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I've been saving for a very long time now and have $2500 to buy the best setup for the money. - Page 2

post #16 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
 

IMO, the biggest bang for buck in terms of sound quality is in the headphone - by far - so I would start there. Doing a TOTL headphone shootout, I found that the Audeze and HD800 were the two TOTL headphones that stood out from the rest so I would pick one of these:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/717989/totl-hp-shootout-oppo-pm-1-hd800-lcd2-2-t1-he500-fostex-th900-hd650-hd600

 

The Audeze are the easiest to drive making the DAC/AMP selection easier given the budget so it might be the smart place to start. The Audeze family includes the 2, 3, and X of which I have compared all side by side. The X is clearly the best, but the LCD2 is not far off so I would start there given the budget to get the best bang for the buck. I am picky with headphones being more personal than amps or dacs since you wear them on your head so this is where I would personally buy new. I have seen the LCD2s sell new retail as low as $700 during Christmas if you are patient, but i can always find them under $1K.

 

I am loving my LCD2/Mjolnir pairing providing a very dynamic and exciting sound signature. However, there are more laid back amps that you can chose if you want to fall asleep with them such as the Burson lineup. However, the Audeze family likes power to bring it clarity and extra detail which both the Burson and Mjolnir bring. Too low of power provides a fun warm signature that I enjoy as well such as when playing them with portable DAPs.

 

To summarize, I would get a LCD2 with balanced cable for the Mjolnir and match it up with a Gungnir for a complete Schitt stack that sounds outstanding. You should be able to find a Mjolnir/Gungnir stack used for under $1K leaving $500 for cables and some music to listen to.

 

  • LCD2, New                               $1K
  • Mjolnir/Gungnir Stack, Used      $1K
  • Cables and Accessories           $500

 

One more thought. You may eventually want to add a HD800 for a different listening experience. The HD800s usually don't like the same equipment as the LCDs so you may want to consider another option would cost you the savings from the suggestion above. Instead of getting the Gungnir, you may want to look at getting a used Yulong DA8 which seems to work well with both the HD800 and the Audeze. Please don't just take my word for it, after choosing a LCD2 or HD800 direction, please go to the related threads to hear what pairs well with them and ask questions.

 

Interesting shootout. Would you call any of your sources for the comparison neutral? Or were they all colored? I've heard the Zana Deux and V200 and they both color the sound imo. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes recommendations difficult when a colored source is the basis for comparison. What will the headphones sound like on a neutral solid state source? The HD800 will have a much more noticeable 5k peak for one. Jeff Buckley was unlistenable to me with the HD800 on a Benchmark DAC1. This is something for op to consider. 

 

Also, if you get a chance to try out the HE-560 I highly recommend it. Little less dark than the Audezes, and just more realistic all around to my ears. 

post #17 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post
 

 

What did you like at those meets? I recently heard the Hifiman HE-560 and thought it was better than the HD800, LCD-3, LCD-2, and SR-007 in tonal balance and overall realism. And the 560 would only put you back about $900. It's also a pretty sensitive headphone, so you wouldn't need a very powerful amp. Even something portable like a Leckerton amp/dac would be fine and totally transparent.

 

Does the 5k peak on the HD800 bother you? How about the warmth of the Audeze cans? What is your ideal sound signature? 

I really liked the hd800, full line of lcd headphones and he-6 but I liked the sound stage on the hd800's best.

 

Unfortunately I haven't heard the he-560 yet so I can't say anything about that.

 

Not from what I've heard so far. I do like a nice warm sound for a laid back listen but I felt i didn't get all the details with the lcd's. That doesn't really matter much because I'm looking for an all rounder and not so much a genre specific headphone. I do listen to a lot of classical which is why the hd800 is so appealling to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joyway View Post
 

Yes, that's my opinion. Another choice is that you can choose a used dac(eg. schiit Gungnir dac)+ a used amp( eg. woo wa6se)+a used hd800.

What about the NuForce DAC-100? It looks plenty powerful and supposedly it's a pretty decent pair. Is there a better choice for the money?

 

Where could I get a used gungnir, wa6se, and hd800?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
 

IMO, the biggest bang for buck in terms of sound quality is in the headphone - by far - so I would start there. Doing a TOTL headphone shootout, I found that the Audeze and HD800 were the two TOTL headphones that stood out from the rest so I would pick one of these:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/717989/totl-hp-shootout-oppo-pm-1-hd800-lcd2-2-t1-he500-fostex-th900-hd650-hd600

 

The Audeze are the easiest to drive making the DAC/AMP selection easier given the budget so it might be the smart place to start. The Audeze family includes the 2, 3, and X of which I have compared all side by side. The X is clearly the best, but the LCD2 is not far off so I would start there given the budget to get the best bang for the buck. I am picky with headphones being more personal than amps or dacs since you wear them on your head so this is where I would personally buy new. I have seen the LCD2s sell new retail as low as $700 during Christmas if you are patient, but i can always find them under $1K.

 

I am loving my LCD2/Mjolnir pairing providing a very dynamic and exciting sound signature. However, there are more laid back amps that you can chose if you want to fall asleep with them such as the Burson lineup. However, the Audeze family likes power to bring it clarity and extra detail which both the Burson and Mjolnir bring. Too low of power provides a fun warm signature that I enjoy as well such as when playing them with portable DAPs.

 

To summarize, I would get a LCD2 with balanced cable for the Mjolnir and match it up with a Gungnir for a complete Schitt stack that sounds outstanding. You should be able to find a Mjolnir/Gungnir stack used for under $1K leaving $500 for cables and some music to listen to.

 

  • LCD2, New                               $1K
  • Mjolnir/Gungnir Stack, Used      $1K
  • Cables and Accessories           $500

 

One more thought. You may eventually want to add a HD800 for a different listening experience. The HD800s usually don't like the same equipment as the LCDs so you may want to consider another option would cost you the savings from the suggestion above. Instead of getting the Gungnir, you may want to look at getting a used Yulong DA8 which seems to work well with both the HD800 and the Audeze. Please don't just take my word for it, after choosing a LCD2 or HD800 direction, please go to the related threads to hear what pairs well with them and ask questions.

Wow... You sir, have been most helpful! I have to say that I do really like the lcd-2's and I really do appreciate the help! The only thing was the sound stage. It just wasn't quite as large, open, and clear as the hd800 which is a large part of why I fell in love with those headphones in the first place, other than the crystal clear sound quality and insane detail retrieval.

post #18 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post
 

 

Interesting shootout. Would you call any of your sources for the comparison neutral? Or were they all colored? I've heard the Zana Deux and V200 and they both color the sound imo. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes recommendations difficult when a colored source is the basis for comparison. What will the headphones sound like on a neutral solid state source? The HD800 will have a much more noticeable 5k peak for one. Jeff Buckley was unlistenable to me with the HD800 on a Benchmark DAC1. This is something for op to consider. 

 

Also, if you get a chance to try out the HE-560 I highly recommend it. Little less dark than the Audezes, and just more realistic all around to my ears. 

How would a good eq effect the sound quality if I dropped the 5k peak a bit? Also, what would be the best eq software I could get?

 

I don't think I'll be able to give them a try any time soon, maybe this fall but I don't know if I can wait much longer

post #19 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Audio-GD NFB-11 external DAC/Amp, $355+ shipping.

Comes with USB (32-bit/384k) and S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs.

Can easily drive 600-Ohm headphones.

http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB112014/NFB112014EN.htm

Is that supposed to be a good pairing? I feel I'd be missing out on a lot of sq due to a cheep amp/dac.

post #20 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by blance44 View Post
 

How would a good eq effect the sound quality if I dropped the 5k peak a bit? Also, what would be the best eq software I could get?

 

I don't think I'll be able to give them a try any time soon, maybe this fall but I don't know if I can wait much longer

 

If soundstage and out-of-head-ness is important to you, than I would indeed recommend the HD800 over anything else except the Stax SR-009. Any parametric eq program would be fine. Also there are mods available to lower the 5k peak. Nothing too major, just putting some foam in the cup to lower resonance. People also try to fix the 5k peak with colored amps and dacs, with varying results. I really liked the Zana Deux, but a few others didn't sound nearly as good. 

post #21 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post
 

 

If soundstage and out-of-head-ness is important to you, than I would indeed recommend the HD800 over anything else except the Stax SR-009. Any parametric eq program would be fine. Also there are mods available to lower the 5k peak. Nothing too major, just putting some foam in the cup to lower resonance. People also try to fix the 5k peak with colored amps and dacs, with varying results. I really liked the Zana Deux, but a few others didn't sound nearly as good. 

Wow, that's pretty impressive. I had no idea foam and felt could make that large of a difference on a pair of headphones.

 

I don't know if I want to experiment but I did see that some people really liked the DAC-100 paired with the hd800. Do you have any experience with that combo?

post #22 of 72

If you want a setup for the HD800 I really liked the AnedioD2/Schiit Vali combination.  You could certainly substitute in another DAC or jump up to the Schiit Valhalla 2, which looks promising for dynamics headphones.  At this level just make sure not to skimp on the DAC as it can make a huge difference

 

If I were to build a system for $2500 it would be with the LCD2's or HE560's.  Neither of these can touch the HD800 on a good system, however I think they would be vastly more enjoyable with a 1000-1500 DAC/Amp combination.  Perhaps an Uberfrost/Lyr 2 combo for the planars.  That is about $2000 if you bought everything new.

 

Truthfully $2500 is just about a perfect budget.  You need to go a lot higher than that to start to get meaningful improvements again.

post #23 of 72

Anedio D2 ($1249.00 USD) + HD 800. Not because I use that setup as well for almost 2 years but also because there are very few DAC/amps where the headphone amp part is that good (also look at the fabulous measurements). Many standalone amps are simply not worth getting over the HPA out, just check out the corresponding thread. I found a loaner Concerop HP of an Austrian friend the only other DAC/AMP exception (and I heard a lot combos) but below the D2 which bested it in both sections. Can't say anything about the Invicta, though that beast costs a whole lot more and afair Project86 compared it to the D2 and puts it above it. I would hope so for its price.

 

D2 has a very clean, ultra low distortion, DAC section with emphasis on a huge soundstage and imaging depth/layering. Amp section is very clean and dead silent (on multi BAs, low sens.headphones). Drives the HD 800 very well. No "thin sound" or lacklustery with genres like EDM. Honestly, 1249 Dollars is an amazing value for such a product. Thankfully I bought one before they stopped shipping overseas. 

post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

Interesting shootout. Would you call any of your sources for the comparison neutral? Or were they all colored? I've heard the Zana Deux and V200 and they both color the sound imo. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes recommendations difficult when a colored source is the basis for comparison. What will the headphones sound like on a neutral solid state source? The HD800 will have a much more noticeable 5k peak for one. Jeff Buckley was unlistenable to me with the HD800 on a Benchmark DAC1. This is something for op to consider. 

 

Also, if you get a chance to try out the HE-560 I highly recommend it. Little less dark than the Audezes, and just more realistic all around to my ears. 

We mainly used the V200 in the direct comparisons due to its absolute lack of color and also due to the two outputs making direct comparisons very easy. I think we will have to agree to disagree on the V200 being colored. The V200 is AtomicBob's go to amp that he uses professionally for sound checks precisely because of its lack of color. That being said, I very much preferred the colored Zana Deux for both the LCD2 and the HD800 as it provided a much richer presentation.

 

As for the Benchmark DAC1, it has always sounded bright and unlistenable for me the few time I have heard it so I had lost interest long ago. However, admittedly I have never pair it with the Audeze which would be much more forgiving, but what would be the point.

 

Never heard the HE-560, but hope to hear it at the upcoming Seattle Head-fi meet. The HE-500 was a fail during our TOTL headphone shootout with AtomicBob considering selling his. Even though the HE-6 (HiFiMan's best) could match my LCD2 performance with the right gear and maybe be a little bit better, the HE-6 just takes too much trouble to make it sound good. I would never buy one. Right now, my only interest in headphones is the LCD-x and HD800.

post #25 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

We mainly used the V200 in the direct comparisons due to its absolute lack of color and also due to the two outputs making direct comparisons very easy. I think we will have to agree to disagree on the V200 being colored. The V200 is AtomicBob's go to amp that he uses professionally for sound checks precisely because of its lack of color. That being said, I very much preferred the colored Zana Deux for both the LCD2 and the HD800 as it provided a much richer presentation.

As for the Benchmark DAC1, it has always sounded bright and unlistenable for me the few time I have heard it so I had lost interest long ago. However, admittedly I have never pair it with the Audeze which would be much more forgiving, but what would be the point.

Never heard the HE-560, but hope to hear it at the upcoming Seattle Head-fi meet. The HE-500 was a fail during our TOTL headphone shootout with AtomicBob considering selling his. Even though the HE-6 (HiFiMan's best) could match my LCD2 performance with the right gear and maybe be a little bit better, the HE-6 just takes too much trouble to make it sound good. I would never buy one. Right now, my only interest in headphones is the LCD-x and HD800.

I thought the Benchmark DAC1 sounded bright as well, but I blamed it on the HD800 that was connected to it, since the DAC1 measures superbly.

Also I was wrong about the V200. I was thinking of another amp, the name of which escapes me. I took a look at the V200, and I do remember that amp as quite neutral. It's been a while since I was able to demo some of this stuff.

So did the HD800 sound bright to you on the V200? Any excess sibilance?
post #26 of 72
I think my sole advice would be to buy used whenever possible until you're absolutely certain that you like the setup you have. You take a pretty big hit when you buy new gear and then realize it's not your cup of tea after hearing something else that's more to your tastes.

I think based on what you've said and your priorities, the HD 800 is a pretty safe headphone if you're going for TOTLs. Whatever amp/DAC combo you decide to go with, I really think your wallet will thank you in the long run if you nab something off of the For Sale forum on Head-Fi.

You've spent all this time saving up the money, so don't be in too much of a rush to dive in and spend it all on something someone else likes and recommends. The only person's ears that you should trust 100% are your own, because only you know exactly what you like and look for in a setup.
post #27 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by blance44 View Post
 

Is that supposed to be a good pairing? I feel I'd be missing out on a lot of sq due to a cheep amp/dac.

 

Just thought I would give you the option of a good DAC/amp so that you do not have to spend all $2500 for your audio setup.

post #28 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

We mainly used the V200 in the direct comparisons due to its absolute lack of color and also due to the two outputs making direct comparisons very easy. I think we will have to agree to disagree on the V200 being colored. The V200 is AtomicBob's go to amp that he uses professionally for sound checks precisely because of its lack of color. That being said, I very much preferred the colored Zana Deux for both the LCD2 and the HD800 as it provided a much richer presentation.

As for the Benchmark DAC1, it has always sounded bright and unlistenable for me the few time I have heard it so I had lost interest long ago. However, admittedly I have never pair it with the Audeze which would be much more forgiving, but what would be the point.

Never heard the HE-560, but hope to hear it at the upcoming Seattle Head-fi meet. The HE-500 was a fail during our TOTL headphone shootout with AtomicBob considering selling his. Even though the HE-6 (HiFiMan's best) could match my LCD2 performance with the right gear and maybe be a little bit better, the HE-6 just takes too much trouble to make it sound good. I would never buy one. Right now, my only interest in headphones is the LCD-x and HD800.

I thought the Benchmark DAC1 sounded bright as well, but I blamed it on the HD800 that was connected to it, since the DAC1 measures superbly.

Also I was wrong about the V200. I was thinking of another amp, the name of which escapes me. I took a look at the V200, and I do remember that amp as quite neutral. It's been a while since I was able to demo some of this stuff.

So did the HD800 sound bright to you on the V200? Any excess sibilance?

 

In our TOTL headphone shootout, the HD800 was the biggest surprise to me. TBH, I had only heard the HD800 before during the Seattle Head-Fi meets - which isn't the best environment for critical listening - and using other people's music selection and gear. Although I always thought it sounded good, the HD800 was just not as involving and musical as the Audeze phones so I didn't give it much of a chance. However, with m2man's very expensive setup, and a reasonably good listening environment, the HD800 really out shined everything else less the LCD2 which was a very different listening experience. 

 

Getting around to your question - no, there was no sibilance that I remember with the V200 and HD800 pairing. While it is very balanced and neutral as an amp, there was a refreshing and "uncolored" smoothness to the tone without treble rolloff. I bring this up because I am used to my Mjolnir that has a very aggressive and exciting signature in comparison as another example of a solid state amp. The Eddie Current was also smooth like the V200, but the tubes added a euphonic color to the tone making it more engaging and romantic. I have never been a fan of tube amps before simply because the hot tubes and their expense scare me with two kids in the house under 4yrs old. However, the Eddie Current turned me into a fan.

 

When I say a very different listening experience for the LCD2 and HD800, I am referring to the typical comments of the LCD being better for rock, pop, and electronica while the HD800 preferred classical, instrumental, and easy listening. That is why I would love to have both.

 

By the way, the HD800 sounded good enough out of my portable DAP, the DX90, that AtomicBob ended up buying the DX90 right after our meet. Even though the DX90 cannot take the HD800 or the LCD2 to their full potential, the HD800 and LCD2 can take the DX90 to its full potential for an extraordinary "backyard under a tree" listening experience.

post #29 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stapsy View Post
 

If you want a setup for the HD800 I really liked the AnedioD2/Schiit Vali combination.  You could certainly substitute in another DAC or jump up to the Schiit Valhalla 2, which looks promising for dynamics headphones.  At this level just make sure not to skimp on the DAC as it can make a huge difference

 

If I were to build a system for $2500 it would be with the LCD2's or HE560's.  Neither of these can touch the HD800 on a good system, however I think they would be vastly more enjoyable with a 1000-1500 DAC/Amp combination.  Perhaps an Uberfrost/Lyr 2 combo for the planars.  That is about $2000 if you bought everything new.

 

Truthfully $2500 is just about a perfect budget.  You need to go a lot higher than that to start to get meaningful improvements again.

The reason I chose the hd800 is for the soundstage, plus, if I start with amazing headphones now and upgrade the amp/dac later, I think that would be totally worth it.

 

I agree with the price range though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post
 

Anedio D2 ($1249.00 USD) + HD 800. Not because I use that setup as well for almost 2 years but also because there are very few DAC/amps where the headphone amp part is that good (also look at the fabulous measurements). Many standalone amps are simply not worth getting over the HPA out, just check out the corresponding thread. I found a loaner Concerop HP of an Austrian friend the only other DAC/AMP exception (and I heard a lot combos) but below the D2 which bested it in both sections. Can't say anything about the Invicta, though that beast costs a whole lot more and afair Project86 compared it to the D2 and puts it above it. I would hope so for its price.

I'll take a look at it, thank you for the suggestion!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HideousPride View Post

I think my sole advice would be to buy used whenever possible until you're absolutely certain that you like the setup you have. You take a pretty big hit when you buy new gear and then realize it's not your cup of tea after hearing something else that's more to your tastes.

I think based on what you've said and your priorities, the HD 800 is a pretty safe headphone if you're going for TOTLs. Whatever amp/DAC combo you decide to go with, I really think your wallet will thank you in the long run if you nab something off of the For Sale forum on Head-Fi.

You've spent all this time saving up the money, so don't be in too much of a rush to dive in and spend it all on something someone else likes and recommends. The only person's ears that you should trust 100% are your own, because only you know exactly what you like and look for in a setup.

That's what I plan on doing. Luckily, I should be fine because I know I like the hd800, all I need is to find the right amp/dac for me which I'm in the process of doing!

 

I'll check out what they have but I found a pretty decently priced dac with headphone out so I might go with that and see how it treats me.

 

Words of wisdom to say the least... I just want it so bad!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Just thought I would give you the option of a good DAC/amp so that you do not have to spend all $2500 for your audio setup.

Well thank you for the suggestion. I appreciate it!

post #30 of 72

Are you sure that you want to spend it on Headphones instead of speakers? I think everyone for the most part agrees that the best sound will come from speakers. I don't have a speaker setup because I live in a condo but if I had my own house I'd spend the money on speakers instead of headphones. :) 

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