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Where to go from here? Upgrade Amp, DAC, or Headphones?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have assembled a decent collection of phones that I like quite a bit, from Fidelio X1 to AKG K545 to Sony MDR-7506. I like all 3 very much and feel pretty settled on phones for now. Along with them I have a Schiit Vali amp & Audioquest Dragonfly DAC. I am enjoying the gear, but I'm curious where I might look to improve the chain from here. Should I invest in a better DAC? Perhaps one that isn't as small as the Dragonfly? Or would an amp make a larger improvement? Or should I forget those and keep getting better phones? 

post #2 of 9

Headphones will always give you more for your money until summit-fi. At that point it's all about sound signature preferences, so amp and dacs will become the better way to go.

post #3 of 9

What he said above. Until you grab headphones that MSRP is higher than 1K USD, you don't have to buy any better gears than you currently have.

 

BUT, I see you have Vali.... Vali does not play well with low-impedance headphones. Thing is, all of your headphones are low-impedance.

 

You may want to buy Magni for your phones. You might end up liking it better than Vali since Magni is surprisingly warmth even compared to Vali.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnmnkh View Post
 

What he said above. Until you grab headphones that MSRP is higher than 1K USD, you don't have to buy any better gears than you currently have.

 

BUT, I see you have Vali.... Vali does not play well with low-impedance headphones. 

 

really? I generally listen to the Vali w/ the MDR-7506s, which I believe are the highest impedance that I own, but not much higher than the others. I think the sound out of that is fantastic, but maybe the Magni would be even better.

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post

really? I generally listen to the Vali w/ the MDR-7506s, which I believe are the highest impedance that I own, but not much higher than the others. I think the sound out of that is fantastic, but maybe the Magni would be even better.

The Valis low output impedance is 6.5 ohms. That's not perfect for 32 ohm headphones (1/8th is considering optimum), but should be OK. And higher impedance should definitely work fine.

Now the Magni will have more power output for 32 ohm headphones. But if you aren't pushing the volume up very high on your Vali, I wouldn't worry about it.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post

really? I generally listen to the Vali w/ the MDR-7506s, which I believe are the highest impedance that I own, but not much higher than the others. I think the sound out of that is fantastic, but maybe the Magni would be even better.

The Valis low output impedance is 6.5 ohms. That's not perfect for 32 ohm headphones (1/8th is considering optimum), but should be OK. And higher impedance should definitely work fine.

Now the Magni will have more power output for 32 ohm headphones. But if you aren't pushing the volume up very high on your Vali, I wouldn't worry about it.

Damping factor and level of volume are not related. Even if he is not pushing the volume, the headphones' sound is already alternated if damping is poor unless headphone's impedance is purely resistive (which is rare)

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnmnkh View Post

Damping factor and level of volume are not related. Even if he is not pushing the volume, the headphones' sound is already alternated if damping is poor unless headphone's impedance is purely resistive (which is rare)

Yeah. I wasn't referring to the damping. I was thinking of the dynamics, which is related to the maximum SPL output of the amp relative to the listening volume.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post
 

I have assembled a decent collection of phones that I like quite a bit, from Fidelio X1 to AKG K545 to Sony MDR-7506. I like all 3 very much and feel pretty settled on phones for now. Along with them I have a Schiit Vali amp & Audioquest Dragonfly DAC. I am enjoying the gear, but I'm curious where I might look to improve the chain from here. Should I invest in a better DAC? Perhaps one that isn't as small as the Dragonfly? Or would an amp make a larger improvement? Or should I forget those and keep getting better phones? 

 

Hopefully your using a program like Foobar2000 for playing audio (music) files.

 

I think money would better spend on better headphones,

I can't see you getting a noticeable improvement in audio quality unless you looking to send a lot of cash ($400 or more) on a DAC/Amp.

And for that kind of cash getting new headphone would make more sense.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by thievesarmy View Post

really? I generally listen to the Vali w/ the MDR-7506s, which I believe are the highest impedance that I own, but not much higher than the others. I think the sound out of that is fantastic, but maybe the Magni would be even better.


If you like the Vali, that's all that really matters. Here's the thing with damping factor: if your headphones have less than 1/8th the impedance of the amp, then the amp will alter the sound signature of your headphones. This alteration isn't necessarily better or worse. If you like the sound, that's fine. Getting an amp with a lower output impedance will make your headphones sound more like how they were designed to sound, but it's still a matter of  personal preference. 

In any case, there's nothing about your system that's asking for an upgrade per se. What you could do is try some different equipment just for variety. You could try a solid-state amp, or you could get another pair of headphones. 

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