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Posted (edited)

Hi. In the past I wasn't a great fan of headphones but lately I've been listening to them more than usual. I've been enjoying it enough to think about the dreaded upgrade path. I'm wondering what upgrade options are out there to improve my HP listening and as a bonus if possible gain an improvement to my speaker listening?

 

Current gear is Emotiva DC-1 used as a preamp/dac into nc400 mono blocks and as a HP amp. I alternate between the the DC-1 dac and a PS Audio DL3 into the analogue inputs of the DC-1. Headphones are Hifiman HE400i and speakers are Kef Reference 3.2 from 2001. I also have an Audio Note preamp which I alternate with the DC-1. (probably seems odd to some)

 

Do I upgrade the headphones or do I buy a new headphone amp and/or dac? Or even a multi function device like the Keces E40 or Cayin HA-1A?

 

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you have. Would ideally like to spend under $1000.

 

 

 

Edited by legselevens

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Headphones and a headphone amp. Leave your DAC/Preamps etc for now.

 

What sound signature do you like? You lean towards nuetral/bright or like a laid back warmer, or bass head?

 

Can get a decent Headphone and Headphone Amp for $1000 that'll be an impressive step up.

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Posted (edited)

I want to try the Senn HD650 again but many years ago I heard it at A2A and it sounded a bit congested and kind of muffled compared to the HE400 (not 400i). I'm wondering how it would compare now given I'm appreciating HP's more. Maybe it's worth a second listen.

 

Another thing is the Emotiva DC-1 HP amp is my first HP amp and is meant to be well regarded so I wonder what options there are that would be a true upgrade rather than side step. I'd also considered SP200 and Atom amps.

 

There's a Violectric hpa v100 for sale atm. Thoughts on this?

Edited by legselevens
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Soundwise I like detail and clarity without being lean. I've not heard a ESS sabre dac that has interested me yet if that helps.

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1 hour ago, legselevens said:

Soundwise I like detail and clarity without being lean. I've not heard a ESS sabre dac that has interested me yet if that helps.

In the lower end gear, focus more on headphone and amp, most the solid cheap DACs are pretty good and similar.

 

Maybe a Sundara as the headphone. Keeping with Planar.

 

And then Amp the SP200 is a great choice if you can get one used. $300-350. Awesome value. Violectric also good, it'll be warmer than the SMSL, then again most things are haha. Jotunheim too

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Thanks Bengineer. Schiit products, I had a Bifrost uber in 2013 but sold it on. It was good but I preferred the PS audio dl3. Horses for courses of causes. The Violectric v100 sold before I got to it so the search continues.

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8 hours ago, legselevens said:

I think that's the shop/seller name.

 

Before you buy an SP200, if you're able to commit to running a balanced headphone (may require investing in an aftermarket cable) the Geshelli Labs Erish is a much better amp than the SP200 for similar $$. You can feed it a single ended signal using adapters, but you would need a proper 4-pin XLR cable for the headphones.

 

SP200 is a good amp, but it's held back by a bit of a crappy volume pot.

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THX 789 with warranty on sale in these forums now...

 

Basically a SP200 but better built. 

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Also THX 789 has 3 gain stages, not 2 on the SP200.

 

I felt the SP200 needed 3, especially with the flimsy volume pot 

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Thanks for the replies all. I'm still interested in the sp200 and now the Geshelli. And of course further suggestions.

 

 

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I bought an SP200 and it's very good. It livens up my he400i headphones. I'm still considering either a new dac or headphones but will enjoy the music in the meantime. Cheers for all the replies.

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HE400i are good headphones. If you like detail and clarity then you are in the right field. I would have suggested one of the focal deals when they were on but they are no more.
 

If you want to try a DAC then have a look at Topping E30. Good DAC for the money.

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On 01/08/2020 at 4:21 PM, legselevens said:

I bought an SP200 and it's very good. It livens up my he400i headphones. I'm still considering either a new dac or headphones but will enjoy the music in the meantime. Cheers for all the replies.

Headphones first. Biggest difference for the money.

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