Next Step?
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jopi

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Dear fellow headphone geeks,

Please help me out with suggestion about my next purchase.

Disclaimer:
Please, all my comments down below are subjective to my ears. Nothing of this should be taken as a review or as the truth. This is what I hear with my ears and my system. There should be no discussion about the Etymotics having too much bass, etc. Maybe they don’t, but I hear it that way and that’s all I care about.

My musical preferences are mostly classical, some acoustical jazz and a little bit of rock here and then. I’ve got a decent vinyl setup (Clearaudio Champion table, Rega arm, Benz glider, Phonomena phono stage) and I’ve just bought a Sony SACD player (lowest end to see what’s it all about, SCD-CE775).
Currently I’m using AKG501 and Etymotic 4P headphones with my Headroom Little amp (no power upgrade, but the new version with the beefed up wall wart) on analog and digital.

SACD sounds alright, but doesn’t beat most of my vinyl and software is still limited so I’ll stick with analog for now for serious listening. My plan is to use the Little with digital in my bedroom and use a new amp with my vinyl rig. I’m looking for a better amp or amp/headphone combination for my analog rig.

Here’s what I can say about the stuff I’m currently using to give you an idea of what I like and dislike:
I prefer the AKGs to the Etymotics. One thing is comfort, but I truly enjoy the rich soundstage of the AKGs. The Etymotics have sometimes too much detail (especially for the low-end Sony player, but also my turntable isn’t probably up to the task all the time). To my ears, the Etymotic 4P also has too much bass, I should probably try the 4P-->4S cable. I really like the politeness of the AKGs with orchestral music. The music just floats around your head with little resistance. I usually buy tickets for classical concerts on the upper ranks and the AKG reproduce this feeling so well. Close your eyes and you can see down on the orchestra!
I like the Little’s crossfeed feature, but don’t consider it a necessity. Most classical recordings do a fine job without it, but some of the jazz might be a problem without crossfeed. I always turn on the brightness filter when using crossfeed.

I play acoustic instruments myself and consider tonality and soundstage the two most important aspects of listening to music. I hate ear candy, so don't recommend something does a terrific job on female voices or strings or whatever. I'm looking for something that gives you the right balance.

I don’t care much about technology behind the music. Solid state, tube, electrostatics, whatever works, works. My budget is whatever makes sense. I wouldn’t even balk at going with a $3,000 Stax, if that would go along well with the rest of my system. On the other hand, if the consensus is to stick with what I’ve got and upgrade my turntable, that’s fine, too. I don’t have to spend the money, if it doesn’t make sense.

I haven’t heard any other heaphones or amps in my life, but intend to see the Headroom show in L.A. next month. I really like to focus on the amps/headphones I’m consider purchasing so what do you guys recommend listening to at the show? What amp/headphone combination should I consider that are not at the road show? I’ve been on this forum quite a while now and I’m familiar with most amps and headphones. I guess strong contenders are, the Max, MicroZotl, Earmax Pro, Sugden Headmaster with either my AKG 501s or new Sennheiser HD600s. What about Stax or AKG1000 with a power amp?

Thanks again for your help, this forum is great!
 
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post-144396
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MacDEF

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jopi, given your description of the clarity/tone you prefer, I doubt you'll find another headphone that betters your K 501, except perhaps the K 1000 (based on reports I've read of the latter). I've owned the K 501, and owned or auditioned many other headphones, and I have yet to hear another headphone that fits your preferences better.

That said, it looks like an amp upgrade is the best option for you. The K 501 do get better -- much better -- as the quantity and quality of amplification increases. You mentioned that you like crossfeed -- I find it to be a necessity for much classical and jazz. When you go to the HeadRoom tour stop, I'd give the Maxed Out Home a try. Hopefully that's within your upgrade budget


Also, have you heard SACD through a good player? Especially given that you like jazz and classical, I think you'll find the selection of titles to be pretty good and getting better...
 
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andrzejpw

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well, he says he's considering the max!
 
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daycart1

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Jopi, I recently got a turntable and I had strongly considered the Clearaudio Champion L.2 Good as the Ety's are, I doubt that they are outclassing your champion/glider/phonomena. But with your budget, it would be hard to resist upgrading to the beautiful Champion L.2.

I hope to meet you at the LA stop of the headroom tour. I'm curious about the akg 1000s myself.
 
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