Allocation of $1k+ Budget b/w Headphones, Amp, and DAC
May 24, 2015 at 8:09 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3


100+ Head-Fier
May 12, 2015
New to headphones.  Started w/ Sennheiser HD650 for $300.  I've listened to them some with friend's FiiO E12, as well as as the iFi  iCAN, and through my Onkyo home stereo A/V receiver.  I really like the HD650 (though don't have much to compare them to except a few in-store listens).
From reading the Sennheiser impressions thread, it seems like there are a lot of people that swear by the Bottlehead Crack + Speedball amp, and a general consensus that they thrive on tube amps.  I don't want to build that and seems like I could get it for ~$500+ new assembled from reputable source or save a couple hundred bucks and get it used. DAC would obviously be extra.
I'm not at all opposed to go this route, but as a hp newb I thought the headphones would be the most important part of the equation and thus the most expensive.  I realize the HD650 can sound very good w/ a cheaper amp/DAC combo, but I think I will end up spending more in the long run if I go with a cheaper amp/DAC to start and then ultimately get the Crack anyways.
Is there a 'normal' or recommended allocation of budget between headphones, amp, and DAC?  Would I be better served by returning the HD650 and buying more expensive hp (possibly lower impedence) and less expensive amp? 
May 26, 2015 at 6:14 AM Post #2 of 3


Headphoneus Supremus
Apr 9, 2006
About 80% on headphones, either 15/5 or 10/10 for Amp/Dac. For instance, a cheap Schiit stack (Magni 2 / Modi 2) will drive many expensive headphones no problem.
May 26, 2015 at 7:07 AM Post #3 of 3


Headphoneus Supremus
Jan 27, 2013
there isnt a 'normal' per se, but it is generally wiser to spend more of your budget into headphones as transducers will have the largest impact on your sound. I wld definitely not recommend spending more than 50% of your total budget on external components. something along 15-25% as recommended above wld make the most sense in my mind. I wld even go as far as to consider dropping the amp if the headphones are easy to drive and dropping the dac if your laptop alrdy has an extremely nice sound card and investing ur full budget into headphones.

the hd650 performs well but requires an amplifier. ppl say it sounds best with a nice otl amp. there are more expensive options out there with a definite sonic improvement but also some headphones that are definitely overpriced. sound sig of the headphones is a very big factor to consider. the hd650 does sound quite unique and you may prefer it over other more expensive or more sonically capable headphones.

I personally wld consider the he-400i or pm-2 or he-560 or lcd-x if your budget stretches and worry abt the amp later. (just note the he560 will require an amplifier to rly sound good, other options u can get by without one when just starting out but will recommend adding one later one). lcd-2 will have a similar (though much more emphasized) darkness as the hd650. it also cant rly get away w not havin an amp. there are some nice sub-$1 beyerdynamics that are very easy to drive or have modest amping requirements (just note the 600ohm edition will most definitely require an amp, 250 ohm really needs an amp as well)

sidenote: the magni 'shld' provide sufficient power to the majority of headphonds based on the calculation (except some orthodynamics). rly when ppl say things like the magni isnt sufficient or good enough, they are talkin abt system synergy for their preferences. a whole other topic that can be quite subjective.

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