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Thread Starter 
Good morning all!

I'm at a point where I wish to upgrade my current setup, as I have identified areas that need improvement. I'm now using a NAD C542 CD player into a Dac It via optical cable. This feeds into a Little Dot Mk III which culminates into Sennheiser HD 580s (using HD 600 grills and HD 650 cable). Occasionally is use an iPod Classic via a Kennsington dock, but all source files are full on AIFF.

Strengths: solo acoustic and singer/songwriter music is great, very small jazz combo is nice, female vocals are divine, overall detail is fine but definitely needs good source material. All source material is of good quality, absolutely no low bit rate data used. Think Ryan Adams, Wailin Jenny's, Miles Davis, Jason Isbell, The Everybodyfields, Sonny Rollins, Chad Fisher Group.

Weaknesses: anything high energy gets muddy. Think Avett Brothers, Old Crow, Galactic, Widespread Panic, Mumford and Sons, Papa Grows Funk, Kings of Leon, Black Keys, North Mississippi Allstars. Whenever these groups start getting after it, the music becomes congested, smeared and confusing. I don't like that. Microphonics from the LD is annoying too.

So.... I'm looking to retain the strengths and reduce, if not eliminate, the weaknesses. Budget is variable, meaning if I see/hear something that is 200-300$ more than I thought I would spend, I would go for it if the end result is awesome sound. I'm pretty sure the source and dac are both sufficient, but please enlighten me if my thinking is flawed.

I *think* that the bottleneck is the amp, but please tell me if I'm wrong. Wouldn't be the first time! I am also open to removing or adding additional gear if need be. I'm looking for incredible synergy for multiple styles of music. Which may be unfair of just one system, so I also realize I may need to add in additional phones or run two amps. And I'm not married to tubes or solid state. I can do either. Or both!

Also, I've played sax (alto, tenor and bari) for close to 30 years, guitar(acoustic and electric) for about 15 and have been blessed to sit around the fire to hear some amazingly intimate vocal/acoustic instrument performances by some truly talented artists. So I'm pretty spoiled in the fact that I've been around so many talented musicians. My goal is to bring some of that awesomeness into my headphone system.

I would love and respect any opinions. Living in rural Alabama definitely limits hearing any gear before buying, so I'm prepared to purchase, audition and return if something isn't agreeable to me.

Thanks y'all!