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Starter kit?

goaliechris

Active Member
Hi all,

I am looking to break into the HP arena. I'm just now starting to read some of the reviews on headfi and that's, well, overwhelming (and helpful). I used to the have a pair of Shure SE530s (thanks to Flint's recommendation years ago) until my then 4 year old son accidentally pulled off one of the buds. Since then, I bought a decent budget pair of Klipsch S4 for travel while listening to my iPod. Now, I'm looking to upgrade my listening and thought I would come to the experts. My main "source" will continue to be either my 120 GB iPod (Apple Lossless used) or my Mac. I'm comfortable continuing to use the Klipsch for travel as they can get beat up a little bit.

So what I am looking for is a home setup and I think I want to try cans. I have ZERO experience with them but from what I have heard is that they have a larger soundstage. I will be listening at a desk at home. I'm comfortable spending up to $500 on a great set. Does buying great HPs mean that I cannot plug directly into my iPod and that I need to have a separate amp? I know there is a resistance issue/limit and that greater sound awaits using an amp. However, is it normal to use an iPod as a source with an amp? I am not against a better pair of IEMs but I think for longer listening periods, the cans might be more comfortable.

Finally, if you were starting out and had my budget (assume $200 for an amp), what would you choose?
Chris

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!
 

walls

Well-Known Member
I have a pair of Senn 555's that are in like new condition. I packed em away a few years ago when I got my first pair of 650's. Make me an offer, IMO they are a fantastic start can and suited me well for quite a while.

They sound good unamped but they open up quite nicely with an amp.
 

Rope

Well-Known Member
Famous
Denon AH-D2000/D5000, they'll both sound good without a dedicated HP amp.

HiFiMan HE-300, dynamic drivers (not planar) and not terribly power hungry.

AKG K-701/702, choosy about how they're powered, but natural sounding.

Rope
 

goaliechris

Active Member
Good suggestions, thanks. I need to do some listening sessions to figure this out but the choices seem limited in my area. One dealer has Grado and Beyerdynamic. I'd like to hear some Senns and the AKG line as well (esp the 702).

It turns out the more I know, the less I realized I knew. So besides HPs, I guess the way to go for a iPod/iPad system is the following?
- Line out dock/adaptor
- interconnect
- amp. Any good solid state amps that are reasonable? I don't plan on traveling with it so AC powered would work best.

Anything I am missing? Still considering the SE535s but might get those anyway for travel. I like the Klipsch but really miss those 530s.
 

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
I would also vote for the K701/2 or the D2000. The AKG are "open" - meaning that while they cover your ear, they do not block external sound, and will also "leak" more sound - others will be able to hear it. The D2000 are closed, and will block some sound though not as much as a tight-fitting IEM. What you prefer may depend some on your listening conditions, whether you're in an office with other people or whatever.

You may get decent sound in full-size headphones without an amp, but depending on the headphones, you may be limited in volume and/or might drain the battery on the ipod pretty fast. There are a gazillion choices for good ss amps for <$200 (even quite a bit less if you want), I would just take a look at the amp for sale section on head-fi, pick something in your price range. I've had very good experiences with used gear on head-fi, they generally take good care of their stuff.
 

goaliechris

Active Member
Rope said:
I was under the impression you were looking for full size HPs.

IEMs

Rope

I am looking for full size HPs - I was just getting greedy by thinking of replacing my Klipsch with the new version of the Shure's I enjoyed so much.

Pauly - I will definitely take a look at the FS section at headfi. Used would be a good way to go at first. I will be be listening to them in a home office so leaking sound won't be a concern. I listen mainly to alt rock, prog rock, acoustic stuff.

Thanks for all the help.
 

walls

Well-Known Member
For the music you are listening to I would not go the AKG route, IMO they will sound way to flat for you with little bass and somewhat screechy highs. Also if you go the Grado route, which would suit your musical tastes well then shoot for the 225's or higher.

:music-listening: :music-listening: :music-listening: Just an FYI Cruthfields has the Senn HD 650's for $399 and Jand R has em for $369. :music-listening: :music-listening: :music-listening:
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
If the timing is right, you CAN score a set of Denon AH-D2000s on amazon for $199. Last time I looked they were at full price at $350. At $199 they're a steal (which is the price I purchased mine)...
 

goaliechris

Active Member
Thanks, guys - wow, do I have a lot to learn.

I wish I had more of an opportunity to test this stuff out. If I had to blind buy right now I would probably get the LOD from Pocketdock or iBasso, a Schiit Lyr, and for the HPs the Grado S325is (thanks walls), Sennheiser HD650, Denon AH-D2000 (thanks batman) or the Shure SRH940. Wide range I know. I have been reading the reviews on head-fi and my only concern on the Grados is that, I think, they are on-ear as opposed to over-ear. I think over would be more comfortable for me.

One question, if listening from my MacBook Pro, I guess I just use a USB cable?

One more question, can I send all this to someone, have you package it all in a generic box and ship it to me? My wife doesn't need to know any of this... :)
 

Rope

Well-Known Member
Famous
USB will work, although I believe the MacBook Pro has a mini toslink connector, which is preferable over USB for audio.

And yes, have everything shipped to Rope. I'll be glad to break everything in, box it up and send it your way.

May I suggest, being the skies the limit; Beyerdynamics T-1/LCD-3, Lyr, and Bifrost (DAC).

Rope
 

goaliechris

Active Member
Rope said:
May I suggest, being the skies the limit; Beyerdynamics T-1/LCD-3, Lyr, and Bifrost (DAC).

Rope

Ha! I think that's a little over my budget for the moment but a good idea. I do tend to "overshoot" at first until it comes time to actually place the order.

I'll be sure to send them your way and let you break everything in for me - awfully generous of you to offer. :eek:bscene-drinkingcheers:
 

walls

Well-Known Member
The Grados are indeed on ear and thats the main reason I sold mine, I found them impossible to where for more then an hour. But there are pads you can buy to fight that and some users say it gets better with time....it just didnt for me. But they did sound excellent for hard rock/metal.

For me its the Senn 650's but thats me and I have yet to hear the Denons so I cant give an opinion.
 

Rope

Well-Known Member
Famous
By far the most comfortable HPs I own are the Denon DM-5000. Even with the over stuffed ear cushions I can wear them for hours without sweaty ear.

Next would be a toss up between the AKG 701 and HiFiMan HE-500, although the HiFiMan's have really crappy ear cushions, which will be replaced shortly with Jmoney audio cushions.

Rope
 

GreatDane

Well-Known Member
I don't recommend buying any Grado unless you've auditioned them first. I do like the Grado sound. There are several pads for them and the bowl pads tend to cause the most discomfort. washing the bowl pads , then using hair conditioner was my little trick to soften them. The comfies are most comfortable...surprise. The flat pads are in between the bowls and comfies comfort wise and offer the most bass while sacrificing some Grado midrange goodness and overall detail.

My favorite in the $300 to $400 is the Sennheiser HD650. To my ears they are the most natural sounding and oh so silky smooth. If I had to give up my T1 I'd go back to the HD650.

I haven't heard them all but popular choices like the Denon, Beyer, AT, AKG, Senns, Grado I have in at least a couple models each. I like them all actually but it all comes down to what YOU like for your personal preference. I've found that I have to buy them and live with them for a few months before truly knowing which are long term keepers.

I now own only two full size cans. My Sony MDR-XB700(super comfy too) are my movie cans and T1 is for serious business. I do have 4 portable(Yuin,AT and Koss) and 4 IEMs( Etymotic, Ortofon, Westone & Audeo).
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
I've been mixing music all day using a pair of AKG K701 and a pair of Sony 7506 cans. The results are pretty darn good!

I can get about 90% of the way to finished with just those. I then use my big speakers for the final perfecting and mastering.
 

goaliechris

Active Member
Update: Well, call me Mitt Romney as I just flip-flopped. While I am definitely going to order the Senn HD650 soon, I first went with the Shure SE535 IEMs (in bronze). Based on my listening habits (travel, workout, etc) I decided to go the IEM route and then look for a gently used pair of the 650s. I just had way too much fun with the SE530s that I owned for years.

Thanks to all for the help here and Great Dane for his answering my many questions.

Next step is a line out dock and cable and a portable amp to drive both cans and IEMs. Looking at the Practical Devices XM5, ALO Audio Mk II, etc.

I'll post pics as soon as I get everything.

Merry Christmas!
 

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
Great, enjoy it! As long as the music's good, that's the important part.
 

Rope

Well-Known Member
Famous
goaliechris said:
Update: Well, call me Mitt Romney as I just flip-flopped. While I am definitely going to order the Senn HD650 soon, I first went with the Shure SE535 IEMs (in bronze). Based on my listening habits (travel, workout, etc) I decided to go the IEM route and then look for a gently used pair of the 650s. I just had way too much fun with the SE530s that I owned for years.

Thanks to all for the help here and Great Dane for his answering my many questions.

Next step is a line out dock and cable and a portable amp to drive both cans and IEMs. Looking at the Practical Devices XM5, ALO Audio Mk II, etc.

I'll post pics as soon as I get everything.

Merry Christmas!

Holy jumped up Jesus, will you please make up my mind? :happy-smileygiantred:

Rope
 
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