Help with my first desktop listening rig
May 25, 2015 at 4:57 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

silenceofshadow

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Hi,
This is my first post in Head-Fi.I just joined this forum and request your help and suggestion for my first desktop rig.
 
Budget: 600 - 700 Euros
Source of playing - laptop, mostly flac files.
Genre -  rock, metal, classical, funk, and r&b (so definitely need tight bass,balanced sound, and a good soudstage)
 
Could you please suggest a good desktop rig - headphone + dac + amp (portability is not a criteria)
I was thinking of the DT880 (600 ohms) or the Soundmagic HP 150.
 
Please help.
 
May 25, 2015 at 6:26 AM Post #2 of 13

Beyakusenn

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Hello and welcome!
 
I'm not sure how good the sound card of your laptop is, but if it's decent I'd recommend getting a second hand Stax system.
 
I have the SRS-4040 Signature system myself and I like it better than the HiFiMan HE-560 or the Beyerdynamic T1 I used to own. I bought mine in great condition for €700 and it's more than worth it. There are other less pricey models as well.
 
If you don't have that much confidence in the sound of your laptop I'd still recommend a second hand Stax, but then a Basic system and get an ODAC to complete the package. A second hand SRS-2020 system in good condition usually sells for less than €300.
 
Lambda headphones go very well with the genres you described and they have a unique airy, clear and smooth sound to them.
 
It might be a bit difficult to find a good second hand Stax system here in Europe, but I see them in my country (the Netherlands) relatively regularly. Right now there is a system similar to mine available for €650 in my country for example.
 
May 25, 2015 at 6:44 AM Post #3 of 13

silenceofshadow

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  Hello and welcome!
 
I'm not sure how good the sound card of your laptop is, but if it's decent I'd recommend getting a second hand Stax system.
 
I have the SRS-4040 Signature system myself and I like it better than the HiFiMan HE-560 or the Beyerdynamic T1 I used to own. I bought mine in great condition for €700 and it's more than worth it. There are other less pricey models as well.
 
If you don't have that much confidence in the sound of your laptop I'd still recommend a second hand Stax, but then a Basic system and get an ODAC to complete the package. A second hand SRS-2020 system in good condition usually sells for less than €300.
 
Lambda headphones go very well with the genres you described and they have a unique airy, clear and smooth sound to them.
 
It might be a bit difficult to find a good second hand Stax system here in Europe, but I see them in my country (the Netherlands) relatively regularly. Right now there is a system similar to mine available for €650 in my country for example.

 
Thanks a ton for your reply and suggestion Beyakusenn. 
As you guessed right, I am not too confident on my laptop sound card. I am based in Germany and I will check the stax system right away. 
 
May 25, 2015 at 7:38 AM Post #4 of 13

Beyakusenn

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You are welcome.
 
When buying second hand Lambda headphones you always should ask:
- Is there a channel imbalance?
- Has the headphone been in a smoke- and pet free environment?
- What is the state of the ear pads and dust covers?
 
Here are some Staxes that might interest you: [LINK EDITED]
http://www.audio-markt.de/_markt/browse.php?id=390&hid=2094&neu_gebr=0&sort=1&preis_von=&preis_bis=&bez=&flt_land=0&user=&flt_plz=
 
May 25, 2015 at 7:42 AM Post #5 of 13

Woodhouse

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Hey there,
 
If you're just starting out some good amps/dacs to look at are the Aune T1 which is a DAC and Amp and I can highly recommend, the Schiit Modi/Magni, and the ODAC. Search for any of those on the forum and you'll find a heap of information. Seeing as you're in Germany, it would also be worth seeing if you can find anything made by Violectric/Lake People at a good price, they make brilliant amps.
 
As for headphones, it really depends on what kind of sound you're after. The Beyerdynamic DT880 250 ohm was my first proper headphone a few year back, and it works brilliantly with the Aune T1. It is very detailed, but as a result the treble emphasis is quite strong. I personally adore the DT880. If you're after something a bit warmer, the Sennheiser HD600 is another one of my favourites; still very detailed but with a more forward midrange (for vocals etc.). In my opinion the DT880 would be more suited to your taste in music; its soundstage is excellent, bass is VERY tight, and the sound is definitely balanced.
 
May 25, 2015 at 8:00 AM Post #6 of 13

silenceofshadow

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  You are welcome.
 
When buying second hand Lambda headphones you always should ask:
- Is there a channel imbalance?
- Has the headphone been in a smoke- and pet free environment?
- What is the state of the ear pads and dust covers?
 
Here are some Staxes that might interest you: [LINK EDITED]
http://www.audio-markt.de/_markt/browse.php?id=390&hid=2094&neu_gebr=0&sort=1&preis_von=&preis_bis=&bez=&flt_land=0&user=&flt_plz=

This site is a good one, though there are fraudulent posts. Thanks for the buying tip, Beyakusenn. The posting seem great and now it is time for me to get in touch. Thanks again. I see that there is a proprietary cable for these cans, are these replacable?
 
May 25, 2015 at 8:02 AM Post #7 of 13

silenceofshadow

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  You are welcome.
 
When buying second hand Lambda headphones you always should ask:
- Is there a channel imbalance?
- Has the headphone been in a smoke- and pet free environment?
- What is the state of the ear pads and dust covers?

Thanks for the buying tip Beyakusenn. This is a good site as I had purchased my stereo amp from here. Thanks again.
 
May 25, 2015 at 8:07 AM Post #8 of 13

silenceofshadow

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  Hey there,
 
If you're just starting out some good amps/dacs to look at are the Aune T1 which is a DAC and Amp and I can highly recommend, the Schiit Modi/Magni, and the ODAC. Search for any of those on the forum and you'll find a heap of information. Seeing as you're in Germany, it would also be worth seeing if you can find anything made by Violectric/Lake People at a good price, they make brilliant amps.
 
As for headphones, it really depends on what kind of sound you're after. The Beyerdynamic DT880 250 ohm was my first proper headphone a few year back, and it works brilliantly with the Aune T1. It is very detailed, but as a result the treble emphasis is quite strong. I personally adore the DT880. If you're after something a bit warmer, the Sennheiser HD600 is another one of my favourites; still very detailed but with a more forward midrange (for vocals etc.). In my opinion the DT880 would be more suited to your taste in music; its soundstage is excellent, bass is VERY tight, and the sound is definitely balanced.

Hi Woodhouse, thanks for your reply and suggestion. I have read a lot about the DT880 and hence the interest in the 600ohms version. Is the treble emphasis near to sibilance? Or is it just bright and sparkly?  Thanks for your suggestion on the Aune T1 as I was looking for a tube-amp, would this one be enough to drive the 600 ohms version? Also, how is the Schiit Modi/Magni with the DT880, I have read so much about Schiit and apparently they are highly regarded.
 
May 25, 2015 at 8:29 AM Post #9 of 13

Woodhouse

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No worries, sibilance is difficult because in my opinion it comes down to the quality of the recording as much as it does the headphone. With a badly recorded song the DT880 is more likely to sound sibilant than other headphones. Overall I don't think it's sibilant, it just resolves a huge amount of treble detail which I like. The larger than usual soundstage works well with the overall signature of the headphone and the top end sparkle. Regardless I'd suggest trying any headphones that you're particularly interested in.
 
Unfortunately I haven't tried the 600ohm DT880 with the T1, I suspect the T1 might struggle to drive them. If you opt for the 600ohm model, you will need a fairly powerful amp (Lake People would definitely qualify). Honestly I find the difference between the models is very small, so if you're interested in the T1 you'd be better off with the 250ohm model. I haven't tried any Beyers with Schiit gear, but there's a good review of them here http://noblehifi.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/schiit-modi-magni-review.html which uses the 600ohm model.
 
Hope that helps.
 
May 25, 2015 at 8:39 AM Post #10 of 13

Beyakusenn

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  No worries, sibilance is difficult because in my opinion it comes down to the quality of the recording as much as it does the headphone. With a badly recorded song the DT880 is more likely to sound sibilant than other headphones. Overall I don't think it's sibilant, it just resolves a huge amount of treble detail which I like. The larger than usual soundstage works well with the overall signature of the headphone and the top end sparkle. Regardless I'd suggest trying any headphones that you're particularly interested in.

I completely agree. The sibilance is mainly caused by the recording, so headphones that are very detailed and not recessed in those frequencies (lower and mid treble) tend to sound less pleasant with poorly recorded music.
The same thing applies to Stax headphones. Some simple equalizing can take care of the apparent harshness that comes from poorly recorded music.
 
[EDIT]
 
  This site is a good one, though there are fraudulent posts. Thanks for the buying tip, Beyakusenn. The posting seem great and now it is time for me to get in touch. Thanks again. I see that there is a proprietary cable for these cans, are these replacable?

Stax doesn't have replaceable cables, but the brand is known for having high quality cables.
 
May 26, 2015 at 3:45 AM Post #11 of 13

silenceofshadow

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Thanks Woodhouse and Beyakusenn for clearing the idea. 
I finally managed to demo a pair of Stax lambda basic and dt 880 600ohms. Man! I was blown away by both, but the STax were a little funny around my ear and I liked dt's fit more. 
So, may be I will go for the DT880 600ohms version.
Any suggestion for the Amp + Dac. I have my eyes on the Valhalla 2 but can't decide on the DAC with a 150 euro budget, wish I could get the bitfrost. Any suggestions?
 
May 26, 2015 at 7:05 AM Post #12 of 13

Woodhouse

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Glad to hear you enjoyed the DT880! Apart from the Sennheiser HD800 I've never found a more comfortable headphone :) Anyway, I'm from Australia so how things are priced in Europe is guesswork for me, but my best bet would be the Schiit Modi or the ODAC (which I found in a quick search for 159 euros here http://www.headsound.de/epages/63028271.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/63028271/Products/JDSODAC). I would devote the least of my money to the DAC; while a good DAC is essential, they usually have the smallest impact on a headphone setup, and the improvements you get as you go up in price are not as great as some people would have you believe. The ODAC in particular is very highly regarded and offers excellent value.
 
May 26, 2015 at 5:19 PM Post #13 of 13

Beyakusenn

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  Thanks Woodhouse and Beyakusenn for clearing the idea. 
I finally managed to demo a pair of Stax lambda basic and dt 880 600ohms. Man! I was blown away by both, but the STax were a little funny around my ear and I liked dt's fit more. 
So, may be I will go for the DT880 600ohms version.
Any suggestion for the Amp + Dac. I have my eyes on the Valhalla 2 but can't decide on the DAC with a 150 euro budget, wish I could get the bitfrost. Any suggestions?

The DT880 is very comfortable indeed! The T1 I had was more comfortable than my SR-404, but the Staxes are still very comfortable for me. Comfort is very important in my opinion, so the DT880 is probably the better option for you.
 
I agree with Woodhouse. The ODAC is a very good DAC and relatively inexpensive. You could also get the ODAC+O2 amp combo, but if you prefer tubes go for the Valhalla. I prefer solid state myself, but it's a matter of preference.
 

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