Only after 100+ hours of honest, very useful yet inconclusive research I decided to start a new thread on this classic topic with hope that I can gather more specific information than is available on existing threads (I have read all of them).
I consider myself a beginner to audiophile lifestyle however I have a long relationship with music. To set the appropriate context and precedent let me to summarize my taste and preference for music. Most of the times I find myself listening to the following:
"sound of the electric guitar is possibly the single most important thing to me"
Classic/Psychedelic/Hard/Blues Rock (Top)
(Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Lez Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Santana, CCR, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, U2, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Scorpions and so on.. this list is considerably long and growing)
Indian Classical Instrumental and Vocal Music (Sarod, Flute and Sitar etc.)
Western Classical, Reggae, Harp, Electronic (Royksopp, Mono) and miscellaneous world music.
Audio Chain today - iPod Classic 5th Gen (Wolfson) + ALO Audio Rx mkII + ATH-M50 and my satisfaction ratio is somewhere 6/10 (dull and lifeless)
I wanted to take my satisfaction level to 8+ and the project started with saving money and with rigorous research. I zeroed in on HiFiMAN HE-500 and Sennheiser HD650. As I put more hours to my research it became clear to me that though HE-500 are simply fantastic one cannot turn his back to HD650 whatsoever. I need solid recommendation on which may be substantially better choice for my kind of music.
I discovered I cannot spend more than $1,000 at this point (all components included). I already have macbook and ipod so that leaves me with headphones, amps and dac. I have come down to the following combination and could no longer find concrete evidence to support one over the other.
Route A - HD650 + Burson HA-160DS (used~$650) = marginally exceeding $1K mark (acceptable)
Route B - HD650 + HRT Music Streamer II+ (new~$275) + Bottlehead Crack (new~$280) = right under $1K mark
Route C - HE-500 + ?????
Route D - ?
I am a fussy person and I generally demand uncompromising quality. I want to make a wise decision with the money, something that is suitable to my music preference and will give me a peace of mind for a couple of years. This is the final call and I am relying on absolute nerds, scientists, connoisseurs and aficionados that inhabit this forum to lend me a beam of light and in return when I grow up I will help the babies :-)
Edited by vicktor - 6/5/14 at 2:39pm