Help me create my first headphone setup!
Mar 17, 2006 at 5:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

adolphe

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Alright, so I'm a noob to headphones, but I've been reading this forum for about 6 months now. I got interested in headphones when NotoriousBIG_PJ was a lonely soul living in the basement of my shared student living here at school. I listened to his setup, and was blown away. I didn't realize music recordings could sound that good. So I actually got into speaker design and am now just deciding that I'd like to do somewhat of a "reference" headphone setup to compare my speaker designs to. I'd like to get some input of the head-fi'ers on what I should get for my system. Here's my plan and current equipment ideas. Oh and I'm thinking of capping the budget at $1000 for everything, atleast for the time being. I don't have to spend this much, but I thought I would just set a limit.


Headpones: Obviously likely the most important purchase. I'm partial to getting a pair of Grado's, simply because that's what Biggie had, and I really liked them (yes, even his SR-60's, never had the joy of listening to his good ones since they were always away for repair *cough*). So I'm thinking of jumping on the HF-1 bandwagon. I noticed that TTVJ is going to be selling some more. I figure this is a good mid-to-high end phone to start with, am I correct? Otherwise, for grado's I'm thinking the SR-225. I think these would be at a good price point and they seem to have good performance/price ratio. Requirements for the headphones are detailed and good low end extension, without being overpowering. Remember that these will be comapred to speakers, so they need to reach the low end, have good soundstage, and be crystal clear in the mids.


Amplifier: This is where I'm really lost. I don't really no where to start. What amp would be good for pairing with a mid-range Grado? I don't mind a DIY amp, but it needs to be a proven design. Since this is supposed to be my "reference" system, I need to know that it's going to perform. I figure I'd be able to get a lot more performance out of the amp as a DIY. I figure the amp should have an attenuator built in, and if not, I'll just build a passve one. I'm handy with a soldering iron. I figure about $100-200 here maybe?


Transport/DAC: I'm going to use the same transport and dac as what I'm going to use for my speakers. It will be a DIY dac, likely the new one from www.dddac.de with the USB input, and then use a computer as the transport. I'll rip my CD's to FLAC and store them on a harddrive. This will save money since I already have a computer for this. The DAC kit will be about $500 by the time I build a case and stuff.


So that's just under $1000 total. Is this good enough to be considered somewhat of a "reference" system, or atleast the start of one? What would you do different? Save a bit on headphones and spend more on the amp? Vice versa? I could maybe justify not including the cost of the DAC in the cost of this headphone setup since it will be used for my speakers as well. If so, would it be very worth while to spend the remainder on a better amp, or should I built a cheaper amp now and save the money for later?

I hope it was okay to post this in the headphones forum, there isn't really a "general equipment" forum. All thoughts and opinions greatly appreciated!

-Scott
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Mar 17, 2006 at 11:21 PM Post #2 of 8

adolphe

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Spent the afternoon doing research on headphones and amps instead of doing my school paper...but came up with some stuff. For the Grado's I think either an HF-1 or if I can't get my hands on those, SR-125 (and possibly mod them then in the future). I would consider a model from Senn, Beyer, or AKG, but I don't really know which ones are in the performance range of these two particular Grado's. Any thoughts on switching to one of these manufacturers?

For amplifiers, I'm liking the idea of the M3. It sounds (pun inteneded maybe?
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) like it is a top notch performer at the top of my price range. I'm also thinking about doing a modified Nelson Pass amp (there's a couple on diyaudio for headphones), but I haven't read any reviews comparing them directly to some of the more popular amps. Another reason why I like the M3 is that I could buy a pre-made basic one, and then mod it to be higher performance as more funds are available. I need the most guidance in the amp section...help please??!

-Scott
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 11:41 AM Post #3 of 8

stewtheking

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For amps, try the amp section, otherwise your thoughts look good. It won't be a "reference" system as such, but if you've never had quality cans before, they'll be superb for you.

HOWEVER... i would reccomend for your 1st purchases to try some used stuff, either in the F/S forums here, (people here look after their gear) or on fleabay. The value for money will be better and you will end up with more bang for your buck.

Second major point of advice is to work out what your MAXIMUM budget is, and then work as close to that as you can. Scimping here and there will only leave you open to regret that you didn't go for the "insert-one-model-higher-than-you-purchased-here", and your upgraditis will be greatly increased very soon.

Happy hunting.

Welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet.
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 3:33 PM Post #4 of 8

adolphe

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Thanks for the tips stewtheking. I've been browsing the used forums indeed. There's a lot of amps I've never heard of at this point though. Do you have any suggestions on used amps that would be in the price range of an M3 but would have a significant increase in performance?

It seems to me that not *a lot* of money is saved on used headphones here since people do take such great care of their cans, and their resale value is retained. I'm keeping an eye out though.

As for a maximum budget, I think I'm going to set it at $700 for headphones and amp, with the idea of spending $200 on the 'phones, and $500 on the amp.

-Scott
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 3:41 PM Post #5 of 8

vpivinylspinner

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If you have 200 budgeted for the headphones you might think about going from the SR-125 to the SR-225. They can be had new for less than 200 and are always listed on the for sale forum here for 150 as people upgrade higher up the Grado line quite a bit around here. I use these headphones in my office with a Meier Corda Aria (450 new) and find the combination to be excellent.
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 3:58 PM Post #6 of 8

darkninja67

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Definitely get the SR225s if you are looking at $200 to spend. I love mine. Then the Aria or a Gilmore Lite for an amp and you are set.
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 4:14 PM Post #7 of 8

milkpowder

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Micro Amp w/ Desktop Module + Micro DAC + HD650/SR325i = $1000 +/- $100

That's assuming you get them new.

This system will be GUARANTEED to be good-sounding. It also involves the least hastle! All that's left are some good interconnects and you will have yourself a near-reference rig.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 12:24 AM Post #8 of 8

adolphe

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Hmm the Gilmore Lite and SR225 combo seem to have quite good reviews. I think that might be the ticket! I could likely live with the wallwart supply at first and then upgrade to the dedicated supply or design my own.

Going to do some more reading on reviews of the M3 though, still pretty interested in it and the fact that it sets itself up nicely to be modded in the future.

Thanks guys!
 

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