If you were buying your first set from what you know now what would you buy or do differently?

I’m starting this off this way because i want actual discussion and insite not just hey these are better buy these. Saying that I built my first PC this past summer mainly for casual gaming and well just because I wanted to build something lol. Anyways I’ve been using Astro’s for years on my ps4 and now the PC so I really have no idea what sound I’m “looking for” because I’ve never tasted anything real as far as quality sound. I really want to start exploring this new world of sound and experimenting with different things and want to know where you would start knowing what you know now. I have about 4 to 5 hundred to play with give or take and need some direction. I have my degree in electronics and though my career path has taken me in a somewhat different direction I would like to start playing with amps and even building one for fun eventually. Any input, advice, questions are welcome.

Jan 2, 2019
Too many choices Trippy... If I did it again,, I would still keep DSD, native wherever possible, as an option. Which I did, and it paid, but I would have explored R-2R sooner, if I knew it led to life-live-real. Tubes,,, well I like to be fooled, I guess, into thinking I'm listening to a live performance,, so I'm keeping my tubes. For cans, unless you want a collection, jump higher, you will save money in the end... A game set could be; Focal/MD Elex for dynamic, Audeze EL-8 open (discontinued so ebay) for planars and the new Sennheiser collaboration with MD for electrostatics, if it comes to fruition. $635.54 path to SQ, mobile & home, you need to supply music: Multi-use, USB/BT DAC, amp. $99 https://www.amazon.com/EarStudio-ES100-24bit-High-Resolution-Bluetooth-Unbalanced/dp/B078H4YD2L?ref_=bl_dp_s_web_17926000011 Line out from ES100 to; or you will always wonder; what is this tube nonsense? $199 https://www.amazon.com/Gemtune-APPJ-PA1502A-headphone-amplifier/dp/B00X5EB7QY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1546460299&sr=8-2&keywords=appj+headphone Upgrade Tubes. Offer $70 https://www.ebay.com/itm/CBS-6V6-GT-NOS-MATCH-PAIR-1950s-5E3-ORIGINAL-BADBOY-RAUNCHY-OVERDRIVE/323585753737?hash=item4b5736c289:g:9m0AAOSwKGpa53Rg:rk:41:pf:0 $77.44 https://www.ebay.com/itm/e80cc-Mullard-Gold-pin-made-in-Holland-NOS-well-balanced-7-5-7-5/192724558383?hash=item2cdf47622f:g:ElUAAOSwhnlb7SnZ:rk:34:pf:0 Upgrade Two Caps $34.00 https://www.etsy.com/listing/637173521/047-uf-mundorf-m-cap-supreme-capacitors?gpla=1&gao=1&&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_c-electronics_and_accessories-audio-other&utm_custom1=8d709ac1-dd3e-4225-808c-94328b5d5163&utm_content=go_304502075_22746065555_78727299515_pla-106549160675_c__637173521&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1dT0g_7P3wIVE1cMCh2Z7wdUEAQYBSABEgLL-_D_BwE Upgrade Two Caps $7.10 https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/elna-america/RFS-25V102MJ8-5/604-1059-ND/970220 Listen with (modded): $149 https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-sennheiser-hd-58x-jubilee-headphones Simple, home setup - better SQ, you still supply the music: Just get the all-in-one, no messing around - add a tube amp later - I'm getting a ladder DAC now, R2R 11 DAC and headphone amp from Audio-gd; $370 @ 7.5% off if still in effect, plus paypal, plus shipping. My final total was $370.50 shipped to USA East Coast. This unit delivers well above it's price point. Listened to this one again last night paired with EL-8's, nice... http://www.audio-gd.com/R2R/R2R11/R2R11EN.htm With the HD58x you are at ~$519 https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-sennheiser-hd-58x-jubilee-headphones

Jan 2, 2019
Transducer (headphone/speaker) > Amp >= DAC. Headphones make the biggest difference in percieved sound. I recoomend spending most (around half) of your budget on those. The remaining half can be split evenly between the DAC and the amp. This will give you a good starting point. Amps make the 2nd most noticeable difference, but not as much as headphones. Some headphones are more revealing of different amps than others. A bad amp/geadphone pairing can be unlistenable. DACs make a bigger difference the more endgame and revealing your headphone/amp becomes. Some headphone/amp pairings can mask the differences between DACs, making distinguishing them very difficult. At endgame, source is king, and budget for every component in the system can vary wildly. If possible try different headphones at a local hifi store and see if you can form your own impressions to go alongside reviews. Remember, there is no correct way to start out. We all started from somewhere.
Dec 30, 2018
Depending on the motherboard you have in your PC, you may not need to worry about buying a DAC, but honestly at this point it's more cost effective to buy a quality combined unit, since you need optical input to work with the PS4. If you budget around $200 for a DAC/Amp, that leaves you with enough for a wide selection of quality headphones. Since you're using them for gaming you need to look at what you play, if it's mostly adventure/action games you want a wide sound stage and good low end extension, if you play FPS games imaging and separation are king. I'll never stop recommending the Fidelio X2 for casual gaming, good extension, great sound stage, easy to power, and the kings of comfort for long gaming sessions. Now for half that price you can get the HD58X here on Massdrop, which has amazing imaging, but a smaller sound stage and less comfort for extended wear. Neither option requires an amp to get loud, but the 58X really doesn't live up to its potential without one. Another option, if you care about blocking outside noise is the DT770 PRO 250ohm, they definitely need an amp, and are not well suited for FPS gaming. For FPS type games the ATH-WS1100iS are a solid choice for closed backs, despite their name they have excellent separation and balanced bass response, no amp required.
Dec 30, 2018
This year will make it 21 years since I built my first PC so welcome to the club! lol My gateway to good headphones was an Asus Xonar Essence STX and a pair of Sennheiser HD598s. I wanted something I could use for both music and ( PC ) gaming. I was good with that combo for almost 4 years before I noticed the HD600 had dropped in price quite a bit and decided to take a chance. I haven't looked back. I still use my HD598s daily and they're about ready for their 3rd set of replacement pads. They're my go to for gaming or just general computer use because they're so comfortable and sound so good. For music I go with other options but as a starter headphone you could do way worse than the 598 or better yet the newer 599 which has been revised a bit for better bass. You don't 'need' an amp/DAC to drive them but they will benefit.
$400 to $500 is a nice budget to work with. You need to buy a DAC and amp. The DAC cleans up your audio signal and the amplifier does exactly what it's named for, it amplifies the sound. Then it's all about choosing a headphone. There's open back, and closed back. Watching some YouTube videos to learn about the differences might help. If you want some recommendations about DACs, amps, and headphones. Just ask