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I am looking for a shortlist of headphones and somewhat portable amp/dac to look at in order to make a final decision. This is for a friend who is not an audiophile, but is wanting to go in that direction in the future. Preferably, the DAC/Amp are on the portable side, but can also be used toward a future stereo system at his home.

 

The sound preference is toward a balanced presentation. Detail retrieval should be stellar without being bright. Preference for a sound that is not dark. Can be on the slight side toward the warm side of neutral, but without compromising LF tautness and HF decay. Mids need to be uncongested and crystal clear. Think ATC level of mid clarity. Again, resolution should be stellar. No need for closed back, good sound stage would be welcome, but am sure that this is where headphones normally come up short compared to a stereo system. He already has the Fiio M11 as DAP, so should be compatible with that for a more portable use of the cans.

 

Overall budget is $3k.

 

Thanks in advance for helping me create a shortlist.

System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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1 hour ago, AudioDoctor said:

Have you been to Head-fi? Is that budget for the headphones only? On ear, over ear, in ear?

I've been looking there, but I am more familiar with this forum and thought that this might be a good move, since it would be the beginning of a crossover system.

 

The budget is for everything.

 

Preferably over ear. 👍

System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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Well, for 3K you can get the Focal Clear and the matching amp, that's nearly 1K off and a pretty good deal right now.

 

https://www.moon-audio.com/focal-clear-headphones.html

 

If he wants to, and can, use the Fiio as a DAC, then a Mjolnir and a 2K pair of headphones...

 

https://www.schiit.com/products/mjolnir-1

 

There are some great Grado headphones under that dollar limit, the GS1000 and GS2000 for example, heck even the GS3000!

 

Go to Moon Audio and look through their great selection of under 2K headphones.

 

https://www.moon-audio.com/

 

the reality is that there are probably a LOT of possible options in your price range.

 

edit: Also something like an RME ADI-2 DAC is another 1K option. https://www.rme-usa.com/adi-2-dac.html

No electron left behind...

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I have been spending time with NUCs and DACs and software and upsampling software and power supplies and cables (I think you get the point) that I am considering simplifying my modest headphone setup by making a move to a single box approach. I am considering a AURALiC Altair G1 for Christmas.

While this is not a portable solution, it is warm sounding and could grow in your friends system. You can also connect a hard drive to make it a server. Finally the included (free) Lightning software might get me off Roon.

Not sure how flexible the headphone amp is - however I could use my Crack if the G1 can't drive my HD650s.

 

The price is a little high if you wanted to get a decent set of cans. There are other streamers to consider as well.

Good luck!

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27 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

Well, for 3K you can get the Focal Clear and the matching amp, that's nearly 1K off and a pretty good deal right now.

 

https://www.moon-audio.com/focal-clear-headphones.html

 

If he wants to, and can, use the Fiio as a DAC, then a Mjolnir and a 2K pair of headphones...

 

https://www.schiit.com/products/mjolnir-1

 

There are some great Grado headphones under that dollar limit, the GS1000 and GS2000 for example, heck even the GS3000!

 

Go to Moon Audio and look through their great selection of under 2K headphones.

 

https://www.moon-audio.com/

 

the reality is that there are probably a LOT of possible options in your price range.

 

edit: Also something like an RME ADI-2 DAC is another 1K option. https://www.rme-usa.com/adi-2-dac.html

that Focal Clear seems like a very interesting option. will see if I can audition it around here.

 

the Schiit gear is always interesting, so the Mjolnir might be worth taking a look at, too.

 

I believe that Grado is on-ear, so that's out.

 

thank you very much. this is a good direction. 

System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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1 hour ago, jkelly said:

I have been spending time with NUCs and DACs and software and upsampling software and power supplies and cables (I think you get the point) that I am considering simplifying my modest headphone setup by making a move to a single box approach. I am considering a AURALiC Altair G1 for Christmas.

While this is not a portable solution, it is warm sounding and could grow in your friends system. You can also connect a hard drive to make it a server. Finally the included (free) Lightning software might get me off Roon.

Not sure how flexible the headphone amp is - however I could use my Crack if the G1 can't drive my HD650s.

 

The price is a little high if you wanted to get a decent set of cans. There are other streamers to consider as well.

Good luck!

I understand that desire. It's something I also drift towards on my stereo system, which is still somewhat complex on the digital transport side.

 

will give the auralic or the lumin a thought, but they are probably too clunky.

 

thanks for the input.

System: SB Touch (w/ Welborne PSU & EDO for USB output)>Resolution Audio Cantata>Gryphon Diablo>Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne

Cables: Douglas Cables 'Mirage'', ASI Liveline w/ Oyaide 004-079 (Power); Douglas Cables 'Hair Angel' (XLR); Crystal Cable 'Standard' (Speaker); Light Harmonic 'Lightspeed  (10G)'USB

Accessories: Furutech GTX-D (G) with cover, MIT Z Duplex Super; Equitech Balanced Power, Sistrum (for Diablo)

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/15/2020 at 12:49 PM, reverendo said:

I am looking for a shortlist of headphones and somewhat portable amp/dac to look at in order to make a final decision. This is for a friend who is not an audiophile, but is wanting to go in that direction in the future. Preferably, the DAC/Amp are on the portable side, but can also be used toward a future stereo system at his home.

 

The sound preference is toward a balanced presentation. Detail retrieval should be stellar without being bright. Preference for a sound that is not dark. Can be on the slight side toward the warm side of neutral, but without compromising LF tautness and HF decay. Mids need to be uncongested and crystal clear. Think ATC level of mid clarity. Again, resolution should be stellar. No need for closed back, good sound stage would be welcome, but am sure that this is where headphones normally come up short compared to a stereo system. He already has the Fiio M11 as DAP, so should be compatible with that for a more portable use of the cans.

 

Overall budget is $3k.

 

Thanks in advance for helping me create a shortlist.

Personally, I'd buy something like Dan Clark Ether 2 headphones  ($2k) plus a chord Mojo ($500) for portability + adequate power for the Ether 2's. 

The Ether 2's have excellent resolution, spectrum balance, wear comfort and like CJ gear the Ether 2 is never offensive in the treble.

 

Fiio says the M11 supports USB audio out using their CL06 type c to micro USB cable. I was able to find 1 user who said they were using USB out

to their Mojo. From reviews I am skeptical that the M11 would be able to drive the ether 2's by themselves

 

http://m.fiio.net:8000/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=45884&extra=page%3D1

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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On 12/15/2020 at 9:21 PM, jkelly said:

I have been spending time with NUCs and DACs and software and upsampling software and power supplies and cables (I think you get the point) that I am considering simplifying my modest headphone setup by making a move to a single box approach. I am considering a AURALiC Altair G1 for Christmas.

While this is not a portable solution, it is warm sounding and could grow in your friends system. You can also connect a hard drive to make it a server. Finally the included (free) Lightning software might get me off Roon.

Not sure how flexible the headphone amp is - however I could use my Crack if the G1 can't drive my HD650s.

 

The price is a little high if you wanted to get a decent set of cans. There are other streamers to consider as well.

Good luck!

 

Sorry for the diversion from the OPs question but I felt compelled to chime in here.

I have several auralic Aries as streamers. I hated the Lightning app. Very stunted. Move to Roon was life changing 2-3 yrs back. Please keep this in mind. Move away from Roon is a huge step backwards. 

 

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RME ADI is a great DAC and the HP amp is fantastic. I have tried many cans on this - HD 650, GRADOs etc all sound great. The DAC is stellar. Add an EMU and you have a great setup for about 1500. 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi this may not be as high end for you but I found them excellent-- Sennheiser HD 598 and wireless RS-195's. I originally had near first editions of Schiit Magni/Modi dac/headphone amp then graduated to non multibit Gungnir and now have has (as my CFO puts it) my 'last rodeo system'-a Schiit YggyGS DAC and a Rggy amp which IMHO is one schiitful of a headphone amp also

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