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Build the ultimate mid-fi rig for the budding audiophile

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've read a ton of threads asking for advice on a headphone or a setup and the recommendations, while good, can be a little random. So how about a specific set of criteria which I think would satisfy the majority of requests. Please be specific with your recommendations. The idea here is instead of sorting through reviews of tons of different products, develop an idea of tried and true combos that people can go to as their first step into the audiophile world.

 

Rules:

1) must run off an MP3 player source (ipod, clip, etc)

2) budget $500

3) include headphone and amp

4) prefer good all-round setups, but if it works really well for one genre, say which one

post #2 of 15

If you don't have the iPod or Clip yet, you can just get one of the budget high-power, high-res compatible digital audio players instead of buying an iPod and an amp. Fiio X3 is around $200, and the AKG K550 is around $200. That player produces enough player to push the K550 beyond ear-splitting loud, and aside from just a lot of power, it makes clean enough power (no audible distortion or noise, there's enough headroom to keep the drivers under control, etc). I got to try them briefly at a recent HiFi show here and I actually liked them. If I didn't have an IEM for portable use that worked well enough with my Galaxy S3, I'd buy those two.

And as much as I'm the type to say a good system shouldn't specialize in a genre, the reality is that to those who believe in genre-specific systems might argue I just have different expectations, so for what it's worth I loved that combo playing power metal, jazz, and vocals. Those were what I had on the microSD card I tested with the X3.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 1/10/14 at 11:31am
post #3 of 15

Do you already have the MP3 player?

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I didn't mean for me. I meant to assume the source was an MP3 player. Not looking for recommendations for myself specifically. More of a guide for newbies. Most people have some type of MP3 source already (iPhone, Galaxy, etc) that's why I put that requirement in.

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Navybsn View Post
 

Sorry, I didn't mean for me. I meant to assume the source was an MP3 player. Not looking for recommendations for myself specifically. More of a guide for newbies. Most people have some type of MP3 source already (iPhone, Galaxy, etc) that's why I put that requirement in.

 

Still X3 or DX50 + K550, Q701, or HD600 for me for that amount of money.

post #6 of 15
Chi-fi route:

DAC: Trasam DAC 2 - 380 Yuan
Valve Amp: Nobsound MS-10d - 798 Yuan
Headphone: Takstar Pro80 - 598 Yuan
Total: 1776 Yuan, €215, $293

One could up the DAC to 980 Yuan, add $100, up the can to an HD600 or so, add $150.

There are so many DAC at 1000 Yuan that have good sound.
If not the valve amp then one of the Fiios.

$500 to $550 all in for a very good rig.
Edited by marone - 1/15/14 at 8:01pm
post #7 of 15
Interesting. Where does one get the Tasam DAC2?

I would recommend this:

Sennheiser HD598 $249
Schiit Modi DAC $99
Schiit Magni Amp $99
Or Tubes with the Schiit Vali for 129

That's 450 and a great rig. You could go for the Schiit Asgard 2 amp for 150 more but that would be out of budget.

You can find the HD598 cheaper as well.

Alternate headphones for the starting audiophile would be beyerdynamic DT880, 1350, T51p, or Audio Technica ATH-M50.

Can also recommend Yamaha HPH200 and really enjoy my Sennheiser Amperiors as well.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolpep View Post

Interesting. Where does one get the Tasam DAC2?

I would recommend this:

Sennheiser HD598 $249
Schiit Modi DAC $99
Schiit Magni Amp $99
Or Tubes with the Schiit Vali for 129

That's 450 and a great rig. You could go for the Schiit Asgard 2 amp for 150 more but that would be out of budget.

You can find the HD598 cheaper as well.

Alternate headphones for the starting audiophile would be beyerdynamic DT880, 1350, T51p, or Audio Technica ATH-M50.

Can also recommend Yamaha HPH200 and really enjoy my Sennheiser Amperiors as well.

It is on Taobao.

http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.0.0.PyyQYp&id=26969448637
post #9 of 15
We are forgetting the old Stax, used. Those are $300 or less.
post #10 of 15

If this thread is about recommendations for newbies, my first advice would be to lose the mp3 player source. You need a computer to put music onto an mp3 player, so just use the computer instead. Otherwise, DAC options are severely limited. 

If I lost all my gear and had $500 to spend, I would probably get an ODAC/O2 combo for $280, then use the remaining $220 to get one of:

Beyerdynamic DT990 or DT880 Pro
AKG Q701
Hifiman HE-300 
used Sennheiser HD600

Or get the ODAC/O2 used plus a used HE-400. That would be the best option. 

If portability is necessary, IDK. 

post #11 of 15

Whatever mp3 player you want, or your phone.

Fiio E12

Akg K550

post #12 of 15

Sennheiser hd600's used, and a bottlehead crack kit. If you are thrifty that can be had for $500 bucks. It would take some DIY but the end results are pretty awesome. Then you could save up for a decent dac. 

 

Hifi is soooo damn expensive. 


Edited by davisman - 1/18/14 at 5:05pm
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by davisman View Post
 

Sennheiser hd600's used, and a bottlehead crack kit. If you are thrifty that can be had for $500 bucks. It would take some DIY but the end results are pretty awesome. Then you could save up for a decent dac. 

 

Hifi is soooo damn expensive. 


Not true at all if you have the patience for deals, and like you said, DIY skills.

 

My current setup cost about $1500, which isn't all that much in this hobby, but it's more than three times enjoyable than anything I could get under $500. I think $1000 you can make the argument that is it really worth going up more from a value standpoint. At $500 you really haven't even hit the diminishing returns yet imo. At best you could get at $500 for DAC, amp, and headphones is Schiit stack with HD600. Ditch the idea of using a MP3 player other than if your smartphone is USB OTG compatible with a DAC. If you're persistent on using a mobile device, just get a mobile headphone like B&W P7, and skip the amp.

 

To me, in hindsight mid-fi is really just reaffirmation that you are in fact interested in audio as a hobby and willing to spend more to go into hi-fi.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

 

To me, in hindsight mid-fi is really just reaffirmation that you are in fact interested in audio as a hobby and willing to spend more to go into hi-fi.

Very true. Hell just good MidFi headphones are going to cost you $400+ brand new. 

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 


Not true at all if you have the patience for deals, and like you said, DIY skills.

 

My current setup cost about $1500, which isn't all that much in this hobby, but it's more than three times enjoyable than anything I could get under $500. I think $1000 you can make the argument that is it really worth going up more from a value standpoint. At $500 you really haven't even hit the diminishing returns yet imo. At best you could get at $500 for DAC, amp, and headphones is Schiit stack with HD600. Ditch the idea of using a MP3 player other than if your smartphone is USB OTG compatible with a DAC. If you're persistent on using a mobile device, just get a mobile headphone like B&W P7, and skip the amp.

 

To me, in hindsight mid-fi is really just reaffirmation that you are in fact interested in audio as a hobby and willing to spend more to go into hi-fi.

I personally think $500 is far from the diminishing returns. I think that range is more in the $1000+ range. Personally I will be at around $1200 for my portablish set up of the DX100 and Alpha Dogs. This set up will probably be the highest I go. Granted for me I need closed and slightly portable set up, and the planar magnetic headphones have had my favorite sound signature so far. The only thing I would really want to upgrade is an amp.

 

Anyways if a portable source is a must I would spring for a DX50 and probably the K550s or the momentums (I have to hear these headphones first though). For a desktop it would be schiit Magni/modi and a used HE400.

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