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Which headphones/amp/dac for metal, rock, classical? Budget is ~$600.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Absolute beginner here.  Been using the Sennheiser PX 100-II for a long time, connected directly to my computer.  This setup has done its job well, especially for $50 headphones.  But it's time to move on to something grander.  I'm no audiophile (yet), but I know good sound when I hear it.  That's why I feel a good quality headphone paired with a good amp + dac will do wonders for me.

 

I'd like a neutral, balanced sound, a wide sound stage, and high detail and clarity.  I listen to a lot of metal, specifically death, black, doom and thrash.  I also enjoy rock of most varieties, with classic being my most favored (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath, etc).  90s rock finds its way in there sometimes too.  I also venture into classical and jazz on occasion.  Most of what I listen to is high quality - CD and FLAC mostly.  Spotify streamed at 320kps sometimes. 

 

With all that said, what are my best options?  I've been reading a lot of good things about the Sennheiser HD600 for good balance.  I also am leaning toward the Schiit Modi + Magni combo, as they seem to be about the best value, and Schiit seems to be an exceptional company.  But you guys tell me, what are my other options?  I'd like to keep it at or below $600. 

 

Oh, and I also enjoy vinyl, which reminds me of another question.  Obviously the DAC isn't involved here, but say I go for the Magni, would I be better suited connecting my turntable to the Magni, or sticking with my current HT receiver, the Yamaha HTR-5540?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 21
The Modi/Magnificent is definitely a great choice with your budget.

Do you have a phono stage? You would need that for using your turntable with the Magni.

I would also suggest looking at the AK 700 series of headphones.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The Modi/Magnificent is definitely a great choice with your budget.

Do you have a phono stage? You would need that for using your turntable with the Magni.

I would also suggest looking at the AK 700 series of headphones.

 

No I'm not.  I'm not familiar with phono stages.  I'm currently using the SONY LX250H turntable which has a built-in preamp.  Does that make a difference?

post #4 of 21
I think so. Maybe? It's been 25 years since I've owned a turntable smily_headphones1.gif
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

Also, pardon my ignorance, but which headphone is the AK 700?  Google is being unhelpful.

post #6 of 21
Those are the AKG K700 I believe.
post #7 of 21

Refurb Sennheiser HD600 for $299, then any AudioGD DAC-Amp for $300; alternately, there's the ODAC and the Meier Corda Jazz (don't be fooled by the name, Meier amps tend to be very neutral - I use one with the HD600 and I'm listening to Ride the Lightning right now). The limitation at that price range though are the input options - many amps a that price range tend to not have more than one input. There could be an AudioGD that has a USB input for your computer but also an analog input for a TT (make sure you check the specs, if there's only one pair of RCA's, it's likely a preamp output).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by caiman View Post
 

 

No I'm not.  I'm not familiar with phono stages.  I'm currently using the SONY LX250H turntable which has a built-in preamp.  Does that make a difference?

 

If the preamp is built into it there's no need for a phono stage.

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by caiman View Post
 

Absolute beginner here.  Been using the Sennheiser PX 100-II for a long time, connected directly to my computer.  This setup has done its job well, especially for $50 headphones.  But it's time to move on to something grander.  I'm no audiophile (yet), but I know good sound when I hear it.  That's why I feel a good quality headphone paired with a good amp + dac will do wonders for me.

 

I'd like a neutral, balanced sound, a wide sound stage, and high detail and clarity.  I listen to a lot of metal, specifically death, black, doom and thrash.  I also enjoy rock of most varieties, with classic being my most favored (Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath, etc).  90s rock finds its way in there sometimes too.  I also venture into classical and jazz on occasion.  Most of what I listen to is high quality - CD and FLAC mostly.  Spotify streamed at 320kps sometimes. 

 

With all that said, what are my best options?  I've been reading a lot of good things about the Sennheiser HD600 for good balance.  I also am leaning toward the Schiit Modi + Magni combo, as they seem to be about the best value, and Schiit seems to be an exceptional company.  But you guys tell me, what are my other options?  I'd like to keep it at or below $600. 

 

Oh, and I also enjoy vinyl, which reminds me of another question.  Obviously the DAC isn't involved here, but say I go for the Magni, would I be better suited connecting my turntable to the Magni, or sticking with my current HT receiver, the Yamaha HTR-5540?

 

Thanks!

As far as headphones go, soundstage, detail and clarity is what the AKG K7xx and Q701 do best.  I've owned all 3 senns (580,600,650) and I like them for their strengths... but none of them reveal/present as much detail as my K701.  The Quincy model seems like it would be a great choice for you.  I like the K701, its my most neutral can.  Almost "boringly" neutral.  Many find it bright and a little bass shy, so I think the Qunicy model would suit you better.


Edited by kramer5150 - 5/2/14 at 9:16am
post #9 of 21
You can get the Schiit Stack and some DT880. I really like them for those genres.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by caiman View Post

Also, pardon my ignorance, but which headphone is the AKG 700?  Google is being unhelpful.

Q701, K701, etc. Check the AKG website for different models of 70x. They all sound a bit different.
Edited by cel4145 - 5/2/14 at 6:47pm
post #11 of 21

I could also recommend the Philipps Fidelio X1. They aren't that expensive now, and you don't really need an amp to enjoy them.

They offer a great soundstage, an airy presentation, and I find that they work well with most genres.

I listen mostly to Metal, and they can manage the most progressive stuff. I'd say they are on the fun side though, so bass and highs are more present than the mids, but nothing shocking, if you are into neutral headphones.

post #12 of 21
Although I agree that K70x best fits the sound you described, I don't enjoy it or variants for metal or those subgenres because the tone is too cold and the soundstage is too big for a small band.

If you're willing to sacrifice some soundstage and slightest bit of everything else you asked about, I think you'd enjoy HE400 more.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

Although I agree that K70x best fits the sound you described, I don't enjoy it or variants for metal or those subgenres because the tone is too cold and the soundstage is too big for a small band.

If you're willing to sacrifice some soundstage and slightest bit of everything else you asked about, I think you'd enjoy HE400 more.

 

x2. Except that the he400 is almost on the other end of the spectrum in terms of clarity. A middle ground, like the hd600/650, or he500 gets my vote.

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post

Although I agree that K70x best fits the sound you described, I don't enjoy it or variants for metal or those subgenres because the tone is too cold and the soundstage is too big for a small band

 

I found the K701 "cold" on the most surprising combo of upstream components - the Lite DAC-AH NOS DAC and the Little Dot MkII tube amp - both of which make the HD600 too warm, dark even. On my current amp, the Meier Cantate.2 (using its USB DAC or some other DACs I've tried) however the x70x series is close enough to the HD600, but with a wider and more precise soundstage; ditto the Burson Soloist/Conductor (heck, the x70x have drastically more dynamic range compared to the HD600 with these). That suggests that these  amps simply have no difficulty driving either of these series of headphones.

post #15 of 21

In my opinion, the DT 880 and the HD600 are both excellent choices.  In my opinion, the DT 880 is slightly more unforgiving with bad recordings (including some Led Zeppelin songs), and the HD600 sounds slightly better overall, but I really like both with classic rock (and other sub-genres of rock and metal).

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