Picking over ear headphones and DACs
Oct 27, 2019 at 8:56 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


New Head-Fier
Dec 1, 2018

This will probably be a long post and I'm new at this so bear with me.

For the last year or so listened mostly to an LG G7 (with the internal Sabre DAC) paired with a FiiO FH1 and thought the quality was way better compared to random low grade headphones with the PC onboard soundcard. However, my crap headphones died a week ago and kinda went on a buying spree (I have an ok audio store close by).

What I bought so far:

Headphones: Sennheiser HD 569 (x2, one for my wife), Audio Tehnica ATH-M50x and Audio Tehnica ATH-MSR7
DACs: FiiO K3, Audioengine D3 and Cambridge Audio - DacMagic XS (for my wife).

My wife is very happy with her setup (picked the HD 569 because they are very comfy combined with pretty good sound) and not really interested in more or about the subject in general.

Some context: I listen from a Spotify Premium account and created a Tidal HiFi trial which I will probably keep although the difference is not huge. At least for now I won't bother with separate music files. I mostly listen to rock, alternative and some brit pop (Pink Floyd, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, REM, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Tom Petty, Radiohead, Suede, Morrissey, Depeche Mode, for a few examples) but I will probably expand in the near future.

About the headphones, I like the MSR7 (150E was the price) best and I want to keep it, think the Sennheiser HD 569 (105 E) are pretty good and the sound is somewhat different (feels like more space, more distinct highs and flatter bass compared to MSR7). I'm pretty sure I'm gonna return the M50x (120E) as they sound pretty similar with the MSR7, a bit more powerful bass but noticeably worse all around. Also more expensive than the Sennheisers.

The store I intend to buy from has a decent collection of Sennheiser, ATH, Meze, Audeze (way outside my intended price range) so I'll focus on these as I intend to buy locally.

Now a few questions;

1. Since I'll use at least 2 pair of headphones/DACs, one at home and one at work and the ATH-MSR7b is priced at 180E, are they worth buying so I'll have these and the MSR7? Considering returning the Sennheiser HD 569 and buying those instead. Or maybe it's better to stick with the HD 569 for the different sound signature?

2. As an alternative, Sennheiser HD 599 (open back) have the exact same price as MSR7 (150E) and at home I could probably use them. Is it a big enough difference compared to closed backs? I could even buy it as an extra. Or would I be better off returning all except MSR7 and going for something higher end like Sennheiser HD 600 (285E) or ATH-AD900X (250E).

3. Am I missing anything regarding M50x or they are somewhat overpriced here and I would be totally OK returning them? I really want to like them as they somewhat iconic, I really like the looks and the extra bass is nice but I'm hard pressed to find a good reason for keeping the as the MSR7 are only a bit over 25E more and for me they sound way better. Also, the HD 569 are 15E cheaper and they seem to sound better.

4. At what point (see my HD 600/AD900X example) will the DACs I bought will start to drag the setup down and an upgrade would be warranted?

5. Of the 3 DACs above I cannot really tell the difference with all my trying although the price varies greatly: 55 Euros for the DacMagic XS, 75E for the D3 and 110E for the FiiO. What I noticed is that K3's max volume without gain activated is way lower compared to D3 and DacMagic XS and even with gain there'a noticeable difference. Are these 3 so similar that I would be better off returning the FiiO, buying another DacMagic XS and investing the difference in better headphones?

6. How far down the rabbit hole could one go before the diminishing returns really kick in? Considering Tidal as a source and a somewhat untrained ear, would an 1000E DAC/headphones system be a huge upgrade compared to the price? I'm doing OK money wise and what I bought above were just a moderate effort but don't really want to dig too deep. I know it's subjective but could use opinions.

7. Any general advice for someone new at this would be more that welcome!

Thank you in advance and sorry for the long post!
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread