I need some advice...
Aug 1, 2009 at 2:47 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

sno

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Posted in the wrong forum, I think it is the full-size forum I was looking for... :p


I am not sure if threads like these are allowed, but here goes...

I am planning to buy myself a simple audio setup for listening to music (exclusively, so no recording). I am looking to buy a good sound card (an external USB one) and a decent pair of headphones.

I am looking to spend around $250 at the most. I have seen the post about the price ranges, but makes and models do not mean much to me. I won't have enough time to go and try every headphone on there, so I came here to seek advice to get a few models that I _can_ try.

I listen to all kinds of music, but, mostly I listen to rock, blues, reggae and easy listening music.

I have looked at Grado headphones, Senn ones, Sony, Bose and B&O.

I've tried Bose QC2 headphones and I like them, however, I have tried cheaper headphones (less than half the price) from other manufacturers and have seen that they match them (if not exceed them) in performance. This seems to be the popular opinion on this forum...

Another headphones that I like are B&O's Form 2 headphones. However, I have read reviews online saying that they practically fall apart after a few months.

I don't want in-ear headphones, but open or closed headphones would be fine. Closed only if they are not too heavy and bulky (as they would be used for long periods of time).

Could I get some advice on what headphones to try out and get? Post links if you want to, because I wouldn't know where to start (manufacturers websites won't be realistic).

P.S. If it is not too much trouble. I have an Audio-Technica PL-120 turntable and I am looking for a decent amplifier for it. So, a suggestion for that would be appreciated. An external sound card with a minijack and RCA input would be perfect.

Thank you.
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 2:57 PM Post #2 of 15

koshman

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You could get EMU0202 and Alessandro MS1(i) - circa $200 (or maybe used SR225i for a little more). I have the EMU and for ~$100 it's pretty decent external sound card - its more expensive sibling EMU0404 is quite popular on Head-Fi and it should be very similar to 0202 if you don't need the recording capabilities.
The cans I don't own, but FWIR MS1 is great bang for the buck and should be easy to drive - as any other Grado(-derived) headphones. Plus, they excel in rock (blues, too, probably).
Possible concern could be comfort, so you should try the cans somewhere first.
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 3:46 PM Post #3 of 15

sno

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I have been doing some reading and I think I like the Grado SR325is and Sennheiser HD600s.

Now, I am looking for something that will give a warm sound (I don't know how to describe that
biggrin.gif
). If you have listened to Eric Clapton's "West Coast Idea" album, that's what I'm talking about.

Are those two the right choices? I'd like the bass to be acceptable of course, but I don't need the heavy bass that rattles windows. :p

Also, what kind of amp would you suggest to drive the Grado SR325i and the Sennheiser HD600.
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 5:52 PM Post #4 of 15

paaj

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While the SR325i is a wonderful headphone, warm is not something I'd associate with it.
Warm sound description fits the HD600 better.
For suggesting an amp I'll make an educated guess towards the GrahamSlee Novo. I've got the Solo, it's bigger brother with the HD650 and it is a heavenly combination.

doesn't the turntable need a phono-stage to bring the output up to line-level?

the 0404USB is a nice DAC for a computer setup but it's amp is not so special. Does the job though.
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 9:42 PM Post #5 of 15

sno

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The turntable has a pre-amp. So it has phono and line-level output.

The Graham Slee Novo seems to cost 230 pounds, so... around $380. A bit too much for me. And I was looking for a tube amp or a hybrid.

But, thanks for the HD600 tip.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 9:58 PM Post #6 of 15

jawang

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IMO, for a $250 budget setup...

EMU0404 USB DAC/Amp - $150 dollars new (100ish for 0202)
best grado model you can afford - $60-$1500 new (MS1 would be nice)

IMO, go for this setup, because the EMU0404 is a great DAC and you can just add an amp + better headphones later if you choose to upgrade.


or, skip the DAC for now, sacrificing some clarity and definition for more punch

little dot i+ = $120-130 new (high power hybrid tube amp)
beyer dt770 pro 250ohm = $150-200 new (warm & bass heavy, good value for price, scooped/recessed mids which are nice for rock)
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 10:09 PM Post #7 of 15

sno

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The beyer dt770 pros seem a bit bulky. :p

I am thinking of buying the LD I+ (or the MK III or the HiFiMAN EF2).

The EMU0404 USB has MIDI in/out, s/pdif in, which I don't need. Yet, it doesn't have an RCA input, which I do need.
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 10:20 PM Post #10 of 15

1Time

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sno /img/forum/go_quote.gif
1Time, I think I might be settled on 325i and HD600 (either, or).

What amp would you suggest for those two headphones? Something that's reasonably priced...



The 325i and HD600 are priced right at or over your $250 budget. That leaves $0 for an amp or other equipment.

Starting over. What is your total budget for headphones + other equipment?
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 11:29 PM Post #11 of 15

sno

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The around $250 (with $20-$30 overhead) was for the headphones only, which gets me 325i or HD600.

On the amp, I was looking to spend up to $200 (with some overhead of course, if it will get me something noticeably better). I already listed the three amps I was looking at, so I hoped that would give some idea about the amp budget. :p

So, that makes my total budget around $450 (with some overhead of course, if it will get me something noticeably better)...
 
Aug 1, 2009 at 11:50 PM Post #12 of 15

1Time

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sno /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The around $250 (with $20-$30 overhead) was for the headphones only, which gets me 325i or HD600.

On the amp, I was looking to spend up to $200 (with some overhead of course, if it will get me something noticeably better). I already listed the three amps I was looking at, so I hoped that would give some idea about the amp budget. :p

So, that makes my total budget around $450 (with some overhead of course, if it will get me something noticeably better)...



That's about $500 for headphones + amp. However, you also mentioned an external sound card with a minijack and RCA input. So, do you want your total budget to be $500? If not, what is your total budget for all of this equipment?

Edit: The 325i is probably a poor choice for "easy listening" and potentially a poor choice for long term listening comfort. So, will you still be considering the 325i? You should first choose the headphones and then match the amp / source to those headphones.
 
Aug 2, 2009 at 12:01 AM Post #13 of 15

sno

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I mentioned the external sound card before I considered getting a tube/hybrid amp. Then I realised I'd like a tube/hybrid amp with (hopefully) two inputs (RCA and usb, like the EF2; or two stereo inputs, like the LD MK III).

My computer is filled with mp3s which are lossy, no matter what sound card I get I still won't have that lossless sound. However, I do have records (new ones sound superb) which I would like to listen at the best quality possible. "X&Y" by Coldplay on vinyl sounds fantastic, btw.

So, it's $500 for headphones + amp.
smily_headphones1.gif
Unless, you think I would benefit more from headphones + external sound card (that could take input from the turntable).

I'm new at this, so I need all the help I can get.
smily_headphones1.gif


Well, if 325i aren't for "easy listening" and don't have long-term listening comfort, what about the HD600s?
 
Aug 2, 2009 at 12:23 AM Post #14 of 15

1Time

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sno /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I mentioned the external sound card before I considered getting a tube/hybrid amp. Then I realised I'd like a tube/hybrid amp with (hopefully) two inputs (RCA and usb, like the EF2; or two stereo inputs, like the LD MK III).

My computer is filled with mp3s which are lossy, no matter what sound card I get I still won't have that lossless sound. However, I do have records (new ones sound superb) which I would like to listen at the best quality possible. "X&Y" by Coldplay on vinyl sounds fantastic, btw.

So, it's $500 for headphones + amp.
smily_headphones1.gif
Unless, you think I would benefit more from headphones + external sound card (that could take input from the turntable).

I'm new at this, so I need all the help I can get.
smily_headphones1.gif


Well, if 325i aren't for "easy listening" and don't have long-term listening comfort, what about the HD600s?



You definitely can have long term comfort for easy listening with the HD600 IF you properly adjust it (see my signature).

Now that you've decided on the headphones (something commonly done in this forum), you need to get your computer audio and amp questions answered. And for that I suggest reading and posting in the computer audio and amp forums. I do not suggest you underestimate the value of doing this. And then once you have done so and have narrowed your choices for equipment to buy for use with your HD600 and Audio-Technica player, I suggest posting a new thread in this forum asking for opinions on the system (combined equipment) that you are considering. Edit: I also suggest not buying any equipment until you have decided on all of it to buy, that is, if you value sticking to a budget.
 
Aug 2, 2009 at 12:41 AM Post #15 of 15

sno

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Thanks for the advice, 1Time.

But, I have asked about the three hybrid amps I was considering and how they work with the HD600 (I think)... :p

As I said, I gave up on the computer sound card and am focusing on getting a hybrid/tube amp.

I'm considering:
- LD I+, because it's the cheapest of the three.
- LD MKIII, because of the two stereo inputs.
- HiFiMAN EF2, because of the USB input (in addition to the RCA). Also, good reviews on the forum for this one.

Should I look into other amps? And where can I find info on how well they work with HD600s. I skimmed through older topics but didn't find anything to that effect.
 

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