Complete headphone setup needed

dangalf

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Nov 14, 2007
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Hi guys,

I am looking for a complete set-up for PC based listening (mainly Spotify premium and WAV files ripped in iTunes). Have no real experience of headphones etc so don't have a preferred sound/brand. I will be listening to a wide variety of music (blues, rock, metal, classical, jazz, soul etc) but my favourite is probably singer-songwriter (Nick Drake, Jeff/Tim Buckley, Tori Amos etc)

I have a budget of around £1000 (I already own the PC) but am not sure how best to split that budget up. Would it be a good idea to spend some of my budget on a Headphone Amp or would I be better off putting the money I would have spent on an amp toward a better DAC or pair of headphones?

I have currently shortlisted the following based on WHF reviews:
DACS: Arcam rDac, Rega DAC (am looking forward to the review!)
HEADPHONE AMPS: Graham Slee Novo, Lehmann Rhinelander
HEADPHONES: Grado sr325i, Bose Quiet Comfort 15, Sennheiser pxc450, AKG k701

Is there anything I've missed off this list that I really should demo? Is there any combination of components that stands out to anyone? What's the best way to connect it all up (I hear USB is very good with rDAC - what about the Rega?)?

Thanks for reading - any comments are greatly appreciated!
 

Olli1324

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May 28, 2008
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I would personally prioritise the headphones - get the best you can. I'm tempted to recommend the Audeze LCD-2s, but they are about £650 imported so use up most of your budget. To give a fairly arbitrary break down, I think something like £400/£200/£200 (headphones, amp, dac) would be good for a headphone set up.

Try and audition headphones first if you can. There is a lot of difference (not necessarily better or worse, just different) between high end grados/AKG/Sennheiser.

I don't really want to give specific advice on amps, as that is the industry I'm in, so I will let others add more details.
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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Olli1324 said:
I'm tempted to recommend the Audeze LCD-2s, but they are about £650 imported so use up most of your budget. .
I'm just curious but the Audeze LCD-2's retail at $945, you indicated in another thread that shipping was $80. After converting to GB£ and adding approx 23% for VAT and import duty it brings the price to £770.
 

Big Chris

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Apr 3, 2008
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What about a combined DAC/ Headphone amp?

The Firestone Audio 'Fubar 4-plus' is 325 Euros on Firestone's website. The 'Supplier' power supply is 119 Euros, and the 'FRX-001' rack is 75 Euros. That leaves about half your budget for the headphones and some decent cables.
 

Olli1324

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May 28, 2008
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eggontoast said:
Olli1324 said:
I'm tempted to recommend the Audeze LCD-2s, but they are about £650 imported so use up most of your budget. .
I'm just curious but the Audeze LCD-2's retail at $945, you indicated in another thread that shipping was $80. After converting to GB£ and adding approx 23% for VAT and import duty it brings the price to £770.
Well my bank statements say £658. I don't think I had to pay customs. I paid $1027 in total.
 

idc

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Jan 2, 2008
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I have a setup very like what you plan (see my system link below). If I was to do it all again I would get a combined DAC/amp as Big Chris suggests, check out headphone amps with DACs such as Firestone and DACs with headphone amps such as Beresford and I would spend £250 tops. Bear in mind that if you get a smaller combined amp/DAC you can take it with you as well as use it at home. Check out iBasso, RSA and Headroom. Add in £20 for generic cables and then spend the rest on the headphones.

It is the headphones that make the biggest difference. Do not concern about headphone and amp sensitivity, impedence tec so long as you stick to non esoteric brands.

Either then blow the lot on one pair of headphones, or since you have NR headphones on your list, get two to do different jobs. One could be open back circumaural such as the AKG for home listening. The other could be the Bose QC which could also then be used out and about. Or start a collection including vintage headphones.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
dangalf,

I used a Musical Fidelity headphone amp with built-in USB DAC, the X-CAN V8, combined with the AKG 701s and thought the combination fantastic. You could check on eBay for various incarnations of the X-CAN. The great thing about those setups is that you can get a number of headphones eventually, in order to maximise listening pleasure by genre. Ask idc, he has a lot of different ones, I think.

Hedgehog
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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Olli1324 said:
Well my bank statements say £658. I don't think I had to pay customs. I paid $1027 in total.
Now you have gone and done it, I am considering ordering some now. £658 sounds like a deal, a steal a sale of the century, I want some.
 

Olli1324

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May 28, 2008
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eggontoast said:
Olli1324 said:
Well my bank statements say £658. I don't think I had to pay customs. I paid $1027 in total.
Now you have gone and done it, I am considering ordering some now. £658 sounds like a deal, a steal a sale of the century, I want some.
Hehe, you won't regret it ;)

*I'll stop filling this thread with LCD-2 propaganda!
 

dangalf

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Nov 14, 2007
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Thanks to everyone who took the time to post.
Seems the priority with the budget should be the headphones - which pretty much rules out the Rega DAC as it would just take up too much money.
Firestone Audio seem to be quite popular - Big Chris suggests the Fubar 4 plus with Power Supply - what does the Power Supply actually do? Is it necessary or does it 'just' improve sound quality?
Have to admit the DAC/Amp combo is one that appeals and with the Fubar 4 and power supply I still have the best part of £600 for headphones. I'm guessing I will get better quality if I had 2 pairs of headphones that 'specialised' in different types of music than if I get one pair of £600 headphones which are 'all-rounders'?
Also does anyone know where I could demo Firestone Audio equipment?

Thanks again
 

Big Chris

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Apr 3, 2008
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You don't need the seperate power supply, the Fubar will work in isolation. The power supply is an audiophile upgrade which is supposed to work well from the reviews I've found online..... Plus both items on that little rack would look great.:bigsmile:

You could save 100 Euros and go for the standard Fubar 4. You'd lose the 192khz upsampling but I don't know what else it omits, if anything.
 

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