General Headphone Advice

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Walderstorn, Mar 20, 2016.

  1. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    First i want to introduce my noob-self. Im a 33y old that pretty much listens to pop and rock mostly, but also some hip-hop and classical music here and there. Im not very keen on strong bass, never was, and i do prefer an enfasis on mids, i have an ok to good tolerance over treble harshness.

    I've been thinking of upgrading my HD600 which i really enjoy(i also have a 598 for my PS4 gaming), but my limited experience (and the fact that where im in Europe i dont have anywhere to demo headphones) is making it very hard. My brother who lives in the UK doest have some gear so most of my experience has been in the few times i went there (i cant go there anywhere near in the future so demo there is a no-go this year).

    My past sources are:

    Modi Uber
    Musical Fidelity V90
    Musical Fidelity M1
    RL Concero

    The sources that ive tried:

    Bifrost gen1
    Matrix X-Sabre
    Odac
    Creative Recon 3D

    My current amps are:

    BH Crack w/ speedball
    Gustard H10

    The amps that ive tried:

    Valhalla 2
    Magni
    Vali
    Fiio E9
    Matrix Mini i
    O2
    Lyr

    The DAC/AMP combos ive tried:

    Dragonfly
    Fiio E17
    Audio -GD NFB 28 (i think).

    Heapdhones i've tried:

    Philips X1 (basshead territory so i didnt enjoy it)
    AT mx50 (they were ok)
    HD600 (the one i currently use)
    HD598 (good for gaming, not so much for music imo)
    HD650 (i liked but overall i like hd600 more)
    HD800 (i felt it was in almost everyway better than my hd600 but the setup was different so...)
    HD700 (dont like it one bit, seems to lack the "fun" part of music, but the setup was also different so...)

    and other not worth the mention (maybe i shouldnt put the hd700 here cause i really dislike those).

    Music: FLAC or Spotify Premium (its free with my plan so i dropped tidal)

    What i currently use:

    Concero as a USB interface > Yulong D18 > Bottlehead Crack/Gustard H10


    Like i said in the beggining i have HD600 and HD598, i already tried HD650 and Audeze 2.2 (dont know if pre or with fazor) that my brother owns, i prefer the HD600 to the HD650 (even more with the crack) and like the Audeze but i wont be bothered to lay down like he does because listening them for a long time is bothersome. I very much love the Yulong D18 but even more i love my brothers X-Sabre (yes actually enjoy the delta-sigma u guys seem to dislike so much :) ) but i cant to find one in Europe in my price range, so thats something on hold. Amp-wise i dont care much about the Gustard H10, is ok, i like it better than most of SS that ive tried but im thinking of trading it in the future for the Asgaard 2 or at least upgrading with new opamps.

    I thought about buying the Beyer T1 (1st gen) cause they are very affordable used right now but people keep addressing the treble problem (more or less the same i found in the HD800 maybe) or the Hifiman 560, but with the information i gave maybe some1 can help me in this regard? I have some1 willing to sell one of these for 500€ and i would like to know if any of them is more likely to fit my preferences or if u have any sugestion (even it costs a little bit more) i would be very grateful.

    Hope my English makes sense and you guys can help a noob out.

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  2. GUTB

    GUTB Reddit rejected: Audiophile; SBAF rejected: Poseur

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    Sounds like you've been going to Reddit for shopping ideas -- bad move. All you will get from there is entry level junk. The only hi-fi headphone in that list is the HD800, and that is a challenging headphone to setup correctly. Of the other source chain equipment, the Audio-GD is the best -- and that's one of their lower end models.

    All the things you learned about DACs at /r/headphones, flush it down the toilet. The two most important parts of a DAC is the D/A technology used, and the output circuit. You are looking for fully balanced with multiple D/A chips, high quality clocks, separate power supplies for analog and digital circuits, high-end components used in a REAL output stage (audio-grade capacitors, high-end op-amps and/or discrete circuits, etc). IC-based output stages are trash. Basically, if it doesn't have a bunch of capacitors and at least one internal power transformer it's no good. If you are or a budget, stick with one of the common ESS, AK or Wolfson (TI) chip implementations that are balanced and have a real output stage. For example, the Gustard X20. There's plenty to chose from. Oh, and DON'T think you can ignore the DAC -- if you have one of those God-awful mini units hyped on /r/headphones they will drag down any headphones you plug into them. Also, decide if you want native DSD decoding or not; if you do, forget about the Schiit products. If you are going to use USB as an input, consider a USB transport like the Wyrd or Regen.

    Headphones. Sorry, I'm only interested in hi-fi, so I won't recommend any mid-fi headphones (ie, HD600, HE-560, Alpha Dogs, TH-X00, K-712, etc). Once you get to the $1000 and beyond range, headphones get REALLY good. The TH-900 is just phenomenal at classical and blues / jazz. Very sweet, micro-detailed instruments. Easy to drive, not quite as microscopic as the HD800 but also much easier to setup correctly. HE-6 is a phenom, basically everyone agrees -- but it MUST be amped correctly, think Ragnarok. I'm looking at a $3000 speaker amp to hook up to mine. These two headphones will beat a T1, but the T1 will still be leagues better than a HD600, and they are easy to drive. Consider the HE-X, HE-1000, LCD-2 and LCD-3 -- all of these headphones are very well regarded in the hi-fi space.

    And finally, you can't ignore your cabling. You don't have to spend megabucks, but at least a decent OCC conductor noise-filtering AC cable for the amp. I picked up one for from a Canadian manufacturer, Audio Sensibility, for $280 (OCC cryo-treated) and it was the best $280 I spent on my system. Interconnects make a difference too, but not as major as the AC. Choseal is a Chinese OCC cable manufacturer you can find on aliexpress and ebay for much cheaper, you can try them out but I can't vouch for them.
     
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  3. fiddler

    fiddler Acquaintance

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    Hey GUTB, still using that nifty Pioneer HT receiver?
     
  4. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    I thought i wouldnt find that kind of mentality here, like some members on /r or HF where u can find people who say only 4 digits its worth it or in the other end of the spectrum those who say they 25 dollar dac is the best under 500. Sorry @GUTB but for some of the reasons @MoatsArt tsArt stated i cant take u very seriously and no i wont buy 280$ cables.

    If any1 else can help even if they think im better just saving up my money i would be thankful.
     
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  5. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    Long story short I would probably recommend this:

    1) Get a mint second hand HD800, can be had for 700-800 Euro these days. Look at HF or ebay. Buy with paypal protection.
    2) Get on SD's resonator program here on sbaf
    3) If you have money to spare get a pure copper HD800 cable from ebay. Should be no more than 100 Euro.

    This should be a pretty nice setup with crack amp and D18.

    If you're a true midrange freak the HD600 is hard to beat though since this is what the HD600 does, but the HD800 brings in a lot more soundstage, bass extension and tightness. For music it's not a given that everyone will take the HD800 over the HD600, but for gaming I personally think the HD800 is superior.
     
  6. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    I don"t see anything that do much better than a good HD6X0/Crack combo for that kind of music. I wouldn't advice the HD800 even if it's my favorite headphones thus far.

    IMO a used HE500 could be a good move. it's different from your HD600 and somewhat a sidegrade but it's different enough to be interesting to try. Your Gustard amp will be up to the task for a HE500. if you love the HE500 more than your HD6X0 , then begin to think to a HE-6 which is a significant upgrade but a dedicated rig is mandatory ( and a good amp for a HE-6 can be expensive ) and some mods help to make the HE-6 sounds at its best.

    If you still prefer your HD600. Just stick with that . all "upgrades" will cost a lot more. my 2 cents.

    Sincerely if I had to choose a headphone for Pop & Rock , cost no object, I'd still choose the HD650 over anything else. I sill have to listen extensively to a Stax 007 though. Maybe that one could change my mind. who knows.
     
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  7. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    @TwoEars i wasnt expecting people to prefer the HD800 to the T1 like ive seen in both your replies tbh, i havent heard the T1 but in my mind i thought it would be more my thing, probably im wrong, thanks for the advices.

    @sorrodje thank you, i really enjoy hd600 with the crack, thats what i use 95% of the time when listening to music. One thing i would like you to analize is that i meant the HE560 not the HE500 model (which i havent heard as well).

    A big thanks fo both of you.
     
  8. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    I hate both HE560 and Beyer T1 so I can"t help more . Sorry.
     
  9. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    You already helped a bunch, thanks :).
     
  10. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Very sage advice right there.
    @Walderstorn I had a HD600 too and I did really enjoy it, far more than my HE560 which I had at the same time. (The HE560 had sibilance and was heavy) In the end I upgraded to a HD800 simply because I wanted to own a HD800. This was not a rational decision, or a cash-efficient one. I'm still piecing together the ideal system and it's taking time. And I can tell you that it is costing far more than the HD600 system.

    Will the HD800 system be better than a HD600? I haven't experienced it yet, but I trust many people here who seem to think so, that is why I still have a HD800. But the HD600 is absolutely a great headphone to stop at.
     
  11. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    The HE500 I had sounded great but it was heavy, pretty uncomfortable and the build quality felt so, so. It did sound damn good though. I do think that it had the HD6X0 slightly beat for sound quality. But factor in practicality and I would still pick the HD6X0 to live with. The T1 is for me an inferior version of the HD800, and in that case you might as well have the HD800.

    But as others have said the HD800 is a very different beast to the HD6X0. The HD800 is a race car, the HD6X0 is an everyday driver. You can tweak the race car to be your everyday driver and it will be phenomenal, but it will cost more and not everyone will ultimately need or want that level of feedback. I use my HD800 far more than I use my HD650 these days, but if someone stopped at the HD6X0 and called it endgame for them I'd completely understand that.
     
  12. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    A good idea if you want to listen to beyedynamic sound is to go DT 880. 600ohms model. Cheap and far better value than a t1. I hate it as well but YMMV.
     
  13. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Thank you very much for your input @Eric_C, much appreciated.


    @sorrodje actualy that was one of the heaphones i forgot to add, ive tried that model DT800 (and the custom one pro or whatever its called) didnt like it overal, but it was a demo and not my source so i took it with a grain of salt, but if the T1 is related then i guess i better think about the HD800 or just stay where i am like advised.
     
  14. GUTB

    GUTB Reddit rejected: Audiophile; SBAF rejected: Poseur

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    The HD600 suck. Technically, they are a very solid mid-fi set; good resolution, decent dynamics -- recessed vocals which is annoying but no deal-breaker. Obviously they are lacking in hi-fi areas like micro-detail, speed, etc, but in terms of mid-fi they are very solid. What makes them suck is the cardinal sin of being BORING. No one just has a pair of HD600s. I can attest to their lack of euphonics first hand. WHen I had mine, I never felt like reaching for them. I would let them play during break-in on the stand. When you search for the HD600 being boring / flat / lacking life, etc, you will find plenty of those reviews -- but sadly it gets lost in the hype hype train by people who have never heard hi-fi audio once in their life. The HD800 obliterates the HD600 in basically every respect. Just remember that getting the HD800 to be listenable long-term and not sold off once the wow factor fades is a non-marginal task that requires modding and proper equipment choices. With your desire to stick with low budget equipment, you'd be better served by a TH-900; I'm listening to mine right now (I love putting them on as opposed to the HD600) on a $120 solid state DIY custom job from some China eBay seller, and it sounds better than my HE-6 out of a Mjolnir 2 (well I do admit I needed the help of a custom Sabre DAC and that power cable to get there). The same amp simply falls apart and laughs itself silly when I tried to drive the HE-6 off of it.
     
  15. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    I'm really wishing for the existence of a dislike button right now.
     
  16. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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  17. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    ^ I don't like the HD600 much. I really like the 650 so far. YMMV. I think the 650 is a great value at circa $300 used.
     
  18. GUTB

    GUTB Reddit rejected: Audiophile; SBAF rejected: Poseur

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    Sorry, I'm not here to feed the hype train. In MY OPINION, as if that needs to be stated, the HD600 is trash. I used to go along with everyone saying that yes they are solid, safe mid-fi choice of headphones. But after trying them for myself for 3 weeks, I sent that garbage right back to Amazon. Whenever a newbie shows up asking questions about it anywhere I can respond to it, I will be sure to educate him. Don't be the sucker that buys a HD600, gets bored of it quickly and gets something else.

    If anyone else has a differing opinion, hit the reply and put me in my place. Tell us about how the HD600 is so great that you listen to them constantly, can't put them down, and sold off all your other headphones. Tell us about how your LCD-X, HE-6, Stax, etc, is sitting in the closet gathering dust after you discovered the greatness of the HD600. Tell us about all the meets and conventions you went to where your HD600 were blowing the socks off of everyone.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No you won't find that kind of mentality. Keep in mind that @GUTB hasn't been a long time member here, although many of the things he says are generally true.

    If you like the tonal signature of the HD600 over the HD650, then the logical step up is the HD800 or HD800S. The HD800 will be brighter sounding than the HD600, so just beware. The HD800 can be made to sound like the HD800S with simple mods. Fortunately, the Crack has good synergy with the HD600 and HD800. You can improve the Crack a bit more with the additional of a hefty inductor in the power supply or roll the output caps. Output caps are a BIG deal with OTL type circuits like the Crack.

    Since you've tried a lot of high-value gear already, I think it will be tough for you to do better than the Crack. Maybe T3 might be more resolving, but that's also a bit of different take. IMO, you might want to concentrate on a better source next. IMO, the HD800 does not take well to Chi-Fi Sabre DACs, so your opinion of the Yulong may change. The other question is whether you have heard good implementations of non-sabre DACs? Once you have heard a good multi-bit or ladder DAC, S-D DACs become difficult to listen to.

    The HD600 is not as bad a GUTB makes it to be. It scales tremendously. You would shocked how good the HD600 sounds out a Zana Deux in terms of microdetail and dynamics. That combo will destroy the Audezes out of any amp. The HD800 is even better from the ZD (provided you find the HD800's brightness acceptable).

    You can consider T1 or HE560, but all you are doing is really going for a different sound and you still be trapped in the circular hell that you have been in. You may want to consider HE560 as an alternative to the HD600, but the HD560 will suck from the Crack and requires a totally different approach in amps.

    The main problem you face is that it does take a significant jump in terms of money to move the next level.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
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  20. Ash1412

    Ash1412 Friend

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    Now I really want a facepalm smiley

    Why does someone who hates the HD600 even use the word MICRO-detail in their post? Your love for the TH-900 and the HE-6 makes me even think you don't exactly understand the meaning of micro-detail. Those are some of the most macro-detailed phones in existence!
     

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