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Quality Audio Setup Questions

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

50% of my music library is 320kbps, 35% is 329 - 200kbps and the other 15% is below 200kbps.

I'm confused about a few audio quality-related issues:

Would it be somewhat of a waste of money to buy $600 headphones if I'm only listening to 320kbps music?
Should I buy a headphone amp card for my computer?
Should I buy an amp/DAC to use when listening to my iPod?
Is an iPod a poor audio-quality portable music player and thus should buy one capable of playing lossless formats?

The only headphones I've used are the $150 Denon AH-D1100's and the $150 ATH-ANC7b's. If i just have a normal $750 gaming computer and an iPod nano/Samsung Galaxy phone, Is it even worth it to spend $300+ on headphones?

post #2 of 18

Just a thought, but you might be better off changing over to FLAC and buying an additional hard drive - either internal or external.  It's probably less expensive than the $300 you mention.  At least you would know that the foundation is as good as it will get.

post #3 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

Just a thought, but you might be better off changing over to FLAC and buying an additional hard drive - either internal or external.  It's probably less expensive than the $300 you mention.  At least you would know that the foundation is as good as it will get.

 

That assumes he ripped them from CDs that he owns. If he has to buy them again in lossless having already paid for them on iTunes, that $300 will be just for the music.

post #4 of 18

I think one thing you could do is take an ABX test, and see if you can tell the difference between lossless and lossy. If you can't tell the difference, then you don't have to worry about having the lossy files. If you just want peace of mind, and if you own the original discs, then you might do as tomb said and re-rip to a lossless codec.

 

As to the expense of headphones, in my opinion it's not a waste of money to get good headphones to listen to lossy music, but this opinion probably varies greatly. As for the amp and dac, you might want to decide which headphones you want first before deciding if you want those items. If you're in the 'amps can improve any headphone' camp, then you could consider an amp. Otherwise, I'd pick a headphone first, look at it's specs to see if amplification is 'needed', and go from there. If it's a headphone that doesn't 'need' amplification, you could try it out with your gear first to see if you like the sound as it is. Even if it does 'need' amplification, you could still try it out and see what you think.

 

Also, the iPod is decent, I have one (a 5.5g) and use it as my souce. I don't have an external dac for it, I use a LOD cable and plug it directly into my amp. I believe the Apple Lossless codec is a lossless codec and I think the iPod can also play AIFF which I believe is also a lossless codec.


Edited by BrownBear - 2/8/14 at 8:07pm
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase1 View Post
 

50% of my music library is 320kbps, 35% is 329 - 200kbps and the other 15% is below 200kbps.
I'm confused about a few audio quality-related issues:
Would it be somewhat of a waste of money to buy $600 headphones if I'm only listening to 320kbps music?
Should I buy a headphone amp card for my computer?
Should I buy an amp/DAC to use when listening to my iPod?
Is an iPod a poor audio-quality portable music player and thus should buy one capable of playing lossless formats?
The only headphones I've used are the $150 Denon AH-D1100's and the $150 ATH-ANC7b's. If i just have a normal $750 gaming computer and an iPod nano/Samsung Galaxy phone, Is it even worth it to spend $300+ on headphones?

You could spend around $200-$250 for some nice sounding headphones.

For around $30 to $80 you can get a DAC/Amp for you computer to work with the headphones.

A FiiO E17 ($130) external DAC/Amp could be used with the computer (both DAC & amp) and a iPod/smart phone (amp only).

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phase1 View Post

Would it be somewhat of a waste of money to buy $600 headphones if I'm only listening to 320kbps music?

Yes!
Quote:
The only headphones I've used are the $150 Denon AH-D1100's and the $150 ATH-ANC7b's. If i just have a normal $750 gaming computer and an iPod nano/Samsung Galaxy phone, Is it even worth it to spend $300+ on headphones?

No.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

Just a thought, but you might be better off changing over to FLAC and buying an additional hard drive - either internal or external.  It's probably less expensive than the $300 you mention.  At least you would know that the foundation is as good as it will get.

 

That assumes he ripped them from CDs that he owns. If he has to buy them again in lossless having already paid for them on iTunes, that $300 will be just for the music.


True enough, all the more reason to steer someone in the right direction that's entering the hobby.  As evidenced by other posts in this thread, if the foundation is not of the best quality, there's not much use in trying to increase the audiophile quality of the equipment.  OK for portable stuff, perhaps, but not the rest.  There will quickly come a point where the equipment out-strips the source music. ;) 

post #8 of 18

320kbps mp3 is good enough to warrant good headphones. Not many people can consistently tell the difference.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post
 

320kbps mp3 is good enough to warrant good headphones. Not many people can consistently tell the difference.

 

True enough for most people, but the thing is 50% of the OP's music collection is well below 320kbps.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

True enough for most people, but the thing is 50% of the OP's music collection is well below 320kbps.

He claims only 15% is under 200kbps so it's not too bad.

post #11 of 18
Do "most people" ask for advice on audiophile forums? Venues driven by the idea of quality by definition.

It's a ridiculous argument.
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaffer View Post

Do "most people" ask for advice on audiophile forums? Venues driven by the idea of quality by definition.

It's a ridiculous argument.

I'd be surprised if 'most people' on this forum could tell the difference.

post #13 of 18

I find that mastering quality itself makes more difference than bitrate. Either way, I don't hear a difference between 320 and FLAC, but a 256 rip of a well-recorded song could easily sound better than a FLAC of a poorly-recorded song. So I think it would be worth the money to buy some nice headphones. You might find that some of your library now sounds like poo (and this would still happen even if your entire library were in FLAC), but you should have a net improvement overall. 

To get the most out of your headphones though, you should try to build a library with nothing below 320. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that you shouldn't even buy nicer headphones until you do that. 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

I find that mastering quality itself makes more difference than bitrate. Either way, I don't hear a difference between 320 and FLAC, but a 256 rip of a well-recorded song could easily sound better than a FLAC of a poorly-recorded song. So I think it would be worth the money to buy some nice headphones. You might find that some of your library now sounds like poo (and this would still happen even if your entire library were in FLAC), but you should have a net improvement overall. 

To get the most out of your headphones though, you should try to build a library with nothing below 320. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that you shouldn't even buy nicer headphones until you do that. 


Of course, what you say is true about mastering quality ... but you never really know unless the source file is the best quality available in the format.  If you don't know this, you will forever be questioning, "Which is it - my equipment or the music?"  There is a thread in this section's first page right now that asks that very same thing.  There are many more that always pop up that are similar.

 

At the same time, if you're making a recommendation about bit-rate, that sort of concedes the argument, doesn't it?

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post
 

He claims only 15% is under 200kbps so it's not too bad.

 

And another 35% between 200kbps and 320kbps, just in case you might be thinking I can't count ;)

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