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If someone buy me the headphone (any price), but not the amp and CD player, which one of the...

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I am bulding a system for classical music, especially German/Austrian symphonic music.

Assuming someone would buy me the headphone, so the price of the headphone is irrelevant in this issue. I just want to know, if my budget for amp and CD/SACD player is 2500 dollars (default split - 1500 dollars for CD player, and 1000 dollars for headphone amp), which one of the following headphones would give me the best outcome - HD600,T90,HD800,T1?

 

I know that 2500 dollars budget would not match the real performance of HD800 or T1. However, since the price of the headphone is not a concern, if HD800(or T1) perform better than HD600(or T90) in my system, even if only a little bit better, I would choose HD800 (or T1) over HD600 (or T90).

 

The reason why I ask in that way is that I always hear that HD800 and T1 are very intolerant in middle-end systems. In other words, HD800 and T1 would perform worse tha HD600 and T90 in middle-end system. Is that true? Or exaggerated?

 

Any suggestion?

post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post

 

The reason why I ask in that way is that I always hear that HD800 and T1 are very intolerant in middle-end systems. In other words, HD800 and T1 would perform worse tha HD600 and T90 in middle-end system. Is that true? Or exaggerated?

 

Don't look at this in terms of price, that will be extremely deceiving. You can get a lot of amps that cost around (if not well under) $1,000 that can drive the HD800 well. My Meier Cantate.2 was less than $600 new, and that included worldwide shipping, and even its PCM2702-based USB DAC (that chip is used only as a USB receiver by other DACs) works great with the HD800, presenting a believable and well-proportioned, precise soundstage. By contrast I've tried a bunch of CDPs, mostly entry-level ones like the C5004 and 351C, even the last generation Rega Apollo, and they all have issues either with the imaging or frequency response that the Cantate.2 was all too transparent with. Heck, I like the ODAC a lot better than all those sources.

 

What you can do then is get a good amp, plus a DAC, or a DAC-Amp; you can use a cheap BluRay player as a CD transport (you're using headphones, so any decent-brand video disc transport won't have to deal with speakers' vibrations, ergo a heavily-built audio disc transport is not necessary). The Schiit Lyr and Bifrost would come in at $800 - that leaves you plenty of money that you can go right ahead and get a small, $300-ish dedicated CD transport from Shanling, Pro-Ject, Little Dot, etc. Or you can get the Burson Conductor or AudioGD NFB-10.

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Don't look at this in terms of price, that will be extremely deceiving. You can get a lot of amps that cost around (if not well under) $1,000 that can drive the HD800 well. My Meier Cantate.2 was less than $600 new, and that included worldwide shipping, and even its PCM2702-based USB DAC (that chip is used only as a USB receiver by other DACs) works great with the HD800, presenting a believable and well-proportioned, precise soundstage. By contrast I've tried a bunch of CDPs, mostly entry-level ones like the C5004 and 351C, even the last generation Rega Apollo, and they all have issues either with the imaging or frequency response that the Cantate.2 was all too transparent with. Heck, I like the ODAC a lot better than all those sources.

 

What you can do then is get a good amp, plus a DAC, or a DAC-Amp; you can use a cheap BluRay player as a CD transport (you're using headphones, so any decent-brand video disc transport won't have to deal with speakers' vibrations, ergo a heavily-built audio disc transport is not necessary). The Schiit Lyr and Bifrost would come in at $800 - that leaves you plenty of money that you can go right ahead and get a small, $300-ish dedicated CD transport from Shanling, Pro-Ject, Little Dot, etc. Or you can get the Burson Conductor or AudioGD NFB-10.

 

Great in-depth explanation!

If I only use headphones, a BluRay player would not perform differently from CD players as a transport? Is a $100 BluRay player capable of transporting SACD to DAC?

For the CD players, I am actually not considering the entry level such as CD5004, but some higher-end players such as yamaha CD-S1000, Marantz SA-8005 (or SA-15S2) costing around $1000-1500. Is it a better option than buying a $300 CD transport (or BluRay player) and $800 DAC?

And...How do you think of Shanling DAC?

post #4 of 25

Price isn't as relevant to headphones as you think. It helps to set them apart, yes, but they aren't always indicative of quality. Assuming someone else actually was willing to buy you those headphones, I'd ask them to buy the HD 600s since anything above that is a massive point of diminishing returns unless price-to-performance really is not a factor to you (as in the case of audiophiles). If you run those off of a PC, you don't really need an amp. Their impedance is high but they're sensitive headphones. Having worn HD 800s, they are very comfortable, but the sound is not worth over three times the price of the HD 600s to me.

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

Price isn't as relevant to headphones as you think. It helps to set them apart, yes, but they aren't always indicative of quality. Assuming someone else actually was willing to buy you those headphones, I'd ask them to buy the HD 600s since anything above that is a massive point of diminishing returns unless price-to-performance really is not a factor to you (as in the case of audiophiles). If you run those off of a PC, you don't really need an amp. Their impedance is high but they're sensitive headphones. Having worn HD 800s, they are very comfortable, but the sound is not worth over three times the price of the HD 600s to me.

 

Yes, there is strong diminishing return, but I really like HD 800. It is much more than three times comfortable and the sound stage is also much better.

I have tried Alo pan am to drive both HD650 and HD800, and i definitely prefer HD800 when listening to symphonies, but not for Bach uncompanied cello suites...probably because the pan am is battery powered and not high-end enough to match HD800...

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post
 

If I only use headphones, a BluRay player would not perform differently from CD players as a transport? Is a $100 BluRay player capable of transporting SACD to DAC?

 

Like I said, if it's about vibrations, there's not really much point in using a dedicated CD transport over a video disc transport with headphones. For example, my Marantz CD60's bass sounds noticeably tighter when I put weights on it, but that's on my speaker system. Hook up headphones directly to its amp or a headphone amp, and the books I stacked on it don't make a difference. The only possible explanation (I would of course not take psychoacoustics completely out of the equation) is that the vibrations from speakers, not from the disc spinning on its own, is the problem, and headphones don't throw a lot of soundwaves at high dBs all around the room, with some of them hitting the chassis of the CDP.

 

As for DSD stream, I can't be certain. Some would, some don't - it's hard to tell with the really cheap ones. You might want to look into audio servers, essentially CDPs with internal HDDs or memory (USB, SD cards)/connectivity (LAN or even WLAN for NAS drives, also for using a tablet or smartphone as a remote control, with the same interface as a computer music player), as some of them might be capable of sending out DSD.

 

BTW, there is a USB DAC for computers that decodes only DSD, and has an analogue pass-through so you can integrate it between a DAC or CDP that decodes your PCM recordings and the amp/s, and it's only $150.

http://www.schiit.com/products/loki

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post
 

For the CD players, I am actually not considering the entry level such as CD5004, but some higher-end players such as yamaha CD-S1000, Marantz SA-8005 (or SA-15S2) costing around $1000-1500. Is it a better option than buying a $300 CD transport (or BluRay player) and $800 DAC?

 

If they have digital inputs, then I'd say sure, go right ahead. Otherwise, you'll eventually run into every reason why we've moved to computers, audio servers, heck even tablets/smartphones* with a DAC and away from CDPs - the transport being a mechanical device will break before the rest of it does, and you might have trouble finding someone within driving (much less train ride) distance who can fix it. I've had my fair share of transports breaking on me and that's the reason why, unless I can get some CDPs that I really like used, cheap, and has a (reliable) local dealer that can service them, like Cayin (my personal faves - CD50T and CDT23), Shanling, and Musical Fidelity, I've managed to avoid getting any, despite the fact that I still buy physical discs and keep them on my shelf (and read the album notes, look at the album art, etc on my first listen).

 

 

*Like mine, although this only does 16/44.1 FLAC

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post
 

And...How do you think of Shanling DAC?

 

I've tried many of their products, and I consider them good, although my personal favorite ever since I got to listen to them is still Cayin. I don't even have a specific preference for tubes but at least the CDT23 (heck even the CD50T) doesn't have that stereotypical tube sound; the CDT23 has that "live performance" presentation that goes really well with speakers driven by a reasonably powerful amp.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

Price isn't as relevant to headphones as you think. It helps to set them apart, yes, but they aren't always indicative of quality. Assuming someone else actually was willing to buy you those headphones, I'd ask them to buy the HD 600s since anything above that is a massive point of diminishing returns unless price-to-performance really is not a factor to you (as in the case of audiophiles). If you run those off of a PC, you don't really need an amp. Their impedance is high but they're sensitive headphones. Having worn HD 800s, they are very comfortable, but the sound is not worth over three times the price of the HD 600s to me.

 

I haven't tried the HD600 on the OPA-6152 equipped MSI motherboards yet (but that's what I'm getting for my next build) but on my current MSI motherboard the HD600 still kind of sucks compared to a really good amp. For someone on a budget, yeah I'll say even my iPad does a really good job of driving the HD600, but hook it up to my Cantate.2 and it's almost like a different headphone. Percussion has a lot more bite, and the details on the bass guitars come out more, and the individual notes are more audible too. I'm listening to them right now with my PC btw, because I don't want to stay in my bedroom where the amp is, because the weather is sooooo hot here right now and I try to cycle which room I'll be in throughout the day (and ergo, which A/C I'll use), and the bass notes on power/symphonic metal tracks are just a bit garbled on this motherboard. Also there are sharp edges on the treble and the midrange lacks body. It does get loud though - Windows volume is only at 50% right now and the A/C and a stand fan are running (I point the A/C's output into the back of the fan, and then it throws it all the way across the room).

post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

 

If they have digital inputs, then I'd say sure, go right ahead. Otherwise, you'll eventually run into every reason why we've moved to computers, audio servers, heck even tablets/smartphones* with a DAC and away from CDPs - the transport being a mechanical device will break before the rest of it does, and you might have trouble finding someone within driving (much less train ride) distance who can fix it. I've had my fair share of transports breaking on me and that's the reason why, unless I can get some CDPs that I really like used, cheap, and has a (reliable) local dealer that can service them, like Cayin (my personal faves - CD50T and CDT23), Shanling, and Musical Fidelity, I've managed to avoid getting any, despite the fact that I still buy physical discs and keep them on my shelf (and read the album notes, look at the album art, etc on my first listen).

 

 

*Like mine, although this only does 16/44.1 FLAC

 

 

 

Some of the CD players such as marantz SA8005 have USB so it can be used as either a CD player and a DAC for pchifi, but some don't (yamaha CS-S1000).

I have been using a second hand yamaha CDX-530 for my stereo systems for 6 years (a really old CD player...). I don't play it intensive so that I don't find any mechanical problems. As long as it won't be broken in less than 1 year, I don't think it is a issue to prefer the CD transport over computers...

post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post
 

Some of the CD players such as marantz SA8005 have USB so it can be used as either a CD player and a DAC for pchifi, but some don't (yamaha CS-S1000).

 

Check the specs for those. If the USB input is in front, and it's USB-A (the flat one, not the square), it's for a USB drive, not a PC. Some of those take only 320kbps MP3.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post
 

I have been using a second hand yamaha CDX-530 for my stereo systems for 6 years (a really old CD player...). I don't play it intensive so that I don't find any mechanical problems. As long as it won't be broken in less than 1 year, I don't think it is a issue to prefer the CD transport over computers...

 

Yes, of course it doesn't happen to everybody. It's just that if you get that bad luck, it can be very frustrating, especially if you have to ship a huge and heavy CDP, or need to get parts. The CDM-4 Philips transport for example was used in a lot of good CDPs  but the tray gear breaks all the time. Past these of course the other things that have driven the switch over to other devices as digital tranports are massive storage options and better UI on newer products. HDD-based music servers actually have been around a lot longer, except it's a PITA to use with a speaker system because you'd need to navigate 120GB++ of music on a tiny screen - the convenience of not having to get up to switch discs is negated by having to get up to see the CDP-type display navigating several folders (think of all those iPod transports, but in a dedicated 2ch set-up, where no HT equipment like the TV is there to serve as its display). Nowadays, the newer audio servers don't have the cumbersome OS and hardware of a fullblown computer, but they can have their own local storage and/or even tap into a wireless network, which allows access to an NAS drive as well as remote control apps that give you the same UI as the player apps on that tablet or smartphone. Even HT receivers can do this now.

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Check the specs for those. If the USB input is in front, and it's USB-A (the flat one, not the square), it's for a USB drive, not a PC. Some of those take only 320kbps MP3.

 

 

Roger...I will check the input.

post #10 of 25
I, too, prefer the soundstage of HD800 for orchestral and the intimacy and tone of HD600 for piano. T1 bored me and I haven't tried the other yet. (You can see my favorites in my profile.)
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

I, too, prefer the soundstage of HD800 for orchestral and the intimacy and tone of HD600 for piano. T1 bored me and I haven't tried the other yet. (You can see my favorites in my profile.)

 

How do you like CD6005? I am kind of interested, but I want to try a SACD player, but it cost much more. Is it necessary?

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post

How do you like CD6005? I am kind of interested, but I want to try a SACD player, but it cost much more. Is it necessary?

Its DAC is very good, clear and detailed. I enjoy pairing it with tubes for richness.

My only complaint is that the remote is silver (that should give you an idea of how very satisfied I am so far). The front USB in works fine but is a bit of a hassle for me because it uses the CDP screen instead of the iPod's. So I don't bother.

But 6005 has a few other technical and build improvements over 5004, so I decided to spend the extra $150. It's not worth a further $500 beyond 6005's price for 8005 unless you collect SACDs.

I didn't buy SA8005 or the Sony because I don't have any SACDs. I decided against the Oppos because I didn't want to have to deal with firmware and I don't have any Blu-ray discs.
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post


Its DAC is very good, clear and detailed. I enjoy pairing it with tubes for richness.

My only complaint is that the remote is silver (that should give you an idea of how very satisfied I am so far). The front USB in works fine but is a bit of a hassle for me because it uses the CDP screen instead of the iPod's. So I don't bother.

But 6005 has a few other technical and build improvements over 5004, so I decided to spend the extra $150. It's not worth a further $500 beyond 6005's price for 8005 unless you collect SACDs.

I didn't buy SA8005 or the Sony because I don't have any SACDs. I decided against the Oppos because I didn't want to have to deal with firmware and I don't have any Blu-ray discs.

 

I have some SACDs

I heard a lot saying that CD6000 series are very competitive at $500 price range. But I don't see any similar comments on SA8000 series...Is SACD the only difference between these two players? Or SA8005 also plays CD better than CD6005?

post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PianistHusband View Post

 

I have some SACDs

I heard a lot saying that CD6000 series are very competitive at $500 price range. But I don't see any similar comments on SA8000 series...Is SACD the only difference between these two players? Or SA8005 also plays CD better than CD6005?

 

The two major differences are that the SA8005 can play SACD and you can hook it up to your computer to play music through its DAC. CD6005 plays only CDs and you can play a USB device (such as an iPad, &c.) through it.

 

Regarding CD playback, the differences are very minor. Listing CD6005, followed by SA8005:

 

Dynamic range: 100 dB vs. 101 dB
Harmonic distortion: 0.002 % (1 kHz) vs. 0.0018% (1 kHz)
Wow & flutter: Crystal accuracy vs. Below measurable limits

 

I doubt these are audible differences and, unless you need SACD, would recommending spending the $500 difference on other gear or music. Or even better-made interconnects, if you believe in that sort of thing.

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

 

The two major differences are that the SA8005 can play SACD and you can hook it up to your computer to play music through its DAC. CD6005 plays only CDs and you can play a USB device (such as an iPad, &c.) through it.

 

Regarding CD playback, the differences are very minor. Listing CD6005, followed by SA8005:

 

Dynamic range: 100 dB vs. 101 dB
Harmonic distortion: 0.002 % (1 kHz) vs. 0.0018% (1 kHz)
Wow & flutter: Crystal accuracy vs. Below measurable limits

 

I doubt these are audible differences and, unless you need SACD, would recommending spending the $500 difference on other gear or music. Or even better-made interconnects, if you believe in that sort of thing.

 

The computer-DAC function is very tempting, but I wouldn't really use computer as a source since I really rely on the disks.

I am also considering other brand such as Yamaha, Denon (I prefer Yamaha since I have been using its old model for many years).

There are many recommend electrocompaniet emc-1 up as one of the best CD players for classical music, but it is way to expensive for me...

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › If someone buy me the headphone (any price), but not the amp and CD player, which one of the follwoing should I choose - HD600,T90,HD800,T1?