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I purchased Massdrop’s x Sennheiser PC37X Gaming Headset which I am using for gaming and also double for general movie, and some music listening mostly from my PC. It has a great sound and I am very happy with this phone. I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of headphones, but do value quality for the value paid, and not into brand name/nor top of the line stuff.
I am wondering what kind of improved quality listening is there with Sennheiser HD 6XX and/or the Fostex TH-X00. I have read comments and a lot comes down to sound preference, i.e. warmth, base, etc. and the 6XX type is the standard that all phones are compared or measured from and the Fostex are a step up further, both requiring appropriate DAC and Amp to get the full benefit from these audiophile phones. I don’t have direct access to these phones to test so I am looking for some opinions on this with some logical reasoning behind your suggestions.
My question is, in my situation having the PC37X phones, is it worth having a second pair on top for what will probably end up being about $700 + CDN more. I don’t have an issue with the wait for the 6XX or spending an extra 200 for the Fostex, but is one, the other, or both really worthy to spend the extra money on. Does anyone here have the PC37X and 6XX/Fostex phones and/or is an experienced audiophile that can clearly recommend/guide me on this?
Audiophiles will give you varying opinions that won't really matter to you, audio is a subjective thing and what appeals to me may not appeal to you. I've heard the PC37X on a mate's gaming rig and the HD650 on a powerful Senn amp while I was travelling for business, I liked it a lot which is why I joined this drop. Yeah there's a huge improvement with the HD650 but mate's gaming rig also wasn't built for audio fidelity.
For my personal audio journey, I started my path going for the neutral and clear sound, and each time I upgraded I could hear a new layer of detail. But these days I just find neutral boring and my preferences have started to lean towards warm and smooth. So if you're anything like me then the Fostex is probably the better buy for now - I've never heard one but they would be more neutral and transparent than the HD6XX.
A few weeks/months/years down the track and you might want something different, welcome to the audiophile journey and the never ending upgrades / holes in your wallet :)
Thanks for your feedback, nice to hear your audiophile experience , perspective, and suggestion to go with the Fostex. It makes sense the way you explain it, to go in a neutral and clear sound direction before jumping into varied sound flavors.
With a specific DAC, AMP, and maybe also a equalizer will affect the sound characteristics.
''holes in your wallet'' lmao. hahahhahaahaha.
I'm pretty sure the Fostex has a U-shaped signature, which would probably sound much less neutral than the 6XX. I have the EM-U teaks, which have the same drivers as the Th-X00 and find them to be very warm and bassy. The teaks are even tweaked to a more neutral signature than the Fostex. While I haven't heard the 6XX (just joined with this drop) and I would highly recommend the EM-U/Fostex, if you want the more transparent of the two I would bet on it being the 6XX. I also started my collection with neutral sounding headphones and know that the Th-X00 drivers are very distinctly colored.
If you want to start building a full bufget setup for the 6XX I'd recommend this post on Super Best Audio Friends:
It specifies every component the sound travels through from the audio software to your ears, but if you just get the amp and dac and (make sure you have the right cables to connect everything), you'll pay about $700. The nice thing about starting like this is that you can upgrade to nicer headphones and have everything you need to drive them.
In any case, I would recommend getting headphones>amp>DAC, and then figuring out whether you think USB converters and special cables are worth it.
Thanks, as I've stated I've never heard the th-x00 so I'll defer to your best judgement :)
However I'd like to add that, in many situations, a V shaped frequency response can sound more neutral than the HD6XX. In a V shaped response, you have a boosted treble that offsets the warm bass. And assuming the mids aren't too recessed (which I assume isn't on the X00?), it can easily sound neutral-ish. The HD6XX are voiced to a boosted bass and recessed treble, they are far from neutral and commonly referred to as a dark sounding headphone.
Vali 2 is a good entry level amp for the HD6XX, you can certainly do better with more power on the Valhalla, and better with the Lyr with the adaptive class A output and you can go beyond a Lyr but I think we are starting to move off-topic ;)
I'd stick with the Modi DAC for the HD6XX because they pair well with virtually any DAC, but if the OP ever wants to travel further on their audiophile journey, then perhaps a bigger initial investment would be a wiser choice. I wouldn't recommend anything from the Schiit range if we weren't talking about dark and warm sounding headphones.
Interesting, I often saw the sound of the 650 compared with the K7XX, so I assumed it would be a more neutral than it may perhaps be. Unfortunately I won't be able to judge the difference between the Senns and the EM-Us for a few months, but I'll be happy if they sound more colored than I was expecting.
As a side note to the OP, my favorite neutral headphones (if you want to go that route) for $200 are the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7s. They drive easily from any source (so you save money on an amp) and sound good with any type of music, and they are incredibly detailed and transparent for the price. They also have a noise cancelling version available and will EQ very nicely. Transitioning from a gaming headset to something neutral may not be easy though because gaming headsets often try to sound punchy and exciting while neutral phones are cold and flat.
Hey, thanks for your link and feedback. I ended up going for the drop and now will look into DAC and Amp...
I am considering the
- Crack 1.1 OTL Headphone Amplifier Kit with Speedball for $422 us, probably the Modi 2 Multibit for another $249 totaling 672 or maybe the
- Jotunheim (which you can get an integrated DAC) for about $500 us
Recommendations? other options...
I know I will still need to consider us to cdn, taxes, shipping and of course cables.
Are these two options a good direction for both future proofing with possible other phones and quality, or is this overkill and should I be looking at something a little less like the Magin 2 (obviously will not sound as great)?
Before flador responds, let me just quickly chime in if you don't mind :)
Crack with Speedball is a great amp, I wouldn't have picked an OTL for the HD6XX as first choice but I still think they'll sound great! OTL would also lock you out of low impedance headphones in the future if you ever feel like getting say, the Fostex.
I never recommend the Modi, but they will be ok with the HD6XX. This DAC does not sound good at all if you've got a reasonably neutral headphone, it's not great for future proofing. Though it might be OK with your OTL amp.
Jotunheim, if you're going to use this, make sure you use the balanced output only, it will sound much better on the HD6XX, this also means you'll need to fork out extra for compatible balanced cables. Again, the DAC section leaves much to be desired, but you're in a better situation for future proofing as the Jotunheim will let you use an external DAC at least.
Don't even consider downgrading to the Magni. More power is always a good thing.
I actually don't have much experience with tube amps, so I would defer to Jackula for that, and I also agree with them about the Jotunheim. The only tube amp I own is the Garage1217 Project Sunrise III, but it actually sounds fantastic with my EM-Us despite being an OTL amp, maybe due to the adjustable output impedance. I hear it also pairs well with the 6XX, which is actually what I bought it for, but I have no idea how it sounds compared to the Crack.
I use a Modi MB and have 0 issues with it, but you can get the Bifrost MB which has basically the same internals but with a linear power supply and their new Gen-5 USB built in so you won't have to worry about using a SPDIF converter or USB decrapifier. Personally I think amps have a much more noticeable effect on sound than DACs, so the Modi MB might be all you need for quite a while.
Thanks for both responses J and F.
I am pretty confident now to go with the Jot and the 2 channel DAC module.
Price, power, quality, and flexibility all in one can not be ignored here and as you mentioned J, I will need to get some balanced cables which is also going to be an improvement with the HD6xx's and I can still use it with any other phones I want to use with it later on.
I can always get a better DAC later if needed and look at an OTL at a later time if I want.
Thanks a bunch guys for all of your expertise, advice, and experienced conversations, much appreciated.
Now just have to wait till Dec/Jan to get the phones!
I could be wrong, but reading the specs the Sunrise is a tube pre with solid state power. The supported tube is a 6N23, this is a pre-amp tube that adds voltage & gain only. This also explains why it can support low impedance headphones because the power delivery stage is completely solid state. OTL is a bit misleading, as most SS amps are OTL.