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First Flagship Headphone--Can't decide!

Poll Results: Audeze LCD-X or Sennheiser HD800

 
  • 22% (5)
    LCD-X
  • 50% (11)
    HD800
  • 27% (6)
    Other Recommendation(based on music preferences and comfort)
22 Total Votes  
post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

Hello head-fiers! First post here. 

I feel like I'm in a pickle here.. I've read great things about both the LCD-X's and the HD800's, but have seen many to prefer the LCD-X's and their less bright, less fatiguing treble presentation. But here's my problem: weight. 

 

So I've got a pretty weak/sensitive neck(I've had a number of issues with it), and I've read many reviews of the LCD-X's who say it's pretty heavy(600 grams), compared to the HD800's(330 grams). 

So, in essence the Senn's seem more practical for sitting at the computer and listening to music/games etc., but what about the Audeze's sound? Would it be worth it to just listen while reclining or laying down to pick them instead? 

 

In summary: 

 

Option 1:

 

Audeze LCD-X

FiiO X5(or CEtrance HiFi-M8 if needed)

Computer listening not possible

$2050

 

Option 2: 

 

Sennheiser HD800

CEtrance HiFi-M8

Computer listening possible

$2200

 

Option 3:

Persuade me!

 

Music distribution:

50% live rock/alternative(U2)

30% electronic

20% pop recordings

 

I'm pretty experienced with speakers and I have a theater with acoustic panels and such, and I enjoy the sound speakers give, which is why I'm leaning toward the open-back headphones. 

I also had a pair of HD650's for a few weeks, paired with a FiiO X3. Which I enjoyed for the money, and some things I liked better than I did about my speakers, but I'd prefer a step up so I could have kind of an "ultimate" setup. 

 

Thank you! 


Edited by parkman - 8/9/14 at 12:59pm
post #2 of 33

Both cans you mentioned are in Summit-Fi (that's a section of this forum covering the most expensive cans) territory.  You should knock around there for a while before pulling the trigger.

 

As these as both top of the heep cans, you would be worse than foolish to strap them to a mediocre or worse DAC (in whatever configuration) and probably worse yet with no amp in the driving chain.  What you are proposing are some very mismatched equipment to feed into these cans--regardless of whether you are also using quality music/sound sources/formats/files which these cans rate, or not.

 

You have said nothing about your sound card or even your computer in general, so I'm left to assume that you are currently using on-baord PC audio (which is crappy and should not be used with quality cans that have a street price of 1/3rd the price of the ones you mentioned).

 

In short it appears that you need to do a great deal more homework before spending your money.

post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 

Sure, thank you for directing me. 

I did read a number of forum posts regarding the HiFi-M8 as being very compatible with the HD800's. And even the LCD-X's as even sounding fantastic with the FiiO X5. Both of these are asynchronous DAC's which I would used to plug into my computer.(I know, the on board PC audio is terrible, and so is the amplification.) 

 

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/trusted-traveling-companion-centrance-hifi-m8-portable-headphone-ampdac

 

http://www.cnet.com/news/raising-the-performance-bar-centrance-hifi-m8-digital-converterheadphone-amplifier/

 

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/centrance-hifi-m8-dacheadphone-amp/?page=3

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJMqRecJG9U

 

So I do believe I have done at least some homework(read a few hours of stuff on here) :wink: But I do realize I don't know a lot!

I would never intend to buy these pre-maturely just for the sake of having flagship headphones. :D 


Edited by parkman - 8/10/14 at 12:57am
post #4 of 33

While headphone weight can be important, how that weight is balanced and distributed is critical, as are your personal tolerance and preferences.  You really need to put these cans on your head and wear them for a time (optimally equal to your longest listening session) to know for sure.

 

With regard to option #1, my suspicion is that only the M8 might have sufficient power to properly drive the planar X.  If it does, it might be an OK system if you want to listen to only computer file based music in various formats.  There may be better options (cans and/or equipment) for even this specific type of use.  For example the Astell & Kern AK100 + memory cards can currently be had from a reputable company selling on Ebay for $400.  This may be a part of a better system of this type, in part because it can be used as a quality DAC for other equipment.

 

Turning to option #2, you have a quality system at or just a bit above the entry level in a portable system to power the HD 800 and feed it with a good DAC.  Again there may be better options, depending in part on how and with what you plan to use this system.


Edited by KG Jag - 8/10/14 at 12:58am
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 

While headphone weight can be important, how that weight is balanced and distributed is critical, as are your personal tolerance and preferences.  You really need to put these cans on your head and wear them for a time (optimally equal to your longest listening session) to know for sure.

 

With regard to option #1, my suspicion is that only the M8 might have sufficient power to properly drive the planar X.  If it does, it might be an OK system if you want to listen to only computer file based music in various formats.  There may be better options (cans and/or equipment) for even this specific type of use.  For example the Astell & Kern AK100 + memory cards can currently be had from a reputable company selling on Ebay for $400.  This may be a part of a better system of this type, in part because it can be used as a quality DAC for other equipment.

 

Turning to option #2, you have a quality system at or just a bit above the entry level in a portable system to power the HD 800 and feed it with a good DAC.  Again there may be better options, depending in part on how and with what you plan to use this system.

Yeah I agree.. I think I will just have to try them out! Do you know if Audeze offers returns for that sort of thing if it's simply too heavy for me? 

 

I'm sure there's probably better options as the price goes up, but I couldn't find any for a reasonable price to me in Head-fi's 2014 buying guide. I'd be fine with an AK100, AK100II, HifiMan HM-901 etc. price wise but output doesn't seem to be nearly as high. The M8 provides 1.4w max and 1w typical power, which according to Jude Mansilla is even enough(adequate) to drive HiFiMan HE-6's. 

Maybe I'm just coming from the speaker side of things, but it was always recommended to me on the AVS Forums to prioritize investment in speakers, then AV receivers/integrated amps/DAC's etc. Maybe it's different with headphones, but often times guys would have $10k+ on speakers, with just a $2000 receiver and $2000 amp. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMOjcj3tqk

 

So I'm not sure, I'm not trying to debate or anything, I'm just trying to make sure I'm understanding everything correctly. But if I have to spend $2500+ on just an amp/dac combo, I'd rather just buy a pair of HD650's, and power them with something like the HiFi M8.

post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkman View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KG Jag View Post
 

While headphone weight can be important, how that weight is balanced and distributed is critical, as are your personal tolerance and preferences.  You really need to put these cans on your head and wear them for a time (optimally equal to your longest listening session) to know for sure.

 

With regard to option #1, my suspicion is that only the M8 might have sufficient power to properly drive the planar X.  If it does, it might be an OK system if you want to listen to only computer file based music in various formats.  There may be better options (cans and/or equipment) for even this specific type of use.  For example the Astell & Kern AK100 + memory cards can currently be had from a reputable company selling on Ebay for $400.  This may be a part of a better system of this type, in part because it can be used as a quality DAC for other equipment.

 

Turning to option #2, you have a quality system at or just a bit above the entry level in a portable system to power the HD 800 and feed it with a good DAC.  Again there may be better options, depending in part on how and with what you plan to use this system.

Yeah I agree.. I think I will just have to try them out! Do you know if Audeze offers returns for that sort of thing if it's simply too heavy for me? 

 

I would look to well regarded vendors like Razordog (just to name one) for buying your can.

 

I'm sure there's probably better options as the price goes up, but I couldn't find any for a reasonable price to me in Head-fi's 2014 buying guide. I'd be fine with an AK100, AK100II, HifiMan HM-901 etc. price wise but output doesn't seem to be nearly as high. The M8 provides 1.4w max and 1w typical power, which according to Jude Mansilla is even enough(adequate) to drive HiFiMan HE-6's. 

Maybe I'm just coming from the speaker side of things, but it was always recommended to me on the AVS Forums to prioritize investment in speakers, then AV receivers/integrated amps/DAC's etc. Maybe it's different with headphones, but often times guys would have $10k+ on speakers, with just a $2000 receiver and $2000 amp. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXMOjcj3tqk

 

So I'm not sure, I'm not trying to debate or anything, I'm just trying to make sure I'm understanding everything correctly. But if I have to spend $2500+ on just an amp/dac combo, I'd rather just buy a pair of HD650's, and power them with something like the HiFi M8.

 

No probem with debate and discussion from my end.  It's your money and system, so it's always you who has the deciding vote.

 

The most important piece that I'm missing (or perhaps just don't understand) is: exactly what is the architecture of the system that you want to build?  In my case (a bit oversimplied) it's a disk player/headephone amp(s) (at least some of which) that will properly power the HE-6/headphones.  That in turn leads me to the Oppo 105/various headphone amps from the likes Audio GD, Burson, Questyle, Schiit/HE-6, HD 800, LCD-3 & friends. 

 

It would appear that your build starts with computer based music files.  If I'm starting on the right track, I'm not sure if your priority is to base your system from a desktop computer, laptop computer or a stand alone DAP.  Maybe you haven't fully decided that yet or perhaps you want to do mutiple things.  If you have decided, there are certainly paths within your budget to tie all this to the X, HD 800 or other top shelf headphone within your stated budget.

 

It is at least somewhat expensive to get to headphone amps that will properly drive a can demanding a great deal of power like the HE-6.  There is an entire long thread here on what amps (including things like vintage receivers) do that and what don't or don't doit optimally.  Most seem to seem that it takes 3 to 4w minimum.  But you are not talking about the HE-6 or near its level of power demand.  So your options of quality amps are not limited to the relatively small number of those with the HE-6 level power output.  If you're able to decide on the can that you want (for me it would clearly be the HD 800 between these two), you can decide on what amp or amp/dac is it's best partner.  In the case of the HD 800 there are entire threads that address just that issue.

 

From my early days of home stereo, the mantra was (if you had the funds) always start with your turntable, phono cartridge and speakers.  Fill in the rest from there.  It's similar now, but with a more complicated flow chart, beginning with the format of the music/sound--and going forward from there.

post #7 of 33

This went missing from my last post:

 

I suggest that you buy your Audeze or other cans from a highly reputable and very customer ordered dealer. 

 

Razordog Audio is one such example.  It has an owner with whom you can communicate directly
 

post #8 of 33

It all depends on what you want out of this upgrade.

 

If you want the setup that will cure the upgrade itch:

 

Headphones: Beyerdynamic T1

Amplifier: Schiit Lyr (roll those tubes until you find the the rights ones for the genre)

DAC: Bifrost with Uber

Total street price: ~$2,100

Reason: I know the Lyr isn't the best pairing with the T1, however it is an affordable tube-rolling amp I have tweaked to my preference for particular genres.

 

If you want setup that will introduce you to a whole new level of audio and serve as a reference for your many upgrades to come:

 

Headphones: Sennheiser HD800

Amplified: Matrix M-Stage with Muses Upgrade

DAC: Asus Xonar STX

Total street price: ~$1,800

Reason: The Matrix M-Stage is cheap and it certainly pairs well with the HD800, however, it does leave you wanting. The Muses op-amp upgrade helps, but I'm certain, when you're ready to sink another $2,000 into the setup, you will have an abundance of options that will provide a meaningful upgrade.

 

I am a slight fanboy of the Audeze, so heed my words when I do say something negative about them. They are uncomfortable unless you're in a proper recliner. They are musical but the other side of the coin is that they are coloured. The HD800 is a far more appealing way to start the hobby. I started with the LCD2.2 and I had a hard time getting over the discomfort and often questioned my decision. Ultimately, after owning over a dozen flagship headphones, I keep coming back to my LCD2.2, however, the journey would have started off much smoother had my decision been with the HD800. 

post #9 of 33

Optimized by JPEGmini 3.8.8.8L 0x1e1f851c   

 

This should solve the Audeze painintheneck....now we are down to serious summit-fi business, let's play !

 

I actually picked a midrange usd$500+ Audiogd dac+amp that pumps out almost 6watts knowing that i would eventually get to a HE-6...

"summit fi" is a vicious cycle...hard for anyone to stop buying/trying out the "latest"....  

whatever strikes your fancy, just go for it.

( u will get the rest, sooner or later...not to worry :P )

post #10 of 33

I would go with the HD800 + M-Stage (OPA627) and a good DAC. It should run you around $2000 altogether. 

post #11 of 33
Certainly forget Audeze if you have neck problems. Definitely look into HE560 and see if you can try it somewhere.

I have a pair of headphones that I use pretty much only lying down on the sofa, but that's one of many. If I had one main can, I'd want it to be more versatile.
post #12 of 33
Considering what you listen to my first recommendation would be he-560 as it has good comfort and synergises well with your genres.
For something more exotic have a look tat a smyth realizer and a basic Stax system. The smyth will of course equalizer the Staxes in the way it does and furthermore the advantage of the sr-207 is that it has just about as low distortion as any other headphone, like 0.1-0.3 % from 20-20khz
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
This is where the decision becomes difficult lol.. So many options. Yet which one is best for me? I have NO idea. You all have points/experience/and valid suggestions.

Okay to answer some questions, so the source I'm shooting for is my computer/iPhone using an outboard DAC and amp. I do NOT want a desktop amp/DAC. Which is why I was leaning toward the CEntrance, because it's portable. And, many people said it became their reference portable rig. I want to both enjoy music at the computer, and music at night when I go to bed. I do have an Oppo BDP-105, but that's in my theater room and not my first choice. The iPhone also isn't my first choice.. But that's the only portable source I can think of other than Astell&Kerns $$$$ players. I'd be fine with an AK120/AK100 II, but that wouldn't have enough power for HD800's or LCD-X's right?

In essence though, sound quality with portability is the main priority for me. Secondly, connectivity to the computer(asynchronous USB DAC)

Sadly.. I'm now questioning the LCD-X's because of the weight and what you guys have said.. I just really don't want the HD800's to sound sibilant or weak in the bass. But the comfort and sound stage are extremely appealing.

And as far as the Stax and HifiMans, how do they compare soundstage wise etc with the HD800 and the highs/bass of the Audeze's?
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
post #15 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkman View Post

This is where the decision becomes difficult lol.. So many options. Yet which one is best for me? I have NO idea. You all have points/experience/and valid suggestions.

Okay to answer some questions, so the source I'm shooting for is my computer/iPhone using an outboard DAC and amp. I do NOT want a desktop amp/DAC. Which is why I was leaning toward the CEntrance, because it's portable. And, many people said it became their reference portable rig. I want to both enjoy music at the computer, and music at night when I go to bed. I do have an Oppo BDP-105, but that's in my theater room and not my first choice. The iPhone also isn't my first choice.. But that's the only portable source I can think of other than Astell&Kerns $$$$ players. I'd be fine with an AK120/AK100 II, but that wouldn't have enough power for HD800's or LCD-X's right?

In essence though, sound quality with portability is the main priority for me. Secondly, connectivity to the computer(asynchronous USB DAC)

Sadly.. I'm now questioning the LCD-X's because of the weight and what you guys have said.. I just really don't want the HD800's to sound sibilant or weak in the bass. But the comfort and sound stage are extremely appealing.

And as far as the Stax and HifiMans, how do they compare soundstage wise etc with the HD800 and the highs/bass of the Audeze's?


The M8 should be able to provide any power deficit that the A & K lacks, by coupling them together.

 

Using large open cans, like the HD 800 and the X are not good for on the go and may also be problematic (at least a hassle) for use on the road, even if you  just use them in a hotel room.  You can buy a great closed can for about $300 to $350 for portable and on go use.  For on the go use, I recommend the NAD VISO HP50, PSB M4U 1, Focal Spirit Pro or Sony MDR 7520.  These are listed in order from warm to dead neutral (I call it a tie in that regard between the FS and Sony).   See:

 

 http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/two-strike-zone-focal-spirit-professional-and-spirit-classic

 

 http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/i-love-these-headphonesthe-nad-viso-hp50

 

and

 

http://www.cnet.com/products/psb-m4u-1/

 

The 7520 is a great studio can with a detachable cable that has compatibility with a standard 1/8" male to 1/8" male cable.

 

Turning to the Flagship cans, you should spend some time here (although it does not include the X):

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13

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