Need A Complete System...with only $300
Apr 1, 2006 at 8:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

stewgriff

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The title says it-I'd like to upgrade from my HD-497's, connected to an old Sony 1000-ESD amp and a 5G iPod (which I love), but I'm only able to spend $300 until I hunt for work in the summer. I mostly listen to 192 BR Mp3's, and I don't see myself as having enough money, or the right golden ears, to become a true audiophile...
I see two main options, and I want to know any suggestions and exactly how much better this will be over my current setup:

1) Better soundcard (AV-710?) -> cheap amp (PA2v2, CMOY?) -> low-impedance, entry hifi headphones somewhat punchier than HD 497, but still all-purpose...maybe MS1, HD 555, K501?

2) I could just scrap the audiophilia (what a nasty word) and go with an IEM for both home and portable use...
iPod -> E4C, SF 5 Pro, or ER-4P (can't get the E500, and it'd only be too revealing)

For music, I listen to a spattering of R&B/soul, jazz, and classical in roughly equal amounts, with all other genres popping up from time to time.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 8:07 PM Post #2 of 22

kramer5150

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Quote:

Originally Posted by stewgriff
The title says it-I'd like to upgrade from my HD-497's, connected to an old Sony 1000-ESD amp and a 5G iPod (which I love), but I'm only able to spend $300 until I hunt for work in the summer. I mostly listen to 192 BR Mp3's, and I don't see myself as having enough money, or the right golden ears, to become a true audiophile...
I see two main options, and I want to know any suggestions and exactly how much better this will be over my current setup:

1) Better soundcard (AV-710?) -> cheap amp (PA2v2, CMOY?) -> low-impedance, entry hifi headphones somewhat punchier than HD 497, but still all-purpose...maybe MS1, HD 555, K501?

2) I could just scrap the audiophilia (what a nasty word) and go with an IEM for both home and portable use...
iPod -> E4C, SF 5 Pro, or ER-4P (can't get the E500, and it'd only be too revealing)

For music, I listen to a spattering of R&B/soul, jazz, and classical in roughly equal amounts, with all other genres popping up from time to time.




IMHO IEMs should not be a consideration in a cost conscious system unless MAX isolation is one of the priorities.

HD580 / MS1 /K240s + AC/DC powered pimeta should land you right around $250. Add a KSC75 for portable use.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 8:46 PM Post #3 of 22

sgrossklass

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I'd scratch the K501 - that one needs a fairly beefy amp, besides it's not a bass king. PA2V2 + HD555 would make a fairly good combo, though I guess the PIMETA/HD580 one would be noticeably better still. Source wise, the AV-710 is hard to beat at the price, but if some more money should be remaining, a Revo 5.1 would be yet better (look out for good deals on the 0404, too).
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 10:45 PM Post #5 of 22

stewgriff

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Thanks for the replies. I found a [translated French] comparison of the HD 555 and HD 497 (with 192 MP3's, like my music), and here's an excerpt:

The sound. Certain differences are found in a test but not in another...With my ears, the sound of Hd-497 is almost as good as that of Hd-555, for a price twice the less... only thing which returns systematically in favour of Hd-555 is the impact , especially in the low ones, in which Hd-555 excels. More power, sometimes much more, while keeping a clearness and a remarkable definition... Except these two aspects (impact and heat), the quality of the sound which leaves the two helmets is very close. It is especially the case with regard to the voices, I draw my hat in Hd-497 which holds head in Hd-555 in this register... [flame suit on] It is on obsessed Head-Fi.org site will say to you that there is a "world" of difference between these two helmets, but me with my ears of Mr. All-the-World, I am not also categorical. In the same way, I made the 200 hours of grinding as prescribed, but honestly, if I were to make a test with the blind man avant/après grinding...

CNET rated the HD 497 higher than the HD 555 (7.8, 7.3), also. I'm assuming that a properly amped HD 580 or SR-225 will be a much higher jump than from 497 to 555; would I be correct?

Or should I just abandon getting a new system? After all, I don't find 128 BR MP3's to sound bad and have quite a lot of them, although I find 192 BR files to sound noticeably clearer and richer.

Also, what IEM would give me the same sound quality and impact of the HD-497's? If I run into extra money, I'd be glad to upgrade my E2C's...
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 11:11 PM Post #6 of 22

skyline889

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mrarroyo
Used is the way to go:

-Senn HD580: $120 or Grado SR-225: $150
-Xin Supermini: $150 or PAV2: $60 (if going with Grado's)

Good luck.



That HD580 needs a hefty amp to drive it, a cmoy or a PA2V2 won't deliver it's full potential. If you can't hear much difference between the HD555 and the HD497 it might be worth it to just stick to your HD497s as you will be saving a large chunk of cash. Oh BTW never listen to CNET's advise on headphones, look at their reviews on the Bose Triport and QC2 for my reasoning.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 11:30 PM Post #7 of 22

sgrossklass

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Well, I've heard HD497s (and given to my dad later), and never was very fond of them. Basically they are fairly laid-back in the upper mids and lower highs but have a pretty nasty peak in the upper mids, making for a very weird sonic signature in my ears. Soundstage is very narrow (hardly any better than on the oldschool probably free-field EQ'd HD420SL), and the sound just doesn't feel open, it might as well come from closed cans. They do have good bass (if not, it's your source) and are easily driven by portables, but that's about it. I found comfort to be a bit awkward, too, and the looks, well... I'd much rather use the old HD420SL than these, the oldie cans get the mids right at least.
Anyway, a HD555 should be a fairly big step up (also look out for good deals on refurb'd HD590s around the $100 mark - not everyone's cup of tea sonically, but still a bit better technically with somewhat deeper-reaching bass and a wider soundstage), even though it may not have the amount of bass you're looking for; a HD580 would be yet better. And the '580 with its 300 ohms is not necessarily the more difficult candidate to amp, just different (you can get away with an unbuffered amp more easily, though some more voltage swing and thus also operating voltage will be needed).

Oh, and forget CNET for reviews of audio components.

Here's the frequency responses of HD497, HD555 and HD580 compared, btw:
http://graphs.headphone.com/graphCom...are+Headphones
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 11:31 PM Post #8 of 22

Borat

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Stick with the 5G iPod as your source for home and away, it's as good if not better than the Chaintech in my opinion. So the source is covered.

Now you have to decide between splitting up the budget between a headphone and portable amp or buying a $300 headphone/IEM that can be driven from the iPod.

My suggestion is...

HD580 from jr.com ($149 free shipping) + HeadRoom 2006 Total Airhead ($149 free shipping) = $298

I think the little extra for the HD580 is worth it over the HD555. And what's cool about the Airhead is that you have the high and low gain switch so that you can drive high impedance cans like the HD580 and the low gain switch will allow you to use your Shure E2C IEM's and when you upgrade those in the future to Shure E4, UE Super.fi, etc. Also the ability to plug it into the wall with the optional power supply so you don't waste AAA batteries. The Airhead is also built around the hot new Analog Devices AD8397 op-amp, which is being utilized in new portable amps from Xin, tangent, and the M^3 team. Read more about it from Tyll here.

You can also wait and look for used components as well. But I think the combo above should be pretty good for $300. You will also want to purchase this to connect the Airhead to your iPod. So I'm like $20 over the budget after all is said and done.
icon10.gif
But it's worth it to go through the iPod line out.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 11:42 PM Post #9 of 22

Eisenhower

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Id also look at the hd595, although the hd580 might be better amped.
Also, grab a pair of ksc-75's, I have a pair of both the hd595 and ksc75, together they cover tons of ground.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 12:07 AM Post #11 of 22

mrarroyo

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Quote:

Originally Posted by skyline889
That HD580 needs a hefty amp to drive it, a cmoy or a PA2V2 won't deliver it's full potential. If you can't hear much difference between the HD555 and the HD497 it might be worth it to just stick to your HD497s as you will be saving a large chunk of cash. Oh BTW never listen to CNET's advise on headphones, look at their reviews on the Bose Triport and QC2 for my reasoning.


In my post I matched the HD580 with the Xin Supermini III. The Grado with either the PAV2 or the Supermini III would be fine.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 12:16 AM Post #12 of 22

mektarus

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kramer5150
IMHO IEMs should not be a consideration in a cost conscious system unless MAX isolation is one of the priorities.

HD580 / MS1 /K240s + AC/DC powered pimeta should land you right around $250. Add a KSC75 for portable use.



What he said.
icon10.gif
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 5:05 PM Post #13 of 22

stewgriff

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I'm now looking between an HD 580 and HD 555 ($160, $120 w/ free shipping). Which headphone is punchier, and which one will sound better out of a cheap CMOY or other amp under $100?

On another note, my parents told me to wait two weeks to think audiophilia over, and encouraged me to sell my Klipsch 2.1 that I haven't used in months. What would be a fair price? $75?
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 5:10 PM Post #14 of 22

kramer5150

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Quote:

Originally Posted by stewgriff
I'm now looking between an HD 580 and HD 555 ($160, $120 w/ free shipping). Which headphone is punchier, and which one will sound better out of a cheap CMOY or other amp under $100?

On another note, my parents told me to wait two weeks to think audiophilia over, and encouraged me to sell my Klipsch 2.1 that I haven't used in months. What would be a fair price? $75?



Ive never heard the 555, but REALLY like my HD580.

Amp with a pimeta with an AD823, run it with a 24V elpac and youve got a stellar setup.

I DONT like my 580 with my 18V cmoys... mushy and devoid of transients. Maybe Ive got the wrong OP amps in there, but thats my personal experience.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 8:46 PM Post #15 of 22

SonicDawg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kramer5150
Ive never heard the 555, but REALLY like my HD580.

Amp with a pimeta with an AD823, run it with a 24V elpac and youve got a stellar setup.

I DONT like my 580 with my 18V cmoys... mushy and devoid of transients. Maybe Ive got the wrong OP amps in there, but thats my personal experience.



Sorry to chime in like this, but didn't you use to like the cmoy combo?
580smile.gif
 

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