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A 200 USD entry-level audio rig?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I am new member of head-fi. I've reading numerous threads on head-fi for about 2 years before I decided to be a member (LOL, why  I took so long haha). So here is the situation, I am becoming a university student this august and looking forward to build a decent audio set up in my dorm. I am interested in both earphones and headphones ( speakers aint suitable since i dont want to annoy my roommate.. open headphones are fine - not me as loud as speakers ). I alr own 2 pairs - Fischer Audio Eterna v2 and a Panasonic Rp-htx7a. I love the sound sig of the eterna and the extra bits of details from the Pana phones. However, the pana seems to produce annoyingly harsh treble when paired with my noobish Nokia 520 :)) . My sources are all sub-standard ( painful truth :((  ). I usually listen to my Nexus 7 2012 and my Nokia 520 on the .  Always avoid using my laptop for audio since the internal DAC is pure trash with terrible current noise. With a budget of 200 to 250 dollars for my future audio rig, I face a few number of choices:

 

1.  The Takstar pro 80 + Topping D1 dac . This will cost around 180 USD. I bet both the headphones and dac-amp are decent enough to make a noticeable improvement over my current system.

 

2. Just get the Matrix Rip USB DAC_AMP for 169 USD. With this, I have to stick with the current headphones and save up for a nicer headphones such as the Senn HD 598 ( tried it with my tiny Nokia, it alr sound so good ~~~, Gosh if i pair it with it with a nice dac, that would be heavenly :)) )

 

3. Just get the new V-moda XS and stick with the portable sources. uhmm, this option is okay.. but I never own a external DAC and feel really curious about their performance ... ARHHH .. curiosity kills me XD

 

4. Get the fiio X3, I guess this player and my current iem - the Eterna will be a good match. I can upgrade to other phones later on. btw, I heard X3 can be a USB DAC. Can anyone confirm that ? :)

 

PS: I hate beats and bose, not because I want to appear like an audiophile ( which I am not ) but they are really bad lol. Listening to my  320 kps albums of The Temptations and The Top Fours with Beats Mixr and Bose OE makes me realize how bad headphones can ruin your music. I dont like the ath-m50 either, hahah dont know why :))). Love the Custom one Pro ... ohhh, almost forgot, the Custom One Pro should be my option 5.

 

PPS: really sorry if any of you have troubles understanding my text. English is not my first language. :D . Thanks alot guys !!!    

post #2 of 24

Stretch a little and get the HM-700 and RE-400B combo. They pair very well together. 

post #3 of 24

I'm a university student myself, and the best thing you can do when you're on a tight budget is to buy used. The FS/FT threads here a full of mint/like-new gear, and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

 

Something like:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/709383/akg-702-zxac-cable

 

I know there's something off-putting about buying used, but you'll get so much more for your money that way. It also leaves $50 or so to spend on a budget amp, which btw are also available used here.


Edited by viralcow - 4/13/14 at 6:12pm
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks,I will consider buying used ones. But the thing is that I stay in Singapore so shipping is kinda troublesome. BTW, that AKG looks really good :regular_smile :

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lin0003 View Post
 

Stretch a little and get the HM-700 and RE-400B combo. They pair very well together. 

Uhm interesting, but im afraid this set up may sound somewhat too analytical for me. 

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

At the moment, I can get the denon Ad-1100 at about 150 USD. Can anyone compare this to the Takstar pro 80 in terms of SQ and comfort?


Edited by LePOPS - 4/13/14 at 10:51pm
post #7 of 24
You could pair up the fiio e7 and donscorpio dolphin(aggressive and has a bit of a bass tilt according to reviews)or the takstar hd 5500(basshead can)
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunehdrocks View Post

You could pair up the fiio e7 and donscorpio dolphin(aggressive and has a bit of a bass tilt according to reviews)or the takstar hd 5500(basshead can)
Not many people get the donscorpions but the people who do usually compare them to $200-$250 headphones. For more information , you will need to go to the asian/chinese headphone thread because i havent heard these.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/684159/chinese-asian-brand-info-thread-headphones-iems-amps-dacs
post #9 of 24
Best advice for a budget? Don't buy a rig.

Yes, get a good pair of headphones, a DAC, and an amplifier, but don't buy them all at once. Each piece will improve your sound quality, and if you focus on getting one quality piece at a time, you will be able to use all it for years.

So I would go with option #2. I would also recommend looking at Schiit and the Magni/Modi combo. This might cost a fair bit to get it shipped from the US, as they only sell directly, but since it is all modular, you can pick and choose when to get what. The Magni is a nice little amp that starts at $99 USD, and it drives my HD600's with ease. The downside to Modi is that it is USB-only, so it may only work on your laptop. Another cool thing about Schiit's entry-level products is that they have Vali, which is a tube amp for $119 USD.

One more thing. If you are going to a technical university (math, science, engineering), you could also look into the DIY scene. I don't know if this would save you a lot of money, but if you have access to lab equipment and soldering irons (and a good workbench), you could make some pretty good stuff.
post #10 of 24

At the $200 level, my advice would be to spend it all on headphones. Get a pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. Headphones give you the most bang for the buck, and I can't think of any combination of headphones, amp, and DAC all for $200 that would sound better than a a $200 pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. $200 seems like the bare minimum for just an amp/DAC combo that's worth buying, and then you'd be looking at another $150 or so for headphones that would actually benefit from a decent amp and DAC. 

post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zunehdrocks View Post


Not many people get the donscorpions but the people who do usually compare them to $200-$250 headphones. For more information , you will need to go to the asian/chinese headphone thread because i havent heard these.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/684159/chinese-asian-brand-info-thread-headphones-iems-amps-dacs

Ha Ha, I happened to read this whole thread the other day. That is why im so curious about the Takstar phones.

post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

At the $200 level, my advice would be to spend it all on headphones. Get a pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. Headphones give you the most bang for the buck, and I can't think of any combination of headphones, amp, and DAC all for $200 that would sound better than a a $200 pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. $200 seems like the bare minimum for just an amp/DAC combo that's worth buying, and then you'd be looking at another $150 or so for headphones that would actually benefit from a decent amp and DAC. 

Do HD 558 needs an amp? I can get it for 160 USD locally. I heard it is more bass-biased than the hd 598.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by superjawes View Post

Best advice for a budget? Don't buy a rig.

Yes, get a good pair of headphones, a DAC, and an amplifier, but don't buy them all at once. Each piece will improve your sound quality, and if you focus on getting one quality piece at a time, you will be able to use all it for years.

So I would go with option #2. I would also recommend looking at Schiit and the Magni/Modi combo. This might cost a fair bit to get it shipped from the US, as they only sell directly, but since it is all modular, you can pick and choose when to get what. The Magni is a nice little amp that starts at $99 USD, and it drives my HD600's with ease. The downside to Modi is that it is USB-only, so it may only work on your laptop. Another cool thing about Schiit's entry-level products is that they have Vali, which is a tube amp for $119 USD.

One more thing. If you are going to a technical university (math, science, engineering), you could also look into the DIY scene. I don't know if this would save you a lot of money, but if you have access to lab equipment and soldering irons (and a good workbench), you could make some pretty good stuff.

Yes, I'm applying for Electrical Engineering at NTU and NUS in singapore. :D

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

At the $200 level, my advice would be to spend it all on headphones. Get a pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. Headphones give you the most bang for the buck, and I can't think of any combination of headphones, amp, and DAC all for $200 that would sound better than a a $200 pair of headphones that doesn't need an amp. $200 seems like the bare minimum for just an amp/DAC combo that's worth buying, and then you'd be looking at another $150 or so for headphones that would actually benefit from a decent amp and DAC. 

+1 +1 +1 +1

 

Headphones will make the biggest difference aside from source quality. If you try to assemble a rig on that budget, after a few weeks you'll get bit by the infamous upgraditis bug and regret being so stingy. Believe me. Been there. Done that.

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

any specific recommendation ? with 200, I will go further than the Takstars. I know ath-m50x is in the price range but I hate them ( my ears must be weird !! ).

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