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Need recommendations for headphone/IEM & DAC+AMP

xavx

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Sep 4, 2021
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Hello :) After several evenings going through this great forum, I would need your "expert" advices to improve audio quality/fidelity while not breaking the bank (1st step in audiophile world).

My current audio related devices:
Sansa Clip+ (used only with mp3 & cheap earbuds for sport), IphoneSE 1stgen (for portable use), PC with SoundBlaster Z, Hidizs S3 Pro (preordered but not yet received) for use on both PC and Iphone to hopefully improve on both SoundBlaster Z and Iphone DAC & AMP, get 32bits and "test MQA HW unfold"

Current desk speakers: old Logitech Z5400 connected by optical for 5.1 and 3.5 jack for stereo. I find the Z5400 fine (2x stereo surround is great) but lacking details when comparing with headphones.
Any recommendation for active speakers upgrade for better sound quality ? Checked the Amir's review of the Edifier but no clue if they will improve my kit.
Link to Edifier review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/.../edifier-r1280t-powered-speaker-review.16112/

Current headphones: old AKG K271, recently bought K702 (given its reviews but maybe too hard to drive for my devices) and Philips X2HR (rtings showing it as neutral and easy to drive), all PEQed on PC but no EQ on Iphone. I intend to return the K702 and X2HR to Amazon despite I got them cheap (70€ each).

AKG K271: Is my Sound Blaster Z / Hidizs S3Pro powerful enough to drive it properly after Amir PEQ ?
Link to SB Z review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nd-measurements-of-sound-blaster-z-card.9127/
Link to Hidizs S3Pro review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...hidizs-s3-pro-review-headphone-adapter.25876/
Link to K271 review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/.../akg-k271-review-closed-back-headphone.24750/


AKG K702: I like it after oratory PEQ for its frequency balance and soundstage but :
1) Despite the inclined earpads, I can't find the right way to wear these huge ear cups. Less painful way if I put them towards the back of my head but then the speakers are almost behind my ears.
2) The most natural wearing position tends to irritate my ears "pinna" by friction with the earpad fabric (no problem with my K271 which compress both ears and has softer earpad fabric).
3) Plastics are cheaper than my K271 and I guess the elastics will also become loose after some time
4) Is my Sound Blaster Z powerful enough to enjoy this headphone dynamics at normal volume without extra amp ?

Philips X2HR: great build quality, bit too heavy and clamping too much on head and jaws. As pointed by Amir, the sibilance remains highlighted on some tracks despite PEQ.

Any recommendation on potential affordable open over ear headphones close to the K702 sound quality & soundstage after PEQ, drivable by my SB Z/Hidizs S3Pro but with more comfort head fit, deeper ear cups/softer earpad fabric and not clamping like the X2 ?
For closed over ear, looks like the K371 might do without requiring PEQ but has questionable build quality ?

Any recommendation for IEMs close to Harman curve & drivable by the S3Pro (not into buying hardware PEQ like Qudelix) ? Currently having muddy Sony MDR-XB50AP.

Music apps:
On PC: Foobar/MPCBE for flac files (16/44 to 32/44), Tidal Hifi streaming
On Iphone: mostly Tidal offline mode and Hiby
On the Tidal PC app, exclusive mode is the only way to have adaptative bit/freq change but prevents APO PEQ and applies a Tidal-made loud V shaped EQ. Without Tidal exclusive mode, what's the best approach for bit/freq settings ? Is it best to put the soundcard on 24/96khz to play any track (16/44, 24/44, 24/88 and 24/96) ? Or best to put it on 16/44 and use Hifi quality instead of Master ? Or else ? Got puzzled about potential problematic resampling degrading sound quality.
Alternatively, any recommendation on apps that would allow Tidal adaptative bit/freq change (exclusive) with PEQ and preferably free ?

Regarding Hidizs S3Pro: am wondering if I made the right call preording it for both PC and portable use or if I should rather buy a LG G7 (can find a new one for 150€) for portable use (looks to have great quality DAC and AMP able to drive almost anything but no PEQ) and another DAC+AMP for PC use. No clue if a SoundBlaster G6 would significantly improve on my SoundBlaster Z / S3Pro to justify 150€. However, budget is clearly not the same goind that road : S3Pro = 50€ vs 300€ for LG G7 + Blaster G6 or alike. I'm fine spending if the cost justifies the improvement but not willing to throw money for minor quality upgrade.
Am open on your comments on that aspect. Note that I don't care about SoundBlaster special effects and it could be any brand.
Link to Hidizs S3Pro review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...hidizs-s3-pro-review-headphone-adapter.25876/
Link to LG G7 review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...o-measurement-of-lg-g7-thinq-smartphone.4468/
Link to SB G6 review: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...w-and-measurements-of-sound-blasterx-g6.7016/


Thanks for reading until here and for your recommendations/suggestions/comments.
 
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