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Audiophilia: Headphones, Amps, DAPs, and Empty Wallets

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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    edited July 2011
    :angry face:
    Left my speaker wire at my dads. I have zero. I also need another HDMI cable. Argh.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • EnigEnig a.k.a. Ansatz Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Got my Xonar DG installed. The difference in clarity is definitely noticeable. A more expensive card would no doubt be better, but this is at least baseline what I expect audio to sound like (as opposed to the onboard mush), so my ears and I are quite pleased for $30.

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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Excellent song to check headphone frequency response with:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHOkmAZHq_Y

    I wish there were a 1080p upload of it, though. 480p is meh for sound quality.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Alright, recently tried out some speakers.

    Had a short time with some paradigm speakers, and I like them a lot. Thinking of getting the paradigm titans, which I heard is very good. With an AV receiver that's $1500. Not including stands.

    Also tried some polkaudio and klipsch. Don't like Polk. Dunno if it's the amps fault, but it sounds very veiled to me, with recessed trebles. I like klipsch though. Nice bright aggressive sound, though too bright sometimes. B20 bookshelves with av for $900 or floorstanding speakers with av for $1500 makes it very tempting.

    This will not be for my home theatre system (though I'll be using so it's all the same:P ) so it's not my decision to make, but I'm leaning towards paradigm titans. Decisions decisions.

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  • PirusuPirusu Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I'm not an expert by any means, but generally what I've been told is that Paradigms have excellent fidelity, and are great music speakers. Klipsch, with the horn drivers, are less, I dunno, "crisp", but are great for things like movies.

    My audiophile friend, for example, isn't a fan of horns, so doesn't like the way Klipsch stuff sounds at all.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to what sounds good to you, though, and at that price point, you can't really go wrong with either of those options.

  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I have a pair of Paradigm Titans, v2's so they're about 10 years old now, and I still love them. They were first pair of good speakers and have served me very well for music and movies/HT/gaming. I also have a pair of Atoms and a CC-170 center channel that made up the rest of my HT setup. Paradigm has always had some of the best bang for the buck speakers on the market.

    Some other speakers worth listening to if you can find them locally are the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 and the PSB Alpha B1 and/or B2. The Diamond 10.1's have been getting a lot of coverage and recent issues of Stereophile Magazine, and the PSB Alpha B1's have been a perennial budget favorite. That doesn't mean you'll like either speaker, but they're worth a listen to if a local shop has them.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Managed to get a deal for the titans, yamaha HTR-6063 (I'm pretty sure this is overkill but I've got a good deal on it), stands (why are bookshelve stands so bloody expensive?), and delivery for $1496. Plus some cables too I think.

    Pretty good I feel.

    I know some places that sell wharfedale but not the diamond series. I think the deal I got is better though.

    This is for my parent's home theatre, but I think I'll stick with headphones. They are alot more convenient without having to worry about stuff like room acoustics which I'm sure would get me up my chakras if I get any deeper into speakers. :P Probably just some audioengine A5s for my PC setup if I ever get to it.

    Antihippy on
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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    Skoal Cat wrote:
    :angry face:
    Left my speaker wire at my dads. I have zero. I also need another HDMI cable. Argh.

    Finally got around to wiring everything up and oh my god. Its amazing how much information disappears into shitty speakers.

    ceres wrote: »
    Skoal Cat is correct.
  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    Speakers came in today but I'm not too sure if I'll be able to wire them up today. :(

    On another note I find this pretty interesting.

    http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/07/banned-at-head-fi.html#comments

    Thread in question.

    http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/562736/what-causes-this-amp-related

    Can't really take either side because I don't fully know the situation, but I do sometimes find the really heavy sponsorship on head-fi fairly disturbing.

    Also I guess schiit owner should look into getting that relay mute retrofitted that schiit is offering for free, which makes head-fi's position seem pretty damning.

    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I think NwAvGuy's stance is correct and he's right to question the manufacturer's word on possible damaging technical issues, but in the forum he does act like a cock and sometimes is intentionally being obtuse with his wording. Also Kwkarth is a cock from pretty much post alpha.

    edit: also, it's not very mature to respond to criticisms on your logic with image macros, that administrator acted just as bad as a common troll even if he had a justified argument.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Today I found out that it's a bugger setting the home theatre up yourself, especially with bare wire connectors, and also especially when the only wire management the TV cabinet has is a 5 cm hole my dad and I quickly drilled in. Also had some trouble getting the audio from the free to air channels but I got it sorted. Need to get another set of RCAs though.

    Got the speakers set up though finally and it sounded pretty good so far, though I might need to use it some more. The manual says that it needs a few hours of burn in. Is there such a thing as speaker burn in?

    Only tested it out for an hour or so on very low volume with hot fuzz and jeff buckley's Grace CD. This song still sounds pretty damn lovely. :X



    The titans are pretty laid back compared to the Klipsch speakers I auditioned and also my HD25s, but that's not a bad thing.

    Will have to test more in the morning.

    Also on my first cut of the bare wire connectors I accidentally cut off a few strands of wire. Shouldn't affect it too much right?

    The titans look really lovely without those boring black covers. Is it alright to leave them off?

    Also could anyone recommend any blu rays or movies to really show them off?

    Antihippy on
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  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    Burn in is another one of those things, like cables, that you either believe in or don't. This time though I fall into the camp of believing in it. I think that with speakers it will take a few weeks of use with sound of some kind moving the drivers for them to burn in and sound their best. I'm not sure how I feel about components but I like to turn my headphone amp on for a few minutes before I use it to let it warm up. Whether or not that actually makes any difference I don't know, but I've just gotten into the habit of doing it.

    Losing a few strands of copper on the cable shouldn't make any difference at all. If you're really worried about it you could just trim off that small section and try again. You could get some banana plugs or spades if you want things to look neat and tidy.

    As far as leaving the speaker grills on or off, it's entirely up to you. There will be a difference in the sound with them on or off, so see what you (or your parents) prefer, but it's going to be very slight.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    Yeah I'll basically run all of my CDs multiple times and pretty much become unproductive as fuck for the rest of the week. :P

    Just wondering though. The Yamaha receiver uses a burson DAC. Is the audio pretty much bypassing the DAC of my PS3/dvd player/whatever to the yamaha DAC and if not is there a way to do so? Is it preferrable to do so?

    Not sure if my last question made sense.

    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    I'm pretty sure if you use optical or coaxial digital into the receiver it will use the Yamaha's internal DAC. If you want to use the DAC of the dvd/cd/etc then you'd use analog into the receiver.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    Oh wait, got the DAC name in the yamaha wrong. It's a burr brown DAC, not a burson dac.

    Any idea if it's worth the trouble to bypass it into the burr brown dac?

    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    The Burr Brown DAC is probably better than what's in the dvd player or whatever else they're using. If you're able pick up a cheap optical cable from Monoprice or some place similar it would be worth it.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    I'll have a look around for it then.

    Mmmm, if these speakers really open up after a few weeks then I can't wait to see how they'll turn out, because they are really nice right now.

    Really nice balanced sound with very good energy and detail too. Probably shouldn't say that it is laidback, it's just that it's not as aggressively bright as the klipsch.

    Also I was worried about how sensitive they are to placement and where you're sitting but luckily they seem pretty forgiving in that aspect.

    Only slight complaint is that the bass doesn't seem as tight.

    Been throwing some metal and hard rocky stuff to see how it'll handle it. Really nice for metal and hard rocky stuff actually. Really nice. Especially these songs.





    (this one especially because it handled the wail at 2:52 really nicely)

    Antihippy on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited July 2011


    I've had this amp on my radar for quite awhile now. Partly because I want to create a fairly professional studio for music production, partly because of how I love the looks.

    Going to be a long time though. :-(( Still saving up for my $1000 setup.

    Antihippy on
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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Got these babies coming in for excercising and stuff where a full size headphone would be too bulky, especially the wires on my HD25.

    http://www.amazon.com/Brainwavz-M3-Hi-Fi-In-ear-Earphones/dp/B004IKAPOO

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  • orionminusorionminus Registered User
    I have a set of HD 650s, had them for almost two years now but I've just been using my PC's on board sound.

    Yeah I know, what a waste. -_-

    But I've just come into some money and I'm not sure if I should get a HeadRoom amp or a regular Onkyo 5.1 home theater receiver.

    I use them for everything: PC gaming, movies/TV shows and music. All 1080p and loseless, whenever possible.

    Any suggestions?

  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    If you're listening only through headphones I think you're better off getting a dedicated headphone amp that has multiple inputs so you can use it with different sources. I'm not sure how much you are comfortable spending, but you could get a Audio GD FUN for about $400 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/FUN/FUNEN.htm). I have an Audio GD Compass which was the model preceding the FUN, and I use it for console and PC gaming through optical and DirecTV and Blu-Ray though coaxial (my monitor has an HDMI input and coaxial output that serves as a switch). I used to use the USB for my computer audio and gaming, but I found that the sound was much better through optical.

    If you're skeptical about the webpage and being made in China don't be. Everything Audio GD makes is made by hand of very high quality components. Any emails I sent were responded to within an hour or two no matter what time of day or night, and my amp was shipped from Guangdong Province to Upstate NY arrived in four days.

    If you're interested in HeadRoom's amps, the comparable amp to the FUN is the Deskptop Amp that costs over $400 more.

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  • orionminusorionminus Registered User
    edited August 2011
    Eh, the site and where it's made don't really WOW me.

    I'm a solid believer of "You get what you pay for" so I don't mind investing into a quality HeadRoom amp because I know that if the thing eats shit that they'll take care of me.

    Call me paranoid I guess but thanks for the recommendation.

    orionminus on
  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Understandable, but I don't think that $400 is buying you anything appreciable. If money is not object, take a look at the Benchmark amps. The DAC1 or DAC1 USB are pricey but extremely good, and highly regarded.

    Crap, I made a long edit to this and something went wrong with the posting and I lost it all. I'll cut out most of what I wanted to say, but the most important part is how many sources are you going to want to hook up to the amp? If it's only USB from your computer and SPDIF or coaxial from something else there are a plethora of good amp/DAC combos that would be suitable. Head-Fi would be a great resource if your looking for reviews an opinions beyond what we can provide for you here.

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    You can also consider the matrix mini I. From what I've read it can drive the hd650 pretty well.

    Good and cheap dac/amp.

    DAC1 is really pricey. I think the DACmagic would be good and you can pair it with a matrix cube if you're looking for something cheaper.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I gave up trying to figure out how to stream/transcode my mkv's to my tv. What's this to do with audio? Well, I got these guys (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/StudiophileBX5aDeluxe.html) and a 3.5mm-to-stereo-1/4" patch so my computer has some decent sound. Very happy with the purchase, especially since my local Guitar Center has a $100 instant rebate right now, bringing it to $199/pair.

  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    So my parents were taking notice of the ads for those Bose wave radio things and asked for my opinion. Of course it was "don't waste your money", but when asked to suggest a few alternatives, I really had no idea. From what I understand, they want a standalone CD player that will make classical music sound good and is very simple to operate, for a few hundred dollars.

    I know this is somewhat counter to the thread, but does anybody have suggestions on where to start for this sort of thing, such as a few brands in this space that aren't terrible? I'd have a clue where to go for a decent surround setup, or even HTIB, but I don't even know where to start here.

    Pony wrote:
    I think that the internet has been for years on the path to creating what is essentially an electronic Necronomicon: A collection of blasphemous unrealities so perverse that to even glimpse at its contents, if but for a moment, is to irrevocably forfeit a portion of your sanity.
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  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    Doot doot doo, just googling what a BOSE Wave is doot d- HOLY FUCKING FUCK $800 for a fucking cd clock radio?!?

    Try something like this instead: http://www.sony.com.au/product/cmt-fx350i

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  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    Fortunately my parents are far too cheap for something like that. Gotta give the marketing lads at Bose some credit though...

    Thanks for the link Chris. I hadn't thought to look at iPod docks that come with a CD player as it seems there isn't much between "clock radio" and "home theatre in a box" levels. For the record I recommended something very much like that with a pair of MDR-V6s for night use. Thanks again for the help.

    Pony wrote:
    I think that the internet has been for years on the path to creating what is essentially an electronic Necronomicon: A collection of blasphemous unrealities so perverse that to even glimpse at its contents, if but for a moment, is to irrevocably forfeit a portion of your sanity.
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  • Pastoriusk2Pastoriusk2 Registered User
    Firstly, all you people need to check out http://www.lipinskisound.com/

    Lipinski speakers are one of the best speakers I have ever heard, and they are one of the best speakers period. Of course they are very expensive, but once you hear them, money is of no concern. The designer, Andrew Lipinski, is a classical recording engineer who has been doing it for more than 30 years. He was recording in surround in the 70's and of course he had to make all his own gear to do that, so it would suffice to say that Lipinski knows what good sound is...

    There is a recording of Gorecki's Third Symphony that he released on Blu-Ray that is simply one of the best recordings ever made. Seriously, when you listen to the surround recording it's as if you were sitting in the audience. What I'm trying to get at is that all speakers in a surround setup are important, and they should all be identical. Sure you can get away with mixing and matching, but the different characteristics ultimately collide with each other, causing you to lose how it was intended to sound.

    The other important things you need for truly great sound is a well constructed room and proper speaker placement. An ideal room would be one without parallel surfaces and with lots of absorption in the front and diffusion in the rear. If you don't have tens of thousands of dollars to build a proper room inside a room, then you can improve the acoustics of your room with absorptive panels and diffusors. Check out these vids here http://www.realtraps.com/videos.htm . They have some really good examples of how a room sounds before and after treatment.

    Yes, I'm talking about all this pro shit and such, but once you can understand how the pros do it, you can apply the same basic principles to a cheap home setup. Let's look at the Lipinski speakers. Why do they sound so good? Well, they are a sealed design so the bass suffers, but the phasing is well preserved because the sound waves coming off the back of the speaker cone don't mix with the ones coming from the front. Remember, a sound wave is nothing more than some vibrating air. So when your speaker pushes outwards, compressing the air in front, its pulling the air apart (rarefaction) on the other side. If these two were to mix somehow, they would cancel out. A sealed design prevents this since the air behind the speaker is trapped in a box and doesn't interact with the air outside. Ported designs can "tune" a speaker so that it will be the most powerful at the tuning frequency (usually a low frequency that a speaker has a hard time reproducing) making it louder, but then you start to have phase issues and port noise. Sure there are well designed ported boxes but for the best sound quality a sealed box would be your best bet. The thicker the box material the better, as you don't want your speaker box to resonate, because then you would be losing sound energy that would be used to push air into your ears. You also want the biggest speakers possible so they actually reproduce the full range from 20Hz to 20kHz. If I were me, I would make me some super huge sealed speakers that had a 15", 10", 6.5", and a soft dome tweeter to cover the whole range; basically a speaker that you wont need a subwoofer for. 5 of them. or 7. One can easily get some 3/4" MDF from home depot and then buy the drivers you need from parts express or something, so you could DIY some really awesome speakers on the cheap.

    So you built some badass speakers, but now you need an amp. Amps are pretty important too (actually anything that carries sound information is important.) The more power, the better. Think about driving on the highway in a Beetle. You probably have to keep your foot down all the time just to not piss people off behind you. Now think about a BMW M5. You can pretty much idle and you'll be doing 120. So the beetle would be a low power amp, struggling to produce a clean waveform at high amplitude, and the BMW would be the high power amp that would be plenty loud and clean at probably less than half the power, but can definitely hit those fast loud noises with ease and confidence. Movies are usually mixed where the dialog is pretty much in the middle in terms of level, and effects like explosions and gunshots and doorslams are the loudest things, so you want your amps to have plenty of reserve power to blow your pants off. Now if you're good with electricity, you could probably build an amp, but most amps for consumers are these dinky recievers that have thousands of chips and features and inputs and buttons and 7x100w amps all for 150$.... or you could spend $150 on a single channel 100w and have a much higher quality amp that wont crap out. My point is, to have nice things, you gotta spend that dough.

    Sweet, you built some bitchin speakers and found some church that was selling all its PA amps for cheaps. Now you need a way to get your source material to the amps. I'm not a fan of internal soundcards because they get all sorts of noise and interference from the computer that it would be worthless to have good speakers. The solution? An external one. I personally use a Mytek 8x192 to feed my amps (8 channels of output so you can configure a 7.1 surround system) but that's a professional mastering AD and DA converter which would be overkill for most of you, but it is one of the cleanest most transparent converters out there. Before I was using an old SB audigy 2, but I couldn't stand the interference and the shitty conversion quality that you definitely notice when you have good speakers. Anyway, I don't really know of any cheap externals converters that have multichannel output that would be in the affordable range. For quality, you gotta spend... that... dough!

    For those of you who could read any of that, grats, you might know a little more about what it takes to achieve sonic perfection. Now go and create the best sounding system you can! It is sooo worth it to just sit down in the middle of a pimpin surround setup and feel like you've been transported to a whole 'nother world. And remember, SPEND... THAT... DOUGH!

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    Hey guys, didn't want to make a new thread just to ask a question, so I'll ask here.
    New 5.1 receiver I got has naked wire connectors for the 5 channels, but a single black RCA female port for the sub. I only have straight copper wires.
    I thought I saw somewhere that you fan get a male connector that just goes on the end of the wire to convert it to plug into RCA. Anyone know where I can get such a thing?
    Or can I buy a new wire that's RCA at one end and two-strand copper at the other?

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  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    It's an easy enough conversion, but are you sure that port is made for that sub? Normally RCA outs are for powered subs (ones that have their own amp) and speaker wire is for unpowered subs.

    Pony wrote:
    I think that the internet has been for years on the path to creating what is essentially an electronic Necronomicon: A collection of blasphemous unrealities so perverse that to even glimpse at its contents, if but for a moment, is to irrevocably forfeit a portion of your sanity.
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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    If your sub uses bare speaker wire then it's likely not powered/amplified. The bare wire connections provide amplified audio signal, while RCA connections usually pass a line level signal (non-amplified). So if your sub is expecting an amplified signal and you jury rig it to connect up to the RCA sub out, you're not going to get much sound out of it if any. Does your sub have a power cable/adapter?

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    The sub has power if I remember right.
    The receiver I just got ($free.99) has a single black RCA female specifically labeled for the sub, but the sub I have from my friends old Samsung system is bare wire connection on the back.
    Radio Shack has a cable that is wire one end and RCA on the other but it's $10 for the stupid thing. But if that's what I have to do, it isn't the worst thing on the world.

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  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Djeet is asking the right question - does the sub have a power cable? If it doesn't, don't hook it up to that amp.

    The output on the amp is for a sub, but it's for a sub that has its own amp. Normally subs(or any speaker) that have two wire connecters are expecting all the electricity they need coming down those two thick wires. Subs that take input from tiny RCA cable wires need to amplify that signal internally.

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    Pony wrote:
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  • Joe KJoe K Registered User regular
    an_alt wrote:
    Djeet is asking the right question - does the sub have a power cable? If it doesn't, don't hook it up to that amp.

    The output on the amp is for a sub, but it's for a sub that has its own amp. Normally subs(or any speaker) that have two wire connecters are expecting all the electricity they need coming down those two thick wires. Subs that take input from tiny RCA cable wires need to amplify that signal internally.

    right, the powered thru the receiver sub is called a passive sub. the "has it's own powersupply" sub is an active sub. don't cross the streams, that would be bad, and active subs are better (in general).

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    The speakers I have were a Samsung HT-X50 home theater set, and the receiver is bunk on it (hence the new one).
    Can't find much on my phone from work, but if you can learn something from that to know what I'm dealing with. And the new receiver is KLH R5100.
    I'll see what I've got when I get home. Guess my wife and I will be watching Dr. Who without bass tonight... :(

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Checking out the back panel and manual you're going to need a power amplifier, like this (http://www.amazon.com/AudioSource-AMP-100-2-Channel-Bridgeable-Amplifier/dp/B00026BQJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313190964&sr=8-1) in bridged/mono mode. You could probably even get away with a cheap PA amp, since you're likely only dealing with sub 200hz. If the $75-100 range is too rich for you then check out CL or Ebay. You want it to have an RCA input, and speaker wire connectors for output.

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    Derp...
    So I need an amp just for the sub, basically? I assume since I've got spring connectors for the speakers those are fine? I guess I'll just live without that sweet, sweet bass for a bit...
    $90 is a bit rich for me, but I do like a good deal. I'll check my local CList and see what I can find.

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  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    Meh, I've been living without bass for a while.

    My main setup is an htpc with an Audigy 4 soundcard feeding into an 8 year old Logitech Z-5100 5.1 system with the fronts replaced with some non-terrible Celestion tower speakers. Everything works fine, except that the volume setting on the sub goes off-loud-loud+.1%-loud+.2%, etc. Since I live in a townhouse and actually like my neighbours, I pretty much always leave the sub set to off instead of loud. My htpc monitor is my tv and a wireless kbam on the coffee table control the playing of movies and music.

    The sad thing is that I've had an actual receiver sitting in a closet for the 6 years I've had the place, but just never got around to picking up a powered sub to be able to swap it for the Z-5100. Though I probably should get a better center speaker before anything else gets upgraded.

    Antihippy, thanks for the rundown of headphones earlier in the thread. I changed my mind on the MDR-V6s and ordered the SRH440 for my parents. As it turns out Amazon won't ship phones or accessories to Canada and most places in Canada want double Amazon's price. It's like we're living in the early 90s with the dollar was worth .66 American.

    Pony wrote:
    I think that the internet has been for years on the path to creating what is essentially an electronic Necronomicon: A collection of blasphemous unrealities so perverse that to even glimpse at its contents, if but for a moment, is to irrevocably forfeit a portion of your sanity.
    Xbox - PearlBlueS0ul, Steam
  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    It's true...the bass isn't powered.
    No bass for now. Got the KLH all set up besides that, though. Only trouble is it's without a remote, so I'm stuck mashing buttons to get things set.

    Also, just started a Dr. Who ep and no bass is weird.

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