Sub $800 desktop setup: reccomendations?
Jun 28, 2008 at 10:41 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

lork

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I'm listening more with headphones than I expected, so I'm thinking upgrade. Don't know headphones, though, so I need suggestions to narrow the field.

Suggestions appreciated from folks who have similar sources/systems. Please note if you do (or if you're just using a soundcard), that way I can calibrate the info.

Thanks for your ideas!

Details:

0. $800 max (ideally $600-ish), including phones and amp.

1. Source: FLAC -> Squeezebox -> Chord DAC64 -> whatever

2. Must compete with sound of above through good pre, amp & Vandersteens

3. I have Beyer Dynamic DT 770's, with above source -> Meyer Corda "Move" (w/wall wart). Sound OK, but bass is a bit overdone on some stuff, built-in USB DAC is insufficient for what I want, and now that I'm listening more I think I'm ready to upgrade.

4. Considering a Benchmark DAC1 (would also be fed by a Squeezebox) or Lavry DA10. Would be nice if things were synergistic with those. I would plug 'phones directly into those DACs (ie, no separate amp).

5. Kind of interested in trying tubes (Little Dot?). Not sure if a cheap amp would interfere if placed between a good source & good phones... or what would be synergistic.

6. Probably limiting my considerations to Senn 650 (or 600?), Grado RS-1s, or AKG701s... not looking to head off into the unknown. Comfort matters a lot, so RS-1 are low on the list, unless I'm wrong.

7. I listen mostly to Grateful Dead, trance, Gotan Project, K&D, various blues, etc. Some, but not tons of classical. A fair amount of vocal stuff (N. Merchant/Cat Stevens/Lyle Lovett). Not much jazz. Moderate volumes- loud listening is done through the main speakers. Bass does matter- just want it accurate, not boosted.

Thanks again.
 
Jun 28, 2008 at 11:47 PM Post #2 of 14

roethlar

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I have a Little Dot MK V and Beyer DT 990 Pros, 250 ohms. It's a nice combo, but I hear Sennheiser HD600s are also good with this amp.

Either way, that should keep you around or under $600 USD.

The Little Dot amp is great. Check Penchum's review in the headphone amps forum.
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 5:51 AM Post #3 of 14

HeadphoneAddict

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I really like my Dark Voice 336i ($300 shipped eBay) with Sylvania VT-231 ($50) and Tung Sol 5998 ($30) plus HD600 ($250 Amazon) and APureSound V3 cable ($200 for a 5 foot).

The whole thing is about $850 shipped, $650 without the cable upgrade, and you might find better prices here - saw a 336i for $275 shipped a couple of days ago, and you might get some HD600 for $225 or so. You can also save almost $200 by buying the cable later or just buying a $25 HD650 cable. I still have this setup as my first home setup last year, even though I have better stuff I still use this.

Welcome to Head-Fi, and sorry about your wallet!
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 6:37 AM Post #4 of 14

malldian

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Right now I am using the DV 336i ($300), Keces 151 ($245 used) and Sextett MP (~$100) and have a tube upgrade coming. Sounds wonderful. Soon I will be getting livewires as portable and sealed listening, moving back to the Beresford DAC and that should complete me setup. I will dream of a RS1/2.
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 6:38 AM Post #5 of 14

monolith

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Quote:

Originally Posted by malldian /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Right now I am using the DV 336i ($300), Keces 151 ($245 used) and Sextett MP (~$100) and have a tube upgrade coming. Sounds wonderful. Soon I will be getting livewires as portable and sealed listening, moving back to the Beresford DAC and that should complete me setup. I will dream of a RS1/2.


Why moving back to the Beresford after the Keces 151?
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 6:53 AM Post #6 of 14

vvanrij

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I would go for like a LD MKIVse, MKV or a Darkvoice 337>?
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 3:49 PM Post #7 of 14

malldian

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Quote:

Originally Posted by monolith /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Why moving back to the Beresford after the Keces 151?


Between the variable input and output and overall sound quality the Beresford is a better unit for me. Once the Beresford comes I am going to do a shootout between the two and will post my results. As far as I remember, the quality increase didn't justify the lesser convenience and increase in quality.
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 4:57 PM Post #8 of 14

G-man

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If you dont mind DIY, may i suggest a Bijou amp, with either a HD650, but not the K701, which many say are lacking in the lower end. I would also suggest, that instead of spending much on a DAC, spend it on amps/headphones. just buy a reasonable DAC, and replace it every3ish years. As a DAC is based on a chip, and chip technology is improving, a DAC worth 1000 could be bought for considerable less later on. Thats my reasoning anyway.
You may also want to consider a Stax setup. I'm sure you can get one for 6/800 dollars.
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 5:41 PM Post #9 of 14

tk3

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RS1 + AMB M³?
I got this combo, and I like it a lot.

I'm jealous of your DAC.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jun 29, 2008 at 9:28 PM Post #10 of 14

Jo-Vo

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Hey,

have you considered a Stax system?

Regards,
Jonas
 
Jun 30, 2008 at 3:56 AM Post #11 of 14

lork

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Thanks for the suggestions!

If the 701s are bass-light, I'll probably try the 600s or 650s (are the 650s definitely better, or is this subjective?)

I was not familiar with the Dark Voice- will check it out (Bijou is more than I'm ready to do right now). Is the DV generally viewed as a step up from the LD (LD version at the same pricepoint), or is that a subjective issue (please: not trying to start an argument- just a quick idea would be great)

Stax... I don't think I'd ever heard of them, but they appear to be electrostatic? I would never do that for speakers (personal preference based on specs), but for headphones I am intrigued... Do they take special amplification/what's recommended for them? Are they comfortable for long listening? A quick pros/cons of Stax vs Senn would be much appreciated. Again... just for my edification- not to start a flame war. Also, price limit is $800... is that enough really to play in the Stax zone?

Anyway, I will do some homework searching the threads re: these items, but if you have opinions, I'd appreciate them.

Thanks!

PS: As to the DAC- yes, old ones are cheaper, and I tend to buy them used. However, my experience so far is that I would rather have a good DAC through Koss headphones than a mediocre DAC through my DT 770s. But that's just my take- I've tried to "go back" to a lesser DAC (Corda Move) for the office, and, well... that's where this thread started
smily_headphones1.gif
(PS: the Corda is a nice unit- this is not a diss. Note the price difference between it & the current limit).
 
Jun 30, 2008 at 5:40 AM Post #12 of 14

Fungi

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I second the rec for an M^3 amp, it's DIY and the price can vary, but it leaves a good amount for headphones. Personally I'd say the HD600 because it's a great reference and great out of the M^3. HD650s are known to be picky about amplification, and I haven't heard of anyone comparing the HD600/650 through an M^3.
About the Stax, YES $800 is enough. A SR-Lambda and SRD-7 combo goes for around $350 nowadays and that leaves over $400 for a speaker amp if you want to use it up.
 
Jun 30, 2008 at 6:20 AM Post #13 of 14

panda

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if you like vandies, i'd say get an ASL MG Head OTL (w/ mullard tubes) and Sennheiser HD600. it's going to give you that thick rich sound you're used to with nice hearty vocals.
 
Jun 30, 2008 at 8:09 PM Post #14 of 14

HeadphoneAddict

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Quote:

Originally Posted by panda /img/forum/go_quote.gif
if you like vandies, i'd say get an ASL MG Head OTL (w/ mullard tubes) and Sennheiser HD600. it's going to give you that thick rich sound you're used to with nice hearty vocals.


There are a few respected head-fiers who have said the DV336i is better than the ASL MG Head OTL - might have been skylab, or plaidplatyus, I forget. I for one am impressed with such a low price amp's sound as the DV336i. I suppose it doesn't count, since I haven't heard any other tube headphone amps except TTVJ Millett Hybrid, WA6 and Zana Deux.
 

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