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Need help in choosing headphones + dac/amp -set for around 300 euros ($400)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 


I'm a newbie when it comes to hi-fi, that's why I may be asking some stupid questions. Well, I guess you're used to those, try to hang on.


About headphones


So, I've been looking for a sub 200€ headphones for a while now. My friend has Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro's (250ohm version) and a Schiit dac and amp for those.

In my opinion the set sounded quite good, best headphones I've ever used for sure. However the sound without amp was quite 'overly' warm / not so precise - not a surprise because 250ohm version (if I've learned right, those must have amp to sound good). I must say that I enjoyed keeping those in my head more than any other headphones with velour pads, they were really comfortable, but they also leak the sound out when listening at moderate volume.


The situation is that I like to use headphones sometimes with laptop and also rarely with mobile phone. I mean, on-the-go when travelling long distances or when staying in one place other than my own living room. I'd like to enjoy electronic music (house, dnb, trance, some dubstep - also alt.rock) through on-ear headphones everywhere I go for a while. That can't be done if the pair of headphones always needs a dac/amp next to it and I'm not really that excited about pocket amps, though I could try those one day if they bring huge improvement.


Now I've read about Audio-Technica ATH-M50's - and only thing negative I've heard was that pleather can get sweaty. I tried Superlux HD699's with pleather pads for a moment and it got sweaty right away. But I think there's a solution: velvet pads available on amazon. So if I were to order Audio-Technica ATH-M50, I would go for the M50x's because removable cables (and not so much pressure on the ears? Just wondering because nobody has complained about it when it comes to x version) and buy the velvet pads for an "insurance" too.

Update: Just now I realized that they won't deliver velvet pads through amazon for some reason. ATH-M50 only costs $169 = 125 euros, with headphones + velvet pads through the sound professionals (because of shipping) $215 = 155 euros, would those velvet pads be worth the trouble?


Are there any other headphones I should really consider over these in this price range for this kind of use?


About DAC


Also because my internal sound card broke on my PC etc, I've been considering buying of external DAC.

I've been looking some of those and come to conclusion that Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1 Plus would be one good choice. Mainly because it's variety of connections - I'd like this kind of setup to work out somehow controlled from DAC/amp:

TV in = through optical (idk what these TVs nowadays have, going to buy a new one soon enough)

PC in = through USB

Laptop? in = through coaxial? / usb if needed. I'd really like if I hadn't have to change cords in back of DAC all the time. Just the audio source through button in front.


Headphones out = through headphone socket in front = amped, right?

Genelecs out = from back, analog out. I have pair of Genelec 6010A's and Genelec 5040A subwoofer to go with them. I have them now in my computer just through one 3.5mm cord, but it works out with two RCAs too. Though only stereo, so if I'm going to upgrade to 5.1 system I'll have to buy some new stuff. Not going to happen anytime soon.


Would Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1 Plus be the way to go? It'd cost $240 (175€) with shipping and go over the budget a little bit.


Hope this wasn't too much text to handle, I seem to really like writing things thorough on the first time. Hope someone will answer even some of the questions, need just a little push off the cliff to click the purchase button. ;)

post #2 of 8
Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1 Plus is very good for the money.

This Fire Phoenix DAC-02 is a good unit. Not as good as the Tubemagic, but a good bit cheaper (comes from Hong Kong). I'd go with it or the FiiO E17 and put more of your money into the headphones smily_headphones1.gif
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply!

What is the dip switch behind that Fire Phoenix Dac? Audio source switch I guess? Kinda dislike because it's in the back, ...and not sure if I have audio files (flac?) on my comp over the quality that USB in this unit supports: 16bit/48kHz ?
Though I have to admit that for half the price it's a good deal, just not sure if it gets the job done, does it?
post #4 of 8
Yep. Audio source. Little bit inconvenient back there.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Anybody with different opinions? Looked up FiiO E17 too, seems nice. Considering it among D1+, mainly because the price. Don't know if the connection add up to what I need yet...

If we turn this upside down, what headphones would you recommend for $100 more if DAC would be cheaper? Or any other headphones in the same price range up for the competition?

Though saving some money for other electronics too wouldn't be bad...but I'd like to invest so that I wouldn't have to be upgrading in a year or be really disappointed.
post #6 of 8
Originally Posted by Witzaus View Post

Anybody with different opinions? Looked up FiiO E17 too, seems nice. Considering it among D1+, mainly because the price. Don't know if the connection add up to what I need yet...

I thought the Fire Phoenix to be a little bit better sounding DAC to the Fire Phoenix. The E17 definitely wins on portability since you can carry it with you.

Spending more on headphones is the best bang for the buck. As a Genelec owner, you probably understand that the speakers/headphones are definitely more important than sinking more money into electronics smily_headphones1.gif

Perhaps the DT990s are a good deal for you. Or the Phillips X1 (which are easy to drive with portable devices without an amp). Here's a review: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/big-bottom-and-lively-top-philips-fidelio-x1

Are you definitely looking for headphones that have bass emphasis like the DT990s (and the X1s?). There are other open headphones that tend toward a more neutral sound that would be considered very good, something you might like as a Genelec owner. For example, see what the AKG K612 or DT880 would run you. Or for closed, the AKG K550 or Soundmagic HP100.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'll put some serious thought and lots of googling on those headphones you've mentioned, and the fire phoenix too. Wouldn't really mind at all if the DAC/amp would be a bit cheaper if it does the job good. I mean, I have money to even raise the budget a little bit, but for the same money I'd also like to buy a decent mobile phone, 40" TV and this headphone/dac set. So...


Also I wonder if I can use DAC for multiple sources at the same time? No I guess (why else would there be a source selection...).

I mean if somebody would like to use Genelecs through TV and I'd like to listen some music with my headphones through computer at the same time.


Is there any device that would do that?

Or any trick at all other than connecting headphones straight to PC...which won't work because soundcard is broken. Note that 5040A has line in with 3.5mm jack and 2x RCA for stereo input...so could I bypass DAC when needed (TV->Genelecs with 3.5mm, possible?). Or my guests (if I had any :D) had to deal with TVs speakers while I'm booming with my headphones? Sorry if I'm being too 'demanding' or put pressure on little things like this, can't help myself.


I like the 'neutral' sound of Genelecs, I really do. But I've put up subwoofer level just a bit (underneath 5040A) so I get really enjoying the music, the lows of it.

So that's why I'm looking for a headphones with some bass on them. Also, in my opinion, the bass on the headphones is a lot of different when it comes to one that's produced by subwoofer/stereos (it's not that spacious). I liked the "boomy" sound of DT990's so I think I'd enjoy something like that. I might be wrong though, haven't really had any good headphones...just about to find out and wouldn't want to spend too much on my first "head-fi". I'd mainly use Genelecs still, if the neighbours aren't complaining ...well, they might be.

post #8 of 8
A DAC converts a digital signal to audio. So it only convert one digital signal at time, if I'm hearing your question correctly.

The HP100 and K550 do have deep extension. It's just not emphasized bass--more neutral overall. You always boost it with EQ if you want to. Here are measurements of the DT990, which have a lot of bass emphasis and treble emphasis:


Scroll down this review to see the literature that comes with the HP100:


One is a lot more linear than the other wink.gif
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