Improve my Portable Rig
Oct 22, 2008 at 11:38 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

Overheat

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I'm not sure if this is the right part of the forum, but I couldn't really find anywhere for a full rig, just parts.

Anyway, my portable rig is simple:

Sony Discman D-465
Shure SE420-K

That's it! I was recommended the Discman by this forum a good year or two ago, but the Shure's were a gamble purchase by me that I thought would work well should I decide to upgrade to Apple Lossless iPodness.

Right, what I want to know is, how can I make my music sound better? Tell me anything, preferably pound for sound initially, then the more expensive tweaks to top it off. I want a very detailed sound, with plenty of warmth and presence.

To give you an idea of what I listen to primarily, here's my Top 10 artists:
  1. The Postal Service
  2. Damien Rice
  3. Guns N' Roses
  4. Nirvana
  5. Pink Floyd
  6. Tenacious D
  7. Muse
  8. Coldplay
  9. Eels
  10. The Frames DC

Is that enough? I don't have a particular budget in mind - I want this to be a gradual thing. Just help give me some direction if possible.

Thank you all in advance - I will check back regularly.
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 12:16 AM Post #2 of 7

catscratch

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Why is this in the high-end forum? This should be moved to the IEM forum. Portable rigs are not high end. Even with custom-molded earphones in them.

But, to get back to your post - there aren't many options on the portable front if you want warmth and detail, at least until you get to the very high end. Canalphones don't sound perfect, and you will pretty much have to pick which weaknesses you want to live with. I.e. lack of warmth/body and treble peak in the ER-4P, bloated bass and missing detail with the UM2, rolled-off highs and unnatural tone with the E500, and so on.

When you get to customs, you can more or less have your cake and eat it too; customs are much more balanced in their presentation. The ES2 isn't exactly a warmth monster but it is warmish, has a very fluid midrange, and has plenty of detail, and is both accurate and musical. Definitely in a league of its own compared to the universal-fit IEMs I know well, but is also way out of their price range.

The Stax SR-001 might be an interesting choice if you don't need isolation. It's certainly very warm, and is definitely very detailed. If you have DIY skill, you can mod the amp to improve the sound massively - check the DIY forum.
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 12:28 AM Post #3 of 7

mrarroyo

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Why is this in the high-end forum? This should be moved to the IEM forum. Portable rigs are not high end. Even with custom-molded earphones in them.

...



Well, that is one opinion.
wink.gif


I agree the OP would get more answers out of the portable forum(s) however IMO portable can be high end if high quality components that work well together. What is high end? is a tough question to answer and a moving target as well.

popcorn.gif
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 1:06 AM Post #4 of 7

Overheat

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thanks for your replies thus far. There are a few reasons I didn't want to put it into the IEM forum. Firstly, that I'm not rooted in IEM - if on or over ear's are better then I'd like to hear it! I'm new to the high-end side of things, I've had B&W at home, but only as part of my home theatre setup - I've never really owned any kit purely dedicated to audio excellence. But, my recent gamble on the Shure SE420s have left me wondering how I can get an even richer experience and also begging the question of whether I do in fact need one - though I feel I might
smily_headphones1.gif


I've had a look at the IEM suggestions and am wondering if the Stax option will significantly improve what I have in the required fields - it seems a little unusual in this world of audio bliss that an improvement would be less expensive - though naturally I'm interested!

I suppose the main issues I'm having with my current setup - though it may just be my untrained ears - is the the lack of air/presence, and also volume (though this may have something to do with the former). Oh geez I'm getting all confused again!!!
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 1:42 AM Post #5 of 7

catscratch

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Depending on where you are, you may have a Stax dealer nearby. I would suggest doing some research into local Stax dealers and trying out the SR-001 firsthand.

Honestly your biggest limiting reagent is going to be your source. I haven't heard an mp3 player yet that was anywhere near acceptable as a quality source. I've had some vintage PCDPs that were quite decent - Fisher PCD5400, Sony D311 - but they were still far off the mark. The best I've heard so far, under portable conditions, was Sony D-NE920 feeding a MicroDAC, which then fed a modified SR-001 system - but that's hardly what I call portable. It's only portable in the sense that it's battery powered, and I needed a laptop case to carry it around.

Getting a custom-molded IEM is a gamble, unfortunately, since you have no idea if you're going to like the sound. Mine paid off with the ES2, and it was one of the best purchases I've made. But, that was 2 years ago, and there may be other, better options on the market now.

It may also make sense to check out the Audio-Technica ESW9, or wait for the newer ESW10 to come out, though supposedly it sounds quite different.
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 3:45 AM Post #6 of 7

luvdunhill

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catscratch /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Honestly your biggest limiting reagent is going to be your source. I haven't heard an mp3 player yet that was anywhere near acceptable as a quality source.


yup, portables can never be high end because of the severe limitations the source imposes on the overall system.
 
Oct 25, 2008 at 10:22 AM Post #7 of 7

Overheat

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thank you again for the advice catscratch
smily_headphones1.gif


I'm not too concerned about bulk in my portable system as I will be carrying it around in my back pack anyway, which I pretty much take everywhere with me. So, DAC may very well be an interesting option - I've been looking at the Headroom options; Micro DAC and Micro Amp, and Ultra Micro DAC and Ultra Micro Amp - anyone had any experience with these?

I'm also interested in the Audio Technica headphones options - would these significantly improve upon my SE420s?
 

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