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Author Topic: Headphone/Amp Rig  (Read 11868 times)

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stevetoney

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Headphone/Amp Rig
« on: January 23, 2014, 11:25:27 AM »
About a month ago, I asked whether at the show sound was possible through headphones.  That started a fairly detailed dialogue with OOK and Page.  (Thanks again guys).  I ended up with a rig I'm pretty happy with, but it's obvious at this point that I've dove headfirst into another money pit hobby, so this is the beginning of another tangential assault on the gear slut theme, no doubt about it.  Here's what I ended up with...

Headphones
Sennheiser HD600 (open back reference phones for general listening and audio mastering)
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro (semi-open back bass heavy phones for fun listening to most of the types of music I like)
Audio Technica ATH-M50 (closed back phones for taking to the gig...I already owned these)
Shure SE-215 (IEMs for the office...I also already owned these)

DAC/Amp
Parasound ZDac

Semi-Portable Amp
Ray Samuels SR-71a 'The Blackbird'

As I upgrade, the Zdac will remain as my DAC, and the head amp on that sounds nice, but it's got an overly clean solid state sound to it.  I'm still getting used to it.  The Ray Samuels SR-71a amp just arrived so I don't even have an opinion on that one yet...bought it on the strength of reviews.   

On the wish list is a good stay at home tube amp to connect downstream of the ZDac, perhaps a Wu Audio WA-6 if I have the money or Little Dot MKIII if budget concerns prevail.  Then an upgrade to my IEMs...got my eye on Westone R4 right now, but this is probably gonna be awhile.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 11:34:45 AM by tonedeaf »

Offline dyneq

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 01:02:32 PM »
Oh yeah, I'm in the same slutty place these days. I recently picked up an Objective2/ODAC to go with my Westone UM3X's at work. It's overkill for the Westones, but I'm still grinning ear to ear when I listen. They are for on-stage monitoring, so you have to like that sound profile, which i do.

I'm considering a pair of DT770 Pro's for monitoring duty. I currently use Grado SR225i's, which aren't the right tool for the job. They are nice for listening though.

stevetoney

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 02:06:26 PM »
I currently use Grado SR225i's, which aren't the right tool for the job. They are nice for listening though.

I tried a couple of mid-level Grado models...can't recall the specific models though.  I'm usually more focused on the sound than anything, but the ear cups on both of those that I auditioned weren't very comfortable.  Do all Grado's have the round profile that sits more on the ear than around them?

Offline raymonda

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 02:08:34 PM »
Forget about a dedicated headphone amp. If you have a decent stereo amp you can use it to drive your headphones by making your own break out box or buying a "Can Opener" from Vinylflat. They go for around $65.00.

I also find that the AKG 702's are a nicely balanced headset. I prefer them over the Grado RS2's I owned for 10 years. and.....they are super comfy.

Thank me later!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 02:11:11 PM by raymonda »

stevetoney

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 02:21:05 PM »
Forget about a dedicated headphone amp. If you have a decent stereo amp you can use it to drive your headphones by making your own break out box or buying a "Can Opener" from Vinylflat. They go for around $65.00.

I also find that the AKG 702's are a nicely balanced headset. I prefer them over the Grado RS2's I owned for 10 years. and.....they are super comfy.

Thank me later!

I've read that the Can Opener is awesome, especially for the price.  Good advice for those that already have a good component-based system.  I don't have a good system, so at the advice of my two mentors, I'm building a computer-based system from the phones backwards to the 24/48 FLAC library that I've got saved and backed up on a 1tb passport drive that I can carry with me back and forth to work. 
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 02:28:56 PM by tonedeaf »

Offline dyneq

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2014, 03:12:33 PM »
I currently use Grado SR225i's, which aren't the right tool for the job. They are nice for listening though.

I tried a couple of mid-level Grado models...can't recall the specific models though.  I'm usually more focused on the sound than anything, but the ear cups on both of those that I auditioned weren't very comfortable.  Do all Grado's have the round profile that sits more on the ear than around them?

AFAIK, they are all open back. They do have a reputation for being uncomfortable and I'd agree they are when compared to other offerings. When I first got mine, I wanted to take them off after about 30 mins. I judiciously bent them out a hair and now I feel like I've got a good compromise between clamping force and comfort and can wear them for about an hour (which is as long as I want to be sitting in one spot anyway). They lack deep bass, but what's there is tight and sweet.

And, regarding the necessity of an amp, just be careful to match the impedance of your phones to the application. There are some difficult to drive phones out there. I like that I can continue my sluttiness unabated going in to the future without limitations. Here is a good article about the subject by the guy who designed the O2/ODAC:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/headphone-amp-impedance.html

BTW, my Creek integrated's headphone output has an impedance of 560 Ohms! So do your homework before you buy.

Offline ts

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2014, 04:16:38 PM »
I currently use Grado SR225i's, which aren't the right tool for the job. They are nice for listening though.

I tried a couple of mid-level Grado models...can't recall the specific models though.  I'm usually more focused on the sound than anything, but the ear cups on both of those that I auditioned weren't very comfortable.  Do all Grado's have the round profile that sits more on the ear than around them?

All but the top end models. I recently upgraded my Grado SR80's with the Grado G Cushion ear pads. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=544614&Q=&is=REG&A=details 

Much better than what they came with. A little pricey at 45 bucks for the pair but much more comfortable. Improved the sound a bit to.
Beyerdynamic CK930>Sound Devices MixPre 6

Offline OOK

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2014, 09:49:45 PM »
Let me first say how sorry I am to tonedeaf...  I personally feel responsible for your current new addiction, but misery loves company :-*

The list below is a pretty dam good one.  All are a great bang for the buck headphones and all have great reviews.

Headphones
Sennheiser HD600 (open back reference phones for general listening and audio mastering)
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro (semi-open back bass heavy phones for fun listening to most of the types of music I like)
Audio Technica ATH-M50 (closed back phones for taking to the gig...I already owned these)
Shure SE-215 (IEMs for the office...I also already owned these)

If your looking for a pair of headphones made for monitoring/mastering you are better off getting the Beyer DT-880.

I'm considering a pair of DT770 Pro's for monitoring duty. I currently use Grado SR225i's, which aren't the right tool for the job. They are nice for listening though.

I haven't found a Grado I liked.  I can't put my finger on  it, I just don't like them.  And to answer the question they are all open back.  I did read somewhere a limited run closed back is in development, but I haven't read any reviews yet.

I tried a couple of mid-level Grado models...can't recall the specific models though.  I'm usually more focused on the sound than anything, but the ear cups on both of those that I auditioned weren't very comfortable.  Do all Grado's have the round profile that sits more on the ear than around them?

These are on my short list too, along with the Schitt Vahalla.  I have been reading though that Tube Amps don't play well in terms of noise when close to a computer.

On the wish list is a good stay at home tube amp to connect downstream of the ZDac, perhaps a Wu Audio WA-6 if I have the money or Little Dot MKIII if budget concerns prevail.
DPA/HEB 4060's > R09HR
MBHO648/KA100Lk/KA200/KA300/KA500 > SD702

stevetoney

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2014, 08:10:24 AM »
Let me first say how sorry I am to tonedeaf...  I personally feel responsible for your current new addiction, but misery loves company :-*

No apologies necessary, that is unless you ever come face-to-face with my wife.   :P

Offline page

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2014, 10:57:17 AM »
I haven't found a Grado I liked.  I can't put my finger on  it, I just don't like them.

+1

They are amazing for electric rock guitars, but I don't listen to anything that is *just* electric rock guitars. I went through 2 pair, the Alesandro MS-1 and a pair of Grados and didn't like either. They need some seriously dark and warm/smooth tubes with a dash of sparkle on the top to really get it firing on all cylinders. I don't doubt that you can coax some excellent sound out of them, but I didn't want to frig with that at the time.

I have been reading though that Tube Amps don't play well in terms of noise when close to a computer.

In my experience they are environmentally sensitive. I had a Little Dot and it needed to be about 2' away from anything electrical (computers, power cables, cell phones, hard drives, etc).
"This is a common practice we have on the bus; debating facts that we could easily find through printed material. It's like, how far is it today? I think it's four hours, and someone else comes in at 11 hours, and well, then we'll... just... talk about it..." - Jeb Puryear

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Jim Williams

stevetoney

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2014, 11:06:56 AM »
I have been reading though that Tube Amps don't play well in terms of noise when close to a computer.

In my experience they are environmentally sensitive. I had a Little Dot and it needed to be about 2' away from anything electrical (computers, power cables, cell phones, hard drives, etc).
[/quote]

So the tubes buzz if they're too close?

Offline raymonda

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2014, 11:20:54 AM »
Forget about a dedicated headphone amp. If you have a decent stereo amp you can use it to drive your headphones by making your own break out box or buying a "Can Opener" from Vinylflat. They go for around $65.00.

I also find that the AKG 702's are a nicely balanced headset. I prefer them over the Grado RS2's I owned for 10 years. and.....they are super comfy.

Thank me later!

I've read that the Can Opener is awesome, especially for the price.  Good advice for those that already have a good component-based system.  I don't have a good system, so at the advice of my two mentors, I'm building a computer-based system from the phones backwards to the 24/48 FLAC library that I've got saved and backed up on a 1tb passport drive that I can carry with me back and forth to work.

For what you would pay for a good headphone amp you can buy a good speaker based amp and add a break out box. You would most likely save money. too. There are plenty of great deals on 17-25 watt tube amps out there, that can be had. Couple that to a DA USB based pre-amp and your set. This way you have your headphone system taken care of and all you need to add is some decent speakers down the road and your (open air) playback system is up and running.

Really, I've gone your route.....with good results, too, I might add.....however, I've discovered, and learned, that there is a better way with less boxes and better sound.....that saves money. Sounds too good to be true but it is not. Unless, of course, you like lots of boxes and have a desire to stimulate our economy.

I would also add that many of the USB based AD's come with good headphone amps and usually allow for op amp rolling. Yulong and Matrix come to mind. These can easily be carried to and from work and you can use the headphone out section for pleasurable listening. I swapped out my op amps in my Matrix Mini i and have improved the headphone section. Not that the stock op amp was bad....just the new one improved it. Now I have a second headphone amp for late night listening  for more than I listener.

FYI, I bought a Jolida 102....did some mods too it and use this, along with my Can Opener for daily headphone listening. I also use the Jolida to drive my Klipsch Heresey (modded of course), as a second playback system. All very nice.... and with an added sub.....works well. Not my reference system but enjoyable none the less...and affordable.

So. I paid $65 for the break out box......$300 for the amp.......$300 for the Matrix for a total of $675.....and I have a great headphone system and a good second playback system. There are other options out there....this is just one example of how you can have your cake and eat it too.

Really, don't get stuck in a paradigm!
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 11:34:05 AM by raymonda »

Offline page

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014, 11:32:54 AM »

I have been reading though that Tube Amps don't play well in terms of noise when close to a computer.

In my experience they are environmentally sensitive. I had a Little Dot and it needed to be about 2' away from anything electrical (computers, power cables, cell phones, hard drives, etc).

So the tubes buzz if they're too close?

buzz, chatter, all sorts of noise. Some of it's super noticeable, some of it's rather subtle.

It's not a vote against tubes, just a nuance you have to be careful about. I was able to get my tube amp to get really close to that inky black background that I covet, but it requires effort. Thats all.
"This is a common practice we have on the bus; debating facts that we could easily find through printed material. It's like, how far is it today? I think it's four hours, and someone else comes in at 11 hours, and well, then we'll... just... talk about it..." - Jeb Puryear

"Nostalgia ain't what it used to be." - Jim Williams

Offline raymonda

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2014, 11:36:42 AM »

I have been reading though that Tube Amps don't play well in terms of noise when close to a computer.

In my experience they are environmentally sensitive. I had a Little Dot and it needed to be about 2' away from anything electrical (computers, power cables, cell phones, hard drives, etc).



So the tubes buzz if they're too close?

buzz, chatter, all sorts of noise. Some of it's super noticeable, some of it's rather subtle.

It's not a vote against tubes, just a nuance you have to be careful about. I was able to get my tube amp to get really close to that inky black background that I covet, but it requires effort. Thats all.


I run tons of electronics, digital and computer stuff and never once had any problems with interference with my Jolida.

stevetoney

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Re: Headphone/Amp Rig
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2014, 12:11:21 PM »
As to the tube noise of a headphone amp, most headphone amps have exposed tubes, so I've got to believe shielding has alot to do with how much noise you'd get from nearby devices.

EDIT:  Jon beat me to the answer about shielded tubes.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 01:35:31 PM by tonedeaf »

 

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