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Need help from experts and true audiophiles!

  1. ultramabi
    Hello guys I wouldn't really consider myself an expert or a true audiophile because I only listened to music on a MP3 player with my old ath m50s and now I am in search of new headphones/portable amp or audio setup because my old ath m50s broke. I decided to buy the ath m50xs (not the old m50s) because it was on sale so that way I still have those headphones ready, but I want to have a good audio setup that an audiophile or expert would recommend.

    Honestly I could just get the beats pro but I want some audiophile recommended headphones and an audio setup that's not too shabby while also looking stylish as well. I was thinking about getting the akg k872s but I'm not sure if it's worth the money and they're kinda expensive. Since I am a noob to audio and with portable dacs/amps, can somebody recommend me a good setup for the akg headphones if I do get it? I do not even know how to connect a dac or portable amp since I never used one before. Also are portable amps better than regular amps?

    Are these headphones worth getting for $200?


    If not what headphones would you recommend for $250 or less and what exactly do you look for in headphones? Is it just the impedance level?

    My budget is around $700 or more.

    Also what's the difference between a preamplifier and an amplifier? I heard this would be a good option to get, micca Origen+ due to the price.

    I was thinking about getting that,or the oppo ha2se and some vmoda m100s but I think that the akgk7xx's would do the trick, for the headphones part that is. How do you compare dacs/ and amps? Tell me your thoughts.

    Sorry for the long post, I am looking for answers.

    Edit: I think I might get the audioquest nightowl carbons. If anybody recommends something else please do tell.
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  2. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    If you can spend on an amp, the K7XX isn't a bad choice.

    DAC - Digital to Analogue Converter. 1100010010001011100011 signal goes in, a line level electrical signal comes out.

    Amp - Amplifier; takes the line level signal and amplifies it into a stronger signal that can move a transducer like a headphone or speaker.

    Preamp - In most basic terms, it's the part of a circuit or a separate unit that controls the system output level.

    Note that all speaker amps designated as "integrated amps" or "receivers," as well as headphone amps, have a built in preamp circuit controlling the volume. What only some have is a preamp output to connect to a power amp for speakers, including the power amp built into powered monitors. Some have a DAC, HPamp/speaker amp, and preamp output in one device, like the NuForce Icon HDP (Headphone amplifier, DAC, Preamp).

    If you don't need the imaging capabilities of those AKGs you can get any of the following (and some for a lot less than that):

    Philips SHP9500
    Grado SR225

    Alternately you can just save up and get the HiFiMan HE400S - easier to drive than the AKG, as long as what you plug it into doesn't have a very high output impedance. I probably won't use it with most soundcards but some external soundcards won't be a problem, like the Creative E5.

    A balance between

    1. An acceptably smooth and wide response curve

    2. Acceptable imaging capabilities

    3. High enough sensitivity/efficiency so I won't need an amp with a gigantic power supply

    4. Not too low impedance, but preferably not higher than 300ohms either

    If you're getting the K7XX you should probably get the Schiit Modi2 and Vali2. If you're using this with a gaming PC get the Modi2 Uber, that way you can use your motherboard's DSP chip via SPDIF; if that doesn't have features you need, you can use a soundcard and hook it up also through SPDIF.

    If this isn't a gaming rig you can go with the HE400S and use the Schiit Fulla2.

    1. High enough output power in current (low impedance output in mW) and voltage (high impedance output in mW). Figure at least 250mW at 300ohms and at least 500mW at 32ohms for a wide enough variety of headphones out there (these output levels are already more than enough).

    2. Low output impedance. High output impedance can alter the response of the headphone.

    3. Low noise and distortion.
  3. ultramabi
    Wow, thank you so much for answering!
  4. ultramabi
    Edit: I'm thinking about actually getting those he400s but I have another question, is it better to get a separate amp/dac or a portable amp/dac combo? You mentioned the e5 by creative blaster but how does that compare with the vamp verza?
    I'm thinking about just getting the vamp verza (by vmoda) if it's worth the price.
  5. serman005
    The beauty of the HE400S is that they do not require an amp. You can play them straight from a phone or a DAP with no problem whatsoever. No amp needed.
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Portables for the same money can't match the current and voltage output of a wall-powered amplifier, and then there's the battery wearing out eventually.

    For the HE400S you don't need a lot of power and if you're perpetually plugged in anyway, portables that can have charging disabled while plugged in will help prolong battery life, as long as you don't let it drain to zero or near zero before enabling charging again.

    If you don't need something that fits like the Vamp Verza or something with a DSP processor like the E5 you can just get the Ibasso D-Zero MkII, or spend half the price of that on the Fiio Q1.

    Not for more power, but sometimes you'd need an amp for lower noise and lower output impedance. It'd be more accurate to say that the HE400S doesn't need a lot of power than outright no need for separate amps.
  7. serman005
    Thank you. So, this brings up a practical issue and that is how do we accurately recommend for people purchasing an HE400S whether and if they are likely to need an amp to optimize a given setup (that is, whether they are going to need to lower their amp noise and/or output impedance)?
  8. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Yes. It's highly likely that in many cases where there is an audible difference in using the HE400S with some devices it's just masked by ambient noise, but the users don't crank it up far enough to really get bad and obvious distortion and electronic noise just to get past the ambient noise.

    Like I said, it isn't so much that it can totally do without an amp, it's just that it won't need a monster amp. Even a Fiio Q1 would have a lot of power to get it to ear splitting output levels without distortion, although I'd still suggest that over the K1 for example if the source is a smartphone (ie, USB power issues - if the source is a fullsize computer this is a lot less of a problem).

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