MacBook Pro -> WHAT -> HD595
Nov 23, 2008 at 8:52 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

robert_feldt

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Ok, recently bought Sennheiser HD595 and are hooking them up to my MacBook Pro (MBP). I'm happy with the combo (compared to older and simpler Sennheisers) so far but I have money to spend on better gear.

Any recommendations?

I guess I have these main alternatives:

1. MBP USB -> USB DAC -> AMP -> HD595

2. MBP Optical out (SPDIF?) -> something -> HD595

Are there other alternatives? What should I get for alternative 2?

I have been thinking about the E-MU 0404 USB since I might need a Midi and mic interface in the future. But then I read that the E-MU 0404 USB was not so good a combination with easy-driven cans as the HD595. Any experience with that combo?

A bonus would be a solution that I can also use on the run (with my IPhone 3G). The only multisolution I've found is the Total Bithead which is both USB DAC and mini-to-mini amp solution.

Helpful for ideas. Thanks!
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 10:17 PM Post #2 of 23

illkemist

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Do you have a budget? What kinds of music are you listening to? I think you're on the right track with the Total BitHead. The 595s can be run sans amplification, but if you add juice, they will sound better. Incidentally, the 595s to the TB is what got me started down this road about a 14 months ago. I can't believe it. So much money in so little time.

On second thought, you may want to put down your headphones and back away slowly.
atsmile.gif
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 10:28 PM Post #3 of 23

robert_feldt

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<$500 would feel sensible. >$1000 I would probably feel fooled.
smily_headphones1.gif


I'm listening to a lot of Jazz, some Classical, but also some rock/pop/contemporary.

I have a lot of music ripped with EAC and encoded with -alt-preset extreme. Nowadays I try to stay with EAC+FLAC on the computer and then mp3 320kbps for the IPhone.
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 10:33 PM Post #4 of 23

illkemist

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Quote:

Originally Posted by robert_feldt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
<$500 would feel sensible. >$1000 I would probably feel fooled.
smily_headphones1.gif



At $500, the best portable I've heard is the RSA Predator. Interestingly enough, I sold it because I wasn't using it much. I preferred to listen to all of my music in one place. So i just concentrated on a desktop system. So what about you? You plan to use this out and about? If not, would recommend something larger and more permanent. You might find this solution to be of better value down the line.
 
Nov 23, 2008 at 11:20 PM Post #6 of 23

xxbaker

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With $500 you should have enough to get both a decent amp and a decent DAC. It really will probably come down to how much money you think would be worth it. There are tons of good DACs and amps at many varying prices.

I would definitely recommend getting an amp and a DAC (be it usb or optical). I have a MBP with an upgraded ZERO and it sounds miles better than the regular headphone out (IMO obviously =]). Since the headphone amp in the ZERO isn't regarded as particularly amazing, I'm betting much of the change is due to the DAC section being much higher quality.

Sorry about that tangent there, figured it might be nice to know where I'm coming from. Summary: get both an amp and a DAC, not just an amp =]
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 2:04 PM Post #8 of 23

illkemist

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Quote:

Originally Posted by robert_feldt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
A good desktop system is a higher prio. Portability would just be a bonus. I mainly listen at home.


My recommendation is that you start here. It's a listing of several DACs. I would start by looking at what you can get for your money. They go up in price as you go down the list. I think you would benefit from a USB DAC with a built-in amp that can also be used as a preamp down the line. That way, when you are ready to buy an amp, you have the source you are familiar with.

I think the biggest mistake I made was trying to get everything in one swoop. That said, the biggest leap in SQ that I made was a result of getting a better DAC. Again, this is only my suggestion. Your needs may be a bit different. But the fact that you have a pair of cans that require little or no amplification means that you can get away with a less powerful amp (or none at all). Then, when you have had a chance to get to know your DAC pretty well, you can find an amp that pairs really well and brings the best out of your system.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 2:38 PM Post #9 of 23
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If $1k is within your budget, a Lavry Black DA-10 would be perfect, along with a good quality optical cable. Down the track if you get better headphones, you could would have a good source for them and even a very good headphone amp.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 3:27 PM Post #10 of 23

blaizefm

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I've been using a Nuforce Icon with my MacBook - Denon D2000 setup which works well (and bypasses the absolutely horrible line out squeaks on my MacBook).

The benefit of the Icon is that it is both a decent headphone amp and a normal amp so you could hook up some speakers and have the best of both worlds.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 4:21 PM Post #12 of 23

xxbaker

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Well I'd recommend you'd get something nicer than the Zero with your budget, you've got plenty of room. The main two mods are to get a HDAM module to replace the OPAMP and the Frankenzero mod. You can buy the HDAM modified unit on ebay I believe (I'd email seller about shipping options though I'm pretty sure they'd ship to Europe) but the Frankenzero you'd have to do yourself.

Hope that answers your question.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 4:32 PM Post #13 of 23

melomaniac

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Quote:

Originally Posted by robert_feldt /img/forum/go_quote.gif
<$500 would feel sensible. >$1000 I would probably feel fooled.


the RSA predator and the Headamp Pico are both very nice for exactly your kind of situation: laptop, decent files, good 'phones; both will do quite a bit better than the Total Bithead, which is just as versatile but features older tech.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 9:18 PM Post #14 of 23

luidge

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Wouldn't it be sensible for him to buy an Apogee Duet, since he is a mac user and that little thing seem to be the best job as a Dac plus recording machine?
That would make the best of both world for exactly his budget. I sure would do that.
In fact that the two things i am about to buy, macbook pro and duet, and i sure did my homework bout it hehe.
 
Nov 24, 2008 at 9:28 PM Post #15 of 23

illkemist

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Quote:

Originally Posted by luidge /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Wouldn't it be sensible for him to buy an Apogee Duet, since he is a mac user and that little thing seem to be the best job as a Dac plus recording machine?
That would make the best of both world for exactly his budget. I sure would do that.
In fact that the two things i am about to buy, macbook pro and duet, and i sure did my homework bout it hehe.



Yes, but if he wanted to use another source at some point, he's stuck with the Duet. That's why I have one to sell right now. No more firewire=Duet for sale.
 

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