Which headphone/amp/DAC got you into this nonsense?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by rhythmdevils, Aug 11, 2022.

  1. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    I remember sharing this story in my introduction post (deleted in the hack last year, bleh), but here we go again:

    I've nominally been an audio enthusiast since high school in the late noughts/early 2010s and remember being fairly impressed by a lot of successively more budget-hurt-y gear over time, but it wasn't until I properly got ears on a Sennheiser HD650 out of a Lake People G109A out of a Cypher Labs Theorem 720 at a food court meet with a friend I'd made in another hobby some years ago (2016 or 2015?) that I had a proper "Oh. Oh SHIT." moment where I just sat nonplussed and nearly had a bit of a freakout at what I was hearing.

    In retrospect it's not an ideal chain by any stretch of the imagination, but even though I'd been trying loads of headphones out (even an early LCD-2 out of a DAP when I was much younger-- and knew less about proper system building, obviously) this was the first time I'd heard anything even remotely close to a proper headstage with a sense of actual deliberation and nuance to things.

    I later got to borrow that selfsame G109A for a few months a couple years back and my impressions of the thing then were a bit more reserved since I'd been on SBAF for a few years at that point and had the opportunity to hear some gear that was more up my alley, but I do appreciate the amp for getting me back into audio and sorta leading to my making an account here.

    Rewinding a few years, the first time I'd ever listened to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon from end to end was on my first ever non-dumbphone (Samsung GT-i9000) with the stock IEMs. This was before gapless playback was a thing on Android so the cuts between tracks stood out a lot, but the music was what really sold me on the experience. I vividly remember the feeling of trepidation and exhilaration I had listening to On the Run and the... build up and release that was the whole back half of that album after Money.

    Goes to show music and mood matter as much I guess
     
  2. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    I thought headphone bass was a lost cause when I ran through some lower-tier AT550 and DT880 250 ohm thru the original AQ Dragonfly and then eventually a Modi 2U and Valhalla 2 (both of which I still own). This was a slow climb from 2010-2014. Then I got an early LCD2F which blew my mind in terms of bass and clarity compared to the others, even with the Valhalla 2 which wasn't remotely enough juice for em. It took me over a year to save up for em. I guess the 2F lit my fire and started speeding things up in terms of new acquisitions back then.

    The 2F ended up being the worst ortho I would come to own despite the initial romance, and I owned and modded every Hifiman and Audeze model released up to 2014. I was an ortho convert, went down the speaker amp rabbit hole, the whole bit. Even owned some Maggie 3.6R for a while. Perhaps it was my meandering modding chops or failure to achieve synergy that left me dissatisfied... I do have plans to revisit orthos in a diy context in the future ;)

    It wasn't til I modded a TH900 in 2019 that I found complete and utter satisfaction with headphone bass and smoothness/cohesiveness up top... Off of my cell phone jack. Then I got tired of dealing with the Foster design and limitations and went down the DIY path with ETA.

    Since 2019, I purged all my orthos, and most of my amps and DACs slowly up til now. I'm pleased to say I now use no headphones except my own creations on a daily basis, plus a Sennheiser 6XX and Porta Pro I don't wholeheartedly love but use for sanity checks.

    Most of my amps and DACs are now dedicated to 2 channel use.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2022
  3. Clear Water

    Clear Water Friend

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    Beyerdynamic T70p, because I convinced myself I would only listen to music with my iphone 4...
     
  4. zottel

    zottel Almost "Made"

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    Actually, it was a Bose QC 35 II that brought me back to listening to music. I hadn’t listened much for about 20 years when we made a family Spotify account as my daughter was old enough to get into music. That started my listening again, and then I had to go to hospital for a few days and wanted a usable headphone for some € 100,– or so, but after some listening spent € 250,– on that Bose because it sounded so much better than anything I heard before. Or so I thought. That’s what hooked me up on the search for good headphones.

    Interestingly, I had what might have been a better combination some ten years before, a Koss Porta Pro on an iRiver iHP-120. I remember that had some wow-factor, too, but it didn’t hook me up as the Bose did. Might have been the wrong time.
     
  5. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    @Vansen Yes! Sony MDR-W30 Okay, listening test with iPhone dongle: Lightweight/comfortable, open-sounding (they are open, afterall) and neutral-bright (decent bass on Get Lucky but can't reach low on Doin' it Right, little crispy up top, lots of treble in sine sweep). Surprisingly good resolution (very fine reverb on vocals, clean decay). Sounds balanced and clear/resolving at moderate levels with good space. A bit lacking in the lows and a warmer dongle might just lessen the treble a bit.

    This is with digital, with cassette tape the balance may have been warmer. I can't remember back that far and don't have a Walkman around to test with. But, for something not expensive and 35 years ago...it's still working and impressive sounding. There is lasting value in analog audio!!
     
  6. Bourne Perfect

    Bourne Perfect Friend

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    K701>>Matrix M-Stage sent me down this rabbit hole ~2010.
     
  7. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth Damsel in distress, ZMF Whore

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    I think that I said this in my introduction post a long while back, but I'm pretty sure it's lost (plus it wasn't actually very interesting).

    I started with my phone connected to a Magni 3 and a HD599. Later on, I added the Drop x Grace SDAC with a Schiit Wyrd, and later bought HD6XX. In a way I wish I stayed there; the times were indeed simpler back then and I was satisfied.

    Later on, I was impressed enough with the LCD-3 and Liquid Platinum that I eventually bought both, and then bought the Matrix X-Sabre Pro (the version with the 9038 chips). It wasn't until I went to the SBAF meet at Marv's old place in California listening to @Donald North's Starlett prototype playing out of his Sonic Frontiers CD player that I was like "holy sheet...." and understood what people were saying with system synergy.

    Afterwards is when I started spending serious money on this hobby. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be the gearmaster for SBAF and that allowed me to audition tons of gear at my own house and really dial in what I liked. So in a roundabout way, I gear cycled more than the most hardcore of you all, but luckily had the guidance of the staff and community here to avoid making completely brain-dead decisions and relatively quickly settled on the stuff I have now. If anything I'd like to slowly downsize; I have too many headphones laying around.

    And then @zach915m sent me this funny box with the Atrium in it (dang it Zach!). So that's on the way.

    I guess the best way for me to put where I feel I am in the hobby is that I'm pretty settled with my system, but occasionally might hear something that fits my fancy enough to buy it.
     
  8. TheloniuSnoop

    TheloniuSnoop Friend

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    Reading these reminded me that my first real headphone setup was a Sony Professional Walkman cassette player with the stock on-ear 'phones back in the early 80's. That player was the best portable cassette player ever. Solid. If you had one, you know what I mean.
     
  9. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Thanks for jogging my memory, I also owned one of those too in the 80s, it was good! My electronics tinkering daughter found it recently in a box we left at her place, and has been trying to fix it, but unfortunately a speed regulator circuit (i think) has failed and she can't find a replacement in the Sony repair underground.
     
  10. joch

    joch Friend

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    First pairs were the freebies that came with the walkmans. Then the SR80, but I really wasn’t into headphones, prefering bookshelf speakers listening.

    Then I lived in a small apartment and wanted to listen to good music without disturbing the neighbors and got a HD650 (black screens) for a princely sum then of $400 and a Musical Fidelity X-Can. That was when things came together for me.

    Some may think the HD650 and 600 are mid-fi, but they were the apex then and I like to think they are still some of the best products made in the last several decades.
     
  11. edd

    edd Almost "Made"

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    HD555 out of an iPod was revelatory for me because up until then I’d only used the free earbuds/on-ear headphones included in whatever portable mp3/CD/cassette player I’d purchased.
     
  12. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    Found mine cleaning out the garage last year. It really was good -- for a long time it was the cassette deck in my home hi-fi system.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. señorhifi

    señorhifi Friend

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    Audio Technica M40X connected to whatever. I remember how I was really confused about me enjoying my music more at home than at work. I boiled it down to me being relaxed vs stressed out at work. Eventually it downed on me that my new PC had better on-board audio than the PC at work. Even being a total noob I picked up source changes lol
     
  14. Bina

    Bina MOT - Shanling

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    Good old Sennheiser HD555,with the inner foam removed :) These were my first decent headphones and started it all.

    My first dedicated rig was AKG K701, run with BVAudio amplifier(small Slovakia manufacturer) and DIY iMod. Loved it at that time, would be curious how would it sound to me now.
     
  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    HD500, I suppose, being my first somewhat expensive headphone. And HD800, being my first really expensive headphone. Probably my last, though, so it hasn't become too much of a "nonsense!" :D

    :sail:
     
  16. sheldaze

    sheldaze Friend

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    HD650 from the first generation Schiit Fulla. Until that reference point, I had been trying to enjoy the HD650 (that I knew to be a good headphone), but was highly disappointed.

    I did not hear a significant upgrade from that combination until I heard Cavalli Carbon (not the one for sale, but the one hand built by Cavalli that went on tours before the Carbon was built mass market) played through the first generation HiFiMan HE1000.
     
  17. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    For me it started shortly after MJ’s death in 2009.

    Like many, I revisited his work and remembered it sounded so good on my dad’s old vinyl setup when I was a kid and I wanted something portable that sounded good.

    Got a Samsung DAP (good sound but very loud hiss, even with full size headphones…) and a pair of K240 mk2.
    I would say it all really started when I got the Cowon S9 to replace the Samsung. I loved that thing to death!
     
  18. nithhoggr

    nithhoggr Author of the best selling novel Digital Jesus

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    I had a Cowon back in the day, too...a Cowon iAUDIO X5L I got to replace my portable CD player late in high school. Quickly figured out to put Rockbox on it, and I loved that thing for years. Paired it with a Sennheiser HD280PRO...don't even remember what those sounded like, but they clamped on your head like there was no tomorrow...got quite a few headaches listening to those. That was my portable setup through college.

    What I really started out with was a kinda iffy pair of Sennheisers (I don't remember the model number) and an SACD player (again, don't remember the model) I got scratch-and-dent from Crutchfield back in high school. I had an easy chair in the corner of my room, next to the window, with my SACD player next to it, and I'd come home every day after school and listen to my Baroque CD collection for hours while staring out the window. It broke before college, though, so I didn't have a desktop setup for a few years, until I found Head-fi and decided to buy an Audio-GD Compass (an entry-level DAC/amp combo) and a heavily modded pair of Yamaha YH-1's, and the rest is history.
     
  19. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Ha! I, too, went the Audio-GD route after the Cowon S9!
    Although only the NFB-3.32 to pair with a Matrix M-Stage.
     
  20. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    I had a cowon with a hard disk in it.
     

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