Please Critque My Planned Journey Into Better Audio

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by phorkz, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Hi guys,

    I am planning on getting into some better quality audio, as i am starting to amass a decent FLAC music collection. I have a plan for what i want to do, and would like some input on what you guys think, keep in mind, the setup is for music playback only, no games(thats my other pc), no recording/mixing of any kind.

    Currently Have:

    Sennheiser HD650's

    http://en-au.sennheiser.com/high-quality-headphones-around-ear-audio-surround-hd-650

    These are still brand new in the box, birthday present coming up next month.

    What i plan on doing, in order of purchase:

    DAC:

    Schiit Audio Modi 2 Uber

    http://schiit.com/products/modi-2

    AMP:

    Schiit Magni 2 Uber

    http://schiit.com/products/magni-2


    Source is an older LGA775 rig:

    Q6688 Quad Core @ 3GHZ
    GTX 295 GPU
    GA-P35-DS3P Mobo
    4GB Ram
    Win 7 on SSD + storage hdd's.
    Soundblaster X-Fi Platinum (won't be used as using usb)
    PCI USB 3 card, which is what i plan on connecting the DAC to.

    How i plan on connecting this setup:

    Source ---USB(PCI USB 3 card)---Modi 2 DAC----RCA----Magni 2 Amp-----stock hd650 cable----hd650 headphones.

    I would also in the future(not at the same times as purchasing amp/dac) purchase a 2.1 setup.

    Monitors

    M-Audio BX8 Carbon's (2 set)

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/view/bx8-carbon#.Ve4X3tKqpBc

    Subwoofer

    M-Audio BX Subwoofer

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/view/bx-subwoofer#.Ve4YLNKqpBc

    How i plan to connect these:

    Source-----USB cable(PCI USB3 Card)-----Modi 2 DAC-----RCA---Magni 2 AMP-----RCA(from amp preout)-------Subwoofer-----TRSx2-----Both Monitors.

    I realize this is using an "unbalanced" connection due to using RCA's, though as just for playback from my research i don't think it matters, feel free to correct me on that though.

    For reference:

    Amp/Dac maximum spend is $5-700 US dollars

    2.1 Monitor + sub setup maximum spend is $$7-1000 US dollars

    I realize that isn't alot of money, and i understand that, but i am new and just getting into this, and don't have a lot of cash laying around right now(11 month old bub). I will certainly upgrade in a few years if i feel the need to.

    Certain things i am worried about:

    I have been told on various forums etc. that:

    "Headphone amps are not good at running monitors"

    Though as i currently understand, if i am using powered monitors + powered sub, and only using preamp output for these from the amp, that it does not matter the amp, as it is just the interface that matters?

    "Magni/Modi stack will drive the HD650's but nowhere near their potential"

    Am i wasting these headphones by using a Magni/Modi stack with them?

    Well, i hope i have made at least some sense, feel free to pick me up on anything you think i am doing wrong, or could do better.

    Just so you know, i am located in Australia, and we do pay more for things here, and have a lesser range than other countries.


    Sorry for being such a long thread, and if you have made it this far, i thank you greatly for reading.

    Any help/info/suggestion much appreciated.
     
  2. John721

    John721 [H]ard|Gawd

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    Your planned headphone setup looks good. I wouldn't change a thing, and I wouldn't worry about the amp. I suspect the Magni 2 uber can power the HD650s to even ear damaging levels with relative ease and do it with plenty of quality. In fact, according to the test bench measurements at innerfidelity, only 0.13 milliwatts are needed to get the HD650s to 90db. Schitt indicates that the Magni 2 uber, at 600 ohms, yields 160 milliwatts RMS per channel
. Should be more than enough headroom there, but if there isn't your ears will tell you quick enough to make returns.

    As for speakers, I'd say your setup should be good, too. One other option could be a receiver + bookshelf speakers + a subwoofer of your own choosing. But if you wanted to stick with monitors, consider researching more options. M-audio has a lot of competition in the price range.
     
  3. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Ok, thank you for your time and response.

    Another set i looked at were the JBL lSR308's

    http://www.jblpro.com/www/products/recording-broadcast/3-series/lsr308#.Ve-NNdKqpBc

    Problem is, they take only balanced input it seems.
     
  4. Viper87227

    Viper87227 [H]ard as it Gets

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    I'm currently running very similar to what you are trying to do here. I've got a Bifrost Uber and Asgard 2, and outputting to BX8's. About the only thing your doing different is putting a sub in the mix (albeit with a less expensive dac/amp, but it should work all the same). Your not going to have any issues hooking powered monitors up to that amp.
     
  5. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Yeah ok, how do you find the bass output of the BX8's? i might go with 2.0 first to see if i really need the sub.
     
  6. |Tch0rT|

    |Tch0rT| [H]ard|Gawd

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    They'll take unbalanced. I ran my LSR305's that way for a while.

    Also about your first post the Schiit Magni Modi combo is powerful enough to power the Sennheiser HD650's just fine. That combo can power most headphones except maybe some low sensitivity planars.
     
  7. RandemTox

    RandemTox Limp Gawd

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    The HD650s scale very well, so while they will benefit from higher-end DACs and amps they’re going to sound amazing with the Modi 2U/Magni 2U combination (and it’ll drive them to ear-splitting levels if you so choose). They are most certainly not wasted on that combination and unless you listen critically they may be all the DAC/amp you ever need.

    I think you’re starting in just about the perfect place.

    The next, meaningful (and appropriate) step up would be to a Bifrost Uber and Mjolnir 2, as far I’ve heard. Asgard 2 isn’t a big enough jump, and Lyr (at least the original, I’ve not heard Lyr 2 or the new LISST “tubes”) was a bit too dark with the Sennheisers.

    I’d consider, if you have the ability to hear them and change the cans that it sounds like have already been bought, listening to the HiFiMan HE-400 … but they are very different in presentation to the Sennheisers.

    While I have an array of DACs, amps and headphones, I still have my HD650s and they still get use – even in the face (or ear, I guess) of much “higher end” gear.

    Can’t comment on your speaker choices, but the configuration you describe will function.

    (If you do order the Schiit combination, snag the PYST cables while you’re at it, they make for a neat installation and are solidly made as well).
     
  8. HammerSandwich

    HammerSandwich [H]ard|Gawd

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  9. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    OK, thanks for the info guys.

    Regarding the JBL LSR308's accepting an unbalanced TRS input, would there be any degradation in music quality using unbalanced cables into a balanced input?
     
  10. |Tch0rT|

    |Tch0rT| [H]ard|Gawd

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    No, the major difference between balanced and unbalanced is balanced has a reduction of susceptibility to external noise. There is no sound quality difference if there is no interference (when running unbalanced).
     
  11. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Yeah ok, guess at this stage its the JBL LSR308's vs the M-Audio BX8 Carbon's, any other choices at the price range i should consider?
     
  12. Astral Abyss

    Astral Abyss 2[H]4U

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    I have a Modi 2U / Vali on my PC connected through USB and powering some Sennheiser HD650s. It's loud enough to tear my eardrums out if I want to, and still crystal clear. I love the Vali sound with my HD650s. I can sit and listen to it for hours. It's got a natural sound that imparts a sense of intimacy to the music. Almost like you're in the room with the artist. You might want to give it a try vs the Magni 2U. If you've ever wanted to try a hybrid tube amp to see if it's for you, this is the way to do it. Only thing that sucks about the Vali is that it's not brushed aluminum so the color is slightly off if you pair it with a Modi. Doesn't bother me, but it might bother you.

    I have a Bifrost Uber and a Lyr 2 as well, and I can tell you that the Modi / Vali can hold their own. It's an amazing value for the sound quality you get.


    EDIT: Oh, I got sidetracked and forgot to say that the potential setup you listed looks perfect. Exactly the way I would connect it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  13. Epos7

    Epos7 Limp Gawd

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    I have a pair of Sennheiser HD600s.

    Have you looked into the O2/ODAC? The designer also used a pair of HD650s, so I think that setup would work quite well for you.

    http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/

    I built my own O2/ODAC, but you can also buy the O2/ODAC combo assembled from JDS Labs for $279.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  14. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Thanks for the input guys.

    I went ahead and purchased the Modi 2 Uber / Magni 2 Uber stack last night, along with the PYST cables, for a tidy setup more than anything.

    I think one day i will upgrade the stack to a better Schiit stack (not in the near future), but it really depends on how i like the sound.

    I don't know what to expect, i have never owned or even listened to a decent set of headphones, or a proper stereo speaker setup that wasn't just regular hifi(Regional Australia), or surround sound systems, so i am excited to plug my amp/dac/ headphones in come october 5th(birthday).

    I have a feeling this will be only the start of my "quality" audio journey.

    Will be a little while till i get the cash for the 2.1 setup, and i may even just go with 2.0 to start, but i am excited for that too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  15. TechLarry

    TechLarry Can't find the G Spot

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    I run the M-Audio M3-6/BX Sub setup and I'm very happy with it. I could not possibly need anything louder or better.
     
  16. TypeO

    TypeO [H]ardness Supreme

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    There's a lot of options but I have a set of 308's hooked up to my Gungnir multi-bit via XLR and it's amazing. I am definitely pleased with the speakers. I just have them on my desk with a set of Auralex pads. If you end up with the 308's, you won't be sad. I'm sure the BX8's are probably nice as well but I have never heard them. I've run the 308's in balanced and unbalanced and was satisfied with either.
     
  17. |Tch0rT|

    |Tch0rT| [H]ard|Gawd

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    You probably won't really need anything more unless you get into esoteric types of headphones like planars (HiFi Man) and electrostats (Stax). The thing in audio is just cuz it's more expensive doesn't make it better. There's lots of people out there that'll wow you with subjective mumbo jumbo like making out this amp or that DAC to be some holy grail that costs crazy amounts of money but it isn't necessarily better than some cheaper stuff. Speaking of which avoid Head-Fi like the plague, before you know it they'll convince you that you need cryo wires and convert your headphones to balanced, there's a reason why they welcome the noobs by saying "Sorry about your wallet". I'm more of the objective type, I like measurements and proof personally.

    You'll be going through all your favorite albums and be blown away at how much better they sound with a huge ass grin on your face (assuming the recordings are decent). Be careful, it can be addicting. :)
     
  18. Epos7

    Epos7 Limp Gawd

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    This is excellent advice.

    The designer of the O2/ODAC I mentioned earlier was banned from Head-Fi for being involved in a discussion of objective measurements demonstrating that one of Schiit's amps had a serious design flaw. Schiit is a Head-Fi sponsor.

    The amp in question was one of their earlier designs, and while I think Schiit could have handled it better, they did offer to repair or replace any of the amps that they had already sold, but not before downplaying the issue. I have never heard any of their products but they have many fans. I don't mean to single out Schiit, the point is that those who would have you spend more money constantly upgrading tend to take issue with an objective stance in evaluating equipment.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2015
  19. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    Thanks for this especially, i have been frequenting Head Fi in the last few months while doing my research, i have found there are helpful, more realistic down to earth guys there (similar to yourself it seems) but there are also ALOT of dudes that just seem like they are out to complicate and increase the cost immensely of the situation, though i guess they are just trying to help also.

    I have found [H] to have a hell of a lot more of the helpful more realistic types in all categories i frequent here which is why i posted in this forum.
     
  20. ironforge

    ironforge [H]ard|Gawd

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    Huh?? I have a Magni/Modi stack and the quality is quite good. They drive my phillips fidelio X1 headphones. Should have no problem driving 650's. Now if you want a warm "tube" sound, that is just a personal preference.

    Your setup looks good to me for the headphones. I bought my stuff after reading on head-fi, mostly the gaming headphones thread, but they also kick butt on music.
     
  21. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    This is the actual copy paste quote from the Head Fi forum from a response i got:

    "The Schiit stack will work OK, but it is far from what these headphones are capable of. "

    What i wrote in my OP was from memory, but you get the idea.
     
  22. Astral Abyss

    Astral Abyss 2[H]4U

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    What that translates to is, "If you spend a crapload more money, you'll get better sound." Yeah, no kiddin? Don't get caught up in the upgrade trap. I'm pretty sure a lot of those guys care more about their gear than they actually do listening to the music they supposedly bought it for.

    Trust me, you're going to love your Schiit. It sounds great with the HD650s. Also doesn't hurt that they look quite nice with the brushed aluminum and white LEDs.

    Also, the guy Epos7 is talking about, nwavguy, is a douchebag. You should go read some of his posts if you want to see how NOT to try and get your point across on a forum. All that was missing was the ability to see through the computer screen to watch him waving his hands wildly and getting red in the face. Also, I never trust someone with an agenda. He's selling competing products and attacks another vendor, in this case Schiit. I believe it was about a muting relay or something in one of their amps that was causing potential damage to headphones. A legitimate complaint, but he had no class. Not the way to get my business.
     
  23. HammerSandwich

    HammerSandwich [H]ard|Gawd

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    I almost agree, except there are a LOT of expensive products that stink. IMO, folks who believe that different amps/cables/whatever sound significantly different should not buy 1 costly rig. Better to have a collection of affordable equipment they can match to certain recordings or moods. This is easier with headphones than speakers & listening rooms. Either way it can solve the problem of liking (the music on) a recording, but not the reproduction.

    Amen. phorkz, get your gear running, then spend more time listening & less time on the forums. If you "need" to spend money, buy more music. That's not an upgrade; it's an add-on.

    I don't disagree about his tone, but I recall that he open-sourced his designs & claimed to earn nothing from any sales. I got the feeling he was on a mission to put empirical science above subjectivism & wore his frustrations on his sleeve.

    In fairness, plenty of audiophiles from both the objective & subjective tribes have shown similarly childish behavior. Audio would be a lot better off if the only Us and Them in it were Pink Floyd's.
     
  24. Epos7

    Epos7 Limp Gawd

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    I didn't find him to be a douchebag. The fact that he was open and honest and able to provide objective measurements to cut through the marketing crap was refreshing. He may have come across as a little pretentious, but after the results he found testing a bunch of headphone amps I can understand why he would feel that way.

    He didn't make any money from his designs. They are all open source and free to use. If he had an agenda, it was a more admirable one than those who tried to smear his work. I saw the rants that Schiit posted in response. If anyone had no class, it wasn't NwAvGuy.

    His blog is an invaluable resource if you have the time to read it.

    A Head-Fi user posted a video of the driver in his AKG headphones deforming pretty severely upon power down of his Schiit Asgard amp. He was wondering if it was damaging his headphones. Schiit (and the Head-Fi staff) responded defending the amp and saying it was perfectly safe. NwAvGuy said that deformation that extreme could only be the result of the power down transient being much higher than what Schiit was reporting. Schiit continued to deny the issue, and attacked NwAvGuy's credibility, until several Asgard owners measured their amps and found the power down transient was about 15 times higher than what Schiit was claiming. At this point Schiit apparently measured some of the amps for the first time and acknowledged the design was out of spec. To their credit they offered to repair any Asgard units free of charge and did fix the issue on all future units sold. Their initial response to the issue, however, was pretty suspect IMO. The headphones in question were an expensive AKG model, and AKG reported a power down transient over 0.25 volts could harm the headphones. The Schiit Asgard measured at 2.2 volts.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  25. Astral Abyss

    Astral Abyss 2[H]4U

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    Or buy a Lyr 2, Project Ember, or other tube amp and start shopping ebay for cheap tubes and bargains. Get different sounds, doesn't break the bank, and can be fun. Me personally, there's so much music I still want to purchase and listen to that I'd rather be buying music than more gear. Don't forget you can surf the forums while listening to your music. ;)

    Totally legit complaints. No argument there. I wouldn't want that kind of transient blasting my headphones. I actually did read a lot of the back and forth and I guess I just saw it a bit differently. This was before I had bought any of my Schiit gear and was doing research.
     
  26. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    A little off-topic, but good information none the less, thank you.

    Post tracking puts my Schiit stack here tomorrow or the next day, then long wait till OCT 5th haha.

    I have 'purchased' alot of quality lossless music over the last few months, so will have a good collection to have a good listen to, including my old time favourites (TOOL) and new stuff i am yet to hear but am interested in.

    Got a new desk coming to accommodate the monitor setup in the future too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  27. Epos7

    Epos7 Limp Gawd

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    Enjoy! I think you'll really like those Sennheisers with proper amplification. If the DAC and amp work well, you won't notice they're there ;)
     
  28. atarione

    atarione [H]ard|Gawd

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    some will know I'm somewhat biased ... I am a fan of vintage stereo equipment

    w/ my DT880's (premium 250ohms) I frequently use my Sony TA-E77ESD preamplifier as the headphone amp... quite nice indeed... really better than my FiiO E09K honestly ..

    for my speakers I have the Matching TA-N77ES (275~ vintage watts 65lbs :D...giant analog power meters ..see photo) w/ a pair of JBL L1 speakers....


    I also just a couple weeks ago picked up a Yamaha CX-630 for small monies $15 it does a fine job w/ the DT880's as well..


    how well the used / vintage route works i suppose depends on your luck and where you live in no small part...it kinda rains vintage scores on me for some reason or other... :D

    not my best photographic work but this is the yammy

    [​IMG]


    and here is my sony stuff:

    [​IMG]



    if you could find a nice vintage piece (or pieces) and some 2nd hand speakers in good shape you can do quite well for little money ... my luck has been honestly better than most I paid $75 for the whole sony stack (amp , pre, tuner, tape deck, 2nd amp N110 and a surround processor and $40 for the JBL L1's (also pictured is my $11 Monitor Audio Silver S1's..and other stuff).
     
  29. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    That vintage stuff looks good, not sure how i would go in my area though. Anywho:

    [​IMG]
    pic host :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  30. SixFootDuo

    SixFootDuo [H]ardness Supreme

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    Some advice on the M-Audio Studio Monitors ...... they like to die ... just google around and look for problems with them, you will see a ton of people with non working speaker(s).

    I literally had 2 sets go bad within 6 months on me ... no lie.

    The first set came from Craigslist from an Engineering Student from KU in Lawrence. They were in perfect condition and he never really used them much. That fall, 6 months later, I lost a tweeter.

    The 2nd pair came from Sweetwater and again had the same issue, lost a tweeter and speaker cutout all at the same time. I personally have zero trust with this brand. It's not uncommon to come across stories like mine in various forums.

    There's a reason why they are the cheapest monitors on the market

    I would go with KRK. If you live in a large enough area, Craigslist always has people selling these fairly often and for about half of retail. Also check Guitar Center as they buy used equipment. Sadly, retarded kids like to push in dust caps sometimes.
     
  31. phorkz

    phorkz Limp Gawd

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    OK thanks for that i will definitely keep that in mind. I am not 100% what monitors i am going to go with yet, and will be a couple of months till i have the coin anyway, so am still on the search.