After years of kids/busy etc, I'm looking to step back into high quality/dedicated music listening. Years ago I put together what I thought was an excellent audio/speaker system, but my current situation necessitates moving to a headphone solution.
Where I'm at currently:
Cans: Sony 7506
Player: Sony 555ES 5-CD change
Amp: Sony 5ES
(I've tried the headphones in both the CD player headphone jack, which is supposed to be pretty good, and the Amp and I find it better out of the amp).
So clearly Portable is not what I'm aiming for :). This is for listening in bed, focused on the music.
Am I happy with this solution...not so much. I have found over time that I am exceedingly sensitive to sibilance and harsh treble...and I tend to listen at a moderately loud volume (I like my music to have dynamic impact). This combination I have now is "ok", but not great. I find it fatiguing and brittle. When dialed in at the exact proper volume and source, it can be very good, but it veers off to harsh very quickly depending on the music or volume. I don't know where the deficiency is really. I suspect a little bit of everywhere. But without any fixed point (settle on new cans or amp first) I'm finding myself in a circular loop of what to do...get a new amp, but those are only good with a particular subset of cans, etc. So help me out with a full or partial solution of where to start. My total budget is around $600. If the best way to spend that is on a really nice pair of headphones, then great, if I should get a moderate (for me) pair of cans and an amp, then ok. DAC? Not sure.
What I'm looking for:
1) No harshness or sibilance, even with poor recordings. I like detail in the treble, but not brittle/harsh. My reference tracks are Nils Lofgren's Black Boots on the Sopranos music SACD and Brubek's Take 5 off the SACD. The picking guitar parts on Black Boots should be "chiming" not "piercing" is the best I can do.
2) Bass should have presence, but not dominate. On Black Boots when the low pad comes in I want to really feel it happen. On Take 5, the kick drum on the drum lead section should really punch you. This is touchy, I don't think of myself as a "bass monster" and if the bass is mixed to loud it can really bug me, but it should be authoritative. My current setup feels to bright and top heavy for me. I want to turn up the volume to get more bottom end impact, but then the treble just kills me.
I listen to mostly rock-ish stuff. No classical, some jazz (horn bands and stax/muscle shoals soul horns).
From what I've read maybe the tube amps have the sonic signature I'm looking for?
Hopefully that is a coherent request. I am open to all suggestions on headphones, amps and DAC's to get me the sound I'm looking for.