Just another guy who enjoys listening...
Headphone Inventory
Beyerdynamic DT880 600-Ohm
(The affordable HD800! I'm very impressed with the smooth yet very detailed and transparent treble. With stock velour pads, the bass energy is a bit light compared to the HD800. Get Beyer's pleather pads for a nice boost in bass energy.)

(A freebie from OPPO, following four months of Beta testing - so I'm biased, but here's my mini-review: http://tinyurl.com/mynenrk and some pictures: http://tinyurl.com/m3x9yal PM-2 Pads make it better still.)

Sennhesier HD800
(Initially seen as too bright and revealing of faults in upstream components, the HD800 has now become my favorite headphone for actually listening to music for enjoyment - not just as a microscope for analyzing other gear. The Metrum Acoustics Octave MkII NOS DAC made a huge push in the right direction and the low-feedback, single-ended, Class A NuForce HA-200 brought me almost to perfection with the HD800, but was replaced by the Metrum Acoustics Aurix, a zero-feedback amp that matches the Octave MkII - this is my "final solution" for the finicky HD800. Update: The Oppo HA-2 DAC driving the iBasso PB2 Pelican portable amp is amazing with the HD800 when equipped with Burson V5 Dual op-amps and dummy buffers.)

Sennheiser Amperior (Silver)
(Lower build quality than the Beyer DT1350, but more comfortable and amazing sound - a poor man's LCD-2!)

Audez'e LCD-2 rev.1
(Before I found my "final solution" for the HD800, this was almost everything I wanted in a headphone - yes, I slightly prefer it over the OPPO PM-1 - if I had to get by with just one or the other. If only I could find a way to give it a 13-Watt into 50-Ohm, neutral and transparent signal - and to EQ its treble upward just a bit, without adding distortion.)

Audio Technica ATH-M50
(Best $100 headphone out there - but it only sounds like a $150.)

Sennheiser HD280
(A sleeper - bang for the buck)

Shure E4g
(I'm not into IEMs, so these will do...)


(Another freebie from OPPO, following several months of Beta testing. This thing is now my favorite portable headphone. It offers a lot of isolation, has a very smooth FR, perfect bass and treble, and its even more efficient than the PM-1. Gifted to an Aussie drummer, while on a business trip to Melbourne.)

Sennheiser HD600
(Sold - Considerable bang for the buck - especially on the Beresford Bushmaster MkII.)

Sennheiser HD650
(Sold - Surely, the offspring of an HD800 and LCD-2, the HD650 was the best compromise out there, until the PM-2!)

AKG K550
(Sold - My head wasn't wide enough for a good seal.)

Philips CitiScape Downtown
(Gifted to 91-year-old friend who loved them for listening to dixieland jazz - now deceased...)

Shure SE530
(Sold - awesome IEM, but seldom used)

Beyerdyanmic DT1350
(Gifted to a friend - sounded great, but I've decided I don't like the discomfort of supra-aurals)

Beyerdyanmic DT1350 "Facelift"
(Sold - A comparison with the Sennheiser Amperior ... Amperior wins!)

Beyerdynamic T1
(Sold - I had a love/hate relationship with the T1 due to not having the right amp - for my tastes, the T1 wants a tube amp, but I'm not willing to go there - I'm too obsessive to roll tubes!)
Headphone Amp Inventory
Metrum Acoustics Aurix
(A zero-feedback "transformer-powered" amp - no tubes, no transistors, this is a cosmetic match to the Metrum Octave MkII, and most certainly is my final fix for HD800 woes. The Metrum stack is a turn-key HD800 solution - stunning!)

(Had Beta test units for seven months, beginning mid-December 2013 - Received a silver HA-1 of my own in August 2014, for keeps. This DAC/amp does it all - with everything except the finicky HD800, that is...)

TBI Audio Millenia MG3 - with a TBI-made external 10:2 resistor network
(A ridiculously good 32W into 8-Ohm speaker Class BD speaker amp that I use with directly-attached 8-Ohm Def.Tech SM45 near-field monitors or with only very efficient headphones or IEMs via the TBI resistor box and appropriate cables)

CEntrance DACmini CX with 1-Ohm output impedance mod
(This thing does so much, so well. I will never sell it.)

iBasso PB2 Pelican
(Currently running 2x Sparkos Labs SS3602 Duals + dummy buffers. Portable balanced output and amazing sound with the HD800 or any other headphone!) Regarding the Sparkos SS3602: http://tinyurl.com/zrc5n4a

Meier Audio Corda Stepdance
(The ultimate portable amp, IMHO - and, believe it or not, this little guy is my absolute benchmark for neutral transparency - seriously - every amp gets compared to the Stepdance when evaluating neutrality and transparency!)


NuForce HA-200
(Sold: Purchased as a "solution" for the HD800's bright and brittle treble. Using this amp with my Metrum Octave MkII has finally given me the smooth, yet transparent and very detailed treble I've spent a long time trying to secure for the HD800. This is a LOT of desktop amp for the money - I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to spend $350 or less for a desktop amp. I have not tried it with another HA-200 in balanced mode, as I personally think it's got plenty of power for the HD800 single-ended.)

Schiit Valhalla 2
(Returned under Schiit's gracious 15-day trial guarantee, I'll say it was my least fatiguing amp for the HD800 to date, but a little too laid back (10th row seating) for my tastes and a somewhat lacking in dynamics and bass energy, compared to a good SS amp like the OPPO HA-1 - where, I'm back to dealing with HD800's fatiguing treble. HD800: A world of compromise.)

Beresford Bushmaster MkII (TC-7533) DAC/amp
(Sold - Spectacularly non-fatiguing, detailed, transparent, low-noise DAC and intergrated amp, runs on 12VDC, pulling only 60mA, and makes HD600/HD650 and the PM-1 sound their very best. This thing almost sounds like a Speedballed Bottlehead Crack (per a couple of friends), but it's solid state! http://tinyurl.com/ny2oq6g)

Schiit Vali hybrid mini-amp
(Sold - This giant-killer was my favorite solution for the HD800, until it wasn't. Aside from the microphonic ringing, which really wasn't a problem for me, it has a constant sheen of sorts that makes the timbre of every instrument and voice sound similar.)

Emotiva a-100 Mini-X
(Sold - 8 Watts per channel into 50-Ohms - but a little bright and a little harsh, even with LCD-2)

Burson Audio Soloist
(Sold - I liked it with the Beyer T1, but prefer the sound of the LCD-2 with DACmini CX - for real.)

CEntrance DACport
(Gifted - an awesome piece of gear but I didn' t really need it as much as a friend of mind did)
Source Inventory
Audiophonics PCM5102 DAC
(A $155, small-footprint, 32-bit, 384kHz DAC with XMOS USB, coaxial and optical inputs, and an internal Li-Ion battery that acts as a noise buffer to mains power, a la John Kenney's Ciunas DAC. The sound is bold - like a vintage receiver's "Loudness" switch - truly great for lower-than-usual-volume listening, when you want to be kind to your ears. Dynamics, bass energy, and treble sparkle are all emphasized. Treble can be harsh with some tracks, but not most. This is not an accurate DAC - it can turn a Sennheiser HD600 into an HD650 (and then some, but not quite a V-MODA M-100).

32GB Apple iPod Touch 6th Generation (space grey)
(Excellent for Tidal HiFi streaming into the Oppo HA-2 - very pleased!

Sony NWZ-A17
(The best transport I've ever owned - not the best DAP. See: http://tinyurl.com/nhnvvmm )

UpTone Audio USB Regen
(More bang-for-the-buck than any other component I've bought. Just get one!)

iPad 3 + Pure i-20 iDevice Dock (This source was bettered by using a CCK > USB 2 module of the Octave MKII DAC)
(Blu-Tacked to an 8x5-inch slab of grey marble, it's much more stable with the iPad 3 - using Coaxial out to the Metrum Acoustics Octave MkII (and from there to the Metrum Acoustics Aurix and HD800) - primarily for streaming TidalHiFi and Netflix movies - which look great on the 2048 x 1536 Retina display - that's quite large at a viewing distance of only 12 inches. This has put an end to using Bluetooth to get form iDevices to the OPPO HA-1 - which forced use of the HA-1's ESS9018 "glare-inducing" oversampling DAC.)

iPad 3 + CCK ======== MY BEST-SOUNDING SOURCE =========
(Using the Amarra-based USB 2 module input of the Metrum Acoustics Octave MkII, and from there to the Metrum Acoustics Aurix and HD800 - primarily for streaming Tidal HiFi and Netflix movies - which look great on the 2048 x 1536 Retina display. The USB 2 module is powered by a TeraDak U9VA 5V Linear Power Supply via the TeraDak's included USB Y-cable.)

Metrum Acoustics Octave MkII NOS DAC - with the Amarra-based USB 2 module added in June 2015 - Incredible!
(My absolute favorite DAC of all time - which isn't saying much, as I haven't been around the block much, but still...)

TeraDak Teralink X2 USB-to-IIS or USB-to-S/PDIF Converter
(I was only using my Concero as an S/PDIF converter for the Beresford Bushmaster MkII, until I bought this giant killing, bang-for-the-buck converter which sounds every bit as good. It's limited to 96/24, but hear this - I genuinely consider this affordable, Taiwanese-made product to be superior to the USB receiver in my OPPO HA-1. Seriously - it's a great upgrade to the HA-1's USB input - going in Coaxial, instead.)

CEntrance DACmini CX with 1-Ohm output impedance mod
(The DAC section has just a tiny bit of "etch" in the treble - great with LCD-2 rev.1)

CEntrance DACport LX
(Sold and bought again, after buying the DACmini CX. The LX is a must-have for traveling with a laptop!)

Toshiba Windows 7 laptop + Foobar 2000 + WASAPI plugin > USB

Sony PCM-M10 - 96kHz/24-bit Linear PCM recorder/player
(My favorite portable source for 3.5 years - preferred over HiFiMan HM-801 and TASCAM DR-100, but replaced by the FiiO X5)

Sansa Clip+
(8 GB + 32GB & 64 GB microSD cards)


Starting Point Systems "The Battery DAC"
(Sold: Made in France, this is a very well-executed TDA1543 NOS DAC, that's battery powered - offering a tube-like solid state experience, rich with "desirable" harmonics. Here are my impressions: http://tinyurl.com/pz6ec2y )

Beresford Bushmaster MkII (TC-7533) DAC/amp
(Sold - Ridiculously good sound, runs on 12VDC, pulling only 60mA, and makes HD600/HD650 and the PM-1 or PM-2 sound their very best. This thing almost sounds like a Speedballed Bottlehead Crack, but it's solid state! http://tinyurl.com/ny2oq6g)

Resonessence Labs Concero w/Apple Remote
(Sold - Amazing USB power management when external power isn't convenient.)

Decware ZSTAGE Zen Triode Tube Gain Stage
(Sold - with JJ ECC82, PSVANE T Series Mark II 12AU7, NOS Radiotechnique 12AU7, NOS Siemens 12AU7, NOS Mullard 12AT7)

HiFiMan HM-801
(Returned on 30-day trial guarantee for a full refund. Here's why: http://tinyurl.com/mftmfvz )

TASCAM DR-100 MkII - 96kHz/24-bit Linear PCM recorder/player
(Returned after one day of ownership for a refund. Here's why: http://tinyurl.com/mx89gdk )

Stoner Acoustics UD100 ESS9018 USB DAC
(Sold - dry and lacks dynamics, but smoother treble than the Objective DAC)

JDS Labs Objective DAC
(Returned on trial guarantee with 15% restocking fee - intermittently "screechy")

iBasso DB2 Boomslang2 DAC
(Returned on trial guarantee - "lifeless" and too dark - at least for the LCD-2 rev.1)

CEntrance DACport
(Gifted - an awesome piece of gear but I didn' t really need it as much as a friend of mind did)

(Sold - Here are my initial impressions, only three days in: http://tinyurl.com/n8p8apv)
Cable Inventory
Cardas HPI interconnect with 3.5mm rt.-angled connectors
(Ultra-pure copper Litz and 3-conductors Golden ratio stranding - affordable and great-sounding!

Entreq Discovery USB Cable 1.5m
(Crafted by the Swedish designer, Per-Olof Friberg this cable was given to me by a generous friend here on Head-Fi. It has a "drain wire" that runs alongside the usual four conductors within the sleeve, which lacks a more traditional shield, exiting the sleeve just before the connector at the DAC end of the cable. This drain wire shunts any RFI/EFI (that would otherwise affect the data wires) to an Entreq grounding box (which I lack), an iron water pipe (which I lack), or a mains ground (which I'm using, but which is not considered ideal.) I can only just barely say that I prefer this cable, grounded as it is, to the Supra 2.0 USB.)

Audioquest Diamondback RCA Interconnects (0.5m)
(These are awesome! They've been discontinued by Audioquest, but there are still a ton of retailers offering them for as little as $70 and they are essentially identical to the currently manufactured $155 Audioquest Sydney, which distinguishes itself only with the use of purple copper in the silver-plated connectors (vs. red copper in the Diamondback) and their foil-carbon-foil 3-layer noise dissipation shield (vs. the Diamondback's foil-mylar-foil shield.) I'm not willing to pay an extra $85 over $70 just for these two features!) This has become my favorite RCA interconnect - primarily due to its lower noise floor. See: http://tinyurl.com/qfp65cw )

Supra USB 2.0 Cable 0.7m
(The first one was DOA. The second one is awesome! My second favorite USB cable.)

Blue Jeans Cable Belden 1694A Digital Audio Cable - 5ft. with BNC/RCA connectors
(A true 75-Ohm "digital" cable and a huge improvement over the KabelDirekt "digital" cable and the Emotiva equivalent.)

iBasso CB11 interconnect XLR 4 pin female Cable to Hirose HR10A male

(2x 2m speaker wires and 2x 0.5m RCA Level 1 interconnects - way out stuff that works very well, but the RCA interconnects are not as quiet as the Audioquest Diamondback, in my opinion, due to the Anti-Cables' lack of a shield.)

Audioquest Golden Gate Mini-to-RCA 2.0M

Audioquest Golden Gate RCA-to-RCA 0.6M

Milian Acoustics SPOFC 6-inch interconnect with 1/8th-inch Switchcraft connectors

Toxic Cables Silver Poison UPOCC, 60-inch, naked, terminated for iBasso PB2 (balanced) and LCD-2
(Wonderful build quality and sound!)

Toxic Cables Silver Poison UPOCC, 96-inch, naked, terminated for 4-Pin XLR and HD800
(Wonderful build quality and sound!)

BTG-Audio 8-wire clear OFC adapter: Neutrik female 4-Pin XLR to Banana Plugs

4x Emotiva 0.5M RCA interconnects
(A great value, but Zzzzz...)

LaCie USB Dual Power Sharing Cable 131046
(The poor man's KingRex uArt Y USB cable for DACs with female USB Mini-B jacks, i.e. DACport LX, ODAC, etc. Cover the 4th pin of one USB A connector with a sliver of Scotch tape to supply only data from the PC and only power from an external 5V source.)

C2G (Cables To Go) 28108 USB Y-Cable
(The poor man's KingRex uArt Y USB cable for DACs with female USB Type B jacks, i.e. Concero. Cover the 4th pin of one USB A connector with a sliver of Scotch tape to supply only data from the PC and only power from an external 5V source.)

TeraDak USB Y-Cable
(Included with the TeraDak U9VA PSU, this cable is an excellent and affordable alternative to the exceedingly expensive KingRex uArt and uCraft Y USB cables for DACs with female USB Type B jacks, i.e. Concero. - allowing only data from the PC and only power from an external 5V source. No Scotch tape required!)

Emotiva XDRCA 0.5m 75-Ohm Coaxial (digital) interconnect
(It works - but it's thick and stiff. More importantly, the Blue Jeans Cable Belden 1694A Digital Audio Cable, is spectacularly better sounding.)

KabelDirekt (6 ft.) Pro Series Digital Audio Cable 1 x RCA Male to 1 x RCA Male
(Works OK as a Coaxial interconnect - but nowhere near as good as the Blue Jeans Belden 1694A.)

2x KabelDirekt (3 feet) 1 x RCA Male to 2 x RCA Male Y Cable - Pro Series

Cardas GreyPigtail Adapter: Neutrik 4-pin female XLR-to-6.3mm Rt-Angle TRS


Cardas Grey (24AWG x4) with black Teflex sleeves, 54-inch, terminated with Neutrik 4-Pin XLR and HD600/650
Power-Related Components
Tripp-Lite is500 Isolation Transformer
(500W, 4-outlet isolation transformer with Faraday cage - used downstream from the Tripp-Lite LC1200)

Tripp-Lite LC1200 Line Conditioner
(1200W, 4-outlet, voltage regulator, EMI/RFI filter and surge protector)

Furman AC-215A Power Conditioner

TeraDak U9VA Linear Low noise Power Supply (Adjustable 0.25 to 9.0V, 1Amp)

Energizer XP8000A 8000mAh LiPo battery pack (5V, 9-12V, 19-21V, 3Amp)

XPAL Willy Cable WI15 and Powerstream adatper to supply Meier Stepdance with regulated 15VDC (max. permissible)

XPAL Willy Cable WI16 to supply iBasso PB2 with regulated 16VDC (max. permissible)

Venom 25C 6-cell 3600mAh 25.2V LiPO Battery for use with TBI Audio Millenia MG3 amp

Anker Astro3 10,000mAh LiPo battery pack
(5V, 9V, 12V - 2Amp)


Tripp-Lite PR-3UL 3Amp 13.8V DC linear regulated power supply
(Sold - a great but crude-looking power supply, no longer needed)
Other Audio Equipment
Definitive Technology SM 45 monitors (for near-field use)
Audio-Related Tweaks
My Travel Rig, version 4.0

Using the Energizer XP8000 LiPo Pack to Supply Regulated 15V to the Meier Audio Stepdance, 2Stepdance, or Quickstep
http://tinyurl.com/k3yrrk6 and http://tinyurl.com/lwejmp7

Using the Energizer XP8000 LiPo Pack to Supply Regulated 16V to the iBasso PB2 Pelican amp

A 15V LiPo Battery Solution for the Meier Audio Stepdance, 2Stepdance, or QuickStep

Selecting Resistors for Using Headphones With Speaker Amps

An External 6-cell 25.2V LiPo Battery Solution for the TBI Audio Millenia MG3 Amp

Achieving 25.2VDC with AA Li-Ion Batteries Inside the TBI Audio Millenia MG3 Amp

Schematic For Dual 9V Battery Pack Connection to the HiFiMan HM-801

A portable solution for 5.1 Watts (uh, make that 0.133 Watts) per channel into 50-Ohm LCD-2

Clean, ample, 5VDC power USB-powered devices like the Resonessence Concero (vanilla, HD, or HP)

The awesome and affordable Bushmaster MkII integrated DAC/amp > HD650 or PM-1
http://tinyurl.com/llfeb3n and http://tinyurl.com/kf88k4y

Accessorize your USB-powered DAC!

My version of Currawong's HD800 mod

Headphone sensitivity vs. amp power output

On Balanced vs. Unbalanced output (Don't get me started!)

My argument for the OPPO HA-2 > HD800 pairing

My latest "Travel Rig" using an iPad 3 > CCK > UpTone Audio USB Regen > Oppo HA-2 > HD800
Spend money I find under rocks