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Help recommend my next headphone ($400-600) and amp! ($200-350)

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

So I've been using the HD 598 for some months and I've been enjoying my music more than ever recently. I particularly like its realistic mids (absolutely love how it presents vocals), sparkly treble (though it can be a bit much once in a while) and of course, its massive soundstage. Meanwhile, the only caveats I have with the HD 598 is its definite lack of sub-bass and its slowness for certain genres. However, I do not have an amp nor a DAC as of now and I'm not especially worried since the HD 598 don't really need an amp or DAC.

 

In a headphone, I love beautiful midrange, (good with both female and male vocals) a fairly good soundstage at least, realistic timbre, (I prefer naturalness rather than neutral-ness) slightly sparkly treble, adequate speed and bass that is not overpowering but can slam well if needed.

 

So now that I've been looking for an upgrade, I came across two headphones that really caught my attention. The first was the HD 600 (which some have noted may only be a slight upgrade from the HD 598) which sounds much like my HD 598 with more subdued treble, slightly more sub-bass, a smaller soundstage and an even better midrange, as far as I can tell from my research. The second was the HE-400i, which is slated to sound like the child of the HE-400 and the HE-500. This caught my eye as it will probably have more speed, far better bass but I haven't tried an ortho yet, so who knows?

 

As far as amps go, again, I found two amps that were particularly eye-catching: the Matrix M-Stage and the iFi Micro iCAN. Both seem wonderful but with different strengths and weaknesses for my purposes with an amp. From my research, I believe the M-Stage will have slightly better soundstage, be able to drive more headphones and even has an included DAC, with a fee of $40. On the other hand, the iFi Micro iCAN interests me with its XBass (probably hugely beneficial with my HD 598's or the HD 600's, if I get them) and the 3D feature. (beneficial to both the HD 600 (which does not have the biggest soundstage) and the HE 400i (orthos are not well-known for their soundstage))

 

EDIT: I'm not really looking for a DAC, but thanks anyway!

 

Ultimately, I need help deciding what headphone and amp I want, so I need help from you guys. I would like new recommendations and impressions of the equipment above if you have the equipment as well as suggestions. Thank you for reading this far and thank you for helping in advance.

 

Cheers! :beerchug: 

 

 

Considering Cans:

HifiMAN HE-400i

Sennheiser HD 600

 

Considering Amps:

Matrix M-Stage

iFi Micro iCAN

Audio-GD NFB-15


Edited by Garraty - 5/14/14 at 9:56pm
post #2 of 32

What sources do you currently plug your headphones into now?

 

Schiit Modi DAC $99 (USB or optical)

Schiit Magni head amp, $99

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X closed headphones, used $150.

Hifiman HE Velour ear pads, $10+shipping.

 

So for around $400 - $450 you can improve your audio quality, instead of the $600 to $950 you had budgeted.

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

What sources do you currently plug your headphones into now?

 

Schiit Modi DAC $99 (USB or optical)

Schiit Magni head amp, $99

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X closed headphones, used $150.

Hifiman HE Velour ear pads, $10+shipping.

 

So for around $400 - $450 you can improve your audio quality, instead of the $600 to $950 you had budgeted.

 

Thanks for the suggestion, currently, I just plug in the HD 598's into the jack, no muss, no fuss. However- I prefer open phones. Moreover, if I am going to get an amp or possibly DAC, then I would buy one that would be good enough when I upgrade to my next set of headphones. Not to say the Magni is bad of course, but I think the M-Stage or iFi Micro iCAN would sound better upon upgrading.

post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garraty View Post
 

 

Thanks for the suggestion, currently, I just plug in the HD 598's into the jack, no muss, no fuss. However- I prefer open phones. Moreover, if I am going to get an amp or possibly DAC, then I would buy one that would be good enough when I upgrade to my next set of headphones. Not to say the Magni is bad of course, but I think the M-Stage or iFi Micro iCAN would sound better upon upgrading.

 

Audio-GD NFB-15, external DAC amp, $270+shipping.

(I have the NFB-15.32)

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Audio-GD NFB-15, external DAC amp, $270+shipping.

(I have the NFB-15.32)

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

Sorry, I'm a lowly college student and don't really want to have to deal with those types of shipping fees and long wait and service... Anyone else?

post #6 of 32

For what you like, I think you'd absolutely love the Hifiman He-500! They have an incredible midrange, it's so realistic and so thick and well layered. It's fantastic. It also has detailed, present bass which gives that extra richness to the mids and gives an overall fuller sound. it's topped off with a smooth, sweet treble that isn't in your face nor too rolled off. One of the best open cans in its price range and higher! The Audio-GD NFB-15 is extremely good with it, though since you previously stated you wouldn't want to deal with the issues such as shipping, etc. I believe a Schiit can do the job. Maybe grab a Valhalla, or if you wanted a dac in your amp budget, The Asgard 2 and Modi should run these babies pretty well! Great setup IMO. 

 

Happy listening!

 

-Sean

post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by milk View Post
 

For what you like, I think you'd absolutely love the Hifiman He-500! They have an incredible midrange, it's so realistic and so thick and well layered. It's fantastic. It also has detailed, present bass which gives that extra richness to the mids and gives an overall fuller sound. it's topped off with a smooth, sweet treble that isn't in your face nor too rolled off. One of the best open cans in its price range and higher! The Audio-GD NFB-15 is extremely good with it, though since you previously stated you wouldn't want to deal with the issues such as shipping, etc. I believe a Schiit can do the job. Maybe grab a Valhalla, or if you wanted a dac in your amp budget, The Asgard 2 and Modi should run these babies pretty well! Great setup IMO. 

 

Happy listening!

 

-Sean

I did consider the HE-500's but I'm afraid I really wouldn't be able to handle the uncomfortable ergonomics. I once had a headphone that weighed over a pound and that was pretty uncomfortable, believe me. I'll check the amps though, I haven't really looked at the Schiit side of things. Thanks!

post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garraty View Post

Not to say the Magni is bad of course, but I think the M-Stage or iFi Micro iCAN would sound better upon upgrading.

Then get the Asgard 2 to go with the Modi. I can highly recommend it. smily_headphones1.gif
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by milk View Post
 

For what you like, I think you'd absolutely love the Hifiman He-500! They have an incredible midrange, it's so realistic and so thick and well layered. It's fantastic. It also has detailed, present bass which gives that extra richness to the mids and gives an overall fuller sound. it's topped off with a smooth, sweet treble that isn't in your face nor too rolled off. One of the best open cans in its price range and higher! The Audio-GD NFB-15 is extremely good with it, though since you previously stated you wouldn't want to deal with the issues such as shipping, etc. I believe a Schiit can do the job. Maybe grab a Valhalla, or if you wanted a dac in your amp budget, The Asgard 2 and Modi should run these babies pretty well! Great setup IMO. 

 

Happy listening!

 

-Sean

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Then get the Asgard 2 to go with the Modi. I can highly recommend it. smily_headphones1.gif

Hmm, so I've been researching the Asgard 2 and it seems many polls suggest that the M-Stage is superior but I'll have to research some more to be sure. For another thing, I believe I wouldn't need a DAC (sorry guys, should've been more specific when I just said phone and amp) as the M-Stage has an included DAC for only $40. Thanks anyway!

post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garraty View Post

Hmm, so I've been researching the Asgard 2 and it seems many polls ?

Polls? Polls are popularity contests based on whomever happens to read them, and people will vote for stuff they have no experience with. It's a horrible way to pick out audio equipment. Go do a poll on your campus, and you'll be buying yourself some new Beats Studios wink.gif

I'd seek comparisons in the M-Stage and Asgard 2 owners threads from people that have heard both.
post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Polls? Polls are popularity contests based on whomever happens to read them, and people will vote for stuff they have no experience with. It's a horrible way to pick out audio equipment. Go do a poll on your campus, and you'll be buying yourself some new Beats Studios wink.gif

I'd seek comparisons in the M-Stage and Asgard 2 owners threads from people that have heard both.

Sorry, I meant threads and posts that had people with both amps and many claimed the M-Stage was better. Sorry for the confusion. :rolleyes:(Really me?) However, the reception for the Asgard 2 appears to be fairly good with reservations with some saying there are reliability problems.

 

Here are some posts I found:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/507247/matrix-m-stage-vs-schiit-asgard-has-anyone-compared-them-yet

http://www.head-fi.org/t/475618/matrix-m-stage-amp-review-simple-cheap-and-excellent/1695#post_7464647

http://www.head-fi.org/t/475618/matrix-m-stage-amp-review-simple-cheap-and-excellent/690#post_6830303

post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Audio-GD NFB-15, external DAC amp, $270+shipping.

(I have the NFB-15.32)

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

I am also a college student and I assure you the Audio GD Amp Dac combo is well worth the wait! 

post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshenay View Post
 

I am also a college student and I assure you the Audio GD Amp Dac combo is well worth the wait! 

What are your impressions of the amp/DAC? Have you tried the M-Stage, Asgard 2 or the iFi Micro iCAN with the Audio GD NFB 15? Also, how much were the fees in your experience? Thanks!

post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garraty View Post
 

What are your impressions of the amp/DAC? Have you tried the M-Stage, Asgard 2 or the iFi Micro iCAN with the Audio GD NFB 15? Also, how much were the fees in your experience? Thanks!

Actually yes I did have teh mStage and I find that the Audio GD unit to be overall better, I had an oDac mStage combo. The Audio GD has a little less heat generated as well as a slighty better sound stage, for less

 

as far as waiting goes... dude it took three days! From China to my House lol the magic of freaking DHL meng! As far as shipping costs went, yea $30 isn't great but it's really a wonderful unit for the price. 

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshenay View Post
 

Actually yes I did have teh mStage and I find that the Audio GD unit to be overall better, I had an oDac mStage combo. The Audio GD has a little less heat generated as well as a slighty better sound stage, for less

 

as far as waiting goes... dude it took three days! From China to my House lol the magic of freaking DHL meng! As far as shipping costs went, yea $30 isn't great but it's really a wonderful unit for the price. 

Really? Cool, I'll have to check out some impressions and the like for the Audio GD unit. I've ordered from China before which took a month even with paying the fastest shipment and it was an overall nightmare so I'm not too keen on international shipping but I'm definitely considering it now thanks to you and PurpleAngel. Thanks! 

 

BTW, do you know of any headphone suggestions? :D

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