For the past two months I have been reading extensively here and elsewhere about making my first investment in a desktop listening system. I would really appreciate your help, but before I get into specifics, I want to give you a little background on my tastes and my relationship to audio.
I'm a college student, about to graduate, and thinking about being out in the 'real world' here in a few months. At the beginning of this academic year, my plan was to put as much money away as I could, so I could hit the ground running after I walk at graduation… then my best friend got a pair of Audio Technica ATH-W1000x's...
I grew up with a father who loved high-fidelity audio. We had no tv in the living room; the living room was where you went to sit and listen. When my friend got those phones, I realized how much I loved sitting and listening. That's the first bit; I'm not concerned with portability, just an excellent setup that I can sit and listen to.
So here I am now; I have made the decision that I can bear parting with about $500. I already have found a nice, fast external hard drive, and am currently compiling a library of lossless; if I'm going to spend the money, I want to do it right, from the ground up.
I'll be using a newish (2013) macbook air as my source, running iTunes (mainly lossy right now, but moving to lossless).
Musical Taste (in no particular order):
Jazz (Bill Evans, Coltrane...)
Blues (Muddy Waters, Little Walter etc.)
Latin (Buena Vista Social Club, Pedro Luis Ferrer etc.)
Classical (gotta love Beethoven)
Rock (my taste is kind of dispersed. I'm into the Violent Femmes, Velvet Undergound, Hendrix as well as more contemporary/indie stuff: Modest Mouse, Edward Sharpe, Neutral Milk Hotel)
as far as vocals: Bill Withers, Bobby Mcferrin, Joanna Newsom (one of these things is not like the other…)
And man… who doesn't like Bela Fleck?
I know I can't have a set of cans that really, truly does it all; if I had to make a commitment, it would be something that makes the jazz and blues really sing.
Personal Listening notes on the Grandioso:
I've listened to the Grandioso running off iTunes (albeit lossy formats) through jdslabs portable amp/dac (I can't remember the model, but I think it was $200-$300)
I like the quick responsiveness of these phones. I like how tight they are, but to my ears their highs are a bit bright and forward, and their lows are a little underrepresented. I'm not interested in flabby, bloated bass at all, but I do want a little more of the tight, quality bottom then these phones give. They also, at time, feel a little cold; totally analytical might not be my golden standard. I'm not mastering the tracks I'm listening to; I just want to feel them. As compared to low-midrange set of AKG's (overall, they sound a bit mushier; not as much articulation or instrument separation) the Grandioso's soundstage is a bit more in-and-behind my head that out in front. There's definitely instrument separation, and some imaging, but we're not talking front-row seat imaging. They sound great in general; I get chills when they're fed a song they like, but ya know…they are also a ~$500 set of cans.
Headphone Short List (in no particular order):
based on a lot of reading, with particular attention to David Mahler's "Battle Of The Flagships" here, this is what iv'e come up with.
Audio Technica ATH-AD 900
Sennheiser HD 600 (this is reaaaaally pushing the budget; I'm on the fence about that one)
HiFi Man He-400
Beyerdynamic Dt-880 (the 240 ohm pro's are $189 on amazon right now)
Schiit M&M stack (I'm open to suggestions about whether or not this is really necessary right now)
I know this was a long post; I just wanted to give you guys as much info to work with as I can. You all have already been a tremendous resource to me, and I would appreciated any feedback. Please help me make the most of my budget