spark!

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post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

 

Awesome! Ill ask how he likes them paired! Thank you. 

post #8 of 19

Cool!  :smile:

 

Hey, maybe you could get him to chime in on this thread, so that other people in the same situation later on could get his feedback as well?  Just a thought.


Home of the Liquid Carbon, Liquid Crimson, Liquid Glass, Liquid Gold and
Liquid Lightning headphone amplifiers... and the upcoming Liquid Spark!

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post #9 of 19

Ok I'm here, what would everyone like to know?

post #10 of 19

EVERYTHING!  :smile:


Home of the Liquid Carbon, Liquid Crimson, Liquid Glass, Liquid Gold and
Liquid Lightning headphone amplifiers... and the upcoming Liquid Spark!

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post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post
 

EVERYTHING!  :smile:


Well lets see, mom and dad first met in this remote village in Portugal and.....this could be a mammoth post if u truly want everything.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalFreak View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post
 

EVERYTHING!  :smile:


Well lets see, mom and dad first met in this remote village in Portugal and.....this could be a mammoth post if u truly want everything.

 

True... let's start with all the stuff you don't know first.  That would make for a much more interesting post!  :D


Home of the Liquid Carbon, Liquid Crimson, Liquid Glass, Liquid Gold and
Liquid Lightning headphone amplifiers... and the upcoming Liquid Spark!

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post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

Lol I think the main thing everyone wants in this thread is your thoughts on the Aune T1 by itself and your thoughts on the T1 paired to the Q701. 

post #14 of 19
I'm curious about what's cheapest.

P.S. I've enjoyed your videos.

Edit: I was touched by your hope that LFF and MrSpeakers might collaborate on a super-mod.
Edited by Claritas - 12/27/13 at 11:51pm
post #15 of 19

Tell you what guys, give me a couple of days and I'll try and write something informative for this thread. Seriously though, there's people on here who are far better informed then me. I'll try and point you guys to them and their posts. Thanks for the kind words though. Stay tuned I'll be back soon

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