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Upgrade my system or just enjoy what I have? Nuforce Icon HDP, Sennheiser HD650's with Moon Audio Black Dragon cable

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you for reading my post.  I am an audiophile but only recently with headphones.  I have a very solid HiFi setup at my house with turntable, speakers, DAC, amps and cables but I find myself listening to computer audio more often than my records (sad, I know) and would like to upgrade my system, maybe!  I have a pair of late model Sennheiser HD650's with Moon Audio Black Dragon cable and a Nuforce Icon HDP DAC/Amp.  I am torn between buying a new pair of cans and keeping the DAC or selling the DAC and upgrading while keeping my cans.  I was thinking of ordering the HiFi Man HE-400's that Moon Audio has on-sale currently for $299 and possibly upgrading the cable or picking up a pair of King Sound electrostatic cans with the solid state amplifier.  I am torn because I enjoy the combination I currently use but I feel drawn to upgrade to orthos, stats or a more high-level pair of Sennheisers but maybe I would net better results by upgrading my DAC/amp combo?  I like the response and speed of orthos and stats as I own Apogee Duetta Signature II loudspeakers and had Maggies and Martin Logan gear.  It would be difficult to explain what I like related to sound but I like accurate, maybe analytical sound with a large sound stage and strong imaging.  I am a bit overwhelmed reading the reviews, researching cans and amplifiers, figuring my budget and ultimately pulling the string and buying new.  Now for the difficult part, budget!  I have about $500 to spend and maybe a bit more if I sell the equipment I decide to upgrade.  I am not sure of the value on my Nuforce Icon HDP or Sennheiser HD650's but I would imagine they would net me a couple of hundred additional dollars if I sold them as a pair or possibly more.  Any suggestions?  I know this is a difficult request and is dependent on taste and other factors but I would like an upgrade to the sound and do not know if the headphones are the weakest area or the Nuforce and which area would ultimately deliver a solid performance increase.

 

Thank you in advance,


Darren

post #2 of 8

My advice is to keep what you have  as long as there are not any glaring problems with it ( i.e. noisy, low volume, etc ).  I would start investing in some better source material by going to HD Tracks and listening to a variety of artists searching for music you really like.  You can always go to iTunes and download the normal resolution version of the tracks you hear there this way you end up with some new music.

 

The HD650 has a slightly dark tilt to it and really only sounds its best a higher volume levels making it easy to distrust its sound signature.  I went from the HD600/650 line and ended up with one pair of closed bassy headphones like the Denon AH-D2000 which could be replaced by the AKG K550.  My open set is now a pair of AKG K712 Pro which I find extremely speaker-like.  You may want to try something like the AKG Q701 to start and see if you like that sound signature better.

 

Take a look at Tyll's Wall of Fame:

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame

 

To me if your setup sounds good and you try your headphones and music with another setup and really cannot hear a big improvement it may not be worth trying to upgrade your gear.  In many cases better reference material is all it takes.  It is fun to keep upgrading, but it often leads to never settling on a setup that is what you would end up with in the end.

post #3 of 8

I know there's not a whole lot of people talking about this amp but Graham Slee amps are the best combination with my 650's I've ever heard so far. I have so far tried Woo Audio, Vioelectric(also impressive), Schiit(good for those on budget), HiFiman, Burson, Graham Slee, Grace Designs, Grado amp, Lehmann Audio, Little Dot, Beyerdynamic(no good for 650s for good for beyers)

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

To me if your setup sounds good and you try your headphones and music with another setup and really cannot hear a big improvement it may not be worth trying to upgrade your gear.  In many cases better reference material is all it takes.  It is fun to keep upgrading, but it often leads to never settling on a setup that is what you would end up with in the end.

 

The last comment is truly accurate and I understand where you are coming from.  I guess I like the idea of upgrading and the sound of orthos and stats but in honesty, your statement is correct.  I think enjoying what I have and not getting caught-up in the upgrade bug is fair.  Thank you.  I like the HD650's and found by removing the foam behind the driver (mod found on head-fi) produced better highs and it was noticeable.  Honestly, I would think a modification like removing a foam piece would do nothing let alone make a positive improvement.  I was wrong and I almost hate to admit it as it debunks my previous line of thinking!


Edited by iamdarren73 - 2/9/14 at 9:05am
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Y View Post
 

I know there's not a whole lot of people talking about this amp but Graham Slee amps are the best combination with my 650's I've ever heard so far. I have so far tried Woo Audio, Vioelectric(also impressive), Schiit(good for those on budget), HiFiman, Burson, Graham Slee, Grace Designs, Grado amp, Lehmann Audio, Little Dot, Beyerdynamic(no good for 650s for good for beyers)

 

Thank you.  I decided I would hang onto what I have although after reading the Solo review I decided I would buy the kit of the low-end headphone amplifier as your glowing review with the HD650's made me decide to pull the trigger.  The price is fair, I can use my Nuforce DAC and take advantage of a (potentially) better amplifier and still have something for the office if the sound is not a huge improvement.  Thank you for the recommendation!

 

I did decide I would investigate the mono-block speaker amplifiers from Graham Slee for use with my DIY folded horn speakers from Madisound.  They look great, the topology is very interesting and I like the thought of supporting a small company that by all accounts produces some killer kit!

 

Thank you both for your excellent thoughts.  I had an excellent HiFi home system with Apogee Duetta Sig. II's and Jeff Rowland Model 5 mono-blocks before my divorce many years ago and now with two kids in private school, my budget has been reduced (I would like to retire one day so much of my extra capital is going to retirement so I am not forced to greet people as they enter Walmart when I am 70!) and therefore my system.  That said, my level of musical enjoyment has not reduced commensurate to my system and after much research and listening I have pieced together an excellent, used and new, moderately priced HiFi system with a used Linn Sondek LP12 and DIY single driver speakers that allow me to truly enjoy the music.  Is it as nice as my previous set-up?  No.  Do I notice it when I am into the music and enjoying a single malt Scotch?  Not at all!  I guess the real testament to any system is 'does it produce enjoyment' and for me, it does. 


Edited by iamdarren73 - 2/9/14 at 9:03am
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamdarren73 View Post
 

 

Thank you.  I decided I would hang onto what I have although after reading the Solo review I decided I would buy the kit of the low-end headphone amplifier as your glowing review with the HD650's made me decide to pull the trigger.  The price is fair, I can use my Nuforce DAC and take advantage of a (potentially) better amplifier and still have something for the office if the sound is not a huge improvement.  Thank you for the recommendation!

 

I did decide I would investigate the mono-block speaker amplifiers from Graham Slee for use with my DIY folded horn speakers from Madisound.  They look great, the topology is very interesting and I like the thought of supporting a small company that by all accounts produces some killer kit!

 

Thank you both for your excellent thoughts.  I had an excellent HiFi home system with Apogee Duetta Sig. II's and Jeff Rowland Model 5 mono-blocks before my divorce many years ago and now with two kids in private school, my budget has been reduced (I would like to retire one day so much of my extra capital is going to retirement so I am not forced to greet people as they enter Walmart when I am 70!) and therefore my system.  That said, my level of musical enjoyment has not reduced commensurate to my system and after much research and listening I have pieced together an excellent, used and new, moderately priced HiFi system with a used Linn Sondek LP12 and DIY single driver speakers that allow me to truly enjoy the music.  Is it as nice as my previous set-up?  No.  Do I notice it when I am into the music and enjoying a single malt Scotch?  Not at all!  I guess the real testament to any system is 'does it produce enjoyment' and for me, it does.

Nice set up there. Just to discover what the 650 sound like the Slees, you should try it out if you get the chance to. The problem is though that they're really hard to find. btw the Solo SRG 2 or ultra-linear diamond sounds nothing like the old Solo.

post #7 of 8

If u dun wanna sell your HDP, try taking a thick(branded) powercord from your HOME FI..

and plug it into the power adaptor on of the HDP. see what happens. 

 

When i sold my HDP n bought an Audiogd NFB10.32 dac/amp, the soundstage was improved significantly,

depthwise..claritywise..heightwise.  There are quite a lot of options at diff budget from Audiogd..do check them out.

 

============

 

Or just get a Martin Logan Mikros90, there is a hypetrain raging in this thread, i am a victim...for 90bucks..humpff

http://www.head-fi.org/t/633514/martin-logan-mikros-90-on-ear-headphones/1080#post_10254062

IMHO...this portable is worth every pound/usd/yen/franc 

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

If u dun wanna sell your HDP, try taking a thick(branded) powercord from your HOME FI..

and plug it into the power adaptor on of the HDP. see what happens. 

 

When i sold my HDP n bought an Audiogd NFB10.32 dac/amp, the soundstage was improved significantly,

depthwise..claritywise..heightwise.  There are quite a lot of options at diff budget from Audiogd..do check them out.

 

============

 

Or just get a Martin Logan Mikros90, there is a hypetrain raging in this thread, i am a victim...for 90bucks..humpff

http://www.head-fi.org/t/633514/martin-logan-mikros-90-on-ear-headphones/1080#post_10254062

IMHO...this portable is worth every pound/usd/yen/franc 

 

I placed an order for the Graham Slee amplifier kit, bought an iFi DXD DAC and heading to Amazon now to order the Mikros90!  Thank you!  This is going to be a setup for my son who is just as much a fanatic for music as I am, though his music is towards the electronica and experimental jazz scene but this setup will do him extremely well given the price.  What a birthday gift!  I wish someone would buy me that setup for my birthday!

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