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Best setup for a $1,500 budget (used)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I apologize for changing the subject of this thread mid-stream.  I decided it was better than spamming the forum with a second post.

 

I have a pair of HD598's with a Fiio E07K.  For some reason I've never been able to to duplicate the sound I get out of my old Sony receiver.  I have an Audioengine D3 on order (that may do it).

 

After thinking about it this last week - I'm willing to spend up to $1,500 for a good setup that I won't want to upgrade.  I don't have interest in owning 15 sets of headphones - just something that will get me really close to my music.  I prefer to buy used better equipment over new.  If a $600 setup can get me to the point I can barely tell the difference between it and a $1,500 setup - I would pick the $600 setup over the $1,500.  (I considered going up to just the HD600 or HD650 - but based on everything I read many people prefer the 598's over the 600 or 650.)
 

 

These songs probably accurately reflect my music taste

 

Children of the sun - Dead can dance
Juke Box Hero - Foreigner
Herb Alper - Rise
Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You
Fox Capture Plan - 疾走する閃光

Dave Koz - I Believe 

Dio - Rock n roll children

 

It is important that my setup is semi mobile.  Right now I'm living remotely to take advantage of low cost of living while working.  Sometimes I work from my flat - others I go to a co-workspace.  I don't mind hauling gear if there's a big gap between quality / cost ratio of super portable vs barely portable. (My laptop weighs 10 pounds).

 

My music source will be an HP mobile workstation most likely streaming Spotify or Tidal (have not been able to tell a difference with my current setup).

 

Here are my current setup thoughts 

 

1 - Grado RS1i.  

 

Pros - listed as a great jazz headphone in the jazz headphones thread (only one < $1,000 with a great rating).  $500 used & supposed to be easy to drive (Audioengine D3 would probably be fine?).  May hold it's value since it's discontinued.

 

Cons - Seems niche (don't see anyone using it as their main headphone).  Not sure about comfort (may be wearing headphones 6 hours a day).  Look breakable (I tend to be hard on things)

 

2 - HD 800.

 

Pros - This is the clear upgrade path from the 598's.  Half of the reviews on the 600 & 650's state that people prefer the 598's.  Based on the definitive headphone flagship shootout thread - the HD 700's are a questionable upgrade over the 650.  No one argues that the HD 800 is a big upgrade.  Probably really comfortable (love my 598 comfort).  

 

Cons - Listed as average on the best headphones for Jazz thread.  Not sure what I would need to drive it appropriately.  

 

3 - LCD 3.

 

Pros - Pretty much uncontested winner across all genres by all audiophiles in this list.  Won't have to worry about headphone upgrades after this.

 

Cons - I feel like a ****** for not being an audiophile & willing to drop this kind of money on a pair of cans.  Entire budget taken up by headphones - probably wind up driving them with Audioengine D3.

 

I'm leaning towards the LCD 3 or the RS1i.  Is the LCD 3 on an Audioengine DAC / AMP going to sound comp to a $1,000 used HD 800 with a $500 DAC / Amp?  This is kinda time sensitive as I have about a 2 - 3 week window to get them sourced in the states before I leave again.

 

Open to other suggestions ...

 

(This was my original post)

Quote:


tl;dr - I love the sound I get out of my Sony Receiver streaming from my Roku Box on HD598 headphones.  How can I re-create this with my computer (I already have an FiiO e07k)?

 

longer ...


I purchased a set of Sansui speakers with an old Sony receiver (Sony STR-D1090?) at a garage sale for $50.  A few years later I got a pair of HD598 headphones (in love with them).  Based on everything I read - I needed a built in Amp + Dac so I got that for my laptop.  It was nice but not much (if any) better than my Galaxy S4.
 
One day I went home and plugged it into my Sony receiver out of the blue with my original Roku box streaming some Jazz from Pandora and I couldn't put the headphones down.  I have no idea WHAT made the sound difference but it was huge.  I tried hard to find sound differences between Tidal, Spotify & Pandora off of my E07K & heard nothing (probably I'm not sensitive enough to tell the difference) but I'd really really like to figure out how to recreate the sound off the receiver.
 
It felt like things came thru that normally didn't and everything had a fuller sound without being louder.  On a good violin - when you pluck the string it reverberates for a long time - it builds to it's peak then falls off it's peak (but still continues to give echos of the sound).  On a cheap one the sound is a muffled dud a bit.  It produces the sound but doesn't echo truly and falls off quickly.  This is really the only way I can describe the sound differences.
 
I have up to $500 to spend (would like to keep it a lot less than that :P).  Based on what I'm reading (and have heard) my 598's are capable of producing the sound I want.  I just need to get a different DAC / Amp?  Does it have something to do with the 3.5 vs 6.3MM headphone jack?

Audioengine D3 or Apogee GROOVE Portable USB DAC?


Edited by rdnkjdi - 8/12/15 at 10:40pm
post #2 of 12
I don't know why your Sony sounds better. But there are definitely better DAC/headphone amps in the <$500 range. And no. It's not difference in the headphone jack size.

Are you set on a portable sized dac/amp? A good desktop unit in the <$300 range is the Audio GD NFB-15: http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm. Audio GD is a factory direct vendor, so often a better value over full MSRP products you see on Amazon and elsewhere because the price doesn't have a middleman built in.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I don't know why your Sony sounds better. But there are definitely better DAC/headphone amps in the <$500 range. And no. It's not difference in the headphone jack size.

Are you set on a portable sized dac/amp? A good desktop unit in the <$300 range is the Audio GD NFB-15: http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm. Audio GD is a factory direct vendor, so often a better value over full MSRP products you see on Amazon and elsewhere because the price doesn't have a middleman built in.



No - not set on an amp.  The E07K doesn't seem to do much over my Galaxy S4 (maybe I don't have sensitive ears?)

At the moment I'm trying to get a travel one.  But if a desktop one is going to have better quality I don't mind lugging one around.

post #4 of 12
E07K is Fiios entry level portable DAC/headphone amp. There are certainly better available. Desktop amps will have more power over most USB plugin powered DAC/amps. Don't think you would need it with the HD598s, but you might wish you did get a desktop amp if you upgrade your headphones later to something a lot more difficult to drive.

Personally, I wouldn't spend $300 on the Apogee to use with $150 headphones. Better to buy new headphones and spend less on the DAC/headphone amp for best SQ upgrade, IMO.

And since you are interested in the Apogee, here are some great deals that Slickdeals has listed: http://slickdeals.net/f/8030493-sennheiser-hd600-headphones-apogee-groove-usb-dac-amp-399-free-shipping. You can get the Apogee with the HD600 for $399 or $499 if you want the HD650 (read further down the thread). Those are considered good upgrades to the HD598.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

E07K is Fiios entry level portable DAC/headphone amp. There are certainly better available. Desktop amps will have more power over most USB plugin powered DAC/amps. Don't think you would need it with the HD598s, but you might wish you did get a desktop amp if you upgrade your headphones later to something a lot more difficult to drive.

Personally, I wouldn't spend $300 on the Apogee to use with $150 headphones. Better to buy new headphones and spend less on the DAC/headphone amp for best SQ upgrade, IMO.

And since you are interested in the Apogee, here are some great deals that Slickdeals has listed: http://slickdeals.net/f/8030493-sennheiser-hd600-headphones-apogee-groove-usb-dac-amp-399-free-shipping. You can get the Apogee with the HD600 for $399 or $499 if you want the HD650 (read further down the thread). Those are considered good upgrades to the HD598.



Let me ask - is the Apogee going to do as good as using a Magni 2 Amp + Modi USB DAC?

I apologize for the stupid questions ... I'm trying to put together good sound for a ton of development work I'm going to do over the next 12 months ... 
 

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnkjdi View Post

Let me ask - is the Apogee going to do as good as using a Magni 2 Amp + Modi USB DAC?

Depends on what you mean by that. The Apogee has a very good DAC chip, but implementation of the DAC chip makes more difference than the DAC itself. The Magni 2 is a good bit more powerful. Whether or not the Apogee 2 would be good for your listening volumes, I do not know.

You might explore more by googling Apogee with keyword head-fi, and then the Modi and Magni as well, and see what people are saying individually about them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnkjdi View Post

I apologize for the stupid questions ... I'm trying to put together good sound for a ton of development work I'm going to do over the next 12 months ... 

Everyone has to start at the beginning smily_headphones1.gif
post #7 of 12

Forget about the HD 800 or LCD-3.  You'll need a much better DAC and amp for those.  Buying a used DAC and amp is a great idea, but I can't make specific recommendations since I don't look at used products much.  Will you be buying a used headphone too?  You should be able to get yourself a brand new HiFiMan HE-560 or Audeze LCD-2 and a nice used DAC and amp.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, just wanted to drop in and say after much agonizing internal debate I just ordered the HD 600 + Apogee Electronics Groove.  I really do want to solve the headphone problem once and for all - I find my music genre & listening time is growing exponentially as I get older.  It's one of the things in life I'm willing to spend money on.
 
But I decided if there wasn't some kind of consensus around a set of end all in quality I couldn't justify spending what I'm willing to - I'll settle for an upgrade on a pair + amp that most people seem to like.  I have a feeling I will eventually be back looking for the dream set.  But 'till then we'll hope the 600 + Apogee is an upgrade.  I just really don't want this to turn into an obsession with dozens of headphones, amps & DAC's so I plan on nailing it the second time :confused_face(1):
 


Again.  Thanks for the help and noob friendly community.

Edited by rdnkjdi - 8/13/15 at 11:52am
post #9 of 12
That sounds like a great setup. Be sure to come back and let us know what you think of it smily_headphones1.gif
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just to follow up on this thread - I purchased the HD 600 with the Apogee portable DAC / AMP.  I'm very happy - it's definantly a step up from my 598's (why the hell do so many people online say it's not???).  I will say the 598's are significantly more comfortable - I can sleep with them / keep them on all day to keep people from talking to me and I completely forget they are there.

 

I'm still on the lookout for the killer set but these are sooo nice for now.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnkjdi View Post
 

it's definantly a step up from my 598's (why the hell do so many people online say it's not???).

 

I'm guessing those people plugged both the HD 598 and HD 600 directly into a phone, iPod, and/or computer audio jack (I/O panel or front).

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdnkjdi View Post
 

Just to follow up on this thread - I purchased the HD 600 with the Apogee portable DAC / AMP.  I'm very happy - it's definantly a step up from my 598's (why the hell do so many people online say it's not???).  I will say the 598's are significantly more comfortable - I can sleep with them / keep them on all day to keep people from talking to me and I completely forget they are there.

 

I'm still on the lookout for the killer set but these are sooo nice for now.


Get Audioquest Nighthawks and you can keep the Apogee for a killer setup. Nighthawks are really easy to drive.

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