Upgrade debate: source vs. cans
Jul 15, 2007 at 7:47 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 49


500+ Head-Fier
Dec 23, 2006
Hey heres my friends setup:
mostly FLAC with foobar -> emu0202 -> SOHA -> dt880s
He has some money (around 800) to spend to upgrade on his setup. Is his source good enough do you think to spend all on new cans, like RS-1s, GS-1000s (or other suggestions?), or should he get a better DAC and/or amp first. Which upgrade would make the biggest improvement sonically. I understand this is a very subjective question. He listens to all kinds of music, but mostly all different types of rock.

Any recommendations are appreciated
Jul 15, 2007 at 8:05 AM Post #2 of 49
I would recommend some new cans... if you can afford it, why not go with the GS-1000? Your buddy will never look back, and certainly will never wonder: what if?
Jul 15, 2007 at 8:33 AM Post #3 of 49
finally got my posts to work. i mainly listen to classical and rock. going in to this next price range will make a huge differnece in sound???
Jul 15, 2007 at 10:50 AM Post #4 of 49
I'd get a CD player or a DAC. DT880 is a great headphone, it's just a matter of utilizing that potential by using better components in the system chain.

Of course, you could buy yourself a pair of GS1000 or RS1 (or any other higher-end can for that matter), but I doubt you could use them to their fullest without a better source.

As for next pricerange, sure, the difference would be significant, but I wonder what you would get he most enjoyment out of. Knowing that your DT880 are at their best (with a better source / amp) or knowing that your GS1000 dosen't sound anything like what they could.

It's all up to you. You can't go wrong with RS1 for rock.

Oh, and a small question. Is there something about your Beyers you don't like that motivates this upgrade or is it just a craving of better sound?
Jul 15, 2007 at 11:08 AM Post #5 of 49
Having built several SOHA's, I can tell you that they are not a top-tier amp - far from it. There are also a bad choice for pairing with a DT880, IMHO. The SOHA's bass is bloated and with the opamp output stage, detail is lacking and the strength needed to push through any impact or slam. The sound you are experiencing right now with that audio train is woefully under-utilized. (Don't get me wrong - I like the SOHA, but maybe for KSC75's or a cheap Grado - assuming the output resistors are a high enough value.)

A basic Millett Hybrid with/DB's is superior. Even a good PIMETA would be a better choice in this instance. However, with the amount of money you are suggesting, you could easily upgrade to an Alien DAC (MASantos has them in a Head-Fi Sponsored Thread for a little over $100). That would ensure a reasonable upgrade in source, then leave the rest for an appropriate amp. As for an amp, almost any desktop arrangement from Mister X would be a good choice - PPAV2, CKKIII, M3, etc.

You might even consider a Millett MAX. Boards are shipping and there may be some available for sale soon. They are a very economical build, so you might find/commission one at a reasonable price.

Without an amp possessing a powerful discrete output stage, you are missing the kind of bass slam and transient dynamic detail that your headphones can provide.
Jul 15, 2007 at 11:27 AM Post #6 of 49
^^ Awesome avatar

In my opinion, Emu makes some pretty good DACs for the money, full of ass-kickery. Get the headphones first. Its the funnest choicel.

Also, I would upgrade amps before source in this case.
Jul 15, 2007 at 11:29 AM Post #7 of 49
The title of this thread instantly got me hooked on the idea of a return in the form of either headphone or source as the function of current headphone and source. WOw.
Jul 15, 2007 at 11:40 AM Post #8 of 49

Originally Posted by SR-71Panorama /img/forum/go_quote.gif
^^ Awesome avatar

In my opinion, Emu makes some pretty good DACs for the money, full of ass-kickery. Get the headphones first. Its the funnest choicel.

Also, I would upgrade amps before source in this case.

Funny? Sure. Worthwhile investment? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Source and amplifier should take priority in this case because as tomb pointed out, the SOHA is not an amp that should be concidered "reference class".

Get a Gilmore Lite + powersupply or a similarly priced (and similar quality) amplifier and a CD player or DAC. I'm sure they would benefit you alot more than a new set of high-end cans for your currently quite average rig.

Worth to mention also is that GS1000 is one of the most expensive dynamic headphones in production today. You shouldn't concider them unless you have the money to go all-out.
Jul 15, 2007 at 5:10 PM Post #9 of 49
Thanks for the relpys. It sounds like the amp should be the first thing to upgrade. If he was to spend around 400 on a new amp, then maybe the rest on (hopefully) a new rs2. Is this a reasonable idea or would the DAC be a weak link in that rig?
Jul 15, 2007 at 5:14 PM Post #10 of 49
If you have the option to get a top of the line Grado, do it. You wont need all that much to drive it, and it is amazing. Mindless, thats why you got one on the way. Come on now.
Jul 15, 2007 at 5:46 PM Post #11 of 49
My two cents in a nutshell:

Quick fix (short range fix on a tight budget): the best headphones you can get (the Denon D2000, I would guess, for modest-to-no amplification);

The fix with a future: a first-rate amp AND a first-rate DAC (and forget about the word "source"

Jul 15, 2007 at 7:42 PM Post #12 of 49
Changing the headphone gives the biggest difference. If I were your friend, I would go for the GS-1000 first to see if it's "his" sound. If that's the case, then invest in a good DAC first, and then get a nice tube amp next. (Although in his case, the DAC in the 202 isn't too bad, so I would aim for a nice tube first, and then get the DAC).

Of course a bad amp would not do the headphone justice. However, a bad amp would not make a good headphone sound horrible. Only a defective amp can do that.
Jul 15, 2007 at 8:09 PM Post #14 of 49
No need to get CD (that's 90's stuff, lossless on computer is as good or better
) and you already have a good DAC. So.. definitely look for new phones, or see if you like a tube amp (you'll get distortion but many consider it pleasant distortion).

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