System Help

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by Pink_Floyd, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Pink_Floyd

    Pink_Floyd New Member

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    Hello to all,

    I've found your forum after starting a search for a head phone system. I did until a few years ago have a very high end hi-fi system. However due to several factors I no longer have any system. I'm looking to utilise my MacBook as a source and I'm considering the following;

    Lehmann Audio Black Cube USB
    Sennheiser HD650
    Grado SR325i
    Grado RS2i

    I listen to all genres of music, but as my user name suggests a fair bit of prog rock. I'm told a good head based system can sound as good as a full size speaker based system costing 10 times as much. Is this really the case? I used to really enjoy the soundstage abilities of my old system and I'm worried a head based system won't cut it at all.

    That said I'm basing my worries on my experiences with an iPhone and the supplied in-ear phones...........

    If anybody would like to chime in with their thoughts on my audition list, and also my concerns I'd sure appreciate it
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Advice

    The headphones you listed are all very good.

    Headphones and loudspeakers both allow you to hear the music you play, but that aside, everything else is different. Completely different. Some people fall in with the headphone experience right off, and others never do.
     
  3. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Hi Pink_Floyd

    If you imagine an iPod, playing 128kbps files, through the awful apple ear buds as an Alba mini system bought for £30 from a discount store - There is a very long way to travel to the best that headphones have to offer. I always ask the same questions to help me make a recommendation - Budget doesn't seem to be a big problem but also let me know what you want to spend.

    1- What music do you like? Everybody says "I like a bit of everything" - Who are the acts you listen to most? What genres do your favourite records come from?

    2- Imagine you just heard a new HiFi system a friend bought. You sit down to have a listen, and you love it! Describe it - is it very warm and close feeling with big bass? Is it bright and airy, slightly distant feeling?

    3- How will you use the headphones? It sound like you want a great quality set up for at home, but let me know.

    :)
     
  4. Pink_Floyd

    Pink_Floyd New Member

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    Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your help. I mainly listen to Pink Floyd, Crosby, Stills & Nash, 80's alternative, Kate Bush and some of the newer indie / rock banks (Feeder etc) I'll only be using the headphones at home so I'm not worried about them being too expensive, cumbersome, fragile etc for travel.

    My last home system was getting on for £14k and I loved the sound which was very neutral with lots of air and space, but never bright and the bass was deep but not warm or over the top. I'm aiming for something similar in the headphone system. Although I know that may be very hard.

    Budget wise I'm thinking £1500 - £1800

    Many thanks
     
  5. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    For home use probably pick an open headphone like the Beyerdynamic T1 or Sennheiser HD800. Then all you need is a good DAC/amp, unless you decide to use a music server.
     
  6. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    I like your style Pink_Floyd! That kind of budget is going to really get you something great.

    I like dalethorns thinking -

    Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 Semi-Open Reference Class Headphones
    £799.96
    +
    Beyerdynamic A1 High-Definition Headphone Amplifier in Grey
    £849.95

    or

    Grado GS1000i Open Back Headphones (Grado GS-1000i)
    £1,012.50
    +
    Musical Fidelity M1 HPA Premium Class A Headphone Amp in Black
    £499.00

    or

    Hifiman HE-500 Open Back Orthodynamic Audiophile Headphones
    £795.00
    +
    Icon Audio HP8 MKII Pure Valve High End Headphone Amplifier
    £499.96

    or

    STAX SRS-4170 Signature Electrostatic System (SR-407/SRM-006tS)
    £1,695.00

    I am taking it for granted that you only need an amp and headphones. If any of these combos interest you I would be happy to give you an idea of what they are like or at least a bit more detail. The above combos are all in the region of what you are looking for. Not too bright, but a definite feeling of accurate detail. Good clean bottom end which is distinct and textured - no flabbiness! A sweet natural airy tone which has space as well as solidity.
     
  7. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Great selections

    My mouth is watering just looking at that list.
     
  8. Pink_Floyd

    Pink_Floyd New Member

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    Thanks all great food for thought! I no longer have my system (I moved to a flat with poor noise insulation so sold up) so I'll be using iTunes on my Mac as a source. I'm assuming I'll need a DAC in that case?
     
  9. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    DAC for MAC

    Most of the high-end headphones will run off the Mac OK, with only modest degradation of sound compared to a DAC and amp running from the USB out on the computer. When you do get a DAC, you have to know how well it handles computer USB, what the jitter possibilities are, whether it has an amp or needs a separate amp, etc. If you have computer connected to DAC connected to amp connected to headphone, that's a lot of connections, and you need to use good cables, very good cables.
     
  10. Pink_Floyd

    Pink_Floyd New Member

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    I was looking at the Lehmann Black Cube USB so it would have the DAC built in. I'm assuming I'd only then need a quality USB cable? I can't see the logic of spending say £700 on headphones, and the same on an amp and running my Macbook as a source as surely the quality is likely to be pretty poor, not to mention how I'd connect it using an analogue output? I'm guessing from the 3.5mm line out jack?

    Don't get me wrong I'm not disagreeing, as I'm here for help. Just trying to understand the logic.
     
  11. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    I have heard that Macbooks have optical out capability, possibly through an ordinary 3.5 mm jack. At least the newer ones do. That would be the best way to go. Barring that then you could connect the Black Cube from the USB, and that should work pretty well.

    Edit: Google "Macbook optical out" for more info if you're curious.
     
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