Recommend a Starting from Scratch System
Apr 14, 2002 at 4:37 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19

Lin Park

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There was a problem when I first tried to post this so here is what I was trying to ask:

I am trying to put together a decent portable system I can carry with me to and from work (I'm one of those poor souls who commutes into NYC each day). I have a fairly decent home audio setup and am looking for something comparable in a portable package. I would like to get a new PCDP, amp, and headphones and thru my own research came up with these:

AirHead 4.5 volt
Etymotic ER6's
Panasonic SL-CT570

I think I can land this for around $300. Originally, I was looking at the Total AirHead 9 volt and the Etymotic ER4S along with the same PCDP for around $550. Let's assume I'm willing to go as high as $750. What would you guys recommend and why?

My biggest question is about the PCDP - is there anything I should consider that rivals the 570?

Thanx,
Lin
 
Apr 14, 2002 at 6:03 PM Post #2 of 19

x1lexure

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If you are looking for something where you don't need to move around alot the Sony D-25 is supposed to be the greatest out there, However it has no Anti-Skip and LOW battery life...For use with an Amp the 570 is probably the way to go. (Plus it has a longer battery life and Anti-Skip.)

I would also recommend contacting JMT and seeing about him making you an amp for the ER6. His amps are very reasonably priced and sound GREAT. Also remeber that you would need a Mini to Mini to connect your CD Player's line-out to the amp.

(Anyone else want to help him out, I think I have used all of the knowledge alotted to me for today.)
 
Apr 14, 2002 at 9:20 PM Post #3 of 19

scrypt

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About headphones:

ER6s are great. But I have to tell you: the hearing aid in-ear design, coupled with the emphasis on flat (less bassy) response, can put your hearing at risk in a city like NYC, particularly if you want to listen on the subway and in the street. I'd managed to work in this city as a studio musician for over a decade and not have tinitus. Unfortunately, after four months of using ER6s at what I'd thought was a reasonable volume, I can now hear a very high-pitched tone rather like the sound a hard drive makes. True, it's a very faint sound and one I can only hear at night with my earplugs in. Still, it scares the bejasus out of me and I'm now using 888s temporarily (at work; I now use nothing on the subway) until I can figure out what's wrong.

About the amp:

I can swear by JMT's inexpensive headphone amps. Only, if you're commuting with the amp, don't get the mint tin version. Ask him to use a heavy-duty plastic case instead.

Now, about that PCDP:

I was just popping into this store today (to buy the new TDK Music Jack MDs at a better price than anywhere on the web) and happened to see a whole new array of Panasonic PCDPs at the rear counter:

Canal Dav Corp.
324 Canal St. New York, NY 10013
212-343-2415.

Some of them are in great colors one doesn't associate with America (where consumer aesthetics are less rarefied than in Japan)! And at least three of the PCDPs warranted my returning to leer at them next weekend, after which time I'll be able to tell you the model numbers.

Are you interested in having an optical out? It's a must for me, since I like to do transfers without tying up my computer. The three models I'm considering had op-outs and sold for $99-139. Two of them were the super-thin models and all had sweet remotes.

The only model I'd look at aside from a new Panasonic would be the iStream, for obvious reasons: plays mp3s, op out, prototype solidity and wafer thinness.

(BTW, my New York crony: There's a place across the street that has a great deal on Quantegy gold blank CD-Rs: $1.59 per disk. The name: Canal Hi-Fi.)
 
Apr 14, 2002 at 11:36 PM Post #4 of 19

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by x1lexure
If you are looking for something where you don't need to move around alot the Sony D-25 is supposed to be the greatest out there, However it has no Anti-Skip and LOW battery life...For use with an Amp the 570 is probably the way to go. (Plus it has a longer battery life and Anti-Skip.)


Only around these parts
wink.gif
The D-25 is recommended mainly because of its good headphone jack. If you're going to be using the line-out jack, the Optimus 3400 (c. 1993-94) is still widely considered the best PCDP ever.

But unless you're going to use it as a stationary system, I wouldn't buy either any more, to be honest. The differences between my two 3400s and my current Panasonic CLT-570 driven through the line-out via a headphone amp are there, but you have to listen for them. In a portable environment, the more modern features of the 570 (battery life, compressionless-anti-skip, remote, size, etc.) make it a better choice.
 
Apr 14, 2002 at 11:42 PM Post #5 of 19

x1lexure

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With Er6s you should be able to actually turn the volume down and hear more, because of the In Ear design. I beleive this is the first episode of Tinitus with Er6s am I correct?

Also I recommended the 570 for a reason. First of all it has a great line-out, second it has 10 second linear anti-skip meaning it doesn't compress the music IE you will get better music. You can get it at onecall.com for $80.00 without shipping.

Here's what I'm looking to budget for.

Pana 570 PCDP - Mini to Mini wire - JMTs AMP - ER6

(And once I can afford it an ER4S)

$80 (PCDP) + $20 (Wire) + $120 (ER6) + A very reasonably priced AMP from JMT = GREAT Portable system.

This is the setup I would recommend.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 12:12 AM Post #6 of 19

Lin Park

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Wow, that's some great info guys. I had already considered the JMT option and will most likely pursue it. Like I said, I'm pretty open to any options and aren't looking to purchase anything for about a month (it's a birthday present).

Sounds like I'll end up going with this unless any last minute amazing finds pop up:

Panasonic SL-CT570
Etymotic ER4S
Amp by JMT

scrypt, if you do go back and take a closer look, please post your findings so I can include them in my considerations.

Thanx again,
Lin

Edit 1: I'm not too interested in op-out but insist on line-out.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 12:29 AM Post #7 of 19

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by Lin Park
Sounds like I'll end up going with this unless any last minute amazing finds pop up:

Panasonic SL-CT570
Etymotic ER4S
Amp by JMT


My STRONG suggestion: get the ER4P rather than the ER4S. The ER4P can be driven directly from the CDP, but will improve with the amp. In addition, you can eventually buy an inexpensive adapter than turns them into the ER4S.

IMO, with that system, the ER4P will sound better, even through the JMT amp.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 3:21 AM Post #8 of 19

scrypt

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Yes, I did have a tight seal -- both with silicon tips and the foam tip prototypes a rep at Etymotic Research was kind enough to send me.

Lately, I've come to the conclusion that headphones should not be used in loud environments even when they're noise cancelling, isolating, etc.

Quote:

Originally posted by x1lexure
With Er6s you should be able to actually turn the volume down and hear more, because of the In Ear design. I beleive this is the first episode of Tinitus with Er6s am I correct?


Actually, you're not. I know of at least one post by a guy who was selling his Etys because he had terrible Tinitus. Do a search and you'll find it.

Also, In-Ear design is not the issue, but rather what happens if you turn up any headphones in a loud environment -- *let alone* phones that are as far into your ears as ERs and are also tuned flat (which means the bass floor by which some people (OK, I) gauge loudness is missing) -- even more so in a loud crowded bus or an onslaught of subway noise. I hear the difference in lower register between ER6s and 888s, and while ER6s are preferable in an optimal situation, I don't know that they're appropriate in a noisy place. You can try setting the volume in a quiet place and not touching it later, but I've found that's hard to do when running to work and tired. It's too easy to forget and turn them up, and I suspect the Etys' high end makes that dangerous for me.

Tinitus is a serious issue for everyone. I'd rather warn someone and be wrong than say nothing and have someone suffer later. I'm sure you understand.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 6:59 AM Post #9 of 19

scrypt

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Quote:

Originally posted by Lin Park

scrypt, if you do go back and take a closer look, please post your findings so I can include them in my considerations.


Lin:

I'll be going back to look at PCDPs and MD recorders this Friday or Saturday and I'll let you know what I find after I've examined all and pestered the clerk to the point of retail rage. I'll have to pick up more 2001 Music Jack MDs anyway.

--Ypt

PS: Dev will let you listen to equipment before you buy it. I'm thinking I'll bring two CDs (something classical, like Shostakovich's cello concerto, and something old-skool, like Funkjazztical Tricknology) and test the three models in-store.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 2:19 PM Post #10 of 19

BDA_ABAT

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What you describe is exactly the system that I have...

Pana SL CT 570 --> Markertek mini-mini --> JMT CHA-47 --> Ety ER4P --> Fixup adapter cable (to make the ER4P the 4S). My response:
biggrin.gif


Excellent (portable) sound!!!! Frankly, this setup sounds better than my (admittedly modest) home theater setup.

Bruce
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 3:30 PM Post #11 of 19

Lin Park

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I am interested in more information on how the Etys sound based on scrypt's "bass floor" comments. What kind of bass do these headphones have? Are they like a pair of satellite speakers that only go down to 80 Hz? I'm hoping to get something with a little better (not full range obviously, but comparable) response.

Are there any other suggestions for a good set of PORTABLE headphones (i.e. not the Sennheiser 600's)?

Thanx,
Lin

P.S. Roughly, how much are the mini-mini cable and the fixup adapter cable?
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 4:04 PM Post #12 of 19

scrypt

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The issue is not that Etys have insufficient bass. No one on this board is going to agree with that; I can fairly hear readers writhing and bristling in the shadows at the mention of *any* scenario in which Etys are not ideal -- let alone a scenario for which they seem to have been designed.

People are going to tell you that, if you want bass emphasis, you are a dreadful impurist and may seek the Dionysian backwash of megabass elsewhere, and Etys to you are pearls before swine, and that sort of thing. Whereas I feel the bass response of Etys is just fine in all three cases (6, 4s, 4p). I also feel that those who crave extra bass are not Philistines.

My point is that, in a noisy environment, I tend to find my sonic ground by locating the bass. In the rumble and hiss of a subway car, low frequencies in my headphones get absorbed and high frequencies can rip into my hearing undetected because I'm not able to discern that my headphones have grown dangerously loud.

Compared to other earbuds, Etys have superior high end and a flatter low end -- and *that* is why I'm cautioning people to watch it in noisier environments. Your point of reference is not there to tell you you're over compensating, and the thing is way in your ear generating high end which, at a lower volume, would glisten, but at high volumes can leave you hearing that hard drive noise I warned you about -- possibly forever.

I'm not telling anyone to avoid buying Etys or suggesting their low end is less than accurate. I'm just saying that isolating headphones which deliver superior high end *and* are meant to be worn in an airport are perhaps not safe for people who are susceptible to tinitus. It is because 888s aren't quite as good and have a bit more bass that I think they might be safer in a construction yard than the Etys. But then again, I'm reluctant to test my little theory because I don't want that faint hard drive sound (which has been with me for about a week) to get any louder.
 
Apr 15, 2002 at 8:33 PM Post #13 of 19

Lin Park

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Thanks for the clarification - I sort of suspected as much given the price tag of the ER4's and their reputation on this forum. And, I look forward to your follow-up reviews of the new players at Canal Dav Corp.

Lin
 
Apr 16, 2002 at 1:10 PM Post #14 of 19

aeberbach

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Lin, I don't know what a better alternative is but I would definitely not commute with Etymotics. They are ideal at home or on a plane but when you travel around in the city you have to hear what is going on or you will be hit by taxis, delivery guys with handcarts etc. Remember the story about the guy walking in front of a train he couldn't hear? If you haven't tried them out you may not know just how much you will be isolated but it is quite amazing. You must have a good seal to get good sound, and having a good seal means you hear almost nothing else. And ignoring the safety aspect you will find it annoying whenever you have to communicate, because you will have to yank at least one out.
 
Apr 16, 2002 at 4:31 PM Post #15 of 19

scrypt

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Aerbach: I can respect what you're saying, but do you happen to live in New York? Trust me: It's noisier here than almost anywhere else. Even earplugs aren't going remove the sound; when I sleep, I have to use earplugs *and* play _Nuuk_, a Thomas Koner recording made from the sound of slowed-down gongs.

Trust me, I've had a decent seal, read the posts on how to get it, etc., etc., and I've also used the black foam tip prototypes from Etymotic, as well as the flesh-colored ones made by Comply (for hearing aids).

I was exactly four blocks away from the World Trade Center when the second tower fell -- close enough to see the people at the top let go -- and that day was no noisier than any other in the Wall Street area (which is where I work). The only difference was having to weep and flee smoke-filled buildings.

Etys are great, Etys sound superb, hosanna to Etymotic Research, etc., etc. Thing is, Etys are not miraculous.

Also: I find it much easier to use the foam tips in an office space, because taking one out to speak to people is easier there. You don't have to think about the seal and getting it right.

--Ypt
 

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