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Most important part of gear?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Just curious as to what most Head Fi'ers believe.  What part of your gear is the most important? Audio file format, DAP, LOD, AMP/DAC, IEM's/HP?  Not interested in brand wars, just specifically which part.  Thanks for making my wallet thinner...:beyersmile:

post #2 of 8

Headphones , if the transducer ain't right .....forget about substantial improvements 

post #3 of 8

Source first for me and that starts with the mastering



post #4 of 8
Headphones for sound and, optionally, portability and ambient noise blocking
Player for functionality (storage, network streaming, volume control, optionally portability) and sound optimisation (parametric EQ)
Depending on the headphones the amp part may need special consideration, but in most cases it is fine if it has a reasonably low output impedance. Amps are often not as transparent as they could be, but that's a lesser problem considering the variation in headphone frequency response curves.
The dac part should be transparent, which it usually is.
Well mastered source data is of paramount importance, but I don't consider it part of the gear.
post #5 of 8

For me - the headphones  - plus, I get the biggest sound variations from switching out my IEMs.

post #6 of 8

recording definitely first or it will all sound like crap.


That is actually not gear, so next would be the headphones.

post #7 of 8

I cannot say exactly just headphones.  It depends.  If its iems, yes. But, now iems even benefit from clean amps or sources.  But, this is good quality iems.  So iems first, then amp, then dac, then cable if you believe in the affects, I think for iems it's plausible.  For universal iems, dont' undermine isolation(it's noise that affects sound at a huge level), and fit(huge affect on FR, get the right tips, try different ones to see which work the best).


Cans, it's more complex.  You get the HE-6, and have a portable amp, it would sound like crap.  I say combination of amp and headphones if you get up to the high end.  Mid to low, cans first, and then amp, then dac.  Then cable last.


I'm start to give power supplies a notice. Such as usb, if the the dac is getting enough current, trying out wall wart or custom power supplies for dac.  Or how clean the usb connection is, laptops can have noise usb connection.  All that stuff will play in affect, and some may affect the quality more depending on the scenario.  


Most importantly, crap recording will sound like crap on the best setup.  Great recording will sound great on low to med fi even IMO.  It has a huge affect.

post #8 of 8
The reason I don't pick source first, is because it is hard these days to have a bad source that will ruin the music like a bloated pair of headphones, ear buds or speakers will. A 90's CD player, a Coby MP3 player, a phone or even a cheap tablet will sound awesome with a nice recording and top of the line items, speakers or headphones. The same can not be said with a meridian CD player and $hitty speakers.

For 1 thing, all of the frequencies may not even be present in crappy speakers, but they will be in the source.
Edited by meat01 - 6/21/14 at 8:51am
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