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Budget 200€: HD 25 cable upgrade, portable amp or sennheiser momentum?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

He head-fiers,

 

I've been reading this forum for a long time, but now the time for joining has come!

I'm an Italian music lover with a 200€ budget and a rig-upgrade problem :)

Given the thread title, first of all let me introduce my gear and listening habits.

 

Well, most my music listenings happen through the ipad during the night while reading a book or surfing the web in my bedroom. When I'm on my living room I prefer using the iMac as my musical source.

I mainly listen to mainstream rock/pop, some club music, and a little bit of chillout/lounge music during my relaxed late night sessions. I rarely go for classical.

Technically speaking, my main source is spotify premium -> imac/ipad2 -> hrt microstreamer -> sennheiser hd 25-1 II/yamaha eph-100. I also happen to listen to (mostly ripped cds) flac files through the imac with Audirvana+.

I also use sansa clip+ -> hd25/ EPH 100 for flac listening on the go. 

 

Let's move to some brief sound impressions of my rig. With the microstreamer I prefer the HD25 to the EPH-100 sonically and phisically, although both have their strenghts and somehow suit my musical tastes. In particular, I think the HD25 are a bit more balanced, or, better, their treble are more recognizable and enjoyable than those of the IEMs. Furthermore, after more than a year, I still find the EPH-100 uncomfortable with all the provided ear-tips, resulting in the impossibility to fully enjoy them for long listening sessions. On the other hand, HD25's clamping force is quite high, although I find velour earpads far more comfortable (whithout glasses) than the pleatherette ones. Moving to the clip+, I still prefer the HD25, although I find them a little harsh every now and then, probably depending on the recording quality.

 

Now that my current set-up is a bit clearer, here's my doubt: let's say for the moment I have a budget of 200€, and I want an upgrade for my relaxed and quite long nightly listening sessions, I'd like to share my current options with you guys:

1. upgrade HD25's cable: I could be OK with the stock steel cable, but I've read few interesting words about the custom cans "uber audiophile" mod for these cans, that should enhance their clarity and smooth their treble a bit. I admit I'm quite curious about this, considering that the full mod ("audiophile" copper cable + mass damping material) should be around 80€ shipped.

2. get a portable amp: I started looking at fiio f12, then I've read everything about portable amps from the O2 to the portaphile 627, ending with a headache :D and a bit of confusion regarding the portable amps. I'm aware that both my HD25 and EPH-100 work at least decently straight out both my microstreamer (which obvoiusly IS also an headphone amp) and sansa clip+. 

3. sennheiser momentum over ear: I love them aesthetically, period. I happened to try them twice in an apple store straight from an ipod touch, and they are OK fit-wise, even with glasses. They are more comfortable than my HD25, which I use with the velour pads. I find their sound signature a bit darker than the HD25s one, and I'm considering them as a possible companion of the HD25 for my relaxed listenings. Moreover, I can find the black ones for around 200€. To be honest, I also thought to skip the momentums and get some non-portable (maybe open) cans, if this could make sense in terms of sound quality.

 

Given these options, they are sort of mutually exclusive only on a short time-span (let's say that if I make my first choice now, I could think about a subsequent upgrade in 3-6 months), I just want to grow my headphone-related rig in a relaxed way, while trying to maximize the cost-efficiency of every upgrade.

Ok, here we are, in my less than average English I've explained almost everyting. Now question time :) :

a. what shoud you guys advice me to do?

b. Does anyone have any experience with the HD25 custom cans "audiophile" cable? Is it worth it?

c. Does an(other) portable amp make sense in my current rig?

d. Are momentums really that good? Will they benefit from further rig upgrades?

 

That's (almost) it. I'm open to your thoughts and suggestions! Thank you :)

 

post #2 of 6

I can't comment on the Momentums, but the HD25's are fairly easy to drive. I wouldn't know about how good the iMac is but from my experience the iPad is really good with fairly efficient headphones and IEMs, especially if they have just a little bit of boost in the 70hz to 300hz range, as a good number of portables are. If anything, it might not necessarily just be the amp, but also the DAC - the iPad might be good for portables but you might get a DAC that has a little bit smoother response, maybe an audible improvement in soundstage size and imaging accuracy, and the more powerful amp in it might just be a good bonus. Look up the likes of the Fiio E17 and the Ibasso D6 -these are also portable so you can bring them with you if you go on vacation. I think both can work with the iPad with the CCK, especially if you have iOS7.

 

Also, for the amount of money it would cost to add dampening material and get (what I assume is) a purer copper cable that doesn't seem too bad a price, as long as shipping wouldn't cost a lot more. Take note however that there's a possibility that you might not like the tweak - as much as it might make the headphone technically "better" in terms of acoustic principles, you might get absolutely all those drivers have to offer in that configuration, and you might for example get a whole lot of bass with the mod.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 1/29/14 at 2:22am
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts :)

 

I honestly have no idea on how good the imac's audio out could be, as I have always avoided it. Before getting the microstreamer I was using this chain imac -> cambridge audio dac magic through optical -> allen heath xone 92 mixer (yes, my primary supposedly intended use for the HD25 was djing, but I never happened to do it, so they are my "normal-use" cans now).

When listening from imac/ipad (with iOS7) I always use an HRT microstreamer, which is IMHO a fairly good and extremely portable usb DAC/head amp, and whose sound I like :)

The amp-related option is now more related to the sansa clip+, that does not offer any way to bypass its internal DAC AFAIK. But I generally find the sansa clip+ - HD25 matching a little bit harsh, while prefering a more musical sound. Until a couple weeks ago, I could not even use the microstreamer with the iPad, but with the latest firmware upgrade from HRT I can now pair them through the standard camera connection kit, and it's a good hearing :)

 

Regarding the HD25 cable, the full mod consists in filling the earcups with

this mass damping kit: http://www.ebay.it/itm/131092106765?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

and replacing the stock steel cable with one made from teflon coated SPC silver plated OFC copper: http://www.ebay.it/itm/141167325366?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

the total cost of this mod is around 80€ shipped. I haven't found so many reviews of the full mod/modded HD25, but the small amount of information I found point towards the right direction for me: it is supposed to add a bit of detail to the hd25, enlarge the soundstage a bit and smooth a bit the HD25 treble.

 

The other option (momentums, or more home-listening oriented cans) comes into account mainly for the lack of comfort with both the HD25 and EPH100 for prolongued listening sessions (ok, and for the enthusiasm for getting new audio staff, but that's a completely different matter :D ), and for the need of a slightly less fatiguing but still rich, detailed and musical sound during my late night listenings.

post #4 of 6

In that case try the mod and new cable first - for that money including shipping I wouldn't be averse to the cost, although if it was me, I'd probably just do the mod myself and keep using the stock cable (unless it's too long or too short). Keep the stock cable so you can compare them both just in case.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Well, if I'll go for the HD custom cable, I'll buy both the cable and mod, and I'll put the material into the earcups myself. I've seen a video tutorial and it appears to be a simple process. I will then compare the modded cans with both the stock and copper cables.

 

For the moment I'm still not 100% sure about the cable replacement, although it is the cheapest and probably clever alternative for my current rig. In addition, given the fact that I mostly use ipad+microstreamer for late evening listenings, I could probably reduce the listed options by suspending the "need" of a new portable amp, as I very rarely use the clip+ (spotify provides me endless songs to listen to).

 

Momentums are now around 100€ cheaper than their usual price, and they provide a more relaxed but still very detailed sound than the HD25 while being more comfortable, so I think they could better suit the bedroom listening. Extending the reasoning, if I'd go for a new HP, momentums are only the option I know best, but I'm open considering other cans, if only for the sake of better knowing what the market has to offer :)

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Just to keep track of what's happening :) I bought a pair of infinity red-bull special edition momentums.

I was almost set up for upgrade both HD25's and microstreamer's usb cables, but then I won the momentums auction, so I'll try them paired with the MS, and maybe I'll think about cables later: I definitely want to upgrade the MS cable for both quality and portability reasons some day.

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