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Is it worth it to continue upgrading if I'm still using an iPod as a source?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I mostly use an iPod touch 4th gen and a MacBook as sources (I'm aware they're not the top of the line and have a bad reputation) and I'm looking for advice as to what my approach should be to improve my listening experience. I'm starting to get into vinyl too (still a beginner) and I have an Audio Technica AT-LP60 turntable for that purpose. I was wondering if getting better headphones and an amp is worth it given my sources. Right now I have a pair of Grado SR-80i which to me are a little bright at times and after listening to music for a while they can be very uncomfortable and fatiguing, so I guess the Grado sound is not for me. For traveling purposes, I have a pair of TDK BA-200 IEMs that do their job well. I'm looking to upgrade my listening experience at home, so portability is not an issue and if the headphones are open/closed it's not a deciding factor. Ideally, I would prefer over-the-ear vs on-ear headphones for comfort. 

 

The music I listen it's mostly rock and metal (80%) and some classical, jazz and electronic (20%). In terms of budget, if I could stay under $300 for headphones and amp (if needed) it would be great, but I'm willing to consider different options. If upgrading my set up at this point is not worth it, please let me know what your thoughts are.

 

Thanks for your assistance! 

post #2 of 22

Not really answering your question sorry, just picking up on the bit where you said that iPods suffer a bad reputation on here: that's definitely true but always strikes me as unwarranted. I continually see iPods slammed in favour of so-called high end DAPs which look like bricks, cost a small fortune and have UIs that are only slightly better than Casio calculators. iPods don't have the best DACs + amps in the world of course, but they're not that bad and the UI is great. I tried the Nova N1 as an alternative and it was simply unable to power my phones (which don't even take a lot of driving) - really faint, even with the volume maxxed out.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
So far I'm happy with my iPod, it has good storage capabilities, it's small, with a good cover it's pretty much indestructible and like you said the UI is great. My experience with iTunes has not been too bad either and sure, they can improve in some areas but generally speaking I have no major complaints.
post #4 of 22

Getting a bit off topic I guess, but have you tried the iPod Manager plug-in for Foobar? I always found the reliance on iTunes to be one of the iPod's biggest weaknesses, given that it's not exactly an optimal piece of software, but this plug-in means you can sync the iPod through Foobar and bypass iTunes altogether.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have a Mac, so I'm kinda stuck with iTunes.
post #6 of 22

I guess it all depends....

 

First I'd say to stretch your budget it would be best to buy used.  I've always had great experiences with that, and it has saved a lot of money vs retail.

 

- For a headphone under $300, I would look for a Sennheiser HD600 ($200-250 if they come up on the FS forums usually).  Everyone will have their own personal preference but I feel the HD600 is the best deal at that price range or even higher.

 

- That doesn't leave much in your budget for an amp.  I suppose look for an Objective2 (O2).  They are like $130 new, but again, on the used market you could find them for less.

 

- Some of the Schiit products may be worth looking at as well.  Magni/Modi are a popular DAC/amp combo around here.  I do not have experience with these, but they are an option that may fit the budget.

 

- Your ipod / Macbook are fine for a source with the budget you have.  Putting money toward the headphone will yield the best result.


Edited by barid - 7/2/14 at 1:40pm
post #7 of 22

For portable sources, I really don't think they have such big level difference like earphones. 

Of course, they do sound different and you can hear it obviously when you compare them, but the sound quality difference is much smaller than the price difference.

For example, if you have $1000 to upgrade, I recommend to buy a custom earphone or IEMs like Se846 or K3003, instead of to buy a HM901 and a balance card. You can hear much more difference with a top level earphone but not a source. 

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for the detailed response!
Quote:
Originally Posted by barid View Post

- For a headphone under $300, I would look for a Sennheiser HD600 ($200-250 if they come up on the FS forums usually).  Everyone will have their own personal preference but I feel the HD600 is the best deal at that price range or even higher.

I've read consistently good reviews on these headphones over the years and looked at some reviews on how they perform with the type of music I listen and I've read really positive feedback. Are these headphones difficult to drive?
Quote:
Originally Posted by barid View Post

- That doesn't leave much in your budget for an amp.  I suppose look for an Objective2 (O2).  They are like $130 new, but again, on the used market you could find them for less.

- Some of the Schiit products may be worth looking at as well.  Magni/Modi are a popular DAC/amp combo around here.  I do not have experience with these, but they are an option that may fit the budget.

I looked at the amps you mentioned and I was wondering if I should prioritize an amp over a DAC or viceversa and if an amp/DAC combo would be a better option, or if I should even forget about a DAC altogether. If I use a DAC for my iPod I would need to get an LOD cable right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edinburgh View Post

For portable sources, I really don't think they have such big level difference like earphones. 
Of course, they do sound different and you can hear it obviously when you compare them, but the sound quality difference is much smaller than the price difference
Thanks for the clarification, I've seen conflicting views on the subject.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaDolceVita View Post

I've read consistently good reviews on these headphones over the years and looked at some reviews on how they perform with the type of music I listen and I've read really positive feedback. Are these headphones difficult to drive?
I looked at the amps you mentioned and I was wondering if I should prioritize an amp over a DAC or viceversa and if an amp/DAC combo would be a better option, or if I should even forget about a DAC altogether. If I use a DAC for my iPod I would need to get an LOD cable right?
Thanks for the clarification, I've seen conflicting views on the subject.

 

- Are they difficult to drive:  I don't think they are.  They will scale up nicely with better sources and amps, but they will also sound nice with a very basic setup.

 

- DAC over amp:  I can't really give you a definitive answer.  That comes down to a personal preference thing.  Myself, I think you'd be better served with an amp if you go with the HD600 as the ipod/macbook will be an ok source.  You would use a LOD out of those into the amp.

post #10 of 22
I would recommend Nad Viso HP50. No need for a amp and it could go portable if you desire so ( although it looks a little funny on the head ).

Regards
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

So after spending the last few days going through the suggestions posted on the thread (and by the way, thanks to everyone!) and reading reviews in the forums, I decided I'll get the Magni amp and the HD 600, later down the road I might get the Modi DAC but at the moment I'm in no rush. For a moment I was considering the Beyerdynamic DT 880 but apparently the general consensus is that the HD 600 is superior in most aspects and it's worth the price. Before I pull the trigger on the HD 600, I want to confirm this is true since there's a + $150 difference between the two, so I want to make sure I'm making the right choice.

 

In a nutshell:

 

HD-600:

Pros: neutral, forward mids, all rounder, transparent, easy to drive

Cons: lacks detail, the infamous "Sennheiser veil", soundstage is not as wide as in other models

 

DT-880

Pros: neutral, pure sounding mids, all rounder, good soundstage, extended bass, very comfortable

Cons: lacks transparency, lacks detail and imaging and can be fatiguing at times

 

Can anyone that has tried both confirm this?

post #12 of 22

I had both, and don't agree with these:

 

HD-600:

Pros: easy to drive

Cons: soundstage is not as wide as in other models

 

DT-880

Pros:  extended bass, 

Cons: lacks transparency, 

post #13 of 22

I like iPods as source. If you can get iOS7 or above on one you can then play FLAC files on them with the free VLC player. They still sound great with ALAC to me!

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edinburgh View Post
 

I had both, and don't agree with these:

 

HD-600:

Pros: easy to drive

Cons: soundstage is not as wide as in other models

 

DT-880

Pros:  extended bass, 

Cons: lacks transparency, 

 

Thanks for your input. Since you had both,which one did you prefer?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redcarmoose View Post
 

I like iPods as source. If you can get iOS7 or above on one you can then play FLAC files on them with the free VLC player. They still sound great with ALAC to me!

 

Nice!

I have most of my files in ALAC, then some of them in AAC or 320. Are you happy with the performance of the Magni with your iPod? 


Edited by LaDolceVita - 7/6/14 at 10:59am
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaDolceVita View Post

Thanks for your input. Since you had both,which one did you prefer?

Nice!
I have most of my files in ALAC, then some of them in AAC or 320. Are you happy with the performance of the Magni with your iPod? 

That is an Asgard one that I purchased used for a little over $100. Yes, totally happy. Normally I'm not using iPods but the Touch 5 is amazing.
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