Headphones for metal music - ultimate solution
Jul 10, 2017 at 6:50 AM Post #7,816 of 11,509

markm1

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On DAPs, it really depends on what you value the most. A&K has the best interface and best user experience, but their stuff is also insanely expensive. The new Sony DAPs aren't far behind on UI and sound as good, better or not far behind... depending on who you ask. The Questyle QP1R sounds fantastic and the price is solid, but the UI is pretty clunky and there's no wifi. The Acoustic Research M2 sounds great and has a good UI, but it's too loud for IEMs and basically only for full size headphones. The Opus 2 is pretty solid, but my experience with it is limited, so I can't say much. Same with the Pioneer and Onkyo players, but the sheer number of them up for sale on the sale/trade forum is somewhat concerning. Fiio X5 III pretty much has everything, but the wifi card sucks and I hear it can be a little finicky with some memory cards (though I haven't personally had an issue with it).

Mojo + Poly is a interesting alternative to a standard DAP - stream off the computer, server or phone w/ DLNA or APT-X Bluetooth, or play files from an onboard memory card (that you can control with your phone... so MojoPoly never has to leave your pocket). Considering Mojo sounds better than most DAPs, both pieces can probably realistically be had for under $1K combined, and the convenient/flexible options it provides, IMO, it's VERY compelling.

Of course there's always the iFi iDSD Black Label - not super pocket friendly, but it's a well priced DAC/Amp that sounds good and is portable. Probably not great for lugging to the gym, but a nice solution at work.

If you need the cheapest possible solution, the Cayin N3 is like $150 and it sounds really, really good (certainly much better than the Fiio X3 II) - the UI is just ok, but it's quiet and sonically on-point.

As for more amplification specific stuff... the Oppo and Cayin portable amps are well-proven and well-loved in the more budget-fi arena. The Continental V5 is pricey, but sounds spectacular. The Cavalli Liquid Spark sounds incredible - like better than a lot of desktops, but it might be pricey and who knows when it's coming out - there have been so many delays on it already. The Ray Samuels portable stuff is supposed to be good, but I've only heard one of the amps one time for a very brief listen on an unfamiliar headphone two years ago... so I can't be much help there.

I think those are most of your options. There are some notable pros and cons for each. Again, it's really about what you value most.

Wonderful! And thanks also Oscar. Your'e an amazing resource Hanso-really apprec your efforts with gear assist!
 
Jul 10, 2017 at 12:35 PM Post #7,817 of 11,509

Hansotek

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@Hansotek, wonderfully comprehensive post, as always.

May I ask which of the DAPs you mention is your personal favorite for metal..? Usability is important but sound signature can make or break our music..

@markm1, sorry to hijack your question

That's a question with a lot of variables:

-What headphone(s) are you driving?

-How much will you rely on streaming?

-What's the budget or is cost no object?

-What kind of metal genre or genres?

-Then there's the matter of which sonic attributes you value most - impact, extension, openness, clarity, separation, soundstage, incisiveness, forgiveness, warmth vs. neutrality, etc... genres get you most of the way there, but chances are you like more than one genre of metal.

Ultimately, I've found that (for the most part) DAPs really do scale up in quality with price, but the price of the truly high-end solutions like the WM1Z and the AK380 is far too rich for my blood.

If I had $200, I'd get the Cayin N3. Neutral, sounds good, hard to knock it.

For < $500, I'd go for the Fiio X5 III. It's forgiving, and drives most everything. Runs a little on the warm side, but not mushy like the older Fiio stuff. Especially good with industrial, IMO, FWIW.

Up around $1000, I'd go for either the Mojo/Poly combo or the WM1A, depending on my needs. WM1A has a screen and probably more battery life, but Mojo/Poly has a ton of convenience and 2 tons of connectivity options. They sound different, but they both sound great. For my needs, I'd go Mojo/Poly. It just does so much.

Under $2000 and I don't need DSD, I might look at the AK320, as the A&K stuff is nice and punchy. The 320 rocks pretty hard.

Cost no object, I'd probably go for the A&K Ultima SP1000 - which by every account I've heard so far is the new king of the jungle. I can't imagine spending that much on a DAP personally, but some people do. No judgement.
 
Jul 10, 2017 at 12:53 PM Post #7,818 of 11,509

Dobrescu George

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@Hansotek, wonderfully comprehensive post, as always.

May I ask which of the DAPs you mention is your personal favorite for metal..? Usability is important but sound signature can make or break our music..

@markm1, sorry to hijack your question

Signature alone, I would go with anything that can feed iDSD BL.
 
Jul 10, 2017 at 2:12 PM Post #7,820 of 11,509

Dobrescu George

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Shocking. :wink:

Well... I also have a certain habit. I am the type of person who will almost exclusively use what sounds best to him.

Imagine the following, I am loving RE-2000 from HiFiMAN, been continously listening to them for the past days, a truly enlightening experience, same with iDSD BL, loving it and taking it everywhere with me.

This also means that I probably won't use more than one DAC/AMP for a long while and since iDSD BL is the best I've heard, it is still going strong. And it has been a good few months now!
 
Jul 10, 2017 at 4:51 PM Post #7,821 of 11,509

Hansotek

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Well... I also have a certain habit. I am the type of person who will almost exclusively use what sounds best to him.

Imagine the following, I am loving RE-2000 from HiFiMAN, been continously listening to them for the past days, a truly enlightening experience, same with iDSD BL, loving it and taking it everywhere with me.

This also means that I probably won't use more than one DAC/AMP for a long while and since iDSD BL is the best I've heard, it is still going strong. And it has been a good few months now!

Ha! Well, I certainly can't knock the product. I've got one burning in right now. I really like the DAC they have in there.
 
Jul 10, 2017 at 7:57 PM Post #7,822 of 11,509

markm1

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That's a question with a lot of variables:

-What headphone(s) are you driving?

-How much will you rely on streaming?

-What's the budget or is cost no object?

-What kind of metal genre or genres?

-Then there's the matter of which sonic attributes you value most - impact, extension, openness, clarity, separation, soundstage, incisiveness, forgiveness, warmth vs. neutrality, etc... genres get you most of the way there, but chances are you like more than one genre of metal.

Ultimately, I've found that (for the most part) DAPs really do scale up in quality with price, but the price of the truly high-end solutions like the WM1Z and the AK380 is far too rich for my blood.

If I had $200, I'd get the Cayin N3. Neutral, sounds good, hard to knock it.

For < $500, I'd go for the Fiio X5 III. It's forgiving, and drives most everything. Runs a little on the warm side, but not mushy like the older Fiio stuff. Especially good with industrial, IMO, FWIW.

Up around $1000, I'd go for either the Mojo/Poly combo or the WM1A, depending on my needs. WM1A has a screen and probably more battery life, but Mojo/Poly has a ton of convenience and 2 tons of connectivity options. They sound different, but they both sound great. For my needs, I'd go Mojo/Poly. It just does so much.

Under $2000 and I don't need DSD, I might look at the AK320, as the A&K stuff is nice and punchy. The 320 rocks pretty hard.

Cost no object, I'd probably go for the A&K Ultima SP1000 - which by every account I've heard so far is the new king of the jungle. I can't imagine spending that much on a DAP personally, but some people do. No judgement.

You guys are awesome-I'm working from complete ignorance. Here's my issue, I downloaded my entire CD library a couple of years ago which took months, and threw everything on a NAS that I use with SONOS as a transport through a dedicated Nuprime DAC/Pre/HP amp and that is the brains of my two channel stereo which is where I also listen to Headphones in the the house. But for sheer convenience, used Itunes ALAC so I could use much of the same music on an Ipod. Sonos doesn't do hi res and I'm fine with lossless files. So, I would need to know, if I'm going to have to rip everything again into FLAC files a different music software (JRiver, or some proprietary software). Because I'm lazy an don't really want that headache-haha!

Currently, I can put stuff in Itunes, then send it to my Synology NAS. It's quick and easy. Or import my Bandcamp downloads to my NAS.

I'm definitely a SQ over bells and whistles guy, but I do like to stream-typically new music. If I could stream from Bandcamp, Spotify, or even posts on metal blogs like AMG that would be seriously cool.
 
Jul 11, 2017 at 12:36 AM Post #7,823 of 11,509

Hansotek

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You guys are awesome-I'm working from complete ignorance. Here's my issue, I downloaded my entire CD library a couple of years ago which took months, and threw everything on a NAS that I use with SONOS as a transport through a dedicated Nuprime DAC/Pre/HP amp and that is the brains of my two channel stereo which is where I also listen to Headphones in the the house. But for sheer convenience, used Itunes ALAC so I could use much of the same music on an Ipod. Sonos doesn't do hi res and I'm fine with lossless files. So, I would need to know, if I'm going to have to rip everything again into FLAC files a different music software (JRiver, or some proprietary software). Because I'm lazy an don't really want that headache-haha!

Currently, I can put stuff in Itunes, then send it to my Synology NAS. It's quick and easy. Or import my Bandcamp downloads to my NAS.

I'm definitely a SQ over bells and whistles guy, but I do like to stream-typically new music. If I could stream from Bandcamp, Spotify, or even posts on metal blogs like AMG that would be seriously cool.

File type won't be a problem. Those players all play everything.

For your purposes, I'd check out Mojo & Poly, as Poly can link to your Synology NAS and stream your files via DLNA anywhere. And you can stream the files from Spotify/Bandcamp/AMG/whatever else to it in full CD quality via APTX Bluetooth from whatever device you are using - iPod/tablet/phone/laptop/etc. And/or you can load your files on a memory card, stick it in the Poly and control it with your phone.

Poly is essentially the "brain" portion you like while Mojo serves as the DAC & Amp. And you control it all wirelessly from your phone/tablet/laptop/etc.

All those bells and whistles aside, I still think Mojo is a great sounding product that drives IEMs & full-size headphones very, very well and it even makes a killer DAC for 2-channel systems. If I was in your position, I'd be leaning toward that route.
 
Jul 11, 2017 at 2:14 PM Post #7,824 of 11,509

shuto77

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That's a question with a lot of variables:

-What headphone(s) are you driving?

-How much will you rely on streaming?

-What's the budget or is cost no object?

-What kind of metal genre or genres?

-Then there's the matter of which sonic attributes you value most - impact, extension, openness, clarity, separation, soundstage, incisiveness, forgiveness, warmth vs. neutrality, etc... genres get you most of the way there, but chances are you like more than one genre of metal.

Ultimately, I've found that (for the most part) DAPs really do scale up in quality with price, but the price of the truly high-end solutions like the WM1Z and the AK380 is far too rich for my blood.

If I had $200, I'd get the Cayin N3. Neutral, sounds good, hard to knock it.

For < $500, I'd go for the Fiio X5 III. It's forgiving, and drives most everything. Runs a little on the warm side, but not mushy like the older Fiio stuff. Especially good with industrial, IMO, FWIW.

Up around $1000, I'd go for either the Mojo/Poly combo or the WM1A, depending on my needs. WM1A has a screen and probably more battery life, but Mojo/Poly has a ton of convenience and 2 tons of connectivity options. They sound different, but they both sound great. For my needs, I'd go Mojo/Poly. It just does so much.

Under $2000 and I don't need DSD, I might look at the AK320, as the A&K stuff is nice and punchy. The 320 rocks pretty hard.

Cost no object, I'd probably go for the A&K Ultima SP1000 - which by every account I've heard so far is the new king of the jungle. I can't imagine spending that much on a DAP personally, but some people do. No judgement.

Have you heard the iDAC2? Any idea if the DAC sounds good as the IDSD BL, or the Mojo?

I really like the BL, but it's just not convenient to use for both my speaker and headphone setup, so I'm going back to a dedicated DAC for speakers, and keeping the BL for headphone duties.
 
Jul 11, 2017 at 4:15 PM Post #7,825 of 11,509

markm1

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File type won't be a problem. Those players all play everything.

For your purposes, I'd check out Mojo & Poly, as Poly can link to your Synology NAS and stream your files via DLNA anywhere. And you can stream the files from Spotify/Bandcamp/AMG/whatever else to it in full CD quality via APTX Bluetooth from whatever device you are using - iPod/tablet/phone/laptop/etc. And/or you can load your files on a memory card, stick it in the Poly and control it with your phone.

Poly is essentially the "brain" portion you like while Mojo serves as the DAC & Amp. And you control it all wirelessly from your phone/tablet/laptop/etc.

All those bells and whistles aside, I still think Mojo is a great sounding product that drives IEMs & full-size headphones very, very well and it even makes a killer DAC for 2-channel systems. If I was in your position, I'd be leaning toward that route.

That might be the way to go. I was thinking initially of a DAP to store my music, but the memory card would take care of some of that. A little higher end than I was thinking, but it would solve several audio problems in one fell swoop.

It wouldn't limit the kind of HP either. Would that change any of your recommendations? I'm leaning to the Periodic Beryllium or the Shure 425. I'll keep my 225 as its so inexpensive for a good back-up and/or work ut IEM. It's dark and warm. The Periodic Beryllium would probably be a good contrast. The Vmoda sounds like a good buy, but I've got decent low end with the 225, and I'd like something with more extension in the highs and resolution overall. If you'd told me 1MORE Quad Driver was a slam dunk for metal, that would be a temptation as I've read about a good bit on Headfi, but, it sounds like you prefer for EDM and hip hop.
 
Jul 11, 2017 at 6:01 PM Post #7,826 of 11,509

socks mk2

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[music] Recommendations for an 8 hour car ride? Burned through too much making the trip twice (to and from) already. Can't wait to leave the $+&#hole that is Illinois behind me forever.
 
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Jul 11, 2017 at 7:26 PM Post #7,827 of 11,509

vipervick

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[music] Recommendations for an 8 hour car ride? Burned through too much making the trip twice (to and from) already. Can't wait to leave the $+&#hole that is Illinois behind me forever.
Haha! I grew up in Moline, Illinois and hated it. Joined the military over 20 years ago and never looked back...
 
Jul 12, 2017 at 12:06 AM Post #7,829 of 11,509

Hansotek

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That might be the way to go. I was thinking initially of a DAP to store my music, but the memory card would take care of some of that. A little higher end than I was thinking, but it would solve several audio problems in one fell swoop.

It wouldn't limit the kind of HP either. Would that change any of your recommendations? I'm leaning to the Periodic Beryllium or the Shure 425. I'll keep my 225 as its so inexpensive for a good back-up and/or work ut IEM. It's dark and warm. The Periodic Beryllium would probably be a good contrast. The Vmoda sounds like a good buy, but I've got decent low end with the 225, and I'd like something with more extension in the highs and resolution overall. If you'd told me 1MORE Quad Driver was a slam dunk for metal, that would be a temptation as I've read about a good bit on Headfi, but, it sounds like you prefer for EDM and hip hop.

The Quad doesn't embarrass itself with metal. I also felt that the Quad scaled significantly with the Mojo, so it would likely be a bit more linear than a phone's hp jack. That being said, the Periodic scales up even more. I can only predict which one you would prefer with so much accuracy... but they are both pretty excellent at the end of the day.

That being said, I stick with my original statement that the Periodic Beryllium is much better suited for metal and rock genres - the mids are more aggressive, the music has more Micro-textured tactility (which gives it more sense of "PRAT" and makes you nod your head a bit more), and there is a bit harder, stiffer midbass. In comparison, the Quad is a bit mellower in the mids, and has less Micro-texture (which gives it the effect of sounding slightly "slower"), and it has more focus in the subbass (rather than the midbass).

The net effect of all that is the Periodic is better suited to most metal and rock while the 1MORE is better suited to EDM, hip-hop, etc. Overall, the Periodic is the better of the two on an absolute level, in my opinion, as well. But again, they are both incredible for the price.

I still think the iSine20 is the best IEM for metal at any price point, but that's up around $500-$600, which is a whole different price bracket. But if you can afford it, don't need a lot of isolation, and don't care that they make your head look a little bit like a TIE fighter, they are stupid good. The JH 3XPRO is the other one I'd recommend at that price point for a step-up model.

The only kink in the whole thing is the upcoming $199 Acoustic Research IEM. The prototypes have been excellent, but I won't know how good the final version is until I get my hands on the production model. For now, the Periodic Be is my favorite sub-$300 IEM.
 
Jul 12, 2017 at 7:10 AM Post #7,830 of 11,509

markm1

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Lots of great things to consider. You haven't steered me wrong yet :smile_phones:

No doubt, I could be happier with any of them. I actually saw the Shure 846 on the used forum. But, that's higher end than I need to go. I'd love to hear the ISine. Fact is, I can go as high as I want-it's more of a matter of justifying an expense. The majority of my listening is at home and I've got a nice set-up for that and don't envision using an IEM. But, I do want my tunes to sound good at work.
 

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