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Eli35
585
Feb 16, 2018
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Okay I read some of your comments @AK770, and there's some info I'd like to share with you & the world: - a DAC processes a digital signal to generate an analog one, like a CD player or your PC when reading audio files. An amp takes an analog signal and amplifies it, giving it more voltage and current (power = voltage x current, basic Ohm's law). Most "decent" DACs produce a clean uncolored sound, so as long as you pick a well-known model you'll be good to go and I'll work with any amp. It's in the amp where the big sonic differences can be heard, because they usually add some coloration and affect a lot to the final sound. - The amount of voltage and current an amp has to output depends on the headphones' impedance, and every amp has different capabilities. Typically, solid state amps are capable of providing much more current than voltage, thus output more power when driving low impedance headphones. On the other hand, tube amps, specially OTL, are much capable of generating voltage than current, that's why they output more power under higher impedance loads. Hybrid amps are nothing more than a solid state amp with a tube preamp attached, so power-wise they're about the same than a fully solid state amp. - what determines how much power headphones will need to be heard at a reasonable volume is the sensitivity, not the impedance, but solid state amps provide more power under low impedance loads, so expect lower power output the higher the headphones' impedance. This power calculator can be helpful: http://www.digizoid.com/headphones-power.html. - for low-impedance high-sensitivity budget IEMs (like your Klipsch) you don't need a dedicated amp, they're easy enough to drive and unless your PC/laptop audio chipset sucks you won't notice much of a difference. - moving up to not-so-easy to drive full size headphones, like the Fostex T40RP, the amp makes much more sense. I own the Massdrop x Fostex T-X0 (a slightly modified version of the T50RP MKII) and they need some serious power, much more than my HD6XX. - unless you plan to buy some seriously power hungry headphones, like the T50RP, - your headphones' choice depends a lot on the kind of music you hear and your personal preferences. There's no "best headphone" because everyone hears differently. Some very well-known "staples" are the HD600 or HD650/6XX (HD600 neutral, HD650 musical, warm, bass rich) for almost everything (specially rock), AKG K701/K7XX/K702 (huge soundstage, great detail but lacking bass impact) for classical/instrumental (Superlux HD668b, a AKG K240 clone, are amazing for the price and will work great with classical too), Audio Technica ATH-M50x and Beyerdynamic DT770 (v-shaped sound, budget all-rounders) for hip-hop and EDM (they sound ok with almost anything, but great with bass heavy genres). - like @RojasTKD said, I suggest you to get the T50RP MKIII over the T40RP. And I said the MKIII because MKII sounds worse (stock, without mods). But both models have a mid-centric dark and analytical sound, they do not sound "good" to most people ears, and they require some modding to sound really good. If you're looking for some musical sounding headphones with good isolation, I suggest you to check some well known closed-back headphones like Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7, or Beyerdynamic DT 770 (250 ohm if planning to buy an amp, 32 or 80 ohm if not). - I suggest you to don't stretch your budget too much, specially when buying your first headphones, for a simple reason: you'll want to have more than one pair, specially if you listen to a different range of music on different environments. An example: for relaxed classical music listening at home, you might look for open-back bright headphones, something like AKG K7XX (or Superlux HD668b if you're on a tight budget); for rock listening while working at the office, closed-back headphones like the ATH-MSR7 (or M50x on a budget) will work wonders. - If you really wanna get isolated from the noise at work, maybe you should check for some Noise Cancelling (NC) headphones. I know almost nothing on the subject, but I heard the Sennheiser Momentum over-ear have a great sound and there's a noise cancelling wireless version. I listened to some cheap Sony's at a local store recently, and they sounded bad but the noise cancelling was amazing, it almost blew my mind when I couldn't hear people talking around me without any music playing on background. Most IEMs also isolate very good, it's a different experience but for the same price of an average full size headphone you can get some seriously good IEMs.
Oh man, I think I wrote too much, but still could write for a looong time... Sorry? Hahaha
Feb 16, 2018
Eli35
585
Feb 16, 2018
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@AK770 for closed-back budget headphones, this thread might interest you: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/3287/100-8-closed-back-headphone-shoot-out
"So in conclusion, overall the best headphone was the ATH M40X, how ever the best sounding headphone was indeed the Massdrop x E-MU Purpleheart! The only reason it didn't win overall was the some what paltry build quality, while it's a lot lighter than the M40X it's also not as robust."
Feb 16, 2018
AK770
22
Feb 16, 2018
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For me, you can't write too much, lol. This was GREAT! I know there is much to learn (and money to spend) but it does seem I'm at least looking in the right places (Massdrop, Head-Fi etc.) and speaking to the right kind of people. I've seen the above headphones mentioned often enough on various places to believe they are good "starting points" and references should I later decide to upgrade.
I am wondering, based on the various comments here, if the idea of simply getting an amp first is to be able to first hear/sense the difference in sound simply from having it amplified vs also converting the signal to something cleaner. Thoughts?
Feb 16, 2018
Eli35
585
Feb 16, 2018
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I'm glad to help! Yeah, I think you're looking in the right places. And yes, most of the headphones listed above are good "references" that will work great as starting points, and while eventually you'll look for something different/better you won't regret buying them (if you know what you're buying). Don't be one of these fools that buys a HD6XX and sells it straight after because "they have no bass, dull sound, boring, low volume from smartphone and laptop, my $20 Sony/Philips headphones sound better".
I won't recommend first getting an amp, unless you already have (or will have really soon) at least one headphones that really benefit from proper amplification. Otherwise, you're just wasting money, because it won't make a big difference in sound and you'll do better buying better headphones with the money you spent on the amp. So, first of all, buy some good headphones. Ideally, you'll figure out your desired headphones based on your preferences and the kind of music you listen the most, forgetting about if they need amplification; once you know what will your first headphones be, if they're not easy to drive, buy a proper amp for them.
If you're 100% sure you wanna get into the audiophile world, I'd suggest you to save at least $250 (plus your headphones budget), so you can buy dedicated source (like a DAC, or a CD player, or a turntable, or...) and amp. Why? Because later on you'll probably want to upgrade your setup, and having discrete DAC and amp allows you to upgrade one without having to replace the another. A less risky approach is buy a cheap DAC/amp combo (like the Schiit Fulla 2, Audioquest Dragonfly or Hifime Sabre 9018) and use it later as a DAC; this won't be as good as a dedicated DAC, but It'll be better than the typical headphone/line out that you can find on most devices like PCs or smartphones.
To sum thing up, let's finish with a case study. Based on the opinions and reviews, you decided that the HD6XX are good for you. Since the HD6XX have high impedance, and knowing that your actual sources (let's say an average laptop and smartphone) won't deliver enough power under such load, you have to buy an amp: you can go easy and buy a DAC/amp combo, which will be close to the "full package" but cheaper, or go big and buy separate DAC and amp (usually called "stack" because they're usually meant to be placed one on top of the other, like a Schiit Modi 2 DAC & Magni 3 amp on top). The decision is yours, but if you can afford it, the stack will eventually prove worthwile when you decide to upgrade the DAC or amp.
I started with a DAC/amp combo, the Hifime Sabre 9018, later bought a Little Dot I+ hybrid amp with some upgrade tubes, and finally a Topping D30 DAC. This is my actual stack, and works great with almost anything: from low-impedance low-sensitivity planars like my T-X0 to high-impedance high-sensitivity HD6XX. For IEMs I prefer the Sabre, because it has absolutely zero background noise or hiss and has more than enough power to drive most of them, but for the rest the stack is way better. Actually it's been like three months since last time I used the Sabre, because when I listen IEMs on-the-go I plug them straight to my phone and it sounds ok and has just enought power with most of them (S7). But I'm not you, so YMMV.
Wow, long post again hahaha. I should start a blog or something! Well, good luck and feel free to ask anything else. I hope my experience is useful for you, and helps you build a good starting setup :)
Feb 16, 2018
fhood
694
Feb 16, 2018
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I second this. Another reason to start with a discrete (not amplified) DAC is that most computers have absolutely awful built in DACs. And I mean really awful. There are a few exceptions, for instance most Apple products have pretty good DACs out of the box, but most of the time, if you are listening from a computer, a reputable DAC can make a huge difference.
Feb 16, 2018
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