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I have $4,500 for a full headphone setup

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by pichu, Jan 30, 2018.
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  1. pichu
    So I have $4,500 to spend on a pair of headphones, an amp and a dac. I’ve messed around with a bunch of low fi and midfi and want to go all the way this time.
    I was planning on going with the Autuer Teak from ZMF with a Soekris 1541. I feel that this may be pointless as I would most likely shoot to get a stand alone amp to work with the Soekris 1541s DAC.

    Can anyone help give m some recommendations? What would you buy with $4,500? Does the whole budget need to be spent? Dac with integrated amp or have both separated from each other? What amps and DACs are known to have synergy? I’m also open to headphone recommendations too! Thank you in advance
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  2. baiyy1986
    I spend some money last month.
    I think the first thing to consider is what headphone you want, or I should say what kind of music you listen the most.
    I will spend 2500 on headphone and 2000 on dac+amp, or 3500 on headphone and 1000 on dac+amp.
    Headphone>amp>dac in my opinion.
    However, that is my personal option
    Ragnar-BY and knopi like this.
  3. Galm
    You can get a Utopia + Hugo 2 combo if you shop around in that price point. It works well because the Hugo 2 is an excellent dac and while the amp isn't very powerful it's enough to power a Utopia very cleanly (which is efficient for a flagship). I can't really think of a better sounding combo that'll keep you in budget unless of course you prefer a planar magnetic or some other headphone etc...

    I definitely prefer spending on the headphone first, the dac and amp are secondary performance wise. So I also agree with @baiyy1986. And Utopia is definitely high fi, not much can beat its detail.

    If for some reason you're opposed to a Hugo 2, something like a Modi 2 + a different tube/ss amp would also be doable in budget. Maybe a high powered SS amp like a Ragnarok, or a tube amp like a WA8 or something. Though honestly Hugo 2 and Utopia is one of the better combos I've heard.

    I'll admit I lean towards combos these days after trying Yggy and Raggy with two different RCA cables and both sounded different... I'd rather just avoid cables all together as much as possible.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
  4. Hifi Boy
    Same as above except that I have HE-1000 and Hugo 2. Pretty good combo for the money. Later on down the road, if you want to upgrade, get a good amp and you'll still be left with a world class DAC and headphones.
  5. travis-bickle
    I would buy a realiser, subpac and (for the rest of the budget) a nice headphone with priority on comfort
  6. axle_69
    If you want to try the electrostatic route it would make sense to use a balanced DAC so: Gumby + Stax SRS-5100 system or Yggdrasil + SRM 353X (or 006tS, 007tII used) + L700 (Omega will need better amplifiers).
  7. Whazzzup
    Does the budget need to be spent? Every last drop and then some
  8. Ragnar-BY
    Headphones first. After that find a good amp for that headphones, and after that buy a best DAC you can for the rest of money.
    bclark8923 and halcyon like this.
  9. B1ll
    Find headphones you like first, and build as nice a system as you can with the rest of the money. There are a lot of good deals for second hand equipment. If you have the ability I would go to a high-end audio store and listen to as many headphones as you can, you will get the best sense hearing them all side by side -- ultimately it came down to comfort for me, some headphones, while they sound nice, are uncomfortable for longer than 30min-1hr. In my mind, I have a good enough source and amp to power anything aside from electrostats, so I'm going to probably grab another set of headphones for shorter listening sessions in the near future. The HD800 are very precise and neutral, and the most comfortable reference level headphone, and the soundstage is incredible, but they are not as rich and punchy as say LCD-3/4 -- something I miss. If you find you have FOMO/buyers remorse with other things, I would probably think about spending more on the source/amp, rather than putting all your eggs in a $4k pair of headphones and a $500 integrated. But maybe you'll hear something you love and wont look back...
  10. Ekul61
    $1500 Focal Clear+ $1500 Violectric 280. Good start.
  11. protoss

    You tried low tier and mid tier. Time to get the best but not legendary because you need at least 10K for those!

    BTW - Autuer Teak from ZMF is mid-tier. Skip that,

    Like others said get the current best HP out there!

    If I was in your position I get Mr.Speaker Electrostatic ASAP. Its the next hottest item coming out and will be talked alot for awhile !!



    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
    AudioThief likes this.
  12. Galm
    I almost definitely wouldn't blind buy that... I've heard it, and while impressive, it's still an electrostat. Some people will love it and some people will really not. There are definitely people who would prefer the auteur.

    If at all possible try and demo something first. He probably has an audio store in driving range of Tampa.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  13. headblid
    Hummm, with that kind of money to spend, I would advise giving yourself a good 2~3 months and spend that time going to the audio store and listening to various combos with your favourite tunes. I would listen to everything between 300$ to however high you want to go but please don't blind buy anything with all that money.

  14. Discman634
    I was thinking Tampa has to have some place to at least try some more popular headphones and some amps and maybe DACs. Make a list and got try out what they have. If you are going to drop that much they will treat you very well.
  15. kid vic
    We all seem too be in consensus that the OP needs to know what phones or at least sound signature and genre combo their after. It seems like we are all kinda shooting in the dark thus far.

    And with that I nominate:
    Beyerdynamic T1 gen 2>Woo audio WA2/La Figaro 339> Chord 2qute
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