[Update: Please bury this thread...]
Ask yourself: "What if I could have it all?"
Allow me to introduce myself.
Music is my life. Listening, composing, recording, performing...with no restrictions imposed save for lack of sufficient tools.
I've loved to sing for as long as I remember; played piano since 1993; trombone and guitar since 1996; and have been in everything from metal bands to advanced jazz ensembles to symphonic orchestras.
A few highlights from my amateur music career:
- Being begged on a daily basis by adults and children alike to sing popular songs.
- Trading a Super Nintendo for what I suspect to be one of the rarest electric guitars in existence.
- Hanging out at a conductor's mansion.
- Singing the national anthem at sports events.
- Participating in the halftime show at the 2002 FedEx Orange Bowl in Miami with the likes of Enrique Iglesias and Bow Wow.
- Getting a wah-wah pedal as a gift from a vice-principal who wanted to be my manager.
- Having the privilege of performing live with legendary jazz virtuoso Ira Sullivan.
- Becoming close friends with a musician who also lived in a mansion (which I visited often, lol).
- Passersby commenting that I should be a video game composer as I tinkered on a keyboard.
- Forming an imaginary rock band with a girl bassist who sat with me at a stairway. We called it Stairway Club.
- Impromptu midnight metal rehearsals while attending high school and college simultaneously.
- Somehow picking up a grape juice radio commercial on an old bandmate's guitar amp and recording it over riffing.
- Giving guitar lessons to random strangers.
- Owning a vintage 1930s Gibson acoustic guitar and (foolishly) selling it for about $4K below its market value.
- Networking with thousands of people in various underground scenes.
- Receiving complimentary albums from bands around the globe in anticipation of an indie label that never came to be.
- Writing countless incomplete songs in virtually every style; alas, only in my head for the most part.
- Making the most esoteric freestyle demos you will never hear.
- And best of all, meeting so many talented artists. I even talked to Darren Hayes (my favorite vocalist; ex-Savage Garden, now solo) and met Jesper Strömblad (founding member of my favorite band In Flames) once!
One of my major goals is to own businesses in the creative industries, including a high definition digital music store, record label, video game & animated television production company, and advertising agency.
Over the years, I invested five figures into my music collection (with particular pride derived from procuring rare collector's items) before having the sense to seek out quality electronics, so you could say I'm a latecomer to this hobby.
My user name refers to the philosophy we all share of experimenting with audio components to create unique experiences.
In that spirit, and after extensive research, I have taken this to the extreme and put together a master wish list. I sort of feel like Ash Ketchum from Pokémon setting out on an adventure to become a head-fi music master... "Gotta catch 'em all!"
For those of you like me who genuinely desire to get your hands on the best audiophile equipment in the world, "some day"...this thread will serve as an outlet for me to tend to my delusions of grandeur, and could perhaps even become a place for us wild ones to gather and dream together.
Bear in mind, many of these are obviously overpriced summit-fi devices. Everyone can plainly see that the outlay involved is beyond excessive. For the sake of progress, I would be grateful if we could avoid drawn-out discussion on the topic.
And yes, for the record, I seriously intend on purchasing them eventually. Given my ambitious entrepreneurial aspirations (which would require millions - if not billions - of dollars to pull off), it'll be a piece of cake in comparison.
My top priority is to attain the holy grail of sound quality, regardless of expenditure. (Variety comes second.) If this doesn't suit your fancy, I advise against venturing further.
I am aware there is great value to be had for under $1,000 and past that point you must inevitably contend with the law of diminishing returns. Likewise, I acknowledge an optimized affordable rig can outperform a much more expensive one that is improperly configured.
I'm happy enough with a relatively cheap portable setup as it is, but want to see how far I can go. Will you stand at the summit with me?
(Take note - this isn't a buying guide, and I am definitely not suggesting you go as overboard as I have. I'm a diehard megalomaniac in this respect.)
It may sound silly, but the sexiest part of all this, for me, is the cables. (Surpassing even the appeal of IEM customization and their limitless combinations.) I find it amusing that certain individuals insist they can't make a difference, despite endless evidence to the contrary. According to my investigation, high-grade cables are capable of completely transforming your system. Beside that point, they look absolutely gorgeous!
For your convenience, I have hyperlinked each listing (when applicable), enabling you to click and learn more from the official sources. (I am in no way affiliated with these companies; this is merely my own personal wish list.) You can also click the accompanying images to view them in full size.
Since it is an ongoing project, I will update the list from time to time. If you are so inclined, feel free to subscribe and add your own items to the thread, preferably using the same format employed here. Providing I deem them worthy of consideration, they may be assimilated into the main post. (Thanks in advance for your contributions!)
Oh, and if you are in possession of - and are willing to part with - any of the out-of-production models featured here (whose prices are unlisted for obvious reasons), please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Here we go!!!
AKG K812 ($1,499)
Final Audio Design Pandora SE (8,000-10,000 EUR)
Focal Spirit Professional ($349)
Fostex TH-900 ($1,499)
Grado PS1000e ($1,695)
JVC HA-SZ2000-E (~$250-300)
Sennheiser HD 800 ($1,499.95)
Sony Qualia 010
Ultrasone Edition 5 ($4,999)
Ultrasone Edition 8 Julia ($1,799.95)
V-MODA Crossfade M-100 (shadow) ($310)
Planar Magnetic Headphones
Abyss Headphones AB-1266 ($5,495)
Audeze LCD-3 ($1,945)
Audeze LCD-X (black) ($1,699)
Audeze LCD-XC ($1,799)
HiFiMAN HE-6 ($1,299)
OPPO PM-1 ($1,099)
Koss ESP950 (includes Koss E90 amplifier) ($999.99)
QUAD Musikwiedergabe Jecklin Float QA (1,395 EUR)
Sennheiser Baby Orpheus (HE 60 headphones + HEV 70 amplifier)
Sennheiser Orpheus (HE 90 headphones + HEV 90 amplifier)
STAX SR-007MK2 ($2,350)
STAX SR-009 ($4,450)
STAX SR-X/MK3 / SR-X/MK3 Pro
TakeT H2(N)+ (150,000 JPY)
Universal In-Ear Monitors (UIEMs)
Final Audio Design LAB I (164,600 JPY)
JH Audio / Astell&Kern AKR03 (169,800+ JPY)
Custom In-Ear Monitors (CIEMs)
Fit-Ear PS-5 ($1,650)
Hidition New Tears 6-PRO (1,232,000 KRW)
JH Audio Sirens Series Roxanne (with carbon fiber earpieces) ($2,149)
Logitech Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors (Carpathian elm burl) ($1,999)
Noble Audio Kaiser 10 ($1,599)
Rooth Professional Audio LSX ($1,444.48)
Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference (with detachable cable) (1,269 EUR)
Suyama FitEar MH334 (147,000 JPY)
Suyama FitEar MH335DW (168,000 JPY)
Suyama FitEar Private C435 (157,500 JPY)
Unique Melody Mentor ($1,449+)
Unique Melody Platform Pure Six ($2,280)
Westone ES50 ($999+)
Portable Digital Audio Players (DAPs)
Calyx M ($999)
Colorfly Pocket HiFi C4 Pro ($799)
FiiO X5 ($349)
HiFiMAN HM-901 ($999-1,279)
iBasso DX90 ($419)
LH Labs Geek Wave XD 128 ($1,299+)
FiiO E12 DIY (champagne gold) ($249)
Allnic HPA5000 ($5,500)
Apex Pinnacle ($10,000)
AudioValve RKV MARK 3 (3,900 EUR)
Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold ($6,450)
Cavalli Audio Liquid Lightning MK II ($4,850)
Cavalli Audio Liquid Silk
(upcoming electrostatic tube hybrid)
Crayon CHA-1 (with multiple outputs) ($12,500)
Crayon CMA-1 (black) ($45,000)
DNA Stratus ($2,700)
EAR HP4 ($5,695)
HeadAmp Aristaeus ($3,980)
HeadAmp Blue Hawaii SE (with Alps RK50 rotary potentiometer and silver faceplates) ($6,596)
HeadAmp GS-X mk2 (with DACT stepped attenuator and silver faceplates) ($2,996)
MASS-Kobo Model 394 (500,000 JPY)
OPPO HA-1 (black) ($1,199)
SPL Phonitor 2 (black) ($1,899)
Trafomatic Audio T2+ (black) ($2,300)
Woo Audio WA234 MONO (platinum) ($15,900)
Woo Audio WES (black) (with all upgrades) ($8,170)
Psvane Philips Holland Metal Base Replica EL34PH (quad) ($399)
Sophia Electric Royal Princess 300B (pair) ($1,200)
Digital-To-Analog Converters (DACs)
Chord Hugo ($2,345)
dCS Vivaldi Digital Playback System ($108,496)
(Includes CD/SACD transport, DAC, upsampler, and master clock. I have a fantasy of getting one in black for a private headphone room and another in silver to use in a speaker room for friends and parties.)
Light Harmonic Da Vinci Dual DAC (grey) ($31,000)
Light Harmonic Sire ($120,000)
MSB Technology Diamond DAC IV select (matte black) ($74,950)
Woo Audio WDS-1 (silver) ($1,199)
Light Harmonic Da Vinci Source ($12,999)
LUMIN S1 (black) ($16,000)
Naim NDS (6,500 GBP)
Virtual Surround Sound Audio Processor
Smyth Realiser A8 ($2,910)
Naim 555 PS (5,450 GBP)
Double Helix Cables Spore M modular headphone system (6-10 feet) ($12,000-30,000+)
Effect Audio / Crystal Cable Piccolino (1.5m) ($599.90-649.90)
Siltech Duchess Crown (balanced with XLR connectors) (2-3m) ($1,400-1,800)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin (for AB-1266) (balanced with ebony wood splitter and 2 x 3-pin ebony wood shell XLR connectors) (1.2-3.66m) ($999-1,399)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin (hardwired to HD 800) (balanced with ebony wood splitter and 2 x 3-pin ebony wood shell XLR connectors) (1.2-3.66m) ($1,149-1,499)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin (for K812) (single-ended with 1/4" connector) (1.82-3.66m) ($699-829)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin (hardwired to TH-900) (balanced with ebony wood splitter and 2 x 3-pin ebony wood shell XLR connectors) (1.2-3.66m) ($999-1,399)
Effect Audio / Crystal Cable Piccolino (1.2m) ($499.90-519.90)
Portable Interconnect Cables
Effect Audio / Crystal Cable Piccolino Mini (10-20cm) ($199.90-249.90)
Crystal Cable CrystalConnect Absolute Dream (pair) (1-2m) ($13,500-23,500)
Crystal Cable CrystalDigit Absolute Dream (1-2m) ($9,000-15,300)
Naim Burndy (pair) (1.25m) (850 GBP)
Nordost Odin Supreme Reference Analog Interconnect (pair) (0.6-1+m) ($14,000-16,000+)
Nordost Odin Supreme Reference Digital Interconnect (75 ohm S/PDIF) (1.25-5m) ($10,000-19,000)
Nordost Odin Supreme Reference Digital Interconnect (110 ohm AES/EBU) (1.25-5m) ($10,000-19,000)
Siltech Empress Double Crown (pair) (0.75-2m) ($16,200-40,000)
Synergistic Research Galileo LE RCA (pair) (1-2m) ($7,500-9,100)
Synergistic Research Galileo LE XLR (pair) (1-2m) ($9,500-11,500)
Crystal Cable Crystal USB Absolute Dream (1-2m) ($9,000-15,300)
Light Harmonic LightSpeed (0.8-3.8m) ($999-1,999)
Siltech Golden Universal Crown (1-2m) ($6,750-10,500)
Synergistic Research Galileo LE USB (1-5m) ($1,995-2,595)
Crystal Cable CrystalFire Absolute Dream (1-2m) ($9,000-15,300)
Siltech Golden Fire Crown (1-2m) ($6,750-10,500)
Crystal Cable CrystalPower Absolute Dream (1.5-2.5m) ($10,000-15,000)
Nordost Odin Supreme Reference Power Cord (1.25-5m) ($11,000-21,000)
Siltech Ruby Double Crown (1.5-2m) ($10,800-13,500)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin Alchem ribbon power cable (1.2-3.66m) ($599-709)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin umbilical power cable (for BHSE) (0.6-2.45m) ($479-799)
Stefan AudioArt Endorphin umbilical power cable (for WES) (0.6-2.45m) ($499-799)
Synergistic Research Galileo LE Analogue AC Power Cord (5-8 feet) ($5,600-7,100)
Synergistic Research Galileo LE Digital AC Power Cord (5-8 feet) ($5,600-7,100)
Resonance/Vibration Control / Isolation
Stillpoints ESS Rack (5 shelves) ($15,000+)
Stillpoints Hard Hat ($20)
Stillpoints Ultra 5 ($699)
Stillpoints Ultra Base ($69)
Stillpoints Ultra Mini ($125)
Stillpoints Ultra SS ($249)
AudiophileOptimizer (100 EUR)
dBpoweramp Reference R15 (Family Pack) ($58)
JPLAY (99 EUR)
JRiver Media Center ($49.98)
Out Of Your Head ($149)
Phew! You just glanced at well over a million dollars worth of audio gear, factoring in the necessity of multiple units in select categories. (Heck, a dCS Vivaldi stack with full loom of top-of-the-line cables runs at three hundred grand on its own.)
...And I didn't even delve into the worlds of musical instruments, recording studios, turntables, and speakers - which would be considerably crazier. I prefer the convenience of headphones anyway, for the time being.
Let it be known that I am by no means an expert, but simply a passionate enthusiast who does not have the luxury of hearing everything at the moment, so if you have direct experience and would like to comment or compare, be my guest. (Distracting practices such as negative speculation and debating the efficacy of hardcore hi-fi are not encouraged.)
For now, I will probably get the Focal Spirit Professional and iBasso DX90 to replace my humble Bose QuietComfort 15 and iPod Classic before upgrading to the big leagues. ^_^
Many more categories coming soon!
Edited by Music Alchemist - 9/3/16 at 6:54pm