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In search of advice on first pair of headphones


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Hello everyone, I'm in need of some advice and feel everyone is telling me something different when I visit a local shop. I tested some Sennheiser 650s today and was blown away with the overall sound but not with the soundstage. I went to a second shop and tested some headphones and the stage was a lot more apparent in some BOs but the quality was no where need the sennheisers. The gentleman I was speaking with immediately stated that the sennheisers were outdated and showed me headphones that I didn't believe sounded nearly as nice. I believe the one brand was named Rando out of Brooklynn. Overall I'm looking for something of nice quality to bring my music to the next level as well as use them for gaming occasionally. When I put those sennheisers on it felt like the band was playing right in front of me which I thought was really special. Now I'm not sure if that's because they were plugged into a $1000 amp or the headphones were that good. My budget is around $600 all in with the amp and dac. Any recommendations for headsets and amps and dacs that compliment them would be greatly appreciated! My budget is slightly flexible depending if you think it's truly worth it. Thank you in advance!

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Hello everyone, I'm in need of some advice and feel everyone is telling me something different when I visit a local shop. I tested some Sennheiser 650s today and was blown away with the overall sound but not with the soundstage. I went to a second shop and tested some headphones and the stage was a lot more apparent in some BOs but the quality was no where need the sennheisers. The gentleman I was speaking with immediately stated that the sennheisers were outdated and showed me headphones that I didn't believe sounded nearly as nice. I believe the one brand was named Rando out of Brooklynn. Overall I'm looking for something of nice quality to bring my music to the next level as well as use them for gaming occasionally. When I put those sennheisers on it felt like the band was playing right in front of me which I thought was really special. Now I'm not sure if that's because they were plugged into a $1000 amp or the headphones were that good. My budget is around $600 all in with the amp and dac. Any recommendations for headsets and amps and dacs that compliment them would be greatly appreciated! My budget is slightly flexible depending if you think it's truly worth it. Thank you in advance!

 

The Sennheiser HD600 should be better because it wasn't made 'dark' purposely like the HD650. Another open headphone in the same class is the AKG K712. A similar sound quality in a closed headphone is the AKG K553. Try the DragonFly Red or Black as a DAC plus amp, since they are very spacious sounding, and not expensive.

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There are so many brands of headphones, DAC's, and headphone amps on the market now that the choices are bewildering. The Sennheiser design has been out for years, and proven very popular. I have the HD 600. Enthusiasts are split between that and the slightly more expensive HD 650. The HD 600 is designed for a flat reproduction of music. The HD 650 pumps up the bass slightly, and some prefer that for rock, etc. See the graph below (click the image to enlarge it).

 

graphCompare.php.pngFor me, the Sennheisers are a little heavy to wear for extended periods, but I have not had the opportunity to try the myriad of brands that are available, I got a good deal on a new pair on ebay, and am generally satisfied with them.

 

The amp/DAC does affect the sound greatly. I am not a fan of the USB-dongle type DAC's like the Dragonfly, unless you are planning to do a lot of traveling with a laptop. Your USB port may not have enough juice to even boot it reliably. I bought a Schiit Fulla, and it is a piece of junk. I guess you get what you pay for, it was only $80. There are plenty of reasonably priced desktop headphone amp/DAC's, or you could go with separates. The bigger Schiit products are well-liked.

 

I bought a Parasound zDac. Parasound is considered by some to be a "mid-fi" line, but I think their products are a good value. I bought a new-old-stock Parasound zDac v1, also on ebay, for under $300. I chose it because the designer said it was "voiced" for the Sennheiser HD 600. It has a big, toroidal power supply, a very good DAC chip (although it only goes to 24/96 PCM on USB, 24/196 on coax or optical, no DSD), and plenty of power to drive the 300Ω Sennheisers.

The v2 updated version is slightly more expensive. They added a variable gain control on the line out from the DAC/preamp, and a bit more power to the headphone amp.

I keep mine powered up 24/7. It never gets hot, and it has a very black background and good soundstage. So, I got the headphones and DAC/amp for under $600 new, and I've used them for a couple of years with no issues.

 

A lot of people like tube headphone amps. They are exotic, and good ones have very holographic imaging, but they have limitations. They take a while to warm up, you can't leave them on for extended periods, and they sometimes suffer from hiss, background hash, and microphonic tubes.

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Not long ago I was also looking for new headphones and an amp and found a dizzying array of options and opinions. I ended up with the Audio-Technica ATH-R70x and a Schiit Asgard 2 to go with the Bifrost Multibit which I already owned prior. Love the choices I made so I would suggest looking into a Schiit stack in your price range (Modi 2 & Vali 2) to go along with the headphones.

 

Alternatively, you might want to listen to @dalethorn .. he has a wealth of knowledge and experience, probably more than most here.

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Thanks everyone for the advice, it was definitely helpful. I think I have come to the concesus of running HD600 with the Schiit Magni 2 and the Schiit Modi 2? Thoughts on this setup?

 

Hard to get excited about a $99 DAC and a $99 amp. Not to disparage your choices, since I don't own them, but the Fulla wasn't worth the $79 I spent for it. At least go for the multibit upgrade on the DAC. That design seems to be one of their strong suits.

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Thanks everyone for the advice, it was definitely helpful. I think I have come to the concesus of running HD600 with the Schiit Magni 2 and the Schiit Modi 2? Thoughts on this setup?

 

I would get a DragonFly Red and use it until I had more money for a separate amp, then buy the amp to use with the DragonFly DAC.

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So I ended up going with the the AKG K712. Ended up getting a good deal on them couldn't resist. Any Amp/DAC combos you guys would recommend for this set? Looking ultimately to purchase something decent and upgrade in the future. Was hoping to keep it around the $300 region. Thanks everyone you've been very helpful.

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You can't go wrong with the AKG K712 (or the Senn HD609/650 for that matter)

 

Maybe the iFI iDSD nano? Or micro for a bit more ... someone here recently pointed out a nice looking tube headphone amp for about $125 ...

... it's the "Little Dot" and there are several versions at different price points ... do some research and look at eBay for best prices.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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Schiit Jotumheim amp with DAC 499 with either Senn 600 or 650 are very popular combos.

 

+1

 

Or if you want to bump that up a notch then Jotunheim(without the DAC card) plus the Modi2 Multibit DAC. I use the HD650's with my Jotunheim and they never sounded better.

 

If you want to really research this go to head-fi.org.


"Don't Believe Everything You Think"

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+1

 

The Senn HD650/Jotunheim amp combo is an absolute killer (I am using a standalone DAC).

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Computer Audiophile

Melco HA-N1ZH60 Mk. 1 --> USB --> Matrix X-SPDIF 2 --> I2S --> PS Audio DirectStream Sr. DAC --> XLR --> Mark Levinson No. 326S --> RCA --> JL Audio E-Sub e110 (active crossover @ 100 Hz) --> RCA --> Bryston 4B3 (Cubed) --> Magnepan .7

 

 

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Do you have any intention of using the dac with desktop speakers? If so then having separate volume controls for headphone and line out is very nice. That takes you up in price a bit but the Parasound zdac v.2 is a really well thought out device.

 

For the $300 range the iFi iDac2 should be excellent (but the iFi iDSD is probably a better deal given the better amp and features, just more money.)

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

Roon ->allo Sparky-USBridge w/ SBooster 5V LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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Do you have any intention of using the dac with desktop speakers? If so then having separate volume controls for headphone and line out is very nice. That takes you up in price a bit but the Parasound zdac v.2 is a really well thought out device.

 

For the $300 range the iFi iDac2 should be excellent (but the iFi iDSD is probably a better deal given the better amp and features, just more money.)

 

Sent from my SM-T350 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

 

I don't plan to use them with speakers at all. Plan to use the K712's primarily for music and gaming. Won't ever be using them out of my apartment as I have a separate set for that. Something that is somewhat portable between rooms woukd be nice though.

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I don't plan to use them with speakers at all. Plan to use the K712's primarily for music and gaming. Won't ever be using them out of my apartment as I have a separate set for that. Something that is somewhat portable between rooms woukd be nice though.

 

For gaming, I'd suggest an amp that will provide better impact with less brightness. Some tube amp might be the best bet.

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