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Thread: Headphones and Amps and DACs... Oh My!

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    Headphones and Amps and DACs... Oh My!

    Thought perhaps we could use a thread for discussion of headphones, amplifiers, DACs, and all other audiophile thingamajigs. Please be respectful; no one is better than anyone else!

    I have quite a selection, but I usually use my "Quick & Easy" setup:

    Lenovo ThinkPad >
    foobar2000 (lossless) >
    AudioQuest Cinnamon USB cable (Mini to Standard) >
    iBasso D7 Sidewinder DAC/Amp >
    Sennheiser HD600 (w/ thicker cable upgrade)

    So how about you guys? Headphones or speakers? Open or closed headphones? Preamps? Portable or Desktop setup? Tube or solid state amps? Do you like Little Dot, Schiit, something else?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm also taking recommendations for desktop DACs around the $500 mark...

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    Win 8 -> Zune Desktop Software -> Firewire Cable -> M-Audio ProjectMix IO -> Sennheiser 595s or Yamaha MSP7s.

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    Here's my setup:

    MacBook Pro >> iTunes (Lossless) >> Apogee Duet 2 >> Schiit Valhalla >> Sennheiser HD650

    I've been happy with my setup and how it sounds, though I'm thinking of getting new headphones with a bit clearer sound than the HD650's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ax Mr. L View Post
    Here's my setup:

    MacBook Pro >> iTunes (Lossless) >> Apogee Duet 2 >> Schiit Valhalla >> Sennheiser HD650

    I've been happy with my setup and how it sounds, though I'm thinking of getting new headphones with a bit clearer sound than the HD650's.
    Very nice! I was looking at the Valhalla but couldn't justify buying since I already own a Little Dot MKIII. I'm sure the Valhalla is better, just would rather spend my money elsewhere for now. No idea how I ended up with 4 stand-alone amps and 0 stand-alone DACs... I'll likely end up buying either a V-DACII or a Bifrost (w/ USB upgrade).

    The headphones are a whole different story. I have yet to find anything over or under the price of the Sennheiser HD600's that my ears agree with. I think I personally prefer the 595's over the 650's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Very nice! I was looking at the Valhalla but couldn't justify buying since I already own a Little Dot MKIII. I'm sure the Valhalla is better, just would rather spend my money elsewhere for now. No idea how I ended up with 4 stand-alone amps and 0 stand-alone DACs... I'll likely end up buying either a V-DACII or a Bifrost (w/ USB upgrade).

    The headphones are a whole different story. I have yet to find anything over or under the price of the Sennheiser HD600's that my ears agree with. I think I personally prefer the 595's over the 650's.
    Valhalla is a great amp for its price, the quality-price ratio is great, though I'm sure Little Dot MKIII is great too. I've heard good things of it and it was my other choice for headphone amp when I bought the valhalla. As for the DAC:s I've heard good things about the Bifrost.

    Haven't heard the HD600's, but they are more brighter than HD650 I presume? HD595 are nice headphones too (I upgraded from 595 to 650), but I prefer the sound of the 650.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ax Mr. L View Post
    Valhalla is a great amp for its price, the quality-price ratio is great, though I'm sure Little Dot MKIII is great too. I've heard good things of it and it was my other choice for headphone amp when I bought the valhalla. As for the DAC:s I've heard good things about the Bifrost.

    Haven't heard the HD600's, but they are more brighter than HD650 I presume? HD595 are nice headphones too (I upgraded from 595 to 650), but I prefer the sound of the 650.
    I've always heard the 600's referred to as more "neutral" than the 650's. I can't personally hear too much difference between the two, with the exception of the 600's having a higher top-end. The major complaint of the 600's is that they are not bassy enough. For me, it's about perfect. I listen to a huge amount of jazz, and the snare stands out perfectly without any bassy bloating on the 600's. I'm able to hear every nuance and difference in the way the drums are hit.

    One of the songs I use when testing out headphones/amps/dacs is "My Favorite Things" by John Coltrane. There is so much going on "in the background" with the snare and piano. This gives me a good idea of the capabilities for the equipment I'm testing.

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    Studio beats by dre. better sounding than everyone of your setups. i know because i am a dj

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    Totally kidding, I have a pretty easy setup i usually use. Imac-->itunes-->m-audio usb interface---> and either sennheiser 120 ii, sennheiser 595's or my m-audio av 40 monitors. Can anyone give me a recommendation for a decent headphone amp under $200?

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    I've seen some great discussions on headphones around here, but does anyone have views on what they'd recommend in terms of headsets? You know, with an attached mic.

    The choice out there, as with headphones, is a bit bewildering, and I'm having a hard time choosing mine. If anyone could help me I'd be very grateful.
    Main criteria: under 100, great sound quality for music, 5.1 surround or greater, super comfortable (and ideally doesn't squeeze glasses into your cranium). I'd go for the Sony MDR7506 I've seen discussed on ETS lately, but I do really need that attached mic for gaming.

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    Getting some headphones and I am thinking about getting these


    http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-Hea...rds=sennheiser


    Also I am really ignorant on what kind of AMP to get. I want to be able to hook it up to a mac book air if that's possible .Any suggestions would be awesome

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rdm View Post
    Getting some headphones and I am thinking about getting these


    http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-Hea...rds=sennheiser


    Also I am really ignorant on what kind of AMP to get. I want to be able to hook it up to a mac book air if that's possible .Any suggestions would be awesome
    I have these headphones and they are great. I don't have an amp but they are good enough without for now.

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    Next payday I'm getting an Audioengine D1 DAC/amp and either Sennheiser 598 or AKG Q701. I really like the 598s but I've heard awesome things about the Q701s so I'm going to audition them this weekend and see how they go. Might try a few other DAC/amp combos but the D1 sounds awesome and for $140 I don't think I'll find anything better. Plus the AKG Q701s look SUPER sexy

    Last edited by ibanez33; 02-20-2014 at 05:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon View Post
    Thought perhaps we could use a thread for discussion of headphones, amplifiers, DACs, and all other audiophile thingamajigs. Please be respectful; no one is better than anyone else!

    I have quite a selection, but I usually use my "Quick & Easy" setup:

    Lenovo ThinkPad >
    foobar2000 (lossless) >
    AudioQuest Cinnamon USB cable (Mini to Standard) >
    iBasso D7 Sidewinder DAC/Amp >
    Sennheiser HD600 (w/ thicker cable upgrade)
    I'm interested to know how important this USB cable step is?

    Not trolling - am genuinely interested if people think it makes a difference.

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    The Dac in Sandisk Sansa PMPs is great. Only 16/44 but above average in the non-apple pmp market. The Sansa fuze was an awesome player. The fuze+ sucks. I'm upset by how expensive the original fuzes go for now.

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    I thought that Sades and SleepPhones by AcousticSheep would be worth a mention here. I'll post the URLs to SleepPhones first.

    http://www.sleepphones.com/

    https://www.facebook.com/SleepPhones

    https://twitter.com/sleepphones

    http://www.youtube.com/user/SleepPhones

    And here are the sites for Sades.

    http://sades.us/

    http://www.sades.cc/index.html

    http://www.sades.cc/

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    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro > Schiit Magni and Modi (optical model) > Win 7 with Foobar2000.

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    Quote Originally Posted by virushopper View Post
    Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro > Schiit Magni and Modi (optical model) > Win 7 with Foobar2000.
    Did you get the 990s from NCIX? They had them for $220 last week... If only it wasn't right before pay day

    I've been looking for new cans for a while and everything I listen to just sounds better and better and I keep thinking "okay well if I wait another month I can get THESE...". I'm pretty sure this is just going to go on for another year and I'll end up with some Audeze LDC3's or something insane like that.

    Currently, I'm running my Mac into the Audioengine D1 DAC/amp and from that into Audioegine A2 speakers and Sennheiser HD228HD419 headphones. At this very moment I have The Fragile playing through the headphones as hard as this little amp can push them, just to see what they can handle, and my god does it ever sound good. I'm not sure if it's the amp or the headphones but the sweet spot seems to be around 60-70% volume. On bassier songs like Into The Void you can feel the earcups vibrating against your head even at 50% volume.

    For what it's worth, I know this is super bad for my hearing. I've never done this before and I don't plan on doing it again, just wanted to see how far I could push these $30 headphones, and they held up wayyy better than I anticipated.
    Last edited by ibanez33; 03-17-2015 at 03:59 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibanez33 View Post
    Did you get the 990s from NCIX? They had them for $220 last week... If only it wasn't right before pay day
    No, I got them from Massdrop for $180. Crazy, I know.

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    WHAT! Damn, and I thought $220 was a steal... I gotta set Massdrop to my homepage or something, I keep missing out on the best deals. Were they the 250 or 600 ohm version?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibanez33 View Post
    WHAT! Damn, and I thought $220 was a steal... I gotta set Massdrop to my homepage or something, I keep missing out on the best deals. Were they the 250 or 600 ohm version?
    I know, I couldn't believe it too. 250 OHM Pro is the one I have. Massdrop sometimes have great deals on headphones, always check it regularily. When you see it, buy it! Don't hesitate.

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    Mac users, what do you use for playing FLAC files? I've been using VOX for a bit but I don't really care for it much. It's not bad but I'd like something more akin to iTunes or Foobar2000 in terms of UI, being able to change the sorting in different ways and display the album art and show some statistics like last played, play count, etc. App control would cool to have as well but not necessary at all, I only ever use the Remote app for iTunes before and after I sleep so I can turn my music on or off without getting out of bed because I'm lazy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibanez33 View Post
    Did you get the 990s from NCIX? They had them for $220 last week... If only it wasn't right before pay day

    I've been looking for new cans for a while and everything I listen to just sounds better and better and I keep thinking "okay well if I wait another month I can get THESE...". I'm pretty sure this is just going to go on for another year and I'll end up with some Audeze LDC3's or something insane like that.

    Currently, I'm running my Mac into the Audioengine D1 DAC/amp and from that into Audioegine A2 speakers and Sennheiser HD228 headphones. At this very moment I have The Fragile playing through the headphones as hard as this little amp can push them, just to see what they can handle, and my god does it ever sound good. I'm not sure if it's the amp or the headphones but the sweet spot seems to be around 60-70% volume. On bassier songs like Into The Void you can feel the earcups vibrating against your head even at 50% volume.

    For what it's worth, I know this is super bad for my hearing. I've never done this before and I don't plan on doing it again, just wanted to see how far I could push these $30 headphones, and they held up wayyy better than I anticipated.
    $220 is about the "regular" price you'll pay for the 990 250's at this current time. Sweetwater has them right now for $229.99.

    You know what you really want to do is save money for years and go the Stax/electrostatic route.

    I have several "portable" type DAC/amps, and 60-70% seems to be about the sweet spot. That's where I keep the volume myself for several of my Sennheisers. If you want to get a little more accurate, I use about 55-65%.

    (Edit): I listen to a lot of jazz and anything higher than that, the horns become way too strident.
    Last edited by Aywok; 10-27-2014 at 03:44 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aywok View Post
    $220 is about the "regular" price you'll pay for the 990 250's at this current time. Sweetwater has them right now for $229.99.
    HAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAhahaha... they normally go for like $400 in Canada.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibanez33 View Post
    HAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAhahaha... they normally go for like $400 in Canada.
    Great Scott! That's $355 US! I have the 600's, and they are a beautiful set of cans. Both the 250's and 600's have excellent soundstage, with that "wide" sound you'd expect from open cans.

    Not sure if you have any preference, but some consider the 990's to be warmer headphones. I've found them awesome for my tastes, especially on bassier things like Welcome Oblivion. And they don't shake your freaking ears, like you mentioned a few posts above. I use my son's Beats every once in awhile, so I know exactly what you meant.

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    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...d_p=1977199402

    Going on Sale on Amazon's Black Friday sale at 11/21 6:00 pm EST.


    Don't miss out!

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    Just bought a pair of these bad boys, after months of debating and financial decision making:



    Can't fucking wait for them to come in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ibanez33 View Post
    Just bought a pair of these bad boys, after months of debating and financial decision making:



    Can't fucking wait for them to come in.
    Welcome to the club man! You won't go back to crap headphones after this.

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    Got 'em this morning, I'm in love. Everything just sounds perfect. The only problem that I have is that I'm now already looking at getting them a better amp :P The Schiit Magni 2 Uber is looking pretty damn fine right now...
    Last edited by ibanez33; 03-16-2015 at 05:29 PM.

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    Currently rocking this setup:
    Really old thinkpad running Windows 7 and foobar2000 or Google Play Music All Access > Monoprice Desktop Amp/DAC > AKG K7XX.
    Considering getting a Schiit stack.

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    Quote Originally Posted by binaryhermit View Post
    AKG K7XX.
    I was pretty bummed when I found out I missed that drop, might spring for it if they do it again. Also considering getting a Schiit stack but I don't know anywhere I can try the Modi/Magni combo, the only Schiit dealer around carries pretty much everything except those two and the Ragnarok (which I would fucking love to try). I've also considered using my D1 purely as a DAC running it into a Bottlehead Crack because it's the same price as a M/M stack and is apparently just fucking insanely good. If it ever hits Massdrop it'll be on my desk like white on rice.

    The D1 works really well with the DT990 but there's really no end-game for me here, there's always that yearning feeling to upgrade. Thank god I get to play around with all kinds of A/V shit at work or I'd be broke as fuck trying to bring it all home with me.
    Last edited by ibanez33; 03-17-2015 at 03:57 AM.

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