I've been saving for a very long time now and have $2500 to buy the best setup for the money.
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blance44

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Hey guys, as you can tell by the title, I have $2500 to buy the best audio setup for the money.
 
Some things about myself. I have been saving up for about three years now and have gone to many headphone meets around the US. Luckily because of those meets, I have learned what kind of sound I find myself liking most.
 
Firstly, the setup must require all necessary cables, and amp/dac and of course the headphones.
 
I really need a good all-rounder because I listen to everything from electronica to frank sinatra. A really well developed sound stage is  really important to me, almost as important as important as detail retrieval.
 
I am new here so if I did anything wrong or posted in the wrong place please tell me but I don't think I did because I'm looking for a summit-fi setup.
 
Also if I left anything out, please ask for more details and I'll give it my all to give you guys the best answer I can.
 
Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it.
 
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PurpleAngel

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What sources are you going to be using for the audio signal?
Assuming this is not going to be a portable setup?
 
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Eee Pee

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You're gonna burn up $1500 with the Sennheiser HD 800 (great all arounder with soundstage and detail retrieval), so then just figure out the rest.
 
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blance44

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Okay, thanks for the input.
 
Do you have any suggestions on what I should pair it with though?
 
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blance44

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  What sources are you going to be using for the audio signal?
Assuming this is not going to be a portable setup?
I will be using my laptop running a minimum of 320kbps audio files but most are flac files
 
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joyway

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I advise you to pay more for a dac with phone out and a headphone. So you can save money for a good amp in future.
 
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joyway

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Lynx Hilo,mytek 192 both have phone out and you don't need an extra amp. There're some other hot dacs. You can do some research in "Equipment Forums:Source".
 
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blance44

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So you're trying to tell me that I won't need an amp to drive the 300 ohm hd800?
 
Also those are far out of my maximum price and I doubt I'll find a dac with phone out for 1000 dollars.
 
I hope this doesn't sound ungrateful or anything. I'm just trying to get a good setup for my money and so far I know my headphones and nothing else that fits my criteria. I don't mean to be a jerk about it, I'm just getting really antsy and eager to finally get them after such a long wait!
 
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NotaLefty

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Would you consider buying used? You could end up with slightly better gear in all areas with the money saved.
 
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blance44

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  Would you consider buying used? You could end up with slightly better gear in all areas with the money saved.
Yeah, for sure, as long as they were in like new quality or minimal wear and also as long as they are the new 2013 model. When I heard them at a meet I liked them a lot better than the previous version.
 
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  So you're trying to tell me that I won't need an amp to drive the 300 ohm hd800?
 
Also those are far out of my maximum price and I doubt I'll find a dac with phone out for 1000 dollars.
 
I hope this doesn't sound ungrateful or anything. I'm just trying to get a good setup for my money and so far I know my headphones and nothing else that fits my criteria. I don't mean to be a jerk about it, I'm just getting really antsy and eager to finally get them after such a long wait!
 
Audio-GD NFB-11 external DAC/Amp, $355+ shipping.
Comes with USB (32-bit/384k) and S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs.
Can easily drive 600-Ohm headphones.
http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB112014/NFB112014EN.htm
 
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  Hey guys, as you can tell by the title, I have $2500 to buy the best audio setup for the money.
 
Some things about myself. I have been saving up for about three years now and have gone to many headphone meets around the US. Luckily because of those meets, I have learned what kind of sound I find myself liking most.
 
Firstly, the setup must require all necessary cables, and amp/dac and of course the headphones.
 
I really need a good all-rounder because I listen to everything from electronica to frank sinatra. A really well developed sound stage is  really important to me, almost as important as important as detail retrieval.
 
I am new here so if I did anything wrong or posted in the wrong place please tell me but I don't think I did because I'm looking for a summit-fi setup.
 
Also if I left anything out, please ask for more details and I'll give it my all to give you guys the best answer I can.
 
Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it.
 
What did you like at those meets? I recently heard the Hifiman HE-560 and thought it was better than the HD800, LCD-3, LCD-2, and SR-007 in tonal balance and overall realism. And the 560 would only put you back about $900. It's also a pretty sensitive headphone, so you wouldn't need a very powerful amp. Even something portable like a Leckerton amp/dac would be fine and totally transparent.
 
Does the 5k peak on the HD800 bother you? How about the warmth of the Audeze cans? What is your ideal sound signature? 
 
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joyway

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  So you're trying to tell me that I won't need an amp to drive the 300 ohm hd800?
 
Also those are far out of my maximum price and I doubt I'll find a dac with phone out for 1000 dollars.
 
I hope this doesn't sound ungrateful or anything. I'm just trying to get a good setup for my money and so far I know my headphones and nothing else that fits my criteria. I don't mean to be a jerk about it, I'm just getting really antsy and eager to finally get them after such a long wait!
Yes, that's my opinion. Another choice is that you can choose a used dac(eg. schiit Gungnir dac)+ a used amp( eg. woo wa6se)+a used hd800.
 
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IMO, the biggest bang for buck in terms of sound quality is in the headphone - by far - so I would start there. Doing a TOTL headphone shootout, I found that the Audeze and HD800 were the two TOTL headphones that stood out from the rest so I would pick one of these:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/717989/totl-hp-shootout-oppo-pm-1-hd800-lcd2-2-t1-he500-fostex-th900-hd650-hd600
 
The Audeze are the easiest to drive making the DAC/AMP selection easier given the budget so it might be the smart place to start. The Audeze family includes the 2, 3, and X of which I have compared all side by side. The X is clearly the best, but the LCD2 is not far off so I would start there given the budget to get the best bang for the buck. I am picky with headphones being more personal than amps or dacs since you wear them on your head so this is where I would personally buy new. I have seen the LCD2s sell new retail as low as $700 during Christmas if you are patient, but i can always find them under $1K.
 
I am loving my LCD2/Mjolnir pairing providing a very dynamic and exciting sound signature. However, there are more laid back amps that you can chose if you want to fall asleep with them such as the Burson lineup. However, the Audeze family likes power to bring it clarity and extra detail which both the Burson and Mjolnir bring. Too low of power provides a fun warm signature that I enjoy as well such as when playing them with portable DAPs.
 
To summarize, I would get a LCD2 with balanced cable for the Mjolnir and match it up with a Gungnir for a complete Schitt stack that sounds outstanding. You should be able to find a Mjolnir/Gungnir stack used for under $1K leaving $500 for cables and some music to listen to.
 
  1. LCD2, New                               $1K
  2. Mjolnir/Gungnir Stack, Used      $1K
  3. Cables and Accessories           $500
 
One more thought. You may eventually want to add a HD800 for a different listening experience. The HD800s usually don't like the same equipment as the LCDs so you may want to consider another option would cost you the savings from the suggestion above. Instead of getting the Gungnir, you may want to look at getting a used Yulong DA8 which seems to work well with both the HD800 and the Audeze. Please don't just take my word for it, after choosing a LCD2 or HD800 direction, please go to the related threads to hear what pairs well with them and ask questions.
 
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