HIFIMAN HE500 AMP/DAC/DAP pairing
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BAJACRACKER

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Hello fellow Head-Fier's
Let me start out by saying that I am extremely new to the Audiophile world but I do know that I love and enjoy top drawer sound. I used to think that my Ipod nano and stock IEM's delivered that until my IEM's broke and I purchased a set of Sennheiser CX 300 ll IEM's and thought, WOW what a difference these little guys make ! Then I had an epiphany, Probably like everyone else realizing that there is WAY more music in that little MP3 file waiting to be heard. Yes, I said MP3. After literally hundreds of hours spent reading forums I now understand that there are way better lossless audio formats to listen to. Who knew, Right ?  So with that being said, "I was hoping to get specific thoughts and opinions from the best audio community on the web"  <<< Flattery. I started out my audiophiliac quest by purchasing a set of AKG Q701's and a Fiio E17 to listen to from my Ipod and my laptop, It was good, I immediately noticed a difference between listening to my Q's with a DAC/AMP and without one, notice how I only said it was good, not great, a huge step up from listening to my CX 300's on my Ipod and laptop but still not what I was looking for. I called a bunch of audio stores looking for headphones to sample without much luck I thought for sure living in the S.F. bay area I would have an endless supply of audio stores to choose from but that was not the case. I did find a couple that had some decent stuff. After sampling a pair of Sennheiser HD650's and comparing them side by side with my Q's, WOW what a difference !!! The Q's highs sounded like they were coming from some Coke cans, Very tinny and very fatiguing and the lows were flat without any authority. I knew the Q's had to go. Good ole Amazon was getting their product back, So pleased with the sound of the Senn's but not "Fully Satisfied", HI FI audio is literally like a drug, I want more and more and more, Thankfully I am not into drugs or I would be a hot mess with my addictive personality. So with that being said, I set out on my quest once again trying to better the sound of the Senn's, that's when I heard a set of HIFIMAN HE500's, "WOWSER" that is one impressive set of cans, to me outperforming the Senn's in every category from the deep lows to the exotic highs and everything inbetween. I know music like everything else is "Preference" and what my ears enjoy will not be the consensus of everyone else but those 500's did it for me, and they were as high as my budget and most importantly my wife would allow me to spend. So I was hoping to get some feedback and advice from anyone and everyone as to what I should pair the 500's with, "Am I crazy" ? I don't even own an AVR, all of my listening for now is done on my Dell XPS M1730 gaming laptop and my 8GB Ipod Nano. What DAC and AMP should I use to really make these perform at a high level ? There are so many combinations out there to say it is mind boggling is an understatement. Keep in mind that I do "NOT" have endless pockets so I was trying to find the best bang for my buck and still let the 500's perform at a high level. I do know that I want and need to upgrade my audio files to the lossless style formats and doing so renders my Ipod useless. I have been reading the forums and have seen the Fiio X3 and thought that would be a good option, then I read a little deeper and found out the Fiio is coming out with an X5 real soon for about $150 more at $350, I also read the the DAC chip in the Fiio X5 is not as good as the DAC chip in the Ibasso DX100, Would I notice a considerable difference or is it miniscule ? Keep in mind that the Ibasso DAP is about $500 more than the Fiio X5, Is it worth $500 more ? I know the DX100 offers more all around like wifi and an Android operating system so I might be comparing apples to oranges here but just the DAC chip alone, Is it that much better, Will I notice it terribly ? And if I do purchase the X5 upon release do I need an additional amp to make the 500's perform ? Sorry for multiple questions in the same post I am just overwhelmed by the endless possibilities there are and this is my first post. So in advance, Thank you very much to anyone who responds to this somewhat over question filled post and thanks to all the Head Fier's who have put there thoughts and ideas in past posts for if it were not for you guys and gals I would still be listening to ear buds thinking this is as good as it gets. Chris...
 
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GaryWA

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First off, do not, I repeat do not even think about using the 500's anywhere other than a quiet environment that won't disturb others. They are essentially mini speakers with how much sound they leak. These are open cans. If you are thinking of using these on the go, which is seems like you are, better to look into closed headphones.

If however this will be a home headphone, then this is where it gets fun. What is your budget for the dac/amp?
 
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I'm trying to sort the same issue with AMP/DAC pairing I'm looking at the products from Schiit since it seems that there are overwhelmingly positive reviews and a big bang for the buck.  Probably Asgard2 and maybe Modi for DAC?
 
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rubinstein

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Get Audio GD 15.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread) or 11.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1132/NFB11.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/624517/audio-gd-nfb-11-32-delivery-impression-thread) and be happy.
 
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ninaphexed

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Those look pretty awesome!  More reading ahead ;p
 
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rubinstein

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15.32 is really bang for buck. 11.32 uses different chip, hence it is 64 US$ more. Both can drive HE 500 efficiently.
 
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BAJACRACKER

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First off thanx for the response and 2cnd, You caught that huh ? I was going to use them on the go as well as at home. Any recomendations for a good on the go set of closed cans ? I would not expect them to have the same signature as an open set, probably wouldn't want them to anyway. And my budget for a DAC/ AMP is around $500 ish. I say $500 "ish" cause if persuaded in the proper form I guess it could go up a little. Can I get a good portable DAC/AMP for that price ? Also should the DAC and AMP be dedicated or are combos a good pairing ?
 
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BAJACRACKER

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  Get Audio GD 15.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread) or 11.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1132/NFB11.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/624517/audio-gd-nfb-11-32-delivery-impression-thread) and be happy.
Thank you for the link, will look in to it and start reading now.
 
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rubinstein

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Closed cans = mad dog, alpha dog
 
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BAJACRACKER

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  I'm trying to sort the same issue with AMP/DAC pairing I'm looking at the products from Schiit since it seems that there are overwhelmingly positive reviews and a big bang for the buck.  Probably Asgard2 and maybe Modi for DAC?
I also looked at Schiit and even emailed their support, here is my email to them and their response.
 
I was considering my options between two headphones, Sennheisers HD650 and HIFIMAN's HE500's, First I would love an unbiased opinion from you on which you thought was a better headphone and second do I need your highest end DAC and AMP like the Gungnir and Mjolnir to power them or can I get HI FI sound with the Vali and Loki or should I be in the middle somewhere with the Valhalla or Lyr and Bitfrost. Any suggestions would help, Head Fi is very confusing, you could ask 20 people on that site and get 20 different answers. Also what do you think about pairing a Magni and Modi with the Fiio X3 as a portable music player ? I was also in the market for a decent portable HI FI music player. I love high end Schiit and I still need some Schiit for when I'm listening to my music at home. No pun intended, Chris
 
 
I was considering my options between two headphones, Sennheisers HD650 and HIFIMAN's HE500's, First I would love an unbiased opinion from you on which you thought was a better headphone
 

Every opinion is biased, but the HE500s are better to our ears, as long as you’re using the velour ear pads. With the leather ones, they have a slightly shout quality. The Sennheiser HD600s are actually superior to the HD650s, but both are less resolving than the HE500s.
 
and second do I need your highest end DAC and AMP like the Gungnir and Mjolnir to power them or can I get HI FI sound with the Vali and Loki or should I be in the middle somewhere with the Valhalla or Lyr and Bitfrost.
 

For the HE500s, you should take a look at Lyr/Modi or Lyr/Bifrost at a minimum. With the HD600s, Vali/Modi, Valhalla/Modi, and Valhalla/Bifrost are all excellent matches.
 
Any suggestions would help, Head Fi is very confusing, you could ask 20 people on that site and get 20 different answers. Also what do you think about pairing a Magni and Modi with the Fiio X3 as a portable music player ?
 

We don’t comment on products made by other manufacturers.
 
I found very interesting that not one of those combinations that he suggested ever mentioned the Asgard, He went from the low end product all the way to some of the upper end product. I have not had a chance to ask him why yet, I also found interesting that they prefer the HD600 to the HD650. I have read here on Head Fi some of the same thoughts on those as well but I never had a chance to demo the 600's only the 650's

































 
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rubinstein

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For driving HE 500, Audio GD 15.32 or 11.32 is enough and they are cheap. I would go for HE 500.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/625159/hifiman-he-500-versus-sennheiser-hd650
 
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  For driving HE 500, Audio GD 15.32 or 11.32 is enough and they are cheap. I would go for HE 500.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/625159/hifiman-he-500-versus-sennheiser-hd650
Well, I just spoke to a gentleman at Mr. Speaker and after talking with him extensively regarding my listening application he highly recommended the Alpha Dog over the HE-500 more for where I would be listening to them. He had the highest regards for the 500's but like you and others stated they are open cans so with that being said, do they sound similar in your opinion ? I hate to make a purchase without hearing the product but then again everything that was said made 100% sense to me. The majority of my listening will be about 25 feet away from my screaming kids and on the go. Sounds like a no brainer.
 
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For on the go and isolation, you should use closed cans. Alpha dogs are good cans (http://www.head-fi.org/t/686489/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-review-and-comparison-with-hd600-and-k701). However, do you really want to use 600 US$ worth of headphone for portable use. Think well!
May be you could use cheaper priced headphone for portable use and keep alpha dog for home use. This is my opinion.
 
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BAJACRACKER

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  For on the go and isolation, you should use closed cans. Alpha dogs are good cans (http://www.head-fi.org/t/686489/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-review-and-comparison-with-hd600-and-k701). However, do you really want to use 600 US$ worth of headphone for portable use. Think well!
May be you could use cheaper priced headphone for portable use and keep alpha dog for home use. This is my opinion.
EXCELLENT advice that I will take. Would you recommend the ATH M50 or the HD600's. Keep comfort on the list as a decisive factor as well. And thank you for all the help.
 
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rubinstein

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M 50 is closed design and HD 600 is open one.
If you want closed cans, you can also consider K 550, DT 770 32 Ohm. What type of sound signature do you want? Do you want more bass?
 
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