Best sound quality for under 500$
Oct 16, 2010 at 9:35 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 53

danielghofrani

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Hi,
I am not an expert in mp3 players, but from reading what audiophiles say, apparently ipods (which are the norm here in Canada) are not that good for audio quality.
well, to me audio quality is the important thing, I dont care about apps, video display, games, podcasts, camera, microphone, touch screen, capacity, need_I_go_on
I used to have an ipod nano and I thought the audio quality was OK with the stock headphones. now I have this 15$ Sylvania crap.
 
please reommend me a player and a headphone for the best sound.(preferabaly under 500$)
thanks a lot.
 
Oct 16, 2010 at 11:32 AM Post #3 of 53

deadhead12

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This is a very broad question and hard to give one 'right' answer.  People's taste vary so you could get a ton of different responses which may or may not be of any help to you.  What kind of music do you listen to?  What will your listening environment be like? If noisy like on a bus or train, you might want to look at iem's.  Or maybe you just don't like things stuck inside your ears so might prefer on the ear cans. (plenty of head-fiers fit in this category)  Will you be doing any exercising with this rig?  If so, something small like a clip+ might fit your needs.  
 
Personally, If I was starting from scratch with your budget, I'd be looking to spend the majority of my money on a good set of headphones/iem and leave only like $100 or less on a dap.  Although I've never heard one personally, the clip+ and fuze tend to be well respected around here and can be had quite cheaply.  This would leave you plenty of room to get just about any top tier universal iem or maybe even a budget custom like the jh-5 (which I also haven't heard).  I'm not really recommending anything other than do a bit more research and be a bit more specific with your question.  There are plenty of people on here that have vast amounts of experience and knowledge (who are more than willing to help), but ultimately your personal tastes will prevail and making suggestions without knowing what these tastes are won't really be of much help.  I'm not trying to be a prick or anything, so please don't take this post the wrong way.   A recommendation for someone who only listens to hip-hop/rap, trance, and dubstep is going to be vastly different than a recommendation for someone who listens to 90% classical and 10% folk. 
 
Oct 16, 2010 at 4:56 PM Post #4 of 53

danielghofrani

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I listen to a classical mostly but when I am jogging I listen to pop songs.
I was thinking of getting a Sony walkman because apparently they are very respected for their sound quality but unfortunately they do not support .flac files.
you are right, everyone thinks different. that is exactly why I am asking the question, because I was confused by mixed reviews. I wish there was a store around here that actually let you listen to different audio players and headphones and choose one.
I dont think you can demo PMPs and headphones in futuershop or bestbuy.
thanks a lot for your reply. I highly appreciate it.
 
Oct 16, 2010 at 4:57 PM Post #5 of 53

beeman458

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First things first, welcome to Head-fi.
beerchug.gif

 
danielghofrani wrote:
 
please reommend me a player and a headphone for absolute best sound.(preferabaly under 500$)
thanks a lot.
 
Currently, I'd go with a set of "refurbished" Sennheiser IE8's coupled to a 16Gb, Nationite S:Flo2.
 
Both can be had for about four hundred US $.
 
The refurbished IE8's cost me $186.00, delivered.  And the Nationite S:Flo2 can be had delivered for about $200.00 delivered.  Currently, I don't have one but I'm eyeballing this recommendation as my next purchase.
 
ksc75smile.gif

 
Oct 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM Post #6 of 53

Satellite_6

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Quote:
I listen to a classical mostly but when I am jogging I listen to pop songs.
I was thinking of getting a Sony walkman because apparently they are very respected for their sound quality but unfortunately they do not support .flac files.
you are right, everyone thinks different. that is exactly why I am asking the question, because I was confused by mixed reviews. I wish there was a store around here that actually let you listen to different audio players and headphones and choose one.
I dont think you can demo PMPs and headphones in futuershop or bestbuy.
thanks a lot for your reply. I highly appreciate it.


You don't need to use FLAC on a DAP really. I keep reading Sonys + Cowons + Sansas sound great, so I would go with one of those. Headphones. . . not sure, but with that budget you should be able to get something really nice.
smily_headphones1.gif

 
Oct 16, 2010 at 6:43 PM Post #7 of 53

Zida

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Spend your money on headphones, and find an mp3 player that matches the features you need (usability, format support, storage space). You will find a difference in sound in different mp3 players, but it will mostly be a change in tone. 100% worry about your headphones/earphones/IEMs first. Those will bring about a drastic change in sound quality.
 
Oct 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM Post #8 of 53

Jalo

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In priority:

Good highest resolution source digital materials>>DAP>>headphone>>Amp>>cable

First, no amount of money can compensate for poorly recorded digital materials, Second, this digital materials need to be converted accurately. It is after this process that the amp and headphone can make beautiful music.
 
Oct 16, 2010 at 11:02 PM Post #9 of 53

Deep Funk

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Something else: you want good portable sound, now does that mean that you have a collection of CDs or FLACs or whatever lossless format? Good sound needs data and data needs a source from where it was extracted. 
 
Regarding DAPs, a Sansa Clip + can be all you need and it is cheap. It is not perfect but it works excellent. Combine it with a good headhpone + small headphone amplifier  and you could be done for a long time.
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 12:20 AM Post #11 of 53

Zida

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Quote:
In priority:

Good highest resolution source digital materials>>DAP>>headphone>>Amp>>cable

First, no amount of money can compensate for poorly recorded digital materials, Second, this digital materials need to be converted accurately. It is after this process that the amp and headphone can make beautiful music.




I think that little chain you assembled is a bit misleading.
Reading into it one could infer that upgrading to .FLACs would be more important that upgrading to quality headphones.

In actuality there is no chain of importance like this. It's all a balance, really. If you have crappy headphones you wont hear a difference between 192kbps and .flac. Hell, if you have good headphones but not a top notch DAC + AMP rig you might not be able to hear the difference between a well encoded mp3 and .flac. Quality files are important when you're assembling your rig, but theyre not more important than owning good headphones. And owning a hifiman over an ipod isn't going to be nearly as important as owning some really quality headphones.

Invest in quality headphones and if they require an amp to reach their potential, get them one that'll fill that requirement. Find a player suitable to output to that amp, and then find for yourself what bitrate you require to get the most that you can out of your rig. And when you think things don't sound good enough, which happens to most of us after a while, try and find the source of your problems, but unless you've got some top notch headphones, it's far more likely to be those holding you back than your choice of portable mp3 player.
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 6:54 AM Post #12 of 53

Deep Funk

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Zida, what you wrote makes a lot of sense. 
 
Regarding top notch headphones, there are headphones which are so good you think they are priced too cheaply. That also applies for budget headphones. 
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 7:29 AM Post #13 of 53

peaceful1

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sansa clip+ & UE- triplefi-10 can be a great match you can hear all the instruments in a classical genre ,but IMO just using one music player won't be able to provide all your needs if possible try to use more than one DAP I found COWON & SANSA the best match for my need.
 
Oct 17, 2010 at 9:39 AM Post #15 of 53

danielghofrani

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thanks alot for all the informatioan. I think I might go with a sansa clip+ and a pair of DBA 02 headphones from Fischer
but I am still having a hard time believing Sansa clip+ has better audio quality than Creative Zen (made by the leading computer audio chip manufacturer) or Sony walkman (they guys who invented portable media player) , microsoft Zune, ...
 

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