My Headphone Situation - What to upgrade!!?
Feb 14, 2010 at 6:53 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

ExplosiveDuck

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Hey all - Haven't posted in a while, been busy and content with my setup as it is currently, but after a trip to a relative's house today, who happens to have tons of headphones and amps and DACs and everything, and after listening to his system, I felt like I wanted a little upgrade in the spirit of the passing holiday season.

Anyways, this is my current rig, and I'm looking for suggestions as to what the biggest upgrade will be for my money:

Source: ALAC Files vis Macbook

DAC: Styleaudio Carat-Emerald USB DAC

Headphone Amp
: "Starving Student" Mini Millett Tube Amp

Headphones: Audiotechnica ATH-AD700's

It seems that the best upgrade potential I have right now is a new set of headphones.. I'm looking at the k701's and HD650's as possible upgrades, additions rather, as the AD700's have their own special something, and those two seem to be the best headphones in that price range ($200-$400).

Any help // suggestions would be appreciated, thanks!

-Zack
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 7:09 AM Post #2 of 9

stang

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If you are to get the HD650 or K701, I highly suggest upgrading the rest of your specs too. A good tube amp for the HD650 or SS amp for the K701. Your current amp is good, but you can always go one step further
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Are you sure you want the HD650 or K701? They are completely different from each other and are great with their own genre's. Don't get them just because people rave about them
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You may hate them with the genre's you listen to. Which genre's is it that you listen to exactly?
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 7:40 AM Post #3 of 9

ExplosiveDuck

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Yeah - I would rather not have to upgrade the amp / dac right now, for budget-related issues..

I know the 701s and 650s are very different from one another, and kind of on different ends of the spectrums, haha. I've listened to both of them non-extensively, though I've listened for around 10 hours with the 701's, and they have a great soundstage and very good highs, which I'm always a big fan of. The 650s seemed to get better low end, 701s felt a little empty in the bass department..

Genre-wise, I listen quite equally to music that these headphones are going to handle very differently from one another. I listen to a lot of death metal and heavier / faster music along those lines, and at the same time I listen to a ton of jazz music, but most of it is fast-paced and very drum-heavy and so I really enjoyed listening to that on the 701s, where the 650s handled the heavier end a lot better and smoother.

So it's a tough decision between the two.. And the reasoning for those two being the two I mentioned is that I've listened to them and liked them. (Spent some listening time with around 6 additional $250-$1500 headphones as well)

--

I was under the impression that the Starving Student Mini Millett was strong enough to power the 650s? It powered the 701s just fine when I was listening with those, but I assume the 650s require a little more oomph?

[Edit: Also, I've been recommended to try Grado's for the rock-end of things, and I've only tried one pair of them and wasn't really a fan. I obviously haven't listened to them enough to have a real opinion yet on them, but I wasn't really as into the sound and I didn't like the way they sat on my head/ears. I -do- love the way Grado's look though]

-Zack
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 7:46 AM Post #4 of 9

stang

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I cannot comment on the amp, but yeah, decide if you like the sound of the K701 or HD650 first
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Or just get both
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Roughly $500 for both used haha. Either way, you are going to want a much better DAC and amp to get the most out of them.
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 7:56 AM Post #5 of 9

ExplosiveDuck

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Yeah I'm seriously considering getting both of them, haha. They both do different things so well.

I listened to the HD800s tonight for a while and love them. A little out of the price range though, unfortunately. I also listened to Ultrasone Edition 8's and really enjoy them, they're the most comfortable headphones I've put on my head so far.

But those are dreams for now, hah.

---

Also, if anyone knows about Starving Student being able to drive 701's // 650's please let me know!
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 8:04 AM Post #6 of 9

jawang

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Ignore that post earlier that suggested additional gear, you don't need to upgrade anything if you get new headphones. Your amp and dac are fine, and will continue to be fine for any future headphone.

You need a new DAC if your current DAC's cutoff frequencies (3db dropoff) is within the 20-20000hz range. You need a new amp if your current amp can't provide enough gain, voltage swing, or current to power your headphones.

Your system doesn't suffer from any of those problems, so upgrading source components will offer extremely minor upgrades. If budget is a concern, then don't upgrade anything other than maybe your headphones. A millet SS can drive k1000s to reasonable levels, so I highly doubt you'll have problems with any other headphones
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 8:06 AM Post #7 of 9

stang

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It's all about synergy. Maybe he will prefer one amp's sound signature to another.
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 8:14 AM Post #8 of 9

jawang

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Quote:

Originally Posted by stang /img/forum/go_quote.gif
It's all about synergy. Maybe he will prefer one amp's sound signature to another.


the difference between amp sound signatures is extremely small. an amp isn't supposed to have a sound signature in the first place. it should be as flat as possible in the audible spectrum

if your amp's specs match the power requirements of your headphones, then you are getting 99% of what you need to get from your amp. the millet SS happens to be an extremely powerful amp
 
Feb 14, 2010 at 8:17 AM Post #9 of 9

stang

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Yeah, but some amps synergise better with different headphones and can make the headphones have that little extra detail, bass etc that you have been craving. Also, if using a tube amp, I find that each tube's sound signature varies fairly greatly. Yes, his current system may be good enough for the K701 or HD650, but upgrading is also going to improve upon what he has. But yes, upgrade your headphones first, then worry about upgrading your amp or source if you feel you are missing something or crave something extra.
 

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