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Could This Be Better for Grados?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello, all.


I just spent the weekend auditioning a pair of Grado RS1i's in my home. (My local dealer is awesome that way.) I liked them enough that I am planning to buy them without bothering, at this point in time, to audition my other possible choice (Senn HD650). The dealer is not sure when he will get the Senns in stock again so that I can try them. I live in an apartment, and the headphone purchase will enable me to enjoy late-night music once again.


I currently have the Pioneer SC-67 AVR. I was under the impression that the headphone amps in many AVR's are often little more than an afterthought, so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the experience the Pioneer produced with the Grados.


I won't have a huge budget after the Grado purchase, but am wondering if something simple like the Schiit stack (Magni + Modi) could actually be an improvement upon what the Pioneer offers. Is it possible? The Pioneer certainly wasn't inexpensive, so can this $200 little combo (or something like it) surpass the Pioneer in this area?


Thanks for any feedback.


(By the way, I am using JRiver MC to stream my lossless collection from my Mac Pro to the Pioneer as my primary source.)

post #2 of 9

If you are really going to go for the Grados be sure to test them against the SR-325i and SR-80i.  You might just be extremely surprised at how close they all sound to each other.  I understand the RS1 has wood cups because I owned them for a while, but the sound signature is remarkably similar to less expensive models that you could save some money on the headphones and that would free up your budget for more gear or music.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply; however, the decision has already been made earlier today. My local shop gave me a decent price reduction on the RS1's that I was happy with (based in Internet comparisons), so I went ahead and bought them. So that part of the equation is completed!


Just now wondering how worthwhile it might be to try an inexpensive separate amp/DAC (like the Schiit stack) instead of my what my Pioneer offers (which, to me, sounds pretty darned good). There's no rush on this, but I am curious what has been the experience of other owners who may own AVR's similar to the Pioneer.



post #4 of 9

Usually the issue with headphone amps built into receivers is a high output impedance. Look into damping factor if you're curious. The rule of thumb in short is to match an amp with an output impedance of 1/10th the impedance of the headphones. Grados are 32ohm so for best dynamic response you'd really like to have a very low output impedance.


All that being said you've asked about an amplifier. If you need an amplifier and dac then the modi magni stack is a pretty good place to start, but if you can get by with just an amplifier I personally would look into a used Schiit Asgard as they're well within your budget these days and offer a bit more performance.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, jonbmet, for the response.


I'm not overly conversant with reading amplifier specs. After perusing the Pioneer SC-67 manual, it would seem the amplifier has continuous average power output impedance of 4, 6, or 8ohms--depending on channel wattage. <shrug> Dammit, Jim, I'm a computer geek, not an electrical engineer!


You're correct that I could probably do with just an amp, and continue to rely on the DAC in the Pioneer, which I'm sure is just fine. I only thought of the Schiit stack as this would provide the flexibility of listening right at my computer in the office without having to involve the Pioneer in the living room.


I notice you have a serious array of headphones, including the RS1i's that I just purchased. The Asgard is the reasonably-priced you would suggest to pair with these Grados?



post #6 of 9

Nice choice on the headphones.  I used a Pioneer unit for many years as they do have a decent quality headphone output.  The Schiit stack will be a bit of an improvement but nothing earth shattering. Instead i would wait and buy something better in the future, or something second hand as jonbmet suggests.  Judging by his signature he has a pretty bad case of Gradoitis so i would trust his opinion :normal_smile : 

post #7 of 9

I see asgards in the for sale threads for less than $150 on a pretty regular basis. For that kind of money I'd think you'd be pretty happy. I enjoy mine a lot. I also have a Grado battery powered RA1 amp that I bought for a steal. It's a pretty good match for the RS1s if you're willing to wait for a deal.


By the way I use a pair of RS1's almost daily. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the 650's so I think you made the right choice. To me they just sound boring. I use the RS1s with a JDS labs C5 portable amp in the workplace.

post #8 of 9

Nice cans!

I don't think the Schiit stack is the best match for Grados.

I'd say the Asgaard and the Little Dot 1+ are two good, inexpensive options...

Cheapest is to ask John at JDS Labs to configure a CMoy for your cans.

All with sound great if your source is good.


post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, everyone, for the responses. The feedback is greatly appreciated.


I think I'll enjoy the new Grados as they break in for a few months with the Pioneer receiver. I have to say that, after a bit more listening, I think the Pioneer/Grado combo sounds great. I'll take that time to learn a bit more about the available products, and then make a decision based on some of the products noted here. It will be interesting at that time to see if a new dedicated amp will improve on the Pioneer.

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