My first post... Question regarding the LCD2s, source, and other noob inquiries
Aug 2, 2010 at 4:50 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

loghead

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Hello. I have done my best to acclimate myself to the sound and fury that is head-fi.org, and this is my first post, so kindly steer me in the right direction if I veer off course
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Anyway, I consider myself a moderate audiophile in that I am obsessed with music, but have not delved completely into this hobby as many here have. I have played guitar for the past 15 years, sang in multiple choirs in college, studied music in both academic and casual settings and have long been on a path to audiophile obsession as I amassed a music library in the thousands of albums. 
 
I currently own a pair of Shure 530s that I have absolutely loved over the past couple of years, and before that it was the lower models in Shure's catalogue that truly started me on this path that has brought me to these forums.
 
I have been researching the internet and these forums for the past few weeks as I have been looking for a pair of headphones that would provide a wider, deeper soundstage for home entertainment (music, movies, and gaming). I personally was struggling with whether or not it would truly be worth it for me to upgrade from the shures... I was for the longest time convinced that the Shures had as much detail and transparency as I could ever hope to get elsewhere. But I have gathered from forums and from listening to various full sized headphones that I am gravely misguided in this regard. Thus, I began to contemplate the possibilities of a new headphone investment to up my musical appreciation when I'm not on the go. I read reviews, did lots of price comparisons, and in general just tried to contemplate what I really wanted in a new pair of full-sized headphones.
 
At first I was thinking Grado's based on suggestions from friends of the "fun" sound. Based on reviews and discussions, I became a little worried about the possibility of the highs being to bright, however, and thought maybe I should consider more transparent, flat presentation phones that would allow me to have marathon listening sessions that I enjoy so much. The only set of full sized headphones I have ever owned in the past were Senn's HD280s, and I loved em, but I also didn't really have any sort of gauge of where they stood relative to other phones out there. Unfortunately, they were stolen from me, and I have since relied solely on Shure's IEMs for the past 5 years or so. I love the detail and the intimacy of the 530s, but I feel like I need a little variety and a larger soundstage.
 
Then I began to contemplate going with the AKG k701s because I was enticed by descriptions of it's magical "airy" soundstage that seemed to be just what I was looking for.
 
Well, after reading a sizeable percentage of the Audeze LCD-2 threads, I am intrigued to say the least. I am the kind of buyer that wants to buy as high end as possible to avoid the feeling that I am missing something, and to avoid the desire to upgrade again when I get that feeling. I don't have any intention of collecting headphone after headphone to have a variety for several different applications. I'd much rather buy as high end as I can comfortably afford and not think about having to make another purchase for a LONG time. I have researched everything about orthodynamic headphones, read reviews, heard all the hype and have done my best to filter through to the truth of it all. I have basically decided that a pair of boutique headphones like the LCD-2s that will grow with my equipment upgrades is the way to go. I love the retro styling to them, and I love the fact that they are handmade here in the USA. The price does seem exorbitant, but from what I have gathered, the value is definitely there (and they are only about twice the price I originally paid for the 530s). I went ahead and put my name on the preorder list at Audeze's website.
 
***NOW, for the actual questions***
 
My questions pertain to the basics that I am going to need to have in place before I can begin to enjoy these anywhere near the level that will do them justice.
 
1) I have read about the importance of "source" and how a DAC is recommended. However, I do primarily all of my listening on vinyl (I am an analog fanatic, thus my name) and I have a massive collection. I assume that I will not need a DAC for vinyl listening since it's already in analog, non-digitized format. Am I correct in this thinking? 
 
2) I also watch lots of blu-rays through my PS3 and new blu-ray laptop I just picked up. Would I need a DAC for this content? Or is blu-ray a hi-fi enough source to where this would not be an issue? (Basically, I am trying to bypass the expense of a DAC since I believe my sources are already of considerable quality, but maybe I am misguided on exactly what a DAC will do for me).
 
3) I know a full-sized headphone amp will be key to driving a set of headphones like this, and I have gathered that the LCD-2s can be a little tricky to find a nice match. I will need to make price considerations somewhere, so I figured it would be better to invest more in the headphones and less in the amp. I think the Schitt Asgard should suffice, and at $250 leaves me plenty of funds for my high-end headphone investment. Will the Asgard do the LCD-2s any justice? Am I correct in thinking that it makes more sense to invest more in the headphones themselves and less in the amp? Should I consider a higher end investment in the amp, or maybe there are others in the same price range for me to consider?
 
4) Finally, have I absolutely lost my mind considering such a huge leap up the audiophile ladder? I am aware of the psychoacoustic affect that dictates exactly what I will be capable of getting out of any pair of headphones, and of course that leaves a little cause for concern that I might be going more high-end than I am even capable of appreciating. But I have a very discerning ear, and as I explained before I am the type of consumer that would like to make a worthy investment in a quality product ONCE, rather than constantly wonder what I am missing higher up the ladder.
 
p.s. I absolutely love this website! Fantastic resource for the afflicted such as ourselves.
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM Post #4 of 13

TheWuss

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loghead,
welcome to head-fi.
i enjoyed reading your post.
it's refreshing to see a new member who has done their homework.
(we usually get the "hi.  i need hedfones.  i have $40.  what shud i get?" posts.  horrible.)
 
your premise and assumptions are pretty spot-on.
 
i will caution you that the LCD-2 is, in simple terms, the hot headphone right now.
that doesn't mean it's not an incredible headphone.  I'm sure it is.
i'll also caution you that unless you have the patience of Job, it may not be the best move for you.
the waiting line for this headphone is running just over 2 months.  likely longer for those adding their name to the list now.  i'm on the list, and am fully prepared to wait until october.
but, i have other headphones to keep me occupied in the interim.
 
same thing with the Schiit Asgard.  the guys at Schiit just ran out of them.  and it's going to be the end of august or later before they make more.  (they will focus on producing their second amp, the Valhalla, for a month or two)
 
i mean, it's great that you were able to focus down to a headphone and amp so soon in your search... but, there are lots of options out there that might suit your needs more.
you just happen to see from the forums that there is a good bit of chatter about these two items.
and, from all i read, they pair well...
 
(and... yes.  you are right.  all you need is turntable, preamp, headphone amp, and cans.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:03 PM Post #5 of 13

loghead

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Cool, thanks for the info. I am fully prepared to wait if need be on the Asgard and LCD-2s if I determine they are truly the right choices for me. I am in no hurry as long as I am absolutely sure about it.
 
Edit: Oh, by the way, I'm in B'ham too! Do we ever get any meets around here? Perhaps you could shed a little light on my thinking by letting me sample some gear...
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Aug 2, 2010 at 6:06 PM Post #6 of 13

Paganini Alfredo

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Where do you live? I would suggest that you try and get to a meet as soon as you can or see if there are any other Headfiers in your area where you can try different headphones out.
 
Edit; Ah just saw your edit, Birmingham. You must have been reading my mind while I was typing!
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:35 PM Post #7 of 13

TheWuss

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Quote:
Cool, thanks for the info. I am fully prepared to wait if need be on the Asgard and LCD-2s if I determine they are truly the right choices for me. I am in no hurry as long as I am absolutely sure about it.
 
Edit: Oh, by the way, I'm in B'ham too! Do we ever get any meets around here? Perhaps you could shed a little light on my thinking by letting me sample some gear...
atsmile.gif


dude.  there are now no less than 4 people from the salty ham.  we need to get together.
 
and, you are absolutely welcome to stop by and sample my gear.
seeing what you like and don't like may help steer your decision in full-size cans.
 
just shoot me a pm and we'll get together.
unfortunately, atlanta is the closest city with regular meets.  there was one a few months ago that i didn't attend (duty called at work...)
 

 
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:42 PM Post #8 of 13

loghead

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Cool, I'll shoot you a PM.
 
Thanks for the help thus far. I have one more question:
 
Regarding Blu-ray and high definition sound: Are there any headphones out there that could do justice to 7.1 true high def sound? I am thinking of upgrading my receiver from 5.1 to 7.1, but at this time it wouldn't be the whole speaker system, just the receiver. Would that difference be translated well to a headphone? Or is that just more info than can be translated per se from just cans?
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:50 PM Post #9 of 13

TheWuss

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Quote:
 
Regarding Blu-ray and high definition sound: Are there any headphones out there that could do justice to 7.1 true high def sound? I am thinking of upgrading my receiver from 5.1 to 7.1, but at this time it wouldn't be the whole speaker system, just the receiver. Would that difference be translated well to a headphone? Or is that just more info than can be translated per se from just cans?



a high quality receiver will down-mix the 5.1 or 7.1 to 2 channel stereo, and output this signal thru the headphone jack. 
but, the mixdown will involve timing and other effects to achieve a surround effect thu phones. 
thus, most all headphones will work fairly well in this capacity.
 
but, headphones with a larger presentation / soundstage will work somewhat better.
 
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 11:30 PM Post #10 of 13

DeadEars

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Hi & welcome to the forum.  I'm a vinyl/analog guy too, although not during the day which is when I do most of my headphone listening.   I assume that you have a stereo system already for listening to your record collection?  So you probably already have an integrated amplifier, or maybe even a preamp/phono stage and a separate amp?  One of the best headphone sources I have used was a Melos tube headphone amp which was also a preamplifier.  I could feed my phono stage into the melos, and then either listen through the headphone output or I could listen via the amp to the speakers.  So you might want to look for a preamp with a good headphone stage.  Note that different headphone amplification circuits are likely to have more or less synergy with different types of headphones.  So if you make an amplification choice first, that will impact on the array of phones that will work best.  Or vice versa.
 
As far as headphones go, I have less to offer.  I'd suggest that you listen to types first to see what you like. So try to go to a meet to hear different types.    Listen to open versus closed designs.  Listen to electrostats vs. dynamic headphones, and planars too if you want to believe the current hype.  After you've heard types that you like, it gets easier to narrow down your choices.  Different manufacturers tend to have somewhat similar "house" sounds too.  So you might find that you really like the Grado sound or the Sennheiser sound or the Beyerdynamic sound, and that too will help you narrow down your choices.
 
I don't think it is silly to "go for the top" as you've outlined.  But there are a lot of "tops" out there.  You should listen to top headphones from a variety of manufacturers.  By all means, you should hear the Sennheiser HD800, and probably the HD650 or HD600 too.  You should hear different Beyerdynamics, not just the T1.  You should listen to the wildly different pofiles found in the top Grado cans.  And try to hear some HE5's or LCD-2's if you're attracted to the planar sound, or Stax if you're attracted to electrostats.
 
I think the WORST thing is to get all caught up in the "impressions" threads without having a base of experience to temper the enthusiasm you hear.  After you've heard some of the major players, and their "top" cans, you should be able to spend your money wisely to get a combination that will be just right for YOU (without caring whether someone else approves of your choices).
 
Hope this helps!
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 11:43 PM Post #11 of 13

TigzStudio

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Quote:
 
I think the WORST thing is to get all caught up in the "impressions" threads without having a base of experience to temper the enthusiasm you hear.  After you've heard some of the major players, and their "top" cans, you should be able to spend your money wisely to get a combination that will be just right for YOU (without caring whether someone else approves of your choices).
 
Hope this helps!

 
"Sound" advice here :)
 
I second this, quickest route to getting to the destination.  Less headache of buying & selling.  
 
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 1:22 AM Post #12 of 13

loghead

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That makes a great deal of sense. I went into this thinking I could ascertain exactly what I wanted based on the descriptions i read, but in the end that decision would be based on what I think I would like rather than what my ears tell me.
 
My budget allows for just about any headphone/amp combo up to about $1300 or so. Though I could stretch that higher if I saved up for a while, that is about the most I think I am willing to invest at this point.
 
Luckily I am not really in a hurry to make a decision. Placing my name on the list for LCD-2s and actually buying them are completely different. I'll keep my options open and I really appreciate any advice that comes my way.
 
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 1:46 AM Post #13 of 13

dallan

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Solid advice above for sure, go to a meet before you drop the dough and see what you like and remember that the amp will effect the cans quite a bit, so look at combos as well.
 

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