Author Topic: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....  (Read 589 times)

Offline Tubesocket

Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« on: May 25, 2021, 08:17:32 PM »
So I have been doing some reading and research, wanting to buy a set of headphones and a headphone amp / dac for use at my PC. As we work from home nowadays I can listen to way more music than previously, I might as well enjoy it. It is a bit like digital audio, too many options, too many rabbit holes. I have owned some nice headphones when I started in HiFi many moons ago, but looking for entry'ish level goods. I have a Musical Fidelity M1 surplus which can work as a DAC, but I was thinking maybe buying something with a integrated DAC - So: Burson Audio Playmate 2 and a set of HiFiMan Ananda's.

Your thoughts and advice would be appreciated.  :thinking:

Offline kamikazi

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2021, 08:36:49 PM »
If you aren't disturbing anyone else at home, you can also have a look at studio monitors. I have bookshelf speakers and headphones at my WFH setup, and the headphones apart from my headset for meetings, never sees any use during the day, unless I have other family at home or don't want to disturb anyone.

If you have strong preference for headphone listening and would like to invest quite a sum, then by all means the Burson and Hifiman should be a good combo. Personally if you are dipping your toes, I'd get a cheaper amplifier and headphone first and seeing whether it is something that will work for you.

Offline Tubesocket

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2021, 08:43:15 PM »
If you aren't disturbing anyone else at home, you can also have a look at studio monitors. I have bookshelf speakers and headphones at my WFH setup, and the headphones apart from my headset for meetings, never sees any use during the day, unless I have other family at home or don't want to disturb anyone.

If you have strong preference for headphone listening and would like to invest quite a sum, then by all means the Burson and Hifiman should be a good combo. Personally if you are dipping your toes, I'd get a cheaper amplifier and headphone first and seeing whether it is something that will work for you.

Nope, studio monitors wont work at all. Headphones. These kind of fit my budget.... Not usre though at the price point if better is possible..

Offline Drifter

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Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2021, 09:01:30 PM »
So I have been doing some reading and research, wanting to buy a set of headphones and a headphone amp / dac for use at my PC. As we work from home nowadays I can listen to way more music than previously, I might as well enjoy it. It is a bit like digital audio, too many options, too many rabbit holes. I have owned some nice headphones when I started in HiFi many moons ago, but looking for entry'ish level goods. I have a Musical Fidelity M1 surplus which can work as a DAC, but I was thinking maybe buying something with a integrated DAC - So: Burson Audio Playmate 2 and a set of HiFiMan Ananda's.

Your thoughts and advice would be appreciated.  :thinking:

A R20k set up (Ananda plus Burson) is probably not entry-level'ish in most folks' books but a good budget.
Are you set on open back headphones? Your listening environment will dictate to a large extent the type of headphone design to choose. If you live in a house that noisy or don't want to disturb your housemates/SO while using the headphones, open back is probably not the best choice.
What type of sound signature do you like and what type of music do you listen to? Some people are very sensitive to bright treble which is worse if it comes from from headphones that are close to your ears. If you listen to a lot of vocals you will want something with a good midrange rather than many of the V-shaped frequency curves that that emphasise bass and treble. That said if you are rocker or metal head then these will suite you just fine.
Also, how big is your head and how strong is your neck? If you have a big head, a heavy headphone with hard pads and strong clamping force will be very unpleasant for extended use.
These are important considerations .......

That said the Ananda plus Burson should be a good combo (unfortunately I have not had the pleasure if listening to this combo), but some other combos to consider in that type of price range are:
- If you want open back planars you can also consider the Audeze LCD2Classic for around the same price as the Anandas. Pair that to the AudioGD R2R II (resistor ladder DAC) or see if you can find a used Audeze Deckard.
- If you want open back dynamic headphones you can look at something like the Sennheiser HD6xx and iFi Zen Dac which will be about half of the cost of the above two options - this is a very popular combination.
- If you are willing to wait a bit for the right deal you may even be able to get a used set of Sennheiser HD800 paired to something like the Phonitor that is in the classifieds at the moment (it is an amp only so you will need to pair it with your M1 DAC), again for around the same R20k budget.

There are very knowledgable headfi fundis here who will be able to give you excellent advice.

The big issue in SA is the in-ability to demo many different headphones in the same place, which is a pity.

I am in a similar situation to you. I work from home now for the time being (don't know when Covid will end). My wife works in a hospital so she is at work during the day and son's school is only every second day still. So he is at home every second day and together with the housekeeper the two of them combined makes a hell of a racket. I listen to music around 5 or more hours per day while I work. My main setup is a set of Audeze LCD2F and a Deckard which is in my main listening space and I wanted to get something smaller to use in my WFH location. After 6 years of faithful service my Audeze's have picked up an issue with the one driver and I have opted to order a brand new set which is on its way from the USA. For my WFH setup I ended up with a set of Beyerdynamic DT770PRO and a set of DT880Edition. The DT770 are closed back and seals pretty securely and when in use it blocks out all outside noises. I use these on the days when the house is noisy. For the rest I use the DT880 which are semi-open back. They leak sound like proper open backs though. I use both with an iFi Zen DAC which is a compact integrated amp and DAC. The Beyerdynamics are pretty comfortable headphones. If imported from Amazon they are around R3800 per set. They are available locally but you are looking at a RRP of over R5000 per set. The iFi Zen DAC is around R3500 as well. I really like the DT880, I have the 600ohm version.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 09:23:09 PM by Drifter »

Offline naughty

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2021, 09:47:00 PM »
where are you planning on buying the Anandas from? - you can get them cheaper locally than from Amazon plus shipping - check here

https://www.lumous-audio.co.za/hifiman

its R10999 at Lumous audio while Amazon wants $700 plus $150 shipping and import fees - and according to XE currency that lands up at around R11800 or close to that ...... and buying locally means you don't carry the import risk ie goods getting damaged or stolen


Offline Tonteldoos

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2021, 05:39:06 AM »
where are you planning on buying the Anandas from? - you can get them cheaper locally than from Amazon plus shipping - check here

https://www.lumous-audio.co.za/hifiman

its R10999 at Lumous audio while Amazon wants $700 plus $150 shipping and import fees - and according to XE currency that lands up at around R11800 or close to that ...... and buying locally means you don't carry the import risk ie goods getting damaged or stolen

+1 for Lumous and they can provide the Burson too.

My situation is very similar to OP, I just didn't have the budget to go straight for the fancy stuff!

I have a nice set of AudioEngine HD3 speakers in my home office, but I find I concentrate better with the immediacy of the headphones. I've gone for ifi ZEN DAC (with iPower power supply and got a Kimber USB cable). I finally paired it with the Sennheiser HD600. Absolutely loving it so far.

If When I eventually upgrade, my next stop will be Lumous. Their prices are extremely good and I'd rather have the local support.

Offline Tubesocket

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2021, 06:58:43 AM »
Thank you for all the insightful feedback! I do think I will wait for the upcoming HiFi show before I pull the trigger... I would like to hear the iFi products and the Sennheiser HD6xx - maybe there is a sweet middle ground. The LCD2's also an option, as a closed back should be considered in my case, however I prefer a wide open soundstage and a natural sound. Thanks again for your kind replies.

Offline royj

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Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2021, 09:45:21 AM »
Morning,

It's  another rabbit hole that is being opened.

Go top end, my entry to headphones (earlier this year) was  the HD 800 and Topping DX7S. The Graham Slee has already been added as an alternative to the Topping.

For minimal cost you are being exposed to a totally new and different sound experience.

Chat to Dhiveshan, as their pricing policy is better than international prices.



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Offline sajunky

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2021, 02:14:23 PM »
Get some inexpensive open back headphones like Sennheiser HD560s. This is the only way to find out, as headphones can be very disturbing and distracting from your work. In my case HP's are not very good for a background music, speakers are much better, I fully agree with @kamikazi.

For the same reason I wouldn't go with a high resolving set. A Nobsound 8xTDA1387 driven from a phone is ideal for long time background listening paired with neutral dynamic HP's like HD560s. It should pair better than my HD600 that benefit from a better amplification. Using this DAC with HD4.40 BTNC on a wired connection during load shedding, but Bluetooth is also not bad choice for a background music.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32881225029.html

« Last Edit: May 26, 2021, 02:22:49 PM by sajunky »
If it measures good and sounds bad—it's bad. If it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong thing.
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Offline naughty

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2021, 03:28:41 PM »
well since you have the Musical fidelity DAC to use for now and if you want to use a totally entry level set until you decide whether headphones are correct for your circumstances or not why not buy a set of Sundaras and an Ifi Zen Can amp - when you decide your full circumstances if you are not enjoying it well you did not spend earth shattering amounts of money and if you do enjoy it and want better well you can sell these off and lose lower amounts of money and then invest in something thats more Hi-fi like a higher model Burson DAC/AMP with maybe a set of Arya's which is closer to mid tier end-game level for most people

for now though you can get a set of Sundaras and the Ifi Zen Can for just R10k and maybe you will need a few cables to connect the DAC to the amp and a set of 4.4mm balanced cables for the headphones .... and just use the DAC you have .... if the experience is agreeable then just eventually bite the bullet and get a setup thats higher end then and you will probably still recover around R5k to R6k from selling off the Sundara's and Zen Can

Offline Scubadude

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Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2021, 10:26:00 AM »
- If you are willing to wait a bit for the right deal you may even be able to get a used set of Sennheiser HD800 paired to something like the Phonitor that is in the classifieds at the moment (it is an amp only so you will need to pair it with your M1 DAC), again for around the same R20k budget.


+1. Provided you enjoy a neutral (some call it "neutral bright"  :facepalm:) signature and value transparency, focus, detail, dynamics over "nightclub in your head".
"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

Offline sajunky

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2021, 01:17:18 PM »
I do. :)
If it measures good and sounds bad—it's bad. If it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong thing.
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Online Gohde

Re: Dippin my toes into headphone territory....
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2021, 09:01:11 AM »
So I have been doing some reading and research, wanting to buy a set of headphones and a headphone amp / dac for use at my PC. As we work from home nowadays I can listen to way more music than previously, I might as well enjoy it. It is a bit like digital audio, too many options, too many rabbit holes. I have owned some nice headphones when I started in HiFi many moons ago, but looking for entry'ish level goods. I have a Musical Fidelity M1 surplus which can work as a DAC, but I was thinking maybe buying something with a integrated DAC - So: Burson Audio Playmate 2 and a set of HiFiMan Ananda's.

Your thoughts and advice would be appreciated.  :thinking:

Ananda and Burson almost sounds like diving in the deep end for me  ;D

My dipping of toes was an Ifi Zen DAC and CAN stack paired with Sundaras. R11K total (used - like new) and can only recommend it. Had the same WFH motivation and with a desk in a corner of a square 3x3m room, I’ve yet to find speakers that work well (using KEF EGGs but the headphones are just more pleasant).