Best Headphone + amp setup (hopefully below $400)
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Mr Iriver

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I was thinking of getting some shure E4c, E5c, or some UE superfi pros. However I really like my E3s; more than any other portable phone I have tried.

So this is what I thought. I should stay with my shure e3 for portable use.
I'll extend to $500 if need be.

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So I have [size=large]4 Questions[/size]

---Does any of the above canalphones amped, compete with a full size headphone running out of the same amp?

---If the canalphones are good enough to compete against similarly priced headphones using a portable amp, then which is a good amp?

---If the canalphones are inferior to headphones then which is the best headphone + amp setup I could get for that money?

---My soundcard sucks, so lets say I get the hornet, or an SR71. Will the sound card mess the sound (killing any potential) making the home setup useless.


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The Setups I was thinking.

Head Phones:

HD600 : hd650 : MS2 : Orpheus(J/K) : Beyer DT880 : E4 : E5 : Superfi : Stax SR001

Amps

Sr71 : Hornet : CHA47

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The sound I am looking for.

---Good soundstage with good instrument separation.
---Good for music like mozart, to system of a down. (especially for rock which is 60% what I listen to everyday)
---Great musicality even at the cost of some detail, but both is even better.


Thanks.
Damn my pocket hates this forum.
 
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drarthurwells

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Canalphones (IEMs) are superior to over the ear headphones in terms of clearness, detail resolution and image focus.

Over the ear phones induce phase delays caused by reflected sound in the headphone cup, ear, and outer ear canal - absent in IEMs.

This phase distortion adds spaciousness and coloration to sound, more reminiscient to room speakers (but less so). Some people like this over the analytical neutrality and purity of IEM.

The best IEM is the Ultimate ears 10 - the next best is the Etymotic 4.

I like the new AE-1 portable amp by headamp.com - see the thread in the amp section. For home I like the Lehmann Black Cube linear.
 
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CamelBackCinema

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Please take in consideration the word "best" is no more than an opinion word when it comes to determining sound quality. That being said, I believe that the three things you are looking for can be found in many different headphone/amp combinations.

If you already have the Shure E3c's then why not try out a full sized headphone? That would be my approach. Keep in mind that your source is a soundcard and no matter how much you spend on your headphone system, your mp3s will not sound any better and in most cases, they will begin to sound worse.

It seems you like a wide variety of music with a focus on rock. I would probably go with the Beyers but keep in mind, I am going by reputation since I have never heard them. The Shure E5c canalphone is a big upgrade from the E3c in my opinion. So another route could be selling your E3's and upgrading to the E5cs. The Sennheisers will not maximize their potential with your source so I would be weary of them. They have a reputation of being hard to drive.

In whichever case you choose, just have confidence in your purchases. All the headphones you listed have had great reviews. Also remember, headphones, even though they are the focal point of audiophile systems, can only be as good or as bad as the source. So allocate some of your budget for that.
 
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Mr Iriver

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If instead of getting an amp I get a high end sound card like the EMU 1212 or something better. Will that allow me to use hard to drive headphones. I would still end up buying an amp later.

BTW I have tried the SR225 and the Sennheiser HD580, and really liked them both, especially the grados. I want more soundstage than the grados however.

Thanks
 
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goorackerelite

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have you looked into the hd595's? they're supposed to a mix of the grado and senn sound. they have a really spacious and deep image and very flexible when it comes to sources.
 
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Beach123456

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Quote:

Originally Posted by drarthurwells

The best IEM is the Ultimate ears 10 - the next best is the Etymotic 4.



Sensaphonics?
 
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Mr Iriver

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Quote:

Originally Posted by goorackerelite
have you looked into the hd595's? they're supposed to a mix of the grado and senn sound. they have a really spacious and deep image and very flexible when it comes to sources.


Yeah those look good too. How is their soundstage compare with the other more laid back senns, and how does the imaging compare with the grados?

Thanks
 
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CamelBackCinema

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Iriver
If instead of getting an amp I get a high end sound card like the EMU 1212 or something better. Will that allow me to use hard to drive headphones. I would still end up buying an amp later.

BTW I have tried the SR225 and the Sennheiser HD580, and really liked them both, especially the grados. I want more soundstage than the grados however.

Thanks



Well, getting your setup is a process and not an overnight ebay shopping spree. As useful as this forum is, it won't tell you what you like. Also remember that sound cards can only go so far and a dedicated source would be a better approach. Try the sources section of this forum and you will find some information on the type of sound cards that are best. If you want soundstage, try the ATH-900 (200 dollars) or the Sony MDR-CD3000 (250-300 dollars). They both have tremendous soundstage. Though they are a little big.
 
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Mr Iriver

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Quote:

Originally Posted by daba
What source will you be using?


I want to upgrade my source two, as I currently have a crappy sound card.

I think I'll end up getting a better soundcard. Other than that my iriver H320.

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BTW:
If I amp my H320 with one of the listed, using the line out, would that be a good enough source for phones like the senns.

thanks
 
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apostate

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mr Iriver
Yeah those look good too. How is their soundstage compare with the other more laid back senns, and how does the imaging compare with the grados?

Thanks



I find the 595s superior to my 225s in any spatial categories (soundstage, etc.). The Grados are very good at small jazz ensembles, string quartets, most rock, etc. but to me they fall short with things like full orchestras, big band, some large rock bands, etc. In general if there are more than about 6 people playing different instruments I prefer the 595s whatever the genre may be.

The 225s definitely do a better job with soundstage when the bowls are used, though still fall well short of the 595s, but I find the accentuation of the highs with the bowls to make some sounds far to prominent given their actual placement on a real stage (cymbals for example are very prominent despite the fact the drummer is at the back of the stage). To me that makes them sound a bit unnatural, hence the flats. The flats do reduce some clarity and can be overbearing to my ears at times but I find they provide a little better balance overall (essentially I find the flats less bass-happy than I find the bowls treble-happy ). I see c-pads in my future in the hope of finding some middle ground between the two.

I've only heard the Senn 590s so I can't really compare the 595s to the big hitters (580, 600, 650). I don't find them completely laid back but they certainly aren't nearly as forward as the 225s are.

All comments to my ears, YMMV, etc.

EDIT: My 225s are woodied and recabled, I have not heard stock 225s so all opinions are based on my modded 225s. The 595s are stock 120 Ohm. Also FWIW I have heard the 60-125 and didn't like any of them so I may be predisposed to lean towards the Senn sound somewhat.

Ant
 
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Mr Iriver

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Quote:

Originally Posted by labrat
Get a SuperMacro v.3 with optional switches and the OPA627 opamps , this amp is the only one I find is making the Shure E3 sound sparkling and great!
So you can keep your Shure E3 and also be portable!
And get a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro, this is a portable USB-adapter with analog line-out & optical Toslink out!
This setup is a cheap and great sounding setup!



The USB adapter sounds cool. Does it sound better than a DAP through a true line out (iRiver H320 in my case).

If I amp my iriver with something like the SR71, would it be a good enough source for something like the sony CD3000, or the hd650.

I can't buy a dedicated source as they don't play OGG files. A lot of my CDs were recently stolen, and most of my music is high bitrate OGG. So if anyone can recomend a source I need something that can go into my computer (PCI, USB...)

Which does better soundstaging, and imaging, and is better for rock, on a decent yet cheap setup.

BTW can the SR71 drive the HD650, or CD3k. Or are there any better amps in the pricerange.
 
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Mr Iriver

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Quote:

Originally Posted by CamelBackCinema
The iRiver is a good source IMO. CD3K will handle that source with an amp very well.


Alright. Just the info I needed.

How does the CD3k handle stuff like radiohead, compared to the E5c. Is the CD3k in a completely different league for that type of music.

Thanks.
 
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