How would you build a rig around this sound signature (details inside) for ~$2-3k?
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

catscratch

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Don't you hate it when your tastes in gear do a 180 and the rig you carefully and painstakingly built simply doesn't cut it anymore?

I've been seduced by the dark side, I admit it. I love the HD600 in ways a man shouldn't love his headphones, and the fast/bright/analytical sound simply hurts my ears. I used to be a detail freak, but I've gotten over that, and I want a different listening experience now.

I'm thinking of replacing the SR-404/SRM-313 with the O2/KGSS, but it's really quite expensive. I'm just getting out of college and will have grad school to contend with in a not too distant future, and I don't see myself dropping $4-5k on a rig (gotta upgrade source too for the O2) when I'll have $30k per year for the next 4 years to contend with.

So, let's say we talk about a cheaper dynamic alternative. I think this will be a good mental excercise anyway, and a good read for others in the same situation.

The sound siganture I want out of this rig is: warmish and completely and utterly free of any kind of fatigue and sibilance. Natural tone and tembre for most instruments, though piano is really what I want to get right. Forward sound signature but with a pretty decent soundstage (doesn't have to be the best). Good detail but once again doesn't have to be up to SR-404/SA5k levels. Plenty of weight and body to the sound. Lots and LOTS of drive and dynamics. I mean lots! I want to listen to something engaging and say "Whoa!" and I want someone who's completely new to head-fi or hi-fi in general to pick up the system and say the same.

In terms of how it relates to the HD600: I really like this with the Hornet and the stock cable, but I don't think it has enough detail, and the treble is slightly grainy and sticks out due to a recessed upper midrange. I'd like a smoother treble, but I don't want to make it more recessed (i.e. HD650). I want more detail than the HD600/Hornet but I want the detail to have a relaxed presentation (in other words, everything's there but not shoved in your face). I like the weight and heft of it, but I don't quite like the slowness. When the music picks up and things start getting fast and multi-layered, the HD600 starts tripping over it's own feet. I like the forwardness of the Hornet and it's drive and dynamics, and I like a forward instrument placement for everything in the foreground, but I want the background to be a) slightly clearer and b) be spaced further out.

I really think that I'm describing the HD600 with more detail/forwardness or an RS-1 with more soundstage. Warm but not excessively so, somewhat forward, dynamic and very lively, with enough detail and soundstage not to sound muddy/congested to someone weaned on electrostatics, but not overdoing it in the detail department (excessively huge soundstage is OK by me
tongue.gif
).

So, if you wanted to build this sound from scratch, what would you do?

AD2000 with a Singlepower amp? HD600 with a balanced amp? HD650 with a silver cable and a very clear solid state amp? K701 with a warm, liquid amp? K1000 with an inexpensive vintage tube amp? K340 with something that can actually drive it? RS-1 with something that gives it a soundstage?

I don't know too much about dynamics. I know a fair amount about electrostats (enough to see that the system I want is going to cost an arm and a leg), and pretty much everything there is to know about IEM's from a consumer point of view. None of that really helps in this case
tongue.gif


[Edit: I really wish there was a modern planar magnetic headphone that gets most of the electrostatic clarity/air and space, and combines it with dynamic weight and heft. Sennheiser, are you listening? Nah...]
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 9:35 PM Post #2 of 18

jagorev

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch
I really think that I'm describing the HD600 with more detail/forwardness or an RS-1 with more soundstage. Warm but not excessively so, somewhat forward, dynamic and very lively, with enough detail and soundstage not to sound muddy/congested to someone weaned on electrostatics, but not overdoing it in the detail department (excessively huge soundstage is OK by me
tongue.gif
).



Sounds to me like you're describing the HD595.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 11:12 PM Post #3 of 18

mateo05

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I'm very interested in this too, my Senns feel distant and narrow, I want to be close but wiiide.

I don't know because I haven't heard them, but my impressions are that woodied CD3000s or some AKGs (K701, perhaps K340?) might be the ticket.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 11:52 PM Post #4 of 18

Nomad

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Quote:

I really think that I'm describing the HD600 with more detail/forwardness or an RS-1 with more soundstage. Warm but not excessively so, somewhat forward, dynamic and very lively, with enough detail and soundstage not to sound muddy/congested to someone weaned on electrostatics, but not overdoing it in the detail department (excessively huge soundstage is OK by me ).


You are pretty much describing the L3000 there. The only problem will be the "Warm but not excssively so" which applies from the L3000 from most SS amps but not from most tube amps (it can be too warm perhaps). It has more soundstage than RS-1 but less than HD600.


That would be a tie between:

The 600 and a very nice balanced amp on your budget. That would be the easy way. The safest bet too.

The DHA3000 -> L3000 but it will be a bit over your budget (or close). However you could sell your source as you have a very nice DAC there.


Another one very very close will be EMP Silver (or AE) -> PS-1. This Grado is not bright at all, but still is closer to neutral than dark.


Try to audition them first if possible on a meeting or something. Good luck.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 12:14 AM Post #5 of 18

catscratch

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Just as you were posting, the L3000 popped into my mind. Damn, this really blows my budget out of the water. Now, I wouldn't mind spending this much if the sound would "hit the spot" so to speak, even if I have to save up for half a year. But it's still not what I wanted to hear
tongue.gif


I really need to hear the L3000 at a meet sometime, and sometime soon. Ditto for the HD600 with a balanced amp. Now, we're in O2/KGSS territory, so I'll need to spend some time with that too. Sigh...

It's a really sweet painful kind of feeling
tongue.gif


For the record, the ES2 actually gives me a lot of what I want. Warm, detailed, intimate and very close, and very dynamic. It's too bad that it still has many of the typical IEM weaknesses - lacking texture, in-your-head soundstage (though extending past it) and not much actual tactile feedback next to full-size cans.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 1:02 AM Post #6 of 18

GoRedwings19

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch
Just as you were posting, the L3000 popped into my mind. Damn, this really blows my budget out of the water. Now, I wouldn't mind spending this much if the sound would "hit the spot" so to speak, even if I have to save up for half a year. But it's still not what I wanted to hear
tongue.gif


I really need to hear the L3000 at a meet sometime, and sometime soon. Ditto for the HD600 with a balanced amp. Now, we're in O2/KGSS territory, so I'll need to spend some time with that too. Sigh...

It's a really sweet painful kind of feeling
tongue.gif


For the record, the ES2 actually gives me a lot of what I want. Warm, detailed, intimate and very close, and very dynamic. It's too bad that it still has many of the typical IEM weaknesses - lacking texture, in-your-head soundstage (though extending past it) and not much actual tactile feedback next to full-size cans.



I think the meet would be a good place to start as it would give you a feel on which could be a starting point. There will be loadsa of setups for you to try and would cater for all budgets.

There are a few headphones which might meet your criteria. But be sure to check out the Ps-1, w11jpn, hd650, hd600, Rs-1, L3k's and whole bunch more.

These headphones are what I would consider in the warm/dark territory. All have strengths and weaknesses. Obviously the Grado's can be bright but amp matching them with a nice tube amp could be the ticket.

L3k's could be a contender if matched with a warm sounding SS. Or Slightly warm tube amp. But avoid it with the stereotypical tube amp like an EMP otherwise it might way to warm for your taste's and maight have way too much body.

You have already had an experience of the hd600/650's and there will be enormous amount of setups featuring these headphones.

The dark house although still very applicable candidate is the w11jpn. It is one you should try and give it a chance. It has less bass than the l3k but it does have a very nice midrange. The l3k is a better technical performer but the w11jpn was my fave AT.

If you want a darker sound but don;t want to splash out on too much money then still consider the O2+717/007t combination. Buy used to cut down costs.

O2 will cost about 1300-1400 used. The 007t about the 1k mark. So this still might be doable for you.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 10:39 AM Post #7 of 18

catscratch

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ATM I'm thinking balanced HD600 with Headamp GS-X, since it seems to be one of the more affordable balanced amps. I'll need a DAC with balanced outputs, and I'll probably use my Rega as a transport. Getting rid of all of the ES stuff will definitely help raise up the funds, and I can probably swing this setup.

I'll need to start auditioning balanced HD600/650 setups.

Still, this is only a mental excercise and everything I say is moot until I actually listen to the gear.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 1:21 PM Post #8 of 18

bozebuttons

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I really like the 650s with the Singlepower amps,I had a stock Supra for a month on loan & the combo was killer.
You may want to check out 1 of Mikhails Slams or a balanced MPX3.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 2:05 PM Post #10 of 18

cosmopragma

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Tachikoma
The SR-5 gold strikes me as a forward phone, but it does have a very good soundstage. Maybe thats the RS-1 with a soundstage you're looking for?
tongue.gif



The SR-5s aren't exactly providing what I'd call a "warmish" sound.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 3:00 PM Post #11 of 18

Tachikoma

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The SR-5 gold (or NB, according to the manual) is somewhat warm out of my CMT-EX1, but it is quite prone at revealing treble-boosted recordings; however that has decreased somewhat compared to what I was hearing yesterday... maybe its the NOS energizer burning in
tongue.gif


@cosmopragma: sorry for troubling you so much while I was obtaining the headphones
tongue.gif
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 3:21 PM Post #12 of 18

Anders

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch
The sound siganture I want out of this rig is: warmish and completely and utterly free of any kind of fatigue and sibilance. Natural tone and tembre for most instruments, though piano is really what I want to get right. Forward sound signature but with a pretty decent soundstage (doesn't have to be the best). Good detail but once again doesn't have to be up to SR-404/SA5k levels. Plenty of weight and body to the sound. Lots and LOTS of drive and dynamics. I mean lots! I want to listen to something engaging and say "Whoa!" and I want someone who's completely new to head-fi or hi-fi in general to pick up the system and say the same.

In terms of how it relates to the HD600: I really like this with the Hornet and the stock cable, but I don't think it has enough detail, and the treble is slightly grainy and sticks out due to a recessed upper midrange. I'd like a smoother treble, but I don't want to make it more recessed (i.e. HD650). I want more detail than the HD600/Hornet but I want the detail to have a relaxed presentation (in other words, everything's there but not shoved in your face). I like the weight and heft of it, but I don't quite like the slowness. When the music picks up and things start getting fast and multi-layered, the HD600 starts tripping over it's own feet. I like the forwardness of the Hornet and it's drive and dynamics, and I like a forward instrument placement for everything in the foreground, but I want the background to be a) slightly clearer and b) be spaced further out.

I really think that I'm describing the HD600 with more detail/forwardness or an RS-1 with more soundstage. Warm but not excessively so, somewhat forward, dynamic and very lively, with enough detail and soundstage not to sound muddy/congested to someone weaned on electrostatics, but not overdoing it in the detail department (excessively huge soundstage is OK by me
tongue.gif
).




PS Audio GCHA -> AKG K701

Plenty of body and drive
Good detail (> HD 650)
Big soundstage (> HD 650, >>> RS-1)
Not dark (like HD 650)
Faster than HD650, as fast as RS-1
Smooth and relaxed, no treble peaks like RS-1
Maybe not warm but without harshness, sibilance, weird treble etc.

A real cheapy for about $1400 so you can spend the rest on a good source.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 4:09 PM Post #13 of 18
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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch
ATM I'm thinking balanced HD600 with Headamp GS-X, since it seems to be one of the more affordable balanced amps. I'll need a DAC with balanced outputs, and I'll probably use my Rega as a transport. Getting rid of all of the ES stuff will definitely help raise up the funds, and I can probably swing this setup.

I'll need to start auditioning balanced HD600/650 setups.

Still, this is only a mental excercise and everything I say is moot until I actually listen to the gear.



I think that's a wise plan, since you'd just be trying to improve that which you already like. FYI you can get a balanced Gilmore by SFT for only $800 here. Considering his usual high standards, I think this could be a killer amp for the money.

As far as aftermarket cables go, I'd look at the Enigma Audio cable if you stay with the 600's, or the Silver Dragon if you go to the 650's (to counteract the treble softness without making the sound more upfront a la Zu).
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 4:17 PM Post #14 of 18

Oski

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch
The sound siganture I want out of this rig is: warmish and completely and utterly free of any kind of fatigue and sibilance. Natural tone and tembre for most instruments, though piano is really what I want to get right. Forward sound signature but with a pretty decent soundstage (doesn't have to be the best). Good detail but once again doesn't have to be up to SR-404/SA5k levels. Plenty of weight and body to the sound. Lots and LOTS of drive and dynamics. I mean lots! I want to listen to something engaging and say "Whoa!" and I want someone who's completely new to head-fi or hi-fi in general to pick up the system and say the same.


I was reading through your descriptions and the HP2 seemed like what you are looking for. Bolded text emphasising the qualities of the HP2. You can pair that up with a PS Audio GCHA.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 9:26 PM Post #15 of 18

catscratch

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Thanks for the suggestions guys. They're not going to be ignored! I'm going to come in to the national meet, or whatever meet I'll attend next, with a great big list of gear to audition
tongue.gif


At least in my budget, I have a great many choices and freedom to experiment. This definitely wasn't the case a year ago.
 

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