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What's the next level?

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#1
Hello guys,

I'm really enjoying this forum, the content here is top notch!

I'm wondering as I have quite a collection of headphones/iems/dac/amps what would be the next logical step for the wow factor as I guess I'm hitting the diminishing returns already. I posted in another thread about the RME ADI2DAC as I guess and for what others have said, is a good step up in terms of DAC and is enough to drive headphones. In terms of headphones when I auditioned Focal Utopia and Hifiman HE1000 What are your impressions? I listen at home but I'm also a lot on the go hence the Andromedas.

My collection for your reference. I'm using layman terms to describe what I think about them please don't bash me)
  • Headphones
    • Audeze LCD 2 Closed (best closed back I've heard so far)
    • Sennheiser HD6XX (smooth)
    • Sennheiser HD58X (Not sure about this one, nothing special)
    • Koss LP95X (I'm in the fence, it does lack bass)
    • Hifiman HE4XX (will be sold, harsh)
    • AKG 7XX (will be sold, meh sound)
    • Shure SRH 1840 (will be sold, too boring sounding)
    • Denon MM400 (will be sold, cannot compete against Audeze and Andromedas)
  • IEMS
    • CA Andromeda (maybe the Audio64 U12T are a step up at twice the price)
    • Shure SE535 (not used again since the andromeda)
  • DAC/Amps
    • Burson HA160D Dac/Amp combo
    • Dragonfly Red (maybe too bright)
    • Dragonfly Black (not used much now, laid back signature)
    • Radsone ES100 (didn't wow me as per the reviews, cannot drive the Audezes properly but they are convenient)
    • Dacport LX (surpassingly clean)
    • DarkVoice SE336 (didn't wow me)
What do you guys think?

Edit: I listen to Spotify Premium.

Regards,
Damián.
 
Last edited:

RayDunzl

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#3
What do you guys think?

I'm old school and listen to speakers.

That would be the starting point of my "step up" based on the limited information provided.

Sorry.

Carry on!

1560737496163.png


Thomas Edision - obviously unhappy with what he is hearing.
 

GrimSurfer

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#4
Have you considered "content"? Expanding your music repertoire or seeking out really good source material can be very rewarding once you're happy with where your system is.

To me, it's like resolving to sample the great beer and wine of the world on a newly built deck in a well landscaped yard.
 

andreasmaaan

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#5
I’d second @Blumlein 88’s suggestion re EQ. You’ve got some very nice gear there, chances are if anything is audibly suboptimal it’s the frequency response of your headphones rather than any deficiencies in your electronics.

Also, since it seems you’re 100% about headphones, the Smyth Realiser might be a step in an interesting new direction (I’ve never tried it but the theory behind it is sound and its performance has been verified by a number of highly trustworthy sources).
 

Sal1950

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#6
I'm old school and listen to speakers.
Ditto. To experience real soundstaging and bass you can feel, you need speakers. Headphones can deliver great detail and tone but fall very short in the mentioned areas.

Have you considered "content"
Yes, @Damian is already at the 99% level for SQ with the headphone gear he has. Source materail is now by far the most important detail offering any possible real improvements.
 
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#7
  • Headphones
    • Audeze LCD 2 Closed (best closed back I've heard so far)
    • Sennheiser HD6XX (smooth)
    • Sennheiser HD58X (Not sure about this one, nothing special)
    • Koss LP95X (I'm in the fence, it does lack bass)
    • Hifiman HE4XX (will be sold, harsh)
    • AKG 7XX (will be sold, meh sound)
    • Shure SRH 1840 (will be sold, too boring sounding)
    • Denon MM400 (will be sold, cannot compete against Audeze and Andromedas)
  • IEMS
    • CA Andromeda (maybe the Audio64 U12T are a step up at twice the price)
    • Shure SE535 (not used again since the andromeda)
I see none of these headphones and earphones that won't be properly amplified with the ADI-2 DAC.
 

Wombat

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#8
There will always be a next level, if only because of human desire or insecurity. 11 will be beaten by 12, etc. (think Spinal Tap).:cool:

Knowing what is adequate is the secret to happiness.. ;)
 

Frank Dernie

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#9
Also, since it seems you’re 100% about headphones, the Smyth Realiser might be a step in an interesting new direction (I’ve never tried it but the theory behind it is sound and its performance has been verified by a number of highly trustworthy sources).
I quite fancied one of these but they have gone very quiet and aren't available, it seems.
 
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#11
Thank you all for your replies, I did tried to up in terms of track quality with Qobuz and Deezer Hi Fi but to be honest I didn't notice a difference that would justify playing much more and have much less curated content that is tailored to me, so I sticked to Spotify. Agree with you guys that how the song was mastered is what usually gives the better sound.

I don't have gear that plays DSD neither the will/space to carry them around, and for what I've read here is more about mastering that CD quality vs DSD.

Any recommendations in terms of portable/office dac/amp combo? The DF Red didn't get a good review here and Mojo needs two cables connected.
 

andreasmaaan

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#12
Any recommendations in terms of portable/office dac/amp combo? The DF Red didn't get a good review here and Mojo needs two cables connected.
Are you looking for something USB-powered or powered from the wall?

The Topping DX3 Pro is a great-performing unit.
 
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#14
Are you looking for something USB-powered or powered from the wall?

The Topping DX3 Pro is a great-performing unit.
USB powered, mostly to use with CA Andromedas and Audeze LC2 Closed (ES100 doesn't cut it there, Dragonfly Red seems to have more power)
 

RayDunzl

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#15

andreasmaaan

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#16
USB powered, mostly to use with CA Andromedas and Audeze LC2 Closed (ES100 doesn't cut it there, Dragonfly Red seems to have more power)
I'd think about Topping NX4 DSD, which performs very well and provides a lot of output for a USB-powered device.

What speakers are recommended? For desktop use and for the living room?
What would the budget be?
 
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#17
I'd think about Topping NX4 DSD, which performs very well and provides a lot of output for a USB-powered device.



What would the budget be?
Not sure in speakers where the diminishing returns start but I guess at least I want the detail of the CA Andromedas... Also, I don't have a speaker amp, so powered would be a bonus, I could use the existing Burson or future ADI2 DAC to power them I guess. Up to around 500 usd I guess is a good place?
 

andreasmaaan

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#18
Not sure in speakers where the diminishing returns start but I guess at least I want the detail of the CA Andromedas... Also, I don't have a speaker amp, so powered would be a bonus, I could use the existing Burson or future ADI2 DAC to power them I guess. Up to around 500 usd I guess is a good place?
I would go for active studio monitors if I were you. Passives will require that you buy an amp, which won't leave a lot of the $500 left, and there are numerous technical reasons why actives will be capable of superior performance, all else equal. But it's been a long time since I was in the game for that type of speaker. Hopefully others can offer some ideas...
 
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