Audiophile/Hi-Fi Enthusiasts?
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Triumph
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:18 am    Post subject: Audiophile/Hi-Fi Enthusiasts?

I remembered there were a couple people here that mentioned they were into hi-fi stereo or headphones in the thread about favorite YouTube channels.

Since I've been spending more time at home listening to music due to the pandemic, I've been obsessing about my stereo setup, which means online shopping for possible new gear.

Curious what other people here are running for their setups (both speakers and/or headphones), and if you are happy with it, or what you would change/planned upgrades, etc.

My setup is modest by hi-fi standards. I run a laptop-based rig streaming FLAC files. I listen in a small bedroom so stand-mounted bookshelf speakers work best for me.

Logitech Squeezebox Touch --> Schiit Modi 3 DAC --> IOTAVX SA3 Integrated Amplifier --> KEF LS50 or Wharfedale Diamond 225

My goal was to have a neutral sounding front end feeding either a pair of high resolution/detailed speakers (LS50) or a warm/lush sounding speaker (Diamond 225) to suit different types of music or moods.

If anyone is in the market for bookshelf speakers in the $50 through $500 range, I've owned many of the popular choices available today, so feel free to ask me about them.

Also curious to see how many people are listening to music through something other than their smartphone or a bluetooth speaker these days.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 2:56 am    Post subject:

This is HI FI...HIGH Fidelity, and what that means is it's the HIGHEST..QUALITY...fidelity of any system out there... Hi Fi, that's two very important things to have in a system.

--Don Cheadle re: def of hi fi, Boogie Nights
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:10 am    Post subject:

I edit music/audio as a hobby, so I only listen to the music I work on through headphones. I need to hear the imperfections in the audio and/or the edits I make (pops & clicks).

I use AKG (K240) headphones, and I am happy with them.

I like to create vinyl rips--digitize my vinyl collection--and store those rips as FLAC files on an external hard drive. I am using a Stanton T.90 USB turntable and an Audio Technica (ATP-2XN) needle/stylus.

Vinyl is so delicious.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:17 am    Post subject:

non-player zealot wrote:
This is HI FI...HIGH Fidelity, and what that means is it's the HIGHEST..QUALITY...fidelity of any system out there... Hi Fi, that's two very important things to have in a system.

--Don Cheadle re: def of hi fi, Boogie Nights


Is this with or without the TK-421 modification? Cuz they do that in-store.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:18 am    Post subject:

non-player zealot wrote:
This is HI FI...HIGH Fidelity, and what that means is it's the HIGHEST..QUALITY...fidelity of any system out there... Hi Fi, that's two very important things to have in a system.

--Don Cheadle re: def of hi fi, Boogie Nights


I was puzzled after reading the first paragraph twice. Then I read the reference. This is probably funnier here than it was in the movie for most people.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:46 am    Post subject:

non-player zealot wrote:
This is HI FI...HIGH Fidelity, and what that means is it's the HIGHEST..QUALITY...fidelity of any system out there... Hi Fi, that's two very important things to have in a system.

--Don Cheadle re: def of hi fi, Boogie Nights





Great reference
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:49 am    Post subject:

FernieBee wrote:
I edit music/audio as a hobby, so I only listen to the music I work on through headphones. I need to hear the imperfections in the audio and/or the edits I make (pops & clicks).

I use AKG (K240) headphones, and I am happy with them.

I like to create vinyl rips--digitize my vinyl collection--and store those rips as FLAC files on an external hard drive. I am using a Stanton T.90 USB turntable and an Audio Technica (ATP-2XN) needle/stylus.

Vinyl is so delicious.




I just broke my headphones last night (btw great timing for this thread). I'll look into the AKG K240. I was thinking about the Audio Technica ATH-AD900X. Anyone experienced with these, or willing to make a recommendation on something else?

My audio profile is pretty simple:

Eclectic taste in music (everything from Gregorian chants to hard rock)

Remote business meetings (clarity is essential, some folks mumble into the mic)

Sports and video

Gaming (zero, but in this pandemic I might reconsider)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 7:58 am    Post subject:

Used to be into high-end audio, but that was a long, long time ago. Had a nice PS Audio preamp, Threshold power amp, and various speakers at various times, the best being Martin-Logan electrostatics. I still have an old pair of Magnat MSP-300s on a shelf in my garage, but the rest of it is all gone now.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:52 am    Post subject:

FernieBee wrote:
I edit music/audio as a hobby, so I only listen to the music I work on through headphones. I need to hear the imperfections in the audio and/or the edits I make (pops & clicks).

I use AKG (K240) headphones, and I am happy with them.

I like to create vinyl rips--digitize my vinyl collection--and store those rips as FLAC files on an external hard drive. I am using a Stanton T.90 USB turntable and an Audio Technica (ATP-2XN) needle/stylus.

Vinyl is so delicious.



Cool. I don't have a turntable (always kind of wanted one) but I appreciate needle drops. And I'm fascinated by mastering in audio.

Most of the best sounding digital/CDs I have are stuff from the 70's through early 90's that were mastered using the original analog recordings (AAD) before everything went digital/compressed.

I used to have the AKG K240 Sextett version from the 80's when I was into headphones. I liked them. The K240 is probably one of the most widely used headphones of all-time by engineers and recording artists in the studio.

Are you on the Steve Hoffman forum?
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Triumph
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:58 am    Post subject:

LarryCoon wrote:
Used to be into high-end audio, but that was a long, long time ago. Had a nice PS Audio preamp, Threshold power amp, and various speakers at various times, the best being Martin-Logan electrostatics. I still have an old pair of Magnat MSP-300s on a shelf in my garage, but the rest of it is all gone now.


Nice.

I would love to get a pair of electrostats or ribbon speakers like Magnepan, but I don't think I can really get the best out of them in my listening space.

Threshold amps are pretty legendary. Nelson Pass is still probably the most respected name in solid state amplifier design.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:29 am    Post subject:

Triumph wrote:
Are you on the Steve Hoffman forum?


No, but I have heard of it. When I need to learn something, I Google it, and that forum has come up.

I've been editing audio (digitally) for the last 20 years or so: It's a sort of therapy for me.

The AKG's were brought to my attention, by my cousin, back in 2014 or so, before that, I used Sony MDR's (don't remember the exact model number).
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:22 am    Post subject:

I've been meaning to create this same thread for a while but figured no one would care.

Anyway, here's my setup. I'm a headphone guy so I have no high quality speakers. I'd say I'm a budget audiophile as I don't want to spend ridicilous amounts of money on this stuff, but it still adds up, though.

I subscribe to Tidal HiFI, which is essentially FLAC.


Amplifiers:


JDS Labs Atom - Probably the best deal in the industry. The measurements on distortion and noise are insane, especially for a $99 amp. Seriously, if you want to buy an amp and don't want to spend more than a 100 bucks, this is it. Nothing beats it.

Schiit Vali - My only tube amp, though this one is a hybrid. I once had a full tube amp, the Darkvoice. It was terrible. But this Schiit Vali is pretty good. It has a certain character depending what tube you use and is mostly without distortion. I use it exclusively with my Sennheisers.

Schiit Magni 3 - I bought this one before the Atom, so I never use it. It's still pretty good, though not in the Atom category. Will probably sell it.

JDS Labs Objective 2 - I bought this one years ago. It was my first real amp. Still very clean, very "objective" in its sound. But then again, it can't really compete with the Atom.

I'm looking to buy the Monoprice Monolith THX 887. Just waiting for a nice deal. It has incredible measurements. It'll probably be my amp for years to come when I do get it. I will pair it with a balanced DAC and will run everything balanced.

DAC:

Schiit Modi 3 - I previously had the earlier Modis. Sold them all and got this latest one. It does its job.

I'm also looking to buy the Schiit Modius, which just came out a few weeks ago. It's an improved Modi, but balanced. So I will combine it with the Monoprice amp.

Equalizer:

Schiit Loki - This is definitely an overpriced item at $149 even for Schiit, but it really does its job. A couple of my headphone do require corrections.


Headphones:

Sennheiser HD600 - For vocal jazz, these are unbeatable. As I said above, they sound great with the Schiit Vali. This headphone has been around for 25 years, essentially unchanged.

Sennheiser HD6XX Massdrop - This is just a rebranded HD650. It's a bit darker than the HD600, so I use it for jazz and rock.

Sennheiser HD598 - My first real pair of headphones. The most comfortable headphones I own. They're great for all kinds of music, but I mostly use them for acoustic jazz.

Beyerdynamic DT880 600 Ohm - The cable on these is seemingly 100 feet long and is not detachable, which I hate. But other than that, they resolve very well, but the sibilance in the treble is overwhelming sometimes. I need to correct them all the time with the Schiit Loki. When the treble is reduced, they sound fantastic. I use them for modern pop and EDM. My version is the 600 Ohm, which requires a lot of power. The volume on the Atom amp has to go all the way up on the lowest gain setting.

HiFiMan HE4XX Massdrop - Unlike the headphones above, this one is planar magnetic. Probably the most affordable, good planer headphone. Very versatile, but I don't find them comfortable.

Monoprice Monolith M1060 - Also a planar magnetic headphone. The strength of this one is an extremely detailed bass. They have a great punch throughout the range. So I use them for modern, overproduced, well recorded pop music. They're build like crap so I'm always afraid they will break. I also slightly modified them by removing some foam, which opened them a little.

Oppo PM-3 - This was my first planar magnetic and this was the world's first mobile planar headphone. It's a closed headphone, it doesn't require much power to drive it, and it looks cool. However, it has a significantly reduced treble, so it's not an exciting headphone.

Koss ESP 95X Massdrop - Well, this is one of the weirdest headphones in the world. It looks weird and fragile and it's built from the cheapest plastic. This headphone originally came out a few decades ago, but was essentially re-branded by Massdrop and can be purchased much cheaper than the original. This is an electrostatic headphone and comes with its own amp (or energizer). If you disregard its many weird features, it is an unbelievable headphone. It's worth the price ($500) just for the detail in the treble. With this headphone I hear things that I'd never heard before in recordings. If the music is well recorded and if the instruments are well separated, this headphone kills all my other headphones. However, it has very little bass so I have to correct it with the Schiit Loki. When corrected, it's my favorite headphone. Koss also provides a lifetime warranty. So even if the plastic breaks, they usually take care of it.


As I said above, looking forward to adding the Schiit Modius and the Monolith THX 887 and running everything balanced. There's probably not much of a difference in balanced vs unbalanced, but I'll do it anyway. Once I purchase all the equipment and all the cables, I'll probably sell most of my remaining amps and DACs will enjoy the the Schiit-Monolith stack for years.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:44 pm    Post subject:

Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.

That said, I've had everything from Magnepans, to OG Martin Logans, Thiels, PSB, Bowers yadda yadda. If it's a "reasonably" priced high end piece, it's probably made it's way to me or my brother's place. The one thing I've learned is that there's a sweet spot to the listening experience $ wise. Chasing the dragon eventually becomes pissing money away. Once you hit a certain caliber, it's just different sound signatures. What one person likes doesn't apply to the next person. I'm now pretty strict with my spending on audio. A lot of "budget" solutions are freaking phenomenal these days.

@ Triumph - You got any bookshelf's for sale? Looking to upgrade my desktop. Just picked up PSB PS1 micro subwoofer that I'm looking to find a partner for for computer use. I have an Audioengine 5+ that I find a little too sibilant for my tastes. Budget is 500 or less...used is fine and preferred.

Secondly, does anybody know of an amp/dac that does the following things? I'm looking for a DAC I can hook up to my computer. I want to be able to plug in my staereo amp to it to use my speakers. I also want to have a robust headphone amp. The important thing for me is that I want there to be a switch on the amp/dac itself to change outputs. I DO NOT want to unplug my headphones in order to play the speakers. I want a switch. If this amp/dac is also powered, it's an even bigger bonus. I'm thinking of upgrading my 34" Predator to the 49" Samsung G2 that just came out so I want to streamline my desktop with as few things on it as possible. I'd like to avoid a stack if possible.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 12:55 pm    Post subject:

^ Nice gear, Wilt.

I started off in my hi-fi journey with headphones back in about 2003 when I first got an iPod. I believe I was one of the first maybe 2000 members of Head-Fi back then when the hobby was pretty niche.

I remember going to Head-Fi meets here in SoCal when we could comfortably fit all attendees inside a small clubhouse. We would be able to chat with Tyll Hertsens (formerly of HeadRoom), Ray Samuels, Justin of HeadAmp, Craig the owner of Eddie Current, etc. I went to a meet in San Diego where it was literally me and 5 other dudes with our gear .

"Personal audio" has exploded since that time. Pretty cool to see.

Quote:
Headphones:

Sennheiser HD600 - For vocal jazz, these are unbeatable. As I said above, they sound great with the Schiit Vali. This headphone has been around for 25 years, essentially unchanged.


I owned the HD600 on 3 different occasions. Kept selling them thinking I'd found something better only to regret it later and re-acquire them. I've never been one to spend a ton on tweaks, but I always enjoyed them most with the Cardas cable. And since I liked the HD600 sound so much it was worth getting the cable on the used market back then to get the most out of them.

Super balanced sounding cans. Great for female vocals and other music that doesn't require speed (metal).

Quote:
Koss ESP 95X Massdrop - ...This is an electrostatic headphone and comes with its own amp (or energizer). If you disregard its many weird features, it is an unbelievable headphone. It's worth the price ($500) just for the detail in the treble. With this headphone I hear things that I'd never heard before in recordings. If the music is well recorded and if the instruments are well separated, this headphone kills all my other headphones. However, it has very little bass so I have to correct it with the Schiit Loki.


This is exactly how I feel about the only electrostatic headphones I've ever owned (and still have to this day) which are the Stax SR-Lambda from the 1980's.

The speed of these could not be matched by any other cans I had ever had. Closest dynamics were the Sony SA-5000 and the Audio Technica ATH-AD2000. But the Stax sounded completely effortless in presenting detail compared to everything else. But yes, the bass is anemic and so it sounds thin overall.

I have sold all of my headphones, but kept the Stax because they are so rare to find. But I never take them out anymore.

At the time I was into headphones, I didn't have the space to accommodate speakers and the overarching belief was that you could obtain a higher performing headphone system value-wise for the money vs. speakers.

I think in some respects that is still true because of companies like Schiit, Topping, Massdrop, etc. which offer incredible value. But I think when Andrew Jones started the ELAC Debut series of loudspeakers, he changed the game for affordable speaker hi-fi. Every other loudspeaker manufacturer had to step their game up, and now I think headphones and speakers are on a more even playing field in terms of value per dollar.

And now that I have my own space, I don't think I could ever go back to headphones. Speakers just give more realistic imaging and soundstaging. Music just sounds more true this way in my experience.

Also wearing headphones just made my head hot all the time, especially during the summer months.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:01 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.


Hi and Fi just ain't what it used to be. Once, there was hifi--really not so hifi; then hifi and midfi; then hifi, midfi, and high-end hifi;, then hifi, midfi, high end hifi, and ultra high-end hifi, with shops about as plentiful as McDonalds. Now there is the cost of a house hifi, headphones, and not much else.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:04 pm    Post subject:

ribeye wrote:
jonnybravo wrote:
Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.


Hi and Fi just ain't what it used to be. Once, there was hifi; then hifi and midfi; then hifi, midfi, and high-end hifi;, then hifi, midfi, high end hifi, and ultra high- end hifi, with shops about as plentiful as McDonalds. Now there is the cost of a house hifi, headphones, and not much else.


True. There's a store I used to frequent called the Digital Ear in Tustin in the 90s. I felt SOOO out of place as a college student auditioning but listening to the gear they had was a fantastic. I didn't even know a listening room was even a thing before that. It's now gone. I can't think of any other brick and mortar, boutique audio shops in So Cal.

*edit* Just looked at Best Buy's magnolia stores ibkube. Didn't realize they carried stuff like Rotel, Mctintosh, Kef etc. The only good stuff the ones around me carry in store are Bowers.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:06 pm    Post subject:

Speakers: 2x Klipsch R-15PM speakers, which I got bundled alongside a Pro-ject turntable on a nice deal.

Subs: 1x Klipsch Reference R-10SW (300w)

I use this mainly for my LP listening. Speakers have a Bluetooth option, so I can also play my phone or computer through them. Have had this setup for a few years, and I think it sounds killer.

I’ve purchased many headphones and earbuds over the years, in search of the perfect one. Lately I’ve settled on my Grado prestige series, which are crisp and dynamic and not too bass heavy. Last Christmas I added the Reference series to the collection, which sounds flatter and less dynamic which I need for mixing/mastering. Sometimes those overly explosive headphones will trick into thinking your mix is slammin’, when it’s really just the headphones.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:20 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.



Huh? Never claimed it was. I shop within a specific budget and the stuff works for me.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:24 pm    Post subject:

Wilt wrote:
jonnybravo wrote:
Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.



Huh? Never claimed it was. I shop within a specific budget and the stuff works for me.


. Didn't mean for it to come across as being an elitist but I can see why you'd feel that. Sorry .
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:27 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
N
@ Triumph - You got any bookshelf's for sale? Looking to upgrade my desktop. Just picked up PSB PS1 micro subwoofer that I'm looking to find a partner for for computer use. I have an Audioengine 5+ that I find a little too sibilant for my tastes. Budget is 500 or less...used is fine and preferred.


What type of sound signature are you looking for?

Warm/smooth/relaxing/musical? ELAC Debut, ELAC Uni-Fi, Wharfedale Diamond 225, Wharfedale Denton 80th, JBL Studio 530, Polk LSiM703, Pioneer BS-22

Neutral/flat? ELAC Debut Reference ($600), Infinity R162

Highly detailed? KEF Q150, Sony Core series

Classic v-curve boosted treble and bass? Jamo S803

Upfront presentation for rock music? Klipsch RP-600M

It would be great if you could find the PSB Imagine Minis used in your price range to match with your new sub. I heard some decent reviews for the PSB Alpha P5 which is in your budget, but have not heard them personally.

I've also heard good things about the Triangle Borea series (BR02 and BR03) but have no experience with them.

Let me know type of sound signature you tend to gravitate toward and I can try to find the best price on the internet for you

Don't think I can help re: the amp/dac you're trying to find. I'm not too well-versed in that stuff.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:31 pm    Post subject:

Triumph wrote:


And now that I have my own space, I don't think I could ever go back to headphones. Speakers just give more realistic imaging and soundstaging. Music just sounds more true this way in my experience.

Also wearing headphones just made my head hot all the time, especially during the summer months.


A couple of my buddies have dedicated rooms with high quality speakers. It does sound amazing, but my family already hates me for playing my electric guitar loud every couple weeks. I'd love to have a room with good speakers, but it's not practical. They even complain when I listen to my open headphones loud, and they think I'm ruining my ears, even though it's not really loud at all.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:31 pm    Post subject:

@ Triumph - How does the R162 stack up to the Elac? I'm quite fond of Andrew Jones' gear.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:36 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
Wilt wrote:
jonnybravo wrote:
Not to be "that" guy but those aren't really high end Wilt.



Huh? Never claimed it was. I shop within a specific budget and the stuff works for me.


. Didn't mean for it to come across as being an elitist but I can see why you'd feel that. Sorry .


Nah, it's all good. I've heard it all, Focal, Stax, etc. My buddies all compete who will get the latest and greatest headphone, amp, cable. I rather spend that money on guitars and guitar amps instead.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:41 pm    Post subject:

jonnybravo wrote:
@ Triumph - How does the R162 stack up to the Elac? I'm quite fond of Andrew Jones' gear.


I personally like ELAC better, but that is for my taste. Don't know which you'd prefer.

The R162 probably measures better than any of the sub $600 ELAC speakers besides the Debut Reference. It is very flat/neutral sound. The engineers trickled down some of the technology from the higher Revel line of speakers from Harmon into the R162. But for me personally, I thought the speaker sounded too dry. Again, I don't know what sound you'd prefer, that's just me.

Thankfully, Harman has a nice return policy for the R162, so if you don't like it, you can pretty easily return it (which is what I did).
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:51 pm    Post subject:

ocho wrote:
non-player zealot wrote:
This is HI FI...HIGH Fidelity, and what that means is it's the HIGHEST..QUALITY...fidelity of any system out there... Hi Fi, that's two very important things to have in a system.

--Don Cheadle re: def of hi fi, Boogie Nights


Is this with or without the TK-421 modification? Cuz they do that in-store.


Cosmo's my favorite character. He likes lettin off firecrackers...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYTQuWi9pZU
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