Help needed: Best combination for headphone listening only

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Aug 10, 2019
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Hi,

I want to create my own audio sanctuary in a second bedroom and get the right equipment for headphone listening exclusively. The three pieces of equipment will be:

- CD player

- Headphone amp

- Headphones

Budget is araound 1,000 pounds. My initial idea is to get Pioneer PD-D6-J as CD player (£300), Graham Slee Solo (Intro) as headphone amp (£334) and Sennheiser HD-650 (£190). What do you think? I have no experience in HI FI at all though I am a musician myself and want to start appreciating this new world.

Another option will be to get the new Arcam Solo Mini, and the HD-650 (similar price). Do you think this system will be considerably inferior to the one above?

Many thanks,

Daniel
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I like the idea of the Pioneer PD-D6-J, although I would advise you to check out the bargain prices you can get the Arcam CD73T for now, new... (£250 if you look hard)...and the idea of the Slee headphone amp is also fine, but I would advise you to check out the headphones made by Grado http://www.gradolabs.com/...they sound far better than the Sennheisers and have a much more chic appeal if you ask me!

As for the Arcam mini, it's great if you want speakers on the system too...but otherwise, it seems a bit pointless.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Regarding the headphones. For the price of theSennheiser HD-650 I would invest in a pair of Alessandro Music Series Two, I don't believe there is a better sounding headphone out there at the price they are. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD-650, they just can't compare or match the sound of the Alessandro's, believe me it will be an investment you will treasure for years to come.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Nothing against the WHF forum, but for this specific question you'd better be checking out www.head-fi.org. Open up a thread in the forum, I'm sure you'll get alot of usefull comments.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I'm do virtually all my listening through headphones these days and have a dedicated set-up.

£1000 will get you quite a lot if you choose carefully.

Let's start with the headphones:

The HD650 is an excellent choice; contrary to what is written above,
Grado cans do not sound significantly better, if at all.

HD650s:
  • Comfortable to wear (for most people), so very little listening fatigue
  • Smooth and laid back (too much so for some)
  • Good synergy with large number of amps
  • Good soundstage
  • Good base
  • Can sound veiled with stock cable (new version is better though)
Grados: (more general as no model named, but applies to the RS-1 down through the models, except GS1000, which has a slightly non typical sound for a Grado)

  • Great impact grabs attention
  • Very musical
  • Some find them uncomfortable (sit on ears not around like Senns), listening fatigue
  • Limited soundstage
  • Strong top end (some find too much treble - can sound harsh)
  • Expensive
  • Amazing synergy with some amps/sources, poor synergy will others
Conclusion: I personally would recommend the HD650s recabled to suit your musical tastes (check out Moon Audio). This option provides a reference quality headphone that works well with most systems - as ever demoing is essential. As with all of
these things, it is a matter of personal preference. I have both Grado
RS-1s and Senn HD650s (recabled with Moon Audio Blue Dragon), but only
ever really listened to the Senns these days

Next for the amplifier:

Due to their simplicity, a large number of the better headphone amps are made by small outfits. As you are new to them I recommend something like the Darkvoice 336 (made in China, sold on eBay). It is a fantastic tube amp and has good synergy with the HD650s. It is well made and only costs around £180 shipped. The tubes can also be changed to customize the sound to your tastes. Other options would be a Little Dot.

Finally the CD player:

Going with the options above (650s and DV 336) you should have over £500 left to spend on a CDP of your choice. There are too many options to list at that price, so get researching/demoing.

Echoing an earlier post I also recommend checking out Head Fi; the forums there have everything you need.

Watch out for fanboys however (e.g. HD650 fanatics).

Spend plenty of time reading and you should be able to get a fairly balanced view.

My
top tip
- go for one of the cheaper imported amps. They are better than
most other amps double their price, allowing you to spend more on the
source.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
FYI - my set-up is as follows (source to headphone):

FLAC files on QNAP NAS>Squeezeboz duet>Sugden Masterclass CDP (can play CDs from this too, obviously)>Darkvoice 336SE (with good tubes - RCA and Sylvania)>HD650 (recabled with Blue Dragon from Moon Audio).

I also own RS-1s.

In my opinion the rig sounds fantastic with no weak links (bear in mind the CDP RRP is circa £3000, the amp, less than £200)
 

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