Down the rabbit hole
Jun 6, 2021 at 8:14 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 48

mammal

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So how deep does the rabbit hole actually go?

What did you think of head-fi before you bought your first pair of headphones? What budget did you start with? What sounded too crazy and you believed "I would never do that"?

For me, it all started with a Chord Mojo and a pair of CIEMs, as always wanted to have something bespoke/custom made for myself. Since then, I have spent 30k on my current gear + loss of selling everything I tried and did not like. That's 10x of what I originally had dedicated to this hobby.

How has this hobby treated you so far? What did you do you have never thought you would / or swore to never do?

Thanks for sharing!
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 9:07 AM Post #2 of 48

tunes

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So how deep does the rabbit hole actually go?

What did you think of head-fi before you bought your first pair of headphones? What budget did you start with? What sounded too crazy and you believed "I would never do that"?

For me, it all started with a Chord Mojo and a pair of CIEMs, as always wanted to have something bespoke/custom made for myself. Since then, I have spent 30k on my current gear + loss of selling everything I tried and did not like. That's 10x of what I originally had dedicated to this hobby.

How has this hobby treated you so far? What did you do you have never thought you would / or swore to never do?

Thanks for sharing!
So after $30K what is your current system???
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 9:25 AM Post #3 of 48

helljudgement

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Started with the hd600, original schiit asgard and Maverick Tube Magic d2 dac over a decade ago. Have since gotten hd800, verite, dna starlett, EC studio B and Wavedream Signature SE with a couple of kilobuck iem thrown in between for good measure. Budget went from <1k to >15k in a span of 10 years.

What sounded too crazy and you believed "I would never do that"?
My current setup.

What did you do you have never thought you would / or swore to never do?
My current setup.

How has this hobby treated you so far?
It's been equally fun and frustrating.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 9:37 AM Post #4 of 48

mammal

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Budget went from <1k to >15k in a span of 10 years.
Hat down, being in a hobby consistently for 10 years, very nice!
So after $30K what is your current system???
It’s in my signature - dCS Bartok driving Abyss AB-1266 TC. On their own, it is around 22k, the rest went into shipping/taxes/resale. Currently, not using any external amplifier, separate upsampler, nor streamer, all-in-one device instead, and I like that.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 9:57 AM Post #6 of 48

MayaTlab

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There's always been a pair of HD600 since I was a teenager at home, so I've always been used to listen to music on these. I went further down the rabbit hole in terms of price once I left home (Stax, HD800, some "summit-fi" amps and DACs at the time - it's a lot crazier now than 10 years ago). Once I got serious about near-field monitors + modest room acoustics + DSP I lost interest in summit-fi headphones. The first pair of wireless headphones I truly enjoyed (P7W) made it hard to go back to wired, tethered headphones. A pretty big step forward for me with headphones was the discovery of PEQ, which was a natural evolution from room correction DSPs. As I got better at using PEQ I increasingly sold my high-end headphones as they didn't provide anything of value anymore and only kept a pair of HD650 because of their easy EQ-ability (as they naturally had few high-Q peaks or dips past 1kHz on my own head, and all of them pretty mild to begin with). The next step forward happened this year when I started to measure headphones' FR on my own head with in-concha microphones, and more recently with DIY probe tube microphones or blocked ear canals microphones, progressively improved their precision, calibration and the methodology to use them, started to learn how to interpret that data, and how to exploit it to better EQ headphones.

I'm starting to get quite happy with where I'm at now with headphones, which is all the more important as with the advent of object-based surround sound simulation systems and music mastered in these standards headphones (and later on hearables) may supersede speakers in their capacity to provide convincing sound virtualisation (except when it comes to sub-bass), but they won't as long as their FR can't be tuned to the wearer in a very precise, constant and fine-grained way (and even then it's up to debate whether or not personalised HRTFs should be used).

I'm at the point now where I've spent more on the microphones systems I'm using to equalise headphones than the headphones themselves. So the deeper I went into the measurements and EQ rabbit hole (particularly now when doing them in situ on my own head), the more I got out of the summit-fi rabbit hole.
 
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Jun 6, 2021 at 10:17 AM Post #7 of 48

pippen99

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I started down this rabbit hole in March 2015. Though my primary listening manner were headphones for years it was the discovery of Headfi and the knowledge of better sound going forward that moved me forward(or down into the pit depending on your point of view).

First system: Gustard H10(Amp), Gustard X12(Dac) and Audeze LCD-2f. Approximate retail 2K.

Current system: PS Audio Stellar P3 regenerator, dCS Rossini and Wordclock, Cavalli Liquid Gold, Woo Audio WA33 EE, Audeze LCD-4(DHC Prion4). This system including the various upgrade tubes and cables retail for approximately 65K.

Yes this is insanity but it is my insanity. Fortunately I have the means to indulge my insanity without compromising my wellbeing. Lest you think I am totally bonkers I have managed to hold myself to a 3K portable system(AK SR25, Hyla TE5B, DHC Clone Silver). My main system matters to me, portable system not so much.

So there it is. The rabbit hole is wide and deep. Be careful(and wise) about what you get yourself into.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 11:35 AM Post #8 of 48

mammal

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Current system: PS Audio Stellar P3 regenerator, dCS Rossini and Wordclock, Cavalli Liquid Gold, Woo Audio WA33 EE, Audeze LCD-4(DHC Prion4). This system including the various upgrade tubes and cables retail for approximately 65K.
Is that 65k for the whole system (I suppose) or the cables alone? :) That would be sick, haha! You do have a wonderful setup. I am wondering, how does LAu compare to WA33 EE? I remember in 2015/16 LAu was considered the best for headphones, but since the company no longer makes gear (and never released their Liquid Thungstan) I can only guess that WA33 EE is much better. Care to link to your review if you have one, or at least share your quick comparison? Thanks!
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 11:36 AM Post #9 of 48

mammal

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There's always been a pair of HD600 since I was a teenager at home, so I've always been used to listen to music on these. I went further down the rabbit hole in terms of price once I left home (Stax, HD800, some "summit-fi" amps and DACs at the time - it's a lot crazier now than 10 years ago). Once I got serious about near-field monitors + modest room acoustics + DSP I lost interest in summit-fi headphones. The first pair of wireless headphones I truly enjoyed (P7W) made it hard to go back to wired, tethered headphones. A pretty big step forward for me with headphones was the discovery of PEQ, which was a natural evolution from room correction DSPs. As I got better at using PEQ I increasingly sold my high-end headphones as they didn't provide anything of value anymore and only kept a pair of HD650 because of their easy EQ-ability (as they naturally had few high-Q peaks or dips past 1kHz on my own head, and all of them pretty mild to begin with). The next step forward happened this year when I started to measure headphones' FR on my own head with in-concha microphones, and more recently with DIY probe tube microphones or blocked ear canals microphones, progressively improved their precision, calibration and the methodology to use them, started to learn how to interpret that data, and how to exploit it to better EQ headphones.

I'm starting to get quite happy with where I'm at now with headphones, which is all the more important as with the advent of object-based surround sound simulation systems and music mastered in these standards headphones (and later on hearables) may supersede speakers in their capacity to provide convincing sound virtualisation (except when it comes to sub-bass), but they won't as long as their FR can't be tuned to the wearer in a very precise, constant and fine-grained way (and even then it's up to debate whether or not personalised HRTFs should be used).

I'm at the point now where I've spent more on the microphones systems I'm using to equalise headphones than the headphones themselves. So the deeper I went into the measurements and EQ rabbit hole (particularly now when doing them in situ on my own head), the more I got out of the summit-fi rabbit hole.
Thanks for sharing! Have you looked into Smyth Realizer type of DSP? I once heard it at CanJam and was impressed how it could simulate speaker setup, with a simple pair of headphones.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 12:15 PM Post #10 of 48

MayaTlab

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Thanks for sharing! Have you looked into Smyth Realizer type of DSP? I once heard it at CanJam and was impressed how it could simulate speaker setup, with a simple pair of headphones.
There's also the Impulcifier project : https://www.head-fi.org/threads/recording-impulse-responses-for-speaker-virtualization.890719/
But I'm not interested in replicating speakers in a room, I'm looking into replicating the virtual sound space that the sound engineers wanted me to experience with these new object based surround sound simulation systems :D.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 12:32 PM Post #11 of 48

pippen99

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The Lau is the finest SS amp I have ever auditioned. You are deep in to diminishing returns when trying to compare the Lau with the WA33 considering the WA33 is 4 times(or more) the original price of the Lau. The WA33 is some better at most everything but brings it's own issues. As with most tube amps the stock tubes are almost crap and require 3K+ in upgrade tubes to reach its potential. If you want to wallow in obsession head over to the the Glenn2359 thread and check those guys out. Glenn builds wonderful amps in the 2K range then those guys spend years and thousands chasing different iterations of tubes and adaptors. They argue over variations in SQ of the same tube from different years and manufacturers. It is incredibly entertaining and also informational. The guys on that thread are my go to for tube information but sometimes they are kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion(if you get my drift).

After getting the upgrade tubes then you have to wonder how long are they going to last. I had a Woo WA5(properly kitted near 90% of a WA33) before moving up to the WA33. When I bought it used at less than a year old the Sophia 300B power tubes were defective on arrival. It took several months going back and forth with Woo and Sophia to get them replaced. With the WA33 the Tak 274B rectifier blew at 13 months on a 12 month warranty. No give and take, out of luck. Right now I have half a quad of Eml 300B 2.5v back in Germany awaiting warranty replacement. It took 2 months of intermittent communication to get them to agree to replace the defective tube. It is now 1 month after and I don't really expect to see the replacement tube for two months(if ever). I do not as you can see have much confidence in the customer service of tube manufacturers.

If you are going to play with tubes the above is part of your reality. I really don't regret any of my purchases(maybe the EMLs a little bit). Up until a few months ago i had no issues after getting the Sophias replaced. Still I spend 98% of my time on the WA33. I really only use the Lau when I have a limited time to listen. The Lau sounds good a minute after it turns on. The WA33 takes a minimum of 1/2 hour to warm up to proper operating temperature.

I am pretty much at the end of my journey. My chain is where I want it and cannot for see any further upgrades there. I will upgrade to LCD-5 if there is a significant new model(COME ON AUDEZE). Thanks for reading my rant. :L3000:
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 3:57 PM Post #12 of 48

mammal

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Thanks for reading my rant. :L3000:
One of the best pots I have ever read, thank you for writing it!

If you want to wallow in obsession head over to the the Glenn2359 thread and check those guys out. Glenn builds wonderful amps in the 2K range then those guys spend years and thousands chasing different iterations of tubes and adaptors. They argue over variations in SQ of the same tube from different years and manufacturers.
This is what scares me about Tube amps, haha. Maybe it is this romanticised view of tubes, from before my time, that I lust after. However, knowing myself, already struggling with "what amp, what dac" I should rather stay away. The moment I got Bartók (being one all rounder) most of my worries disappeared. Maybe I would upgrade to Bartók 2 / Rossini with headphone amp (or whatever they call it), but for now, I can't see myself upgrading. I thought of the clock, but then, without auditioning it first, would be difficult to commit money to it. Reading dCS forums, I see folks recommending Rossini over Bartok + Clock, but then I don't have the amp and need to consider one from scratch, haha. As you can see, I am so indecisive and have a strong case for FOMO, that I should really stay away from something like a tube amp. Another thing that is strange is that I walk my house with 15kg Bartók, depending where I am listening that day, is where I actually carry it with me, haha. Bringing super hot Tube amp? I don't think I should.

@pippen99 have you ever had a chance to listen to any other Cavalli Audio amp? I know LAu was considered TOTL at the time, but at Canjam 2016 they presented a new prototype called Liquid Tungsten, they had it connected to Yiggy and I believe DCA Ether C and I have never heard better sound ever (it sounded to me better than Sennheiser HE-1). I attributed it to the amp, as I have heard Yiggy and Ether on other systems, which was no where close. I was hoping to purchase that amp, but they never finalised it, what a pity.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 5:03 PM Post #13 of 48

pippen99

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My second amp was a Liquid Carbon. I was amazed by sound out of that little piece compared to the Gustard. When I had the opportunity to purchase the Lau i jumped at it. Truly it was a pity when Dr Cavalli decided to fold things up. If you are happy with the Bartok amp section then stay there. I have never listened to a Bartok. I went with the Rossini because I had two TOTL amps and it allowed me to consolidate streamer and DAC into one unit.
 
Jun 6, 2021 at 5:29 PM Post #14 of 48

paradoxper

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I thought this was a good (I was in college in 2012) place to start and finish quickly. Not realizing uhhh this is all crazy. :laughing:

Started with Schiit, NwAv-BS and Sennheiser/Audeze, and whatever else was relatively affordable...
then STAX began the descent and dissent and insanity and my most cherished part of the this entire journey.

The hobby is indeed satisfying -- but keeping the fun although with intervals of boredeom/grinding.
And contrary to how it feels today, it was more about the community members rather than the gear.

In fact, the pandemic brought me back after leaving STAX for, well, other electrostatic ventures. To the point of feeling the industry has reached a penultimate(s) which is a little sad feeling.

Anything I swore not to do?
Go right into the specialty electrostat-programs as I thought it excessive which then became obsessive from making goals to missions like absolutely peak the STAX summit with a DIY T2 -- which was an money-pit that took up a year in planning before getting to the assembly line. I'd also consider the HD800-re-phase (buying it 6+ times over) a toil that felt like broken promises.

I'd do it all over again too.
 

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