I've got a pair of HD600s and a Dragonfly Red USB DAC, where do I go now?
Dec 27, 2016 at 9:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15

rino757

New Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Posts
8
Likes
11
As stated in the title, my current audio setup is based around my HD600 pair and Dragonfly Red DAC. My library is composed of all genres besides Country, Metal, and Hip-Hop. Around 70% FLAC, 20% 320kbps mp3, and most of the rest ~250kbps mp3. I've got a FiiO EX1 IEM pair for casual/on-the-go listening and a FiiO A3/E11 portable headphone amp. I do my listening on my Galaxy S7 using the Dragonfly Red via USB OTG, with the app USB Audio Player PRO (I prefer it's sound quality over Neutron though I have both) and through my Razer Blade gaming laptop via the Dragonfly Red.
 
Say I've got $800 to spend, what would be my best move to improve my listening experience? My current thoughts are on a pair of low-end Stax headphones or a better amp to drive the HD600s. I'm fairly content with how most of my music was mastered, but I'll be looking for better recordings in the future to replace some songs.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 12:20 AM Post #2 of 15

David Howland

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
16
Likes
10
Do you want to 'Improve' or 'Make it Different?' I also have the HD600 and they are really nice 'phones. The real question is if you get new headphones do you want them to be better and retire those, or do you want to get something different and alternate as your mood suits you?
 
It sounds like you're mostly a portable user but have you tried desktop listening? A nice Solid State Amp Dac like the Jotenheim or even a less expensive Modi/ Magni 2 stack will go a long way. If you really wanted to you could get a tube amp like a Darkvoice to warm up the tone of your music when you get bored.
 
If you go Electrostatic it's a commitment. You can't go portable with those and from what I've heard you with ruin your relationship with any other headphone in town. Personally, I've never heard a pair of Stax, but I've heard the sound changes your life.
 
It really all boils down to lifestyle. Do you want an $800 tether to your desk, do you want something to make your setup flexible, or do you want to improve your portable listening?
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 12:36 AM Post #3 of 15

Dulalala

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
1,855
Likes
336
Replace your headphones first, then slowly build up your amp and DAC. You get more improvement with less money from upgrading your headphones first rather than the amp or DAC. Either that or you could improve your portable audio set up. Also keep in mind that STAX won't sound anything like your HD600.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 12:59 AM Post #4 of 15

David Howland

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 12, 2016
Posts
16
Likes
10
  Replace your headphones first, then slowly build up your amp and DAC. You get more improvement with less money from upgrading your headphones first rather than the amp or DAC. Either that or you could improve your portable audio set up. Also keep in mind that STAX won't sound anything like your HD600.

I suppose if you're getting bored you can upgrade your headphones. As an HD600 owner myself I can say with confidence more sound is revealed when you power them correctly. They are 300Ohm after all. I know the Dragonfly is supposed to be amazing considering it's size but I cannot believe it's up to par with full sized options. You don't have to spend your $800 all in one place. I'd say my rule of thumb is also to upgrade headphones first, but if you feel your headphones are already decent maybe it's time to step up your source quality with a clean DAC/ Amp.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 1:10 AM Post #5 of 15

Dulalala

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
1,855
Likes
336
  I'd say my rule of thumb is also to upgrade headphones first, but if you feel your headphones are already decent maybe it's time to step up your source quality with a clean DAC/ Amp.

Agreed
 
  hey are 300Ohm after all. I know the Dragonfly is supposed to be amazing considering it's size but I cannot believe it's up to par with full sized options. 

Yes they're 300 Ohm but that doesn't mean it's hard to drive. Sensitivity also plays a part in whether a headphone is hard to drive or not. For example you can have a low impedance headphone that is harder to drive than a higher impedance headphone due to its sensitivity. Also just because it is small does not mean it cannot have desktop class performance. Not talking about the Dragonfly Red specifically but for example the Chord Mojo is a extremely capable and even outperforms some desktop class devices. Now granted it isn't the same size as the Red but it is still very small.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 1:21 AM Post #6 of 15

rino757

New Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Posts
8
Likes
11
Hmm, I'd honestly say I'm trying to get the most clarity I can from my music. I don't mean that I want everything bright, but I want extreme detail while being fairly neutral. Detail in the sense that I hear what's already there better, not just making things sounds sharper. In that regard I think the Stax seem to excel. For portable listening I'm content with my IEMs as I can't listen to open-ear headphones on the go anyway. I really like my HD600s, but I feel they're a bit lacking on the high end. It's hard to say because they're the best pair I've ever owned, but the sound signature is not ideal.

I currently prefer to use my phone got listening, but that's only because it seems to do a better job of leaving the audio alone before sending it to the DAC. Plugging my Dragonfly into my laptop I get muddier (though still great) sound.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 1:30 AM Post #7 of 15

Dulalala

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 18, 2016
Posts
1,855
Likes
336
Hmm, I'd honestly say I'm trying to get the most clarity I can from my music. I don't mean that I want everything bright, but I want extreme detail while being fairly neutral. Detail in the sense that I hear what's already there better, not just making things sounds sharper. In that regard I think the Stax seem to excel. For portable listening I'm content with my IEMs as I can't listen to open-ear headphones on the go anyway. I really like my HD600s, but I feel they're a bit lacking on the high end. It's hard to say because they're the best pair I've ever owned, but the sound signature is not ideal.

If that is what you're looking for then just get Stax. I don't really thing there is a point of upgrading the amp for the HD600 if you don't enjoy the sound signature. Changing the amp isn't going to magically make it sound like something else unless you use a tube amp but I don't think that'll help you achieve what you're looking for anyways.
I currently prefer to use my phone got listening, but that's only because it seems to do a better job of leaving the audio alone before sending it to the DAC. Plugging my Dragonfly into my laptop I get muddier (though still great) sound.

What do you mean by this? When you plug the Dragonfly into the laptop it sounds muddier than when you plug it into your phone?
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 1:37 AM Post #8 of 15

rino757

New Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Posts
8
Likes
11
I guess that's what I'll probably do. I hear all these great things, but there's no way for me to try them out beforehand, so I'm worried about sinking all that money into them.

But yes, for some reason I get much better clarity when using Onkyo HF Player or the USB audio player apps on my phone than using even Foobar on my computer. I wouldn't normally call it muddy through the computer, only when comparing it to through the S7.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 6:06 PM Post #12 of 15

rino757

New Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Posts
8
Likes
11
Well I ended up making the order for the Stax SRS-3100. There were no other bids on the auction and I feel $650 for the set, only used a couple times, is something I won't find often. Hoping it meets my expectations! 
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 7:10 PM Post #13 of 15

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Posts
8,794
Likes
1,623
Location
Kentucky
Well I ended up making the order for the Stax SRS-3100. There were no other bids on the auction and I feel $650 for the set, only used a couple times, is something I won't find often. Hoping it meets my expectations! 
You are going to need a week to adjust to these as they are so different. Don't give up too quick on them. The sound signature is so different than your use to but if your into soundstage and detail you'll be happy.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 7:15 PM Post #14 of 15

rino757

New Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 7, 2016
Posts
8
Likes
11
You are going to need a week to adjust to these as they are so different. Don't give up too quick on them. The sound signature is so different than your use to but if your into soundstage and detail you'll be happy.

I believe it! I'm sure that before I start to really notice the detail, they'll probably just sound harsh. I don't plan on giving up at all though, and will force myself to get used to them for the sake of detail and soundstage if needed, though tbh I'm pretty flexible on my listening. For all my complaints about the HD600s, I still really enjoy them, and same with the sound signatures of 90% of headphones/IEMs I've had down to the old Apple EarPods. The only thing I dislike in the long run is missing out on stuff that's in the recording, and that's only unacceptable for expensive things.
 
Dec 28, 2016 at 7:31 PM Post #15 of 15

buke9

Headphoneus Supremus
Help and Recommendation Contributor
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
Posts
8,794
Likes
1,623
Location
Kentucky
I believe it! I'm sure that before I start to really notice the detail, they'll probably just sound harsh. I don't plan on giving up at all though, and will force myself to get used to them for the sake of detail and soundstage if needed, though tbh I'm pretty flexible on my listening. For all my complaints about the HD600s, I still really enjoy them, and same with the sound signatures of 90% of headphones/IEMs I've had down to the old Apple EarPods. The only thing I dislike in the long run is missing out on stuff that's in the recording, and that's only unacceptable for expensive things.
Well that's fine I would take the 650's over the 600 buts that's me and my Koss 950's over them both. This should be a upgrade . I am waiting on a new Stax amp to power my 950's but might drop some coin on so SR-007's just haven't decided yet.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top