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Another where do I go next thread - help before I go insane

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#1
Ok straight to the point I have a

Topping D50 DAC
Schiiit magni 3 amp
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Budget ideally $300 to 400, perhaps upto $700 if the sound quality would be that much better i.e. I'll break the bank to get something truly awesome.

So as per many I want a 'better' sound, I've looked at many reviews and internet 'stuff' on amps, headphones and although most reviews will say xyz sounds good or whatever or compare x to y it's hard to know whether upgrading your specific kit will be audible or worth it.

So anyhow I'm focusing on my amp for the upgrade - 'I think' that'll give me the most noticeable sound improvement, I've looked at the THX AAA 788 and that seems like the obvious choice but I live in the UK and there's no massdrop drop until May plus import issues so I'm not going to even consider this amp.

I've considered the ifi nano, I like the idea of the Bur brown DACs, I listen to mostly Tidal so I also like the idea of the MQA support although I don't think that's a full unfold ? so perhaps of no consequence. The ifi Mirco would break the bank so I'd prefer other options unless the Micro would be a significant upgrade ? From reviews though I get the feeling these won't produce such a noticeable upgrade ?

I reckon a Burson fun amp might be a good upgrade and then perhaps roll the Opamps later for perhaps the Vivid Opamps, thats my current plan. I can get this for £300 which is around $400, then later another $100 for the better Opamps.

It's mentally painful to figure out what to upgrade and to what, any help, thoughts or opinions would be massively appreciated...
 

TimW

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#2
The Schiiit magni 3 is not perfect but it does have plenty of power. I think most people here are going to recommend the JDS Labs Atom as a replacement if you really want a new amp. You won't get a massive improvement in fidelity by "upgrading" your amp.

In my opinion the thing you should be looking to upgrade is your headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X are very popular but there are definitely higher fidelity options in the market. If I were you I would spend the $300-$700 on a new set of cans. This will give you the biggest upgrade for your money. It doesn't make sense to spend twice as much on your amp/dac then on your headphones.
 
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#3
I've looked at headphones and I was considering some Beyerdynamic 250 ohm cans but then I ended up finding a you tube video that did a comparison using a mic between the M50's and some Beyerdynamic cans and I could hear a noticeable better bass from the M50's which made me think I'm kind of ok with my headphones. Yes I know you might argue more bass doesn't mean better bass and that a mic can't really give you a good impression of what you'll really hear.

Although looking at the Beyerdynamic range with the 7, 8 and 9 series - closed back, semi open and fully open then the difference impedance options it becomes yet another impossible choice. I was thinking a series 8 seeing as I like my bass and didn't want too much noise to bleed out, then probably 250 ohms seeing as the 600's might be tricky to drive with no real benefit in sound quality ?

I do wonder if I'm the only one that feels like rage quitting audio and just settle with the sound I've got :)
 
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#4
@Tidaliser You might be suffering from audiophile disease. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the stack you have. Remember that the average distortion of headphones in the midrange & treble falls around -50dB and it could be as low as -20dB in the bass frequencies. So a different DAC or amp is unlikely to improve anything that can be perceived. One thing that matters is amplifier output impedance and magni 3's impedance is already < 1 ohm. You already have a good amp.

A study at Harman showed that people preferred headphones that had the lower distortion in the bass region. M50X has very low distortion throughout the audible frequency range. In fact, it is routinely used in studios for monitoring.

If you don't like a particular sound signature, the first step is to use a parameteric equalizer that should fix most of the issues.

Enjoy your music
 
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#5
Thanks for you replies, I used to use a EQ but to be honest I don't feel I need to or want to anymore, I've messed with some Windows EQ software and most the time I set the EQ to something for some track and then next track plays and it ends up sounding awful. I use a EQ in my car because my head unit has one and my speakers aren't that good but other than that I'm kind of anti EQ now - direct audio for me :)
 
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#6
And yes the magni 3 is a good amp but I want a better than good amp, I've watched quite a few reviews from Zeos and he seems to confirm the magni 3 is ok but not something he'd prefer or get excited about.
 
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#7
And yes the magni 3 is a good amp but I want a better than good amp, I've watched quite a few reviews from Zeos and he seems to confirm the magni 3 is ok but not something he'd prefer or get excited about.
Please don't take audio advice from techtubers or head-fi. Their agenda is not helping you but to increase their view count and revenue. Take advice from people who have studied Electronics who might have a clue or two about amps, DACs. This forum and hydrogenaud.io are two forums where people who are in the industry and design the products hang around.
 
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#8
Oh and I'll also say this, a while back I bought a cheap valve amp and that had a fantastic punch to the bass frequencies to the point I could feel the sound pressure hitting the side of my head - if you know what I mean, the magni 3 doesn't deliver any where near same amount of punch. The cheap valve amp had distorted mids so I sent it back to Amazon, so yeah that's at least 1 aspect I'd like to have in a new amp - more drive, perhaps not volume but more current perhaps ? I could be talking out my neck and that punch might have been some crazy impedance thing that just exaggerated bass levels ?
 
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#10
I also wonder if audio science actually measure the current drive of amps i.e. as the impedance goes up / the resistance then obviously less current is needed to drive the headphones, more voltage is needed to drive the headphones so the same power level. So what happens when you reduce the headphone impedance to your typical ohms of 16 to 32, do amps then suffer from insufficient current needed to produce low level punch ?
 
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#12
hhhm I hear the HD600 have a kind of boring sound signature, I'm after some low bass punch and exciting / bright mids and highs, wound't a Beyerdynamic 'something' be better ?
 
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#13
To quote one review / opinion for the HD600 "They are balanced towards a warmer, safer, less-challenging sound. At £300, they are expensive. It is my belief you could do much better for that sort of money now, so 3 stars. ". That's the problem - comparisons, if all I've heard is the HD600 cans or M50X's or my magni 3 how do I know what's better, it's an expensive game to 'just try' xyz, yes I can send items back if I use Amazon, but I'd rather get it right first time if I can...
 

TimW

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#14
I have the Sennheiser HD6XX (HD650) and I don't find them boring at all but they have a different tuning than the HD600. If you like watching YouTube headphone reviews you should know that the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro's are highly praised. If there is a hi-fi headphone shop near where you live you could go have a listen for yourself. I've found that listening to headphones in person is much more rewarding then studying subjective reviews.
 

Ron Texas

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#15
Sennheiser HD6XX are in stock at Massdrop, $200. Focal Elear are on closeout sale, around $549 at Amazon and headphones.com. The latter has a 360 day return period. I have both the HD6xx and M50X. Sometimes the M50X's sound boomy.
 
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#16
I feel bad about testing headphones in a shop then going to buy them online for a cheaper price, although there are hifi shops near ish I'm not sure what heahphones they have and whether they would allow testing etc. probably just as much pain as ordering from Amazon and sending back. Not sure also I'd want open backs due to the external noise problem, my M50X's bleed loads of noise and the levels I listen at I'm frequently being told to 'turn it down' at night.
 

TimW

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#19
Most hifi shops I've been to are very accommodating and have headphones out for listening. If you go to their website they usually list brands they sell and if not you could always call them. I've never actually bought headphones from these places but the salesman are usually just happy to have someone in the store to talk about audio with.
 
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#20
So the JDS Labs Atom is some how better than the magni 3 ? they are both about the same price, the Burson fun is 3 times the price, I'm not expecting 3 times the quality but surely the Burson is better in some way compared to the magni 3 ?

Anything wrong with the Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO ? these are semi open back so I'm thinking you're getting a bit of both worlds of closed and open backs.
 

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