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Premium SENNHEISER HD 800 Audiophile Setup

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

This is going to be my daily used HiFi setup at home. If you have any suggestions or questions on my soon to come setup, then please comment. I'm trying to get the best possible signal for classical, jazz, vocals, and orchestra music for the Sennheiser HD800, (Which I may be purchasing in 1- 2 Months). 

 

Sennheiser HD800- http://www.crutchfield.com/p_143HD800/Sennheiser-HD-800.html?showAll=N&search=hd800&skipvs=T

 

Burson Soloist SL Headphone Amp- http://www.moon-audio.com/headphone-amplifiers/burson-audio/burson-soloist-sl-headphone-amplifier.html

 

FIIO X5 Portable DAC & Audio player- http://www.amazon.com/X5-Resolution-Lossless-Music-Player/dp/B00I4Q9S32/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1398232158&sr=8-1&keywords=fiio+x5#productDetails

 

Sandisk 128GB Micro SD- http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Ultra-microSDXC-Adapter-SDSDQU-128G-AFFP-A/dp/B00IIJ6W4S/ref=pd_cp_e_0

 

AudioQuest Sydney RCA to Stereo Mini- http://www.crutchfield.com/p_703SDMR1M/AudioQuest-Sydney-1-meter-3-3-feet.html?tp=35005

 

I was also planning on purchasing a whole new 24bit Flac library from HDtracks. But I'm still trying to find places that sell 24b Flac audio files of these: Rolling Stones, The Police, ACDC, Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, Bee Jees, Gun's N' Roses, Cold Play, ZZ Top, and other classical & Rock

post #2 of 20

If you're already spending that much, and I assume it's for home use anyway since you're getting the Soloist (and didn't mention an IEM or portable headphone), why not just get a Burson Conductor so you can use a computer as source instead of the X5+microSD? Or pair the  Soloist SL with a music server like the Aune S1, given a 64gb USB drive or even a 1TB HDD will have better price to storage size ratio than the microSD? You might even have a spare back-up drive at home already that you can upgrade for more important files and back up of your music collection, then just hook it up to this one (note: verify with the manufacturer if they work with USB3 portable HDDs).

 

BTW if you have an NAS you can just hook this up to your home network router. There's an equivalent Marantz with teh same connectivity options but the S1 uses an AKM DAC, and I'm not a fan of the CD5004 (I actually like my CD60 and the CD6000 better).


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 4/23/14 at 8:13pm
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

If you're already spending that much, and I assume it's for home use anyway since you're getting the Soloist (and didn't mention an IEM or portable headphone), why not just get a Burson Conductor so you can use a computer as source instead of the X5+microSD? Or pair the  Soloist SL with a music server like the Aune S1, given a 64gb USB drive or even a 1TB HDD will have better price to storage size ratio than the microSD? You might even have a spare back-up drive at home already that you can upgrade for more important files and back up of your music collection, then just hook it up to this one (note: verify with the manufacturer if they work with USB3 portable HDDs).

 

BTW if you have an NAS you can just hook this up to your home network router. There's an equivalent Marantz with teh same connectivity options but the S1 uses an AKM DAC, and I'm not a fan of the CD5004 (I actually like my CD60 and the CD6000 better).

I need a portable player capable of holding all of my music for traveling. Plus my computer- (Fujistu Lifebook T732) is not accessible from where I will be quietly listening to music.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

If you're already spending that much, and I assume it's for home use anyway since you're getting the Soloist (and didn't mention an IEM or portable headphone), why not just get a Burson Conductor so you can use a computer as source instead of the X5+microSD? Or pair the  Soloist SL with a music server like the Aune S1, given a 64gb USB drive or even a 1TB HDD will have better price to storage size ratio than the microSD? You might even have a spare back-up drive at home already that you can upgrade for more important files and back up of your music collection, then just hook it up to this one (note: verify with the manufacturer if they work with USB3 portable HDDs).

 

BTW if you have an NAS you can just hook this up to your home network router. There's an equivalent Marantz with teh same connectivity options but the S1 uses an AKM DAC, and I'm not a fan of the CD5004 (I actually like my CD60 and the CD6000 better).

I love the idea though 

post #5 of 20

Is the Conductor way out of your budget? Because then you can hook up the X5 via the SPDIF input, so you take advantage of having a DAC with an output stage that makes no compromuses for running off a battery and on top of that doesn't have to travel through an analog cable.

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

Is the Conductor way out of your budget? Because then you can hook up the X5 via the SPDIF input, so you take advantage of having a DAC with an output stage that makes no compromuses for running off a battery and on top of that doesn't have to travel through an analog cable.

The Conductor is out of my budget

post #7 of 20

If the conductor is out of your budget I wouldn't bother with the HD800 unless you are willing to live with a slightly hard sounding treble.


For classical and jazz I wouldn't recommend the Soloist.  It has a darker sound signature which probably won't match that well.

 

I have tried using a Cypher Labs Algorhytm Solo - db as  a DAC with a full size amp and the HD800 and it didn't work very well.  Your proposed source will not come close to taking advantage of a Soloist-->HD800 combo.  If you want to use a portable source choose another headphone that won't expose the noise floor of your source.  

 

Based on what you are considering you have around $3000 to play with.  I think there are better options with that budget.  If you really want the HD800 I would rather buy a vortex box music server (or cheap laptop with jriver) and a Schiit Uberfrost/Vali combo.

 


If you use a crummy source it doesn't matter how good your headphone and amp are.  You are better of spreading your budget between components unless you are planning to upgrade at a later time

post #8 of 20
I wouldn't think the X5 is crummy, although as a home player having the cable coming out of the top (unlike when it's on the bottom, a dock can make it net and convenient to handle on a table, see below). Also if I could choose between sending a battery powered-opamp's signal through a long-ish cable vs an integrated DAC-Amp, I'd always go for the latter.
 
Is there any particular reason for choosing the Soloist, ie, you've already heard it and know for sure that you like it? Because there are DAC-Amps with optical input that might also do well enough for the HD600, and you get to use the X5's coax output - you just need to find one with a neutral DAC section like the X5's, as buying one that colors the sound will of course mean that you might prefer the X5 over it in the end.
post #9 of 20
Had the soloist with the hd800 once upon a time in a galaxy far far away. Dont be afraid, its a nice enough combo.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stapsy View Post
 

If the conductor is out of your budget I wouldn't bother with the HD800 unless you are willing to live with a slightly hard sounding treble.


For classical and jazz I wouldn't recommend the Soloist.  It has a darker sound signature which probably won't match that well.

 

I have tried using a Cypher Labs Algorhytm Solo - db as  a DAC with a full size amp and the HD800 and it didn't work very well.  Your proposed source will not come close to taking advantage of a Soloist-->HD800 combo.  If you want to use a portable source choose another headphone that won't expose the noise floor of your source.  

 

Based on what you are considering you have around $3000 to play with.  I think there are better options with that budget.  If you really want the HD800 I would rather buy a vortex box music server (or cheap laptop with jriver) and a Schiit Uberfrost/Vali combo.

 


If you use a crummy source it doesn't matter how good your headphone and amp are.  You are better of spreading your budget between components unless you are planning to upgrade at a later time

Hello,

I would like to start off by saying that the X5 is far from a crummy source. Though I cannot say I've listened to it, but I can say that I have not come across any negative comments on the product itself. I have also seen a couple articles of the Fiio X5 competing against the Astel & Kern AK100, but its hard to believe that it could even compete with any of their products. Just a couple of months ago I auditioned the Sennheiser HD800 with my upgraded iPod Touch 5g w/ Flac 96khz files, and it sounded beautiful! I also auditioned the HD700, but I was not impressed. Which is why I am definitely purchasing the HD800 this month

 

If I were to use a USB on my computer, would that pass through everything on the sound card and DAC and just deliver pure sound from my Fujitsu Lifebook T732 Laptop?

If so, that will save me a ton of money.

 

I would also like to say that I have been thinking about the Upgraded Woo Audio WA7 and Woo Audio WA2 Upgraded- But I'm not entirely sure about that.

I've also been looking into the Schiit Lyr......but after a guy got kicked off this forum for talking about what harm Schiit's products do to your headphones, I decided to pass.

I'm sure that I already raised red flags for posting this, so I would like to say that I would like no further comments about Schiit Audio- Because I am not reconsidering

post #11 of 20

Yep, the X5 isn't a crummy source, it's just that like anything it has some advantages and disadvantages. For example, its layout isn't conducive for neat cable management for a home set-up,* or that at least if compared to using a DAC-Amp with discrete power supply for both sections and a full-blown output stage after the DACs, I pointed out that these might outweigh its portability (or at least use it exclusively for a portabel set-up).

 

 

 

 

 

*By this I mean that because the line out port is on top it can't be made to stand on a dock where the cables are all behind it, like the iPods, or the same way the original Galaxy S lineout dock was only the freebie from Samsung (not that its USB audio worked, or that it has a true lineout), but the S3 has many generic docks available that allowed for neater cable management (see below). In any case, there are solutions to keep it upright, although the cable will at least need to be a right angle to keep everything neat.

 

post #12 of 20

I didn't find the X5 to be very good with the HD-800s.

 

USB only passes a digital signal, so it wouldn't use your computer's DAC at all.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

I didn't find the X5 to be very good with the HD-800s.

 

USB only passes a digital signal, so it wouldn't use your computer's DAC at all.

 

So the signal would be "untouched"

 

Well I'm sure the X5 is better than my upgraded iPod Touch 5g which was used to test the Sennheiser HD800, And the HD800 still sounded great

post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah99 View Post

 

So the signal would be "untouched"

 

Yep.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah99 View Post

 

Well I'm sure the X5 is better than my upgraded iPod Touch 5g which was used to test the Sennheiser HD800, And the HD800 still sounded great

 

I cannot recall the details of his review, but keep in mind some people tend to not enjoy a generally neutral source with a revealing headphone. It comes out dry. Even I generally prefer having a musical-enough source (not somthing warm, but there has to be some texture in the midrange and treble, and has to be "fast," although the amp would have a lot more to do with that), but I've only heard the X5 with my HD600 and ASG-2.

 

In any case I like the HD800 with the USB DAC on my Cantate.2 up there, and it doesn't come out "dry" (nor shrill) by my standards. Of course, while the imaging of the PCM2702 isn't problematic as I've heard with some CDPs, it can't compare to a CDP like the Cayin CD-50T or CDT-23 for example.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Yep.

 

 

I cannot recall the details of his review, but keep in mind some people tend to not enjoy a generally neutral source with a revealing headphone. It comes out dry. Even I generally prefer having a musical-enough source (not somthing warm, but there has to be some texture in the midrange and treble, and has to be "fast," although the amp would have a lot more to do with that), but I've only heard the X5 with my HD600 and ASG-2.

 

In any case I like the HD800 with the USB DAC on my Cantate.2 up there, and it doesn't come out "dry" (nor shrill) by my standards. Of course, while the imaging of the PCM2702 isn't problematic as I've heard with some CDPs, it can't compare to a CDP like the Cayin CD-50T or CDT-23 for example.

So if I just run the Sennheiser HD800 off my 2010 Fujitsu Lifebook via USB from Jriver

 

But now I need an amp, so would the legendary Woo Audio WA7  be the best choice or the WA2 be a better pick

 

Also, my computer gets a very faint coil whining noise and my sound-card randomly gets disabled and does not allow me to use the speakers or my IEM's via mini jack

Would this effect me playing music or the sound quality?

Also, wouldn't the thin cheap copper USB cable get interference from other stuff in the laptop?

 

This is why I prefer dedicated headphone sources......

 

P.S.- I'm getting these headphones to have natural, clear, transparent, uncolored sound, not recreated sound like Bose or Beats

P.S.S.- My goal is to find a setup that makes the HD800 sound a million times better than my iPod Touch 5G hooked up directly

-Noah

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